Fallen Angels

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The idea of there being fallen angels is a part of the doctrines of Christian system and it is generally thought that these angels fell when they were led away from God by the chief of all angels.

Causes for Doubt

  1. How can an incorruptible being sow the seed of corruption?
  2. How can a holy angel sin at any point in time in the holy presence of God?
  3. How can God reside in defilement, if the angels sinned in heaven, and heaven is his abode?

Furthermore the narrative about angels having fallen from heaven is a repetitive one. In the beginning, we were presented with the story of man having fallen and now after stitching the rest of the story together it is suggested that the angels fell too.

Jude 1:5-6

Verses where fallen angels are inferred,

“5 I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not. 6 And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.”
—Jude 1:5-6 KJV

Commentary that provides reasonable exegesis for the reference to "angels which kept not their first estate" mentioned in Jude 1:6

With that said, let’s begin to understand what is meant by the word 'angels' in Jude 6. In verse 5, Jude reminds his readers of something they already knew; "I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this." We must ask ourselves the question; what is it that Jude is reminding his readers of? The answer has to do with the period following the Exodus from Egypt and while the people are in the Wilderness; as verse 5 explains; "how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not". This is the context for verse 6. We should also note that verse 6 begins with the word 'And.' Therefore, we should take verses 5 and 6 together; "how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not and the angels which kept not their first estate, ...". There is no reason for Jude to go off at a tangent in verse 6 and talk of another event outside the events he is drawing our attention to. The remainder of verse 6 is a metaphor which we also have to understand and this will be explained later once we have established who the 'angels' are in verse 6.

The Greek word 'angelos', simply means a 'messenger' and can apply to humans. The word can be used of priests, ministers, and apostles or whoever relayed God’s message. The notion that the word 'angels' only applies to God’s Holy Angels is wrong. Had the translators used the word 'messengers', 'ministers', or 'priests', the thought of God’s Holy Angels would never have come to mind. The word 'angel' does not have to have supernatural connotations.

In the context of something that happened after the people were delivered from Egypt, we have to find out who were killed and why.

There are several groups who were destroyed in the wilderness and these are;

  1. The 10 spies sent out to survey the Promised Land
  2. All the congregation who murmured and disbelieved God
  3. Korah, Dathan and Abiram and their 250 followers


Group 2 we can rule out as being 'angels' because they had no specific message to give. Group 1 brought back a message about what they found in the Promised Land, but there is nothing in this story that suggests the spies 'left their first estate'. In other words, the spies had not sought to elevate themselves for what they had done. Group 3 were men to give God's message to the people and who could be considered to have "left their first estate". This makes Group 3 the obvious choice to be the 'angels.' There is no record during the wilderness journey (or ever) involving God’s Holy Angels rebelling and sinning.

— David. M, The "angels" in Jude 6

Commentary that provides a reasonable exegesis for the reference of "everlasting chains under darkness" mentioned in Jude 1:6

“Euphemisms and metaphors for death does not change the fact that when a person dies, that means cessation of life. The Bible makes it very clear. Psalm 6:5 "For in death there is no remembrance of thee" Eccl 3:19 "For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast"”
“The spectacle of these men falling into a deep crevasse could be imagined as falling into the abyss and the bowels of the earth or into 'rooms of darkness'. These were the imaginations of the people at the time Jude is writing his letter. This is how the people imagined what was below the surface of the earth and this is what they would have understood from Jude’s and Peter’s letters.”

2 Peter 2:4-5

Verses where fallen angels are inferred,

“4 For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; 5 And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;”
—2 Peter 2:4-5 KJV

The same exegesis above for Jude 1:5-6 also applies to 2 Peter 2:4-5. However, there exists commentary that provides a reasonable exegesis for the differing chronological order of events between Jude 1:5-6 and 2 Peter 2:4-5

“It will be noted that in Peter's epistle, "the angels that sinned" is placed chronologically before the time of (2 Peter 2:4, 5), whereas in Jude's epistle, it is placed after the exodus of Israel from Egypt. (Jude 5, 6). There are too many similarities between the two epistles to conclude that the accounts refer to two different occasions on which "angels sinned". Rather Jude's epistle must be regarded as setting out the chronological order of events since in verse 6 the Greek text is syntactically connected with verse 5, thereby implying the historical sequence. But why the reversal of historical allusions in Peter's account? Because verse 4 in Peter's account is connected with verse 1. "But there were false prophets also among the people (i.e., Israel of old) even as there shall be false teachers among you..." Verses 2 and 3 are a warning of false teachers to come in the future, but verse 4 reverts to verse 1 and illustrates the judgment of God upon false prophets in Israel. In verses 5-7, Peter guided by the Holy Spirit, selects two additional illustrations from Old Testament history. [1]
— Christadelphians: Who were the "angels" mentioned in 2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 6?

Conclusion

But if we understand by Angels in these passages angelic Spirits, how could God's casting them out of heaven down to Tartarus, be any warning to ungodly men? No man had seen this done, or had any means of knowing the fact, if it was true. It rested entirely on Peter and Jude's statements in these passages, for no other sacred writer ever mentions such a remarkable event, as angels' sinning in heaven and being cast down to Tartarus. But the case of Korah and his company is detailed at length in the Jewish Scriptures, was well known, and calculated to be a warning to those who lived ungodly.

— Balfour, Walter, Inquiry p. 95

References

  1. Christadelphians: Who were the "angels" mentioned in 2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 6?