The Creation of Angels
All things everywhere have been created by God, as the apostle Paul clearly explained in his letter to the Colossian church:
For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (1:16–17; emphasis mine)
An understanding of the host of heaven may provide more insight into when angels were created by God.
Immediately after the account of the sixth day of Creation, the Bible provides this summary: “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them” (Genesis 2:1). The reference here to “all the host of them,” could be to the stars or angels or both. I tend to lean more toward angels because I see stars as being included in “the heavens”. Either way, this verse is clearly a summary emphasizing that God was finished creating everything by the end of day six.
Based on what God told Job in the following verses, some Bible teachers have surmised that the angels were created before the earth:
"Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements-surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God [angels] shouted for joy? (Job 38:4–7; emphasis mine)
This view is inconclusive to me because “cornerstone” is most likely a reference to Jesus Christ. Every single time the word appears in the Bible, it is used symbolically for Him. The previous verses from Colossians exemplify the cornerstone nature of Christ in God’s creation. The angels may have been shouting for joy at the revelation of the awesome integration of the second person of the Triunity into His own creation.
[Note as of January 2019: several months after publishing this I made a discovery that supports the view of angels being created on day one of Creation. You can read about it in the Appendix at the end of my Essentials teaching: Creation in Christ.]
The Bible does not make it clear when the angels were created. Given the before mentioned references of angels being described as the host of heaven, I would pick day four of creation if I had to choose since this was when God created the physical host of heaven. Perhaps there is a corollary. It is important to recognize that angels were not specifically mentioned during the creation week because the focus was on man.
The symbolic comparison to stars is also reflective of the number of angels as it seems that there are as many angels as stars. The Bible describes the number of angels in heaven as “innumerable” (Hebrews 12:22), “myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands” (Revelation 5:11), and “a thousand thousands … and ten thousand times ten thousands” (Daniel 7:10). In Angelology: The Doctrine of the Elect Angels, Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum made this interesting observation concerning the number of angels:
Because of the concept of guardianship, there are always at least as many angels as there are human beings on the face of the earth. This could also very well mean that there are as many angels as there are humans that will ever exist or that have existed, in combination or in totality.
The number of angels is static because all the angels that there will ever be have already been created and they cannot die. In this respect, they are like spirits.
The Authority of Angels
Many Bible teachers use the following verses from Hebrews, which are mostly a quotation of Psalm 8, to underpin the view that angels have a higher level of authority than man:
For it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking. It has been testified somewhere, “What is man, that you are mindful of him, or the son of man, that you care for him? You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor, putting everything in subjection under his feet.” Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. (2:5–9; emphasis mine)
The “son of man” in this passage is a reference to Jesus Christ, the second person of the triunity, Whom God the Father briefly made lower than Himself (in rank only) during His earthly life when He referred to Himself as the Son of Man. (To be clear, Jesus remained equal with God. He just temporarily assumed a slightly lower level of authority than God the Father to accomplish His ministry and sacrificial death on the cross.) Jesus humbled Himself when He took on this role and did not use certain powers that He could have. He substantiated this fact when He told Peter, “Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:53). Since the Son of Man’s rank was technically “a little lower than the angels” during His earthly life the implication is that man holds a lower rank than the angels. This is true, but we must be very careful with this assertion.
The Son of Man on earth clearly had authority over the unholy angels and He granted this authority to His disciples. We are told:
And he [Jesus] called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. (Luke 9:1–2)
Shortly after this, He commissioned an additional seventy-two disciples and sent them out, two by two, on mission trips. Upon their return, we are given the following account:
The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:17–20; emphasis mine)
The Son of Man was never under the authority of unholy angels because He was born into our world and lived His entire life without sin. Unlike us who were born into sin through our earthly fathers, His Father was God (Mary was impregnated by the Holy Spirit) so He was born into our world without sin. The Son of Man granted authority over the unholy angels to His disciples through His name. In other words, they had authority over the unholy angels as His ambassadors. After His resurrection, He breathed on them the Holy Spirit and their human spirits were regenerated (born again). They then had access to live in Him. Ever since, those who have believed in Jesus have become born again and have had access to live in Christ if they obey Him. Disciples living in Christ or “in His name” have authority over the unholy angels interfering with His will and will judge these angels at the end of this age (1 Corinthians 6:3).
After His resurrection, Jesus came to His disciples and told them: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me" (Matthew 28:18). God’s authority structure now revolves around Jesus Christ. In Christ, where the believer has spiritual union with God (1 Corinthians 6:17), one could make the case that man technically sets at a higher positional level than holy angels, yet he still does not have authority over them. In his union with Christ, the disciple is always a vessel for the Spirit of God to reveal Christ through and never the originator.
It is important to recall the fact that the Holy Spirit did not even mention angels in the account of the creation of the universe. The focus of God was man and his dominion over the earth. God did not introduce man to the angelic sphere, yet alone give him authority over the heavenly realm where angels live. God has always centered man’s attention strictly on Himself and his fellow man.
Angels rank higher than man in God’s authority structure. This is demonstrated Biblically from the fact that angels often communicate God’s commands to believers and never the other way around. If an officer gives me commands from the General, that officer holds a higher rank than me. A good example was the experience of the devout centurion Cornelius:
About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God come in and say to him, “Cornelius.” And he stared at him in terror and said, “What is it, Lord?” And he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God. And now send men to Joppa and bring one Simon who is called Peter. He is lodging with one Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea.” When the angel who spoke to him had departed, he called two of his servants and a devout soldier from among those who attended him, and having related everything to them, he sent them to Joppa. (Acts 10:3–8)
This account makes this structure clear.
