Sermon No: 43265-Angelology

SERMON TOPIC: Angelology

Speaker: Gavin Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 25 August 2019


Sermon synopsis: Angels are mentioned 320 times in the Bible (NIV).

What do angels look like? Why were they created? And what do angels do? Humans have always held a fascination for angels and angelic beings. For centuries artists have tried to capture images of angels on canvas. It may surprise you to know that the Bible describes angels nothing at all like they are typically depicted in paintings.


Angels are mentioned 320 times in the Bible (NIV).

What do angels look like? Why were they created? And what do angels do? Humans have always held a fascination for angels and angelic beings. For centuries artists have tried to capture images of angels on canvas. It may surprise you to know that the Bible describes angels nothing at all like they are typically depicted in paintings. (You know, those cute little chubby babies with wings?) 1

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Angels were created by God.

Ps 148:2-5 (NIV) Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his heavenly hosts… Let them praise the name of the Lord, for at his command they were created…

This was done in the person of Christ.

Col 1:16 (NIV) For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.

Angels were present when God created the world.

Job 38:1-7 (NIV) …“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?… while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?”


There are millions of angels. John hears “the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads [Greek: myriades myriadōn] and thousands of thousands” (Rev 5:11, ESV). 1

They were created to live for eternity and do not die.

Luke 20:36 (NIV) “… and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels.”

Unlike humans, they do not need to marry or procreate to sustain their numbers.

Matt 22:30 (NIV) “At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.”

1 Thousands of thousands = million. Myriads = ten thousand. The largest number named in Ancient Greek was the myriad myriad or hundred million.


Are there any female angels?

The Bible normally refers to angels as masculine but some interpret the two-winged women in Zechariah 5 as female angels. 1

1 Zech 5:9 (ESV) Then I lifted my eyes and saw, and behold, two women coming forward! The wind was in their wings. They had wings like the wings of a stork, and they lifted up the basket between earth and heaven.


Do angels eat? Psalm 78:24-25 speaks of manna as “the grain of heaven” and “the bread of the angels”. When three angels appear as men to Abraham, they share a meal (Gen 18:8).

Do angels have their own language? 1 Cor 13:1 refers to “the tongues of men and of angels”.

Do angels sleep? The living creatures “do not rest day or night, saying: ‘Holy, holy, holy…’” (Rev 4:8).


Angels sing, shout for joy, feel longing, and show many emotions.

They worship God in heaven. 1

They rejoice and sing when they witness the creation of the world (Job 38:7).

They praise God when the Messiah is born. 2

1 Ps 148:2 (NIV) Praise him, all his angels… [cf. Rev 7:11, Neh 9:6] 2 Luke 2:13-14 (NIV) Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest…”


A number of supernatural creatures subordinate to God appear through the Hebrew Bible including:

The Malach (messenger)

Irinim (Watchers/ High Angels)

Bene Elohim (sons of God) / Watchers)

Elohim (gods)

Cherubim (Mighty Ones)

Sarim (Princes)

Seraphim (Fiery Ones)

Chayot (Living Creatures)

Ofanim (Wheels)


Maimonides, one of the most prolific and influential Torah scholars of the Middle Ages listed ten ranks of angels in his Mishneh Torah, beginning from the highest:

Chayot Ha Kodesh





But we’ll see that many of these are not necessarily distinct classes of angels, but simply different descriptive names for the same beings.



Bene Elohim




Some also attempt to classify angels based on the NT references to principalities, powers, rulers, authorities, thrones and dominions (Eph 6:12, 1:21; Col 1:16, Rom 8:38). But again these are simply descriptive terms and not likely to be a reference to some sort of angelic ranks.

The only clear Biblical reference to angelic hierarchy is the term archangel. An archangel is a superior or higher-ranking angel. The word “archangel” derives from the Greek arche (ruler or source) and angelos (messenger). Only one angel is identified in the NT as an archangel, namely Michael (Jude 9). However in the OT, Daniel 12:1 calls Michael the “the great prince” which is a similar term. As he is also called “one of the chief princes” (Daniel 10:13) this seems to imply there are other archangels.


