Revelation 12:7-9 "Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him."
Jude 1:6 "And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day."
The angels “did not keep their proper domain,” Jude says. The phrase “proper domain” in the Greek is ἀρχὴν, meaning “rule” or “beginning.” The fallen angels “did not keep their beginning,” meaning that they did not keep the path in which they were created. In the beginning, the angels were created to be in Heaven with God, praising Him, and doing His bidding. They were made to glorify Him, as were humans, but humans were made to dwell on the earth — not angels. And yet, these angels “left their beginning,” or left their starting position (in heaven). They used the free will God gave them and made a decision to abandon God’s purpose for them.
Scripture says that these angels are fallen angels because they left Heaven. Where are these angels now? In Hell, according to Scripture:
2 Peter 2:4 "For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment;"
If fallen angels were once in Heaven, but are now expelled from Heaven, then there was a change in their place or abode that explains why they are called “fallen” angels. These fallen angels are now in Hell, awaiting their eternal judgment that will consign them to Hell for all eternity. Of course, the leader of the fallen angels, Satan himself, gets to appear before the angels as they meet in Heaven despite the fall from Heaven. We find this tidbit of detail out in the Book of Job:
Job 1:6 "Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them."
Job 2:1 "Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the Lord."
From this, we know that “the sons of God,” a phrase that refers to angels, were meeting regularly (if not daily), and that Satan is also allowed to assemble with the angels. Satan? Assembling with the angels? It’s not far-fetched when you remember that Satan was an angel of light at one point in time. As the apostle Paul speaks of him:
2 Corinthians 11:12-15 "12 But what I do, I will also continue to do, that I may cut off the opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the things of which they boast. 13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works."
Paul’s statement about Satan shows just what Satan once was, which is why Paul says that “Satan himself transforms himself.” It’s too easy for Satan to disguise himself because at one point, he was on God’s side. He was created as an angel like, all other angels, but defected and took other angels with him.
How did this abandonment of their proper domain start? This is where we need to know about The Great Rebellion in Heaven.
How Many Angels Make up One-Third of the Angelic Host? Putting a Number to the Fraction
How many angels is “one-third” of the angelic host? The word for “a third” in the Greek text of Revelation 12 is τρίτον (triton; pronounced “tree-taun”), with “tri” referring to “three.” A third of the “stars of heaven” or angels, refers to 33.333% of the angelic hosts. The next question in the minds of many is, “how many angels actually rebelled against God and followed Satan?” That’s a question to which we may never have a definitive answer, but we can figure it out by examining what Scripture tells us about just how many angels we’re dealing with here.
We’ve met a few angels in Scripture such as Gabriel, Michael, the two angels that come down to Sodom, the angels that come down to roll the stone away at Jesus’ resurrection, and so on. We read of many angels in heaven in Genesis 28 when we read of God’s promise to bless Jacob and fulfill the promise the Lord God made to his grandfather, Abraham:
Genesis 28:10-17 "10 Now Jacob went out from Beersheba and went toward Haran. 11 So he came to a certain place and stayed there all night, because the sun had set. And he took one of the stones of that place and put it at his head, and he lay down in that place to sleep. 12 Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. 13 And behold, the Lord stood above it and said: “I am the Lord God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. 14 Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed. 15 Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.” 16 Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” 17 And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!"
Jacob’s dream, in the place he calls Bethel (Hebrew for house of God), is where he sees the angels climbing up and down the ladder of Heaven. We know from Jacob’s dream that there are many, many angels. This is a good starting ground to answer the question of how many angels exist approximately, and how many would one-third comprise.
Matthew 26:53 puts us closer to an approximate number, though it still leaves us with more questions. Let’s read what Jesus says:
Matthew 26:47-54 "47 And while He was still speaking, behold, Judas, one of the twelve, with a great multitude with swords and clubs, came from the chief priests and elders of the people. 48 Now His betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “Whomever I kiss, He is the One; seize Him.” 49 Immediately he went up to Jesus and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed Him. 50 But Jesus said to him, “Friend, why have you come?” Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and took Him. 51 And suddenly, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword, struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear. 52 But Jesus said to him, “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. 53 Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? 54 How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?”
In Matthew 26:53, Jesus mentions “more than twelve legions of angels” with which He could be equipped by God the Father, though the word “more” tells us that this number is but a foretaste of the exact number. Yet and still, we’re left wondering, “what is a legion?”
