« Prev § 22. When were they created? Next »

§ 22. When were they created?

CERTAINTY in regard to the existence of angels we attain only through revelation; for reason can at best make their existence only possible or probable. [1] They are, indeed, not referred to in the history of the creation; nevertheless we know that they are beings created by God, and we have reason to believe that they were not created before, nor after, but within the six days of creation; yet we know nothing further as to the day upon which they were created. [2]

The Holy Scriptures furnish us with more specific information, both in regard to the nature of the angels and their moral condition.


The Holy Scriptures represent the angels as, indeed, finite, because created, but intelligent and spiritual, therefore incorporeal beings, which, without needing a body, nevertheless have a personal subsistence. (QUEN. I, 444): “The angels are spiritual substances (Ps. 104:4; Heb. 1:14), i.e., without any bodily form (whether gross or refined), finite, complete, and thus real persons [hypostases]. [3] Angels are, further, intelligent substances, and very capable of becoming well acquainted both with themselves and with other things.” They were originally created by God in order to promote His glory and to serve Him. [4]


From this description of their nature, and of the design of their creation, as given in the Holy Scriptures, there follows the series of attributes which we are to ascribe to them, and whereby we become better acquainted with their nature. [5]

From the nature of angels as spiritual beings, there follow:

1. The attributes of indivisibility, invisibility, immutability, immortality, eternal duration, illocality, definitive ubiety, and agility. For purely spiritual beings can neither be divisible nor visible (indivisibilitas — invisibilitas); [6] not physically changeable, for only that which is material is subject to such a physical alteration and development (immutabilitas); [7] not mortal, for only that which is corporeal is perishable; they, however, in duration are imperishable (immortalitas — duratio aeviterna.) [8] Further, they are not present at any particular place in such a manner as to occupy there a portion of space; and yet they are not everywhere present as God is, but are always present only at one particular place, yet in such a manner that they can be at any place they may choose, even the smallest, because they have no body that can occupy space (illocalitas — ubietas definitiva). [9] Finally, as they are not restricted in their movements by space and time, they can move with amazing celerity (agilitas). [10]

2. As intelligent beings, the angels possess the attributes of knowledge and freedom of the will, and, in view of the service for which they are designed, the attribute of power. God has therefore bestowed upon them reason, [11] and free will, [12] and great, though not unlimited, might and power. [13]


The Holy Scriptures divide angels into good and evil, assuming thus a difference in their moral condition. This could not, however, have existed from the beginning; for, as everything that at the creation proceeded from the hand of God was good, the angels must have been good also; at that time, therefore, we must assume that the moral condition of all of them was equally good. The difference in this respect must have arisen subsequently. We must distinguish, therefore, the original condition and that which was consequent upon this (status originalis et originalem secutus).


The original condition was one in which all the angels were equally good, righteous, and holy, endowed by God with wisdom and with the ability perfectly to perform the will of God, [14] yet with such freedom of the will, also, that the possibility of disobedience towards God and of apostasy was not excluded. [15] With these gracious gifts the angels were endowed by God, in order that by the proper use of the same they might attain to the end for which they were created, namely, the beatific sight and enjoyment of God; the original condition is therefore called the state of grace. [16] As, however, some of the angels made a bad use of the liberty that had been granted to them, the original condition ceased, and there arose that difference of moral condition in consequence of which the angels became divided into two classes, the good and the evil, the former entering into the state of glory, and the latter into the state of misery. [17]


From the time when the angels separated into two classes, a change took place also in those who did not become disobedient towards God. For, because they remained faithful to God and true to that which is good, they have, as a reward for this, been so confirmed in that which is good that they can no longer be in danger of falling, and that even the possibility of their sinning no longer exists. BR. (267): “Those are called good (angels) who have persevered in the goodness or righteousness and holiness in which they were created, and have been confirmed by God in that which is good, as a gracious reward for their obedience, so that they can no longer lose this goodness, or sin, or become evil.” [18] Thus the good angels have, at the same time, reached the goal for which they were originally created by God, for they have attained to the enjoyment of beholding God, and so have entered upon the state of glory. [19] The enlargement of all the powers originally bestowed upon them is merely a consequence of this condition. [20] If they were wise before (in the state of grace), they are now still more so, because they now see God; [21] if they were holy before, they are now still more so, in such a sense that there is not now even a possibility of their sinning. Their liberty is, however, 198not hereby lessened, but increased, for they do right not by compulsion, but from an inner free impulse. [22] And so, too, their power has been magnified; for they are now able to overcome the evil angels who were formerly as mighty as they. [23]

The employment of good angels consists (a) in worshiping God and (b) serving Him in the world by protecting and watching over the pious, as well as by punishing and restraining the wicked. QUEN. (I, 450): “The duties and works of the good angels are to worship and praise God, Ps. 103:20; 148:2; Is. 6:3; and to execute His commands, Dan. 7:10; as well by punishing the wicked, Gen. 19:13; 2 Kings 19:35, as by guarding and protecting the godly, Ps. 34:7; 91:11, 12; Heb. 1:14.” [24]

For these services, which they render to men, they deserve our gratitude, but ever species of worship or adoration addressed to them is wicked and superstitious. [25]

The Scriptures give us some intimation of a diversity of rank among the angels, without, however, giving any specific information on the subject. [26]


They are thus designated on account of their disobedience toward God, and the evil disposition remaining in them since the Fall. [27] HOLL. (396): “The evil angels are those who did not persevere in concreated wisdom and righteousness, but of their own free will turned away from God and the rule of right, and became the perpetual enemies of God and men, to be plagued with eternal torments.” In what this disobedience toward God consisted, cannot with certainty be learned from the Scriptures, but it is highly probable that pride was the sin through which they fell away from God. [28] The cause for this sin lay entirely in their will, with which they of their own accord turned away from God, and it was in no sense owing to any outward necessity or any defect in their nature. [29] How many of them thus apostatized from God, at what time, and whether all at once — concerning all this we have no certain information in the Scriptures. We know only this, that their apostasy preceded the fall of man, and that one evil angel stands at their head, as their leader and chief. [30]