The idea of seven archangels is found in some early Jewish literature. E.g. The Book of Tobit (considered canonical by the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches, but not by Protestants) refers to “the seven angels who stand in the glorious presence of the Lord, ready to serve him” (Tobit 12:15).

While not taught explicitly in canonical Scripture this is consistent with what we see in Revelation:

Rev 8:2 (ESV) “Then I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them.”

Rev 1:4 (ESV) … Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne [cf. Rev 4:5;5:6]


According to 1 Enoch 20:7, Gabriel “presides over the seraphim … and over the cherubim”, implying that he too is an archangel.

The Book of Enoch mentions seven angels who appear to be chief angels wielding great authority. These angels listed in 1 Enoch 20:1-8 1 are (1) Michael, (2) Gabriel, (3) Raphael, (4) Uriel, (5) Raguel, (6) Sarakiel and (7) Remiel. 2

Only 2 of these angels are mentioned by name in Protestant canonical scripture – Michael and Gabriel.

1 "https:// wiki/ The_Book_of_Enoch_(Charles)">https:// wiki/ The_Book_of_Enoch_(Charles) 2 As Remiel is also listed in 1 Enoch 6:7 1 as a fallen angel who took a human wife, he may have been replaced by Phanuel who is listed together with Michael, Gabriel and Raphael in 1 Enoch 40:8-9.


God says of his angel sent to lead Israel that “my Name is in him” (Ex 23:20). All of the archangels have God’s name (El) in their name.

Michael “Who is like God”

Gabriel “God is my strength”

Raphael “God heals”

Uriel “Fire of God”

Raguel “Friend of God”

Sarakiel “Prince of God”

Remiel “Thunder of God” possibly replaced by:

Phanuel “Face of God”


Angels minister to God’s people.

Heb 1:14 (NIV) Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?

An angel provides Elijah with some baked bread and a jar of water so that he is strengthened on his journey to Horeb (1 Kings 19).

An angel assists Hagar and reveals a well of water when her son Ishmael is about to perish in the wilderness (Gen 21).

Gabriel is also a ministering spirit and strengthens Daniel by simply touching him (Dan 10:10).


After Jesus was tempted in the wilderness “the devil left him, and angels came and attended him” (Matt 4:11, NIV).


When Jesus was in distress in the Garden of Gethsemane “an angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him” (Luke 22:43, NIV).

Jesus in the Garden

Jesus in the wilderness

They assist the righteous in their passage after death.

Luke 16:22 (ESV) “The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side.”


One of the primary functions of angels in Scripture is to deliver messages from God.

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

Both malach (Hebrew) and angelos (Greek) mean messenger e.g. the angel proclaims the birth of the Messiah to the Bethlehem shepherds. Thus malach and angelos are not titles, but functions.


Angels offer prophetic insight. Hagar, Manoah, Gideon, Zechariah and Mary all have predictive prophecies given to them by angels. They are wise and intelligent and can discern good and evil and give insight and understanding. 1


Daniel 9:22 (NIV) He instructed me and said to me, “Daniel, I have now come to give you insight and understanding.”

1 2 Sam 14:17 (NIV) “… May the word of my lord the king secure my inheritance, for my lord the king is like an angel of God in discerning good and evil…”

Joseph has his mind set at ease regarding his upcoming marriage to Mary and is told “do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit” (Matt 1:19-24).

They offer godly guidance to:

Hagar – she is instructed by an angel to “Go back to your mistress and submit to her” along with the promise to greatly increase her descendants (Gen 16:9-10).



Abraham & Isaac

Abraham – when he is about to offer Isaac, an angel calls to him saying, “Do not lay a hand on the boy” (Gen 22:11-12).

Abraham’s servant (probably Eliezer) – he is told by Abraham that God “will send his angel before you so that you can get a wife for my son” (Gen 24:6-7).