A legion, according to that day and time, is 6,826 men. So, when you factor in that Jesus mentions twelve legions of angels, you can figure out a number by taking the number of legion soldiers and multiply it by 12:
6,826 (men in a legion) x 12 (legions of angels) = 81,912 soldiers
We’ve come to see that Jesus says the Father could command at least nearly 82,000 angels to come to His aid that night on which He was arrested. This is the only place in Scripture where we read of so many angels, but it tells us that there are more than 81,000 angels in Heaven. And keep in mind, this is 81,912 angels of the total — there were one-third of the total angels that rebelled against God and was expelled from Heaven.
So, with this in mind, let’s try to factor in the one-third of the rebellious angels:
81,912 (angels, 12 legions) = x – 1/3x
81,912 = 2/3X
81,912 x 3/2 = x
122,868 = x
This number tells us that there were at least 122,868 angels prior to The Great Rebellion, not counting Satan. If you subtract 1/3 of the angels, you’ll find that the number comes out to the 12 legions of angels Jesus said the Father would release. Of course, this is only true if the number for “legion” is that which Jesus speaks about (the legion could be greater than the assumed number, in which case the number would be higher).
How Many Angels Followed Satan? Putting a Number to the 1/3 Fraction
We’ve seen that one-third of the angelic host rebelled against God, but again, one-third is not as approximate a number as say, 122,868 angels. So, taking the number (“122,868”) as the finite number we’re given, let’s see how many angels comprise one-third of that number:
? (fraction of rebellious angels) x 122,868 (total number of angels from 12 legions) = number of rebellious angels
Number of rebellious angels = 40,956
The number of angels here that rebelled in The Great Rebellion is 40,956. That is, there were at least 41,000 rebellious angels in The Great Rebellion who followed after Satan and warred against God and His angels.
From the research we’ve done above, we can say that there are at least 122,000 angels available in the heavenly arsenal, though this number is limited and finite in nature — and this number isn’t all of them, just a number based on what Jesus gives us. Still, though, we can say that there are at least 122,000 angels that are in existence, which tells us that there are tons and tons of angels that exist.
In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus says that children have angels in Heaven:
Matthew 18:10-11 "10 “Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven. 11 For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost."
Children have “their angels” in Heaven, Jesus says, so this could prove helpful to just how many angels exist in humanity. Some have said with these verses above that every child has an angel (no matter their final eternal destiny), and that there have been between 107 billion and 108 billion people who’ve ever lived on the earth (as of 2015) — so there could be billions of angels that exist in Heaven. The one-third of the angelic hosts could be a much larger number than 40,000.
This is just mere speculation because we don’t know, but it goes to show us in no uncertain terms that the Bible gives sufficient information about God, not exhaustive. Even the Bible says of itself that “there are other things Jesus said and did” that were not recorded (see John 21:25). The Bible tells us that Adam and Eve had “sons and daughters” beyond Cain, Abel, and Seth (Genesis 5:4), though it doesn’t tell us their names or anything about them. How about Cain’s wife: if Cain belonged to the first family, where does his wife come from if she marries and lives with him in the Land of Nod (Genesis 4:17)? We’re never told.
Paul has a nephew, his sister’s son (Acts 23:16); but who is his sister? What’s her name? Does his sister ever marry? We presume she does if she’s raised as a Jewish woman, but we don’t ever know. Another question: how is it that the Holy Spirit conceives Jesus in the womb of Mary? Gabriel tells Mary that “the Holy Spirit will overshadow you” (Luke 1:35), but what does this mean, exactly? We are told nothing more than that the Holy Spirit passes by Mary and she becomes pregnant, then bears Jesus after 9 months. That’s it. Nothing more are we told.
Fallen Angels and Hell as Judgment
What happens to the fallen angels after they leave Heaven? Well, it says that they’re thrown down to the earth in Revelation 12, while 2 Peter 2 says that they’re thrown into Hell. How do we reconcile these two passages? Well, we know that Hell is created for the Devil and his angels:
Matthew 25:31-43 "31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ 41 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; 43 I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me."
Matthew 25:41 tells us that “the everlasting fire,” Hell, was “prepared for the devil and his angels.” In other words, Hell was never prepared for a single person — though Judas and others will go there, unfortunately. In the end, Satan and the fallen angels were the target ones for whom Hell was created. Hell was created as a final punishment for the leaders of The Great Rebellion in Heaven, but the Lord allows others to go there as well (in the nations He judges) because of choice, free will, the God-given responsibility of man to choose his eternal destination, whether Heaven or Hell.
And it is Hell, where Satan and the fallen angels, the one-third who rebelled with him, will go at the end of all things. God will have His vengeance on those who rebelled against Him, and Satan and the fallen angels won’t get away unscathed.