What are Angels?

An angel is a pure spirit created by God. The Old Testament theology included the belief in angels: the name applied to certain spiritual beings or intelligences of heavenly residence, employed by God as the ministers of His will.

The English word "angel" comes from the Greek angelos, which means 'messenger'. In the Old Testament, with two exceptions, the Hebrew word for "angel" is malak, also meaning 'messenger'. The prophet Malachi took his name from this word. He was himself a messenger, and he prophesied about the coming of "the messenger of the covenant", Jesus Christ (Malachi 3:1).

Although the word "angel" in the Bible, meaning a messenger, nearly always applies to heavenly beings, it can occasionally apply to human messengers. Malachi himself said a priest was a messenger (malak) of the LORD of hosts (Malachi 2:7), and in the Book of Revelation the elders of the seven churches of Asia were called angels (1:20; 2:1 etc.). But when we meet messengers doing supernatural things, there is no doubt they are heavenly beings - God's messengers, working for Him and for the ultimate benefit of mankind.

How do we know angels exist?

The Scriptures give us no indication of the precise time of the creation of angels; their existence is assumed at the earliest times. Our Lord often spoke of angels; in the New Testament they are numerous and seven orders are mentioned: Angels, Powers, Principalities, Dominions (ations), Thrones and Archangels the Old Testament specifically mentions two others Seraph (im) and Cherub(im) [ed. note: SEE article on Orders of Angels immediately below this one].  God bestowed upon angels great wisdom, freedom, and power, and their many appearances in the New Testament are indication of the lead role assigned to them. Both the New Testament and Old Testament refer also to the fallen angels. The Temptation of Adam and Eve presupposes the existence of bad spirits or demons who were cast into hell from which they have no hope of redemption. Angels are purely spiritual or bodiless persons (Mt 11:30), some of whom behold the face of God and thus are in bliss (Mt 18:10). These spiritual beings comprise the celestial court and are called angels (from the Greek for "messenger") because, according to the Bible, they carry out missions at God's command. In order to complete these missions, they can at times assume bodily form. According to the Bible, their missions are sometimes of great importance - eg, the Annunciation (Lk 1:26; 2:9-14). Like us , the angels are the objects of God's grace and love. But because, unlike us they are non-bodily creatures, their response to God's love did not require time and reflection to grow and mature. As soon as they were created and received grace, they had the opportunity to respond to God's love and thus be welcomed into bliss. While many did so, some did not. Perhaps the most significant continuing activity of the good angels is to be the agents of God's particular providence for mankind. Thus, the Church teaches that everyone has a guardian angel, based on references to them throughout the Bible.

Why did God Create Angels?

The Creator Himself is so powerful and glorious that He cannot be approached in person by human beings. He alone "hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto: whom no man hath seen, nor can see (1 Timothy 6:16). Angels do not have man's shortcomings, and can therefore act for God and represent Him when communicating with men and women. They bridge the huge gap between the holiness and perfection of God in heaven and the shortcomings of dying people on this planet. Angels were made immortal (that is, never to die). Their eternal quality was spoken of by Jesus when he said:

"They which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage: neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God. being the children of the resurrection." (Luke 20:35.36)

Jesus was saying that, in the same way as the angels (the children or "sons" of God) live for ever and are of one gender, so those who will be called the "sons" and "daughters" of God when Jesus returns will also live for ever and will not marry.

Man Made Lower than the Angels

When the first man was being created:

"Let us make man in our image. after our likeness ... So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him: male and female created he them." (Genesis 1:26-27)

This does not mean that the first of the human race had exactly the same physical nature as the angels, for the angels were made to live for ever. Adam and Eve were not made never-dying: they did sin, and they suffered death as the punishment for it. That is why the whole human race has been dying ever since.

Psalm 8 is a Psalm in which the creation of the earth is extolled. Here we are told that man's position is lower than the angels:

"What is man, that thou art mindful of him? ... For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour." (Psalm 8:4,5)

The New Testament quotes this passage, and tells us that mankind - including the Lord Jesus himself - was made a little lower than the angels, "for the suffering of death" (Hebrews 2:9). Angels do not die, but men and women do. Even Jesus, the Son of God, was a mortal man, but has now received the glory and honour which was his due when, as he said after his resurrection, "all power is given unto me in heaven and in earth" (Matthew 28:18).