As, however, the obedience of the good angels was followed by a reward, so the fall of the wicked angels was followed by a punishment on the part of God, namely this, that those who once apostatized from God remained forever rejected by Him, and accordingly have been transferred from the state of grace in which they hitherto stood, into a condition of the greatest misery (status miseriae); but they have to expect still heavier punishments at the judgment day. [31]

And as, in the case of the good angels, their transfer into the state of glory was followed by an enlargement of the powers originally conferred upon them, so the transfer of the wicked angels was likewise followed by a diminution of the powers originally conferred. They retain, indeed, those gifts and powers that are inseparable from their nature, but their knowledge is no longer, as in the state of grace, a source of blessing, but greatly obscured, and hence they think perversely about God and divine things. [32]

But the wicked angels make it their work to detract to the utmost from the glory of God and to hinder men in their attempts to secure their temporal and eternal welfare. [33] Yet they cannot, even in this way, with all their malice, entirely avoid serving God, for He makes use of them to punish the wicked and to chasten the godly for their own good. [34]

Definition. — QUEN. (I, 455): “Angels are finite spirits, complete, intelligent, endowed with great power and originally created by God in righteousness and holiness, for the glory of God and the service of man; of whom some by their own free will fell from their Creator and from concreated perfection, and were consequently deprived not only of the favor and felicity which they had, but also of the beatific vision of God which they might have been able to enjoy, and were cast into infernal fire for perpetual torment without any hope of pardon. The rest, however, continued in their original condition, and were so established by God in that which is good that they neither wish nor are able ever to lose it or fall away from it, and are enjoying God eternally.”

[1] QUEN. (I, 443): “That angels really exist is taught both by express declarations of Scripture, Ps. 104:4; Heb. 1:14, and by the description of various apparitions, Gen. 18:2; 19:1, sq. The 200existence of angels is demonstrated, not so much by probable arguments derived from philosophy, whether by the graduation of existences and the link needed for the completion of the universe (because there are creatures (1) merely corporeal, such as stars, stones, etc.; (2) partly corporeal and partly spiritual, as man; (3) purely spiritual, as angels), or by human testimony, or by various experiences, as by one indisputable argument, namely, the clear and oft-repeated assertion of the Scriptures.”

BR. (251): “It is scarcely possible that the existence of angels can be clearly demonstrated from the light of nature, although probable reasons may be assigned for it.”

As to the meaning of the word, QUEN. (I, 442): “The name angel does not describe the nature of the being, but its office, and signifies one sent, a legate, a messenger. Hence Augustine: ‘Do you ask for the name of their nature? It is spirit. Do you inquire concerning the name of their office? It is angel.’ The word angel etymologically signifies messenger. But by the universally received usage and style of Scripture language it designates a nature and a specific creature.” Yet because the word is originally nothing more than a designation of office, it is used in the Scriptures with reference also to the Son of God, as the uncreated Angel. Is. 63:9; Mal. 3:1; Gen. 48:16, seq. Also with reference to men, Mal. 2:7; Rev. 1:20; Mal. 3:1; Mark 1:2; Matt. 11:10; Luke 7:27.

[2] CHMN. (Loc. Th., I, 122): “Since Moses does not describe the creation of angels, many curious inquiries have arisen, as, e.g., When were they created? . . . But, as the Scriptures do not state the precise time and day of the creation of angels, we gladly remain in ignorance of that which we neither can nor ought to know. It is enough, therefore, for us to know (1) that the angels did not come into existence of their own accord, nor were begotten from the substance of God, but were created; (2) that the angels did not exist from eternity, nor indeed before that beginning when all things which are in heaven and earth, visible and invisible, began to be. For to have been in the beginning can be said of Him alone through whom all things were made, and who is eternal. John 1:1-3.”

QUEN. (I, 459): “The angels were created by God (Col. 1:16; Ps. 104:4; 103:20) in time, along with this visible world, or within the period of the original six days; but on what day or at what time they were produced, we confess that we are willingly ignorant.” The proof is thus stated by Br. (252): “They were not created before the heavens and the earth, for these were created in the beginning, and so were the first among all created things; see 201Gen. 1:1. And besides it is well known that the eternity of God is described by His existing before the foundation of the world. See Ps. 90:2; Is. 48:13. Moreover, they were created not after but within the six days, for after that interval God rested from the ordinary work of creation. That the angels were created before man is usually proved from Job 38:7. And some believe that we are to understand also from this passage that the angels were created upon the first day; namely, because when God founded the earth then the angels are said to have praised God. But these matters are not altogether clear; although we do not deny that the angels are intended by the term ‘sons of God’ in chapter 1, v. 6, and we say that their beginning was contemporaneous with the origin of other creatures. Perhaps, also, as we know that man was created after the other creatures that were intended for his advantage, so also it may be correctly inferred that the angels who were to minister unto man (according to Heb. 1:14) were created before man. Yet it is not necessary that we understand the angels to be intended by the term heaven or light, in Gen. 1, metaphorically interpreted.”

[3] The angels are called “complete substances, or substances subsisting per se,” because they do not need a body in order that in conjunction with it they may constitute a person. HOLL. (378): “The human soul is an incomplete spirit, designed in itself and by its very nature to enter into the composition of an entire man. Hence also a separated soul has a natural propensity and inclination towards a body, with which as a component part it constitutes a complete man; but angels are not naturally designed to constitute a unit in themselves, along with a component part, but they have an essence terminating in itself. Wherefore the soul is an incomplete spirit, and angels are complete spirits.” Thus the following distinction can be made between angels and men, that the former are complete spirits and the latter incomplete spirits; while the difference between God and the angels is, that He is an uncreated and infinite spirit, while they are created and finite spirits. BR. (254): “As the angels have a spiritual essence in common with God and the human soul, so they differ from God in that their essence is not infinite, but finite, and from the soul of man in that their substance is complete.”

