:For other angelic hierarchies, see Hierarchy of angels.
According to medieval Christian theologians, the Angels are organized into several orders, or Angelic Choirs.<ref>Template:Cite book</ref><ref>Template:Cite book</ref>
The most influential of these classifications was that put forward by Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite in the 4th or 5th century, in his book "The Celestial Hierarchy". However, during the Middle Ages, many schemes were proposed, some drawing on and expanding on Pseudo-Dionysius, others suggesting completely different classifications (some authors limited the number of Choirs to seven<!--which ones??-->). Several other hierarchies were proposed, some in nearly inverted order. Scholars of the Middle Ages believed that angels and archangels were lowest in the order and were the only angels directly involved in the affairs of the world of men.
The authors of The Celestial Hierarchy and the Summa Theologica drew on passages from the New Testament, specifically Ephesians 1:21 and Colossians 1:16, in an attempt to reveal a schema of three Hierarchies, Spheres or Triads of angels, with each Hierarchy containing three Orders or Choirs.
From the comparative study of the Old Testament and New Testament passages, including their etymology and semantics, the above mentioned theological works (which contain variations), and esoteric Christian teachings, the descending order of rank can be inferred as following:
*First Sphere (Old Testament sources)
**Thrones (Gr. thronos) (New Testament sources)
*Second Sphere (New Testament sources)
**Dominions (Gr. Kyriotetes)
**Virtues (Gr. Dynamais)
**Powers (Gr. Exusiai)<ref>Catholic Online - Saints & Angels - The Nine Choirs of Angels<!-- Bot generated title --></ref>
**Principalities (Gr. Archai)<ref>Angels<!-- Bot generated title --></ref>
**Archangels - Archangeloi
**Angels - Angeloi
St. Bonaventure of Bagnoregio refers to these three, respectively, as the Epiphania, the Hyperphania, and the Hypophania.<ref></ref> The Choirs in the second and third spheres, of the present hierarchical list, appear to be also united in pairs. The existence of these pairs of Orders is inferred through their etymological proximity and the apparent affinity in the description of their work-activity (Template:Bibleverse): (clarification as to how this verse applies to pairs is required.)
*Thrones and Dominions (Might, Dynamais);
*Principalities and Powers (Powers, Exusiai; Template:Bibleverse);
*Archangels and Angels (Angels, Angeloi).
Note, however, that several variations of the hierarchical order may be found published through the last two millennia.
== Hierarchies, Spheres or Triads of Choirs ==
=== First Sphere ===
Angels of the first sphere work as heavenly guardians of God's throne.
==== Seraphim ====
- Main article: Seraph
The Seraphim (singular "Seraph"), mentioned in Isaiah 6:1-7 <ref name="isiah6">Template:Cite web</ref>, serve as the caretakers of God's throne and continuously shout praises: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts. All the earth is filled with His Glory." It is said that such a bright light emanates from them that nothing, not even other divine beings, can look upon them. It is also said that there are four of them surrounding God's throne, where they burn eternally from love and zeal for God. The name Seraphim means "the burning ones."
The Seraphim have six wings; two covering their faces, two covering their bodies ("feet"), and two with which they fly. (See also Revelation 4:8.)
Two of which are named Seraphiel and Metatron, according to some books. Seraphiel is said to have the head of an eagle.
==== Cherubim ====
- Main article: Cherub
The Cherubim (singular "Cherub") are beyond the throne of God; they are the guardians of light and of the stars. It is believed that, although they are separated from Earth, the divine light that they filter down from Heaven still touches the lives of living things.
They have four faces: one of each a man, an ox, a lion, and an eagle. The ox-face is considered the "true face", as later on in Ezekiel the ox's face is called a cherub's face (Chapter 10). They have four conjoined wings covered with eyes, and they have ox's feet.
Cherubim are considered the elect beings for the purpose of protection. Cherubim guard the way to the tree of life in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:24)<ref name="gen3">Template:Cite web</ref> and the throne of God (Ezekiel 28:14-16). <ref name="eze28">Template:Cite web</ref>
Their rank among angels is uncertain but they are always categorized in the First Sphere. Some believe them to be an order or class of angels; others hold them to be a class of heavenly beings higher than angels. Cherubim are said to have perfect knowledge of God, surpassed only by the love of the Seraphim.
The Cherubim are mentioned in Genesis 3:24 <ref name="gen3"/>; Ezekiel 10:17–20 <ref name="eze10">Template:Cite web</ref>, 28:14-16<ref name="eze28"/>; and 1 Kings 6:23–28 <ref name="1kings">Template:Cite web</ref>.
