Angelic Ranks: Description, Hierarchy, and How Different Types Different From Each Other
Having created people in His image and likeness, the Lord introduced into their lives many elements inherent in the Kingdom of Heaven. One of them is the hierarchy inherent in both human society and the world of angels ─ disembodied forces surrounding the Throne of God. The position of each of them depends on the significance of the mission it performs. About how many in the Christian religion of the angelic ranks, and what are the features of each of them, will talk in our article.
Messenger of God
Before starting a conversation about the angelic orders and to trace the differences between them, it is necessary to dwell on who the angels are and what their role is in the existing world order. This word itself, which came to us from the Greek language, is translated as "messenger" or "messenger."
In all Abrahamic religions, that is, those that recognize union,concluded by the patriarch Abraham with God, and this is Christianity, Islam and Judaism, the angel is presented as an ethereal creature, but at the same time possessing the mind, will and consciously choosing the path of service to God. In art there is a tradition to give angels the appearance of anthropoform (having the appearance of a man) creatures endowed with wings.
Angels and Demons
According to the Holy Scriptures, the angels were created by God even before His dispensation of the visible world, and carried in themselves only a good beginning. But later, part of them, filled with pride, fell away from their Creator and was therefore cast out of Heaven. Those who, remembering their true purpose, remained faithful to the Lord (they are usually called “bright angels” as opposed to demons ─ “angels of darkness”), became His faithful servants. In each of these opposing groups there is a certain hierarchy of angelic ranks.
The teachings of an unknown theologian
The correspondence of the disembodied forces to one or another level of the hierarchy leading to the Throne of God was the subject of study of many eminent theologians of the past centuries.In Christianity, the angelic orders are usually distributed according to the classification, the author of which is an unknown theologian who lived at the turn of the 5th and 6th centuries and went down in history under the name of Pseudo-Dionysius Areopagite. He received such an unusual name due to the fact that for a long time his works were mistakenly attributed to the Greek philosopher and thinker of the first century, Dionysius the Areopagite, who, according to legend, was the disciple of the Apostle Paul.
From the system proposed by Pseudo-Dionysius, which is based on the texts of Holy Scripture, it follows that the whole world of bright spirits is divided into three groups, or triads, each of which are, in turn, three specific types of incorruptible servants of God. Angel ranks are distributed by the author in a strict hierarchy, illustrating the meaning of each of them.
His work, on which many eminent theologians of the next centuries relied, was called the Treatise on the Celestial Hierarchy, and the system proposed in it became known as the Nine Angelic Ranks. On the basis of the system proposed in it, today the whole hierarchy of angelic officials in Orthodoxy is being built, as well as most of the western directions of Christianity. For almost one and a half millennia, it remains dominant.
Higher ranks of disembodied forces
According to this teaching, the highest level of the nine angelic ranks is occupied by the spirits, called seraphim, cherubim and thrones. The closest of them to God are considered seraphim. The Old Testament prophet Isaiah likens them to fiery figures, which explains the origin of this word, translated from Hebrew as “fiery.”
Cherubim follow the seraphim who constitute the highest angelic rank. They are the main advocates of the human race before God and prayer books for the salvation of the souls of the departed. That is why they bear the name, translated from the Hebrew language as “intercessor”. The sacred tradition narrates about them as the guardians of the Heavenly Book of Knowledge, having so extensive information about everything in the world that they cannot be contained by the human mind. Their most important feature is the ability to help people on the path to gaining knowledge and vision of God.
Heavenly support of earthly masters
And, finally, another angelic rite ─ thrones entering the highest triad. The name of the group of these disembodied spirits comes from the fact that it was they who were given the grace of God to support earthly masters and help them to make a right judgment over their peoples.In addition, the peculiarity of the thrones is that in them the Creator was pleased to lay the knowledge of the paths that are destined for the human society to move and develop.
It is believed that the thrones never interfere in human conflicts, but at the same time are with us, helping to gain spiritual insight and be filled with love for God. All representatives of the first higher triad are able to enter into direct communication with a person.
