Angels in Revelation
Revelation describes actions of angels.
The great lesson of Revelation is the same vision Elisha's servant saw: "And when the servant of the man of God arose early and went out, there was an army, surrounding the city with horses and chariots. And his servant said to him, 'Alas, my master! What shall we do?' So he answered, 'Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.' And Elisha prayed, and said, 'Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.' Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha" (2 Kings 6:15-17).
Although we are few and forces of evil appear to be overwhelming, Revelation opens our eyes to the mighty host of angels fighting for good and vanquishing evil.
John expands on what is said about angels in other parts of Scripture. The following passages help us understand what angels do in Revelation.
Jesus Christ "has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him" (1 Peter 3:22).
"But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels" (Hebrews 12:22).
"Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?" (Hebrews 1:14). "There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents" (Luke 15:10).
Jesus promised: "Whoever confesses Me before men, him the Son of Man also will confess before the angels of God" (Luke 12:8). "He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels" (Revelation 3:5).
"When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats" (Matthew 25:31,32).
"For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works" (Matthew 16:27).
In the parable of the tares, Jesus explains: "The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire" (Matthew 13:39-42).
"So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just, and cast them into the furnace of fire'' (Matthew 13:49,50).
"And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other" (Matthew 24:31 // Mark 13:27).
"For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord" (1 Thessalonians 4:16,17).
"Since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Thessalonians 1:6-8).
Angels are subject to Christ. Believers are in fellowship with Christ and His angels who are ministering spirits, sent to help the heirs of salvation. The angels rejoice over each sinner who repents and Christ will confess the faithful before His Father and His angels.
All the angels will accompany Christ when He returns to judge the world. He will send them out with the sound of a trumpet and they will remove the wicked and cast them into the furnace of fire. They will assemble all of God's elect from every quarter. The dead in Christ will rise first, then the living faithful will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the sky to be with Him forever.
This background information helps us understand what angels do in Revelation.
Revelation speaks of rebellious angels.
This is also taught in other passages.
Jesus said that on the day of Judgment He would say to those on the left hand, "Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels" (Matthew 25:41).
"And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own habitation, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day" (Jude 6).
God's angels are victorious.
"And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. ... Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time" (Revelation 12:7-9,12).
What activities of angels are described in Revelation?
1. An angel gave the Revelation to John (Revelation 1:1,2).
John received a 'little book' from an angel who told him: "You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings" (Revelation 10:1-11).
At the close of Revelation we are told: "And the Lord God of the holy prophets sent His angel to show His servants the things which must shortly take place" (Revelation 22:6). "I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches" (Revelation 22:16).
2. Angels worship God.
"Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice: "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!'' (Revelation 5:11,12).
"And all the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying: 'Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom, thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen' '' (Revelation 7:11,12).
3. Angels support the preaching of the gospel.
"Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people saying with a loud voice, 'Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water' " (Revelation 14:6,7).
4. Angels help the servants of God.
"Then I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God. And he cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, saying, 'Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads' " (Revelation 7:2,3).
"Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. And he was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel's hand" (Revelation 8:3,4).
5. Angels bring God's judgment on the earth.
This is the most prominent activity of angels in Revelation.
Seven angels blow seven trumpets of partial destruction.
At the sound of these warning trumpets 'a third' is destroyed, but the peoples of the earth do not repent (Revelation 9:20,21).
The first angel: "a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up" (Revelation 8:7).
The second angel: "a third of the sea became blood; and a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed" (Revelation 8:8,9).
The third angel: "And a great star fell from heaven, burning like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water; and the name of the star is Wormwood; and a third of the waters became wormwood; and many men died from the water, because it was made bitter" (Revelation 8:10,11).
The forth angel: "And a third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them were darkened; and a third of the day did not shine, and likewise the night" (Revelation 8:12).
The fifth angel: "he opened the bottomless pit" (Revelation 9:2). The locusts that come up from the bottomless pit have "as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, but in Greek he has the name Apollyon" (Revelation 9:11). These names mean 'destruction' (compare with Exodus 12:23; Job 26:6; 28:22; Proverbs 15:11; Ezekiel 7:25).
The sixth angel: He released "the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates" ... "to kill a third of mankind" (Revelation 9:14,15).
The seventh angel: "The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!" (Revelation 11:15). The seventh trumpet announces the coming judgment (Revelation 11:18). Jesus had said: "Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself" (John 12:31,32).
Seven angels bring judgment.
The call to begin the final judgment is given by seven angels in chapter fourteen.