==== Thrones ====
- Main article: Thrones
The Thrones (Gr. thronos) or Elders, also known as the Erelim or Ophanim, are a class of celestial beings mentioned by Paul of Tarsus in Colossians 1:16 (New Testament) and related to the throne of God the Father. They are living symbols of God's justice and authority, and have as one of their symbols the throne. These high celestial beings are mentioned again in Revelation 11:16.
=====In the Occult=====
The Thrones (Gr. thronos) may possibly be equated with the Lords of Wisdom, a Hierarchy of Elohim astrologically associated to Virgo, presented in The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception. They inhabit, in Rosicrucian cosmology, the World of Divine Spirit, which is the home of The Father. According to this source, the Lords of Wisdom (here equated with the Thrones; thronos) and the higher Lords of the Flame (Thrones/Wheels: Ophanim) have worked together in a far past toward the development of humankind.
- Main article: Ophan
The Ophanim (Heb. owphan: Wheels, also known as Thrones, from the vision of Template:Bibleverse) are unusual looking even compared to the other celestial beings; They appear as a beryl-coloured wheel-within-a-wheel, their rims covered with hundreds of eyes.
They are closely connected with the Cherubim: "When they moved, the others moved; when they stopped, the others stopped; and when they rose from the earth, the wheels rose along with them; for the spirit of the living creatures [Cherubim] was in the wheels." (Template:Bibleverse).
=====In the Occult=====
In Esoteric Christianity they are called Lords of Flame.
De Coelesti Hierarchia refers the Thrones (from the Old Testament; Ezekiel and Daniel visions of the Thrones/Wheels) as the third Order of the first sphere, corresponding to the description of the Ophanim; the other two superior orders being the Cherubim and Seraphim. The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception refers that the "Lords of the Flame", the Hierarchy of Elohim astrologically assigned to Leo, are the Thrones "because of the brilliant luminosity of their bodies and their great spiritual powers.", corresponding also to the description of the Ophanim; the other two superior hierarchies being also the Cherubim and Seraphim.
According to the mentioned esoteric Christian teachings, the three previous Hierarchies (Seraphim, Cherubim and Ophanim [Thrones/Wheels]) have already reached liberation, thus no longer active in the work of evolution.
=== Second Sphere ===
Angels of the Second Sphere work as heavenly governors.
==== Dominions ====
The Dominions (lat. dominatio, pl. dominationes), also known as the Hashmallim, hold the task of regulating the duties of lower angels. It is only with extreme rarity that the angelic lords make themselves physically known to mortals. They are also the angels who preside over nations.
The Dominions are believed to look like divinely beautiful humans with a pair of feathered wings, much like the common representation of Angels, but they may be distinguished from other groups by wielding orbs of light fastened to the heads of their sceptres or on the pommel of their swords.
=====In the Occult=====
The Dominions may possibly be equated with the Lords of Individuality, a Hierarchy of Elohim astrologically associated to Libra, presented in The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception. They inhabit, in Rosicrucian cosmology, the World of Life Spirit, which is the home of Christ.
The Dominions are also translated from the Greek term "kuriotes" as Lordships, related to the Lord Christ-Jesus, and also Leaders. They are presented as the hierarchy of celestial beings Lordships in the De Coelesti Hierarchia.
==== Virtues ====
The Virtues or Strongholds lie beyond the Ophanim (Thrones/Wheels). Their primary duty is to supervise the movements of the heavenly bodies in order to ensure that the cosmos remains in order.
The term appears to be linked to the attribute "Might", from the Greek root "dunamis" in Ephesians 1:21, which is also translated as "Virtue" (probably due to the powerful nature of these high celestial beings; see quotation below). They are presented as the celestial Choir "Virtues", in the Summa Theologica, and the theological conception of these highest beings appears to describe the same high Order, in touch with God, called the Thrones (Gr. thronos).
From Dionysius the Areopagite:
<blockquote>"The name of the holy Virtues signifies a certain powerful and unshakable virility welling forth into all their Godlike energies; not being weak and feeble for any reception of the divine Illuminations granted to it; mounting upwards in fullness of power to an assimilation with God; never falling away from the Divine Life through its own weakness, but ascending unwaveringly to the superessential Virtue which is the Source of virtue: fashioning itself, as far as it may, in virtue; perfectly turned towards the Source of virtue, and flowing forth providentially to those below it, abundantly filling them with virtue."</blockquote>
==== Powers ====
The Powers (lat. potestas (f), pl. potestates) are the bearers of conscience and the keepers of history. They are also the warrior angels created to be completely loyal to God. Some believe that no Power has ever fallen from grace, but another theory states that Satan was the Chief of the Powers before he Fell (see also Template:Bibleverse). Their duty is to oversee the distribution of power among humankind, hence their name.
