How long have angels existed? Far longer than man, Scripture tells us—yet not as long as God, who is eternal. Unlike God, who has always existed, angels are created beings. They were created by God. As Hebrews 1:7 Hebrews 1:7And of the angels he said, Who makes his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire.
American King James Version×tell us, “And of the angels He says: ‘Who makes His angels spirits and His ministers [or servants] a flame of fire’” (quoting Psalms 104:4 Psalms 104:4Who makes his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire:
American King James Version×).
And like everything else, they were created through the divine Word who became Jesus Christ: “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him” (Colossians 1:16 Colossians 1:16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
American King James Version×).
When were these beings brought into existence?
Before the world existed
The angels’ beginning was far back in time, before mankind was created—before the earth was even formed. Genesis 1:1 Genesis 1:1In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
American King James Version×tells us that “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” However, the Bible doesn’t tell the whole story in one or even several verses. We learn later in the Bible that there are three heavens from an earthly perspective: first, the atmosphere of the birds and the clouds; second, outer space of the sun, moon and stars; and third, the spiritual heaven of God’s throne, actually called “the third heaven” (2 Corinthians 12:2 2 Corinthians 12:2I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knows;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.
American King James Version×). Yet though it is third in positional relation to us, this spirit realm was actually created first.
God and the Word—the divine Being who would later be born in the flesh as Jesus Christ (John 1:1-3 John 1:1-3 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 The same was in the beginning with God.
3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
American King James Version×; John 1:14 John 1:14And the Word was made flesh, and dwelled among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
American King James Version×)—formed other spirit beings to inhabit this realm with Them. These beings were the angels, who existed before our world was created. This is clear from a fascinating, eye-opening passage in the biblical book of Job.
When Job, beset with terrible calamity and suffering in spite of being a very devout follower of God, began to question God’s judgment, God responded with pointed questions to help him realize he didn’t have the wisdom to question God. In His response, in the form of questions to Job, God revealed some details about His creation of the physical world:
“Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said: ‘Who is this who darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me. Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements? Surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? To what were its foundations fastened? Or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?’” (Job 38:1-7 Job 38:1-7 1 Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said,
2 Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
3 Gird up now your loins like a man; for I will demand of you, and answer you me.
4 Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if you have understanding.
5 Who has laid the measures thereof, if you know? or who has stretched the line on it?
6 Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof;
7 When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
American King James Version×, emphasis added throughout).
The “sons of God” here is a designation for the angels—called “sons” or children by virtue of their having been created by God. The “morning stars” seem to refer to the angels as well, as they are later symbolized by stars (see Revelation 1:20 Revelation 1:20The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which you saw are the seven churches.
American King James Version×; Revelation 12:4 Revelation 12:4And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.
American King James Version×).
The New International Version puts Job 38:7 Job 38:7When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
American King James Version×this way: “… while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?” The New Revised Standard Version translates it as “… when the morning stars sang together and all the heavenly beings shouted for joy?”
In this passage, God reveals information no man could have known, since no human being was present at creation. God described the earth at its creation as a dazzlingly beautiful jewel floating in space. The creation events were so magnificent that all the angels sang and shouted in exultation. They were in perfect harmony and agreement at that time.
We see here that angels have emotions. They were joyful. In other places we find them extolling God the Father and Jesus Christ in ongoing praise (Psalms 148:2 Psalms 148:2Praise you him, all his angels: praise you him, all his hosts.
American King James Version×; Luke 2:13-15 Luke 2:13-15 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. 15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even to Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.
American King James Version×; Revelation 5:11-12 Revelation 5:11-12 11 And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; 12 Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing.
American King James Version×). We also see God’s angels later having great joy over a person who repents of sin (Luke 15:10 Luke 15:10Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repents.
American King James Version×). And in various places we see them displaying care for God’s people (1 Kings 19:5-7 1 Kings 19:5-7 5 And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said to him, Arise and eat. 6 And he looked, and, behold, there was a cake baked on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink, and laid him down again. 7 And the angel of the LORD came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for you.
American King James Version×; Psalms 34:7 Psalms 34:7The angel of the LORD encamps round about them that fear him, and delivers them.
American King James Version×; Psalms 91:11 Psalms 91:11For he shall give his angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.
American King James Version×; Daniel 3:28 Daniel 3:28Then Nebuchadnezzar spoke, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God.
American King James Version×; Matthew 2:13 Matthew 2:13And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appears to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be you there until I bring you word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.
American King James Version×, Matthew 2:19-20 Matthew 2:19-20 19 But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appears in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20 Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child’s life.
American King James Version×; Matthew 4:11 Matthew 4:11Then the devil leaves him, and, behold, angels came and ministered to him.
American King James Version×; Luke 22:43 Luke 22:43And there appeared an angel to him from heaven, strengthening him.
American King James Version×; Acts 12:7-10 Acts 12:7-10 7 And, behold, the angel of the Lord came on him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands. 8 And the angel said to him, Gird yourself, and bind on your sandals. And so he did. And he said to him, Cast your garment about you, and follow me. 9 And he went out, and followed him; and knew not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision. 10 When they were past the first and the second ward, they came to the iron gate that leads to the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and immediately the angel departed from him.
American King James Version×). Thus they are thoughtful, feeling beings.
Created with free moral choice, they were also capable of wrong thoughts and feelings, and some succumbed to these, which is how evil spirits or demons, led by Satan the devil, came into the picture. We’ll go into this more later (see “What Is the Origin of Satan and Demons? ”). Thankfully, many more angels made the right choice to remain faithful to God.
Let’s delve further into what Scripture reveals about the great number of heavenly angels, their appearance and the roles in which they serve.