Angels and demons (and the spirit world in general) are fascinating. But sometimes it’s hard to separate what the Bible says from traditions and lore that we’ve picked up along the way. There’s a lot of weird stuff we hear about angels that doesn’t show up anywhere in the Bible. For example, the Bible doesn’t say we become angels when we die—that’s from It’s a Wonderful Life. But on the other hand, there’s some even weirder stuff that the Bible DOES say about angels and demons that we never hear in Sunday school. For example, you’ve heard of cherubim and seraphim—but what about that goat demon in Leviticus 17:7? I was curious about just what kinds of angels the Bible claims exist. So one rainy Sunday afternoon, I made this list of all the angels and demons the Bible mentions. I probably don’t have to tell you that it would have taken me a lot longer to do without Logos Bible Software. Beware: some of this is probably going to sound straight-up weird.
8 kinds of angels and demons in the BibleLet’s take a tour of some of the specific types of angels the Bible mentions. I’m not going to spend time on “angels” or “demons” as general categories—this list focuses specifically on categories of divine beings (excluding the trinity and idols) the Bible mentions.
1. Goat DemonsAlignment: Evil Number: 2+ Let’s get the weirdest one out of the way first. One obscure passage in Leviticus mentions “Goat demons” or “goat idols” (Lev 17:7). I don’t know what that’s about. But the Jews drew a connection between these “goat demons” and the demonic figure Azazel—a villainous fallen angel from the book of 1 Enoch. This connection comes from a nearby passage in Leviticus 16, where the Day of Atonement ritual is being laid out for the people to follow. The Lord tells Moses that one goat should be slaughtered, and another is to be sent away into the wilderness. The actual verse reads like this in most of our Bibles:
“Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats, one lot for the LORD and the other lot for the scapegoat.” (Lev 16:8, NASB)But the Hebrew word translated “scapegoat” in this passage is azazel—and there’s good reason to believe it’s meant to be a name (just like “Yahweh” is a proper noun translated “LORD”). Dr. Mike Heiser has some more thoughts on this passage here, and even more thoughts on this in his book, The Unseen Realm.* By the way, if you’d like to study the Old Testament in its original Hebrew, check out this online course from my friends at Zondervan Academic.*
2. SeraphimAlignment: Good Number:2+ The singular form of seraphim is “seraph.” (Hebrew uses “-im” similarly to how we add “-s” to words to make them plural.) The Bible mentions seraphim only twice, both in Isaiah’s grand vision of the Lord in the temple in Isaiah chapter 6. We can only discern a few things about the seraphim from this passage:
- Isaiah sees seraphim serving in the presence of God’s throne in the temple.
- Seraphim have six wings. Two are used for covering their faces, two for covering their feet, and two for flight.
- Seraphim have hands.
- The seraphim proclaim God’s holiness to one another.
- At least one seraph plays a part in forgiving Isaiah of his sin.
3. CherubimAlignment: Good Number:4+ Cherubim (singular “cherub”) show up a bit more often in the Bible—and a good deal earlier. They’re mentioned 33 times in the Bible, and only in the Old Testament. The most vivid descriptions of cherubim come from the prophet Ezekiel:
- Cherubim seem to have multiple faces, but the faces vary in number and nature. However, cherubim with multiple faces seem to have the faces of different creatures on the same body:
- Four faces: man, ox, lion, and eagle (Ezek 1:10)
- Four faces: cherub, man, lion, and eagle (Ezek 10:14)
- Two faces: man and lion (Ezek 41:18–19) Note: Ezekiel is describing a carved decoration in a vision, so it’s possible that the cherubim are merely carved in such a way that the viewer can only see two of the four faces.
- Cherebim have a generally humanoid form (Ezek 1:5)
- Cherubim have stiff legs with calves’ feet (Ezek 1:6)
- Cherubim have human hands, possibly four of them (Ezek 1:8)
- Cherubim have four wings, two of which cover their bodies (Ezek 1:11)
- Cherubim are accompanied by mysterious “whirring wheels” (Ezek 10:9–11, 13)
- Cherubim guard things. When God expels Adam and Eve from Eden, he stations a cherub with a flaming sword to guard the pathway to the tree of life (Gn 3:24).
- Cherubim support God’s throne. In Ezekiel’s visions, the throne of God rests above the cherubim. The ancient Hebrews described God as “enthroned above the cherubim” (2 Ki 19:15; Ps 18:10; Isaiah 37:16, etc.). However, not every description of God’s throne includes cherubim. Daniel sees the Ancient of Day’s throne simply has flaming wheels (Dan 7:9), with no note of cherubim supporting it. Note: two golden cherubim figures were attached to the ark of the covenant (Exodus 25:18–22).
- Cherubim play a part in judgment. In Ezekiel 10, a cherub hands a burning coal to another character in Ezekiel’s vision who has just slaughtered the disobedient residents of Jerusalem.
4. ArchangelsAlignment: Good Number:1+ There’s only one character in the Bible called an archangel, and that’s Michael. We don’t know much about the specific duties archangels perform, nor do we know how many there are. “Arch-” means “chief,” and the book of Daniel calls Michael a “chief prince” (Dan 10:13; 12:1). So it’s possible that archangels are a rank up from the next kind of angelic being: princes.
5. PrincesAlignment: Good and evil Number:3+ We only see good seraphim. Cherubim seem to be good, too (unless Satan is a cherub, of course). But there’s one type of supernatural being that we see on both sides of the heavenly war: princes. We don’t know much about angelic or demonic princes. But we do see a conversation between the wise man Daniel and an angel about the matter in Daniel’s tenth chapter. In this passage, an angel has a message for Daniel that should be delivered post-haste. But an opposing figure known only as the Prince of Persia stands in this angel’s way. This prince blocks the angel for three weeks, until Michael the archangel intervenes. This buys the angel enough time to rush his message off to Daniel before returning to the fray. The angel mentions three specific princes:
- The Prince of Persia (Dan 10:13, 20)
- The Prince of Greece (20)
- Michael, a “chief prince” who stands guard over Israel (10:13; 12:1)
6. KingsAlignment: Evil Number:2+ We’re still in Daniel 10. Remember how the Prince of Persia was standing against Daniel’s angel? Well, he wasn’t alone. The Prince of Persia is accompanied by “the kings of Persia” (Dan 10:13). I don’t know why there would be one prince and multiple kings. It’s possible that princes outrank kings in the celestial hierarchy—or maybe this Prince of Persia was a prize fighter on the battlefield and the kings of Persia were the strategic brain trust. We could speculate on this all day.
7. Rulers, powers, etc.Alignment: Evil Number: 2+ The people of the New Testament believed that there were spiritual forces at work that had some degree of power over our physical world and the spiritual world, too. For example:
- The Pharisees disparage Jesus by saying he casts out demons by the authority of “the ruler of demons” (Mt 9:34; Mk 3:22, Lk 11:15).
- Jesus refers to “the ruler of this world” as someone who has nothing to do with him (Jn 12:31; 14:30; 16:11)
- Jesus prophesies that “the powers of heaven will be shaken” when he returns (Mt 24:29; Mk 13:25; Lk 21:26)
- Paul believes that the church’s struggle is against the rulers and forces of darkness “in the heavenly places” (Eph 3:10; 6:12).