=====In the Occult=====
The Powers may possibly be equated with the Lords of Mind, a Hierarchy of Elohim astrologically associated to Sagittarius, presented in The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception. They inhabit, in Rosicrucian cosmology, the World of Thought in the Region of Concrete Thought (lower region; the Christian Second Heaven), which is the location of the human mind. This region is also described as the place where one of the three records of the Memory of Nature, covering the essence of a whole life or events, is kept-stored.
:<small>Paul used the term powers in Colossians 1:16  and Ephesians 1:21  but he may have used it to refer to the powers of nations, societies or individuals, instead of referring to angels.</small>
The Powers are also translated, from the Greek term "exousia", as Authorities (see Greek root in Eph 3:10).
These celestial beings appear to collaborate, in power and authority (as implied in their etymology source), with the Principalities (Rulers).
:<small>Paul used the term rule and authority in Ephesians 1:21 , and rulers and authorities in Ephesians 3:10 . He may have been referring to the rulers and authorities of humanity, instead of referring to angels.</small>
=== Third Sphere ===
Angels who function as heavenly messengers and soldiers.
==== Principalities ====
The Principalities (lat. principatus, pl. principatūs) are shown wearing a crown and carrying a sceptre. Their duty also is said to be to carry out the orders given to them by the Dominions and bequeath blessings to the material world. Their task is to oversee groups of people. As beings related to the world of the germinal ideas, they are said to inspire living things to many things such as art or science.
=====In the Occult=====
The Principalities may possibly be equated with the Lords of Form, a Hierarchy of Elohim astrologically associated to Scorpio, presented in The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception. They inhabit, in Rosicrucian cosmology, the World of Thought in the Region of Abstract Thought (higher region; the Christian Third Heaven), which is the home of Jehova (YHWH), The Holy Spirit.
The Principalities are also translated, from the Greek term "arche", as Princedoms and also Rulers (see Greek root in Eph 3:10).
These celestial beings appear to collaborate, in power and authority (as implied in their etymology source), with the Powers (Authorities).
:<small>Paul used the term rule and authority in Ephesians 1:21 , and rulers and authorities in Ephesians 3:10 . He may have been referring to the rulers and authorities of men or societies, instead of referring to angels.:</small>
==== Archangels ====
- Main article: Archangel
The word archangel comes from the Greek αρχάvγελος (archangělǒs), meaning chief angel.<ref name=autogenerated1>Strong, J, Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Riverside Books and Bible House, Iowa Falls (Iowa), ISBN 0-917006-01-1.</ref> It derives from the Greek archō, meaning to be first in rank or power; and aggělǒs which means messenger. This suggests that they are the highest ranking angels. The word is only used twice in the New Testament: Template:Bibleverse and Template:Bibleverse. Only Michael and Gabriel are mentioned by name in the New Testament.
Michael is the only angel the Bible named expressly as "the" archangel. In Daniel he is referred to as "one of the chief princes". The word "prince" here is the ancient Hebrew word sar, which means: "a head person (of any rank or class), a chief, a general etc."<ref name=autogenerated1 />
In most Christian traditions Gabriel is also considered an archangel, but there is no direct literal support for this assumption.
The name of the archangel Raphael appears only in the Deuterocanonical Book of Tobit (Tobias). Tobit is considered canonical by Roman Catholics (Both Eastern, and Western Rites), Eastern Orthodox and some (but few) Protestants. Raphael said to Tobias that he was "one of the seven who stand before the Lord", and it is generally believed that Michael and Gabriel are two of the other seven.
A fourth Archangel is Uriel whose name literally means "Fire of God" or "Light of God." Uriel's name is the only one not mentioned in the Lutheran Bible but is only found in the apocrypha. He plays a prominent role in the second Book of Esdras (fourth Books of Esdras in the Latin Vulgate). In the book he unveils seven prophecies to the prophet Ezra, after whom the book is named. He also plays a role in the apocryphal Book of Enoch, which is considered canonical only by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.
