Spiritual Beings in the Bible

Angels and demons and cherubim, oh my!

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Rick
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Spiritual Beings in the Bible

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Nearly twenty years ago, sitting around a table at the library a block away from where I now live, I shared my understanding of the spiritual creatures of the Bible, scrawled haphazardly on a piece of paper with assorted other notes, with a long-lost friend of mine.

It's rare that I see others have this viewpoint, and honestly, it may be entirely wrong. Still, I've never found distinct scriptural evidence to the contrary.

Angels

Angels are a fairly "basic" servant of God, often used as messengers, and always described as male and humanoid in appearance. These are the "sons of God" mentioned in Genesis 6, Job 1, and Jude. Angels may be given specific roles, as seen in Revelation. Some angels have chosen to serve Satan and are "fallen angels."

Cherubim

A crazy creature with multiple faces, wheel-like bodies, many eyes, flaming swords, and more. One was set as guard of Eden after the expulsion of Adam and Eve. (Unless Eden was entirely wiped off the planet after the Flood, finding the cherubim guarding Eden would be an absolute landslide in favor of the Bible's veracity!) Cherubim aren't angels but are a different, more "monstrous" creature.

Seraphim

Not much is known about these beings except they fit the standard depiction of angels more than angels do. Still, instead of having one pair of wings, seraphim have six wings -- two to cover its face, two its feet, and two to fly. Perhaps the absolute epitome of humility, the seraphim hide themselves while devoting every moment of their existence to praising God.

Satan

Perhaps most controversial among my biblical understandings, Satan is not a fallen angel. Nor was he ever known as "Lucifer." Rather, Satan was created to be the antagonist of God's people, perhaps being created along with other creatures in Eden, for he first appears as a serpent in the garden. This serpent was not simple snake. Atheist memes mocking "talking snakes" make me cringe (and I say that as an atheist). Satan begins as the serpent, and he grows, undergoing a few Pokémon-like "evolutions" throughout the Bible. By the time of the prophets, he had grown into a mighty sea creature, the leviathan, a fire-breathing creature full of danger whom only God could tame. And by the time of Revelation, Satan is a full-grown dragon.

Satan does not "rule Hell," punish sinners, or other such nonsense. He isn't even destined for Hell; he's destined for the "lake of fire," which will also swallow Hell.

Devils

No such thing in the Bible. Just the singular devil (Satan).

Demons

Another controversial idea. These are not fallen angels. Remember the "sons of God" from Genesis 6 who mated with women, producing a race of giants? Assuming the sons of God were angels, it would make sense that the offspring they produce with women would not be ordinary. They gave rise to a race of giants. So what happens when these giants die? This is my best guess as to where biblical demons come from: the disembodied hybrid spirit of an angel/human hybrid, doomed to roam freely as an angel but always desiring a body, like a human, which is why they are known to possess people.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

There are certainly other spiritual creatures in the Bible, so if I've missed any you're curious about, or if you have any questions about any of these, let me know. I realize a few of these ideas are hardly orthodox and they contradict every study Bible, systematic theology, etc. that I've come across these past few decades. But despite all of that, I find that these ideas are more consistent with the Scripture than standard/orthodox ideas about angels, demons, and the like.
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Re: Spiritual Beings in the Bible

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I’m interested in reading more. Could you provide some more specific scriptures where you found this information?
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Re: Spiritual Beings in the Bible

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A lot of it isn't explicit in the Bible, which I admit, but if the principle of "only the Bible" or "sola Scriptura" is maintained, one would be hard-pressed to find support for "Satan is Lucifer" or "Satan is a fallen angel," for example.

But anyway, let me start at the top.

Angels

This idea presupposes that "sons of God" refers to beings which are created sin-free, and seems fairly consistently used that way throughout the Bible. In the Old Testament, the phrase occurs in only two books: Genesis and Job. In Job, the "sons of God" are beings not only able to approach God in Heaven (ch. 1 and 2) but which were also there during the creative acts (38:7). In Genesis, the "sons of God" were in Genesis 6, makin' whoopie with women, as distinct from human men, who were under command to go and do just that.

Elsewhere, Lot meets a couple angels which seemed to be little different than other men, save for being sent by God to destroy Sodom (Genesis 19).

No where, to put it short, are angels described as having wings but always appear as men, to the point of being able to procreate with women. The idea of wings, besides being a big part of medieval art and possibly inspired by pagan gods, may come from the visual of angels "descending from Heaven," but then I have to wonder why Jesus, Enoch, Elijah, the resurrected saints, etc. are so rarely, if ever, depicted as having wings when they are described as "ascending to Heaven."

Cherubim

First mentioned in Genesis as the guardian of Eden post-Fall (3:24), the cherubim would play a big part in the means of worship in Exodus (ch. 25, 26, 36, 37) as a symbolic guardian of holiness. These graven cherubim would be recreated or mentioned throughout the Old Testament, such as in 1 Kings 8. God is often referred to as residing "between the cherubim," as in Psalm 99:1, although that could be a poetic description of the Ark of the Covenant being "between" the two graven cherubim or a literal depiction of God's companions in Heaven.

