The Abilities of Fallen Angels as Described in the Bible
Chapter 5 – Abilities of Fallen Angels as Described in the Bible
From what we have covered so far, we can know the Bible teaches that today Christians are in a battle against demons, the second wave of fallen angels, and their leader, the fallen angel Satan.
To better understand what these fallen angels can do, we are going to take a look at the abilities demonstrated by angels in the Bible.
It would make sense that the abilities of fallen angels would be the same as the abilities of Holy angels, as God originally made all of them to be Holy angels, who were capable of carrying out certain tasks for God. These tasks include giving messages, through dreams and visions, or delivering a message while appearing as a man. Though they usually remain invisible, angels protect people from harm (Psa 91:11-12). They function as the army of God (Rev 19:19): they destroyed Sodom (Gen 19), brought down the wall of Jericho (Josh 5-6), and smite people (1 Ch 21). God created angels to be able to do things like these.
Angels can do miraculous supernatural things, and unfortunately fallen angels can still do many of these same things, as they were created with these abilities. But they use them for evil and deception. As such we’re going to be looking at examples found in the Bible of both Holy angels and fallen angels, to establish what the Bible says are the abilities of angels in general.
In this we can have a better idea of what fallen angels can do in general. And also a foundation for better understanding what activities fallen angels are engaged in today.
Visions caused by Angels
Angels can cause what the Bible refers to as “Visions”.
Dan 10: 1-12
In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a thing was revealed unto Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar; and the thing was true, but the time appointed was long: and he understood the thing, and had understanding of the vision. In those days I Daniel was mourning three full weeks. I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled. And in the four and twentieth day of the first month, as I was by the side of the great river, which is Hiddekel; Then I lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a certain man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz: His body also was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in colour to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude. And I Daniel alone saw the vision: for the men that were with me saw not the vision; but a great quaking fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves. Therefore I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength.
Yet heard I the voice of his words: and when I heard the voice of his words, then was I in a deep sleep on my face, and my face toward the ground. And, behold, an hand touched me, which set me upon my knees and upon the palms of my hands. And he said unto me, O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright: for unto thee am I now sent. And when he had spoken this word unto me, I stood trembling. Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words.
What can we observe from this passage? Daniel calls what he experienced a “great vision” (Daniel 10:8) which was caused by an angel. While having this vision:
It was real to the bodily senses: Daniel was in his body, he saw with his eyes, he heard with his ears, he felt a hand of an angel touch his body, felt being on his hands and knees and later standing up, and he felt bodily trembling
The vision Daniel saw was overlaid on top of the reality everyone else could see, but others could not see the vision. (Dan10:7)
What Daniel saw was unusual, and even impossible-seeming, such as a face with the “appearance of lightning”. Also the voice of the singular being he was seeing sounded like a multitude of voices.
Daniel was awake, and not dreaming, nor in a trance.
Daniel’s body was still surrounded by objective reality, the river, the landscape, and the men fleeing from something they couldn’t see but felt emotionally. The men could see the river and the landscape. However, Daniel’s mind was also seeing a vision from an angel overlaid onto this objective reality, and this vision that he interacted with felt completely real to his bodily senses. He saw it, he heard it, and felt it, yet no one around him could even see it, though they felt fear.
The Bible confirms that Visions caused by angels are experienced with the senses, seen with the eyes, heard with the ears, felt tactilely in the body, stating it plainly in Eze 40 and 44.
In the visions of God brought he me into the land of Israel, and set me upon a very high mountain, by which [was] as the frame of a city on the south. And he brought me thither, and, behold, [there was] a man, whose appearance [was] like the appearance of brass, with a line of flax in his hand, and a measuring reed; and he stood in the gate. [angel] And the man said unto me, Son of man, behold with thine eyes, and hear with thine ears, and set thine heart upon all that I shall shew thee; for to the intent that I might shew [them] unto thee [art] thou brought hither: declare all that thou seest to the house of Israel. Eze 40:2-4
Then brought he me the way of the north gate before the house: and I looked, and, behold, the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD: and I fell upon my face. And the LORD said unto me, Son of man, mark well, and behold with thine eyes, and hear with thine ears all that I say unto thee concerning all the ordinances of the house of the LORD, and all the laws thereof; and mark well the entering in of the house, with every going forth of the sanctuary. Eze 44:3-4
Before going any further, I think it is important to be able to conceptualize what a Vision is.
