Sermon Notes: Life and Teaching – Angels and Demons

What are angels and demons?

When a whole church begins to read the Bible all the way through together, the phenomena of saying “I always thought” or “I was always told” takes place when folks begin to think. And we get to wrestle with the disparity between what we thought or were told or assumed and what the Bible really says. 

In discovering what the Bible says about the unseen realm of angels and demons, you are sure to be confronted with pop theology as you let the Bible speak for itself. 

We are going to keep it fairly general today, but there are enough Scripture and loaded sentences to have lots of Bible to study for yourself and your RL groups. I’ve included some optional reading at the end. 

Let’s read 2 Kings 6:15-17 together. 

What we see in 2 Kings 6:8-14 is a situation in which Syria is fighting against Israel, and the Syrian king will try to set up ambushes against Israel. But, the Lord will inform the prophet Elisha about the details, and Elisha will inform the king of Israel, and thus the Lord would rescue Israel from Syria. 

Syria’s king goes to his servants and asks who in his circle is the spy that keeps telling Israel what he’s doing. The response is that it is none of them, but in fact, the prophet of the Lord knows somehow. It’s like he’s listening from inside the room. He then goes and tells Israel’s king, and thus Israel is ready for the ambush by avoiding it.

So, Syria mobilizes to eliminate this prophet to successfully ambush Israel, and they come against him and his servant where they are staying. 

The Syrian army arrives, and Elisha’s servant awakes early in the morning and goes outside to the shock of a mobilized army, yet the enemy army seems to not be advancing. 

The servant is fearful and asks what they should do, and Elisha prays for the Lord to open his servant’s eyes, and the Lord does. 

What does he see? The servant sees the unseen hosts of the Lord’s army that have formed the line that has prevented Syria from advancing on them. 

Elisha instructs his servant, “Do not be afraid, for those with us are more than those who are with them.”

The hosts were present and yet unseen. 

Elisha knew this reality, and his faith caused him to respond differently than his servant. 

The unseen realm and what happens in it matters to us because it matters in the Bible. 

Life and Teaching

1 Timothy 4:16 “Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.”

Again, angels and demons are important to Christian teaching because they are part of the fabric of created reality and play a role in the narrative of the Bible, and are involved in things happening in us, around us, for us, and even to us. 

Angels and demons are broad categories for the unseen hosts presented in the Bible. These broad terms are much more nuanced in the text of the Bible. 

One of the Serpent’s greatest lies is the religion of naturalism that says he and a host of his followers do not exist, and there is no battle between good and evil. 

The religion of naturalism has caused us to misread Genesis 1-3 so that we miss one of the greatest storylines of the Bible when we relegate the Serpent to a debate about evolution and snake legs. 

“It’s a bit misguided when someone attempts to defend biblical literalism (especially in Genesis 1-3) by appealing to the evolutionary history of snakes. And anyway, the whole approach misses the point. It also presumes that the villain was simply an animal. He wasn’t.” – Michael Heiser, “The Unseen Realm”, p. 73

If in fact there is an unseen realm that interacts with the visible physical world, then to ignore that unseen realm would be foolish, and to miss a storyline of the biblical narrative leaves a hole in our understanding. 

The Bible tells us that the unseen world is indeed real, and it is indeed a powerful world we interact with whether we are aware or not. 

The Beginning

The Garden was the place the Lord communed with his image-bearers. The Garden of Eden was divine turf. 

In Ezekiel’s prophetic rebuke of the king of Tyre in Ezekiel 28 (There is a similar rebuke of Babylon in Isaish 14.), he “browbeats the prince of Tyre using an ancient tale of divine arrogance in Eden, where a member of Yahweh’s council thought himself on par with the Most High. This divine/supernatural being was expelled from Eden to the underworld.” – Heiser, “The Unseen Realm”, p. 82

Among the many truths we can glean from Ezekiel 28:11-19 is that what happened in Eden with the Serpent was real, and many have followed in his footsteps choosing to be his descendants (John 8:44; Matthew 23:33). Another truth we can glean from Ezekial is that Eden was a place of mountains, streams, and lush vegetation that was where the Lord and his hosts and his new image-bearing co-regents interacted with each other and dwelled together. 

The king of Tyre’s arrogance is said to be on par with this creature’s arrogance who, in his freedom, did not want to go along with God’s plan of image-bearers being his co-regents. So, he led a rebellion against the Lord and would come after the image-bearers to destroy them. 

A rebellion in the unseen realm is already taking place in the opening verses of Genesis. There’s lots of room for the timing of it, but it’s likely already in play. In spite of this, all that God created he calls very good. 

God never calls darkness good. He distinguishes purposefully between light and darkness. A separation has occurred, and the ripple effects can already be felt. 

At the beginning of Genesis 2 and the close of creation, the Lord finishes creating all the hosts of heaven. 

Hosts, in the Old Testament and New, mainly refer to the supernatural beings of the unseen realm of the Lord’s creation. 

Psalm 148:2 (ESV) 2 Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his hosts!

These supernatural beings “are vast in number, as indicated by terms such as ‘host’ (Luke 2:13), ‘camp’ (Gen. 32:1-2), ‘legions’ (Matt. 26:53), and ‘thousands’ (Deut. 33:2; Ps. 68:17; Dan. 7:10; Jude 14; Rev. 5:11).” – John Frame, Systematic Theology, p. 771.

Now, when the Lord creates the image-bearers, he places them in his garden and places among the vegetation, two trees that tell us there are already evil forces in existence who are striving against the Lord and his image-bearers. 

The knowledge of good and evil is not yet known by Adam and Eve, yet evil already exists, and it has been done by forces we have not yet been introduced to and are about to get introduced to in the Serpent. 

WARNING: An overly literal interpretation of Genesis 1-2 does not need to be your default hermeneutic. We interpret literally unless it becomes evident that there is more happening than a historical narrative. Genesis 1-2 is not a mere historical narrative. 

Moses, under the flawless and inerrant inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is pulling the curtain back for Israel to see the full scope of the work in front of them as they prepare to enter the promised land and who they are really combatting. Genesis 6 will give them a glimpse into the battle they face, and the spies in Numbers 13 will give a bad report because of it. 

They all have a robust supernatural worldview rooted in Mesopotamia, not North America post-enlightenment.

At Babel, God disinherited the nations in judgment for their rebellion, and he banished them to the rulership of evil forces (see Deuteronomy 32:8-9 and corresponding footnotes), and then called Abraham to be the father of a people God would choose specifically to be his instruments of reclaiming those nations from their judgment, and therefore, the people’s coming conquest of the Promised Land is the initial work of that Great Commission labor in rooting out and destroying the work of the Serpent’s followers so they can then launch from his chosen land to all nations having weakened the stronghold of the enemy. 

Ephesians 6 tells us we don’t wrestle against flesh and blood, but we wrestle against these very forces of the unseen realm while receiving help from the loyal forces of the LORD in the unseen realm  (Ephesians 6:12). We can easily default to an unconscious denial that this unseen realm is in play, and consider only the world in front of our flesh-centric eyes. We must not do that. 

Who in the world are these creatures of the unseen realm?


(I’m leaning on Wayne Grudem’s organization and language as well as John Frame’s careful detail with language, so if you look at Grudem and Frame, you will recognize my order and language. So, I’m not footnoting every single thing I borrow in the following outline, just letting you know I’m borrowing a lot of order and language in what follows, AND I’m weaving in my own thoughts.)

Angels are created supernatural beings who are ethical, have high intelligence, and sometimes manifest in physical bodies. 

  1. Angel in Greek and Hebrew means “messenger”.
    1. Angels carry out the purposes of the Lord from carrying news and instructions to providing praise to fighting with and for God’s people. 
    2. Sometimes, their company is mixed as those loyal are present before the Lord and some of the rebels join in among them (see Job 1-2).  
  2. Angels and their ordering for the purposes of the Lord are created by the Lord.
    1. Colossians 1:16 (ESV) 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.
      1. There is a distinction between angelic beings as well as some organizational order that the Bible simply does not elaborate on. 
  3. Angels exercise ethical judgment.
    1. Jude 1:6 (ESV) 6 And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day—
    2. 2 Peter 2:4
  4. Angels are intelligent. They communicate with people and carry on conversations.
    1. Acts 12:6-11 (ESV) 6 Now when Herod was about to bring him out, on that very night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison. 7 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his hands. 8 And the angel said to him, “Dress yourself and put on your sandals.” And he did so. And he said to him, “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.” 9 And he went out and followed him. He did not know that what was being done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. 10 When they had passed the first and the second guard, they came to the iron gate leading into the city. It opened for them of its own accord, and they went out and went along one street, and immediately the angel left him. 11 When Peter came to himself, he said, “Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.”
  5. Angels are distinct in their designated inspired descriptions.
    1. Some are called sons of God.
      1. Genesis 6:2; Job 1:6, 2:1
    2. Some are called holy ones.
      1. Psalm 89:5, 7
    3. Some are called spirits.
      1. Hebrews 1:14
    4. Some are called watchers.
      1. Daniel 4:13, 17, 23
    5. Some are called thrones, dominions, rulers, and authorities.
      1. Colossians 1:16
  6. There are other kinds of angelic beings that are even more distinct.
    1. Cherubim – “flanking the Lord’s throne”.
      1. Genesis 3:24 – the cherubim guard the way to Eden. 
      2. Psalm 18:10; Ezekiel 10:1-22 – The Lord is said to be enthroned on cherubim or travel with the cherubim in his chariot. 
      3. Exodus 25:18-21; 22 – God had two cherubim formed for the top of the ark of the covenant where he speaks with Moses and instructs him about Israel. 
    2. Seraphim
      1. Isaiah 6:2-7 – The seraphim constantly praise the Lord and call out to each other “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory” (Isaiah 6:3).
        1. Seraphim is literally, “firey, serpent”.
          1. This helps us to see what Moses is doing when he tells us about the “Serpent” in the garden. 
          2. Not a snake, but an angelic being who has rebelled.
            1. Being sentenced to crawl in the dust, in Hebrew, is being sentenced to the underworld. 
            2. Moses is NOT dealing with the religious worldview of naturalism or Darwinian macro-evolution. 
        2. These Seraphim are loyal and serve their intended purpose for the Lord. 
    3. Living Creatures
      1. Revelation 4:6-8 (ESV) 6 and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal. And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: 7 the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight. 8 And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!”
      2. Ezekiel 1:5-14
        1. I’m not certain if the 24 “elders” of Revelation 4 are angelic or not. 
  7. Angels show up in our lives without our knowledge.
    1. Hebrews 13:2 (ESV) 2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
  8. Two angels are named for us in the Bible.
    1. Michael – Jude 9; Revelation 12:7-8; Daniel 10:13, 21
      1. Jude 1:9 (ESV) 9 But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.”
        1. Michaell contends with the “Prince of Persia” as he is sent with the answer to one of Daniel’s prayers. 
        2. Michael is also called a “chief prince”. 
    2. Gabriel – Daniel 8:16; 9:20, 21; Luke 1:19, 26
      1. Gabriel brings word from the Lord himself.
        1. Gabriel’s name means, “mighty one of God”.
          1. Daniel 8:15-17 (ESV) 15 When I, Daniel, had seen the vision, I sought to understand it. And behold, there stood before me one having the appearance of a man. 16 And I heard a man’s voice between the banks of the Ulai, and it called, “Gabriel, make this man understand the vision.” 17 So he came near where I stood. And when he came, I was frightened and fell on my face. But he said to me, “Understand, O son of man, that the vision is for the time of the end.”
  9. Angels are not made in God’s image, and they are not given co-regency with God over creation.
    1. Redeemed humanity will sit in judgment over angels at some point in the eternal kingdom.
      1. 1 Corinthians 6:3 (ESV) 3 Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life!
  10. Angels remind us that the unseen realm is real and overlaps with our physical world.
    1. We can’t afford to be blind to the reality that we live in a supernatural world. 
  11. We should beware of receiving teaching about the Lord from angelic sources as well as participating in worshiping angels.
    1. Galatians 1:8 (ESV) 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.
    2. Colossians 2:18-19 (ESV) 8 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.
      1. Here, we begin to transition to the hosts that rebelled we commonly refer to as “demons” but are much more nuanced than merely “demons”.
        1. Some of the hosts of heaven are deceptive and will teach untruth as the Serpent did.
          1. Some are seeking worship and are willing to receive worship. 
        2. This gives you some insight into what the Serpent and his fellow rebels are into.
          1. We must understand part of the work of the Great Commission in combatting the deceptive and false worship in our city and the nations is releasing people from the judgment of the curse of sin by the good news that Jesus’ kingdom is here and that saving is available through faith in Jesus.  
          2. 2 Corinthians 11:12-15 (ESV) 12 And what I am doing I will continue to do, in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do. 13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.
      2. This is one reason working in the local church, around the world, and among those who don’t follow Jesus is hard.
        1. It is a physical and spiritual battle to preach and for the local church to take the good news of the kingdom to places held in the bondage of unbelief. 


