Part 8 of 15
The Angelic Hierarchy
Seraphim, Cherubim, Angels, and Archangels are identified in the word of God with such detail that we can reliably know some of their characteristics and duties. Yet, we can only be somewhat assured of the responsibilities and rankings in the heavenly government. Regarding rank and authority, there is no concrete Biblical proof of the exact ranking order or of the importance of the different angelic groups, so it is entirely possible that some of my offerings below are not entirely correct. The conclusions I’ve drawn were derived putting together many disparate and sketchy verses that appear throughout the Bible. In the course of my study I have drawn most of this information from my own study of the Scriptures, plus various internet websites and from messages by Richard Jordan, President of Grace School of the Bible. I herein offer what I’ve found.
SERAPHIM: Seraphim are of the “company of angels” in the celestial sphere of God’s throne, as spoken of in Hebrews 12:22. The Hebrew word for Seraphim, from Strong’s #08314, means “burning” or “burning ones.” The Seraphim are creatures who mainly serve God within the highest heaven, apparently have nothing to do in the lower realms and earth. They are described in Isaiah 6:1-7, serving as the caretakers of God’s throne, continuously shouting praises: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts. All the earth is filled with His Glory.” The Seraphim have six wings; two covering their faces, two covering their “feet,” and two with which they fly. It is said that such a bright light emanates from them that nothing, not even other angelic beings, can look upon them. Their position is above God’s throne, unlike the Cherubim who are beside/around it. Their primary duty is to constantly glorify and praise God and they may also be the personal “attendant” angels of God. We’re not told how many Seraphim there are.
CHERUBIM: Cherubim also occupy only the highest sphere of God’s throne. A Cherub has four faces: one of each a man, an ox, a lion, and a griffon vulture. They have four conjoined wings covered with eyes, and they have ox’s feet. Cherubim guard the throne of God (Ezekiel 28:14-16). Lucifer was the Cherub who “covereth” God’s throne before his fall. After Adam’s fall, Adam and Eve were driven out of the Garden of Eden while Cherubim then guarded the way to “the tree of life” (Gen 3:22-24) to prevent them from eating thereof and gaining eternal life (v22). From this I deduce that “the tree of life” is a pre-incarnate representation of Christ’s as the eternal life.
Cherubim are mentioned in Gen 3:24; Exo. 25:17-22; 2 Chron. 3:7-14; Eze. 10:12–14, 28:14-16; 1 Kings 6:23–28; and Rev 4:6-8. Modern English has blurred the distinction between Cherubim and “putti” (cupids), which are figurative characters appearing as winged human baby/toddler-like beings.
RANK AND AUTHORITY:
Lucifer is mentioned as Satan, meaning “adversary” 37 times in the New Testament. We’ve already addressed Lucifer’s history and his prophesied end in the lake of fire. We’ve looked into the realm of the angels and archangels, but there are the matters of rank, authority, and function.
In Eph. 1:21, Paul describes the positions of rank and authority issuing from the heavenly sphere. In the context of Eph. 1:15-25 we see that “the church, which is His body” (v24b-25a) is positioned today “far above” the heavenly host – being over all the good and evil angelic host in the government of the heavens.
Though we commonly use the word angels for the heavenly host there is more specificity. The Bible uses the titles in these verses below to describe heavenly rank, authority, and function of the heavenly government – both of the good, and the evil of the government of heaven.
Ephesians 1:19-21 And what is the exceeding greatness of HIS POWER TO US-WARD WHO BELIEVE, according to the working of his mighty power, 20 Which he (God) wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and SET HIM at his own right hand IN THE HEAVENLY PLACES,
21FAR ABOVE all PRINCIPALITY (arche, highest ranking of the heavenly realm under God),
…and POWER (Gk., exousia, those then with delegated authority to rule)
…and MIGHT (Gk., dunamis, those empowered to act under authority of the “Powers”),
…and DOMINION (Gk., kyriotes, lordships, rulers, who are over the governments on earth),
…and EVERY NAME THAT IS NAMED (Jesus Christ, in whose name we are to co-reign, is eternally “far above” every name. 1 Tim 6:15 Which in his (Christ) times he shall show, who is the blessed and only Potentate (Only Ruler, Only Sovereign), the King of kings, and Lord of lords)
…not only in this WORLD (Gk., aion, age), but also IN THAT (age) WHICH IS TO COME:”
This Scriptures clearly tells us that there are evil fallen spirits in the heavens that rule over the cosmos and mankind; opposing God’s people under the direction of the Devil. “For we (the believers) wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against PRINCIPALITIES, against POWERS, against the RULERS OF THE DARKNESS OF THIS WORLD (kosmos, the universe), against SPIRITUAL WICKEDNESS IN HIGH (the heavenly) PLACES.” (Ephesians 6:12)
This study will establish, there is a heavenly council of wicked spirit beings that currently rule over our world system. This is a fact verified in many other biblical passages. Yet, the Lord His self is the creator and ultimate commander of the heavens, working toward His ultimate eternal purpose.
Isaiah 45:12 I (THE LORD) HAVE MADE (Heb., asa, fashioned) THE EARTH, AND CREATED MAN UPON IT: I, even my hands, have stretched out THE HEAVENS, and ALL THEIR HOST HAVE I COMMANDED.
Now we will now look closer at the rank and authority of those creatures who currently occupy and function in the hierarchal government in “the heavenly” dynasphere, as noted in above verses.
PRINCIPALITY: “Principality” is from the Greek “arche angellos,” from which we get “arch angel.” Strong’s #746 says these are “commencement powers,” or chief (application of order, time, place or rank); first estate, magistrate, power principle, rule.
