what’s the go with Angels – special roles for our benefit?

Last updated on May 27th, 2024


The Bible mentions angels a great deal. It speaks of archangels, principalities, powers, seraphim, cherubim, the Angel of the Lord and ‘ordinary’ angels. The picture we get is that angels are mighty, created spirit beings whose chief purpose is to worship God, serve God and minister to God’s people as God directs

Unlike humans, they are not a race that reproduces themselves. As Jesus said, “… in the age to come, those worthy of being raised from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage. And they will never die again. In this respect they will be like angels.” (Luke 20:35-36a)

From Scripture, it is also clear there are now two distinct groups – good angels and bad angels (holy angels and evil angels, clean spirits and unclean spirits, ‘upright’ angels and ‘fallen’ angels). Fallen angels mean they have fallen from their heavenly roles, heavenly positions. See earlier articles about Satan and fallen angels “The enemy part I” and its sequel, “The enemy part II

Depending on the English version of the Bible, the ‘non-fallen’ angels are also referred to as ‘chosen angels’, ‘elect angels’, ‘holy angels’ or even simply ‘angels’. In at least one version they are referred to as the ‘highest angels’, or ‘choice messengers’ or ‘heavenly messengers’

As impressive as they may be, angels are clearly not to be worshipped (Colossians 2:18). In fact they won’t accept our worship (Revelation 22:8-9)

On the other hand, fallen angels, being evil, actively seek worship that rightly belongs to God. Hence we have multitudes of idols, gods and deities being worshipped in one way or another. Total rebellion against Creator God, inciting His righteous Wrath

So much in the Scriptures yet so rarely are they mentioned in church. Most of us are ignorant of all things angel

Meaning within the original words for “angels”

The Old Testament was translated from the original Hebrew. The New Testament came from Greek. So what is the meaning of the words that landed as “angel” in English?

I used Strong’s Concordance (see earlier articles for details, particularly “What’s the Bible mean by ‘praise’?”). James Strong published his concordance with Hebrew and Greek dictionaries in 1890. A search through verses that contained “angel” or “angels” revealed:-

‘Angel’ in Hebrew

H47 = abbiyr (pronounced ab-beer’) – angel, bull, chiefest, mighty (one), stout-hearted, strong (one), valiant. [used 17x in the KJV e.g. Psalm 78:25]

H4397 = mal’âk (pronounced mal-awk) – from an unused root meaning to despatch as a deputy; a messenger; specifically of God, i.e. an angel (also a prophet, priest or teacher):–ambassador, angel, king, messenger; [used 214x in the KJV often for messengers like in 1Samuel 16:19 but also for angels e.g. Psalm 91:11, Judges 6:12, Genesis 19:15, 1Samuel 29:9]

‘Angel’ in Greek

G3 = Abaddon (pronounced ab-ad-dohn’) – a destroying angel [of Hebrew origin, used 1x – Revelation 9:11]

G32 = aggelos (pronounced ang’-el-os) – to bring tidings; a messenger; especially an “angel”; by implication, also a pastor [used 186x in the KJV in different roles e.g. Matthew 4:6, Matthew 24:31, Revelation 1:20]

G743 = archaggelos (pronounced ar-khang’-el-os) – a chief angel; archangel  [used 2x in the KJV: 1Thessolonians 4:16, Jude 1:9]

G2465= isaggelos (pronounced ee-sang’-el-los) – like an angel, i.e. angelic e.g. Luke 20:34-36

Consequently, there are a number of words in both Hebrew and Greek that were translated as ‘angel’. Each with a slightly different inflection in meaning. Each telling us something about angels……

Angels are:- mighty – large, powerful
                     valiant – courageous, fearless
                     messengers – from God
                     deputies – of God
                     ambassadors – of God
                     protectors – of God’s people
                     spirit beings

And they have leaders or chiefs, or at least one mentioned in Scripture – referred to as an archangel

However, as is often the case, when a word has several inflections (meanings) we have to rely on its context to decide its real meaning

Angels not Cherubim

Angels should not be mistaken for cherubim, plural of cherub. Some writers interchange the two but the Hebrew text does not justify doing so. The Hebrew word that landed as ‘cherub’ in English is not related to the words for angel …

Angels not cherubim

H3742 = kruwb (pronounced ker-oob’) – of uncertain derivation; a cherub or imaginary figure
[used in 66 verses in the KJV and 62 in the NLT]

Easton’s Bible Dictionary records….

