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Angels: Powers, Functions, Numbers and Classification - Part 2
By powers of angels, we mean the magnitude of effects that are possible by the exercise of the angelic faculties of knowing, willing and feeling. In other words, how powerful are the angels? This question is very important because since it is established that demons are fallen angels, we can know how powerful they are from knowing how powerful the angels are. In particular reference to willing, the power of an angel would refer to the extent to which an angel can desire and bring about an occurrence.
For example, the powers of a human being are limited to what a human being can know and do with all the limitations that his human nature imposes. Some human persons are more powerful than others, either intellectually, physically or according to strength of will (character).
Bearing in mind that they are higher creatures than human spirits, we cannot but concede a superior capacity of these faculties (powers). For instance, the angels can know how much more deeply than a human being can.
According to Michael Schmaus, "their piercing and comprehensive understanding is what is meant when scripture represents them as covered with eyes. Their entire being is beholding". This is why theologians have variously referred to them as "celestial intelligence", "intellectual beings", "minds", etc.
Was this useful to you on the powers of angels?
They have a superior intelligence than that of a human and can, if they so desire, outwit humans. They do not know the future, but can; by virtue of their superior intelligence estimate the future by keenly observing the currents of the various actor factors of history. By actor factors of history, we mean the various factors that play out in the eventual determination of what the future turns out to be.
For example, Meteorologists are able to observe nature and tell us whether it will rain tomorrow or not. In the same way, but more accurately, since they are of a higher intelligence, an angel can tell what the weather may look like tomorrow.
To do this however, they will need to consider what is called the other (f)actors of history. These include the Will of God within whose permission, will other actors play a role. These other (f)actors include:
- Spiritual beings (angels and demons),
- Human beings, and
- Natural factors in the physical universe.
Angels are finite and so can neither penetrate the depths of God nor the hidden thoughts of men unless God so desires.
With regard to the will power of angels, an angel only has to will whatever is within the precincts of possibilities allotted to its nature by God and it will happen. For example, if a person wants to travel safely to a certain destination, a bad angel can will that there be an accident. If there is no contrary willing from a superior creature or the Creator himself, the will of the bad angel will occur. This is the reason why when people say they dreamt that an accident is going to occur, the most reasonable thing to do is to pray about it.
This is because; if it were a revelation, the prayers will help to avert the occurrence. If it was a mere dream, the prayer will not do any harm. Prayers can only make us grow in grace. To reduce everything to psychology is to be ignorant of the world in which we live, just like it is equally out of place to glorify the devil by calling his name each time there is mishap. The name of Jesus is the name to call always, for at the mention of his name, every knee must bow, and every tongue must confess that he is Lord.
All powers, all authorities, all principalities, all angels (good or bad) and all their schemes are subject to God.
However, we must know that the reaches of an angel's powers are vast to say the least.
Lepicier says on the powers of angels as follows:
"The phenomenon, to which the power of angels may give rise, whether exercised mediately or immediately, must be of remarkable character, both as regards their extent and diversity. As on the one hand, these pure spirits possess a knowledge of physical and chemical laws far surpassing our own knowledge, and as on the other hand, their power is such vast range, we must assume that there are hardly any phenomena in the world which they cannot produce in one way or the other."
An angel can change the weather, wrought a cure, withstand an army of thousands of humans (2 Kings 19:35), protect and deliver humans from calamity. The height of human power is probably only the periphery of angelic might.
In the words of Patrick Egba, "it is too easy for an angel of God to produce invisible dynamites, atomic bombs, hydrogen bombs, fusion bombs, ...intercontinental ballistic missiles... etc".
As regards an angel's emotive faculty, an angel can love or hate, fear and feel in a com-measurably higher degree than the highest intensity of the emotions in humans. One can therefore, understand on the one hand the loving fervor with which the good angels carry out God's orders, and on the other hand, the passion with which the bad angels seek the ruin of souls. One only needs to witness the reluctance with which a demon gives up its stronghold on a possessed person at an exorcism to appreciate this point.
The angels bring all their faculties to bear on their relationship with God and other creatures. All angels have not always used these faculties according to the mind of God. The misuse of these faculties (especially their freewill) and the consequence of their actions is what has resulted in great upheavals in the world.
Since after the fall, while good angels continue to relate with God and men, the bad angels go about in the world seeking the ruin of souls.
Functions of Angels
The functions of angels is derived directly from their nature. They are primarily messengers or mediators between God and human beings. In the Old Testament, they served to inform, guide, protect and warn men and women individually, or the chosen people as a whole. (Genesis 16:3, 7; 21: 17; etc.)
Angels in the Old Testament are also presented as members of the court of God, only so, however, as worshipers of God (Tobit 12:15). Some angels, seen as dispensers of God's wrath are regarded as "destroying angels who executed the judgement and vengeance of God" (Exodus 12:23; Numbers 21:6 - 8; 2Kings 22:19).
In the New Testament, the functions of angels are almost a carryover from the Old Testament. In Matthew 1:20; 2:13; Galatians 3:19; and Hebrews 1:4, we find occasions where angels act as messengers of God to men.
Also in Matthew 4:11; 18:10; Mark 1:13; Luke 22:43, we see that there are guardian angels and protectors. A reference is also made to them as members of the heavenly court in Matthew 2:36, Luke 22:43. It is however, peculiar to the New Testament that the angels are referred to as companions of Christ on his return to judge the world (Matthew 13:41 - 49).
The angels also guide and guard human beings, especially in moments of affliction. For example, at his agony in Gethsemane, there were angels to console the Lord, and they rejoiced at the repentance of a lost sinner (Luke 15:10). They can also be placed in charge of places, territories, churches and institutions.
Do you believe in angel hierarchy?
Number and Classification of Angels
Saint Gregory of Nyssa (330 - 395) opines that there are millions of angels (Daniel 10:18). Father Parente writes: "the number of angelic spirits must exceed beyond all comparison the number of human souls created from the beginning of the world until now and those to be created from now till the end of the world".
The statement of Jesus that the angels of little ones (children) are always before God (Matthew 18:10) alludes to the fact that every child, and by inference, everyone; since there is no one who was never a little one, has a guardian angel. This fact further vivifies the point that angels are indeed exceedingly many.
Theologians have tried to reach an accurate classification of these many angels into choirs, from many scriptural, apocrypha, and extra scriptural sources. There is a theological consensus that there is hierarchy among the angels, but the correct order is sometimes debated.
the traditional Catholic classification into nine choirs of angels runs as follows:
- Arch - angels,
- Cherubim, and
This is the known classification of angels.
Most of this work is a complete extract from the words of Father Micheal.
Cruz, J. C., Angels and Devils, Rockford Illinois, USA, Tan Books and Pub, Inc. 1993.
Igba, P., Angels of God in the Service of men, Lagos: Patovie Nigeria Limited, 2002.
Prayer to St. Micheal - http://www.angelfire.com/al/silverinst/demon.htm