The proof that angels are complete substances is drawn by QUEN. (I, 444): “(1) From their names, for they are called guardians, Dan. 6:22; principalities, powers, Col. 1:16; gods, Ps. 82:6; sons of God, Job 2:1; men of God, Judges 13:6. (2) From their personal actions, such as to minister, to stand before the Lord, to appear, to speak, etc., which surely cannot be attributed 202to the inspired movements of men or to the mere actions of God. (3) From the fall or ruin of some angels, and the perseverance of the good ones in the truth. (4) From what is ascribed to them, viz., knowledge, desire, power.” From proof is regarded by the Dogmaticians as highly important, over against those who deny the personality of the angels. QUEN. (I, 444): “This ground is to be held against the Sadducees of old, who thought that angels were certain movements or affections excited in men; also against the Anabaptists, who foolishly imagined that angels were merely the actions of God, punishing crimes or rewarding good deeds; also against David George, the heresiarch of the last century, who confounded angels with the thoughts of the human mind.”

[4] CAL. (IV, 23): “The purpose for which angels were created was, with respect to God, His praise and the execution of the divine will (Job 38:7; Ps. 103:20; 104:4); with respect to themselves, the eternal enjoyment of God; with respect to man, service, for which they were specially and divinely destined, inasmuch as God created all things for man, and made the angels His servants at their very creation, Ps. 104, in order to use their ministry especially, for man and his salvation. Heb. 1:14.”

[5] The most of the Dogmaticians divide the attributes of angels into negative and affirmative. As the former class, they enumerate indivisibility, invisibility, immutability, immortality, illocality. As the latter, knowledge, freedom of the will, power, eternal duration, definitive ubiety, agility. Instead of following this merely external method of arrangement, we prefer treating these attributes, after the example of CAL., BR., and others, in the order corresponding to the nature of angels; but we enumerate them, nevertheless, after QUEN. and HOLL., as they are less extensively treated by CAL. and BR.

[6] QUEN. (I, 445): “The indivisibility of an angelic substance is owing to its incorporeity or immateriality, for what is not made of matter, is no quantity, nor has it parts outside of parts, and consequently is not divisible into quantitative parts.” Id. (I, 446): “Invisibility is a consequence of spirituality; for a spirit cannot be seen by bodily eyes, hence also the angels are enumerated among invisible beings (αορατα). Col 1:16.”

[7] The immutability of angels is restricted, as one that is not such absolutely, but comparatively and relatively. HOLL. (382): “God alone is absolutely immutable, the angels are immutable only relatively; because they are not subject to physical mutations, which are peculiar to natural bodies. For the angels do not beget, 203nor are they begotten; they are neither increased nor diminished; they neither grow old, nor decay; nor do they proceed upon foot from one place to another. Yet they are not beyond the reach of every kind of change, for they vary the where of their presence (suum ubi), they rejoice, are sad, love, or hate; these are moral changes.”

[8] (a) When immortality is ascribed to angels, this is intended to express that there is nothing in them, as incorporeal beings, who for this reason are not subject to change or decay, that could occasion their death; but it is not meant thereby to deny that God has power over their life also.

CAL. (IV, 24): “Although they may be remanded again into nothing by God, through His absolute power, by whom they were created from nothing, and may thus be called corruptible, as God alone is incorruptible, and as He alone has immortality, 1 Tim. 6:16; yet they are free from physical corruption, nor have they any internal principles of corruption, because they are altogether destitute of matter, and so by nature are incorruptible and immortal.” HOLL. expresses this by means of the distinction between incorruptibility in a physical and in a metaphysical sense: “Inwardly (ab intra), they are physically incorruptible, because they have not in themselves an internal principle of change or corruption, which is matter. Nor has any physical body such power as to corrupt a spirit or an angel outwardly (ab extra). But if corruptible be used in a metaphysical sense, of something that can be reduced to nothing by absolute divine power, then the angels are corruptible, because if God would so command they could return to the nothing from which they arose.” Wherefore, other Dogmaticians suggest, instead of the term corruptibility, the expression annihilability. Further, the angels do not possess the principle of immortality of themselves, but it has been graciously given to them by God; whence HOLL. (382) thus further distinguishes: “The angels are immortal and incorruptible not independently, originally, and in consequence of an eternal essence, for thus God alone is immortal; but they are immortal dependently, participatively, and through the grace of God, who creates and preserves them.”

(b) QUEN. (I, 446): “Endless duration is attributed to angels, as the mean between eternity and time. Eternity is that which belongs to God alone, and is without beginning or end. Time, which belongs to corporeal creatures, has both beginning and end. But endless duration has a beginning, yet is without end.” CAL. (IV, 28): “The created duration of things indestructible in their nature is distinguished from time, and is called endless duration [sempiternity] 204(aevum) by philosophers.” Endless duration then practically expresses no more than immortality; the difference seems to consist only in this, that the same conception, viz., that of continuing forever, is deduced in the one case by the negation of matter, and in the other by the negation of time. The angels are immortal, for they have no matter which is subject to change or decay; they are imperishable as to their duration, for their existence is not measured by time.

