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Fallen angel

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Statue of the Fallen Angel, Retiro Park (Madrid, Spain).

In most Christian traditions, a fallen angel is an angel that has been exiled or banished from Heaven. Often such banishment is a punishment for disobeying or rebelling against God. The best-known fallen angel is Satan. Lucifer rebelled and was cast out of Heaven and fell to Earth for his offense, after the fall he became known only as Satan. According to some traditions, fallen angels will roam the Earth until Judgment Day, when they will be banished to Hell.

Origin of the term

The origin of the term lies in the Hebrew word for "giant". The Hebrew word translated as "giants" here is nephilim, a plural, which itself derives from the root word Naphal, which means to fall.The apocryphal Book of Enoch explains that a group of rebellious angels "left their first estate" (heaven, or the sky) and came down (fell) to Earth to marry human women and have children with them. Jude makes mention of these angels in the New Testament:

Jude 1:6: 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.

Due to the disastrous results of this forbidden intermingling, many have come to view the word "fallen" as denoting a fall from grace, though it seems that the original meaning was simply to descend from the heavens.

The distinction of good and bad angels constantly appears in the Bible, but it is instructive to note that there is no sign of any dualism or conflict between two equal principles, one good and the other evil. The conflict depicted is rather the battle waged on earth between the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of the Evil One, but the latter's inferiority is always supposed. The existence, then, of this inferior, and therefore created, spirit, has to be explained.

The gradual development of Hebrew language consciousness on this point is very clearly marked in the inspired writings. The account of the fall of the First Parents (Genesis 3) is couched in such terms that it is difficult to see in it anything more than the acknowledgment of the existence of a principle of evil who was jealous of the human race.

The statement (Genesis 6:1) that the "Sons of God" married the daughters of men is explained of the fall of the angels, in Enoch 6-9, and codices, D, E F, and A of the Septuagint read frequently, for "sons of God", oi aggeloi tou theou. Unfortunately, codices B and C are defective in Ge., vi, but it is probably that they, too, read oi aggeloi in this passage, for they constantly so render the expression "sons of God"; cf. Job 1:6, 2:1, 38:7; but on the other hand, see Psalms 2:1; 85; & (Septuagint). Philo, in commenting on the passage in his treatise "Quod Deus sit immutabilis", i, follows the Septuagint. For Philo's doctrine of Angels, cf. "De Vita Mosis", iii, 2, "De Somniis", VI: "De Incorrupta Manna", i; "De Sacrificis", ii; "De Lege Allegorica", I, 12; III, 73; and for the view of Genesis 6:1, cf. St. Justin, Apol., ii 5.

Job 1-2

The picture afforded us in Job 1-2 is equally imaginative; but Satan, perhaps the earliest individualization of the fallen Angel, is presented as an intruder who is jealous of Job. He can be seen as clearly an inferior being to the Deity and can only touch Job with God's permission, or as the ultimate embodiment of pride, as per his believed characteristics, trying to prove God's summation of Job's character and faith is flawed. By playing within the limitations God Himself has set Satan affords himself the opportunity to attempt to cause Job to curse the Lord and thereby, in effect, prove God wrong in order to prove himself to be correct, and therefore superior to God, but he fails. How theologic thought advanced as the sum of revelation grew appears from a comparison of II Kings 24:1, with I Paral., xxi, 1.

Whereas in the former passage David's sin was said to be due to "the wrath of the Lord" which "stirred up David", in the latter we read that "Satan moved David to number Israel". In Job. iv, 18, we seem to find a definite declaration of the fall: "In his angels he found wickedness." The Septuagint of Job contains some instructive passages regarding avenging angels in whom we are perhaps to see fallen spirits, thus xxxiii, 23: "If a thousand death-dealing angels should be (against him) not one of them shall wound him"; and xxxvi, 14: "If their souls should perish in their youth (through rashness) yet their life shall be wounded by the angels"; and xxi, 15: "The riches unjustly accumulated shall be vomited up, an angel shall drag him out of his house;" cf. Prov., xvii, 11; Ps., xxxiv, 5, 6; lxxvii, 49, and especially, Ecclesiasticus, xxxix, 33, a text which, as far as can be gathered from the present state of the manuscript, was in the Hebrew original.

In some of these passages, it is true, the angels may be regarded as avengers of God's justice without therefore being evil spirits. In Zach., iii, 1-3, Satan is called the adversary who pleads before the Lord against Jesus the High Priest. Isaias, xiv, and Ezech., xxviii, are for the Fathers the loci classici regarding the fall of Satan (cf. Tertull., adv. Marc., II, x); and Jesus Himself has given colour to this view by using the imagery of the latter passage when saying to His Apostles: "I saw Satan like lightning falling from heaven" (Luke 10:18).