“The cherubim were symbolical. They were intended to represent spiritual existences in immediate contact with Jehovah. Some have regarded them as symbolical of the chief ruling power by which God carries on his operations ….. On the whole, it seems to be most satisfactory to regard the interpretation of the symbol to be variable, as is the symbol itself”

Easton’s Dictionary reminds us that cherubim were used in two quite different scenarios:-
1) the expulsion of Adam and Eve from Eden, to prevent their and their children’s access to the tree of life; (Genesis 3:24) and
2) to form the throne and chariot of Jehovah in His manifestation of Himself on earth. He was enthroned between or above the cherubim on the ark of the covenant (1Samuel 4:4; Psalm 80:1). The complete entry in the dictionary can be found at the Bible Gateway

Within the Tabernacle and the Temple

cherubim angelsExodus 25 contains instructions for making two gold cherubim to adorn the ark and “The Lord said to Moses, ….. ‘I will meet with you there and talk to you from above the atonement cover between the gold cherubim that hover over the Ark of the Covenant. From there I will give you my commands for the people of Israel’” (Exodus 25:1, 22)

Exodus 26 includes details of 10 curtains with artistic designs of cherubim woven into them (vs 1) and similarly for a veil (vs 31)

Similarly, for the inner sanctuary of the First Temple, Solomon “… made two cherubim of wild olive wood, each 15 feet tall, and ….. overlaid the two cherubim with gold” (1 Kings 6:23, 28) and as Hezekiah later declared, “O Lord, God of Israel, you are enthroned between the mighty cherubim!” (2Kings 19:15b)

Other Examples

Other references to cherubim and their connection with the Lord include:-

2Samuel 22:1, 11 & Psalm 18:10 (NIV) where we read David’s description of The Lord coming to save him from all his enemies and from Saul …. “He [the Lord] mounted the cherubim and flew; he soared on the wings of the wind

Some 400yrs later Ezekiel had a vision of the Lord’s Glory leaving the Temple and four cherubim were part of the vision and took part in the event. The description of the cherubim is fascinating – each had 4 different faces, wings with what looked like hands under them and whirling wheels beneath the cherubim (Ezekiel 10). “Then the glory of the Lord moved out from the entrance of the Temple and hovered above the cherubim. And as I watched, the cherubim flew with their wheels to the east gate of the Lord’s Temple. And the glory of the God of Israel hovered above them” (Ezekiel 10:18-19)

No matter, whether they are special purpose angels (having a unique Hebrew word just for them) or simply images, the ‘everyday’ concept (above) is not at all a fair representation of the Biblical context of a cherub and certainly not of an angel

What can we learn about Angels?

Genesis 19

There’s a great educational interaction between Lot and two angels [as messengers (H4397)] in Genesis chapter 19. Therein we see the angels are instrumental in getting Lot and his family out of danger before the total destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. We learn:-

  • angels can physically appear as humans (vs 1-3a, 5, 8c, 9b)
  • they can hold conversation with humans (vs 2, 12-13, 15, 17)
  • angels can eat a meal with us (vs 3b)
  • they can even ‘retire’ for the night (vs 4)
  • they have superhuman powers (vs 11, 16)
  • reason with us and change plans accordingly (vs 18-22)
  • angels are carefully obedient to the Lord (vs 13b, 22a implied in vs 29)

