The spiritual world is the sum total of spiritual beings, very carefully marshalled in their ranks and functioning according to a principle. Let us examine this arrangement with particular attention to the simple, basic facts about the world of angels, which are found in Holy Scripture, the sacred deposit of the truths of the faith.
The angels are the servants of the will of God and the ministers of His great counsel. They are devoted to service to the will of God, and the will of God which the angels serve is His most important command; when it is realized, it becomes His supreme, perfect handiwork. Because the angels are the ministers of the perfect will of God, they are concomitantly ministers and servants of the perfect work of creation, ministering and labouring together for the purpose of accomplishing and perfecting the work of God.
In order to understand the relationship of the angels with the will of God as it is served by them, and with His perfect intention, and to obtain a clear explanation of this, we employ illustratively the architect and the builders engaged in building a house. The architect conceives the plan of the building which the builders cannot visualize even though they themselves will construct it. The architect discloses it to them gradually by degrees in time, through the progress of the work whereby the plan and the architect’s design take shape before the eyes of the builders.
They see the magnificent building and marvel at the mind that conceived its plan. The builders may be viewed as the angels of the will of the architect, because through the work they have done, they proclaim his will and his plan to all who see the building rise. Thus as is the relationship of the builders to the architect’s design, so is the relationship of the angels to the will and design of God.
The builders are not equal either to the architect or to the design and the work, nor are they equal among themselves. Similarly, the angels are not equal either to God or to His design and His perfect work of creation. They are not equal among themselves. The lack of parity among them is due to the classification according to office and degree of authority by which they have been organized and thus comprise one entire system of spiritual powers, both higher and lower.
This whole exists in obedience to the law of order by which all things are organized in the world. Thus they form a diversity which excludes monotony and sameness. It is a diversity within which exist the beautiful, the sublime, the delightful, and the pleasant, and through which is revealed the wonderful, manifold wisdom of God.
Though the angels are of one and the same nature, they are not equal with one another, but there exist subordinate and superior, higher and lower ranking angels. Yet all are ministers and instruments of the many designs and the one will of God. With the help of every one of them, the divine will is accomplished, as Christ stated: “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven” (Matthew 6:10).
God loves diversity, and through diversity and multiplicity, makes His way to simplicity and unity. Whatever is not complex is uniform. And wherever there is not a number, there is only one; there is a unit. The final command of God is not diverse or complex, but single. It is not many, but one.
The one, final command of God is carried into effect because many other commands, partial and relative only, already have been accomplished. But for the fulfillment of each command there also is required a single power that performs it. The performance of the perfect bidding of God, which is only one, requires its own special power, suitable for its fulfillment. Each partial command of God requires also a power suitable for its fulfillment, a power that is itself relative and partial. But the perfect, supreme command of God requires a power that is perfect and supreme, equal to and suitable for it.
If we view the powers among the angels as the many powers of God, employed for the success of His many commands, then we understand the diversity of the powers in the spiritual world. We may think of God as lord of the spiritual powers by whose agency the many commands of His will are fulfilled. If we think also of a power as the one, perfect, supreme power over all the spiritual powers, capable of fulfilling the one, perfect, supreme command of God, then we think of the Word of God Himself, of the Logos, who is and is called the angel of great counsel (Isaiah 9:6; LXX).
As the relative commands of God are directed toward the performance, the accomplishment, and the effecting of the one, final design of God, so too, the many relative powers in the spiritual world are deeply concerned with the revelation of the one, final power, the Logos. It is through the spiritual world that the special qualities and commands of God are revealed relatively and partially, but it is through the Logos that the characteristics and special qualities of God are revealed absolutely. He also reveals the one, absolute design of God which is loftier and more perfect than all others.
If all the worth and power of the spiritual world were compared with the worth and power of the angel of the great counsel of God, the Logos, it would be found that the worth and power of the Logos are infinite, and equal to that of God, while those of the spiritual world are of lesser worth and power, operating and serving only in a limited capacity. As is the difference between the many partial designs of God and His one, final, supreme design, so also is the difference between the many spiritual powers and the one Logos, co-equal lord, who is the angel of the great counsel of God and its instrument.
The spiritual world is an organized body of free, spiritual powers whose focal point is the power of the Logos. All the free spiritual powers move without constraint around the angel of the great counsel of God, who alone knows the will of God, and alone is able to fulfill it. ” … Not an ambassador, nor an angel, but (the Lord) himself saved them . . .” (Isaiah 63:9; LXX). This one and only angel of the great counsel of God reveals to the spiritual world:
- The spiritual qualities and characteristics of God;
- His numerous designs;
- His final design or final goal of creation.