The Book Ezekiel would give the most vivid descriptions of seemingly living cherubim (ch. 10). Their appearance is certainly wild and seems akin to some modern UFO reports.

Seraphim

A six-winged creature (Isaiah 6:2) that spends its days singing a repetitive worship song (6:3). They also appear to be "full of eyes" (Rev. 4:8).
Off Topic
As a former fundamentalist who was taught to dislike "repetitive worship songs" used in more contemporary churches, I can't help but wonder why the obviously repetitive worship song used by the seraphim was so easily overlooked.
Satan

Satan's first appearance is as a serpent (Gen. 3:1; Rev. 12:9). There is no mention of Satan existing prior to Eden. As the "adversary" of God's people, he would have had no purpose prior to the existence of the same.

Over time, "the serpent" grows and comes to be known as "leviathan that crooked serpent," which would be punished by God in saving his people (Isaiah 27:1). Job 41 gives a vivid description of the serpent at this point, he is "king over all the children of pride," unable to be tamed or subdued by man. Satan, it seems, actively fought against God's people in those times, for less subtle than he was in the garden. This is Satan during his "adolescence," if I may so describe it. Brazen, angry, petulant.

Still more time passes, and by the time of the New testament, he is described as stalking the earth "like a lion," to destroy whom he may (1 Pe. 5:8). At no point is he said to be "in Hell" or responsible for punishing those in Hell.

By the time of Revelation, he is described as a full-blown dragon (Rev. 12:9, again).

Is Satan "Lucifer"? This idea seems tied to Isaiah 14:12, "How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!" This passage, however, is set against not Satan but the "king of Babylon" (verse 4). Verse 12 is a mocking description of the rise and fall of that same king. Nothing about it has anything to do with Satan.

The phrase tied to Lucifer, "son of the morning," is restated as "morning stars" elsewhere in the Bible and refers to angels (Job 38:7) or Jesus himself (Revelation 22:16).

Did Satan fall from Heaven? No. Aside from the passage about the king of Babylon, the "falling from Heaven" idea is also used in Revelation 12:7, where Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and his angels. At the very least, Satan's appearance as dragon here makes this event future to earlier passages of the Bible. We see from Job that Satan had access to Heaven to accuse God's people, so that he could enter Heaven in Revelation should come as no surprise. He, however, does so with an intent to war rather than accuse, and he is finally, permanently cast out.

His ultimate fate is to be cast into the "lake of fire and brimstone" (Rev. 20:10). His future is that of punishment, not of tormenting the damned.

Devils

OK, I was a bit hasty with saying that there were no devils in the Bible. As a matter of fact, the King James Version (and likely others) uses "devils" for a couple things: In the Old Testament, "devils" refers to false gods (Deut. 32:17, for ex.). In the New Testament, the word is mostly used, particularly by Jesus, to refer to that which possesses people (Mt. 10:8, for ex.). Still, there are times in the epistles or Revelation where the Old Testament usage of "false gods" is used instead (Rev. 9:20, for ex.) "The Devil," singular, refers to Satan (Rev. 12:9).

So what are those "possessing" devils? False gods, if they don't exist, certainly can't perform such an action!

Demons

Most of what is said under "devils" applies here, as "demons" is a more modern translation of the words rendered "devils" throughout the King James Version.

I'll focus on the "possessing" demons rather than the "false gods" demons. We know they possess people, and we know that in Jesus' name they were cast out. But where did they come from? They weren't, after all, mentioned in the Old Testament at all (unless I'm overlooking something).

Here's where I take some liberties. In the Old Testament, we don't see demons mentioned because there weren't any exorcisms; if demons can only be cast out in Jesus' name and Jesus hadn't manifested himself to people yet, then those actions would not be taking place.

We do see another sort of creature in the Old Testament that no longer shows up in the New: giants. And wherever these giants were to be found, there was effort to wipe them out, whether it be with a flood (Gen. 6) or via God's people warring with the remnants of the giants (which either didn't all die in the flood or the angels responsible didn't cease their procreating -- though at some point they were "chained under darkness" [Jude 6]).

So anyway, if a human–angel hybrid dies, what happens? Angels aren't ever described as being able to die, after all. I think that when these giants die, their spirit is stuck. All the freedom is an angel, but stuck yearning for a body. And so, possessions. We see this yearning when Legion pleads with Jesus not to cast them out into nothing but instead to allow them to take a herd of pigs (Luke 8:32), which didn't work out so well as the herd seemingly short-circuited and "ran violently" off of a cliff (v. 33).

Conclusion

I definitely can't say any of these ideas are 100% correct or even close to it, but together they paint a more consistent story across the whole Bible, with possessions being linked to an event in Genesis, with Satan being "little more" than a unique creature which grows and torments rather than being a nonsensical Yang to God's Yin. And while I've seen some of these ideas presented by others, it amazes me at just how rare they are when they seem to fit the Bible so easily.
Rick Beckman
Pronouns: he/him

"Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity." — Horace Mann


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