Revelation Concerning the Angels of Christian Angelology
Ludwig Ott

§ 26. Existence, Origin and Number of Angels

1. Existence and the Origin of Angels

In the beginning of time God created spiritual essences [Angels] out of nothing. [De fide.]

The existence of the Angels was denied by the Sadducees [Acts 23:8: "The Sadducees say that there is no Resurrection neither Angel nor spirit; but the Pharisees confess both."], and by materialists and rationalists in all times. Modern rationalists explain the Angels as personifications of Divine attributes and activities, or see in the Jewish-Christian doctrine of the Angels traces of an original polytheism or a borrowing from Babylonian and Persian legends.

The 4th Lateran and the Vatican Councils declare: "simultaneously at the beginning of time He created from nothing both spiritual and corporeal creation, i.e., angelic and mundane." D. 428, 1783 {Note D refers to Denzinger, Sources of Catholic Dogma} It is not defined that the creation of the angelic world was contemporaneous with that of the material world [simul can also mean: in total, together; cf. Ecclus. 18:1], but the sententia communis is that both were created at the same time.

Holy Writ, even in its oldest books, affirms the existence of the Angels who glorify God, and as His messengers and servants, transmit His commands to mankind. Cf. Gen. 3:24; 16:7 et. seq.; 19:1, et. seq.;  18:2 et. seq; 22:11 et seq.; 24:7; 28:12; 32:1 et. seq. The creation of the Angels is indirectly attested in Ex. 20:11, "In six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all things that are in them," and directly in Col. 1:16, "For in Him [= Christ] were all things created in heaven and earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, or dominations or principalities, or powers."

Tradition affirming the existence of Angels is unanimous from the very beginning. The early Christian apologists, in refuting the reproach of atheism, also mention the existence of the Angels [St. Justin, Apol. 1, 6: Athenagoras, Suppl. 10]. The first monograph on the Angels was composed about 500 A.D. by Pseudo-Dionysius Areopagita under the title: De coelesti hierarchia. Among the Latin Fathers, St. Augustine and St. Gregory the Great occupied themselves minutely with angelology. The Liturgy of the Church also offers many testimonies.

Natural reason cannot prove the existence of Angels, since their creation is a free deed of God. From the known sequence of stages and perfections of the creatures, however, the existence of purely spiritual created essences can, with high degree of probability, be inferred.