[9] The angels, as incorporeal beings, occupy no space, and hence are illocal. QUEN. (I, 446): “The angels are not in a place by circumscription, as natural bodies, because they are spirits, but they rather co-exist with a corporeal place or with a body.” Yet they are not omnipresent, but always present only at a particular place. This latter idea is expressed by the attribute of alicubitas (being somewhere). QUEN. (I, 446): “There is attributed to them που or ubi (a somewhere), in which an angel definitively is. For angels are in a certain space by designation, or definitively, i.e., their substantial, not merely virtual, presence is limited (definitur) in a certain space, so that they are there, and not in other spaces, and much less everywhere; and, because an angel is devoid of parts, the whole angel is not only in the whole place, but the whole angel can exist in every part of the place, even the very least, yea, in a point.” The manner in which the being somewhere (das Irgendwosein) is predicated of angels, of God, or of physical bodies, is described by the following distinctions: Of the angels, it is said that “they are somewhere definitively (in ubi definitivo), since they at their own pleasure limit a certain space for themselves, in the whole of which they wholly are, and wholly in each part of the space, because their essence is indivisible.” Of God, it is said that “He is somewhere repletively (in ubi repletivo), since He fills all in all.” Of physical bodies, it is said that “they are somewhere circumscriptively or occupatively (in ubi circumscriptivo seu occupativo), because they occupy a space commensurate with themselves, and are circumscribed by the surrounding air.” HOLL. (384): “But the angels are not somewhere repletively, because they are not everywhere, like God; nor are they somewhere occupatively since they do not occupy a space commensurate with the peculiarity of their spiritual nature. For measure depends upon quantity, and an angel is devoid of that.”

[10] HOLL. (384): “Wonderful is the agility and velocity of angels, so that without local motion, which is a quality of bodies, and thus also without a succession of parts, which they do not have, they are able to change the where of their presence with extreme celerity. Yet it does not appear that angels are entirely devoid 205of motion, since they are sometimes here and sometimes elsewhere. And, although the motion of angels is extremely rapid, yet it is not instantaneous, because space, in which they move, is extended and continuous, and cannot be traversed by any creature in an instant.

[11] “That the knowledge of angels is great and superior to that of all men, because joined with the knowledge of the Son of God; and yet that it is not infinite, since they are ignorant of the day of judgment,” is deduced from 2 Sam. 14:20; Mark 13:32. In imitation of the Scholastics, some of the Dogmaticians attempt more particularly to describe the kind and the measure of the knowledge possessed by the angels. Thus QUEN. (I, 445): “The angels do not know all things at once by one intellection, but as distinct and through different conceptions; not merely by a simple apprehension, but also by synthesis and analysis; and also by reasoning and inferring one thing from another. They know God, but they do not comprehend Him, because of the infinity of the divine essence, and the finitude of the angelic intellect.” (BR. (255, 256): “They know God only abstractively, i.e., a posteriori, and from created things: yet more perfectly than our abstractive knowledge.) “They know the thoughts of men, not a priori and distinctly, but a posteriori and confusedly, by signs, effects, and mental conditions. As to future contingencies, they can infer future events by the consideration of causes, and this with the greatest quickness, yet only with probability and in the main.” The knowledge of angels is described as “a natural knowledge, which is common to both good and evil angels on account of their identity of nature; a revealed knowledge, which was common to them all before the fall of some of them; a beatific knowledge, which belongs only to the angels that are confirmed in that which is good.” (BR. (255).) Many of the Dogmaticians, however, refrain from all specific distinctions in regard to the kind and the degree of this knowledge. GRH. (IV, 22): “For what can we, mere worms creeping upon the earth, assert, in this darkness of our mind, concerning the understanding of the celestial spirits, when we cannot so much as exactly comprehend our own understanding? It is better therefore to render devout thanks to God for the ministry of angels, which He daily grants us, than curiously to scrutinize beyond the limits of the Word these mysteries and unrevealed matters.”

[12] HOLL. (382): “The will accompanies the intellect; liberty accompanies the will. The angelic will is free, as well with respect to immanent acts, of choosing or refusing this or that object, as 206with respect to different external effects, while it freely does now this, now that.”

[13] HOLL. (382): “The power of angels is great, but finite. (1) It is great, for they are called ‘mighty in strength’ [R. V.] Ps. 103:20; strong men armed, Luke 11; 21. They are able (a) to move bodies by transferring them from place to place, Matt. 4:5, 8; Acts 8:39; (b) to destroy bodies, 2 Kings 19:35; (c) to assume bodies and to join them, not essentially indeed or personally, but accidentally, to themselves, and to guide them as a helmsman guides a ship; (d) to speak with God, with angels, and with men. They speak with God, by directing their thoughts to God, while they adore and praise Him; they speak with angels, freely impressing upon them intelligible conceptions; they speak with men, by means of an audible and distinct sound formed in the air in imitation of the human voice.” (QUEN., I, 446: “That speaking is done by means of a sound formed in the assumed bodies.” But he prudently adds: “Here to be willing not to know, what the best Master does not wish to teach, is learned ignorance.”) “(2) It is finite; angelic power is not infinite. For, since infinite power is peculiar to the Creator, it is not communicable to a mere creature. Whence it happens that angels are not able (a) to create; (b) to beget; (c) to change substances; (d) to perform true miracles, Ps. 72:18; (e) to cure all diseases; (f) to raise the dead.”

[14] QUEN. (I, 446): “As to their original state, all angels were in the beginning created by God equally righteous, good and holy, to glorify God and render Him a holy service.”

This is proved: (a) By the general statement appended to the narrative of the creation, Gen. 1:31. (b) From John 8:44. (c) From Jude 6, where the fall of the angels is described both negatively and affirmatively. (d) From 2 Pet. 2:4.”

HOLL. (385): “The grace spoken of bestowed (1) on the part of the intellect, a certain habitual intellectual light or concreated knowledge for the recognition of God and of His will; (2) an habitual holiness of the will, by which the angels were able in the state of probation to begin and to end all their actions conformably to the eternal law of God.”