Jacob - regarding breeding his flocks (Gen 31:11-12).

Philip the evangelist - he is told by an angel to “the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza” (Acts 8:26) so that he might witness to the Ethiopian eunuch.

Cornelius is instructed by an angel to “send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter” (Acts 10:3-7) in order for his household to have the gospel preached to them.




Do we have guardian angels? Jesus said of children:

“See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.” (Matt 18:10, NIV)

While the Bible doesn’t say that everyone has a personal guardian angel, it suggests that angels are involved with the protection of Christians.

Ps 34:7 (NIV) The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.


They guard and deliver God’s people.

Ps 91:11-12 (NIV) For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.

E.g. Two angels rescue Lot and his family at the destruction of Sodom (Gen 19:15-16).


Bene Elohim (Sons of God) are angels. A closely related Aramaic expression “bar elahin” occurs in Daniel 3:25 – where it is used to describe the heavenly being who protects Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace.


Lydia Christensen (later Prince) was a Danish teacher called by God to Jerusalem in 1928. When riots broke out between Jews and Arabs in 1929, she had to run through no-go areas to fetch water, as it had been cut off due to the fighting. Struggling to get over the barricades because she was carrying a child, suddenly – out of nowhere – a man came to her rescue, assisting her the rest of the way. On completing her mission she turned to thank him but he had simply vanished. She was convinced that the mystery helper was an angel. 1

1 Related in the book “Appointment in Jerusalem”


Lydia Prince (1890-1975)

We have a Biblical precedent where Peter is miraculously freed from prison and led to safety by an angel who subsequently disappears (Acts 12:7).


Similarly when the apostles are arrested and put in jail “during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out” (Acts 5:18-19).


The apostles

Daniel tells Darius “My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight...” (Daniel 6:22, NIV)

When Peter strikes the servant of the High Priest with a sword, Jesus says, “Do you think I cannot call on my Father and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matt 26:53, NIV)




Joseph is warned by an angel in a dream to flee to Egypt to protect his family from Herod (Matt 2:13). He is later told when it is safe to return (Matt 2:19-20).


John G. Paton was a pioneer missionary in the New Hebrides Islands. One night hostile natives surrounded Paton’s hut, intent on burning it and killing him and his wife. The missionaries prayed for deliverance all night and when daylight came were relieved to see that the attackers were gone. A year later, the chief of the tribe was converted and Paton asked him why they had left that night. 


John G. Paton (1824-1907)

The chief responded by asking who all the men were that had been there. Paton replied that only he and his wife had been there. The chief insisted that they had seen many men with drawn swords encircling the hut so the natives had been afraid to attack. Only then did Paton realize that God had sent angels to protect them. 1

1 Related by Billy Graham in his book “Angels”


There is of course also a Biblical precedent for this. An invisible angelic host protect Elisha from the Syrian army

sent to capture him. 1

1 2 Kings 5:15-17 (NIV) … “Oh, my lord, what shall we do?” the servant asked. “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” And Elisha prayed, “O LORD, open his eyes so he may see.” Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.


An angel promises Paul that all the people on the ship with him would have their lives spared.


Last night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’ (Acts 27:23-24, NIV)

Barnabas Fund reports that in Nigeria Boko Haram terrorists recently captured 76 Muslim-background believers who had turned to Christ.

But a story of tragedy reportedly turned into a supernatural rescue for 72 of those Nigerian Christians who were facing a Boko Haram firing squad. Four leaders of the Christians were told to renounce their faith in Jesus and revert to Islam. When the men refused, they were executed in front of their families. Then the wives of the four men were told to renounce their faith or their children would be executed. That’s when something remarkable happened. 


 The children in the group said the Lord Jesus appeared to them that night and told them “All would be well,” according to sources with the Barnabas Fund. They were told not to fear, that He would protect them, and that they should not renounce Him but stay strong knowing that “He is the way, the truth, and the life.” The next morning, the terrorists lined the children against a wall and told the four mothers they could save their kids if they would only renounce Jesus Christ and return to Islam. The mothers refused. As the soldiers prepared to fire, something happened. They dropped their rifles and started to grab at their heads, screaming and shouting “Snakes! Snakes!” Some of the soldiers ran off, and others dropped dead where they stood, according to the Barnabas Fund. 


