Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Early Christian Quotes on Angels

Early Christian Quotes on Angels


The Shepherd of Hermas 

(1st or 2nd Century)

Vision 3, Chapter 4:


The angel said, “These are the holy angels of God, who were first created and to whom the Lord handed over His whole creation so that they might increase and build up and rule over the whole creation. They will finish building the tower [the Church].”


I asked, “But who are the other persons who are carrying the stones?”


The angel answered, “These also are holy angels of the Lord, but the first six are more excellent than these. The building of the tower will be finished, and all will rejoice together around the tower, and they will glorify God because the tower is finished.”



The Shepherd of Hermas

(1st or 2nd Century)

Vision 5:


He said to me, “Do you not know me?”


“No,” I answered.


“I,” said he, “am that shepherd to whom you have been entrusted.”



The Shepherd of Hermas

(1st or 2nd Century)

Commandment 6, Chapter 2:


The angel said, “Now hear about faith. There are two angels with a man—one of righteousness and the other of wickedness.”


And I said to him, “Sir, how am I to know one from the other if both angels live with me?”


“Hear,” he said, and “understand them. The angel of righteousness is gentle and modest, meek and peaceful. So, when he speaks to your heart, he talks to you of righteousness, purity, chastity, contentment, and of every righteous deed and glorious virtue. When you feel these things in your heart, know that the angel of righteousness is with you. These are the deeds of the angel of righteousness, so trust him and his works.


“Look now at the works of the angel of wickedness. First, he is wrathful and bitter and foolish, and his works are evil and ruin the servants of God. When he speaks to your heart, know him by his works.”


And I said to him, “Sir, I don’t know how I will recognize him.”


“Hear and understand,” he said. “When anger comes upon you, or harshness, know that he is in you; and also, you will know this to be the case when you are attacked by a longing for money and the richest delicacies and drunken revels and various luxuries and things improper and by a hankering after women and by overreaching and pride and wanting people to listen to you make speeches and by whatever else is like these.”



The Shepherd of Hermas

(1st or 2nd Century)

Similitude 6, Chapter 3:


The angel said, “This is the angel of punishment. He belongs to the righteous angels, and his duty is to punish. He takes those who wander away from God and who have walked in the desires and deceits of this world and chastises them as they deserve with terrible and various punishments.”


“Sir, I would like to know what types of tortures and punishments he carries out.”


He answered, “Hear the various tortures and punishments. The tortures are such as occur during life. For some are punished with losses, others with want, others with sicknesses of various kinds, and others with all kinds of disorder and confusion; others are insulted by unworthy persons and exposed to suffering in many other ways, for many, becoming unstable in their plans, try many things, and none of them at all succeed, and they say they are not successful in what they do. It does not occur to their minds that they have done evil deeds, but they blame the Lord.


“So, when they have been afflicted with all kinds of affliction, then they are delivered to me for good training, and they are made strong in the faith of the Lord; and for the rest of the days of their life, they are subject to the Lord with pure hearts and are successful in all they do, obtaining from the Lord everything they ask. Then they glorify the Lord for delivering them to me, and they no longer suffer any evil.”



The Shepherd of Hermas

(1st or 2nd Century)

Similitude 8, Chapter 5:


The angel said, “This law is the Son of God, proclaimed to the ends of the earth; and the people who are under its shadow are they who have heard the proclamation and have believed in Him. And the great and glorious angel Michael is he who has authority over this people and governs them; for this is he who gave the law into the hearts of believers: he accordingly rules over them to whom he gave the law to see if they have kept it.”



Fragments of Papias

(Early 2nd Century)



To some of the angels, He gave dominion over the arrangement of the world, and He commissioned them to exercise their dominion well. But it happened that their arrangement came to nothing.



The Epistle of the Apostles

(Mid-2nd Century)

Chapters 13-14:


Jesus revealed this to us, saying, “When I was about to come to Earth from the Father of all things, I passed through the heavens, putting on the wisdom of the Father and the power of His might. I was in heaven, and I passed by the archangels and the angels, appearing as one of them, among the princedoms and powers. I passed through them because I possessed the wisdom of Him who had sent Me.


