Painting: Peter Ruben, Fall of the Damned, c. 1600s

God created all of the Angels with sanctifying grace giving them a share in divine life along with the right to inherit the Kingdom of God in the Beatific vision. (Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J., Catholic Catechism on the Angels)

Why did they rebelled? The prophet Ezekiel expresses most forcefully the reason although not written in reference to the angels,

"Your heart had grown haughty
because of your beauty;
You corrupted your wisdom
because of your splendor. ..."
(Ez 28:17)

As a result, they lost the reason why they were created, to serve and glorify God and to enjoy forever the Beatific Vision.

How many Angels rebelled against God?

Scripture does not tell us definitively how many angels rebelled against God but there are indirect indications. John refers to the Red Dragon's (Satan) tail sweepings a third of the stars out of the sky flinging them down to earth. Satan himself was flung down to earth with his angels. (Rv 12:3-9) If this is correct two thirds of the angels remained faithful to God.

Why didn't God forgive the fallen angels? Angels being spiritual entities had a clarity of vision; they knew exactly what they were doing and its consequences without mistake. So, their decision was final and could not be changed. Human beings, on the other hand tend to rationalize what they do. When God asked Eve why she ate the forbidden fruit she said, "The snake tricked me, so I ate it." (Ge 3:13:13) When the same question was addressed to Adam he answered, "The woman whom you put here with me - she gave me the fruit to eat." (Gn 3:12) In other words, its not my fault, it's someone else fault. And so God showed mercy toward mankind.

We read in Revelation,"Then war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels battled against the dragon. The dragon and its angels fought back, but they did not prevail and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. The huge dragon, the ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, who deceived the whole world, was thrown down to earth, and its angels were thrown down with it." (Rv 12:7-9)

Revelation 12 speaks in symbolical language and the verses above have to be understood within its context. The woman crowned with twelve stars (12 apostles) ready to give birth signifies the Church and also Mary who gave birth to Christ and his Church. The Red Dragon represents Satan, but the dragon has seven heads and ten horns indicates the Roman Empire. (1) See footnote.

Now, how do angels fit into this picture? The Devil and his followers had brought about the idolatry of Rome with its emperor worship which persecuted the Church. Now Michael and his angels, are not fighting in mid air but within minds of people of the Roman Empire by banishing the evil influences on the pagan minds, bringing about the kingdom of Christ on earth, Chris's Church.

St. Paul makes the observation that Satan masquerade as an angel of light. (2Cor 11:14) The three basic ways in which devils assault human beings are temptation to disobey God's law, obsession or the formation of ideologies and magic which is "the power of apparently influencing the course of events by using mysterious or supernatural forces". Magic practices are as follows: sorcery, witchcraft, wizardry, necromancy, enchantment, occultism; the black arts such as voodoo, shamanism and others. A vivid example of this is found in Exodus when Moses's Rod, by the power of God, was changed into a snake. Pharaoh's magicians were able to do the same, but these snakes were swallowed up by the snake produced by God revealing their demonic origin.

Christ came not only to save mankind from sin but also to destroy the powers of evil as he said: "

"Now is the time of judgment on this world;
now the ruler of this world will be driven out."
(Jn 12:31)

(1) "It is... the antichristian secular power of the Roman Empire which is beheld in ch. 13 under the form of the seven-headed and ten-horned beast;... and, besides, the precise number of heads, horns, and diadems was based upon the historical relations of that empire;... according to this is to be understood the analogous and, as it were, archetypal appearance of the dragon working by means of that secular power." (Meyer's NT Commentary)


7. Christ's Angels