Saturday, February 6, 2010

How Many Angels Are There?

by Joe Trofemuk

How many angels are there? The answer is 5,000,000,014..... Just kidding.

We do not know from Scripture an exact number of angels. But we do know that there are thousands upon thousands upon thousands from verses like Deuteronomy 33:2. The term “ten thousand” could be translated “myriads.” Or “ten thousands”.

This is what we find in Psalm 68:17. This psalm is talking about the armies of the Lord being so mighty, and it references chariots. But the likely occupants of God’s chariots would be the angels of God. This is certainly the picture painted in 2 Kings 6:15-17 when Elisha’s servant was given a glimpse of God’s army protecting Elisha.

Jesus himself alluded to the twelve legions of angels at His disposal in Matthew 26:51-53. A Roman legion often had around 6000 troops. Jesus was probably speaking merely of a large number, but in a practical sense He is saying He could, in an instant, have 72,000 angels at His disposal.

All this establishes that there are massive numbers of angels who did not rebel against God. This angelic number is often referred to as the host of heaven, as in 2 Chronicles 18:18 and Jeremiah 33:22. There is a large army of angels ready to do the bidding of the Lord.

Perhaps the most expansive description of the vast number of angels that exist is found in Revelation 5:11-12. Myriads and myriads of angels, thousands and thousands of angels.

One other note on this point. It seems best to understand from the totality of Scripture that the number of angels existing today is the same number that existed at the time they were originally created. This is an inference from a contrast Jesus made between humans and angels in Matthew 22:30, Mark 12:25, and Luke 20:34-36. These verses seem to show a fundamental difference between the nature of humans and angels. Humans marry, in part, to procreate. Angels don’t marry at all. It is a reasonable inference that this means that unlike humans with flesh and blood bodies, angels do not reproduce.

There is not even any reference in Scripture to angels having different sexes. Humans are male and female, created that way by God. There is no such reference regarding angels. In fact despite all the feminine angels present as Christmas decorations and in popular art, there is not a single instance in Scripture where an angel is specifically noted to have appeared in the form of a female. But this is not likely an indication that all angels are actually males. It is more likely that angels are altogether different creatures. Their taking on human form is more likely God enabling them to be seen by humans so that God’s will is carried out, such as in Hebrews 13:2.

How many angels are there? We simply cannot say with certainty. There are likely millions, if not billions of angels. God alone knows the exact number.

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