 After one soldier had dropped his weapon in fear, one captive attempted to pick up the rifle in order to fire at the fleeing terrorists. He stopped when a four-year-old child told him about angels who were protecting them. “You don’t need to do that. Can you not see the men in white fighting for us?” The lives of all 72 Christians were spared and they were relocated to a safer region of Nigeria. When the Barnabas Fund’s contact asked the group's pastor why he thought Jesus appeared to them and not to others, he gave this answer: “He does not need to. You have over 200 versions of Scripture and many people able to explain the Bible to you... These people do not.” 1

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Angels assisted in the delivery of the Law to Moses.

Gal 3:19 (NIV) … The law was given through angels and entrusted to a mediator.

Acts 7:53 (NIV) “you who have received the law that was put into effect through angels…”

Acts 7:38 (NIV) “He was in the assembly in the desert, with the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our fathers; and he received living words to pass on to us.”

Heb 2:2-3 (NASB) For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?


Angels execute judgment. God sent “a company of destroying angels” to effect the judgments of the Ten Plagues (Ps 78:49). An angel is ready to execute Balaam, but he is saved by his donkey avoiding the threat (Num 22).

1 Cor 10:10 (ESV) nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer.


10th plague


An angel struck down 70,000 in Israel after David’s Census. “David lifted his eyes and saw the angel of the LORD standing between earth and heaven, and in his hand a drawn sword stretched out over Jerusalem.” (2 Sam 24:16, ESV)

The angel of the LORD tells Elijah, “Go up and meet the messengers of the king of Samaria and ask them , ‘Is it because there is no


God in Israel that you are going off to consult Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron?’ Therefore this is what the LORD says: ‘You will not leave the bed you are lying on. You will certainly die!’” (2 Kings 3-4, NIV)

The seven angels around God’s throne administer the trumpet and bowl judgments in Revelation.

The angels gather the wicked for judgment at the end of the age (Matt 13:49).



An angel destroys 185,000 in the Assyrian camp (2 Kings 19:35).

An angel of the Lord strikes down Herod Agrippa I because of his pride (Acts 12:23).

Angels have the ability to fly. Gabriel comes to Daniel “in swift flight” (Daniel 9:21). In Rev 14:6 John sees an angel “flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim”.

They are powerful. In Rev 19:17 an angel stands in the sun. We noted that in 2 Kings 19:35 an angel put to death 185,000 Assyrians. An angel single-handedly rolls away the large stone at Jesus’ tomb (Matt 28:2).


Jesus’ tomb

The gospel proclaimed

Angels have supernatural power. They strike men of Sodom blind (Gen 19:11) while the angel who appears to Manoah ascends in the flames of the altar fire (Judg 13:19-20). They can appear and disappear at will. After speaking to Gideon “the angel of the LORD disappeared” (Judg 6:21).



The men of Sodom

Peter’s chains fall off and the gate opens by itself when an angel frees him from prison (Acts 12:7-10). Gabriel makes Zechariah mute (Luke 1:19-20) while an angel consumes food with fire for Gideon (Judg 6:20-21).





There are warrior angels.

Jesus said he could call on “twelve legions of angels” to assist him (Matt 26:52). At that time a Roman legion consisted of 6,000 Roman soldiers so he was referring to 72,000 angels – without any indication that this was the entire force.

In the Dead Sea scrolls (Wars of the Sons of Light Against the Sons of Darkness), “Michael is the Prince of Light battling against the sons of darkness”. The sons of darkness are led by Belial.


Rev 12:7 (NIV) And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back.

