How fast are angels?

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By BibleAsk Team


Angels, as depicted in the Bible, are often described as swift and powerful beings, capable of moving with great speed and agility. While the Scriptures do not provide specific measurements of angelic speed, they offer glimpses of their rapid movement and swift action in various contexts. To explore the topic of angelic speed, we will examine relevant passages from the New King James Version (NKJV) of the Bible, consider the characteristics of angels as portrayed in scripture, and reflect on the theological implications of their swiftness.

Biblical References

Daniel 9:21

  • Daniel 9:21 (NKJV): “yes, while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, reached me about the time of the evening offering.”

In this passage, the prophet Daniel describes the angel Gabriel being caused to fly swiftly to him while he was in prayer. The mention of Gabriel’s swift flight suggests the extraordinary speed at which angels can travel, enabling them to appear quickly in response to divine commands or human prayers.

Ezekiel 1:14

  • Ezekiel 1:14 (NKJV): “And the living creatures ran back and forth, in appearance like a flash of lightning.”

Although this verse refers to living creatures rather than angels specifically, the imagery of beings moving like flashes of lightning conveys the idea of rapid movement and agility. This description aligns with the depiction of angels as swift and dynamic beings in other biblical passages.

Revelation 8:13

  • Revelation 8:13 (NKJV): “And I looked, and I heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, ‘Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the remaining blasts of the trumpet of the three angels who are about to sound!'”

In this verse from the book of Revelation, an angel is described as flying through the midst of heaven, proclaiming a message with a loud voice. The mention of the angel flying suggests rapid movement, emphasizing the swiftness with which angels can carry out their tasks.

Matthew 28:2-3

  • Matthew 28:2-3 (NKJV): “And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow.”

While this passage primarily focuses on the angel’s appearance and actions rather than its speed, the description of the angel’s countenance being like lightning suggests a sense of immediacy and power. This imagery reinforces the idea of angels as beings capable of swift and decisive action.

Characteristics of Angels

Supernatural Nature

Angels are supernatural beings created by God to serve as messengers, guardians, and agents of His will. As spiritual beings, they are not bound by the limitations of time, space, or the laws of physics that govern the material world. This supernatural nature enables angels to move with extraordinary speed and agility, transcending the constraints of human experience.

Servants of God

Angels are depicted throughout the Bible as obedient servants of God, carrying out His commands and fulfilling His purposes on earth. Their swift movement and rapid response to divine directives reflect their unwavering commitment to obedience and their readiness to execute God’s will with precision and efficiency.

Angels serve God in many capacities (Psalm 103:20; Revelation 22:9). They stand in His presence (Job 1:6; 2:1). They are instruments of His judgments (Revelation 7:1; 8:2). They bring answers to prayer (Acts 12:5-10). They help in winning people to the Lord (Acts 8:26; 10:3). They watch Christians (Ephesians 3:10). They encourage in danger (Acts 27:23-24). Because of these ministries, the Lord equipped angels with unusual speed.

Guardians and Protectors

In addition to their role as messengers, angels are often portrayed as guardians and protectors of God’s people. The swift intervention of angels in times of danger or distress demonstrates their vigilant watchfulness and their willingness to act swiftly to deliver and rescue those who trust in God.

Theological Implications

Sovereignty of God

The swiftness of angels in carrying out God’s commands underscores His sovereignty and authority over all creation. As obedient servants of God, angels act as instruments of His will, executing His purposes with speed and efficiency. Their rapid movement reflects the immediate response of creation to the divine word, highlighting God’s power and majesty.

Protection and Provision

The swiftness of angels in coming to the aid of God’s people reassures believers of God’s care and provision in times of need. Just as angels swiftly intervened to protect and deliver individuals in the Bible, so too do they continue to watch over and safeguard believers today. Their rapid response to prayer serves as a reminder of God’s faithfulness and His commitment to the well-being of His children.

Spiritual Warfare

The swift movement of angels also plays a role in spiritual warfare, as they engage in battles against spiritual forces of darkness. Their ability to move quickly and decisively enables them to wage war against the enemy, thwarting his schemes and advancing God’s kingdom on earth. Believers can take comfort in knowing that angels are actively engaged in the ongoing spiritual conflict, fighting on behalf of God’s people and securing victory through His power.

On a global scope, angels hold back the evil forces that it may not destroy the world (Revelation 7:1) until the work of God on human hearts is complete and the people of God are sealed in their foreheads (Revelation 6:17). They can do that because they are “greater in power and might” (2 Peter 2:11).

And on an individual scope, angels deliver messages from God to men (Daniel 7:16; 8:16,17) and protect God’s children (Matthew 18:10). This host of heaven is God’s army ready to do battle for man’s redemption. And they visit humans with special missions of deliverance, help and guidance (Hebrews 13:2). Such was the experience of Lot (Genesis 19:1–3), of Manoah (Judges 13:2–4, 9–21), and of Daniel (ch. 9 & 9).

Conclusion

While the Bible does not provide precise measurements of angelic speed, it offers glimpses of their rapid movement and swift action in various contexts. Descriptions of angels flying, moving like flashes of lightning, and appearing suddenly underscore their supernatural nature and their role as messengers and servants of God.

The swiftness of angels serves as a reminder of God’s sovereignty, His care for His people, and the ongoing spiritual battle in which believers are engaged. As believers, we can take comfort in knowing that angels are actively at work, moving swiftly to carry out God’s purposes and to protect and deliver His people according to His perfect will.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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