Biblical Doctrine: A Systematic Summary of Bible Truth (Angels: Holy Angels)

Angels Introduction

Holy Angels’ Reality

Holy Angels’ Character

Holy Angels’ History

Holy Angels’ Population

Holy Angels’ Residence

Holy Angels’ Organization

Holy Angels’ Power

Holy Angels’ Ministries

Holy Angels’ Destiny

Angels Introduction

The Old Testament Hebrew word mal’akh (213 occurrences) and the New Testament Greek word angelos (176 occurrences) can generally be translated “messenger,” “envoy,” or “ambassador” when referring to task or function (389 total occurrences in forty-two books). The messenger can be human in nature, such as the messengers of Jacob (Gen. 32:3, 6), the messengers of John the Baptist (Luke 7:24), the messengers of Christ (Luke 9:52), or pastors (Rev. 1:20; 2:1, 8, 12, 18; 3:1, 5, 7, 14). Frequently, the messenger is a nonhuman, supernatural, created being usually referred to as an “angel” (2 Chron. 32:21; Matt. 1:20, 24) or the “angel of the Lord” (Gen. 16:7). These Hebrew and Greek terms appear from Genesis 16:7 to Malachi 3:1 in the Old Testament and from Matthew 1:20 to Revelation 22:16 in the New Testament.

The context in which these words appear determine whether they refer to (1) humans, (2) holy angels, (3) Satan, (4) demons, or (5) the angel of the Lord. Refer to “Holy Angels’ Character” (p. 668) for sixteen other names used of holy angels, to “Satan’s Character” (p. 677) for twenty-eight additional names for Satan, to “Demons’ Character” (p. 708) for seventeen more names identified with demons, and to “Angel of the Lord” (p. 719) for five other variations associated with the angel of the Lord.


“Angel” appears 213 times in twenty-four of the thirty-nine Old Testament books. Most of the occurrences (157 times, or 74 percent) appear in the historical books (Genesis through Esther). The Prophets feature “angel” 41 times (19 percent), while the Poetical Books mention it only 15 times (7 percent).

The largest category of references speak of human messengers (100 times; 47 percent), with references to the angel of the Lord a close second (89 times; 42 percent). On only 24 occasions (11 percent) does “angel” refer to holy angels. Neither Satan nor demons are referred to as “angels” in the Old Testament.

The use of “angel” to refer to holy angels is scattered throughout the Old Testament:

       1.    The Historical Books: 7 times (29 percent) in Genesis, 1 Kings, and 2 Chronicles

       2.    The Poetical Books: 5 times (21 percent) in Job and Psalms

       3.    The Prophetic Books: 12 times (50 percent) in Zechariah 1:9–6:5


“Angel” appears 176 times in eighteen of the twenty-seven New Testament books—all except Ephesians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, 1 John, 2 John, and 3 John. Of these nine books, only Philippians, Titus, Philemon, 2 John, and 3 John make no mention of human messengers, holy angels, Satan, demons, or the angel of the Lord by name or title.

The term “angel” appears 55 times (31 percent) in the Gospels, with heavy emphasis in Matthew (20 occurrences) and Luke (26 occurrences). Acts has 21 occurrences (12 percent), while the Epistles refer to “angel[s]” 33 times (19 percent), with Hebrews (13 occurrences) being the most dominant. Revelation uses “angel[s]” more than any other New Testament section (67 occurrences; 38 percent), with appearances in nineteen of twenty-two chapters (chapters 4; 6, and 13 excepted). The books that use it most frequently, then, are Matthew, Luke, Acts, Hebrews, and Revelation, for a total of 147 occurrences, or 84 percent of its appearances in the New Testament.

Unlike the Old Testament, by far the greatest use of the Greek term for “angel” or “messenger” in the New Testament is to refer to holy angels (152 times; 86 percent). The remaining occurrences refer to humans (14 times; 8 percent), demons (6 times; 3.5 percent), Satan (2 times; 1 percent), and the angel of the Lord (2 times; 1 percent). When referring to humans, the term is used of three different groups: (1) church pastors (8 times), (2) human messengers (5 times), and (3) spies (once).

