Do Christians Have Authority Over Angels?

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

Does the Bible teach that we have authority over angels today or have authority over angels in the kingdom?

All Authority

Early in Jesus’ ministry, “he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases” (Luke 9:1). Notice that they had no such authority of themselves. It had to be given to them, so Jesus, having all authority, could rightly grant His authority to whomever He wanted. Just before Jesus’ ascension back to heaven, He commissioned the disciples to go into all the world to make disciples of others (Matt 28:19), and to teach them the very same things Jesus had taught them (Matt 28:20). Jesus could commission the disciples because the Father had given Him all the authority to do so, so “Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matt 28:18). What He received from the Father, He gave to the disciples. We too have the authority to preach the gospel; to make disciples of others, and to teach them what Jesus has taught us through His Word, but does this mean we have authority over all things, including the angels?

Angels

We do not have authority over all things. Only Jesus Christ has that authority as does the Father. The angels are under the authority of God; that we know, but are they under our authority too? Can we command angels to protect us or others; can we command angels to change circumstances or intervene supernaturally? No, that is only for God to do. God may dispatch angels to do things for us, but they do not act independently of God’s will, meaning they do not follow our will or commands, but Gods. I’ve heard some say that they are binding Satan and his demons and have authority over the demons, but I could not find such examples in the New Testament church. Of course, the apostles were able to cast out demons, but that was only because Jesus had given them the authority. Jesus had told them, “I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you” (Luke 10:19). Obviously, this was not by the disciples’ own authority. It was by Jesus’ authority. The Bible does not teach us that we should bind demons, Satan, or command angels. What if God told the angels to do one thing but we commanded them to do another? That’s possible, if we indeed have authority over the angels, but I cannot see that revealed in Scripture. Even Daniel did not command the angels to shut the lion’s mouth. It was God’s will to send an angel to shut the lion’s mouth, not Daniel’s command to an angel to silence the lions.

Jesus’ Authority

Jesus’ own authority comes not from Himself but from the Father. Our Lord said that the Father has given the Son of Man “authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him” (John 17:2), so even our being chosen by God is a choice of God. Does Jesus have authority over the angels? Yes. He said He could dispatch twelve legions of angels if He chose to do so (Matt 26:53). The angels knew that the Lord Jesus Christ is “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come” (Eph 1:21). Clearly, Jesus “is the head of all rule and authority” (Col 2:10), and obviously this includes angels…and by the way, that includes us.

Judging Angels

In several circumstances, angels had authority over humans. We see that in examples of Lot and his family being rescued by some angels. There are countless other examples where angels are sent by God and are given a message from God. They have the authority of God because they are the messenger of God. Even the word “angel” means “messenger of God.” The Apostle Paul was dealing with a church that couldn’t even settle arguments among themselves (the Church of Corinth). He reminded them about their future in the kingdom, and asked, don’t you “know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases” (1 Cor 6:2)? Exactly whose those are that the saints will judge is not clear. It could be unbelievers or it could be the angels because Paul does ask, “Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life” (1 Cor 6:3)? Which angels the saints are to judge is not made clear, but it could refer to judging fallen angels or demons. Paul doesn’t elaborate, so I can’t either, but we will judge angels. That much we know. I don’t believe they will be the holy angels, but more likely demons. Perhaps it will be those who have harassed us and oppressed us all of our Christian life. We just can say for sure, but for sure we can say, the saints will judge the angel’s in the coming kingdom, however, that doesn’t mean we have authority over them today. Perhaps in the future kingdom, maybe, but we just don’t know. The Bible is silent on this subject so we must be silent on it too.

Conclusion

If anything, angels are ministering spirits. There are countless accounts where God must have sent an angel to intervene somewhere for someone, but we cannot command them to protect us. I believe they only listen to God. That’s because God alone has authority over them…in heaven and on earth. We can pray to God for protection, meaning we should never pray for or pray to angels and ask them for protection. That’s God’s place. He is above all and over all. He alone has authority over the angels, but we can be thankful that He knows just when to send them, and in circumstances that could only be explained by the presence of an angel. This is good reason for us to “not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares” (Heb 13:2), because we know they are “all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation” (Heb 1:14). They may minister to us without our even knowing it, so let’s not neglect showing hospitality to others. You never know who that person might be; an angel in disguise? Maybe.

Here is some related reading for you: What is the Role of Angels in Heaven?

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible: English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.



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