Even at mass, we hear the statement “a multitude of angels” every time. This makes us think that there is a considerable number of angels. We meet angels practically everywhere. There is hardly a church in which there are not at least a dozen angels in pictures and in the form of various statues (usually, there are many of them, if we pay attention).
All this gives us a strong feeling that the number of angels is large. And it’s true. Since time immemorial, there has been a unified belief that there are many angels. The Church also defends this belief, as the Bible itself tells us about it in several places. Let’s look at some passages that use large numbers for angels:
- “A thousand times thousands served him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him.” (Daniel 7:10b)
- “While I was seeing, I heard the voice of many angels all around the throne and the living creatures and the elders. Their number was ten thousand times ten thousand and a thousand times a thousand.” (Revelation 5:11)
- “Although there is an angel against him, one of a thousand messengers” (Job 33, 23a)
Elsewhere, the Bible even directly says that it is about countless multitudes, such as the example from the book of the prophet Jeremiah:
- “As the host of heaven cannot be numbered and the sand of the sea cannot be measured, so will I multiply the seed of my servant David and the Levites who serve me.” (Jeremiah 33:22)
There are quite a few more such and similar places in the Bible that indicate many angels. And because of this, Christians have always imagined heaven with many angels. This number is so huge that we cannot even count them.
What Do Prominent Theologians Say?
- In previous passages from the Bible, we could see that huge numbers are mentioned, which are multiplied among themselves. The theologian Dionysius the Areopagite, also wondered about these large numbers. He explained that by repeating and multiplying the most significant numbers among themselves, the Bible emphasizes the countless multitudes of angels. Thus Dionysius argues that the number of angels is so great that it simply exceeds our knowledge of numbers.
- St. Thomas Aquinas gives an exciting explanation, saying that spiritual beings are superior to material beings (people). For this reason, there must be more angels than material beings (people). For this reason, this innumerable number of the Bible seems to him quite understandable.
- However, Hugo Svetoviktorski explains and follows Dionysius’ interpretation that angels are innumerable because their number exceeds the limited concepts of physical numbers and the relatively weak human intellect.
Thus, for various reasons and in multiple contexts, theologians also agreed on the innumerability of angels.