Especially around the Halloween season, we can hear a lot about demons, otherwise known as “fallen angels.” We see depictions of these beings in movies, TV shows, and in popular literature.
But do fallen angels just remain in that realm of fiction? Or is there something a little more real about these sinister beings?
Yes, they do exist (Luke 10:18) and may interfere in our lives (Ephesians 6:12) more often than we would imagine or consider in our everyday thinking. But not all that we hear about them in popular culture is necessarily true.
This article will endeavor to discuss the nature of these beings and differentiate what’s fact and what’s fiction.
What Does the Bible Say about Angels?
The Bible has quite a lot to say about angels in general. In fact, angels appear or are mentioned almost 300 times in the Bible, according to this article from Got Questions. Regarding angels who have not fallen from heaven, we can learn a few things about them in Scripture.
Angels praise the Lord; every part of their existence appears to glorify God. We see this in the four creatures in heaven who cry out “holy, holy, holy,” without ceasing in Revelation 4:8. The angels who meet the shepherds in the field during Jesus’ birth also sing glory to God (Luke 2:14).
They are spiritual beings, but they can appear in the form of men. Numbers 22:23 shows an angel as a man with his sword drawn against the wicked prophet Balaam. They appear as men when the women find them at Jesus’ empty tomb (Matthew 28:2).
They tend to produce fear in whomever they encounter. One of the most common phrases you’ll hear an angel say in Scripture is, “Do not be afraid” (Luke 2:10). Their appearance is quite unlike what we see in modern depictions of cute cherubs flinging arrows. They are so otherworldly in their true form, that some people mistakenly try to worship them (Luke 19:10).
There are many types of angels. The four main types explicitly listed in the Bible are archangels (1 Thessalonians 4:16), cherubim (Psalm 18:10), the four living creatures (Revelation 4), and seraphim (Isaiah 6:3).
Since we have lightly touched on what angels are, we have to discuss what they are not. Or at least, we will discuss where culture gets them wrong.
They aren’t cute cherubs with bows and arrows. Whenever the authors of Scripture attempt to describe angels, they yield some bizarre imagery. Ezekiel even talks about angels traveling on wheels that have eyes on the rims (Ezekiel 1:18). In essence, the ideas we have of angels now would not produce the fear that people usually have when they encounter them, often coupled with uncontrollable trembling (Isaiah 6).
Salvation is reserved for humans alone – angels do not have a chance to be saved. When some angels fell from heaven, they made a choice of eternal destruction (2 Peter 2:4).
We don’t really have proof of guardian angels. Although it’s up for debate as to whether they exist (most in the pro-guardian angel argument point toward the verses Psalm 91:11–12 and Acts 2:15), we don’t have any specific verse to points to definitive proof of guardian angels for each individual person.
What Are Fallen Angels?
Because they have no eternal hope, it is their mission to drag as many people as possible with them into their eternal doom.
What Makes an Angel a Fallen?
Many believers and nonbelievers alike may wonder what criteria is in place to determine what makes it a fallen angel. We can establish a number of reasons for how an angel can fall from heaven, never to return.
First, they have to rebel against God. Scripture tells us that likely one-third (Revelation 12:4) of the angels followed Lucifer, later known as Satan (more on this in a moment). Satan, envious of the worship God received, decided to secede from heaven and take a portion of the inhabitants with him. If an angel followed Satan during this initial rebellion, they fall under the category of a fallen angel.
Secondly, they have their eternal fate sealed in the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:10). Because of their rebellion against the Almighty God, they await their fate of eternal doom. They know of this ending and shudder. This brings us to our final point in terms of criteria.
They wreak havoc and cause division. Because they know of their eternal fate, due to their rebellion, they will try to drag down as many souls as possible with them. This means they will influence, tempt, persuade, coerce, and even possess nonbelievers to sway them away from coming to know Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord. For a great fictionalized case study on these creatures, check out C.S. Lewis's Screwtape Letters.
Are There Any Verses about These Beings?
In addition to the verse listed above, we encounter a couple of other instances in Scripture that mention “angels” in conjunction with Satan. Additionally, any verse that mentions the word demon refers to a fallen angel (more on this in a moment).
- Revelation 12:9 describes Satan and his angels being thrown to earth from heaven because of their rebellion.
- Matthew 25:41 describes the punishment Satan and his angels will endure of the eternal fire.
- Revelation 12:4, through the metaphor of stars, indicates Satan swayed one-third of the angels of heaven to rebel against God.
Are There Multiple Fallen Angels?
As indicated before, demons and fallen angels are synonymous terms. We have verses in Scripture that point to the fact that more than one demon exists in the world. In fact, in Mark 5:9, we have a man who has so many demons in him, they go by the title “legion.”
Another verse, in Matthew 12:43, talks about how one demon will go out of an unbeliever and bring back several more to inhabit that person once more.
- Inhabit unbelievers (Mark 5:1-20).
- Cause those they possess to go mute (Matthew 9:32), blind (Matthew 12:22), deaf (Mark 9:25), or try to harm themselves (Mark 5:1-20).
- Spread lies (John 8:44) to turn people away from God
- Have a certain sway over rulers (Daniel 10)
Who Is Satan?
Satan, once known as Lucifer (Ezekiel 28), is the ringleader of the demons, who caused them to rebel against God in the first place.
He will tempt us in every way (Matthew 4:1-11).
It’s important to note Satan isn’t God’s opposite. God is far more powerful than Satan will ever be. Satan is not omnipotent, omniscient, or omnipresent.
What Is Fictional about These Beings?
Now that we’ve tackled the fallen angels, and their leader Satan, we have to establish what cultural conceptions about demons simply aren’t true.
Fallen angels cannot inhabit a believer. Sometimes Christians can worry if they’ll ever be possessed by a demon, but demons cannot inhabit what is the temple of the Lord (1 Corinthians 6:19) where the Holy Spirit dwells. Demons shudder at the very name of Jesus, so they would not want to be in close proximity with the God of the Universe (James 2:19).
Demons are not more powerful than believers. Believers might be wary about the spiritual battle surrounding us, feeling helpless. But if we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit is far more powerful than the forces of evil. Believers have the capability, through the name of Jesus, to cast out demons (Acts 19:13-16).
Fallen angels have already lost. It’s easy to get discouraged when we see the forces of evil at work in our modern world, but we can sometimes forget that Jesus already has the victory (1 John 4:4). Demons already have their fate sealed. It’s only a matter of time.
Angels are powerful beings, but all of them have to submit to God. Demons cannot carry out any actions outside of God’s will or plan (Job 1-2, Matthew 8:31). Although they are strong, God is stronger, and God’s plan will always win in the end.
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