There are 9 classes of angels. 3 spheres each containing 3 choirs.
The first sphere is the highest and closest to God. They serve as the heavenly serveants of God the son.
This sphere contains the classes:
Seraphim, these are the highest ranking of all the angels, the word seraph translates to mean “burning ones”, the word seraph is normally a synonym for serpents when used in the Hebrew Bible. Mentioned in Isaiah 6:1-7, Seraphim are the highest angelic class and they serve as the caretakers of God’s throne and continuously shout praises: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” According to Isaiah 6:1-8, the Seraphim are described as fiery six-winged beings; with two wings they cover their faces, with another two they cover their feet, and the last two they use to fly. The archangel Michael is a seraph and is the highest of all the angels.
The next class in this sphere are Cherubim which we have spoken about in previous blogs.
The third and final choir of angels in this sphere are the thrones or Elders, are a class ofcelestial beings mentioned by Paul of Tarsus in Colossians 1:16 (New Testament). They are living symbols of God’s justice and authority, and have as one of their symbols the throne.
It is not unusual to find that the Thrones are associated, by some, with the Ophanim or Erelim from the Jewish angelic hierarchy, however there is very little evidence, if any, to sustain this idea. The Ophanim (Heb. ofanim: Wheels, from the vision of Daniel 7:9) are unusual looking even compared to the other celestial beings plus they are said to be moved by the spirit of other beings, which raises the question if the Ophanim are spiritual beings at all or if they are purely material 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 instead: “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.” Ezekiel 10:17 NRSV.
Christian theologians that include the Thrones as one of the choirs don’t describe them as wheels, describing them as adoring elder men who listen to the will of God and present the prayers of men. The Twenty Four Eldersin the Book of Revelation are usually thought to be part of this group of angels.
Angels of the Second Sphere work as heavenly governors of the creation by subjecting matter and guiding and ruling the spirits.
The choirs in this sphere are the “Dominions” (Eph. 1:21; Col. 1:16) or “Lordships” in some English translations of the De Coelesti Hierarchia. The Dominions regulate the duties of lower angels. It is only with extreme rarity that the angelic lords make themselves physically known to humans.
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 scepters or on the pommel of their swords
Then comes the These angels are those through which signs and miracles are made in the world. The term appears to be linked to the attribute “might”, from the Greek root dynamis in Ephesians 1:21, which is also translated as “Virtue” or “Power”.
From Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite’s De Coelesti Hierarchia:
“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.”
The third choir of the second sphere are the powers or authorities
The primary duty of the “Powers” is to supervise the movements of the heavenly bodies in order to ensure that the cosmos remains in order. Being warrior angels, they also oppose evil spirits, especially those that make use of the matter in the universe, and often cast evil spirits to detention places. These angels are usually represented as soldiers wearing full armor and helmet, and also having defensive and offensive weapons such as shields and spears or chains respectively.
The Powers 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. Their duty is to oversee the distribution of power among humankind, hence their name.
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.
We now enter the lowest sphere who are Angels who function as heavenly guides, protectors, and messengers to human beings. the first choir we find principalities also translated as “Princedoms” and “Rulers”, are the angels that guide and protect nations, or groups of peoples, and institutions such as the Church. The Principalities preside over the bands of angels and charge them with fulfilling the divine ministry. There are some who administer and some who assist.
The Principalities 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 upper sphere angels and bequeath blessings to the material world. Their task is to oversee groups of people. They are the educators and guardians of the realm of earth. Like beings related to the world of the germinal ideas, they are said to inspire living things to many things such as art or science.
Paul used the term rule and authority in Ephesians 1:21, and rulers and authorities in Ephesians 3:10.
The second choir is archangels (not to be confused with the capitalised version Archangel.) archangels are considered to be herald of God, most commonly thought of in the book of revalation to st. John the devine, where the 7 angels blow there trumpets and also the angel who hold the scroll… ect.
The third and final choir is the angels. They 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 humanity. It is here we find Gabriel, as an Archangel he is above the other angels but he is still in the order of angels.