Holy Angels’ Reality

In Christ’s and Paul’s days, the Sadducees (members of a very influential Jewish faction that included the high priest and believed that the Pentateuch alone was divinely inspired) denied the existence of angels because they wrongly believed that angels did not appear in the books of Moses (Acts 23:8). In fact, the undeniable existence of angels can be substantiated by the hundreds of references to them in Scripture from Genesis 3:24 (cherubim who guarded the garden of Eden) to Revelation 22:16 (Christ’s angel who revealed so much to John).


Angels possess the three identifiable traits of personhood: intellect, emotions, and will. First, angels are wise beings (2 Sam. 14:20) who can converse (Matt. 28:5), sing (Job 38:7), and worship (Heb. 1:6). Second, they have the capacity for emotion. Angels are joyful over the repentance of sinners (Luke 15:10). They fear God in worship with awe, wonder, and respect (Heb. 1:6). They also find God preeminently praiseworthy (Ps. 148:2; Luke 2:13–14). Third, angels possess a will with which they choose to worship God (Heb. 1:6; Rev. 5:11). They also have a strong desire (Gk. epithymeō) to understand things related to salvation (1 Pet. 1:10–12).


Angels are beings created by God (Neh. 9:6; Ps. 148:2–5; Col. 1:16), which is why they are called “sons of God” (Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7). They are spirit beings (“ministering spirits,” Heb. 1:14). Both Satan (a “lying spirit,” 1 Kings 22:22–23) and demons (“evil spirits,” Luke 7:21) are described as spirits. By Christ’s definition, a spirit is immaterial, one without flesh and bones (Luke 24:39).

Angels were created morally pure and remain so in perpetuity, being called holy (Mark 8:38; Luke 9:26). Holy angels are elect angels (1 Tim. 5:21) who do not need redemption from a fallen state (Heb. 2:14–16). In contrast, Satan and the demons, who were created pure, subsequently defaulted, sinned, and became evil (Ezek. 28:15; Jude 6). There is no salvation for fallen angels (Matt. 25:41).

Not bound by physical space, angels are mobile to the extent that they are able to travel from heaven to earth and back to heaven again (Gen. 28:12; John 1:51). For example, angels traveled between heaven and earth to minister to Daniel (Dan. 9:20–23; 10:1–13, 20) and to Christ (John 1:51). And Jacob himself witnessed this angelic mobility (Gen. 28:12).

Angels may also be either visible or invisible. For example, they were visible in their visit to Sodom (Gen. 18:2; Heb. 13:2) and to Christ’s tomb (John 20:11–12). They were invisible at first to Balaam (Num. 22:31) and to Elisha’s servant (2 Kings 6:15–17).

As spirit beings, angels are without gender (Matt. 22:30; Mark 12:25; Luke 20:35–36) and cannot reproduce after their own kind. When they do appear in an angelophany, they look like men, never like women (Gen. 18:2; Dan. 10:16, 18; Mark 16:5).

Angels are multilingual. Scripture portrays them as speaking in whatever language the hearer of their message will understand. When Paul wrote about “tongues of angels” (1 Cor. 13:1), he most likely reasoned hypothetically since Scripture does not mention an angelic language elsewhere.

Angels are ageless and immortal in the future. Holy angels cannot die because they have not sinned (Luke 20:36). Fallen angels will not die but will be eternally punished in the lake of fire (Rev. 20:10).

Angels are messengers of God’s truth (Rev. 1:1). Paul warned that if a spirit being claimed to be a holy angel from God but delivered a false gospel, it was actually a demon who was to be accursed (Gal. 1:8).

Holy Angels’ Character

Angels are referred to in Scripture by names, titles, and functions. Seventeen appellations relate to God’s “messengers.” These references define who angels are and what they do.

       1.    Angel: See “Angels Introduction” (p. 666).

       2.    Archangel (Dan. 10:13; 1 Thess. 4:16; Jude 9): Michael is referred to in Daniel as “one of the chief princes,” the Old Testament equivalent of “archangel.” That he is one of them means that there are at least two, probably more. An unnamed archangel will shout at the rapture of the church (1 Thess. 4:16). Michael also contended with Satan over the body of Moses (Jude 9).

       3.    Chariot(s) (Ps. 68:17): This military language indicates that the number of angels cannot be calculated, much like in Revelation 5:11. The term “chariots” is used figuratively to portray angels carrying out military-like missions for God (2 Kings 2:11; 6:17). In Job 25:3, Bildad the Shuhite asks, “Is there any number to his [God’s] armies?” (cf. Job 19:12). The implied answer is no!