NOTE. — It is further remarked that they were created in great numbers; how great these were is not known by us. QUEN. (I, 446): “Because the angels were not to be multiplied as men by procreation, but were created at once by God, so there was a certain number of them from the beginning, which, as it was not increased in the course of time, nor will be increased, so also it will 207never be diminished. But how great that number is the Scriptures do not teach, and there is nothing further revealed concerning it to us than that it is great, Dan. 7:10; Matt. 25:31; Heb. 12:22.”

[15] HOLL. (385): “Perfect righteousness was concreated with the angels, but it was not inamissible or incapable of being lost. For the will of the angels in the state of grace was not fully fixed upon perpetually loving and choosing the good; but God granted to them liberty of will and a concreated propensity towards the good, so that there was in them, not a very near, but a very remote capacity to sin, consisting in the negation both of impeccability and of the inamissibility of the concreated blessings.”

QUEN. (I, 447): “The fall of certain angels did not occur in consequence of any concreated inclination or proclivity to evil, but through the abuse of internal liberty, i.e., certain angels fell while no intrinsic principle was inclining or determining them to a fall, while no external motive for falling was constraining or necessitating them; but because they had not yet been confirmed in the Good, and were indifferent to good and evil, they abused their liberty, and with perfect freedom left their own place.”

N. B. — The whole context shows that QUEN.’s phrase, “indifferent to good and evil,” is not meant to express indecision in regard to good or evil, but only the capacity to choose the one as well as the other; and that the phrase is selected with special reference to the subsequent condition in which the good angels are described as confirmed in that which is good.

[16] HOLL. (384): “The original state is the state of grace, which all the angels possessed in the original creation through the grace of the omnipotent Creator, and in which they were created equally wise and holy, and were placed upon the way to eternal happiness.” CAL. (IV, 57): “Before they were confirmed in the Good, they were on the way to happiness; but they had not yet reached the goal itself, namely, happiness.”

[17] QUEN. (I, 447): “With regard to their subsequent condition, some of the angels continued in their concreated goodness, truth, and holiness, and were confirmed in it by God; but others, by sinning through their own free will, fell away from their Creator. And hence arose the distinction between the good and the evil angels.”

The condition of the good angels, after that period, is called the state of glory, and that of the evil angels the state of misery. HOLL. (384): “The state of glory is that in which the angels who continued in concreated wisdom and holiness, having been admitted to the unobscured vision of God, perpetually enjoy His 208boundless goodness. Matt. 18:10; Ps. 16:11. The state of misery (2 Pet. 2:4) is the most lamentable condition of those angels who of their own accord fell away from God.”

[18] HOLL. (386): “The good angels are those who continued in concreated true wisdom and holiness, and are so illumined by God with the light of glory and so confirmed in the Good that, free from the danger of sinning, they clearly behold God and the perpetually enjoy His goodness.” QUEN. (I, 447): “They are called good angels, not so much on account of their entitative, metaphysical, or transcendental goodness, which belongs to all angels, even the evil (for, in as far as they have existence, in so far also they are good); nor only on account of their concreated good habit, for in this respect also they were just like the evil angels, who also equally had the same at first; but also on account of their good deeds, or their obedience yielded to God and their perseverance in the Good, and, finally, on account of their confirmation in the Good. The formal reason, therefore, why they are denominated good angels is, because they persevered in the truth and goodness in which they have been created, and are now so confirmed in it that they never will either wish or be able to fall from it.”

[19] Three things, therefore, according to CAL. (IV, 55), are to be predicated of the good angels: “(1) Persistence and continuance in concreated truth and holiness. (2) Divine confirmation in the Good, which signifies an eternal, immutable persistence in the blessings bestowed in creation, strength in the Good, or the gift of absolute perseverance, and the great increase of those blessings. Hence arises impeccability.” QUEN. (I, 448): “Good angels are so confirmed in the Good that, as before they were only able not to sin, now they are altogether unable to sin. Matt. 18:10; 6:10; 1 Tim. 5:21; Luke 20:36; Gal. 1:8.” HOLL. (386): “In the state of the way [when upon trial] the angels were able not to sin, i.e., there was not in them a very ready capacity or propensity to sin, yet there was in them a remote capacity to come short of their duty. In the state of glory the angels are not able to sin, i.e., there is in them neither a near nor a remote capacity for coming short, but a sinlessness (αναμαρτησια); their impeccability is immutable and their holiness inamissible. (3) The external judgment of God, which properly is the state of glory, for which ultimately, or as a final goal, all the angels had been created. For they were all originally created alike. But when some fell away from God and deprived themselves of that glory, forsaking their own habitation (Jude 6), the rest, who remained in the truth, alone enjoyed the beatific vision of God, or the state of eternal happiness, who ‘always behold the face of God 209the Father in heaven,’ Matt. 18:10, and are thus called angels of light, 2 Cor. 11:14; elect angels, 1 Tim. 5:21; whence also holy men who are to be in the state of glory are called ισανγγελοι, equal to the angels. Luke 20:36.” The Dogmaticians usually represent the confirmation in the Good as a consequence of the reception into the state of glory. BR. (269): “After they (the good angels) had steadfastly exhibited to God their obedience in the state of probation, while other angels had fallen away, it pleased God to fill them with the light of glory, so that they were able clearly and intuitively to recognize God (for this is to see the face of the heavenly Father). But this vision of God was followed by a most intense love, by which the will of the angels cleaves to God in such a manner that it cannot be turned away from Him. And thus was effected their confirmation in the Good, or the determination of their will towards the Good; so that, whatsoever they do, they do with reference to God as the infinitely perfect and perfectly known Good, without any blemish, without any defect.”