Thus the heavenly being Joshua encountered, who identifies himself as the “commander of the army of the Lord” (Joshua 5:13- 15) is believed by some to be Michael. 1

1 Others believe that this might be a theophany - a visible appearance of God in the person of Jesus. But the being identifies himself as the “commander” of the Lord’s army, not as the Lord Himself. In the view equating him with Michael, Joshua’s bowing is seen as an act of reverence rather than worship. Joshua’s address of the commander as “lord” could be a general term of respect.



Despite his power he is humble and respects authority.

Jude 9 (NIV) But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”

He is the patron and protector of Israel:

Dan 12:1 (NIV) “At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise…”

This is why when the celestial woman in Revelation 12 (who represents Israel) is under threat from the dragon (Satan) Michael leads his angels in battle against Satan and his angels.

It may well be Michael referred to in the following verse:

Ex 23:20-22 (NIV) “See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared… If you listen carefully to what he says and do all that I say, I will be an enemy to your enemies and will oppose those who oppose you. ”


Some groups like the SDA and JWs allege that Michael is actually Jesus. Because the name Michael means “one like God”, this is claimed as proof that it is simply a title of Jesus. But if this were the case, it would argue against his deity, not for it—because Jesus is not just like God, he is God! Yet Michael could rightfully be said to be like God. Furthermore the Talmudic tradition rendered Michael's name as meaning “who is like El?” Thus it is incorrect to translate the name as “one like God” as it is actually meant as a question: “Who is like God?”

They further argue that Michael must be Jesus, because he has angels (Rev 12:7). But if Satan—a fallen angel—has angels, why can’t Michael—a holy archangel—have angels? The very term “archangel” used of Michael means “chief angel”, implying that he has charge of other angels.


Then it is claimed that because Jesus will return “with the voice of the archangel” (1 Thess 4:16) that Jesus and the archangel (Michael) must be one and the same.

But all the angels are clearly at Jesus’ disposal, so why couldn’t an archangel make the call, or for that matter blow the last trumpet at his behest? Jesus said that at the end of the age “The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom … all who do evil.” (Matt 13:41, NIV).

Hebrews 1 makes it clear that Christ is greater than the angels and that “he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs” (Heb 1:4, NIV).


Michael appears to be the mightiest angel and assists the angel engaged in combat with a fallen angel (Prince of Persia) en route to Daniel (Daniel 10:12-13).

As Gabriel appears to Daniel in both chapters 8 and 9, it is quite likely that he is the second warrior angel mentioned. Gabriel then leaves Daniel to engage in further heavenly battles but says, “there is none who contends by my side against these except Michael, your prince.” (Daniel 10:20-21, ESV)


Gabriel means “God is my strength” and he stands in God’s presence (Lk 1:19).

He functions as a messenger angel, particularly in the area of prophetic revelation. He explains the vision of the ram and goat to Daniel (8:15-16) and gives him the prophecy of the 70 weeks (9:21-24). He prophesied John’s birth to Zechariah (Lk 1:11-13) and predicted Jesus’ birth to Mary (Lk 1:26-32).




When Zechariah doubted his word, Gabriel took away his ability to speak until the child was born (Luke 1:20).

He appears to people as a man but is clearly awesome in appearance as he tells both Mary and Zechariah “Do not be afraid.”

When Daniel sees Gabriel he writes, “As he came near the place where I was standing, I was terrified and fell prostrate” (8:17).


Angels are spiritual beings. As spirit beings, they do not have physical bodies.

Psalm 104:4 (NKJV) Who makes His angels spirits, His ministers a flame of fire.

Luke 24:39 (ESV) “… Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”

Jesus said that “a spirit does not have flesh and bones” (Luke 24:39). Thus angels have spiritual bodies but manifest themselves as pillars of fire and cloud as a fire within a bush. However they often assume human form.

Heb 13:2 (NIV) Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.


In his vision at the Tigris, Daniel describes the angel (presumably Gabriel) as “a man dressed in linen, with a belt of the finest gold around his waist. His body was like chrysolite, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and his voice like the sound of a multitude (10:5-6).