The “principalities” collaborate with the lower “powers” who are the authorized ones. The “principality” or ruler called “Michael the archangel,” is
’s protector. Michael in Hebrew is “mika el,” meaning “who is like God?” The “principalities” include the good and the evil. Israel
Lucifer is a fallen Cherub who now is called the “prince” and “ruler of darkness,” over the lower heavens and earth. Lucifer is over his lower “rulers (Gk, kosmokrator, world-rulers) of darkness in high (Gk., epouranious, celestial) places” (Eph 6:12). These rulers of darkness include the “powers,” and “dominions” and “mights.”
The duty of the “principalities” seems to be to rule and direct the “powers, dominions” and “mights”; to oversee groups of people by handing down blessings and judgments upon the material world according to God’s will. They are the educators and guardians of the realm of earth. (NOTE: The term “guardian angel” is not in the Bible. Some misinterpret Matthew 18:10, Psalm 34:7 and 91:9-13 as everyone having a “guardian angel.” However, these verses speak of angels protecting
, not individuals. God carefully “guarded” Israel ’s kingly line that would bring forth the Messiah and savior of the world. Thus, we may read of Jesus’ kingly genealogy in Matthew 1:1-17. Israel
“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:” (Col. 1:16) Note that the thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers are “in heaven” and “in earth,” thus they are visible and invisible. The visible are human governments we see on earth as an expression of those in the invisible heavenly government who oversee the earth. The visible established governments on earth consist of thrones, dominions, principalities and powers, which correspond to the invisible thrones, dominions, principalities and powers of the celestial government in heaven.
POWERS OR AUTHORITIES: “Powers” (Strong’s Lexicon #1849) is from the Greek “exousia,” meaning a delegated privileged power, i.e. (subjectively) force, capacity, competency, freedom, or (objectively) mastery (concretely, magistrate, superhuman, potentate, token of control), delegated influence, authority, jurisdiction, liberty, power, right, strength.
Thus, the “powers” (Eph 3:10) are “delegated authorities” or " magistrates,” who are under the “Principalities.” Ephesians 1:21 in the NIV, NASB, and Greek Interlinear reads “rule and authority” for the words “principalities and powers” in the KJV. The “Principalities” are above the “powers.” The invisible celestial “powers” oversee the distribution of “power” among the visible human governments, hence their name.
Ephesians 6:12 For we (believers on earth) wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the RULERS OF THE DARKNESS of this world, against SPIRITUAL WICKEDNESS IN HIGH (heavenly) PLACES.
The “evil principalities and powers” from heaven we now wrestle with will fall “after the Tribulation.” Matthew 24:29 (Jesus said) Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and THE (evil) “STARS” (ANGELS) SHALL FALL from HEAVEN, and the “POWERS” of the HEAVENS SHALL BE SHAKEN (toppled):
THRONES: The title “thrones” appear only here in 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:”
Strong’s Greek Lexicon defines “thronos” as a throne, meaning the stately seat; a potentate’s throne, the chair or state for a sovereign; a sovereign power; the third order of angels. These angelic creatures are living symbols of God’s justice and authority. The “thronos” support the actual administration of the will of God delegated first through the “principalities” and “powers” to the earth. The mention of “in earth” means their sphere of authority extends from “heaven” to “earth”; that is over the affairs and thrones of human governmental authorities on earth. We’ve seen both the good and evil authorities in history of human governments over the centuries.
DOMINIONS: From Strong’s #2963, “dominion” is “mastery,” that is a ruler; government (the power or right of governing and controlling); possibly exercising command or control in the name of GOD by regulating the angel’s duties. “Dominions” work as heavenly governors. The “Dominions,” translated from the Greek term kyriotites is “Lordships.” They are angelic beings who appear to preside over nations on earth by regulating the duties of lower angels.
The fallen “kingdom and dominion” on earth will be overthrown. Daniels vision interpretation given to him clearly states that
shall inherit the “everlasting kingdom, and all dominions” on the earth. Israel
Daniel 7:27 And the KINGDOM AND DOMINION, and the greatness of the kingdom UNDER the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High (Israel), whose KINGDOM IS AN EVERLASTING KINGDOM, and ALL DOMINIONS shall serve and obey him. (See also Dan 7:22-27, Zech 9:19-0, Psa 72:8-11).
MIGHTS: From Strong’s G1410, is the Greek “dunamai”; meaning force (literal or figurative); specially miraculous power. These “mights” are angels designated to actually execute heavenly rule on earth. They may actually intervene in earth’s affairs with power as judgments or blessings.
Taken together, it seems that the “dominions” and “mights” execute God’s will over the earth. These are the angels that will gather “the elect” of
, who have “received the word” (Act 2:41), at the end of the Tribulation. This occurs in “the first resurrection” of the just to heaven. Matt 24:31 And he shall SEND HIS ANGELS with a great sound of a trumpet, and THEY SHALL GATHER TOGETHER HIS ELECT from the four winds, from one end of HEAVEN TO THE OTHER. Israel
In Luke 17:11-27 we read Jesus’ parable where the “faithful” ones of
Israelwill be given “authority over ten cities” (reigning) in “the ” on earth. kingdomof God
No doubt much of this I’ve written is somewhat sketchy. Yet, we clearly see there is a heavenly chain of authority that’s handed down from heaven to earth, to execute the will of God upon the earth. In the case of Lucifer, his will appears to be executed both directly and through his fallen angels until they both are dealt with in “the lake of fire” at the end of the Millennium. Matthew 25:41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into EVERLASTING FIRE, PREPARED FOR THE DEVIL AND HIS ANGELS: