The Nine Choir Hierarchy of the Angels in Scripture and Tradition

There has been debate in the comments box on Lucifer vs. Saint Michael over whether there really are nine choirs of angels.

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Here’s the theological evidence to settle the issue that there are nine celestial orders of angels (from lowest to highest):

Angels, Archangels, Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Dominations, Throne, Cherubim, Seraphim

In my free book Thomas Aquinas in 50 Pages, I explain the cosmic responsibilities of each order.

St. Gregory the Great teaches, based on Saint Paul’s writings, that there are nine orders of angels:

We know on the authority of Scripture that there are nine orders of angels, viz., Angels, Archangels, Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Dominations, Throne, Cherubim and Seraphim. That there are Angels and Archangels nearly every page of the Bible tell us, and the books of the Prophets talk of Cherubim and Seraphim. St. Paul, too, writing to the Ephesians enumerates four orders when he says: ‘above all Principality, and Power, and Virtue, and Domination’; and again, writing to the Colossians he says: ‘whether Thrones, or Dominations, or Principalities, or Powers’. If we now join these two lists together we have five Orders, and adding Angels and Archangels, Cherubim and Seraphim, we find nine Orders of Angels.” (Hom. 34, In Evang.)

St. Thomas Aquinas teaches the same ninefold pattern at Summa theologica I, q. 108.

St. Paul teaches speaks of angels and archangels and refers to the orders of “principality, and power, and virtue, and dominion” in Ephesians 1:21. He also mentions “thrones, dominations, principalities or powers” at Colossians 1:16.

The term archangel occurs only in St. Jude and 1 Thessalonians 4:15; but St. Paul has furnished us with two other lists of names of the heavenly cohorts. He tells us (Ephesians 1:21) that Christ is raised up “above all principality, and power, and virtue, and dominion”; and, writing to the Colossians (1:16), he says: “In Him were all things created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominations, or principalities or powers.”

Paul gives us the middle five orders and we add to it, “angels, archangels, cherubim, and seraphim” from his writings and the rest of Scripture. So that bring us to nine orders or choirs of angels.

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