Aviva Directory » Faith & Spirituality » Spiritual Entities » Angels & Angelology

A belief in angels is part of the Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Bahá'í, as well as Sikhism, Esotericism, Zoroastrianism, Neoplatonism, and Brahma Kumaris.

Thirty-four books of the Christian Bible's sixty-six books refer to angels. Every New Testament author confirms the existence of angels, and the word occurs more than two hundred and fifty times in Scripture. If the Bible is true, then angels are real. If the Bible is true, then Jesus Christ spoke of angels. When Christ was tempted by Satan in the wilderness, He was helped by angels. In His ministry, He taught the existence of angels.

Further, the Bible makes it clear that there are two distinct groups of angels: the holy angels of God and the evil angels who followed Satan in his rebellion. Although not entirely clear, many Bible scholars believe that demons are the fallen angels, and an outstanding feature of Christ's ministry was the casting out of demons.

The Bible doesn't answer all of the questions we may have about angels, but the Scriptures do make clear that God created the angels, as He created all things. Angels were created good and holy but, like mankind, they were created with free will, which led to a portion of the angels to rebel. Angels were created with certain limitations. They are neither omnipresent nor omnipotent so, although they are primarily spirit in nature, they cannot be everywhere at once, and God has limited their power. In Scripture, sometimes angels are depicted as having wings but at other times they appear in human form. Likely, they are spirit in nature and take whatever form is required for the task at hand.

In Christianity, angels are messengers of God, the implication being that the angels are familiar with God, face to face. In the Old Testament Scriptures, prior to the Babylonian Exile, the Angel of God is depicted as being a direct agent of God's will, yet nameless and without a revealed personality. In some passages, God and the Angel of God are practically interchangeable.

Besides Christianity, a belief in angels is one of the six Articles of Faith in Islam, although the Islamic understanding of angels differs somewhat from the Christian view.

Angels, in Islam, are recognized as being both anthropomorphic creatures with wings, as well as abstract beings advising good. Angels differ from other spiritual beings in that they are acknowledged as creatures of virtue. As opposed to devils and djinn, angels protect believers from evil influences.

Islam lacks the standard hierarchical organization of angels common in Christian theology but does differentiate between archangels and angels.

Sikh scriptures refer to angels, but it is unclear whether angels are used as metaphors or as supernatural beings.

Zoroastrianism recognizes various angel-like figures. They believe that everyone has a guardian angel, known as Fravashi, who patronizes human beings and other creatures, while simultaneously manifesting God's energy.

The Amesha Spentas, in Zoroastrianism, are the closest representation to the archangels. There are six of them, and they are named and assigned with unique functions. For example, Ameretat presides over the earth, while Vohu Mano presides over cattle.

In Judaism, angels are supernatural beings that appear throughout the Tanakh and other Jewish literature as agents of the God of Israel. As in Christianity, there are hierarchies of angels. According to the Talmud, the essence of angels is fire.

The Tanakh reports that angels appeared to each of the Patriarchs, as well as to Moses, Joshua, and several other figures. In Genesis, they appear to Hagar, and to Lot, Abraham, and again to Jacob after they ascend and descend Jacob's Ladder. God promises to send an angel to Moses in Exodus, and sends one to obstruct Balaam in Numbers.

In nearly every appearance of the Angel of the Lord, the angel acts as if he were a deity, and is treated that way.

In most instances, angels appear as messengers of God. Usually, they are portrayed as having the appearance of ordinary human beings, and they are generally perceived as being male. Seraphim are depicted as being wings, but it is unclear in Jewish literature whether seraphim are angels or separate, distinct beings.

In some passages, angels appear as warriors, although Jewish apocalyptic literature frequently shows angels as teachers who are granted the full might and authority of heaven.

Baha’i teachings recognize the existence of angels, but not in the usual sense. In Baha’i, angels symbolize selfless people who have devoted themselves to service in this life, and who continue to maintain a positive influence from the next world.

Online resources for topics relating to angels or angelology (the study of angels) are the focus of this category.



Feature Article

In the Nature of Angels


Nearly eighty percent of Americans profess to be Christians, according to a poll conducted in 2012. Approximately two percent of the population identified themselves as religious Jews, and just under one percent were Muslim.

