How many angels are there in heaven?
The Bible does not state exactly the number of angels that are in heaven nor how many fallen angels there are. However, we do know that the number of the godly ones in heaven outnumber the fallen ones (Revelation 12:4, 9). Angels are mentioned around 280 times in the NKJV, so we can study it to gather more hints.
We also know that there are more angels than there are God’s children on earth, as Matthew 18:10 refers to guardian angels. Regarding the number of these heavenly beings, the apostle John writes, “Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands” (Revelation 5:11). The number is clearly not meant to be taken literally, but rather it implies a numberless host.
Revelation 5:11 is probably drawn from Daniel 7:10 which says, “A fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him. A thousand thousands ministered to Him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. The court was seated, and the books were opened.” These holy beings represent the heavenly host who wait before the Lord and are ever doing His will. They perform an important role in the judgment. For they serve as both ministers and witnesses.
We have another reference to the multitude of these beings in Hebrews 12:22 which says, “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels” (Hebrews 12:22). This number implies myriads of of them. God’s universe is infinite, and it is not wrong to assume that the angels that serve Him are numberless to be able to attend to His vast kingdom.
What is the nature of angels?
These heavenly beings were created a little higher than man (Hebrews 2:7). They are spiritual beings (Hebrews 1:14) without physical bodies. But at times, they take physical forms to appear to men (Genesis 19:1). The Bible does not state that they are created in the image and likeness of God, as humans are (Genesis 1:26). Good angels are sent by God to minister to the believers (Hebrews 1:14).
Although angels do not have physical bodies, they have personalities. They have intelligence (Matthew 8:29; 2 Corinthians 11:3; 1 Peter 1:12), emotions (Luke 2:13; James 2:19; Revelation 12:17) and exercise their wills (Luke 8:28-31; 2 Timothy 2:26; Jude 6). And the good angels are subject to God.
Angels are created beings; therefore, their knowledge is limited. This means they do not know all things (Matthew 24:36). But because they have watched humans for thousands of years, they have acquired more knowledge of human behavior and understand the Bible (Revelation 12:12; James 2:19).
Some theologians like Pseudo-Dionysius, a Greek author in the 5th to 6th century, wrote that there are 9 orders in 3 groups ranging from messenger angels up to archangels that serve God directly.
What is their ministry?
Angels do God’s bidding. David writes, “Bless the Lord, you His angels, who excel in strength, who do His word, heeding the voice of His word. Bless the Lord, all you His hosts, you ministers of His, who do His pleasure” (Psalm 103:20, 21). Since the fall in the garden of Eden, angels had a special roll with humanity.
Angels are “all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation” (Hebrews 1:14). On a global scope, they hold back the evil forces that it may not destroy the world (Revelation 7:1). They do that 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. They also visit humans with special missions of deliverance, help, and guidance (Hebrews 13:2). Such was the experience of Abraham (Genesis 18:1–8), Lot (Genesis 19:1–3), Gideon (Judges 6:11–20), and Manoah (Judges 13:2–4, 9–21).
What are some of their activities?
They worship God. “Let all the angels of God worship Him” (Hebrews 1:6b also Revelation 5:8-13).
They praise God. “Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise Him in the heights! praise Him, all His angels; praise Him, all His hosts!” (Psalm 148:1-2 also Isaiah 6:3).
They are messengers. They serve as messengers to communicate God’s will to men as in the book of Daniel and the book of Revelation.
They guide. For example, a heavenly messenger gave God’s instructions to Joseph (Matthew 1-2), to Philip (Acts 8:26), and to Cornelius (Acts 10:1-8).
They provide. God used His heavenly messenger to provide physical needs such as food for Hagar (Genesis 21:17-20), Elijah (1 Kings 19:6), and Christ (Matthew 4:11).
They protect. “My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me: for as much as before him innocence was found in me; and also, before thee, O king, have I done no hurt” (Daniel 6:22).
They deliver. God sent His heavenly messenger to deliver the apostles from prison in Acts 5 and repeated the process for Peter in Acts 12.
They strengthen and encourage. These heavenly beings strengthened Jesus after His temptation. “Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him” (Matthew 4:11). They encouraged Paul who wrote, “For there stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve, saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar; and indeed, God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ Therefore take heart, men, for I believe God that it will be just as it was told me” (Acts 27:23-25).
They bring answers to prayer. When Peter was imprisoned and the church was praying for him, the Lord sent an angel to deliver him out of prison (Acts 12:5-10).
They help in winning people to Christ. “Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, “Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza” (Acts 8:26 also 10:3).
They serve as executioners. An angelic being is used by God to punish sin. “And it came to pass on a certain night that the angel of the LORD went out, and killed in the camp of the Assyrians one hundred and eighty-five thousand; and when people arose early in the morning, there were the corpses—all dead” (2 Kings 19:35).
What do angels look like?
These heavenly spirits usually appear as males (Mark 16:5). In Genesis 18, Abraham was visited by heavenly messengers who appeared like men. Also, the two angels that appeared to Lot looked like passing visitors to the city of Sodom (Genesis 19). Unlike popular belief, these beings in the Bible never appear as infants.
Some believe that they all have wings, however, the Bible mentions only two types of them that have wings: Cherubim (Exodus 25:20; Ezekiel 10) and Seraphim (Isaiah 6). The living creatures seen by Ezekiel are represented as having four wings (Ezekiel 1:6) with two wings covering the body and two wings stretched upward (Ezekiel 1:11). And Isaiah saw them with six wings: two wings covering the face, in an attitude of homage and reverence before God, two wings covering the feet, and two used for flight.
These heavenly beings have the “appearance of lightning” as the one seen in Daniel’s vision (Daniel 10:5-6) and the glorious angel that rolled back the stone from Christ’s tomb (Matthew 28:3; Luke 24:4). The angelic beings are not naturally visible to humans. When Elisha prayed that his servant would see God’s messengers, the young man’s eyes were opened, and he was able to see an army of angels surrounding the city (2 Kings 6:17).
Are there many Archangels?
Some wrongly teach that the Bible speaks of many archangels such as: Michael, Raphael, Gabriel, Uriel, and others. But the Bible presents Gabriel as the angel of the highest order (Daniel 8:16; Luke 1:19; Luke 1:26–38). And it presents only one archangel who is Michael (Revelation 12:7).
The many archangels are mentioned in the deuterocanonical books, which are accepted by the Catholic Church but rejected by the Protestant Churches as apocrypha. For example, Uriel is mentioned in the book of 2 Esdras. Raphael is mentioned in the book of Tobit. And Raguel, Sariel, and Jerahmeel are mentioned in the book of Enoch.
What a glorious thought to know that even though man was made “a little lower than the angels” (Hebrews 2:7), God ordained them as “ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation” (Hebrews 1:14). In God’s kingdom, loving service is the ultimate purpose of all creation.
In His service,