HOLL. (386): “He who clearly beholds God, the chief Good, cannot but burn with perpetual love towards Him for he beholds nothing in Him but what is good and to be loved; but he who perpetually loves God cannot sin.” Id.: “The good angels, then, are confirmed in the Good when the light of glory is infused into them by God, so that their confirmation in the Good is practically nothing else than the infusion of the light of glory, in which they intuitively recognize God.” That the angels, after having once been admitted into the state of glory, cannot possibly sin, is inferred principally from Luke 20:36. QUEN. (I, 448): “Those who are to be blessed in eternal life are called ‘equal unto the angels.’ Now, we are sure we shall never lose that celestial felicity; therefore, much more are the angels thus assured, to whom we shall be like.” QUEN. (I, 448) appears to regard the confirmation in the Good not so much a consequence of the enjoyment of God, as rather to be assumed at once along with it: “The angels always behold the face of the Father in heaven, which beatific vision of God presupposes the confirmation in the Good, excludes all sin, and introduces impeccability, i.e., it makes angels and men happy, confirmed in the Good and impeccable.”

This introduction to the state of glory is described, indeed, as a reward which the good angels receive from God, but yet only as one that proceeded from the free grace of God; at the same time it is described as having been determined upon from eternity, but not by an absolute decree.

HOLL. (387): “The glory of the angels who are confirmed in the 210Good is to be attributed not to an absolute divine decree, nor to the merit of Christ, nor to angelic merit, but to the most liberal goodness of God, who remunerates the persevering obedience of the angels far beyond their desert.”

[20] QUEN. (I, 448): “It is to be observed in general, that now, in consequence of and after this confirmation, there are greater excellences and perfection in angels than before the confirmation.”

HOLL. (388): “The angels acquired through the gift of confirmation more excellent knowledge, more perfect holiness, more perfect freedom, greater power, more complete concord.”

[21] QUEN. (I, 448): “As to the intellect of the angels, it shines no doubt with more illustrious radiance, since they have reached the goal and are enjoying the beatific vision of God, in which there is fulness of joy, Ps. 16:11; and hence they are called angels of light, on account of the greater light of knowledge, 2 Cor. 11:14.” But here also the limitation is appended: “Although the intellectual power of the good angels is very great, it is nevertheless finite (Mark 13:32; 1 Pet. 1:12), and circumscribed within its own limits. Their intellection is capable of grasping very much (multiscia) but it is not omniscient; neither is it able to anticipate future events, nor has it an a priori consciousness of the recesses of the heart or of human thoughts.”

[22] CAL. (IV, 60): “(1) Holiness, not only that by which they were marked as holy when in the state of grace; but being more perfect now in holiness, they are confirmed in the Good and established in the state of glory. From the more perfect knowledge of God there has resulted a more perfect love of God, and so also a more perfect holiness; and, since they are always (δια παντος) illuminated by the most glorious light of the knowledge and holiness of God, Matt. 18:10; 2 Cor. 11:14, they rejoice in perfect holiness as that of the finally blessed. . . . But this holiness of theirs is not essential; for God alone is essentially holy; but it is accidental, because they were able to lose it. Job 4:18.” (2) QUEN. (I, 449): “This confirmation in their original state did not deprive the good angels of their freedom, nor did they cease for this reason to have a free will; but they rather attained in this way to greater freedom. For they have (a) freedom from compulsion, as they do not perform good works compulsorily, but freely and of their own accord. They praise God and serve Him freely, not by compulsion, although they are not able not to praise Him and do His will; (b) freedom of exercise, which is sometimes called freedom of contradiction, which signifies that when any one has an object proposed to him, he can choose it or not choose it, can act or not act. The 211good angels have also (c) the freedom of a certain specification; that, namely, which consists in freely choosing or not choosing between this or that good thing in particular. For, although the freedom of specification, which is called also the freedom of contrariety, implies indifference as to one of two opposite things, a good and an evil, yet the good angels do not have freedom as to contrary acts, so as to be able to do good and evil, but they are able to will and to do only good, and thus the freedom of contrariety does not belong to good angels; nevertheless they have the freedom of contradictio, by which although they necessarily choose the good, as to the quality of the act, yet they are able freely to choose this good, and not to choose another good, to do this good and not to do another good. Yea, the freedom, not to be able to sin, not to be able to refrain from doing good, is the very highest kind, which very highest grade of freedom God, the most free of all, enjoys.”

[23] QUEN. (I, 449): “The power of the good angels is very great. For, though they were endowed with great strength at their creation, they have acquired still more, since they have been advanced into the state of glory, and by it are enabled to overcome the power of the devils. Hence they are called ‘those that excel in strength.’ Ps. 103:20.” But here also the limitation: “Although the power of the good angels is great, it is yet finite and subordinate and subject to the divine power and will.”

[24] AP. CONF., p 224, 8. Comp. also p 117. HOLL. (390): “The holy angels perform their works and duties by standing before God (with a most joyful psalmody (ψαλμωδια) they sing the praises of God; with the most humble worship (λατρεια) they revere and adore God; with the most prompt service (λειτουργια) they execute the will of God), by assisting godly men, and by resisting devils and wicked men.”

More specifically BR. (272) (in imitation of the earliest Dogmaticians, viz., CHMN., GRH.): “The good angels perform various functions in their happy life, some of which pertain to their own happiness (for their happiness does not consist in idleness, but in part itself signifies a certain activity (ενεργεια): in part, besides, admits various functions, to be performed by those who are happy): others are ministerial, by which the angels serve God and Christ, the God-man (Heb. 1:6; Matt. 4:11), and promote human salvation.” Id. (274): “The functions of the latter kind have respect partly to individual godly men, partly to guardianship of the hierarchical estates and the promotion of their advantage. The angels minister to godly individuals when they sustain them in the beginning 212of life and in infancy (Matt. 18:10); when they render service to those of maturer years in any honest calling (Ps. 34:7; 91:11, 12; Matt. 1:19, 20; 2:13, 19; Acts 10:3, 7; Rev. 1:1; 22:6, 16; Dan. 6.22; Acts 12:7; 5:18, 19; Luke 1:13, 30, etc.); and, finally, when they are present with the dying, Luke 16:22.”

