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Angels are pure spirits without a body, created to adore and enjoy God in heaven. Angels appeared to the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph; also to Abraham, Lot, Jacob, Tobiah, and others. The angels were also created to assist before the throne of God and to minister unto Him; they have often been sent as messengers from God to man; and are also appointed our guardians. The angels are not equal in dignity. There are nine choirs or classes mentioned in the Holy Scripture. The highest are called Seraphim and the lowest simply Angels. The Archangels are one class higher than ordinary Angels. The Archangel Michael drove Satan out of heaven; the Archangel Gabriel announced to the Blessed Virgin that she was to become the Mother of God. The Archangel Raphael guided and protected Tobiah.
The Angels are pure spirits created by God who, unlike humans, have no physical bodies. There are two ways of classifying angels: by the choir to which an angel belongs by nature, and by whether or not the angel remained faithful to God.
It is taught that there are nine choirs of angels: Seraphim, Cherubim, Virtues, Dominations, Powers, Principalities, Thrones, Archangels, and Angels (might not be in correct order). The term angel broadly refers to any creature possessing an angelic nature, but specifially refers to the ninth choir.
The second manner of classifying distinguishes between the good angels and the bad angels, also called devils. It appears that all angelic beings were tested at a certain point, and that some chose to follow God and others rejected Him. It is speculated by many theologians (in a good sense of the term) that the event was probably as follows:
- God showed the angels that the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity would become man. They were told that they must adore Him in His human nature, and that they would be expected to serve Him and any creatures He created that possessed a human nature. One of the Seraphim announced that he would not do it. One of the Archangels countered him with "Who is like unto God?" All the members of the nine choirs of angels irrevocably and with full knowledge made a determination as to whether or not they would serve God. A battle was then fought in heaven and the devils were driven out. When humans were created, the devils began to try to persuade them also to choose not to serve God, which they continue to do until this day.
An"gel, n. Etym: [AS. æangel, engel, influenced by OF. angele, angle, F. ange. Both the AS. and the OF. words are from L. angelus, Gr.
1. A messenger. [R.] The dear good angel of the Spring, The nightingale. B. Jonson.
2. A spiritual, celestial being, superior to man in power and
intelligence. In the Scriptures the angels appear as God's
O, welcome, pure-eyed Faith, white-handed Hope, Thou hovering angel, girt with golden wings. Milton.
3. One of a class of "fallen angels;" an evil spirit; as, the devil and his angels.
4. A minister or pastor of a church, as in the Seven Asiatic
Unto-the angel of the church of Ephesus write. Rev. ii. 1.
5. Attendant spirit; genius; demon. Shak.
6. An appellation given to a person supposed to be of angelic
goodness or loveliness; a darling.
When pain and anguish wring the brow. Sir W. Scott.
Defn: An ancient gold coin of England, bearing the figure of the archangel Michael. It varied in value from 6s. 8d. to 10s. Amer. Cyc.
Note: Angel is sometimes used adjectively; as, angel grace; angel whiteness. Angel bed, a bed without posts.
-- Angel fish. (Zoöl.)
(a) A species of shark (Squatina angelus) from six to eight feet long, found on the coasts of Europe and North America. It takes its name from its pectoral fins, which are very large and extend horizontally like wings when spread.
(b) One of several species of compressed, bright colored fishes warm seas, belonging to the family, Chætodontidæ.
-- Angel gold, standard gold. [Obs.] Fuller.
-- Angel shark. See Angel fish.
-- Angel shot (Mil.), a kind of chain shot.
-- Angel water, a perfumed liquid made at first chiefly from angelica; afterwards containing rose, myrtle, and orange-flower waters, with ambergris, etc. [Obs.]
---excerpt from the Illustrated Bible Dictionary.
A word signifying, both in the Hebrew and Greek, a "messenger," and hence employed to denote any agent God sends forth to execute His purposes. It is used of an ordinary messenger (Job 1:14; 1 Samuel 11:3; Luke 7:24; Luke 9:52), of prophets (Isaiah 42:19; Haggai 1:13), of priests (Malachi 2:7), and ministers of the New Testament (Revelation 1:20). It is also applied to such impersonal agents as the pestilence (2 Samuel 24:16 - 24:17; 2 Kings 19:35), the wind (Psalm 104:4). But its distinctive application is to certain heavenly intelligences whom God employs in carrying on his government of the world. The name does not denote their nature but their office as messengers. The appearances to Abraham at Mamre (Genesis 18:2, Genesis 18:22. Compare Genesis 19:1), to Jacob at Peniel (Genesis 32:24, Genesis 32:30), to Joshua at Gilgal (Joshua 5:13, Joshua 5:15), of the Angel of the Lord, were doubtless manifestations of the Divine presence, "foreshadowings of the Incarnation," revelations before the "fulness of the time" of the Son of God.
