The Fall of the Rebel Angels

§ 29. The Fall Through Sin and the Rejection of the Bad Angels

1. The Fall through Sin

The evil spirits (demons) were created good by God; they became evil through their own fault.

The 4th Lateran Council (1215), declared against the Gnostic-Manichaean dualism: Diabolus enim et alii daemones a Deo quidem natura creati sunt boni, sed ipsi per se facti sunt mali (the Devil and the other demons were created by God good in their nature but they by themselves have made themselves evil). D. 428; cf. D. 427.

Holy Writ teaches that a section of the Angels had not withstood the test, that they fell into grievous sin, and as punishment therefore were cast into Hell. 2 Peter 2:4: "God spared not the Angels that sinned, but delivered them, drawn down by infernal ropes to the lower Hell, unto torments, to be reserved unto judgment." Jud. 6: "The Angels who kept not their principality, but forsook their own habitation, He hath reserved under darkness in everlasting chains, unto the judgment of the great day." Cf. John 8:44: "He (the devil) stood not in the truth."
The passages Luke 10:18 (" I saw Satan like lightning falling from Heaven") and Apoc. 12:7 et seq. (battle between Michael and his Angels on the one side, and the dragon and his Angels on the other side, and the fall of thee dragon and his Angels to the earth) do not refer to the fall of Angels but to the dethronement of Satan through the efficacy of Christ's redemption as is evident from the context. Cf. John 12:31.

In any case the sin of Angels is to be conceived as a sin of the spirit; indeed, following St. Augustine and St. Gregory the Great, it is a sin of pride, not a sin of the flesh, as many of the older Fathers, St. Justin, Athenagoras. Tertullian, St. Clement of Alexandria, St. Ambrose thought in view of the Jewish tradition that the marital connections between the "sons of God" mentioned in Gn. 6:2. referred to Angels, and the daughters of man. Apart from the fact that the fall through sin of the Angels was anterior in time to Gn. 6:2, the purely spiritual nature of the Angels negatives this interpretation. Cf. Ecclus. 10:15: "Pride is the beginning of all sin." The Fathers and theologians generally refer to the fall of the devil through sin the words of Jer. 2:20, which the recusant Israel speaks to its God: "I will not serve," as well as the prophecy of the Prophet Is. 14:12 et seq., on the king of Babylon: "How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, who didst rise in the morning (lucifer, qui mane oriebaris)! ... 13. And they saidst in thy heart: I will ascend into heaven. I will exalt my throne above the stars of God ... 14. ... I will be like the most high." Cf. St. Gregory the Great, Moralia XXXIV 21. S. th. 163, 1: angelus absque omni dubio peccavit appetendo esse ut Deus.

2. Eternal Rejection

As the blessedness of the good Angels is of eternal duration (Mt. 18:10) so the punishment of the bad Angels is also without end. Mt. 25:41: "Depart from me ye cursed, into everlasting fire, which was prepared for the devil and his Angels." Cf. Jud. 6: "in everlasting chains"; Apoc. 20:10: "and the false prophet shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever." The belief of Origen and of many of his followers (St. Gregory of Nyssa, Didymus of Alexandria, Evagrius Ponticus) concerning the restoration of all things (Cf. Act 3:21), according to which the damned Angels and men, after a long period of purification, will be re-established in grace and will return to God, was rejected at a Synod of Constantinople (543) as heretical. D. 211; cf. D. 429.