When angels appear on earth they are normally described as men e.g.

Daniel 10:5 (NIV) I looked up and there before me was a man dressed in linen…

Gen 18:2 (NIV) Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby…

Gen 19:5 They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight?”




Upon seeing the angel, Manoah’s wife runs to tell him, “He’s here! The man who appeared to me the other day!” (Judges 13:10, NIV)

We read of Mary Magdalene and her friends that “While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them”. (Luke 17:4, NIV)

Manoah’s wife

Mary Magdalene


John describes the appearance of a “mighty angel” as follows:

Rev 10:1-3 (NIV) Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven. He was robed in a cloud, with a rainbow above his head; his face was like the sun, and his legs were like fiery pillars. He was holding a little scroll, which lay open in his hand. He planted his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land, and he gave a loud shout like the roar of a lion.


When Isaiah sees the Lord on his heavenly throne, he says, “Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.” (Isa 6:1-2, ESV) They give praise before God’s throne (6:3).


Most Christians will recognise the term “seraph” (plural is seraphim) as referring to a class of angelic beings, distinct from the cherubim. But what many are unaware of—and will no doubt be surprised by—is that the word “seraph” is an equivalent of the word “serpent” or the term “fiery serpent” in Hebrew. The identical word “saraph” is rendered as either serpent or seraph in English, depending on the context in the Old Testament.

Brown-Driver-Briggs’ Hebrew Definitions comments on the word “saraph” as follows.

serpent, fiery serpent: poisonous serpent (fiery from burning effect of poison)

seraph, seraphim: majestic beings with 6 wings, human hands or voices in attendance upon God


The words “seraph” or the plural “seraphim” are used a few times in the Old Testament (Num 21:6-8, Deut 8:15, Isa 6:2-6, 14:29, 30:6). But while in Isaiah 6:2-6 the term is obviously used to describe a type of celestial being or angel, the other five usages refer to actual serpents.

This might come as a shock to those under the mistaken impression that angels are always humanoid with a set of wings, as they are stereotypically portrayed in most medieval (and modern) paintings and iconography.

In contrast to our culture, seraphim were understood by the Hebrews as being similar to shining fiery serpents in appearance.


The Chayot or living creatures are a class of heavenly beings described in the first and tenth chapters of the Book of Ezekiel. But Ezekiel’s vision of the four living creatures in Ezekiel chapter 1 are later identified as cherubim in chapter 10 who are God's throne bearers.

Ezekiel’s description of the living creatures he calls cherubim is very similar to John’s description of the living creatures, except that the beings John saw had 6 wings. 1

1 Rev 4:6-9 (ESV) … And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight. And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” And whenever the living creatures give glory and honour and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever,


According to "https:// cherub">https:// cherub:

The definition of a cherub is a sweet looking innocent baby, or is a winged angelic figure. Cupid is an example of a cherub.

This description is Biblically inaccurate and reflects the misconceptions people have.

In Western art, cherubim became associated with the Greco-Roman god Cupid/ Eros, with depictions as small, plump, winged boys. But Cupid is the pagan Greek god of desire, erotic love, attraction and affection.


But in contrast to a chubby baby, cherub actually means “mighty one”.

They guarded Eden.

Gen 3:24 (NIV) 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.


But the description of cherubim as they appear in heaven is very different to the way they are portrayed in art. Based on the description in this chapter and chapter 10:

They had a human likeness. Each had four faces, a human and eagle face, the face of a lion on the right


side, the face of an ox on the left side.

Each of them had four wings, two wings covering its body and the other stretched out straight, one toward another. Under their wings on their four sides they had human hands.

Their appearance was like burning coals of fire, like the appearance of torches moving to and fro. And the fire was bright, and out of the fire went forth lightning.

Their legs were straight, and the soles of their feet were like the sole of a calf’s foot. And they sparkled like burnished bronze.

Each one of them went straight forward, without turning as they went. And the living creatures darted to and fro, like the appearance of a flash of lightning.