Genesis 24

Abraham sent his senior servant back to his homeland to find a wife for Isaac among his relatives. A big ask for the servant but Abraham assured him that “… the Lord, the God of heaven, ….. will send his angel [as a deputy (H4397)] ahead of you, and he will see to it that you find a wife there for my son.” (vs 7). The mission was a success! The servant was led to Rebekah and, as he told her father … “I praised the Lord, the God of my master, Abraham, because he had led me straight to my master’s niece to be his son’s wife” (vs 48b, 50-51)

  • angels can guide/lead us in accordance with God’s will (vs 7, 48b)

Exodus 23

Once free of the Egyptians the Israelites had a promise from the Lord that He would send an angel [as a deputy (H4397)] before them to protect them on their journey and lead them safely to the place He had prepared for them

  • angels can protect us on our journey (vs 20)
  • they can lead us safely to our destination appointed by God (vs 20, 23)

The Lord told the Israelites to “Pay close attention to [the angel] and obey his instructions. Do not rebel against him, for he is my representative, and he will not forgive your rebellion

  • angels’ instructions are to be obeyed carefully as they bring instructions from God and are the Lord’s representative (vs 21)

Numbers 22

Here is an account of an interesting, unusual visit from an angel [as God’s deputy H4397] to a non-Jewish prophet called Balaam. He was an Aramean (vs Numbers 23:7). It happened when Balak, king of Moab asked the prophet to curse the Israelites so he could overpower them and expel them from the land of Moab.  Of course, it makes no sense for the king of Moab to ask an Israelite prophet to curse Israel 🙂

Anyhow, the account reveals that

  • angels can be seen by an animal yet remain invisible to humans (vs 23, 25, 27)
  • angels can be seen by humans when the Lord ‘opens their eyes’ (vs 31)

Judges 6 – special case

The angel of the Lord appeared and spoke to Gideon. As the dialogue progresses, Gideon realises the angel of the Lord is Jesus Himself. The angel is referred to as The Lord (in each of vs 14-17). Then Gideon realised it was The Lord (vs 22) and assumed he would die because he had seen the face of God. That’s because God had told Moses, “But you may not look directly at my face, for no one may see me and live.” (Exodus 33:20)

However, “ ‘It is all right,’ the Lord replied. ‘Do not be afraid. You will not die.’” (Judges 6:23). So, the angel must have been Jesus since “Christ is the visible image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15a)

  • sometimes an angel of the Lord, appearing as a human, can be Jesus Himself, the physical (visible) manifestation of God (Judges 6:11-23)

Some writers suggest Jesus alluded to this in Matthew 25:40

2Samuel 24:15-16a

So the Lord sent a plague upon Israel that morning, and it lasted for three days. A total of 70,000 people died throughout the nation, from Dan in the north to Beersheba in the south.  But as the angel was preparing to destroy Jerusalem, the Lord relented and said to the death angel, “Stop! That is enough!

  • angels can be agents of death under the Lord’s command

Luke 1:8-36

It was an angel [messenger G32] who told Zechariah and Elizabeth that Elizabeth was going to have a son even though she was unable to conceive. They were to name him John, he will be great in the eyes of the Lord and he must never touch alcoholic drinks. The angel also said that John would be filled with the Holy Spirit even before birth, would turn many Israelites to the Lord and prepare the people for the coming of the Lord (vs 8-17)

Zechariah questioned the validity of the angel’s words so the angel told Zechariah, for that unbelief, he would not be able to speak until the child was born (vs 18-20)

Elizabeth became pregnant (vs 24)

The same angel told Mary and Joseph that they would have a child even though they weren’t married and Mary remained a virgin. He also told them what to call their baby and foretold details about the boy’s future. (vs 26-36)

  • angels can have names, Gabriel in this instance (vs 19, 26)
  • angels bring messages from God to individuals (vs 19)
  • angels can implement God’s judgement on human unbelief (vs 20)

Luke 2:8-15

An angel [messenger G32] appeared among the shepherds in the fields nearby on the night Jesus was born. He told them he was bringing “good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Saviour—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!” (vs 10-11)

Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God ....” (vs 13)