AP. CONF. Art. xxi, 8: . . . “We freely grant that the angels pray for us. For we have the testimony of Zech. 1:12, where the angel prays, ‘O Lord of hosts, how long wilt thou not have mercy on Jerusalem, etc.?’”

BR. (276): “It belongs to the office of the angels, with reference to the ecclesiastical estate, to promote the ministry of the Word; and especially, to this end, they were present as servants at the promulgation of the Mosaic Law (Deut. 33:2; Gal. 3:19); they announced the incarnation of Christ (Luke 1:26; 2:9); they resisted the introduction of idolatry into the Church (Jude 9); and likewise are present in sacred assemblies (1 Cor. 11:10; 1 Tim. 5:21).”

(Ib.): “The political estate the angels serve by preventing the bonds of the government from being sundered (Dan. 10:13), by assisting and defending the magistracy and its officers (Dan. 6:22), by warding off dangers and destroying wicked enemies (2 Kings 19:35; Is. 37:36).”

Id. (277): “The domestic estate they serve by promoting the marriage of the godly (Gen. 24:7), by keeping watch over the household (Job 1:10; Ps. 34:7), by guarding the pledges of domestic love, the children (Matt. 18:10).”

(Ib.): “Finally, there will be a special duty of the angels, which they will perform on the last day, when they will accompany Christ coming to judgment, and announce His arrival with the sound of trumpets (Matt. 25:31; 1 Thess. 4:16). They will collect human beings from all parts of the world (Matt. 24:31; Mark 13:27), and will separate the godly from the wicked (Matt. 13:41); they will place the former at the right hand of Christ (Matt. 25:43), taking them up to meet Him in the air (1 Thess. 4:17), and the latter, placed at the left hand of the Judge (Matt. 25:33), they will then quickly cast into hell (Matt. 13:42, 50).”

The Dogmaticians acknowledge that they have no definite answer to the question, whether every one have his own so-called guardian angel. BR. (274): “This is certain, that the guardianship of any man is not in such a way assigned to a particular angel that he is deprived of the aid of the rest. But it still may be asserted with probability, that one angel is appointed for the protection of each godly person, and that in extraordinary cases many angels are sent to the help of single individuals.”


[25] AP. CONF. P. II, Art. II: “Although the angels in heaven pray for us, . . . yet it does not hence follow that they are to be invoked, adored, etc., by us.” BR. (278): “On account of these perfections which we discover the angels to possess, and because they favor and assist us very greatly, it is also becoming that we praise and love them, and take heed lest we offend them by evil actions. But it is not becoming in us to direct our prayers to the angels. For that is either impious and idolatrous (namely, if we address religious prayers to them with the belief that they can bestow upon us spiritual gifts), or it is at least useless and ill-advised.”

HOLL. (392): “Angels are not to be religiously adored or invoked.”

[26] HOLL. (392): “THere is no doubt as to the existence of a certain order among the good angels, but what or what manner of angelic order that is, we think no one can know in this life. Proof: (a) From the general rule, according to which God wishes everything in the Church Militant to be done decently and in order, 1 Cor. 14:40. There is no doubt, therefore, that there is a certain order among the blessed angels, and that the more perfect as the Church Triumphant is more splendid than the Church Militant. (b) From the different designations of the celestial spirits, Eph. 1:21; Col. 1:16; 1 Thess. 4:16, and Jude 9. The different names imply a distinction among the angels. (c) from analogy. There is an order among the wicked angels; therefore also among the good. The former is proved by Luke 11:15, where Beelzebub is called the chief of devils, and Matt. 25:41, where mention is made of the devil and his angels.”

[27] QUEN. (I, 450): “Angels are called evil, not because of their essence, for in respect to their essence they are good, and were created along with the rest of the angels in truth, holiness, and righteousness; but (1) in respect to their evil conduct, viz., their malicious defection and apostasy from God; (2) in respect to the habitual wickedness, or the horrible depravity of their nature, which was consequent upon that conduct; (3) in respect to their perseverance and persistence in incorrigible wickedness; and (4) on account of their evil doings, for they perpetrate only evil.”

[28] QUEN. (I, 452): “It does not appear what exactly was the first sin of the evil angels. The temptation, however, with which Satan attacked and overcame our first parents, Gen. 3:5, and his character and his perpetual effort to transfer the glory of God to himself, Matt. 4:9 [1 Tim. 3:6], render probable the opinion of those who think that it was an affected resemblance to the Deity (deiformitas) or an affectation of superior pre-eminence (υπεροχης).”


[29] QUEN. (I, 452): “The generic form of the diabolical fall consisted in the free and spontaneous turning away from God and the rule of right. For they were able to persevere in truth and concreated holiness and not fall away from it; they were able by the grace of creation to keep the rule of right; of their own accord, therefore, and freely they sinned, by the abuse of the freedom that was bestowed upon them. For they did not sin through any defect or impotence of nature, but from pure malice and contumacy, and by the spontaneous abuse of the will conferred upon them.”

[30] QUEN. (I, 452): “Those who fell were individual angels, whose number is not mentioned in the Scriptures; that they were many, however, we infer from the multitude of demons, Mark 5:9; Luke 8:30.”

Id. (I, 453): “In what order the wicked angels sinned, whether all at once, whether one after another, or whether first one fell and by his example and persuasion induced others to apostasy and the fall, concerning this the Scholastics dispute, but ατερ γραφης, with no scriptural ground for their opinions.”

HOLL. (300): “It is probable that the wicked angels fell under the guidance of a certain leader or chief, whom the Scriptures call Satan and the devil, John 8:44; Luke 11:15, who by his example or persuasion drew many angels into the fellowship of his crime. Rev. 12:4.”