       4.    Cherubim (Gen. 3:24; Ex. 25:18–22; 37:8; Ezek. 1:4–28; 10:1–20; 28:14, 16): This title expresses diligent service. Ezekiel wrote that Satan was originally a “guardian cherub” (Ezek. 28:14, 16). This would account for a cherub guarding the garden of Eden (Gen. 3:24) and the model of two cherubs on the mercy seat guarding the ark of the covenant (Ex. 25:18–22; 37:8; cf. Heb. 9:5). It is quite probable that the twelve angels at the twelve gates of the New Jerusalem are cherubim (Rev. 21:12). Ezekiel uses extreme figurative language to describe the living creatures in Ezekiel 1, which are later called cherubim in Ezekiel 10:15.

       5.    Elohim (Ps. 8:5; cf. Heb. 2:7): The Hebrew word elohim or “god(s)” is used here to refer to angels in the most basic sense of “superior ones,” comparing angels to humans.

       6.    Gabriel (Dan. 8:16; 9:21; Luke 1:19, 26): Gabriel, which means “mighty one of God,” appears only in Daniel and Luke. Gabriel came as God’s messenger to give Daniel an understanding of his multiple visions. In similar fashion, Zechariah and Mary were given an understanding of God’s intentions by Gabriel.

       7.    Holy one(s) (Deut. 33:2–3; Job 5:1; 15:15; Ps. 89:5, 7; Dan. 4:13, 17, 23; 8:13; Zech. 14:5; Jude 14): Angels who have not sinned are described as being holy. They delight in praising God, who is “holy, holy, holy” (Isa. 6:3; Rev. 4:8). The title “holy ones,” or “saints,” can also apply to humans (1 Thess. 3:13).

       8.    Host(s) (Deut. 4:19; Neh. 9:6; Ps. 33:6; Luke 2:13): This title pictures God as the military commander of an enormous host of soldiers ready to carry out the orders of their superior (cf. Matt. 26:53). Angels are the “hosts,” and God is the “Lord of hosts” (1 Sam. 17:45; Ps. 89:8).

       9.    Living creatures (Rev. 4:6, 19:4): While the four living creatures of Ezekiel 1:5–14 are later identified as cherubim (Ezek. 10:20–22), the living creatures in Revelation 4:8 look and act more like seraphim (Isa. 6:1–4) in that they have six wings and are involved in noteworthy worship. The living creatures in Revelation are involved in worship (Rev. 4:6–11; 5:6–14; 7:11; 14:3; 19:4) and judgment (Rev. 6:1–7; 15:7).

     10.    Men (Gen. 18:2; Mark 16:5; Acts 1:10): While angels are essentially spirit in nature, they can appear at rare times in human form. When this occurs, they are always called men.

     11.    Michael (Dan. 10:13, 21; 12:1; Jude 9; Rev. 12:7): See “Archangel” above. Michael means “Who is like God?”

     12.    Ministering spirit (Pss. 103:21; 104:4; Heb. 1:14): Angels serve or minister by doing God’s will (Ps. 103:21). Angels can be God’s instrument for judgment (Ps. 104:4) or for blessing in serving the saints (Heb. 1:14).

     13.    Morning stars (Job 38:7): Satan is called “Day Star” (Isa. 14:12), and angels in general are called “stars of heaven” (Rev. 12:4).

     14.    Prince(s) (Dan. 10:13, 20, 21; 12:1): Michael is called “your prince” (Dan. 10:21) and the “great prince” (Dan. 12:1), referring to his ministry on behalf of Israel as “one of the chief princes” (Dan. 10:13). The term “prince” is also used of Satan’s coconspirators (Dan. 10:20). See “Michael” above.

     15.    Seraphim (Isa. 6:2, 6): This kind of angel appears only in Isaiah 6. With a name meaning “burning ones,” at least two seraphim (Isa. 6:3) were concerned with God’s holiness. Some have thought that cherubim, living creatures, and seraphim might be different versions of the same kind of angel. See “Cherubim” and “Living creatures” above.