God “is enthroned between the cherubim” (1 Sam 4:4).

The Ark of the Covenant was representative of the throne room in heaven and “Above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat” (Heb 9:5, ESV).

The cherubim on the Ark were placed on either end of God’s mercy seat.

Exod 25:19-20 (ESV) Make one cherub on the one end, and one cherub on the other end. Of one piece with the mercy seat shall you make the cherubim on its two ends. 


 The cherubim shall spread out their wings above, overshadowing the mercy seat with their wings, their faces one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubim be.


They were guardians of the Holy of Holies in the Temple.

1 Kings 6:23-28 (ESV) In the inner sanctuary he made two cherubim of olivewood, each ten cubits [15 ft] high. Five cubits [7.5 ft] was the length of one wing of the cherub… He put the cherubim in the innermost part of


the house. And the wings of the cherubim were spread out so that a wing of one touched the one wall, and a wing of the other cherub touched the other wall; their other wings touched each other in the middle of the house. And he overlaid the cherubim with gold.

Ezekiel 10:9-17 describes a nested wheel “within a wheel” covered with eyes, which is not part of the cherubim but somehow seemed linked to them. “And when the cherubim went, the wheels went beside them… for the spirit of the living creatures was in them”.

Known as the Ophanim, one of the Dead Sea scrolls (4Q405) construes them as angels in their own right; while late sections of the Book of Enoch (61:10, 71:7) also portrays them as a separate class of celestial beings.


A traditional depiction of vision, based on Ezekiel’s description.

Uriel is not mentioned by name in canonical Scripture but Enoch lists him among the Watchers. 1 His name means “light or fire of God” and he is considered to be the regent of the sun. Notice how the fourth angel in Revelation seems to be mentioned along with the plagues involving the sun (Rev 8:12 & 16:8). 2 Later John sees “an angel standing in


the sun, who cried in a loud voice” (Rev 19:17), again possibly Uriel.

1 Enoch 20:2 Uriel, one of the holy angels, who is over the world and over Tartarus. 2 Rev 8:12 The fourth angel sounded his trumpet, and a third of the sun was struck… Rev 16:8 The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and the sun was given power to scorch people with fire.

Raphael (1483-1520), the famous Italian artist, was named after the archangel Raphael, and painted him twice. Raphael is not mentioned by name in Protestant canonical Scripture, but appears as “one of the seven holy angels” in the apocryphal book of Tobit (in the Catholic canon). 1 Enoch calls him a Watcher 2 and 1 Enoch 40:9 groups him with Michael, Gabriel and Phanuel.

1 Tobit 12:15 I am Raphael, one of the seven holy angels, which present the prayers of the saints, and which go in and out before the glory of the Holy One. 2 1 Enoch 20:1-3 These are the names of the angels who watch… Raphael, one of the holy angels, who presides over the spirits of men.


Raphael the Archangel by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617-82)

Raphael means “God heals”. In Tobit, Raphael also plays a healing role, by curing Tobit of blindness. Interestingly 1 Enoch 40:9 associates him with healing:

... and the second, who is set over all the diseases and all the wounds of the children of men, is Raphael…

As such, some associate Raphael with the unnamed angel mentioned in the Gospel of John, who stirs the water at the healing pool of Bethesda. 1

1 John 5:4 (NASB) for an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool and stirred up the water; whoever then first, after the stirring up of the water, stepped in was made well from whatever disease with which he was afflicted.


Phanuel is listed together with Michael, Gabriel and Raphael in 1 Enoch. 1

Phanuel might be the angel who wrestled with Jacob (Gen 32). Jacob named the place Peniel (face of God) which is the same as Phanuel.

1 1 Enoch 40:9 And he said to me: “This first is Michael, the merciful and long-suffering: and the second, who is set over all the diseases and all the wounds of the children of men, is Raphael: and the third, who is set over all the powers, is Gabriel: and the fourth, who is set over the repentance unto hope of those who inherit eternal life, is named Phanuel.” And these are the four angels of the Lord of Spirits and the four voices I heard in those days.