Demonic beings are angels who followed the Serpent in rebelling against the Lord and who continue to do the bidding of rebellion against the Lord and his people everywhere.

We are not going to deal so much with Satan (Job 1:6 – 2:7). We’ll deal briefly with him. 

Satan is literally “accuser”, “slanderer”, and “adversary”. See Zechariah 3:2. 

Listen to what Jesus said about Satan.

John 8:44 (ESV) 44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

  1.  When Jesus says “from the beginning”, he is not talking about Satan’s created beginning as if God made something innately spoiled. He is speaking about the beginning of his rejection of the Lord’s purposes and effort to undermine the Lord’s work at the very beginning of creation.

Matthew 23:33 (ESV) 33 You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?

It is no wonder that Jesus calls the Pharisees snakes and a brood of vipers since they are children of the devil who is the father of lies, who is the Serpent in the garden. 

Jesus makes a clear connection between the children of the devil and their identity as descendants of the Serpent. 

So, we see the Serpent’s influence played out in people who oppose Jesus. 

What are some basics to know?

  1. Demons, as the Serpent they follow, are sources of sin that begin in our thoughts.
    1. 2 Corinthians 11:3 (ESV) 3 But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.
  2. Demons are not the sole source of sin.
    1. Because of the curse of sin, humans are a great source of sin, hurt, and destruction.
      1. We should be careful in pinning all of our choices on demons when we don’t need any help to wreck people or entire institutions. 
  3. Demons oppose the work of the Lord.
    1. Matthew 4:1-11
    2. Revelation 12:10-13 (ESV) 10 And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. 11 And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. 12 Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!” 13 And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child.
  4. Demons are not sovereign, and they do not have free access to us.
    1. Demonic entities must pass through the Lord’s permission before doing anything.
      1. Job 1:12; 2:6
    2. Demonic entities, can, in fact, be instruments in the Lord’s hands for our growth.
      1. Luke 22:31-32 (ESV) 31 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, 32 but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”
        1. John Piper refers to Satan as a “dog on a leash”. 
  5. Christians cannot be “possessed” by demons.
    1. Possession is a terrible choice of words to describe what the New Testament describes.
      1. The word used in the New Testament is “demonize”. It means to harass or influence, and there are greater and lesser examples in the New Testament of demonization.
        1. See Clinton Arnold’s books I recommend at the end.
      2. If one means by “possessed”, “owned”, then no Christian can be owned by the enemy because they are owned by the Holy Spirit.
        1. The ones not belonging to Jesus are already under the bondage of the enemy and should consider turning to Jesus for salvation lest the harassment become more than theological confusion. 
  6. Demons are subject to the people of the Lord since they are owned by the Holy Spirit.
    1. Luke 10:17-20 (ESV) 17 The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” 18 And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. 20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
    2. We should not presumptuous about any authority we have over the demonic influence as though we were the Lord, and begin to act like the Serpent ourselves.
      1. Jude 1:9 (ESV) 9 But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.”


  1. Know the Lord, and don’t seek to know Satan, demons, or angels more than the Lord. 
  2. Don’t assume that what you see in front of you is the only reality in play at any given moment. 
  3. Get to know your Bible better and know yourself so you can discern the interplay between how you are put together, and what you are hearing in your thoughts, your beliefs, your interactions with others, and your experiences. 
  4. Put on the armor of God with prayer in order to stand faithfully strong against the enemy’s schemes.
    1. Truth.
    2. Righteousness.
    3. Readiness of the good news.
    4. Faith.
    5. Salvation.
    6. Word of God.
  5. Worship the Lord.
    1. Psalms 22:3 (ESV) 3 Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.


Clinton Arnold, Dean: Talbot School of Theology

  1. “3 Crucial Questions about Spiritual Warfare” 
  2. “Power and Magic”
  3. “Principalities and Powers”

Michale Heiser, “The Unseen Real”.

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