     16.    Sons of God (Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7): It is natural to understand that the Creator of angels would be considered a father with sons. Elsewhere, similar language is used to describe angels as “sons of the mighty” (Pss. 29:1 NASB; 89:6 NASB). They are also called “mighty ones” (Ps. 103:20; Joel 3:11 NASB).

     17.    Watchers (Dan. 4:13, 17, 23): This term appears only in Daniel and seems somewhat vague. How these angelic “watchers” relate to God’s omniscience is unclear.

Holy Angels’ History

The Bible includes only twenty-six specific historical encounters with angels, ten in the Old Testament, sixteen in the New. This covers about 2,100 years from ca. 2015 BC to ca. AD 95. The appearances began with Abraham (Genesis 18) and continued until the time of John’s prophetic visions in Revelation.


God created all the angels (Neh. 9:6; Ps. 148:2–5; Col. 1:16). Job 38:7 states that the angels sang during the creation, indicating that they were created at the outset. Satan’s fall (Ezek. 28:15) and the demons’ rebellion (Rev. 12:4) would have occurred after Genesis 2 (the seventh day of creation) but before Genesis 3 (Eve’s deception and Adam’s disobedience). After the garden debacle, God placed cherubim at the east end of the garden to guard the way to the tree of life (Gen. 3:24).


Ten specific Old Testament historical encounters occurred over about 1,500 years (ca. 2025–ca. 480 BC), from the time of Abraham (Genesis 18) to the days of Zechariah. These events involved patriarchs and prophets:

       1.    Genesis 18:1–19:22: Abraham, Lot, and Sodom (ca. 2025 BC)

       2.    Genesis 28:1–17: Jacob’s dream (ca. 1950 BC)

       3.    Genesis 32:1–2: Jacob at Mahanaim (ca. 1950 BC)

       4.    1 Kings 19:5: Elijah (ca. 860 BC)

       5.    Isaiah 6:1–4: Isaiah and the throne of God (ca. 740 BC)

       6.    Daniel 8:13–27: Daniel and Gabriel (ca. 551 BC)

       7.    Daniel 9:20–27: Daniel and Gabriel (ca. 538 BC)

       8.    Daniel 10:10–21: Daniel and an angel (ca. 536 BC)

       9.    Daniel 12:5–13: Daniel and angels (ca. 522 BC)

     10.    Zechariah 1:9–6:5 (twelve times): Zechariah and the angel who spoke to him (ca. 480 BC)


At least sixteen specific New Testament historical encounters with angels occurred over about one hundred years (ca. 5 BC–ca. AD 95), from the time of Christ’s birth to the days of John’s prophetic visions in Revelation. (Most English versions of the Bible omit “an angel of the Lord … stirred the water” in John 5:4 because it is not included in the oldest and best New Testament manuscripts.) These events surrounded the Gospels, Acts, and Revelation:

       1.    Luke 1:8–23: Zechariah (ca. 5 BC)

       2.    Luke 1:26–38: Mary and Gabriel (ca. 5 BC)

       3.    Matthew 1:18–24: Joseph (ca. 5 BC)

       4.    Luke 2:8–20: Shepherds (ca. 5 BC)

       5.    Matthew 2:13–15: Joseph (ca. 5 BC)

       6.    Matthew 2:19–23: Joseph (ca. 4 BC)

       7.    Matthew 4:11: Jesus (ca. AD 27)

       8.    Luke 22:43: Jesus (ca. AD 30)

       9.    Matthew 28:1–10; Luke 24:1–12; John 20:11–18: Tomb encounters (ca. AD 30)

     10.    Acts 1:10–11: Apostles (ca. AD 30)

     11.    Acts 5:19: Apostles (ca. AD 31)

     12.    Acts 8:26: Philip (ca. AD 32)

     13.    Acts 10:3–8, 22; 11:13: Cornelius (ca. AD 36)

     14.    Acts 12:7–11: Peter (ca. AD 44) 15. Acts 27:23–26: Paul (ca. AD 58)

     16.    Revelation 1–22: John (ca. AD 95)

These documented visits do not negate the possibility of other encounters that the canonical text does not record. It does mean that these infrequent Old Testament and New Testament events would be representative of any other visits. Thus, they would be reserved for very significant events and limited to very important people of God.


