Angelology in the Book of Revelation

August 15, 2016 — Leave a comment

When examining the book of Revelation it is important to look at different themes that are emphasized throughout the book. In addition to the themes of God and satanology, the ministry of angels–angelology–is an important theme in the book of Revelation.

Angelology in the Book of Revelation

I. ANGELS REVEAL THE VISION TO JOHN

  • The first verse of Revelation states that this book is a revelation from Jesus Christ which originated from God. With that, Jesus Christ sent an angel to present this revelation to John (1:1).
  • Later in the book of Revelation a voice comes from heaven telling John to write about the persecution of God’s holy people (14:13).
  • Just before Jesus’s return to earth an angel again tells John to write down what he is seeing (19:9).
  • At the end of the book of Revelation the angel tells John that everything John has seen is trustworthy and true (21:6). Jesus says that he has sent his angel to give John this message for the churches (21:16).
  • Lastly, in the New Jerusalem the angel shows John a river with the water of life (22:1).

II. ANGELS HAVE GEOGRAPHIC RESPONSIBILITY

Perhaps one of the more perplexing and revealing parts of Revelation is that angels have geographical responsibility. In the first chapter of Revelation there are seven stars (which are angels) in the right hand of Jesus standing in the middle of the seven gold lampstands (which are churches) (1:12-16).

Jesus addresses his letters not directly to the churches, but instead to the angels which oversee those churches:

  • “the angel of the church of Ephesus” (2:1),
  • “the angel of the church in Smyrna” (2:8),
  • “the angel of the church in Pergamum” (2:12),
  • “the angel of the church in Thyatira” (2:18),
  • “the angel of the church in Sardis” (3:1),
  • “the angel of the church in Philadelphia” (3:7),
  • “the angel of the church in Laodicea” (3:14).

III. ANGELS PRAISE AND WORSHIP GOD

A. Four Living Beings in Heaven

Some of the clearest worship and praise of God comes from the four living beings which live in heaven. They are described like a lion, like an ox, one has a human face, and one is an eagle in flight (4:7). They each have six wings that are covered with eyes inside and outside (4:8). Day after day they sing, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty—the one who always was, who is, and who is still to come” (4:8, NLT). Each of these living beings give honor, glory, and thanks to the one sitting on the throne (4:9). In the next chapter of Revelation they fall down before the Lamb (with the twenty-four elders). Each one has a harp and they hold gold bowls filled with incense (where were the prayers of God’s people) (5:8).

In Revelation 7 all the angels are standing around the throne and the four living beings worship God (7:11) and sing songs of worship (7:12). Lastly, while the identity of the “vast crowd in heaven” shouting (19:1, 5, 6-8) might or might not be angels, the identity of the four living beings in 19:4 are angels. Those angels say, “Amen! Praise the Lord!” (19:4).

B. Millions of Angels

While the four living beings sing a song (5:9-10) John hears the voices of “thousands” and “millions” of angels that are around the throne, the living beings, and the elders (5:11). These thousands and millions of angels sing a mighty chorus (5:12).

IV. ANGELS ANNOUNCE GOD’S JUDGMENT

When the Lamb breaks the first, second, third, and fourth seals on the scroll one of the four living beings announces God’s judgement by saying, “Come!” (6:1, 3, 5, 7).

Later, in Revelation 4 John sees a series of three angels that announce God’s judgment.

  1. The first angel flies through the sky carrying the eternal Good News (14:6) which he proclaims (14:7).
  2. The second angel flies shouting about Babylon being fallen (14:8).
  3. Last, a third angel follows the first two predicting what will happen to those who worship the beast or the statue (14:9-11).

V. ANGELS ADMINISTER GOD’S JUDGMENT

A. Four Angels

Various times in the book of Revelation angels not only announce God’s judgement but they administer God’s judgement. The first instance of this is when four angels stand at the four corners of the earth holding back the four winds so that the winds do not blow on the earth, sea, or tree (7:1). Then, an angel comes up from the east carrying the seal of the living God and shouts to the four angels mentioned in 7:1 (7:2). He tells the four angels not to harm the land, sea, or trees until the seal of God is placed on the foreheads of God’s servants (7:3).