The Logos is the teacher of the spiritual world. It is He who imparts and transmits to this world the knowledge of the nature and perfect qualities of God, the knowledge of the one design and the many designs of God, and the power of fulfilling, accomplishing, and effecting the designs of God. If the angels possess knowledge of the nature and designs of God, and have the power to fulfill them, they have received them from the Logos, the angel of the great counsel of God, co-equal with the Father.
When we understand the relationship of the angel of the great counsel of God with the many angels of the many relative designs of God, then we understand above everything else the relationship of the great architect of the universe, the relationship of the Logos, with the angels who operate and act in obedience to His will. For they are the builders of the great structure of the universe, building to the best and most careful plan of the Logos.
The kind of relationship that exists between builders and architect exists also between the Logos and the angels. The Logos is the architect. The angels are the builders who labour according to the design of the architect. The plan of the whole building and its final purpose are found in the mind of the architect, and they are revealed to the builders by him. But the revelation takes place gradually, little by little, beginning from partial and relatively unimportant orders, and culminates with the revelation of the perfect will of God, which also is the final purpose of creation. The Logos reveals to the angelic world the knowledge of the special qualities of God and the knowledge of His design.
It is a distinctive feature of the angels to think and to act reasonably, and to rejoice in the contemplation of the Logos and in the execution of the divine commands. This is the life of the angels – to be, to live, to think, to act, and to move in the Logos, through the Logos, and in obedience to the Logos. This is the immortality of the angels and of the whole spiritual world. God is made known in the spiritual world through His Logos, through whom He reveals both His nature and His will. Therefore, as the angels contemplate the thoughts of the Logos, they think the very thoughts of God.
In understanding the will of the Logos, they understand and know the will of God. In working and acting in obedience to the will of the Logos, they work and act according to the will of God. In the Logos, therefore, they think the thoughts and understand the will of their heavenly Father. They also carry out His will faithfully, as Christ Himself prayed, “Our Father which art in Heaven . . . thy will be done in earth, as it is in Heaven” (Matthew 6:9, 10). Moreover, they rejoice with the joy that comes from the Logos, for they are conscious of the fact that they are fulfilling the will of God precisely.
However, their relationship with God is that of a slave or a servant with his lord. Their task is to be humble instruments in accomplishing the great counsel of God, for God is the lord of the heavenly powers. The first practical lesson of the angels is obedience to the commands of the Logos, the co-equal lord, the angel of the great counsel of God. To recognize the Logos of God as the focal point of their spiritual activity and to believe in Him, and then to obey His will perfectly – this is the first practical lesson of the spiritual world. Thus the harmony of many free spiritual powers with the one free power, the perfect, absolute, free power of the Logos, is assured, and the balance between the angels and the Logos, between the many and the one, is preserved forever.
This harmony and balance is the product of something, because it comes into being and is not present from the beginning. When the angels received awareness of their existence and of the law governing their activity through the Spirit of God, they became accustomed to operating and acting in obedience to the law which God revealed to them. They improved in knowledge and in practice and grew to be worthy of their destiny, and according to the nature and structure they received, they became the possessors of the blessing planned to suit them in complete freedom.
It was only right for them as free beings to turn and move freely around the Logos of God, the good and gracious one, as around a centre – or as around a sun that shines more and more and illuminates the eyes of the mind with its light. The purpose of this was that they might be confirmed in their obedience to the commands of the Logos and always remain resolute in the keeping and exact fulfillment of the divine commands as their nature and destiny required.
As the angels became reliable in keeping and fulfilling the divine commands, and through their obedience became able to give strength and encouragement to others in the fulfillment of the divine law, it was right for them to serve as interpreters of God’s purposes, and as powers able to minister to carry out God’s commands. Another of their duties was to encourage those who were unable to achieve their destiny by their own strength or to serve as powers to assist them.
Until the angels were accustomed to fulfilling the divine commands, and were confirmed in virtue, it was fitting that a period of time, corresponding to the result, should elapse. The duration of this is known only to God. Therefore, until the world of angels was balanced and adjusted, and was found to be in harmony with its centre – the Logos, the co-equal lord – it passed through all the stages of its development. In this way it was bound closely in harmony with its centre.
This bond was a moral union too, and remains unbroken for all eternity, because the spiritual world has reached perfection and already has become the throne and dwelling place of God. Let us heed the words of the prophet Isaiah: “Thus saith the Lord, Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: what kind of a house will ye build me? and of what kind is to be the place of my rest? For all these things are mine, saith the Lord . . .” (Isaiah 66:1,2; LXX).