Concerning Angels – Saint John of Damascus (+749)

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EASTERN ORTHODOX CHURCH

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Concerning Angels

by Saint John of Damascus (+749)

He is Himself the Maker and Creator of the angels: for He brought them out of nothing into being and created them after His own image, an incorporeal race, a sort of spirit or immaterial fire: in the words of the divine David, He maketh His angels spirits, and His ministers a flame of fire: and He has described their lightness and the ardor, and heat, and keenness and sharpness with which they hunger for God and serve Him, and how they are borne to the regions above and are quite delivered from all material thought.

An angel, then, is an intelligent essence, in perpetual motion, with free-will, incorporeal, ministering to God, having obtained by grace an immortal nature: and the Creator alone knows the form and limitation of its essence. But all that we can understand is, that it is incorporeal and immaterial. For all that is compared with God Who alone is incomparable, we find to be dense and material. For in reality only the Deity is immaterial and incorporeal.

The angel’s nature then is rational, and intelligent, and endowed with free-will, change. able in will, or fickle. For all that is created is changeable, and only that which is uncreated is unchangeable. Also all that is rational is endowed with free-will. As it is, then, rational and intelligent, it is endowed with free-will: and as it is created, it is changeable, having power either to abide or progress in goodness, or to turn towards evil.

It is not susceptible of repentance because it is incorporeal. For it is owing to the weakness of his body that man comes to have repentance.

It is immortal, not by natures but by grace. For all that has had beginning comes also to its natural end. But God alone is eternal, or rather, He is above the Eternal: for He, the Creator of times, is not under the dominion of time, but above time.

They are secondary intelligent lights derived from that first light which is without beginning, for they have the power of illumination; they have no need of tongue or hearing, but without uttering words they communicate to each other their own thoughts and counsels.

Through the Word, therefore, all the angels were created, and through the sanctification by the Holy Spirit were they brought to perfection, sharing each in proportion to his worth and rank in brightness and grace.

They are circumscribed: for when they are in the Heaven they are not on the earth: and when they are sent by God down to the earth they do not remain in the Heaven. They are not hemmed in by walls and doors, and bars and seals, for they are quite unlimited. Unlimited, I repeat, for it is not as they really are that they reveal themselves to the worthy men to whom God wishes them to appear, but in a changed form which the beholders are capable of seeing. For that alone is naturally and strictly unlimited which is uncreated. For every created tiring is limited by God Who created it.

Further, apart from their essence they receive the sanctification from the Spirit: through the divine grace they prophesy: they have no need of marriage for they are immortal.

Seeing that they are minds they are in mental places, and are not circumscribed after the fashion of a body. For they have not a bodily form by nature, nor are they tended in three dimensions. But to whatever post they may be assigned, there they are present after the manner of a mind and energize, and cannot be present and energize in various places at the same time.

Whether they are equals in essence or differ from one another we know not. God, their Creator, Who knoweth all things, alone knoweth. But they differ from each other in brightness and position, whether it is that their position is dependent on their brightness, or their brightness on their position: and they impart brightness to one another, because they excel one another in rank and nature. And clearly the higher share their brightness and knowledge with the lower.

They are mighty and prompt to fulfill the will of the Deity, and their nature is endowed with such celerity that wherever the Divine glance bids them there they are straightway found. They are the guardians of the divisions of the earth: they are set over nations and regions, allotted to them by their Creator: they govern all our affairs and bring us succor. And the reason surely is because they are set over us by the divine will and command and are ever in the vicinity of God.

With difficulty they are moved to evil, yet they are not absolutely immovable: but now they are altogether immovable, not by nature but by grace and by their nearness to the Only Good.

They behold God according to their capacity, and this is their food.

They are above us for they are incorporeal, and are free of all bodily passion, yet are not passionless: for the Deity alone is passionless.

They take different forms at the bidding of their Master, God, and thus reveal themselves to men and unveil the divine mysteries to them.

They have Heaven for their dwelling-place, and have one duty, to sing God’s praise and carry out His divine will.