“Now the chief captain of the angels, Michael, and Gabriel and Uriel and Raphael followed Me up to a certain point because they thought I was one of them; such power was given to Me by My Father. And on that day, I used a wonderful voice to tell the archangels that they should go to the altar of the Father and serve and fulfill the ministry until I returned to Him…


“You know that the angel Gabriel brought the message of My coming to Mary. Do you also remember that I told you a little while ago that I became an angel among the angels, and I became all things in all? On that day when I took the form of the angel Gabriel, I appeared to Mary and spoke with her. Her heart accepted Me, and she believed, and I formed Myself and entered into her body. I became flesh, for I alone was a minister to Myself.”



The Epistle of the Apostles

(Mid-2nd Century)

Chapter 19:


Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, such great joy has My Father prepared for you that the angels and the powers desired and do desire to see it and look upon it, but it is not given to them to behold the glory of My Father.”



Justin Martyr’s Dialog with Trypho

(Mid-2nd Century)

Chapter 88:


For God, wanting both angels and men, who were endowed with free will, to do whatever He had strengthened each to do, made it so that if they chose the things that were acceptable to Him, He would keep them free from death and from punishment; but that if they did evil, He would punish each as He sees fit.



Justin Martyr’s Second Apology

(Mid-2nd Century)

Chapter 5:


When God had made the whole world and subjected the earth to man and arranged the heavenly bodies and the rotation of seasons so that vegetation would increase, He committed the care of men and of all things under heaven to angels, whom He appointed over them.


But the angels transgressed this appointment and were captivated by the love of women and begat children, whom we now call demons; and besides, they afterward subdued the human race to themselves, partly by magical writings and partly by fears and the punishments they brought and partly by teaching them to offer sacrifices and incense, and libations…and among men, they sowed murders, wars, adulteries, intemperate deeds, and all wickedness.


Later, the poets and mythologists, not knowing that it was the angels and those demons they had fathered who did these things to men and women and cities and nations, ascribed to Neptune and Pluto and their offspring. For whatever name each of the angels had given to himself and his children, that’s what the poets called them.



Justin Martyr’s Second Apology

(Mid-2nd Century)

Chapter 6:


But since God made the race of angels and men with free will in the beginning, they will justly suffer in eternal fire the punishment of whatever sins they have committed. And this is the nature of all that is made, to be capable of vice and virtue. For no one would be worthy of praise unless they had the power to turn to both virtue and vice.



Athenagoras’ Plea for the Christians

(Late 2nd Century)

Chapter 24:


For this is the office of the angels: to supervise the things created and ordered by Him so that God may have the universal and general supervision of the whole, while the particular parts are cared for by the angels appointed over them.


Just as with men, who have freedom of choice as to both virtue and vice (for you would not either honor the good or punish the bad unless vice and virtue were in their own power…), so is it among the angels. Some continued to do their duty, but some were outraged both by their own nature and by their role…These fell into impure love of virgins and became negligent and wicked in the management of the things entrusted to them. Giants were born to these lovers of virgins.



Irenaeus’ Demonstration of Apostolic Preaching

(Late 2nd Century)

Paragraph 18:


And for a very long while, wickedness extended and spread and reached and laid hold of the whole race of mankind until a very small seed of righteousness remained among them, and illicit unions took place upon the earth, since angels were united with the daughters of the race of mankind; and they bore to them sons, who for their exceeding greatness, were called giants.


And the angels brought as presents to their wives teachings of wickedness, in that they brought them the virtues of roots and herbs, dyeing in colors and cosmetics, the discovery of rare substances, love-potions…spells of bewitchment, and all sorcery and idolatry hateful to God.



Origen’s Principles

(Early to Mid-3rd Century)

Book 1, Chapter 8, Paragraph 1:


We are not to suppose that a particular office is assigned to a particular angel for no reason. For example, Raphael has the work of curing and healing; to Gabriel, the conduct of wars; to Michael, the duty of attending to the prayers and supplications of mortals. For we are not to imagine that they obtained these offices other than by their own merits and by the zeal and excellent qualities they displayed before this world was formed; so that afterward in the order of archangels, this or that office was assigned to each one, while others deserved to be enrolled in the order of angels and to act under this or that archangel or that leader or head of an order…


God entrusted the Church of the Ephesians to one angel; to another, that of the Smyrnaeans; one angel was to be Peter's, another Paul's; and so on through every one of the little ones that are in the Church, for the angels who daily behold the face of God must be assigned to each one of them; and there must also be some angels who encamp around those who fear God. We must believe that all these things were arranged by God, the just and impartial Ruler of all things, according to the merits and good qualities and mental abilities of each individual spirit.


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Find more of what the early Christians thought on my Christian History page!

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