In this study we look at the Christian/Catholic and Jewish hierarchy (ranking) of angels.
- Colossians 1:15-16
- Ephesians 1:18-21
- Isaiah 33:7
- Ezekiel 1:4
- Genesis 1:1
- Exodus 20:3
- Job 1:6
- Genesis 3:24
- Genesis 18:2
15The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.
A hierarchy of angels is a belief or tradition found in many different religions, which holds that there are different levels or ranks of angels. Higher ranks may be asserted to have greater power or authority over lower ranks..
Not all are angels…
Why is it called the angelic hierarchy?
Angels are the lowest rank and:
- “the superior ranks possess the illuminations and powers of their subordinates”
Some religions who have angelic hierarchies include:
- Jewish Mystical religions
- New Age
We will look at the Christian/Catholic and Jewish hierarchies.
The Catholic hierarchy of angels is also referred to as the Christian hierarchy of angels. The hierarchy was established prior to the various denominations splitting from the Catholic church. Most Christian religions who discuss an angelic hierarchy use the Catholic hierarchy.
Most of the hierarchy came from a 5th century Syrian monk called Pseudo-Dionysius. There was also influence from a Middle Ages (13th Century) Dominican friar and Catholic priest name St. Thomas Aquinas.
18I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.
Choirs of Angels
1st Sphere – Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones
- 1st sphere are constantly in God’s presence
2nd Sphere – Dominions, Virtues and Powers
- Angels of the second sphere work as Heavenly governors
3rd Sphere – Principalities, Archangels and Angels.
- Angels who function as heavenly guides, protectors, and messengers to human beings.
Seraphim (1st Sphere)
1st sphere are constantly in God’s presence
Referenced in Isaiah 6
From our study
- Snake like creatures with wings, feet and legs, and sometimes the face of a human
- Guardian of God’s throne
- Give worship to God
- Understand God with the greatest clarity
- Snake like creatures. Fiery creatures.
- Continually shout praises to God
From our Study
- Face of either:
- Guardian of God’s throne
- Are part of God’s chariot
- On the Ark of the Covenant
- Seen in Ezekiel’s vision and the 4 Living Creatures of Revelation
- Cherubim guard God's glory both on Earth and by his throne in heaven.
- God often dispatches them to intervene in the acts of man
- Worship God
Equated to ophanim
From Our Study
- Part of the divine chariot
- The Wheel Within a Wheel of Ezekiel’s vision
- Bring justice
- Have the highest knowledge of the works of God
- God’s spirit is said to be within them
- Symbolize divine justice and judicial power
- Are closest to God
Dominions (2nd Sphere)
Equated to Hashmallim
Angels of the second sphere work as Heavenly governors
- Dominions regulate the heavens
- Regulate the duties of lower angels.
- It is only with extreme rarity that they make themselves physically known to humans
- The Dominions are believed to look like divinely beautiful humans with a pair of feathered wings, much like the common representation of angels.
- Workers of miracles on earth
- Supervise nature and the heavenly bodies to ensure that the cosmos remains in order
- Responsible for the maintenance of the physical universe
aka Warrior Angels
- Protect mankind from evil spirits
- Their duty is to oversee the distribution of power among humankind, hence their name
- “The powers that be…”
- Confront the fight against any forces that oppose God's plan
Principalities (3rd Sphere)
aka Rulers or Princes
- Third sphere operate as messengers and soldiers. Angels who function as heavenly guides, protectors, and messengers to human beings.
From Our Studies
- Michael is referred to as the one of the Chief Princes in Daniel 10:13
- concerned with the welfare of nations
- They oversee groups of people's
- Inspire people to the arts and sciences
- Care for nations and cities
- Michael is the only one named in the Bible
- Some consider them to be the seven angels in the book of revelations
- archangels and angels - look after the welfare of humans
- Deliver God’s most important messages to Mankind
- Catholics consider Gabriel, Raphael and Uriel as archangels
Ministering spirits to humans
- Look after the welfare of humans
- Messengers to various beings
- Guardian angels
Holy Living Ones
See Isaiah 33:7
Glowing ones, Amber ones
See Ezekiel 1:4
See Isaiah 6
Sons of Elohim
See Talmud Hagigah
Men (man-like beings, phonetically similar to "fires")
* from Wikipedia
- The creatures from Ezekiel’s visions which had the faces of a man, lion, ox and eagle.
- The “Chayot" were the beings that moved God’s throne.
- The ophanim or ofanim (Heb. "wheels" ), refer to the wheels seen on Ezekiel's vision of the chariot in Ezekiel 1:15-21.
- Covered with eyes
7Look, their brave men [Erelim] cry aloud in the streets;
the envoys [malak = angels] of peace weep bitterly.
The name Erelim means, literally, "The Valiant Ones"; some interpret the name to mean "Thrones".
Equated to Dominions
4As I looked, behold, a storm wind was coming from the north, a great cloud with fire flashing forth continually and a bright light around it, and in its midst something like glowing metal [hashmal = amber] in the midst of the fire.
- The Septuagint translates "hashmal" to "elektron," which means "amber" in English.
- "hashmal" became the modern Hebrew word that translates to the English word "electricity."
- Messengers of God
1In the beginning God [elohim] created the heavens and the earth.
Elohim occurs frequently throughout the Torah. In some cases it behaves like a singular noun in Hebrew grammar, and is then generally understood to denote the single God of Israel. In other cases, Elohim acts as an ordinary plural of the word Eloah, and refers to the polytheistic notion of multiple gods (for example, Exodus 20:3, "You shall have no other gods before me.").
aka Sons of God
6One day the angelsa [bene elohim] came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satanb also came with them.
24After he drove the man out, he placed on the east sidee of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.
- The cherubim angels are known for their work helping people deal with sin that separates them from God so they can draw closer to God.
- Cherubim angels appear in the Torah’s account of what happened after humans brought sin into the world while in the Garden of Eden.
2Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground.
- Men (man-like beings, phonetically similar to "fires")
- A class of angels said to be the closest to humanity's affairs. They are composed of fire and snow, and are described as "the beautiful souls of just men".
- Sounds similar to the Catholic concept of saints.
Men in white linen
Leadon Hierarchy (In Progress)
Gabriel identified himself as being one that stands in the presence of God
- Based off of the beings proximity and relation to God
- Gabriel must be higher than some other beings
- Jesus had seven angels
- Based off of information found in the bible
18I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
- Christ is above every created being
Presenter: Michael Leadon
The hierarchy of holy angels
Catholic hierarchy mainly comes from Pseudo-Dionysius
- 5th century Syraian munk
The most influential Christian angelic hierarchy was that put forward by Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite in the 4th or 5th century in his book De Coelesti Hierarchia (On the Celestial Hierarchy). [see note below]
Psuedo-Dionysius is believed to have falsely identified himself in the corpus as "Dionysios", portraying himself as the figure of Dionysius the Areopagite, the Athenian convert of St. Paul mentioned in Acts 17:34.
St. Thomas Aquinas
St. Thomas Aquinas was a Middle Ages (13th Century) Dominican friar and Catholic priest who wrote the Summa Theologica
He was an Italian Dominican friar and Roman Catholic priest, who was an immensely influential philosopher, theologian and jurist.
Summa Theologica was intended as an instructional guide for theology students, including seminarians and the literate laity. It was a compendium of all of the main theological teachings of the Catholic Church. It presents the reasoning for almost all points of Christian theology in the West.
Summa Theologica, among other things, includes descriptions about angels
- do they eat
- how fast do they move
- do they die
- do they have children
- how do they communicate
- What are their bodies like
- How do they move