How Many Angels Are There?

In Hebrews 12:22, the New Testament’s original Greek uses the word murias to describe the number of angels that God created. It is from this word that we get our word “myriads.”

It isn’t hard for translators to understand the basic meaning of murias, but they do struggle somewhat with how best to put it into English. Take the translators of the classic King James for instance. In Hebrews 12:22, they go with “innumerable” to translate it, but in Revelation 5:11-12 they render it “ten thousand times ten thousand.” In Acts 19:19, they translate it as “fifty thousand,” but in Luke 12:1 they again use “innumerable.” In Acts 21:20, it’s “thousands,” while in Jude 14 it’s “ten thousands.”

The challenge of precisely translating murias has led some translators to basically jam the Greek word straight into the English by rendering it “myriads.” This could be called a transliteration rather than a translation. For example, in the New American Standard Version, Hebrews 12:22 reads “myriads of angels” and Revelation 5:11 reads “myriads of myriads.”

While I understand why murias might be translated as “innumerable,” we really shouldn’t think that God created an infinite, limitless, never-ending number of angels. The fact is, there is a certain number of them. No doubt it is an exceedingly high number, but it is a countable number, at least countable by God.

How do we know this? We know it because Revelation 12:4 says that when Satan fell from heaven “His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth.” (N.K.J.V.) Obviously, Satan doesn’t have a literal tail, and the angels that followed him in his rebellion against God aren’t literal stars. Still, the point is made. A third of the angels that God created can now be classified as “fallen” with the angel Satan. And to have a third of something, that something must have a set number, right? There simply is no such thing as one-third of innumerable.

So, now that we know all this, how do we answer the question, “How many angels are there?” Well, it’s clearly impossible for us to calculate an exact number, but we can feel very safe in saying that there are tens of thousands. I wouldn’t argue with anyone who believes there are hundreds of thousands. I wouldn’t even rule out that there are millions, perhaps even billions. What I do know is that however many there are, the more the better because the majority (two-thirds) of them still do God’s bidding.

This entry was posted in Angels, Bible Study, Demons, Satan, Spiritual Warfare, The Devil and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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