Both Christian theologians Pseudo Dionysius and Thomas Aquinas broke down the order of angels and the hierarchy system making it an easy concept to grasp. Understanding how these spiritual beings all have important roles and jobs to do is truly a fascinating finding. It helps us to understand this very misunderstood subject of angelic activity.
These ministering beings created by God are serving the Lord within three branch classifications. 9 different roles altogether making it 3 in each rank. There are more than 300 accounts alone that help shed light on the very real fact that angels are among us. Not one example in the Bible gives a reference of angels taking on female likenesses or children, only grown male when taking on human form. In the different scripture examples we can identify now how God has a hierarchy system in place. This holy order all works together to help carry out the Lord God’s plans.
Colossians 1:16 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.
1 Peter 3:22 who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand – with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.
1st Order: Seraphim, Cherubim & Thrones – Stay in God’s presence worshiping,praising and guarding Him in Heaven.
2nd Order: Dominions, Powers & Authorities- Govern over outer space and our universe.
3rd Order: Principalities, Archangels, & Guardian Angels – Involve themselves in people’s lives on earth.
Now here is a glance at these three orders broken down. Let me back up this theory with some specific biblical references.
1st Order Seraphim (1st) The prophet Isaiah was allowed a vision inside God’s throne room. Isaiah 6:1-7 gives a vivid picture of these Seraphim angels with their 6 wings flying hovering above God’s throne. 2 wings covered their eyes, 2 wings covered their feet, and 2 wings for flying. The most obvious reason for covering their eyes is simply being unworthy of looking directly upon the brilliance of God in His glory. Likely the feet possibly being covered up is because feet are considered unclean. The Hebrew meaning of seraphs means “burn”, and it’s interesting that in verse 7 the Seraphim angel takes a tong with a live coal is put on Isaiah’s mouth to cleans his sin.
1st Order Cherubim (2nd) are angels that are a far cry from the fat cherub baby angels we see in paintings and nicknacks around the house. These beautiful angels have a major role in guarding and protecting God and what He considers His. The prophet Ezekiel reveals an incredible description in chapter one of these beautiful type of angels. He called them “creatures” in chapter one because God hadn’t revealed yet to him what they were called. Ezekiel 10:15 Then the cherubim rose upward. These were the living creatures I had seen by the Kebar River. Here are 2 other references to check out: 2 Samuel 22:10,11 and Psalm 99:1.
1st Order Thrones (3rd) Psalm 82:1 God presides in the great assembly; he gives judgement among the “gods”: Here is a vision of God ruling over His heavenly court. The angels are referred to as the “holy ones” in Psalm 89:5-7 it gives another picture of God’s council. The prophet Daniel had a vivid vision of these throne angels assembled in God’s court. Daniel 7:9-10 “As I looked, “thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool. His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze. A river of fire was flowing, coming out from before him. Thousands upon thousands attended him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. The court was seated, and the books were opened.” Doing the math here we are talking about 100 million “throne” angels in God’s heavenly court. These angels will all be a part of the judgments to come.
2nd Order Dominion Angels (1st) These angels are considered powerful and help govern the heavenly realms. They have messages often times for leaders from God that impact earthly outcomes. They can also bring judgments from the Lord. In the case of the sinful city of Sodom and Gomorrah, God sent two dominion angels taking on the form of two men to desecrate the city. Genesis 19:15-17 With the coming dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished.” When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the Lord was merciful to them. As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!”
2nd Order Power Angels (2nd) All of us should be thankful that we cannot see what is going on in the unseen world. I believe if we were able to even have a glimpse of the battles that go on we would be terrified. God’s Power Angels have been at war with the fallen angels since the beginning of time. There is a reason we are not allowed to see these power angels and demons battle it out because it would be terrifying. Hollywood has given us several example of just what these evil spirits look like. Power angels are regulating their activity under God’s command. Paul cautions us to put on the armour of God to protect ourselves from the unseen world. Ephesians 6:12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
2nd Order Authorities (3rd) Angels with authorities play an active role in the weather. They can whisk up storms that many people today like to call the ever unpredictable Mother Nature. Always remember God is in complete control and nothing is ever done without His knowledge. We can easily use the example of Jesus calming the storm. Jesus was teaching His disciples just how powerful His Heavenly Father was and that they needed to trust Him. Matthew 8:23-24 Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Without warning a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. Other storms God gave his angels authority to reek havoc. Job 1:19 when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you! Many other examples are used especially in the Old Testament of how God uses wind as a tool to destroy. His angels when given authority are ever ready to do as God commands. Jeremiah 51:1 This is what the Lord says: “See, I will stir up the spirit of a destroyer against Babylon and the people of Leb Kamai.
3rd Order Principalities (1st) These angels are very much involved behind the scenes in people’s lives. This is what most people come to the understanding of what an angel is. These ones truly are messengers from God to us. They involve themselves in our circumstances and respond when they see we need assistance. They provide comfort when we are distressed, and give guidance along with encouragement. Principality Angels are the most common angelic experiences people speak about when they have an encounter with one. There are two examples one in each Testament of how angels leave heaven to help us. (Jacob’s dream vision) Genesis 28:12,17 He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.” This is a good description of the angel stairway where His principality angels come to and from heaven to help on the earth. Jesus tells His disciples in John 1:51 He then added, “I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
3rd Order Archangels (2nd) Two archangels are named in the Bible Gabriel and Michael. These mighty angels are involved in larger battles and able to face fiercer enemies due to their God given power. God sent Michael to help Daniel but was delayed from a major battle with the devil for 21 days. (Daniel 10:13) Here is a vivid description of how Michael looked to only Daniel as no other could see the archangel Michael. Daniel 10:5-6 I looked up and there before me was 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. The archangel Gabriel is generally bringing good news in his messages. Gabriel brought both Elizabeth and Mary the incredible news of conceiving a baby. Zechariah and Elizabeth who were unable to have children were told by Gabriel that they would conceive John the Baptist. And Gabriel had a similar message for the virgin Mary that she would give birth to Jesus, which we are all familiar with. Luke 1:19 The angel answered, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news.
3rd Order Angels (3rd) Finally this is the last in the order of the angel hierarchy designated responsibilities. These angels are most known for guarding believers and groups (churches) and providing protection. From the time we are born God assigns an angel or angels, to watch over us on our journey through life. We do not know whether we have more than one angel watching over us in our lives. The number is really not important because the bottom line is that we know God has us well taken care of. We are never alone. Matthew 18:10 “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. Another example is how God protected his Apostles when they were put in prison by the Sadducees. Acts 5:19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. These angels can give us healing as well. We have all certainly heard stories of true miracles where there is absolutely no other explanation then God sending his healing angels to heal our broken bodies. King James Version John 5:4 For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.
Angels have captured our attention for good reason. Understanding and being more aware of this unseen world can only help draw us closer to God. These messengers from God are here to help carry out God’s plans for His purposes, and we are never to pray to them or worship them. Angels will always point us in the right direction, that being towards God. Revelation 22:8-9 I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. 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 and with your brothers the prophets and of all who keep the words of this book. Worship God!”