New Testament

In New Testament times, the idea of the two spiritual kingdoms is clearly established. The devil is a fallen angel who in his fall has drawn multitudes of the heavenly host in his train. Jesus terms him "the Prince of this world" (John xiv, 30); he is the tempter of the human race and tries to involve them in his fall (Matthew 25:41; 2 Peter 2:4; Ephesians 6:12; 2 Corinthians 11:14; 12:7). Christian imagery of the devil as the dragon is mainly derived from the Apocalypse (ix, 11-15; xii, 7-9), where he is termed "the dragon", "the old serpent", etc., and is represented as having actually been in combat with Archangel Michael. Also, an image is given him as a "roaring lion seeking whom he may devour (as seen in II Peter)" gives context, and substance of his role as the tempter of the inhabitants of the earth. The similarity between scenes such as these and the early Babylonian accounts of the struggle between Merodach and the dragon Tiamat is very striking. Whether we are to trace its origin to vague reminiscences of the mighty saurians which once people the earth is a moot question, but the curious reader may consult Bousett, "The Anti-Christ Legend" (tr. by Keane, London, 1896). The translator has prefixed to it an interesting discussion on the origin of the Babylonian Dragon-Myth.

Reasons for their fall

Gustave Doré's depiction of Satan from John Milton's Paradise Lost

There are a number of different beliefs regarding the origins and motivations of fallen angels. Many focus on issues of free will, lust, pride, or the incomprehensibility of the acts of God.

Consequences of free will

It is generally accepted by most Christians that the fallen angels were cast out of Heaven because of actions taken against God. These actions were enabled because the angels were granted free will. Generally, these actions included active rebellion, doubt in God's motives or plans, or a rejection of the system of Heaven. Pride is often involved, especially in cases where an angel believed itself to hold more authority than God. (Lucifer being the prime example among these).


Origen, a father of the early Christian Church, believed that God had created all angels to be equal and free. However, in possessing the power of free will, some of them began to move further away from God of their own volition.

Origen states metaphorically that, although some angels fell and became human or demonic, all hope is not lost. He theorizes that by practicing virtue, men and demons can again become angels. While considered an early Father of the Church, Origen was deemed a heretic as a result of some of his writings and teachings, which did not conform to accepted scripture or tradition. Mainly, his concept of Apocatastasis, the belief that all beings (human beings, fallen angels, demons, and Satan) will return to God through God's love and mercy, was deemed unacceptable at that time. His excommunication was posthumously reversed.


The following comes from a series of ancient texts referenced in the Bible called "The Three Books of Enoch", a set of books found in the Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament.

According to these books, it is because of lust that some angels fell from Heaven. God asked the "Watchers" (Grigori), a select group of angels, to assist the Archangels in the creation of Eden. Those Grigori who descended to Earth saw the daughters of men and became enchanted with them. Consequently, the Grigori began to reveal to man some of the secrets of Heaven, such as astrology and the vanity of enhancing the face and body with perfumes and cosmetics. The Grigori then fell in love with human women. According to the text, some of the Grigori even took wives and created offspring, giants known as the Nephilim. This made God so angry that he cursed those Grigori who had betrayed Him, threw them out of Heaven, made them mortal and transformed them into demons. God sent the Great Flood to cleanse the Earth of the wanton killing and destruction perpetrated by the Nephilim. Notable angels who fell in this account are Semyazza, Samael, Azazel, and Lucifer.


This belief involves Lucifer's revolution against God, well known amongst Christians. Pride, the gravest of the seven deadly sins, eventually led to the expulsion from Heaven of certain beings, up to and including the highest orders of angels. Lucifer, who himself succumbed to pride, was the first and mightiest angel to be created. With intelligence, radiance, beauty, and power unmatched among all of the angels in Heaven, Lucifer was second in majesty only to God Himself.

Unfortunately, Lucifer became ambitious and self-centered, eventually deciding to prove his power by raising his throne to the height of God's throne. Other angels did not approve of Lucifer's plan; they did not want a lower being trying symbolically to become the equal of God. When Lucifer enacted his scheme, he was instantly hurled out of Heaven.

Catholic theologians have speculated that the incarnation of Christ was revealed to the angels. The idea that all of Heaven must bow before Christ, formed in part from the lesser nature of humanity, motivated the prideful actions of Lucifer (cf. Suarez, De Angelis, lib. VII, xiii).

According to the Book of Enoch, Johnalyn was known as the prettiest of God's angels that did not betray Him. She became most well known for the inspiration of Eve. As God made Adam in his own image God made Eve in the image of Johnalyn.

Modern Catholic view

According to the Catecism of the Catholic Church, Angels were all created good but some turned bad on their own. Angels don't need faith as they already have the knowledge of celestial things. Due to their angelic nature, repentance is not possible and their sins are irreversible.

Venerable Sor María de Jesús de Agreda (1602–1665+), expressed in a book titled "La Mistica Ciudad de Dios" what is the modern common Catholic interpretation. In the beginning of times, when God separated daylight from darkness, He also separated the good from the bad in the Heavens: God revealed his Trinitary nature to the Angels, He also showed them He would incarnate and all the Angels were to revere and adore Him as God and human.

Lucifer was the first angel to rebel against God (Isaiah 14) and with him he took one third of the celestial host. Lucifer was the most beautiful angel, so beautiful indeed that he envied God and wanted to receive all His praises: he didn't accept the idea of bowing before Jesus and hated being inferior to any human, including His Holy Mother. As a punishment God didn't remove the powers from the Devil but decided to punish and humiliate him by stating that through His Holy Mother, which he failed to respect and praise, his head would be crushed and he would be defeated and annihilated.