  • angels can bring a message from God to a group of people (vs 9)
  • many angels can appear and be heard praising God and similarly return to heaven (vs 13)

Acts 10

The account of a truly remarkable event. A Roman army officer (centurion), who was a devout, God-fearing man, had a vision in which he saw an angel [messenger G32] coming toward him.
The angel called the soldier by name (Cornelius) and told him to send some men to Joppa, and summon Simon Peter. He even told Cornelius where Peter was staying.
Cornelius did and they went and they found Peter’s house

At the same time Peter had a vision of ‘unclean’ food and was chastised by God for his attitude. Holy Spirit then told him that the men were downstairs looking for him and he should go down and go with them

So Peter did and went into Cornelius’ home even though he was a Gentile and asked Cornelius why he had sent for him. As a result, Peter told everyone all about Jesus and “Even as Peter was saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who were listening to the message. The Jewish believers who came with Peter were amazed that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles, too.” (vs 44-45)

General Duties and Activities of Angels

  • … he will order his angels [as God’s deputy H4397] to protect you wherever you go” (Psalm 91:11)
  • angels [as God’s deputy H4397] are mighty and carry out God’s plans, listening for each of His commands (Psalm 103:20)
  • armies of angels [as God’s deputies H4397] serve God and do His will (Psalm 103:21)
  • an angel [H4398 appearing as a man] met with and saved Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the furnace (Daniel 3:28)
  • God sent his angel [as an angel H4398] to shut the lions’ mouths so that they would not hurt Daniel when he was thrown into the den (Daniel 6:22)
  • angels [messengers G32] “came and took care of Jesus” in the desert (Matthew 4:11)
  • …the harvest is the end of the world, and the harvesters are the angels [G32] (Matthew 13:39b)
  • at the end of the world. The Son of Man will send his angels [as messengers G32], and they will remove from his Kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. And the angels will throw them into the fiery furnace” (Matthew 13:40b-42a)
  • … [Jesus] will send out his angels [as messengers G32] with the mighty blast of a trumpet, and they will gather his chosen ones from all over the world” (Matthew 24:31)
  • when Jesus rose from the dead “… an angel [messenger G32] of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled aside the stone, and sat on it” (Matthew 28:2b)
  • as the women gasped at the empty tomb, “… the angel [messenger G32] spoke to the women. ‘Don’t be afraid!’ he said” (Matthew 28:5a) then explained that Jesus had risen and told them to go tell the disciples and that they would see Jesus in Galilee (Matthew 28:6-7)
Luke onwards
  • there is joy among and in the presence of the angels [messenger G32] of God over one [especially] wicked person who repents (changes his mind for the better, heartily amending his ways, with abhorrence of his past sins) (Luke 15:10 AMPClassic)
  • angels [angelic beings G2465] do not marry nor are they given in marriage, and they do not die (Luke 20:35b-36a)
  • as Jesus was praying on the Mount of Olives before His arrest, an angel [messenger G32] came and strengthened Him (Luke 22:43)
  • an angel [messenger G32] of the Lord came at night, opened the gates of the jail, and brought [the apostles] out” (Acts 5:19) and later an angel did the same for Peter in Acts 12:6-12
  • angels [messenger G32] can give humans instructions (Acts 8:26)
  • Herod Agrippa was struck ill by an angel and died because of his pride in accepting the people’s worship instead of giving the glory to God (Acts 12:23)
  • an angel reassured Paul in the face of the impending shipwreck that Paul and all the crew would survive (Acts 27:23-26)
  • in John’s visions, angels will be heavily involved in administering Jesus’ judgements at the end of this age (see the Revelation)

Heavenly Hierarchy

As we understand kingdoms, there is a divine order in the Kingdom of God

A) God

– spoken of as Father, Son and Holy Spirit (e.g. Matthew 28:19) noting that the Son, Jesus Christ is the physical manifestation of God, ie “the visible image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15)

B) Humans

In the new era those whose name’s in the Book of Life will live and reign with Christ. Amazingly, Paul wrote, “Don’t you know that we will judge angels?  …. (1 Corinthians 6:3)

But at the moment we read Psalm 8:4-5a “What is man that You are mindful of him, …..For You have made him a little lower than the angels, …. (NKJV & footnoted in many other versions which say “lower than God”)

C) Archangels

The word “archangel” is only found in the New Testament of most English translations (1Thessalonians 4:16 and Jude vs 9). It  is derived from the Greek words “arch” meaning chief and “aggelos” meaning angel. In the Scriptures, Michael is referred to as an archangel, and Gabriel might be one according to the Apocryphal book of Enoch.

