Angels play an important role throughout the Bible, acting as messengers from God, protectors, and guides. While the exact number of angels is not specified, there are numerous named angels in Scripture. This article explores what the Bible reveals about God’s angelic hosts.
How Many Angels Are There?
The Bible does not give an exact number of angels, but it indicates there are vast numbers. When the prophet Daniel saw a vision of God’s throne room, he said, “Thousand thousands served him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him” (Daniel 7:10). The letter to the Hebrews also speaks of “innumerable angels” (Hebrews 12:22). Jesus implied legions of angels were at God’s disposal, saying he could instantly summon 12 legions, which would be 72,000 angels (Matthew 26:53). From these scriptures, we understand there are countless thousands upon thousands of angels.
The Names of Angels in the Bible
While only two angels are named in the Old Testament (Michael and Gabriel), more angelic names emerge in extra-biblical Jewish writings between the Old and New Testaments. Several angels not named in Scripture are referred to in the New Testament, especially in Revelation. Here are the names of angels found in the Bible and other Jewish texts:
The word “archangel” comes from the Greek word arche (ruler) and angelos (messenger). It refers to the highest ranking or leading angels. There are two archangels named in the Bible:
- Michael – Daniel 10:13, 21; 12:1; Jude 1:9; Revelation 12:7
- Gabriel – Daniel 8:16; 9:21; Luke 1:19, 26
Other archangels named in extra-biblical texts include:
- Raphael – Book of Tobit
- Uriel – 2 Esdras
Cherubim have a special role as God’s throne bearers. They are associated with God’s glory, holiness and judgment:
- Lucifer – Isaiah 14:12 (fallen cherub)
- Cherubim – Genesis 3:24; Exodus 25:18-22; Ezekiel 10
Seraphim appear in Isaiah’s vision of God’s throne room (Isaiah 6:2-7). They praise God continually and attend to his glory.
Some other angels named in Scripture include:
- Abaddon/Apollyon – Revelation 9:11 (angel of the abyss)
- Chayot Ha Kodesh – Ezekiel 1 (living creatures of God’s throne)
- Destroying angel – Exodus 12:23; 2 Samuel 24:16; 1 Chronicles 21:15 (bringer of plagues/judgment)
- Eleleth – 1 Enoch 10:1-3 (watcher angel)
- Jehoel – 1 Enoch 9:1; Apocalypse of Abraham (presence of God)
- Metatron – Babylonian Talmud (angel of the veil)
- Phanuel – Book of Enoch (presence of God)
- Sandalphon – Rabbinic writings (angel of prayer/praise)
- Satan – Job 1-2; Zechariah 3:1-2; Revelation 12:9 (adversary/accuser)
Categories of Angels in the Bible
In addition to specific angel names, Scripture presents categories of angels based on their roles and tasks:
These angels deliver messages, announcements, warnings, and news from God. Examples include:
- Gabriel – Announced births of John and Jesus (Luke 1)
- Angel – Helped free Peter from prison (Acts 12:7-10)
- Angel – Told Philip to approach the Ethiopian’s chariot (Acts 8:26)
These angels provide guidance and protection. The Bible implies each believer has an angel who watches over them:
- Angel of the Lord – Protected and guided Hagar and Ishmael (Genesis 16; 21)
- Angel – Led Peter from prison (Acts 12:11-17)
- Angels – Minister to believers (Hebrews 1:14)
These angels function as God’s army and conduct spiritual warfare against evil forces:
- Michael – Fights the heavenly dragon (Revelation 12:7-9)
- Angel of the Lord – Struck down 185,000 Assyrians (2 Kings 19:35)
These angels appear before God’s throne, worship him, and carry out his will:
- Four living creatures – Worship God continually (Revelation 4:6-11)
- Seraphim – Stand above God’s throne and praise him (Isaiah 6:1-3)
- Twenty-four elders – Fall down and worship God (Revelation 11:16-18)
These angels inflict judgment and punishment on people and nations:
- Destroying angel – Killed firstborn in Egypt (Exodus 12:23)
- Four angels – Unleashed to kill a third of mankind (Revelation 9:15)
- Seven angels – Ushered in bowl judgments (Revelation 15:1)
Key Angels in the Bible
A few individual angels figure prominently throughout Scripture and have important roles. Here are some key angels and their significance:
Michael is called the “archangel” in Jude 1:9. He is depicted as the commander of God’s angel armies who helped fight fallen angels and is associated with defending Israel (Daniel 10:13; 12:1; Revelation 12:7).
Gabriel seems to be a leading messenger angel. He interpreted visions for Daniel (Daniel 8:16; 9:21) and delivered significant announcements about the births of John the Baptist and Jesus (Luke 1:11-20; 26-38).
Satan is a fallen angelic being who leads demons and opposes God. He tempted Adam and Eve and incites spiritual warfare against believers (Genesis 3; Job 1-2; Zechariah 3:1-2).
Lucifer refers to Satan before his rebellion and fall from heaven. As a cherub, he was blameless until wickedness was found in him (Isaiah 14:12; Ezekiel 28:14-15).
This angel is identified as the ruler of the bottomless pit or abyss (Revelation 9:11). He leads a horde of demonic locusts that inflict torment.
Angel of the Lord
This unnamed angel spoke for God in the burning bush theophany and led Israel in the wilderness (Exodus 3; 14:19). Some link him to the preincarnate Christ.
Angels in the Book of Revelation
The book of Revelation contains more references to angels than any other New Testament book. It shows angels intensely involved in God’s end times plans. Key angels in Revelation include:
- Seven angels with the seven trumpets (Revelation 8:2)
- Four angels holding back the four winds (Revelation 7:1)
- Angel with the key to the bottomless pit (Revelation 9:1; 20:1)
- Seven bowl angels (Revelation 16)
- Angel proclaiming the gospel eternally (Revelation 14:6)
Revelation also mentions seraphim (Revelation 4:8) and cherubim (Revelation 4:6-8) in worship scenes before God’s throne. An enormous multitude of angels appears in Revelation 5:11 and 7:11 praising God.
While we cannot know the exact number of angels, the Bible indicates an innumerable angelic host serves God and interacts with people. Scripture names a few prominent angels while also presenting categories of angels based on their duties. God created these magnificent spiritual beings to worship him continually, carry out his will, and assist believers. The angels play vital roles in God’s interactions with people now and in the future events described in Revelation.