 

The Fallen Angels (Demons)

These beings, because of pride, did not return God's love. God did not destroy them, but permits them a limited scope of activity. Their condition is permanent for no creature can turn away from the perfect good of the beatific vision once he has come to enjoy it, and no additional reflection could change the mind of a purely spiritual being who has turned away.

Demons are fallen angels under the command of Satan, those who are still free after the Gen. 6 affair. Satan is called the Prince, or Ruler, of all demons in Matthew 9:34; 12:24; Mark 3:22; Luke 11:15. Demons are also called the ministers, or ambassadors of Satan, Luke 4:35; 9:1,42; John 10:21. Satan is brilliant, an administrative genius. He has an excellent organization, mentioned in Eph. 6:10-12 (READ) The Bible also makes a distinction between demon possession and demon influence.

This article taken from Catholic Online: http://www.catholic.org/saints/angel.php

 

The Nine Choirs of Angels

Seraphim
These are the highest order or choir of angels. They are the angels who are attendants or guardians before God's throne. They praise God, calling, "Holy Holy Holy is the Lord of Hosts". the only Bible reference is Isaiah 6:1-7. One of them touched Isaiah's lips with a live coal from the altar, cleansing him from sin. Seraphim have six wings, two cover their faces, two cover their feet, and two are for flying.
Cherubim
Cherubim rank after the seraphim and are the second highest in the nine hierarchies or choirs of angels. The Old Testament does not reveal any evidence that the Jews considered them as intercessors or helpers of God. They were closely linked in God's glory. They are manlike in appearance and double-winged and were guardians of God's glory. They symbolized then, God's power and mobility. In the New Testament, they are alluded to as celestial attendants in the Apocalypse (Rv 4-6). Catholic tradition describes them as angels who have an intimate knowledge of God and continually praise Him.
Thrones
Thrones are the Angels of pure Humility, Peace and Submisssion. They reside in the area of the cosmos where material form begins to take shape. The lower Choir of Angels need the Thrones to access God.
Dominions
Dominions are Angels of Leadership. They regulate the duties of the angels, making known the commands of God.
Virtues
Virtues are known as the Spirits of Motion and control the elements. They are sometimes referred to as "the shining ones." They govern all nature. They have control over seasons, stars, moon; even the sun is subject to their command. They are also in charge of miracles and provide courage, grace, and valor.
Powers
Powers are Warrior Angels against evil defending the cosmos and humans. They are known as potentates. They fight against evil spirits who attempt to wreak chaos through human beings. The chief is said to be either Samael or Camael, both angels of darkness.

Archangels
Archangels are generally taken to mean "chief or leading angel" ( Jude 9; 1 Thes 4:16), they are the most frequently mentioned throughout the Bible. They may be of this or other hierarchies as St. Michael Archangel, who is a princely Seraph. The Archangels have a unique role as God's messenger to the people at critical times in history and salvation (Tb 12:6, 15; Jn 5:4; Rv 12:7-9) as in The Annunciation and Apocalypse. Of special significance is St. Michael as he has been invoked as patron and protector by the Church from the time of the Apostles. The Eastern Rite and many others place him over all the angels, as Prince of the Seraphim. He is described as the "chief of princes" and as the leader of the forces of heaven in their triumph over Satan and his followers. The angel Gabriel first appeared in the Old Testament in the prophesies of Daniel, he announced the prophecy of 70 weeks (Dn 9:21-27). He appeared to Zechariah to announce the birth of St. John the Baptist (Lk 1:11). It was also Gabriel which proclaimed the Annunciation of Mary to be the mother of our Lord and Saviour. (Lk 1:26)
Principalities
In the New Testament Principalities refers to one type of spiritual (metaphysical) being which are now quite hostile to God and human beings. The clarity of the New Testament witness helps see that these beings were created through Christ and for Him (Col 1:16). Given their hostility to God and humans due to sin, Christ's ultimate rule over them (ibid) expresses the reign of the Lord over all in the cosmos. This is the Lordship of Christ, which reveals God's tremendous salvation in conquering sin and death at the cross, and now takes place in the Church. (Eph 3:10)
Angels
These angels are closest to the material world and human begins. They deliver the prayers to God and God's answers and other messages to humans. Angels have the capacity to access any and all other Angels at any time. They are the most caring and socius to assist those who ask for help.

This article taken from Catholic Online: http://www.catholic.org/saints/anglchoi.php