Bible Study on Angels: Biblical Names, Purposes, Nature and More

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

What are the functions of angels?  Do their names have to do with their job?  What is the nature of angels?  What does the Bible say about angels?

The Word Angel

The word angel is an infusion of an old English/Germanic word “engel” and the French word “angele”; both are taken from the Latin “angelus” that basically means “messenger of God.”  The Bible clearly teaches that angels do exist and that we may have actually encountered them or will encounter them during our lives and we either may have realized it only later or may have not even realized it at all.  Hebrews 13:2 exhorts believers to “not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”  The principle is to treat everyone how Jesus Christ would treat them.

The Function of Angels

Angels have many assigned jobs that God has given them specifically to do.  Even though they have free will, they bid to do God’s will alone.   Some angels are assigned to worship God (Rev 4:1-11; Heb 1:6) while others are assigned to minister to believers as written in Hebrews 1:14 that angels are “ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation” whom have sometimes protected the saints (Psalm 91:11-12; Dan 6:22).  Some even feel that every believer has their own angel assigned to them, so-called “guardian angels,” although we cannot be 100% certain of this fact (Matt 18:10; Acts 12:15).  There is no doubt that angels have miraculously intervened on the behalf of Christians (Acts 5:19-20) and may help protect them in other ways (Matt 18:10) because Satan and his demons would love nothing more than to destroy us (1 Peter 5:8).  Maybe that is why it’s said that angels are said to encamp around us (Psalm 34:7; 103:21) and there are plenty to go around for every believer.  There are more than enough to help those who are saved because the number of angels is said to be uncountable, which may mean that they’re at least in the millions, if not more (Heb 12:22; Dan 7:10)

Angel Names and their Meanings

The angel named Gabriel means “strong man of God.”

The angel named Gabriel means “strong man of God.”

The angel Michael has a specific rank as he is an archangel.  His name literally means “who is like God?”  The angel named Gabriel means “strong man of God.”  He is also an archangel and like Michael, he has the highest rank among the angels of God.  God frequently uses these powerful spirit beings because they may be needed as they may encounter resistance from fallen angels.  One such experience was recorded in the Book of Daniel where “The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me [an angel] twenty-one days, but Michael [the archangel], one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I was left there with the kings of Persia, and came to make you understand what is to happen to your people in the latter days” (Dan 10:13-14).  Here was a case of spiritual warfare from “the prince of…Persia” who held back this angel from delivering his message to Daniel in giving him the answer to his prayer.  This “prince of Persia” could well have been the Devil himself, who is also one of the highest orders or ranks of angels and it took Michael the archangel to help get this message through.

Other angelic names are not known and if God had wanted us to know these names He would have ensured that we would have known by including them in the Bible.  The fact that God does not give us a long list of angel’s names seems to indicate that God didn’t want us to focus too much attention on them but to focus exclusively on Him.

Angels are Spirit Beings

Since angels are spirit beings they cannot procreate.  They cannot have children or get married (Mark 12:25; 22:30) since they do not have physical bodies (Heb 1:14).  This does not mean that angels can’t appear in physical form, but it is only when God wills it and not when we pray for it or the angels desire to appear physically.  Angels are always in subjection to God’s will and never, ever operate independently of His will.  One thing about angels is that they are extremely powerful (Rev 18:21).  There was a king in Judea who, when the people boasted that “this is the voice a god and not a man,” an angel who was jealous for the glory of God and He alone should be worshiped, struck him down immediately (Acts 12:21-23).  On another occasion, some sexually immoral men in Sodom wanted to have sinful same-sex relations with two of Lot’s guests and not knowing that these two were actually angels, they blinded those who tried to break down Lot’s door to gain access to them (Gen 19:4-13).


Sadly, people have become preoccupied with angels and there are even monthly magazines devoted to people’s so-called experiences with angels.  There are many that are so engaged in the study of angels that they come dangerously close to worshiping them, which is clearly sin (Col 2:6-19; Rev 19:10; 22:9).  If an angel ever does appear in the Bible, they rebuke anyone who attempts to worship them and state that we are to worship only the Lord God.  It is impossible to know just how many of these stories are legitimate and which are imagined but there is little doubt that many of us may have encountered angels.   We may not have even been aware of it until later or we may have never known at all (Heb 13:2).  If you are fascinated by angels, remember that God alone is worthy of our praise and we must focus on Him and Him only for He will not share His glory with another (Isaiah 42:8).  God does sometimes use angels for our protection but their chief purpose is always to do the will of God.  Unfortunately, there are some that ever pray directly to and even worship angels.  This is idolatry and is a very serious sin for we must only pray to the Father alone, through Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit.  That is the will of God and even the angels of God know this (Rev 19:10; 22:9).

Read Jack’s personal story about angels: Seat Belts and Angels

Resource –  “Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

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