In Psalm 82 the Bene Elohim are called “elohim”.

Ps 82:1.6 (ESV) God has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods (elohim) he holds judgment:… I said, “You are gods (elohim), sons of the Most High (Bene Elyon), all of you;

1 Enoch identifies the Bene Elohim (Sons of God) of Genesis 6 as Watchers. Daniel is the only canonical book that refers to angels as “Watchers”.

Dan 4:13 (ESV) “… behold, a watcher, a holy one, came down from heaven.” [also Dan 4:17 & 4:23]

Thus it is apparent that many of the supposed discrete classes of angels are simply equivalent terms for the same beings. The terms are descriptive of functions – not titles.


Perhaps the most ambiguous creature is the Malach Adonai (“angel of the LORD”), which may be a visible manifestation of God himself (in the person of the pre-incarnate Christ) rather than a separate entity acting on his behalf.

In Gen 31:11–13, “the angel of God” says, “I am the God of Bethel”.

In Gen 22:11-12 “the angel of Yahweh” says to Abraham “Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son”.

In Ex 3:2–6 “the angel of Yahweh” appears to Moses and then “Yahweh” says “I am the God of your father”.

In Judg 6:11 “the angel of Yahweh” appeared to Gideon, but in v14 “Yahweh turned to him and said…”


Angels (even good ones) must not be worshiped:

Col 2:18 Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions.

The angel who wrestled with Jacob 1 and the one who appeared to Manoah refuse to disclose their names, possibly to prevent worship? 2

1 Gen 32:29 (NIV) Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.” But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there. 2 Judg 13:17-18 (NIV) Then Manoah inquired of the angel of the LORD, “What is your name, so that we may honour you when your word comes true?” He replied, “Why do you ask my name? It is beyond understanding.”


Twice John attempts to worship an angel (Rev 19:10;22:8-9) but in both cases the angel redirects the worship to God.


Rev 22:8-9 (NIV) And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me. But he said to me, “Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you... Worship God!”

John’s attempts to worship may be because angels are awesome in appearance. We read of one of the angels at Jesus’ tomb:

Matt 28:3-4 (NIV) His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.


While angels may not be worshipped, in demonstrating Christ’s superiority over the angels, not only does God decree that the Son be worshipped, he directs this command to angels.

Heb 1:6-8 (NIV) And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.” In speaking of the angels he says, “He makes his angels spirits, and his servants flames of fire.” But about the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a sceptre of justice will be the sceptre of your kingdom”.


They take an interest in the affairs of men and are curious about salvation.

1 Pet 1:12 (NIV) … those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.

They rejoice at our salvation.

Luke 15:10 (NIV) “… there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Through the church God reveals his wisdom to them.

Eph 3:10 (ESV) so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers (arché) and authorities (exousia) in the heavenly places.


1 Tim 3:16 (NIV) Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great: He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.

The angels constantly observed Jesus. They were present at his birth. They strengthened him at his temptation by the devil after he fasted for 40 days in the wilderness. They were with him throughout his ministry. They strengthened him after he agonised in the Garden of Gethsemane. They rolled away the stone and stood guard at his tomb. They stood beside the disciples as they watched him ascending into heaven comforting them with the promise of Jesus’ return.


Ray Stedman writes:

The angels knew his majesty, his power, and his greatness, but they did not know his forgiving love. How amazing it must have been to them to watch their great God acting as Jesus did! They watched the cross with incredible eyes. They knew the critical issues that were being worked out in that death grapple in the darkness with the powers of hell and evil. Out of it, at last, they watched as there came a triumphant message to be sent out to all the nations; that the stranglehold of evil in human hearts was broken by the death of Jesus and his resurrection from the dead; that in Jesus there is a place of release and relief and recovery. That is the good news that has gone out through all the world. 1

1 "https:// new-testament/ timothy/ the-central-glory">https:// new-testament/ timothy/ the-central-glory


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