B. Seven Angels and Seven Trumpets

In the next chapter another angel with a gold incense burner comes and stands at the altar. Incense is given to him to mix with the prayers of God’s holy people. Those prayers ascend up to God from the altar (8:3-4). Then, the angel fills the incense burner with fire from the altar and throws it down upon the earth (8:5).
Later, angels administer more judgment during the blowing of the seven trumpets.

  1. The first angel blows his trumpet and hail and fire mixed with blood are thrown down to earth (8:7).
  2. The second angel blows his trumpet and a great mountain of fire is thrown down into the sea (8:8).
  3. The third angel blows his trumpet and a great star falls from the sky that burns like a torch (8:10).
  4. The fourth angel blows his trumpet and one-third of the sun, moon, and stars are struck and become dark (8:12).
  5. The fifth angel blows his trumpet and a star falls from the sky (9:1).
  6. The sixth angel blows his trumpet and a voice is heard from the four horns of the gold altar that stands in the presence of God (9:13). The voice says to release the four angels that had been prepared for that hour (9:14). Those four angels are turned loose with an army of 200 million troops in order to kill one-third of all the people on the earth (9:15-16). In this trumpet one-third of all the people on the earth are killed by the plagues of fire, smoke, and burning sulfur (9:17-18). Next, between the sixth and seven trumpet, John sees another mighty angel coming down from heaven (10:1). In his hand is a small scroll that had been opened. He stands with one foot on the sea and the other on the land (10:2). He gives a shout like a lion to which the seven thunders answer (10:3). Next, the angel raises his right hand toward heaven (10:5), swears an oath (10:6-7), and John approaches the angel, takes the scroll, and eats it (10:9-10).
  7. The seventh angel blows his trumpet and there are loud voices shouting in heaven (11:15). The temple of God is opened and the Ark of God’s covenant is seen inside the temple (11:19).

C. Seven Angels and Seven Plagues

After the seven angels blow their trumpets there are seven angels that hold the seven last plagues (15:1). These seven angels are in the temple in heaven (15:5-6). One of the four living beings hands each of the seven angels a gold bowl filled with the wrath of God (15:7). No one can enter the temple until the seven angels finish pouring out the seven plagues (15:8). Next John hears a voice from heaven telling the angels to pour out the seven bowls of wrath on the earth (16:1).

  1. The first angel pours out his bowl on the earth (16:2).
  2. The second angel pours out his bowl on the sea (16:3).
  3. The third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs (16:4).
  4. The fourth angel pours out his bowl on the sun (16:8).
  5. The fifth angel pours out his bowl on the throne of the beast (16:10).
  6. The sixth angel pours out his bowl on the Euphrates River (16:12).
  7. The seventh angel pours out his bowl into the air (16:17).

Next, one of the seven angels described in 15:5-16:21 approaches John and tells him that the great judgement is about to come upon the prostitute (17:1). Then the angel takes John in the Spirit into the wilderness (17:7). After seeing the beast in the wilderness (17:4-6) the angel asks why John is so amazed (17:7) and tells John he will explain the mystery (17:8-18)

VI. ANGELS BATTLE SATAN AND HIS DEMONS

Michael and his angels fight against the dragon (which is Satan) and his angels (12:7), but the dragon loses the battle and is forced out of heaven (12:8). Just before the Millennium an angel comes down from heaven with the key to the bottomless pit (20:1), seizes the dragon, and binds him in chains for a thousand years (20:2-3).

Christopher L. Scott

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Christopher Scott is Small Groups Pastor at Rocky Hilly Community Church in Exeter, CA. He has more than ten years of experience leading volunteers, running nonprofit programs, and teaching the Bible in small group settings. He holds a bachelor's degree from Fresno Pacific University and master's degree from Dallas Theological Seminary.

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