Another possible interpretation of the seven archangels, is that the seven are the seven spirits of God that stand before the throne described in the Book of Enoch, and in the Book of Revelation.<ref>Revelation 1:5.</ref>
They (The Seven Archangels) are said to be the guardian angels of nations and countries, and are concerned with the issues and events surrounding these, including politics, military matters, commerce and trade: e.g. Archangel Michael is traditionally seen as the protector of Israel and of the Ecclesia (Gr. root ekklesia from the New Testament passages), theologically equated as the Church, the forerunner of the spiritual New Israel.
==== Angels ====
- Main article: Angel
The Angels, also known as the Malakh wat watim (messengers or angels), are the lowest order of the angels, and the most recognized. They are the ones most concerned with the affairs of living things. Within the category of the angels, there are many different kinds, with different functions. The angels are sent as messengers to humankind. They are also the most numerous who live as mortals.
==Choirs scheme in medieval theology==
During the Middle Ages, many schemes were proposed, some drawing on and expanding on Pseudo-Dionysius, others suggesting completely different classifications (some authors limited the number of Choirs to seven). Several other hierarchies were proposed, some in nearly inverted order. Some of those schemes are here presented:
<!--The schemes here presented were retrieved from the nice site http://www.angelsofeternity.com/angelhierarchy.html; Some comparison with data of Wikipedia's article was made, the order of authors modified according to respective centuries; however, confirmation of schemes themselves, and possible corrections, is needed to be performed.-->
*Clement of Rome in Apostolic Constitutions (1st century):
**1. Seraphim, 2. Cherubim, 3. Aeons, 4. Hosts, 5. Powers, 6. Authorities, 7. Principalities, 8. Thrones, 9. Archangels, 10. Angels, 11. Dominions.
*St. Ambrose in Apologia Prophet David, 5 (4th century):
**1. Seraphim, 2. Cherubim, 3. Dominations, 4. Thrones, 5. Principalities, 6. Potentates (or Powers), 7. Virtues, 8. Angels, 9. Archangels.
*St. Jerome (4th century):
**1. Seraphim, 2. Cherubim, 3. Powers, 4. Dominions (Dominations), 5. Thrones, 6. Archangels, 7. Angels.
*Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite in De Coelesti Hierarchia (ca. 5th century):
**First sphere: 1. Seraphim, 2. Cherubim, 3. Thrones;
**Second sphere: 4. Authorities, 5. Lordships, 6. Powers;
**Third sphere: 7. Principalities, 8. Archangels, 9. Angels.
*St. Gregory the Great in Homilia (6th century)
**1. Seraphim, 2. Cherubim, 3. Thrones, 4. Dominations, 5. Principalities, 6. Powers, 7. Virtues, 8. Archangels, 9. Angels.
*St. Isidore of Seville in Etymologiae (7th century):
**1. Seraphim, 2. Cherubim, 3. Powers, 4. Principalities, 5. Virtues, 6. Dominations, 7. Thrones, 8. Archangels, 9. Angels.
*John of Damascus in De Fide Orthodoxa (8th century):
**1. Seraphim, 2. Cherubim, 3. Thrones, 4. Dominions, 5. Powers, 6. Authorities (Virtues), 7. Rulers (Principalities), 8. Archangels, 9. Angels.
*St. Thomas Aquinas in Summa Theologica (1225-1274):
**1. Seraphim, Cherubim, and Thrones;
**2. Dominations, Virtues, and Powers;
**3. Principalities, Archangels, and Angels.
*Dante Alighieri in The Divine Comedy (1308-1321)
**1. Seraphim, 2. Cherubim, 3. Thrones, 4. Dominations, 5. Virtues, 6. Powers, 7. Principalities, 8. Archangels, 9. Angels.
== Bibliography ==
# Copeland, Mark. Ministering Spirits: Angels In The Old Testament. Executable Outlines. 2004.
# Copeland, Mark. Terms And Descriptions Of Angels. Executable Outlines. 2004.
# Fares, Aymen. Angelics and the Angelic Realm. Spiritual.com.au Pty. Ltd. 2000.
# Tatum, Johnny. The Hierarchy of Angels: Hierarchical Chart of Angels. Worldnet Grace Ministries.
# Tatum, Johnny. The Hierarchy of Angels: Distinguishing the Higher Ranked. Worldnet Grace Ministries.
# The Bible (Searchable online version)
# Pseudo-Dionysus the Areopagite. The Celestial Hierarchy.
*Hierarchy of angels
*Hierarchy of devils
*Dynamics of the celestial spheres
Template:Hierarchy of angels
it:Gerarchia degli angeli
pt:Hierarquia angélica no Cristianismo