The first: "Another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel" (Revelation 14:6) "for the hour of His judgment has come" (Revelation 14:7).
The second: "Another angel followed, saying, 'Babylon is fallen'" (Revelation 14:8).
The third: "A third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, 'If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. And he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone" (Revelation 14:9,10).
The fourth: "And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, 'Thrust in Your sickle and reap, for the time has come for You to reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.' So He who sat on the cloud thrust in His sickle on the earth, and the earth was reaped" (Revelation 14:15,16).
The fifth: "Then another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle" (Revelation 14:17).
The sixth: "And another angel came out from the altar, who had power over fire, and he cried with a loud cry to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, 'Thrust in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for her grapes are fully ripe'" (Revelation 14:18).
The seventh (the same as the fifth): "So the angel thrust his sickle into the earth and gathered the vine of the earth, and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God" (Revelation 14:19).
Seven angels pour out the seven last plagues: seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God.
Now that the harvest has begun and the vines are thrown into the winepress of the wrath of God, seven bowls of the wrath of God are poured out on the earth by seven angels. The seven bowls are similar to the seven trumpets, but in this case the devastation is complete, and still the peoples of the earth do not repent.
"Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous: seven angels having the seven last plagues, for in them the wrath of God is complete" (Revelation 15:1).
"And out of the temple came the seven angels having the seven plagues, clothed in pure bright linen, and having their chests girded with golden bands. Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God who lives forever and ever. The temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power, and no one was able to enter the temple till the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed" (Revelation 15:6-8).
"Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, 'Go and pour out the bowls of the wrath of God on the earth'" (Revelation 16:1).
The first: "A foul and loathsome sore came upon the men who had the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image" (Revelation 16:2).
The second: The sea "became blood as of a dead man; and every living creature in the sea died" (Revelation 16:3).
The third: "The rivers and springs of water" became blood (Revelation 16:4).
The forth: The sun scorches men with fire, yet they do not repent (Revelation 16:8- 11).
The fifth: The kingdom of the beast becomes full of darkness, yet they do not repent (Revelation 16:10,11).
The sixth: The Euphrates dries up (Revelation 16:12).
The seventh: "It is finished!'' (Revelation 16:17).
One of the angels with the seven bowls, explains the meaning of the great harlot.
"Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and talked with me, saying to me, 'Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters'" (Revelation 17:1).
"But the angel said to me, 'Why did you marvel? I will tell you the mystery of the woman and of the beast that carries her, which has the seven heads and the ten horns'" (Revelation 17:7).
"After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illuminated with his glory. And he cried mightily with a loud voice, saying, 'Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen'" (Revelation 18:1,2).
"Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, 'Thus with violence the great city Babylon shall be thrown down, and shall not be found anymore'" (Revelation 18:21).
"Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, 'Come and gather together for the supper of the great God, that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great'" (Revelation 19:17,18)
An angel binds Satan for a thousand years.
"Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years" (Revelation 20:1,2). After the thousand years, the devil is vanquished and thrown into the lake of fire, the dead are raised and all must appear before the judgment throne of God. Those whose names are not found in the book of life are also thrown into the lake of fire.
One of the angels with the seven bowls shows John the bride of the Lamb.
For the righteous there is a new heavens and a new earth and an angel shows John the Lamb's bride.
"Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, 'Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb's wife.' And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. And her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal" (Revelation 21:9-11).
The Angel who brought the message warned John not to worship angels but to worship God.
"Now I, John, saw and heard these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things. Then he said to me, 'See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God' " (Revelation 22:8,9 // 19:10).
Revelation describes actions of God's angels.
There are also rebellious angels, but the angels of God are victorious. An angel gave the Revelation to John. Angels worship God. They support the preaching of the gospel. They help the servants of God. They bring judgment on the earth. Seven angels blow seven warning trumpets of partial destruction. Seven angels bring judgment. Seven angels pour out the seven last plagues: seven bowls full of the wrath of God. One of these angels explains the meaning of the great harlot. An angel binds Satan for a thousand years. An angel shows John the bride of the Lamb. The Angel who brought the message warned John not to worship angels but to worship God.
Understanding what the angels do in Revelation, helps us understand Revelation. Although we are few and forces of evil appear to be overwhelming, Revelation opens our eyes to the mighty host of angels fighting for good and vanquishing evil. And we are assured that if we remain faithful until death we will share in the victory of Christ and the heavenly host.
The Scripture quotations in this article are from
The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982, Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers.
Permission for reference use has been granted.
Published in The Old Paths Archive