Revelation 6–19 chronicles an overview of notable events that will unfold over the seven years of Daniel’s seventieth week, especially the last three and one-half years. At the end of that time, Christ will come from heaven to earth with his angels in order to conquer the world and set up his one-thousand-year kingdom on earth (Matt. 13:39, 41, 49; 16:27; 24:31; 25:31; Mark 8:38; 2 Thess. 1:7).

Revelation 20 briefly explains Christ’s millennial kingdom, including the angelic incarceration of Satan (20:1–3), Christ’s reign (20:4–7), Satan’s release at the end for eternal punishment (20:7–10), and the final judgment of all unbelievers at the great white throne judgment (20:11–15; cf. Luke 12:8–9). Revelation 21–22 provides a summary of the basics involved with the new heaven and new earth, New Jerusalem, and eternity future, including angels at the city gates (Rev. 21:12).

Holy Angels’ Population

Unlike humans, angels neither procreate (Matt. 22:30) nor die. The angelic population was fixed at its creation (Neh. 9:6), leaving no need for a periodic census. Revelation 12:4 indicates that Satan lured one-third of the angelic population to defect and join his rebellion against God. These became evil angels. Two-thirds of the angels have remained faithful to God as elect angels (1 Tim. 5:21).

The Bible nowhere places an exact number on the quantity of angels. However, there are enough inexact descriptions of the angelic population to provide a general idea by considering these clues.

       1.    1 Kings 22:19; 2 Chronicles 18:18: Micaiah saw the Lord sitting on his throne with all the host of heaven standing around him. The word picture portrays a scene in which the angels of heaven seem to be as innumerable as the actual stars of heaven (Gen. 15:5; Job 38:7; Pss. 103:21; 148:2).

       2.    2 Kings 19:35 (see Isa. 37:36): On one night, the angel of the Lord slew 185,000 Assyrian soldiers in Sennacherib’s army, which caused the king to retreat in defeat. This kill ratio magnifies the strength of just one angel.

       3.    Daniel 7:10: In Daniel’s vision of God’s throne room, he saw thousands upon thousands and ten thousand upon ten thousand angels.

       4.    Matthew 26:53: Christ told the soldiers in the garden of Gethsemane that if he were to request it, God would send “more than twelve legions of angels to rescue him.” That calculates as approximately six thousand soldiers per legion times twelve, equaling at least seventy-two thousand angels. Actually, the number would exceed this. The sense is that an overwhelmingly large army of angels could be dispatched instantly to overpower the more than six hundred or so soldiers in the Roman cohort and accompanying mob that showed up to arrest Christ.

       5.    Luke 2:13: In recounting the birth of Christ, Luke describes a “multitude” (Gk. plēthos) of the heavenly host suddenly appearing and singing a doxology appropriate to the moment. In Hebrews 11:12, this same Greek word is used to describe the numerical scope of all the stars in heaven, making the enormity of the angelic army begin to become more evident.

       6.    Hebrews 12:22: The writer of Hebrews describes the size of the angelic court in heaven as “innumerable.” This is a translation of the Greek term murias, which literally means “ten thousand,” a number beyond which the ancients did not conceive or count.

       7.    Revelation 5:11: The angelic scene in heaven is described as “numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands,” which meant, in other words, a number that far exceeds ten thousand times ten thousand (or one hundred million) and one thousand times one thousand (or one million). This is the most striking statement in Scripture that describes the number of holy angels as exceedingly incalculable (Deut. 33:2; Ps. 68:17; Dan. 7:10; Jude 14).

The population of holy angels is obviously twice that of evil angels. The number of them is not revealed, so it is beyond our understanding. Needless to say, there is no shortage of angels at God’s disposal to carry out his will and to render appropriate worship and praise to their Creator.

Holy Angels’ Residence

The term translated “heaven” in the Bible describes three different elevation levels above planet earth. First, in descending order, comes the “third heaven” or paradise, which is the heaven of God’s presence (2 Cor. 12:2–3; cf. Ps. 123:1). It is referred to as (1) “the highest heaven” (1 Kings 8:27; Ps. 148:4), (2) the “heaven of heavens” (Deut. 10:14), (3) “his holy habitation in heaven” (2 Chron. 30:27), and (4) “far above all the heavens” (Eph. 4:10). Second is the stellar heaven of the sun, moon, and stars, termed the second heaven (Gen. 15:5; Ps. 8:3; Isa. 13:10; Heb. 4:14). Finally, there is the first heaven, or the earth’s atmosphere (Gen. 8:2; Deut. 11:11; 1 Kings 8:35).