(1.) The existence and orders of angelic beings can only be discovered from the Scriptures. Although the Bible does not treat of this subject specially, yet there are numerous incidental details that furnish us with ample information. Their personal existence is plainly implied in such passages as Genesis 16:7, Genesis 16:10, Genesis 16:11; Judges 13:1-21; Matthew 28:2; Hebrews 1:4, etc. These superior beings are very numerous. "Thousand thousands," etc. (Daniel 7:10; Matthew 26:53; Luke 2:13; Hebrews 12:22, Hebrews 12:23). They are also spoken of as of different ranks in dignity and power (Zechariah 1:9, Zechariah 1:11; Daniel 10:13; Daniel 12:1; 1 Thessalonians 4:16; Jude 1:9; Ephesians 1:21; Colossians 1:16).
(2.) As to their nature, they are spirits (Hebrews 1:14), like the soul of man, but not incorporeal. Such expressions as "like the angels" (Luke 20:36), and the fact that whenever angels appeared to man it was always in a human form (Genesis 18:2; Genesis 19:1, Genesis 19:10; Luke 24:4; Acts 1:10), and the titles that are applied to them ("sons of God," Job 1:6; Job 38:7; Daniel 3:25; compare Daniel 3:28) and to men (Luke 3:38), seem all to indicate some resemblance between them and the human race. Imperfection is ascribed to them as creatures (Job 4:18; Matthew 24:36; 1 Peter 1:12). As finite creatures they may fall under temptation; and accordingly we read of "fallen angels." Of the cause and manner of their "fall" we are wholly ignorant. We know only that "they left their first estate" (Matthew 25:41; Revelation 12:7, Revelation 12:9), and that they are "reserved unto judgment" (2 Peter 2:4). When the manna is called "angels' food," this is merely to denote its excellence (Psalm 78:25). Angels never die (Luke 20:36). They are possessed of superhuman intelligence and power (Mark 13:32; 2 Thessalonians 1:7; Psalm 103:20). They are called "holy" (Luke 9:26), "elect" (1 Timothy 5:21). The redeemed in glory are "like unto the angels" (Luke 20:36). They are not to be worshipped (Colossians 2:18; Revelation 19:10).
(3.) Their functions are manifold.
(a) In the widest sense they are agents of God's providence (Exodus 12:23; Psalm 104:4; Hebrews 11:28; 1 Corinthians 10:10; 2 Samuel 24:16; 1 Chronicles 21:16; 2 Kings 19:35; Acts 12:23).
(b) They are specially God's agents in carrying on his great work of redemption. There is no notice of angelic appearances to man till after the call of Abraham. From that time onward there are frequent references to their ministry on earth (Genesis 18; Genesis 19; Genesis 24:7, Genesis 24:40; Genesis 28:12; Genesis 32:1). They appear to rebuke idolatry (Judges 2:1), to call Gideon (Judges 6:11 - 6:12), and to consecrate Samson (Judges 13:3). In the days of the prophets, from Samuel downward, the angels appear only in their behalf (1 Kings 19:5; 2 Kings 6:17; Zechariah 1-6; Daniel 4:13, Daniel 4:23; Daniel 10:10, Daniel 10:13, Daniel 10:20, Daniel 10:21). The Incarnation introduces a new era in the ministrations of angels. They come with their Lord to earth to do him service while here. They predict his advent (Matthew 1:20; Luke 1:26), minister to him after his temptation and agony (Matthew 4:11; Luke 22:43), and declare his resurrection and ascension (Matthew 28:2; John 20:12 - 20:13; Acts 1:10 - 1:11). They are now ministering spirits to the people of God (Hebrews 1:14; Psalm 34:7; Psalms 91:11; Matthew 18:10; Acts 5:19; Acts 8:26; Acts 10:3; Acts 12:7; Acts 27:23). They rejoice over a penitent sinner (Luke 15:10). They bear the souls of the redeemed to paradise (Luke 16:22); and they will be the ministers of judgment hereafter on the great day (Matthew 13:39, Matthew 13:41, Matthew 13:49; Matthew 16:27; Matthew 24:31).
The passages (Psalm 34:7, Matthew 18:10) are usually referred to in support of the idea that every individual has a particular guardian angel. They also indicate that God employs the ministry of angels to deliver His people from affliction and danger, and that the angels do not think it below their dignity to minister even to children and to the least among Christ's disciples. The "angel of his presence" (Isaiah 63:9. Compare Exodus 23:20, Exodus 23:21; Exodus 32:34; Exodus 33:2; Numbers 20:16) is probably rightly interpreted of the Messiah as the guide of His people. Others have supposed the expression to refer to Gabriel (Luke 1:19).
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