1. Religion & Spirituality
Send to a Friend via Email

Who are Angels?

God's Heavenly Messengers

By

an angel

The word "angel" means "messenger."

Photo © J. Bogdan in the public domain

Angels are powerful spiritual beings who serve God and human beings in a wide variety of ways, say people who believe in them. The English word "angel" is derived from the Greek word "angelos," which means "messenger." The faithful from the world's major religions believe that angels are messengers from God who carry out tasks that God assigns them to perform on Earth.

Visiting Earth

When they appear on Earth, angels may be in either human or heavenly form. So angels may visit in disguise, looking just like human beings. Or angels may appear as they've been popularly depicted in art, as creatures with human faces and powerful wings, often shining with light from within.

Busy Beings

Despite their portrayals in some cartoons, angels don't just sit around on clouds playing harps for eternity. Neither do they have much time to polish their halos. Angels have lots of work to do!

Worshiping God

Religions such as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam say that an important part of angels' work is worshiping the God who created them, such as by praising him in heaven. Some religions, such as Islam, say that all angels serve God faithfully. Other religions, such as Christianity, say that some angels are faithful to God, while others have rebelled against him and are now known as demons.

Gaining Knowledge

Religions like Hinduism and Buddhism, as well as belief systems such as New Age spirituality, say that angels can be beings who have worked their way up from low to high spiritual planes by passing spiritual tests, and may continue to grow wiser and stronger even after they've achieved an angelic state.

Delivering Messages

Just like their name implies, angels may deliver God's messages to humans, such as by comforting, encouraging, or warning people according to what's best in each situation into which God sends them.

Guarding People

Angels may work hard to guard the people they're assigned to from danger. Stories about angels rescuing people facing perilous situations are popular in our culture. Some people from religious traditions like Catholicism believe that everyone has a guardian angel divinely assigned to them for their entire earthly lifetime. About 55% of Americans said in a 2008 poll by Baylor University's Institute for Studies of Religion that they have been protected by a guardian angel.

Recording Deeds

Some people believe that angels record the activities people choose to do. New Age and Jewish believers say that an archangel named Metatron records everything that happens in the universe. Islam says that God has created angels called Kiraman Katibin who specialize in recording deeds, and that God assigns two of those angels to each person, with one recording the person's good deeds and another recording the person's evil deeds. In Sikhism, angels named Chitar and Gupat record the decisions of all people, with Chitar recording deeds that other humans see and Gupat recording deeds that are hidden to other people but known to God.

  1. About.com
  2. Religion & Spirituality
  3. Angels & Miracles
  4. Angel Basics
  5. Who Are Angels? - Heavenly Messengers

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.