From creation (Job 38:4–7) through the end of Daniel’s seventieth week, holy angels reside in the third heaven except when they depart on a temporary assignment to serve God elsewhere. This is true of the seraphim (Isa. 6:1–4), the four living creatures (Rev. 4:6–11; 5:8; 14:3), Gabriel (Luke 1:19), and unfallen angels in general (1 Kings 22:19; 2 Chron. 18:18; Dan. 7:10; Matt. 18:10; 22:30; 24:36; 28:2; Mark 12:25; 13:32; Luke 2:13, 15; 12:8; 15:10; John 1:51; Heb. 12:22; Rev. 5:11; 7:1–12; 20:1). Because they normally reside in the third heaven, all angels engage in worship (Heb. 1:6).

During Christ’s millennial reign, those angels who come with him to conquer the earth will remain on earth to serve him (Matt. 25:31). Those angels who remain in heaven continue to worship God and serve his purposes there. Afterward, all angels will reside with God and all the redeemed in the new heaven and new earth (Rev. 20:1–22:21, esp. 21:12).

Holy Angels’ Organization

Angels are organized into a powerful heavenly hierarchy to carry out their work. Words such as “angels,” “authorities,” “dominions,” “powers,” “rulers,” and “thrones” can describe either holy or evil angelic hierarchies in Scripture. Romans 8:38; 1 Corinthians 15:24; Ephesians 2:2; 6:12; and Colossians 2:15 most likely refer to various ranks or levels among the evil angels, that is, the demon hierarchy. Ephesians 1:21; 3:10; Colossians 1:16; and 1 Peter 3:22 most likely refer to various ranks or levels in the holy angel hierarchy.

Scripture never elaborates on the specifics of these hierarchies to explain their order or function. Since Satan imitates and falsifies God’s character and kingdom characteristics, it seems likely that there is an authoritative functional hierarchy for holy angels who worship God and a parallel counterfeit hierarchy for demons who give their allegiance to Satan.

Multiple descriptive titles are used of possibly several kinds of angels. See “Cherubim,” “Living creatures,” and “Seraphim” under “Holy Angels’ Character” (p. 668). Only three angels are identified by name; see “Gabriel” and “Michael” under “Holy Angels’ Character” above and “Satan” under “Satan’s Character” (p. 677).

Holy Angels’ Power

The power of angels appears in both the Old and New Testaments. In the Old Testament, angels caused blindness, rescued people, and destroyed cities (Gen. 19:1–26). They struck down seventy thousand men of Jerusalem (2 Sam. 24:10–17). Angels appear to be constantly at war with demons in the heavens (Dan. 10:13, 20–21).

In the New Testament, an angel moved the extremely large stone away from the entrance to Christ’s tomb (Matt. 28:2; Mark 16:3–4) and released Peter from prison (Acts 12:7–11). Herod was struck with a fatal case of worms by an angel (Acts 12:20–23). Paul referred to angels as “mighty” (2 Thess. 1:7), and Peter called them “greater in might and power” than humans (2 Pet. 2:11).

In Revelation, angels will exercise power over nature (Rev. 7:1–3). Angels will execute the seven trumpet judgments (Rev. 8:2, 6) and the seven bowl judgments (Rev. 16:1–21). They will evict Satan and his angels permanently from heaven (Rev. 12:7–9). An angel will bind and incarcerate Satan for the duration of Christ’s millennial kingdom (Rev. 20:1–3).

To summarize, angels are stronger than humans but not omnipotent like God (Ps. 103:20; 2 Pet. 2:11). Angels are greater than humans in knowledge but not omniscient like God (Matt. 24:36). Angels are swifter and more mobile than humans but not omnipresent like God (Dan. 9:21–23; 10:10, 14).

Holy Angels’ Ministries

From the time of creation (Job 38:7) to the consummation (Rev. 21:12), angels have figured prominently in executing God’s purposes. The following summaries highlight the ministries of angels to (1) God, (2) Christ, (3) Christians, (4) the church, (5) unbelievers, and (6) the nations.


