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Archangels, authorities, cherubs and 6 more angelic ranks. How do they differ, their duties and tasks

Soon after the spread of Christianity, many theologians began to think about the inhabitants of the heavenly spheres close to God. Their reasoning was based on the Old and New Testaments. 

At first, the angelic hierarchy among theologians differed significantly, but over time it lined up in a completely logical and understandable system of 3 groups (faces, spheres) of 3 angelic ranks each, each of the ranks has its own duties and tasks.

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In this article, the data on the angelic hierarchy are presented in the most popular (canonical) form for Christianity. However, there are certain differences between Catholicism and Orthodoxy in the angelic hierarchy, which are noted even within the same branch of Christianity by various theologians.

So the Authorities do not necessarily occupy the 4th bottom place in the hierarchy, there are differences in the names of the leaders of each rank. The differences in the angelic hierarchy between Christianity, Islam and Judaism are all the more noticeable. And yet, perhaps, there are more in common than differences, and the canonical version of the presentation seems to be the most real (as far as reasoning about angelic entities can be real). Let’s look at this hierarchy from the bottom up.

Third face

Angels. These higher beings are at the lowest level of the angelic hierarchy and are closest to people. It is believed that each person has his own guardian angel, which is given from birth. A person at birth gets 2 angels at once – the second of them prays for a person and intercedes for a ward before God. It is the angels who usually proclaim the intentions of God to people, instruct a person to virtues and a righteous life. They are portrayed as beautiful-faced people with wings.

Archangels. These are the chiefs of the angels – they bring the revelations of the Lord to people, they teach how people should act in life, and they also lead the legions of Angels in their war against the forces of darkness. The commander of the heavenly host is Michael, the main enemy of Lucifer. He is next to the dying and transfers the soul after the death of the body to heaven. The other most important archangels are Gabriel (who informs people about great events, it was he who announced the coming birth of Jesus Christ) and Raphael – a healer, patron of doctors of travelers and exiles. Several other Archangels are known by name. Archangels are depicted somewhat larger than angels and with more masculine features. Sometimes archangels are depicted with a large number of eyes.

The beginnings are the archons. These ministering angels govern the elements and laws of the universe. Water, fire, wind, animals and plants, rainbows and lightning, and in general everything visible, obey the principles. They are entrusted with protecting cities, peoples and entire countries, as well as admonishing and directing them to charitable deeds. Anail and Nisrok are considered the most important of the beginnings.

Second face

Authorities. Endowed with the power to tame the power of demons and even the devil himself. It is the authorities who received the order from God to protect people from the attacks of the forces of Darkness on their souls, they soften the blows and harm inflicted, so the demonic power never reaches its intended goal. Often the blow is reflected completely. In Orthodoxy, many theologians believe that the authorities are the most frequent witnesses of God’s omnipotence, they have been granted special grace in this regard. Their leader is Raphael.

Forces. They personify God’s grace, send down to the saints clairvoyance and the ability to work miracles. They themselves work miracles, can change the laws of physics and are responsible for them. They themselves possess and send down to the chosen ones courage and firmness in charitable deeds. They are associated with heroic deeds, it is believed that it was from the forces that strength of mind and support were granted to David for the duel with Goliath. The powers also heal the righteous. Haniel is considered the head of the forces.

Dominance. These are mentors of earthly rulers, teaching earthly rulers how to wisely manage the countries and peoples entrusted to them. They teach their wards to fight vices and passions, to overcome various temptations, including lust. Among other duties of this angelic rank is the distribution of duties among the angels. Among the angelic orders of dominion, the lowest of those with free will, which is given to them to ensure the daily functioning of the universe. Zadkiel is considered the leader of dominions.

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First face

Thrones. It is believed that on this type of divine beings the Lord sits as if on a throne and administers his Judgment. These are the essences of justice, their functions include the fulfillment of the decisions of God. When necessary, thrones carry God from place to place. The appearance of the thrones is clearly indicated – they are fiery wheels, along the rim of which there are many unblinking eyes. The place of leader is given to Jadkiel.

Cherubim. This word can be translated as “much understanding” (there are several other translations), and these angels are responsible for enlightenment and wisdom. They are depicted as four-faced and four-winged. They are given the grace to contemplate and know God, the cherubim understand and transmit Divine knowledge. They, armed with huge fiery swords, protect the gates of Paradise and the halls of the Lord. Chief among them is Jophiel.

Seraphim. Essences created by the Creator first. They have a perfect face, almost equal to the Lord in beauty and power. These six-winged angels blaze with love for God and encourage everyone around them to love it. They are so perfect and powerful that some of the seraphim decided to rebel against the Lord. The head of these rebels was the seraphim most beloved by God, Lucifer. Perhaps that is why the fourth seraphim is not mentioned in the song. The seraphim are led by Uriel.


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