Carriers of wisdom and creators of good beginnings
The middle triad is revealed by the angelic order ─ domination. This, according to the classification of Pseudo-Dionysius Areopagite, is the fourth rank of angels. They embody the freedom that underlies the life of the entire visible world and is evidence of their infinite and sincere love for the Creator. Dominions, like thrones, are in constant interaction with earthly rulers, giving them wisdom and directing their thoughts only for good undertakings.
In addition, these servants of God help people to overcome the outbursts of passion that overwhelm them and fight against the temptations of the flesh, not allowing it to prevail over the spirit. The name of domination received thanks tothat they are entrusted with the management of all other angels, whose position on the hierarchy is lower.
Performers will Creator
The next stage of the middle triad is occupied by forces. It is known from the pseudo-Dionysius treatise that this category is made up of angels, gifted with an indestructible divine fortress and capable of fulfilling the will of their Creator in moments of the eye. They are the guides of the grace of God, given to people through their prayers and petitions.
All the miracles that the Lord presents to his children, take place with their direct participation. Being guides of the divine energy, the forces bring to the pious Christians deliverance from ailments and the fulfillment of their innermost desires. They help the chosen sons of God to see the future. An important feature of strength is the ability to strengthen the spirit of a person, give it courage and relieve grief. Thanks to the angels standing on this ─ fifth hierarchical level, people cope with their life problems and overcome adversities.
Wrestlers with dark forces
Rounding out the middle triad of power. They are assigned an unusually important mission - to keep the keys to the dungeon, in which the devil is imprisoned, and to put obstacles in the way of his innumerable ratification.They protect the human race from demonic obsessions and help to fight the temptations sent by the enemy of the human race.
Without stopping the struggle with the fallen angels, who are the embodiment of evil, the authorities at the same time protect pious people, claiming them to be virtuous and filling their hearts with love for God. They are entrusted with the duty to drive away bad thoughts from them, to strengthen them in good intentions, and to send those who succeed in serving God to the Kingdom of Heaven after their death.
Patrons of nations and kingdoms
At the lowest level of the hierarchy of angelic ranks are the last three ranks of disembodied spirits, the eldest of whom are beginnings. They are an invincible legion of defenders of the faith. Its name began to receive, in view of the mission entrusted to them, to lead the remaining two categories of angels and direct their labors to the fulfillment of the will of God.
In addition, the beginnings have another important purpose ─ to manage the building of hierarchies among people. It is believed that none other than the beginning, invisibly anoint the kingdom of earthly monarchs and bless the rulers of other ranks.In connection with this, it is assumed that the Lord sends an angel of this category to each people, designed to protect them from misfortunes and upheavals. The basis for such a judgment can be the words of the Old Testament prophet Daniel about the angels of the Judean and Persian kingdoms, who ensured that the anointed rulers were jealous not about personal wealth but about increasing the glory of God.
World of Angels and Archangels
And, finally, the closest to the people are the representatives of the last two groups ─ these are the archangels and the angels. The word archangel in Greek means "great herald." In most cases, it is through his prophecies that people recognize the will of the Creator. An example is the gospel brought by the Archangel Gabriel to the Most Pure Virgin Mary. The archangels sometimes become lonely guardians of the Lord. Suffice it to recall in connection with this the archangel Michael, the fireblade sword blocking the entrance to Eden.
The lowest ranks of the heavenly hierarchy are angels. They can also be called the closest spirits to people who help in everyday life. The Holy Church teaches that at baptism to each person the Lord sends a special guardian angel who protects his whole life from spiritual falls, and if they occur,directing the path of repentance regardless of the severity of sins.
Depending on how rich the spiritual world of man is, how firm is his belief in God and what is the purpose in life, he can be under the tutelage of not one angel, but several, or even have direct communication with the archangels. It is important to remember that the enemy of the human race does not stop tempting people and averting them from serving the Creator, so the angels and archangels will end up near those in whose hearts the fire of faith burns and shield them from the attacks of dark forces.