Angels worship and praise God (Job 38:7; Ps. 148:2; Isa. 6:1–4; Rev. 4:6–11; 5:8–13; 7:11–12). They serve God (Ps. 103:20–21; Heb. 1:7). Angels congregate as the sons of God before God (Job 1:6; 2:1) in the “assembly of the holy ones” (Ps. 89:5) and in the “council of the holy ones” (Ps. 89:7).

These ministering servants also deliver messages for God. The Lord used angels to transmit his law to Moses (Acts 7:38, 53; Gal. 3:19; Heb. 2:2), and Gabriel took God’s word to Daniel (Dan. 8:16; 9:21), Zechariah (Luke 1:19), and Mary (Luke 1:26). Angels frequently communicated to John in Revelation (Rev. 1:1–22:16).

Angels served as God’s instrument of judgment on Sodom (Gen. 19:1, 12–13), and they will evict Satan and his angels at the midpoint of Daniel’s seventieth week (Rev. 12:7–9). Angels will be directly involved in the trumpet judgment (Rev. 8:6–11:19) and bowl judgments on the world (Rev. 16:1–21) during Daniel’s seventieth week.


Angels participated in announcing Christ’s birth to Mary (Luke 1:26–38), Joseph (Matt. 1:18–23), and the shepherds (Luke 2:8–15). They protected Christ during his infancy (Matt. 2:13–15, 19–21).

Angels ministered to Christ from the beginning of his public ministry (Matt. 4:11) to the end of it (Luke 22:43), and they generally ministered to Christ during his ministry on earth (John 1:51; 1 Tim. 3:16). They helped people understand Christ’s resurrection (Matt. 28:1–2, 6; Luke 24:5–8) and ascension (Acts 1:11). Hebrews 1–2 enumerates the reasons why angels minister to Christ with multiple comparisons to validate Christ’s superiority to angels.

When Christ returns to earth at the rapture of the church, angels will also be active (1 Thess. 4:16). They will accompany Christ at his second advent (Matt. 25:31), gather in believers (Matt. 13:39–43; 24:31), and bring judgment on unbelievers (2 Thess. 1:7). An angel will bind and imprison Satan for the duration of Christ’s millennial kingdom (Rev. 20:1–3).


Angels minister generally to believers (Heb. 1:14), which includes rejoicing at a believer’s salvation (Luke 15:10) and providing protection (Pss. 34:7; 35:5–6; 91:11–12; Matt. 18:10) as willed by God. Since the episode of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19–31) is most likely a parable, it should not be used with absolute certainty to argue that angels transport all believers to heaven at death (Luke 16:22).


Angels can be involved in the church with regard to (1) the leadership (1 Cor. 4:9), (2) women (1 Cor. 11:10), (3) the purity of pastors (1 Tim. 5:21), and (4) their own pursuit of understanding salvation (1 Pet. 1:12).


As Christ explains in one of his parables, angels will separate the “weeds” (unbelievers) from the “wheat” (believers) (Matt. 13:27–30, 36–43). An angel will preach the gospel to all the world during Daniel’s seventieth week (Rev. 14:6–7). They will participate in Christ’s second-coming judgment of unbelievers (Matt. 16:27; 2 Thess. 1:7).


Angels serve God’s purposes for the nations in general (Dan. 10:13, 20) and for Israel in particular (Dan. 10:21; 12:1; Rev. 7:1–3). They will also specifically bring major judgment on all nations preceding Christ’s second coming (Rev. 8:6–11:19; 16:1–21).

Holy Angels’ Destiny

Holy angels will not face any judgment because they will never sin. This is in contrast to Satan and the demons, who will be judged (2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 6) and assigned to spend all eternity future in the lake of fire (Matt. 25:41; Rev. 20:10).

After the final, great white throne judgment (1 Cor. 15:24–28; Rev. 20:11–15), there will be a new heaven and new earth (Rev. 21:1). The dwelling of God will be with man in the holy city, the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:2). Where God is, there also will his holy angels be, with twelve of them at the gates to the city (Rev. 21:12). God’s redeemed people and God’s angels will worship him in righteousness forevermore.

In the end, Eden will be revisited. God will look on all that he re-creates and find that it is very good—just as he did in the beginning (Gen. 1:31).[1]

[1] MacArthur, J., & Mayhue, R., eds. (2017). Biblical Doctrine: A Systematic Summary of Bible Truth (pp. 665–676). Crossway.