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Who Are The Angels?

Updated on August 25, 2015

Depending on the way that you were raised many different images may cross your mind when you think of angels. Angels are sometimes referred to as cherubs, sometimes called saints, and sometimes those who pass away from this life into the next are also called angels. But do angels occupy all of these offices?

As a child I attended a Catholic private school and was taught that angels were fat little babies with wings also known as cherubs but that there were some who were warriors who were known as guardian angels. These angels were also saints and there were prayers that were said that asked them to intercede on our behalf so that God would protect us.

I heard about the humans becoming angels idea when someone I knew died. It was said that that person had become an angel. Since then I have heard it countless times. Celebrities say it when they speak about another celebrity who has died and regular people say it as well.

Guido Reni's "Saint Michael the Archangel" 1636
Guido Reni's "Saint Michael the Archangel" 1636 | Source

Are Angels Saints?

There are some groups that believe that angels are saints and refer to them as such. As mentioned before, the Roman Cathoilc Church is one such group.

Although the Roman Catholic Church defines a saint as being someone who has led an extremely holy life and is able to do miracles even from the grave Michael, who is an angel, and has never been a person as seen in the Bible is still considered to be a saint.

The Bible does not refer to Michael the archangel as a saint. It says in Psalm 50 that the saints are those who have made a covenant with God by sacrifice. In Psalm 116 it says that the death of the saints is precious in the sight of the Lord. Finally in 1 Corinthians 6 it says that the saints shall judge the world and then goes on to call the ones to whom the letter is written those very saints. It is clear then that the office of saint and angel are two different offices and that the saints refer to those of mankind who have followed the way of Jesus Christ. Michael is recognized as an angel in the Bible when he is mentioned.

There is also the account in the book of Revelation where the saints offer prayers upon the golden altar and an angel offers incense before the throne along with the prayers of the saints. (Revelation 8:4 K.J.V.) At this time other angels are sounding trumpets and doing the will of God.

In Chapter 8 of the book of Revelation, an angel speaks of the patience of the saints and says that they are the ones who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. Since mankind were given the commandments of God and not angels then according to this definition (from an angel) angels cannot be saints.

Is this the first image that comes to mind when one thinks of the Cherubim?

Raphael's portrayal of Cherubs.
Raphael's portrayal of Cherubs. | Source

Do People Become Angels After They Die?

I have heard it often said that people become angels after they die. It is not unusual for me to hear something like, 'She is an angel of God, now' or 'God needed him to be an angel and so He called him to a higher purpose' at funerals. Many people say, and possibly believe that people can become angels after they die and this is a source of comfort for them. The Bible does not have anything to say about this and both the Old Testament and the New Testament declares that angels and mankind are separate beings even after death.

This is best illustrated in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. Both men die and the poor one, Lazarus, is taken to Abraham's Bosom where he finally finds rest. There Abraham himself ministers to him and he is still Abraham and not an angel. Neither is Lazarus turned into and angel.

Types of Angels

The Bible also mentions the fact that there are different types of angels: Cherubim, Seraphim, and Archangels are mentioned. Most people are familiar with Cherubim but they think that they look like chubby babies with wings. Perhaps this idea came from the artistic depictions of the Roman god Cupid but Cherubim do not fit that description at all and based on biblical description are very intimidating and fearful to look at. According to the Bible, Cherubim have four wings while Seraphim have six. More detail is given concerning the looks of Cherubim. All that is known about the looks of Seraphim is found in the book of Isaiah and Revelation. Isaiah says that they have six wings and Revelation expands on that description stating that they are covered with eyes.

Description of Cherubim by Ezekiel the Prophet

Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man.

And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings.

And their feet were straight feet; and the sole of their feet was like the sole of a calf's foot: and they sparkled like the colour of burnished brass.

And they had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides; and they four had their faces and their wings.

— Ezekiel 1:5-8 K.J.V.

Tchaikovsky's Hymn of the Cherubim

Are Angels Aliens?

I have heard some people say that the Bible refers to alien life and they use the angels as evidence of this. There are some who believe that the U.F.O. sightings etc. are linked with angels and that they are truly aliens, that is, species from another planet.

If you are thinking about aliens as beings who live on another planet and want to take over the world and inhabit it themselves then angels are not aliens. If you think of aliens as a species who experiment on humans from time to time then angels are not aliens. But if you think of aliens as a being that is not native to earth, then I suppose you could call angels aliens since they were not created on earth and existed before the creation of earth.

Fallen Angels

The Bible speaks about angels who fell from grace. These angels are often referred to as fallen angels even though the term is never used in the Bible. In 2 Peter 2:4 it says that these angels sinned and were not spared by God but were cast into Hell, delivered into chains of darkness and await judgment. These are those who chose to follow the deceiver and it is these angels who will be cast into the lake of fire with him.

Guardian Angel by Marcantonio Franceschini

Marcantonio Franceschini's "Guardian Angel" 1716
Marcantonio Franceschini's "Guardian Angel" 1716 | Source

Guardian Angels

According to the Bible angels also act as guardians to people. This was mentioned by Jesus and was also spoken of in the book of Hebrews.

Jesus said to His disciples that the angels who guard people are constantly before the face of God in heaven and that therefore they should not be despised.

"Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven." Matthew 18:10 K.J.V.

In the Book of Hebrews (Chapter 1) it says that angels are ministering spirits who are sent out in God's service to assist those who inherit salvation.

Some believe that everyone has a guardian angel but both Jesus words and the Book of Hebrews suggest that the angels guard those who belong to Jesus, that is those who love and serve the Lord.

In Conclusion

Angels, as described in the Bible, are beings who serve God and act as His messengers.They worship Him eternally and give Him honor and praise. Angels have never been mankind and never will be. They cannot receive salvation as mankind can and therefore those who have fallen will not be redeemed by Jesus. Mankind is lower than the angels, as written in the Book of Hebrews and the book of Psalms.

Hebrews 2:7 says "Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands"

Psalm 8:4 - 5 says "What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?

For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour."

Although this is so, angels serve those of mankind who are a part of the kingdom of God.


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    • North Wind profile imageAUTHOR

      North Wind 

      3 years ago from The World (for now)

      Hi MsDora,

      Yes. I suppose it is to convey just how special that person was/is in the mind. I thought that it was common knowledge that humans and angels were different until I met a few people who insisted to me that people become angels when they die! So I can only conclude that many people agree that they are different but some do not.

      Thanks so much for reading!

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      3 years ago from The Caribbean

      I totally agree with your conclusion. Sometimes people make references like calling someone an angel to conjure up a specific feeling; but I believe it is common knowledge that humans and angels are different.

    • North Wind profile imageAUTHOR

      North Wind 

      3 years ago from The World (for now)

      Thanks teaches, I appreciate the fact that you took time to read this :)

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      3 years ago

      I agree with your definition and conclusion on angels. You referenced truths and explain them well.

    • North Wind profile imageAUTHOR

      North Wind 

      3 years ago from The World (for now)

      Thanks for reading, Ericdierker.

      Your supposition makes sense. Jesus did stress to the disciples that they must serve as He served. Thanks for the enlightening comment.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Very interesting. I am most comfortable with your conclusion. It seems we are using the word differently when speaking of actions by people. Since service to fellow creatures is an ultimate objective perhaps those in service have a higher place.


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