[CF Devotionals] 2003-05-18 - Angels

The Doctrine of Angels Part 2 ~ Classification

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  1. Holy Angels (Cont'd)

    1. The Form & Nature of Angels (Cont'd)

      1. They are spirits, so they do not die.

        "But those who are considered worthy of taking part in that age and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection." (Luke 20:26).

      2. "They dwell in "the Heavenlies."

        "Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders." (Revelation 5:11)

      3. They are subject to God.

        "Praise the LORD, you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word." (Psalm 103:20)

      4. And They Possess Power and Might.

        "So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him. The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance. Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. "Quick, get up!" he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s (4) wrists. Then the angel said to him, "Put on your clothes and sandals." And Peter did so. "Wrap your cloak around you and follow me," the angel told him. Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision. They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself, and they went through it. When they had walked the length of one street, suddenly the angel left him. Then Peter came to himself and said, "Now I know without a doubt that the Lord sent his angel and rescued me from Herod’s clutches and from everything the Jewish people were anticipating." (Acts 12:5-11)

    2. The Classification of Angels

      The organization of angels is much like the military. They have ranks and authority. Billy Graham introduces the subject this way.

      "Though some see the ranking of celestial powers as conjectural, it seems to follow this pattern: archangels, angels, seraphim, cherubim, principalities, authorities, powers, thrones, might and dominion (Colossians 1:16; Romans 8:38)."

      Medieval theologians divided angelic beings in to nine grades. Some people, however, have asked whether some of these grades—the principalities, authorities, powers, thrones, might and dominion—could not refer to human institutions and human beings. To answer, we must understand Colossians 1:16. Paul is speaking about creation of things both seen and unseen. On this verse, Matthew Henry says that Christ "made all things out of nothing, the highest angel in heaven as well as men upon earth. He made the world, the upper and lower world, with all the inhabitants of both.…He [Paul] speaks here as if there were several orders of angels: ‘Whether thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers, which must signify either different degrees of excellence or different offices and employments." Perhaps any list that ranks angelic beings will err, but we can be sure they differ in power, some having authority others do not possess. While I do not wish to be dogmatic, I think there are different ranks of them and that the list given in Colossians does refer to these celestial personalities." 5

      1. "Cherubim (Plural of Cherub). The first appearance of the Cherubim is in the Garden of Eden, where God placed them to guard the way of the "Tree of Life" from fallen Adam (Genesis 3:24). 6

        "After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life."

      2. "The Seraphim. This is a plural word appearing only once in Scripture. In Isaiah’s vision, he saw the Seraphim—meaning "burners," surrounding the throne of God." 7

        "In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory." At the sound of their voices, the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. "Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty." Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, "See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for." Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!"" (Isaiah 6:1-8).

      3. Archangel – There is only one being identified as an archangel; this is Michael. "His name means "who is like unto God." He is the messenger of law and judgment."

      4. There are two other angels named, but not identified as archangels. These are Gabriel, who came to Daniel, Zacharias and Mary, and Lucifer, who we will discuss later.

        "But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me,  because I was detained there with the king of Persia. But first I will tell you what is written in the Book of Truth. (No one supports me against them except Michael, your prince. "At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered." (Daniel 10:13, 21; 12:1)

  1. Graham, 49-50.
  2. Stringfellow, p. 75.
  3. Ibid.

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CFD | May 2003 | Geoff's Devotions | Geoff's Studies | Angels Study | Devotional Topics