Then came the battle related by Saint John (Apoc. 12) between St. Michael the Archangel and His Angels, and Lucifer and his angels.

Bowing to mankind

According to the Quran, when God created man, He wanted his angels and Lucifer to acknowledge man by bowing down to him, but Lucifer did not obey. Islam does not hold Lucifer to be a fallen angel because it maintains that Lucifer is one among many of Allah's creations, and that Iblis is made out of fire as are the Jinn. These Jinns are divided into two groups, one being that which follows the Islamic teachings, the other which follows Lucifer.

We created you and then formed you and then We said to the Angels, "Prostrate before Adam" and they prostrated except for Iblis. He was not among those who prostrated. God said, "What prevented you from prostrating when I commanded you?" He (Iblis) replied, "I am better than him. You created me from fire and You created him from clay". God said, "Descend from heaven. It is not for you to be arrogant in it. So get out! You are one of the abased."
Surah 7 (al-A`raf), 11–13

A later mention of this idea can be found in "Vita Adae et Evae", an apocryphal text which most scholars agree was written somewhere near the end of the 10th century AD.

XIII: The devil replied, 'Adam, what dost thou tell me? It is for thy sake that I have been hurled from that place. When thou wast formed, I was hurled out of the presence of God and banished from the company of the angels. When God blew into thee the breath of life and thy face and likeness was made in the image of God, Michael also brought thee and made (us) worship thee in the sight of God; and God the Lord spake: Here is Adam. I have made thee in our image and likeness.'
XIV: And Michael went out and called all the angels saying: 'Worship the image of God as the Lord God hath commanded.' And Michael himself worshipped first; then he called me and said: 'Worship the image of God the Lord.' And I answered, 'I have no (need) to worship Adam.' And since Michael kept urging me to worship, I said to him, 'Why dost thou urge me? I will not worship an inferior and younger being. I am his senior in the Creation, before he was made was I already made. It is his duty to worship me.'
XV: When the angels who were under me heard this, they refused to worship him. And Michael saith, 'Worship the image of God, but if thou wilt not worship him, the Lord God will be wroth with thee.' And I said, 'If He be wroth with me, I will set my seat above the stars of heaven and will be like the Highest.'
Anon. Vita Adae et Evae, 13–15. [1]

Disobedience to God as per the Quran

According to the islamic version of the story that states that Lucifer was the angel who loved God the most in fact he was the leader of angels. At the time of the angels' creation, God told them to bow to no one but Him.

However, God created mankind the first being Adam, whom he considered superior to the angels, and commanded the angels to bow before the new figure. Lucifer refused, because he considered himself superior to man. By the Quran it is said that Allah ordered the angels to make a body of clay and when it was complete he breathed life into the it. Then he commanded the angels to bow to Adam (Adam) but Lucifer (Iblis) refused and retorted to Allah that "I have made this human by my hands and he is of clay and I of fire then why should I bow to him ?". This disobedience enraged Allah and Lucifer was out casted from heaven and he was mishapen and made hideous. The Shiites interpretation of the matter is very similar to that of the Sunni's however there is one difference in which Shiites state that the reason God ordered the angels and iblis to bow down to Adam lies within his offspring. Adam was to hold the purity of the Prophet Mohammad and Ahli Bayteh (his family), which Shi'ites believe are God's greatest creation. Lucifer however disobeyed God's commands and asked Allah to give him the power and chance to deceive man to prove to Allah that man can be deceived and be unfaithful and follow the path of gods they create themselves or change the code provided be Allah. So in this way Lucifer first planted the seed of doubt in Adams heart and made Adam eat a forbidden fruit. It was then that Allah created the universe and sent Adam to earth for by disobeying Allah he had forfeited his right to reside in heaven and since then man has been deceived by Lucifer into creating other gods or changing and misshaping the code of life sent by allah through his prophets (main are Moosa (Moses) whose teachings were misshapen and Jews were born, Eisa (Jesus) whose teaching were in the form of the book called as ingeel (pronounced as In-Jee-l) which was misshapen and changed by the church to give birth to the monopolized religion of Christianity, and finally there was Mohammad who was the last prophet sent by Allah to bring human on the right path of Islam and it was through him that Quran was sent down earth by Allah through the Arc angel Gabriel (Gibraeel - pronounced as JIB-RAA-EEl), in parts called as WAHI's, who used to come down to earth and teach the Quran by heart to Mohammad who in turn had it written down by those who could read and write as he himself was uneducated and could not read and write.

See also



  • Ashley, Leonard. The Complete Book of Devils and Demons Barricade Books. ISBN 1-56980-077-4
  • Bamberger, Bernard Jacob, (March 15, 2006). Fallen Angels: Soldiers of Satan's Realm, 300pp. ISBN 0-8276-0797-0
  • Davidson, Gustav, 1994. A Dictionary of Angels: Including the Fallen Angels. Free Press. ISBN 0-02-907052-X

External links