For a man to attempt to command angels to do anything is an unlawful breach of his authority and a confusion of God’s order. Not to mention the fact that man cannot even see the angelic realm. It is a demonic motivation, originating from the lie that man can be like God. Man cannot tell angels what to do any more than he can tell God what to do or how His plan should unfold. Again, angels are “ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?” (Hebrews 1:14). God commands them in response to our relationship with Him, according to His will, and not the other way around.
The fundamental relationship of angels interacting with the will of God was brought to light by Jacob’s dream:
And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! And behold, the LORD stood above it and said, “I am the LORD, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. … Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.” And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” (Genesis 28:12–13a, 15–17)
In light of this passage, Jesus told Nathaniel: “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man” (John 1:51). Jacob’s dream was a unique insight into the reality that angels serve the will of God in Christ.
The Power of Angels
While the authority of angels required some explanation, there is no doubt that angels possess physical powers that are far superior to man. The apostle Peter wrote that angels are “greater in might and power” than man (2 Peter 2:11). As the host of heaven—the army of God—they execute God’s judgements upon the earth. Here are some Biblical highlights that confirm this:
Jesus went with one destroying angel who carried a sword and He commanded Him to put his sword back in his sheath when the judgement was complete (1 Chronicles 21:27).
Psalm 78:49 tells us that God sent a company of destroying angels to execute His judgement on Egypt.
Herod was struck down by an angel of the Lord (Acts 12:23).
During the first half of the great tribulation there will be seven angels with seven trumpets that they will blow to release judgements upon the earth (Revelation 8–9) and during the second half of the great tribulation there will be seven angels with seven plagues and seven golden bowls “full of the wrath of God” that they will pour out (Revelation 15–16).
During the great tribulation, there will be a “mighty angel coming down from heaven” who will “set his right foot on the sea” and “his left foot on the land” and call out with a loud voice that will release the sound of seven thunders (Revelation 10:1–3).
There are many more examples in the book of Revelation of angels exercising specific areas of authority and executing judgements during the rollout of God’s end time plans.
Angels and the Church
I was so deep in the weeds analyzing all the different aspects of angels I almost missed focusing on their key attribute—communicators of God’s revelation from Him to man. Paul explained to the Galatian church (3:19) that the law was delivered to Moses through angels, an interesting fact that remains hidden in the book of Exodus. In the present age, Jesus is the head of the church and His commands are likewise disseminated by angels. John’s vision from the book of Revelation really pulls back the curtain on this truth. Part of John’s description of Jesus included the following:
Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. … In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. (Revelation 1:12–13, 16)
Understanding the symbolism of this description goes far into revealing how the true church functions. Jesus, “one like a son of man,” stands in the midst of seven types of churches (“lamp stands”) in seven church ages. He is the head of the church and He commands it with His word (“sharp two-edged sword”). In His right hand are seven stars which are “the angels of the seven churches” (1:20). This is representative of the fact that these angels are at His disposal to take messages to the churches they are responsible for. In the ensuing chapters, King Jesus dictates His messages to the churches to these angels who are tasked with the delivery of them. The conclusion of each message includes the phrase, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (emphasis mine).
This brings to remembrance what Jesus told His disciples concerning the Spirit:
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you. (John 16:13–15; emphasis mine)
Tying this together, we have a picture of a heavenly order where Jesus is dictating messages to angels who are delivering them to the Spirit in the midst of the believers (churches).To
Furthermore, Paul made reference to speaking in tongues as the language of angels (1 Corinthians 13:1). What if believers praying in tongues with or through the Holy Spirit are speaking the very communication of this hidden church operation? This is a significant realization that I may touch on further in my teaching series; The Baptism of the Holy Spirit. (Note: I am presently working on part 2 of this series.)
There are a few occasions in the New Testament, such as Acts 8:26, when an angel does give a command directly to a believer. The Scripture always specifies that it is an angel “of God’ or an angel ”of the Lord" to denote his holiness and authority to communicate God’s instructions.
When a church is moving in the power of the Holy Spirit, like the early church, an occasional instruction or intervention from a holy angel should not come as a surprise. Angels use their great strength or special abilities to accomplish seemingly impossible tasks on behalf of God’s people (especially jailbreaks). The book of Acts provides two examples from the early church. An angel opened the prison doors and set the apostles free (5:19) and when an angel came to Peter to deliver him from prison “the chains fell off his hands” and the iron gate leading into the city “opened for them of its own accord” (12:7–23).
This concludes my two part Essentials teaching on holy angels. For those who want to pursue further study of holy angels, Genesis 18–19 is perhaps the most comprehensive and detailed example of angels in action. Here we have the Lord Himself, accompanied by two angels, visiting Abraham after which the two angels subsequently visit Lot in Sodom. The interplay between the Lord, the angels, Abraham, and Lot is enlightening. Having read this teaching on angels, I hope you more easily recognize the many unique aspects concerning angels that are revealed in this passage. If the Holy Spirit leads you to even more discoveries, please comment below for the benefit of us all.