The Apocrypha mentions seven archangels, while Jewish tradition believes there are twelve, which aligns with the significance of the number twelve in divine governance. Consider: 12 tribes; 12 apostles; 12 legions of angels at Jesus’ call (Matthew 26:53)

In Hebrew, śārīm refers to ‘princes’ or ‘superior rank’, so the Old Testament often uses the terms “chief prince” or  “great prince” to describe an archangel (e.g. Daniel 10:13, 12:1)


Widely accepted as having been an archangel, Lucifer was associated with the throne of God, leader of the worship of God in heaven. His name means ‘Shining Star’,  ‘Son of the Morning’ (Isaiah 14:12-14 KJV).  Pride caused him to fall from his position and he became known as Satan, the Devil

See an earlier article about Satan and fallen angels “The enemy part I – what’s the go?” and its sequel, “The enemy part II – dealing with evil


Mentioned four times in a variety of eras and situations –
Daniel 10:13, 20-21 – a messenger from God to Daniel said that Michael had helped him fight against the spirit prince of Persia who had been blocking the messenger for 21 days

Daniel 12:1a – Michael was named as the one who stands guard over the nation of Israel

Jude 9 – an unusual reveal …. But even Michael, one of the mightiest of the angels, did not dare accuse the devil of blasphemy, but simply said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’ (This took place when Michael was arguing with the devil about Moses’ body.)”

Revelation 12:7-8 – Then there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and his angels. And the dragon lost the battle, and he and his angels were forced out of heaven 

Maybe Gabriel

Gabriel is well-known for delivering prophetic messages to various individuals:- twice to Daniel about end times (Daniel 8 & 9), to Zacharias about him soon to become the father of John the Baptist and to Mary about her about to become pregnant with Jesus (Luke 1). Doubt exists regarding him being an archangel since he is not so identified in the cannon of Scripture

D) Angels

Depending on which English version you read, the Scriptures speak of the multitude of heavenly hosts, armies of heaven, millions or legions or myriads of angelic beings or spirit beings. All of whom worship and serve God

Daniel 7:10b – “Millions of angels ministered to him [he Ancient One – Jesus]; many millions stood to attend him
Matthew 26:53 – “I could ask my Father for thousands [12 legions in footnote] of angels to protect us, …
Luke 2:13 – “the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God
Hebrews 12:22c – “countless thousands of angels in a joyful gathering
Revelation 5:11b-12a – “… I heard the voices of thousands and millions of angels around the throne …. And they sang in a mighty chorus …

All that to say, there are a lot of angels. Even though they are not to be in our focus there are several teachings about levels or hierarchy within the ranks of angels. But in essence that is not of interest/importance to us particularly because it is not detailed in Scripture. In any case, there is variance as some identify 7 ranks, others 9 ranks and some determine there to be 10 ranks of angels


Did you think we’d forgotten? Hmmm. Interestingly, the thought of a cupid kind of angel is not even remotely hinted at in the Scriptures. Neither by appearance nor function. Instead, Cupid was/is the god of sexual love in ancient Rome. Cupid is usually depicted as a naked boy with wings who is holding a bow and arrow. (The Britannica Dictionary)

angels - cupid

According to Wikipedia ‘cupid’ translates from the Latin word, ‘amor’ meaning “passionate desire” and “is the god of desire, erotic love, attraction and affection”. He is the Roman counterpart of the Greek god Eros