As to the time of the fall: HOLL. (Ib.): “They fell, not within the six days of creation, but after they were ended (Gen. 1:31); before the fall of our first parents, in the second week of the foundation of the world, but upon what day it is uncertain.”

[31] BR. (280): “The crime having been committed, all those angels lost the grace that had been concreated with them, and so fell into the most horrible misery without hope of restoration.”

CAL. (IV, 318): “The punishment of the wicked angels is partly the eternal desertion of God, whence they can never be converted; partly, rejection to infernal torments to be endured forever.”

HOLL. (403) more specifically distinguishes the punishment of loss from the punishment of the senses: “The punishment of loss, which is also designated as privative, is the most lamentable casting away of grace and glory. The punishment of sense consists of the positive torments which the demons have been keenly enduring ever since the fall, and the still greater ones which they will undergo on the day of final judgment. (2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 6.)” BR. (288): “The punishments which are inflicted upon the wicked angels will be eternal. Matt. 25:41-46; Mark 9:43.”

To the question, “Why may not the wicked angels be restored 215to favor?” GRH. (IV, 34) answers: “It is better to proclaim the wonderful philanthropy and mercy of the Son of God towards the fallen race of man, by which on our account and for our salvation He descended from heaven and became man, not taking on Him the nature of angels but the seed of Abraham (Heb. 2:16), than to scrutinize beyond due limits the causes of that most just judgment, by which God delivered the angels who had fallen away from Him to be cast in chains of darkness into hell, to be reserved for judgment.” The reason for their eternal rejection is usually found in the greatness of their crime. HOLL. (398) indicates the atrocity of their crime: “(a) From the person offended, who is God, the most kind and mighty Creator of the angels. (b) From the helps, by the aid of which they were able to turn aside the evil. For the intellect of the angels was resplendent with an extraordinary light of knowledge, and their will was distinguished by perfect holiness. (c) From the mode of sinning. For the angels sinned, not through infirmity or inadvertence, but in the full possession of their intellect, with deliberate design and the voluntary abuse of their free will, no one instigating them.”

[32] QUEN. (I, 454): “The evil angels did not lose, through their fall, their natural knowledge, or that which they had by the light of nature; for they know God and other supernatural things after a certain manner. But that knowledge of supernatural things is joined, 1, with great hatred and murmuring against God; 2, with jealousy, envy, and rage against good angels, godly men and saints in heaven; 3, with ignorance, doubt, error, and forgetfulness. Matt. 4:6; John 13:2; 1 Cor. 2:8. Yet they have altogether lost the knowledge derived from the light of grace.” HOLL. (399): “The evil angels know God, but they dreadfully shudder at this divine knowledge.” BR. (280): “Their intellect is deprived, not only of the light of grace, but also of the light of glory; and, being fixed upon the contemplation of the divine wrath and their own misery, it is as it were blunted, and wants a sound judgment concerning the doing of that which is good. (Besides, the corruption of the diabolic intellect can be shown from the fact that Satan so studiously sought to accomplish the death of Christ, not thinking that he was thereby bringing the greatest adversity upon himself. But the natural knowledge that remains in the wicked angels adds no happiness to them, rejected as they are by God.)” Their further gifts are thus described, HOLL. (399): “Their will, inclined to evil, does not rejoice in that liberty which implies indifference to good or evil, or to many things that are good, but their freedom is exercised with reference to particular evils. Their power is, indeed, 216more than human, but is restrained by the divine power, so that without the permission of God they can accomplish nothing.” QUEN. (I, 454): “From divine revelation they sometimes certainly know future contingencies, Job 1:12; 2:6; 1 Kings 22:22. And some things they know with a measure of probability by their natural sagacity.”

[33] HOLL. (400): “The doings of the wicked angels are of various kinds, but they are all directed to the injury of the divine glory (Rev. 12:7), and to the temporal as well as eternal ruin of individual men, and of the ecclesiastical estates.” Specifically (403): “The evil demons are assiduously plotting to disturb, overturn, and totally destroy the ecclesiastical estate (by scattering heresies, Matt. 13:27 and 28; by hindering the efforts of godly ministers of the Church, 1 Thess. 2:18; by averting the minds of hearers from the meditation and practice of the divine Word, Luke 8:12; by exciting persecutions against the kingdom of Christ, Rev. 12:7), the political estate (1 Kings 22:21; 1 Chron. 22:1), and the domestic estate (by alienating the minds of married persons, as the devil was a murderer from the beginning, who delighted in sowing contentions, John 8:44; by lying in wait for the children and possessions of parents, Job 1:11-19).”

Among the evils that are inflicted upon individual persons by the evil spirits is to be especially reckoned corporeal and spiritual possession. The general description of this we cite from QUEN. (I, 456): “It is an action of the devil, by which, through the permission of God, he instigates men to sin, and occupies and torments their bodies, that they may throw away their eternal salvation. Through the former, viz., the instigation to sin, there originates the spiritual possession; through the latter, viz., his occupation of human bodies, there originates the corporeal possession. The former is meant when it is said that the devil possesses and fills the minds and hearts of the wicked, enters into them, and works in them, Acts 5:3; Luke 22:3; John 13:2; 2 Thess. 2:9; Eph. 2:2. The latter is meant when the devil immediately and locally exists and operates in a body, and controls it for the time being. Matt. 4:24; 8:16 and 28; Mark 7:25; 9:17; Matt. 12:22; 15:22; Luke 4:33; Acts 8:7; 19:13.”

[34] BR.: “Meanwhile God Himself uses the ministry of evil spirits for chastening the godly in this world (e.g., Job), and for punishing the wicked, as well in life (Ps. 78:49) as after death. (Matt. 18:34.)”

« Prev § 22. When were they created? Next »
VIEWNAME is workSection