Only three angels are identified by name in the Bible: Gabriel (Daniel 8:16), Michael the archangel (Daniel 10:13), and Lucifer the fallen angel (Isaiah 14:12). Yet angelic beings are mentioned at least 273 times in 34 books of the Bible. While we don’t know exactly how many angels there are, we do know from Scripture that an exceedingly large number of angels exist.
The book of Hebrews describes a multitude of angels in heaven that are too great to count: “You have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to countless thousands of angels in a joyful gathering” (Hebrews 12:22, NLT). Other Bible translations use terms like “innumerable” (ESV), “myriads” (CSB), and “thousands upon thousands” (NIV) to quantify this enormous throng of angels. The impressive picture expands in the book of Revelation: “Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders” (Revelation 5:11). Other Bible versions use “myriads of myriads” (ESV) and even “millions” (NLT) here to express how many angels there are in heaven.
While the Bible leaves the precise number of angels unspecified, some believe there could be as many angels in existence as the total number of humans in all of history. This theory is based on Matthew 18:10: “Beware that you don’t look down on any of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels are always in the presence of my heavenly Father” (NLT). The passage seems to suggest that individual people, or at least children, have guardian angels to protect them. It’s possible, though, that Jesus was speaking here only in general terms regarding the function of angels as protectors of children. In any case, Scripture is clear that angels do guard and protect human beings (Psalm 34:7; 91:11–12; Matthew 18:10; Acts 12:9–15).
The Bible describes different classifications of angels. Some angels—the cherubim and seraphim—are described as winged creatures. Cherubim primarily attend the throne of God as guards, while it seems the seraphim attend His throne by offering worship and praise. (Ezekiel 1:4–28; 10:1–22; Isaiah 6:2–6). The Bible speaks of angels of light (2 Corinthians 11:14) and fallen angels (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 1:6).
Angels perform different tasks in the Bible. Some angels are God’s messengers (Daniel 4:13). Other angels are servants of God (Psalm 103:20; Hebrews 1:7; Psalm 104:4). “Watcher angels” are mentioned in the book of Daniel (Daniel 4:13, 17, 23). Angels are often described as military “hosts” of the celestial armies (Jeremiah 5:14; 38:17; 44:7; Hosea 12:5). Other times angels are called “sons of the mighty” (Psalm 89:6) or “sons of God” (Job 2:1).
A few passages of Scripture describe angels as stars (Revelation 9:1; 12:4; Job 38:7–8; Daniel 8:10; Judges 5:20). The idea of stars may give us our best clue as to how many angels there are. If angels are like the stars in heaven, they are too many to count. Moses says in Deuteronomy 33:2 that the Lord came to speak to him from Sinai with “myriads of holy ones,” or angels. How many are myriads? The primary definition of myriad as an adjective is “innumerable,” or “countless.” Psalm 68:17 says the angels of God number “tens of thousands, thousands and thousands” (CSB). Clearly, the writer has trouble even coming close to estimating the number of angels in existence.