Unsurprisingly then, seventy percent of Americans polled said that they believed in angels. Barely thirty percent of Americans believed in man-made global warming, which approximates the number who said that they believed in ghosts and UFOs, but these won't be issues for discussion here, at least not in this article.

Yet, there are very few people who claim to have actually seen an angel, nor do they expect to. They don't know anyone who has ever seen an angel, and hold vastly differing views on just what sort of creature an angel is.

Nearly seventy percent of Americans believe in Satan, but more than half of them view Satan as a symbol of evil, and not as a living entity. Most American Christians do not believe that the Holy Spirit is an actual entity, either.

Demons also play a part in the belief systems of about seventy percent of Americans too. Like angels, however, there is no clear idea as to what they are.

For many, angels are invisible creatures hovering about, or perhaps coming to their aid in undefinable ways. They are generally seen as being pleasant and helpful beings. Other people, including Christians, believe that good people are somehow reincarnated as angels after they die, perhaps to complete some task before receiving their reward in heaven. Angels rate highly in the beliefs of many of the New Age groups that sprang up in the 1980s and 1990s, as people sought spirituality without the dictates of God. The idea of guardian angels has been a popular theme in books, television series, and movies.

Many Christian denominations hold that demons are fallen angels, the very ones who sided with Lucifer when he dared to challenge God, and now serve him, as Satan's demons on earth. Yet, in the imaginations of many Christians, demons are often thought to be the ghosts of evil people. Demons too, have become the subject of several books and movies, as well as in the many ghost hunter reality shows.

The Christian and Muslim doctrine of the angels is a continuation of their appearance in the Jewish religion of the Torah and the other books that Christians have adopted as the Old Testament.

The Scriptures offer little indication that angels will respond to people who pray directly to them for help. There are no instances in Scripture where people even asked God to send angels to help them. In fact, the only being in Scripture who even tried to persuade someone to seek the help of angels was Satan, while he was tempting Jesus in the wilderness.

There is no basis in Scripture for believing the angels will be available to serve or bring assistance to non-Christians. Hebrews 1:14 describes angels as "ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation."

There are many references in the Scriptures to angels. Not all of them are pleasant, however. In fact, the Scriptural references to angels reveal that people were generally afraid of them. They were not winged creatures in white, flitting about doing good for people.

The first mention of angels in the Bible is in reference to the Garden of Eden, and the angels served as armed guards who guarded the way to the tree of life with flaming swords.

Another early reference to an angel involves David, as he stood in the streets of Jerusalem, looking up at the sky. What he saw was an angel of the Lord. In the angel's hand was a sword holding the power of the plague.

Still later in the Scriptural record, an angel is responsible for the killing of one hundred and eighty-five thousand Assyrian soldiers. -- 2 Kings 19:35, 2 Chronicles 32:21, Isaiah 37:36.

Lastly, of course, the angels described in the Book of Revelation are surely not pictured as benign. In one scene, related by John, four angels are seen standing on a riverbank. They were then "released to kill a third of mankind." Then, seven angels appear, and were given "seven golden bowls filled with the wrath of God." As the bowls are poured out, "Ugly and painful sores broke out on the people."

Further, in John's vision, "Every living thing in the sea died," "the rivers and springs of water became blood," and "the sun was given power to scorch people with fire." There was darkness, drought, an earthquake more powerful than any in history, and a storm of one-hundred pound hailstones. Revelation 9:14-15, 15:1, 15:6, 16:1-21.

Later, in Revelation, an angel is seen doing battle with Satan, who is pictured as a fire-breathing dragon.

Scriptural angels were not cheerful, helpful, always benevolent, winged creatures who are at our beck and call, helping us avoid traffic accidents or to find a parking space. With good reason, people were generally afraid of the angels of the Bible.

While there are instances in Scripture where God has assigned an angel or angels to help those who are faithful, more commonly the appearance of an angel inspired fear, even among God's people.

There is also the fact that, if we are to believe the Bible record, not every angel is angelic. Scripture warns that "Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light." -- 2 Corinthians 11:14. Not every angel is from God.

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