Buddy asks this super question:
My question is about angels. Do obedient angels, after all is said and done in the eternal state, have eternal life? When a believer is born again, he becomes a child of God and is adopted as a son. Hebrews seems to indicate that angels minister to sons but are not sons themselves. As such, is it possible to conceive of angels living forever and eternally secure, yet not having the life of the Son through adoption?
We need to distinguish between the angels who did not fall and the angels who fell with Lucifer. The fallen angels do not have everlasting life. They will spend eternity in the lake of fire (cf. Matt 8:29; 25:41; 2 Pet 2:4; Jude 6-7; Rev 20:10).
Unfallen angels will serve God forever (Heb 1:7, 14). We do not know what their role will be in Christ’s kingdom. But they do not share the fate of the fallen angels.
Here are some important but often not considered facts about unfallen angels:
- Once unfallen angels did not sin, they were evidently sealed such that future falling would be impossible. There is no hint anywhere in the Bible of any angels falling after the initial rebellion.
- Jesus did not die for angels, fallen or unfallen. His shed blood was exclusively for humans, the descendants of Adam and Eve (John 1:29; 1 John 2:2).
- Unfallen angels never had and never will have everlasting life, which is only for humans who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ for that life (John 3:16; 5:24; 6:47). They have an eternal relationship with God. But there is no verse in the Bible that says that unfallen angels have everlasting life.
- Sonship, as Buddy suggests, is exclusively for humans. Unfallen angels aren’t children of God and never will be.
- Currently unfallen angels are of superior rank to humans; but in the eternal state unfallen angels will be of inferior rank to humans (1 Cor 6:3; Heb 2:5-9).
- Not all unfallen angels have equal rank. Michael is identified as an archangel and is called Israel’s prince (Dan 10:21; Jude 9). Evidently, he was one of the angels that ruled over the other angels. Paul said that the Rapture will be preceded “with the voice of an archangel” (1 Thess 4:16). We do not know how many archangels there are. There are only a few angels whose names we know. One is Gabriel. He is mentioned by name in both testaments (Dan 8:16; 9:21; Luke 1:19, 26). It is reasonable to conclude that he too is an archangel, though no text directly says that. There are also different types of angels. Some are called cherubim (Gen 3:24). The four living creatures mentioned in Revelation (6:3-7; 7:11; 14:3; 15:7; 19:4) evidently are a type of cherubim (Ezek 10:15-20). Other angels are called seraphim (Isa 6:1-7). Some suggest that they are the highest order of angels since they serve at God’s throne in heaven and constantly praise him (Isa 6:1-7). However, the four living creatures do that as well (Rev 4:8).
The bottom line is that we do not know much about unfallen angels. But what we do know should give us great respect for them as fellow servants of the Lord Jesus Christ. I hope that in the eternal state we will be permitted to get to know them.