Moreover, as that most holy, and sacred, and gifted theologian, Dionysius the Areopagite, says, All theology, that is to say, the holy Scripture, has nine different names for the heavenly essences. These essences that divine master in sacred things divides into three groups, each containing three. And the first group, he says, consists of those who are in God’s presence and are said to be directly and immediately one with Him, viz., the Seraphim with their six wings, the many-eyed Cherubim and those that sit in the holiest thrones. The second group is that of the Dominions, and the Powers, and the Authorities; and the third, and last, is that of the Rulers and Archangels and Angels.

Some, indeed, like Gregory the Theologian, say that these were before the creation of other things. He thinks that the angelic and heavenly powers were first and that thought was their function. Others, again, hold that they were created after the first heaven was made.

But all are agreed that it was before the foundation of man. For myself, I am in harmony with the theologian. For it was fitting that the mental essence should be the first created, and then that which can be perceived, and finally man himself, in whose being both parts are united. But those who say that the angels are creators of any kind of essence whatever are the mouth of their father, the devil. For since they are created things they are not creators. But He Who creates and provides for and maintains all things is God, Who alone is uncreate and is praised and glorified in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

From his Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, Book II, Ch. 3.

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Were Angels created when God created the heavens, or have they been with God all of eternity? – S.W., USA

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HAVE FAITH – ORTHODOXY

Were Angels created when God created the heavens,

or have they been with God all of eternity?

– S.W., USA

The Bible does not specifically state when the angels were created, but we can look at some verses that give us clues as to a possible time frame.

First of all, let’s look at some background information. We know that God created all things, including the angels. In COLOSSIANS 1:16, Paul writes the following:

“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).

In this verse, the words “principalities or powers” refer to angelic beings. We also know by reading GENESIS 1:1–5 that God created the heavens and the earth on the first day of the creation week.

Now let’s build on this background information by looking at some additional verses. We can learn from reading JOB 38:4–7 that the angels, called “sons of God” and possibly “morning stars” in verse 7, witnessed some of God’s work during the Creation Week. In these verses, God is speaking to Job. God says the following:

“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 38:4–7).

The angels “shouted for joy” in response to God’s wonderful creative work! These verses tell us that the angels rejoiced when God laid the foundations of the earth. This could be a reference to day 1, when God made the earth; or it could be a reference to day 3, when God made the dry land. Either way, the angels were in existence before day 4 of the Creation Week.

We can find more information about the creation of angels by reading verses about the creation of Satan. Keep in mind that when angels were created, Satan and the fallen angels had not yet sinned. We know this because God declares His creation to be “very good” in GENESIS 1:31. This next set of verses is long. See if you can find the hint about when Satan was created. EZEKIEL 28:13–15 states the following:

“You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering: the sardius, topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold. The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes was prepared for you on the day you were created. You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; you were on the holy mountain of God; you walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones. You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you” (EZEKIEL 28:13–15).

Did you notice? Verse 15 mentions that Satan was created on a specific “day.” Since time did not exist before day 1, this means that Satan was created during the Creation Week.

After doing a little research, I think we can conclude that the angels were created at some point during the Creation Week, no later than day 3.

Source:

https://answersingenesis.org

ANSWERS TO GENESIS

What are Seraphim? Are Seraphs Angels?

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SAINTS OF MY HEART

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What are Seraphim? Are Seraphs Angels?

The seraphim (fiery, burning ones) are angelic beings associated with the prophet Isaiah’s vision of God in the Temple when God called him to his prophetic ministry (Isaiah 6:1-7). Isaiah 6:2-4 records, “Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.’ At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.” Seraphs are angels who worship God continually.

Isaiah chapter 6 is the only place in the Bible that specifically mentions the seraphim. Each seraph had six wings. They used two to fly, two to cover their feet, and two to cover their faces (Isaiah 6:2). The seraphim flew about the throne on which God was seated, singing His praises as they called special attention to God’s glory and majesty. These beings apparently also served as agents of purification for Isaiah as he began his prophetic ministry. One placed a hot coal against Isaiah’s lips with the words, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for” (Isaiah 6:7). Similar to the other types of holy angels, the seraphim are perfectly obedient to God. Similar to the cherubim, the seraphim are particularly focused on worshipping God.

Source:

C. Fred Dickason, Angels: Elect & Evil, Revised, MOODY PUBLISHERS / 1995 / PAPERBACK