The naked, winged, chubby, little ‘matchmaker’ has become as much a part of Valentine’s Day celebrations as chocolate, flowers and other gifts. Nothing to do with the Kingdom

So, far from being an angel, Cupid turns out to be a pagan deity taking credit for administering ‘love’ when Creator God is the only source of love. “We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19 NIV). So no, Cupid is no angel, so to speak

Guardian Angels

A large section of the mainstream church believes and teaches that ….. “Guardian angels are the special angels assigned to humans, helping us throughout our lives from birth until death” …… “The Church teaches that every human being has a guardian angel given to them at birth”. The site provides an eBook “… to renew devotion to your guardian angel, ….. offering prayers and quotes to help you draw nearer to your heavenly helper” (EWTN)

NOTE:- it is not the Bible, but the Church that teaches that every human has a Guardian Angel. This, on a major church-based website, promotes Guardian angels as a reality and that each of us could/should pray to our own personal one

However, searching numerous English versions of the Scriptures for the phrase “guardian angel” yielded no result

What we do find are many verses that declare that it is God who watches over us. Here are just a few examples:-

  • But the Lord watches over those who fear him, those who rely on his unfailing love” (Psalm 33:18)
  • We are the people he watches over, the flock under his care” (Psalm 95:7)
  • The Lord himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade” (Psalm 121:5)
  • The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life” (Psalm 121:7)

However, the Word does also say  …..

  • The Lord is your protection ….. He has put his angels in charge of you. They will watch over you wherever you go” (Psalm 91:9-11 ICB – International Children’s Bible)
  • All the angels are spirits who serve God and are sent to help those who will receive salvation” (Hebrews 1:14 ICB)

BUT:- the use of the plural form “angels” in Psalm 91 is quite different to the notion of a 1-1 appointment of a specific angel to a particular person or even to a defined group of people


Angels are spirit beings so they can function as mediators between God and man. They can pass back and forth from the spiritual realm to the natural at will, unimpeded by physical boundaries (Acts 12:7). They were created before the world because we read that the angels were shouting for joy while God was creating the earth (Job 38:7)

Snippets of Scripture give insight into angels. Peter writes that “… the angels, who are far greater in power and strength [than humans] ….”, tells us they are superhuman in strength (2 Peter 2:11) but of course, not as powerful as God. Also, they have a superior intellect and wisdom (2 Samuel 14:17, 20) but again, not all-knowing like the Lord

Throughout Scripture, angels consistently appeared in human form as men, not women or children and always clothed appropriately for the cultural era. They engaged humans in the local language during their brief visits. But they were seen in visions with wings (up to six), and the ability to fly. For example, the seraphim in Isaiah 6:1-4 had six wings and, as an aside, “their voices shook the Temple to its foundations …” (Isaiah 6:4a)

Many times they were so well disguised as men they were not at first identified as angels. Abraham’s experience is a classic example. He chatted with three ‘men’, gave them a meal and talked some more – one was Jesus, two were angels (Genesis 18 & 19)


As Jesus declared to the Jews …. “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). Truth NOT ignorance!!

God says angels must not be worshipped ….

You must not have any other god but me. You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods.” (Genesis 20:3-5a)

In the closing of the Revelation, John tells us “I, John, am the one who heard and saw all these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me. But he said, ‘No, don’t worship me. I am a servant of God, just like you and your brothers the prophets, as well as all who obey what is written in this book. Worship only God!” (Revelation 22:8-9)

Whole of Scripture relates something about angels interacting with humans, guarding, defending, destroying, guiding, instructing, announcing and forewarning. They are heavily involved in the activities and events of the end times as we have revealed to us in the Revelation. And at the end, all holy creations will be brought together in one huge worship service. The redeemed of earth will join the myriads of angels in serving and worshipping God eternally. Something like the glimpse that John gave us in Revelation chapters 4  & 5

They don’t float around on clouds with harps
They are not small, cute, cuddly things asleep on a cloud with fluffy wings

… just sayin’


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Don`t copy text!
Scroll to Top