What would an experience like this be called in the present-day world? If a man today claimed to have seen an angel, which he saw with his eyes, heard with his ears, touched, and who no one else with him could see… There are many today who would say he must have had a “hallucination”. Not only that, but also a “visual, audio, and tactile hallucination”. And there are many people today who would say such a man should see a psychologist or psychiatrist for help. This would only be more likely if the man started claiming he was a prophet, and writing down his experiences, because he thought these “hallucinations” were important enough that God wanted them recorded to be shared with posterity. Then he might really be labeled as “crazy” and locked away. But this would all be the case only because much of the world today rejects that God exists, that angels exist, and rejects that angels have supernatural abilities and can interact with mankind.
A hallucination is defined as:
“a sensory experience of something that does not exist outside the mind, caused by various physical and mental disorders, or by reaction to certain toxic substances, and usually manifested as visual or auditory images.”
“a sensory perception that does not result from an external stimulus and that occurs in the waking state. It can occur in any of the senses and is classified accordingly as auditory, gustatory, olfactory, tactile, or visual. It is a symptom of psychotic behavior, often noted during schizophrenia, as well as of other mental or organic disorders and conditions.”
–Mosby’s Medical Dictionary
Inherit in the definition of a “hallucination” is the forgone conclusion that it is “not a result of external stimulus” (like an angel), it “does not exist outside the mind” objectively (like angels or the spiritual side to reality itself), and it is “caused by various physical and mental disorders” and is a “symptom of psychotic behavior”.
The difference between a Vision and a hallucination is that a Vision IS a result of external stimulus, namely angels, who are an external stimulus that do exist outside of the mind, and a Vision is not caused by a physical or mental disorder, nor is it a symptom of psychotic behavior.
But like a hallucination, a Vision is a sensory experience, like Daniel is described to have had.
Of course, differentiating between a “hallucination” and a “Vision” is entirely a matter of if one can prove as to whether the sensory experience was caused by an angel or not caused by one. It is hard to prove that a “hallucination” was not caused by external stimulus when that external stimulus could be an angel, who stays invisible and does not declare their presence.
In fact, one could just as easily assume that all “hallucinations” are actually caused by angels (holy or fallen) and are therefore Visions, as one could assume that all Visions are not caused by any external stimuli (but rather from some physical or mental disorder) and are therefore “hallucinations”. As to which is which, the deciding factor is all a matter of personal spiritual beliefs, bias, and very subjective personal interpretation of the experience.
But for Christians, the Bible is full of many examples of Visions caused by angels. And Visions in the Bible have quite a bit of variety to them, for instance some happen while awake, and some happen while in a trance state. An example of a Vision had during a trance is in Acts 10:9-17.
On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour: And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance,
And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending upon him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven. Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean, behold, the men which were sent from Cornelius had made enquiry for Simon’s house, and stood before the gate.
Observations on this passage:
- Peter had this “vision” in a “trance”, while awake, and not asleep. The “trance” is not described as “dreaming”. It seems likely that those preparing for lunch who were with Peter saw Peter in this trance state. However, this trance state is not described as “dreaming”. Peter was awake, and not asleep, though in a trance state.
- Peter observed being in his body – this is implied by him being able to optionally “rise, kill, and eat”. Peter also is seeing with his eyes, and hearing with his ears.
- Peter, like Daniel, sees unusual or impossible-seeming things.
During this trance Peter experiences what the Bible calls a ‘vision’ (“horama” Strong’s 3705). Earlier in Acts 10:3, Cornelius also receives a “horama” vision, specified to be caused by an angel. Later, in Acts 12, Peter is unsure whether or not he is having another vision, when an angel is present: “Peter followed him (an angel) out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision” Acts 10:9 NIV
These Visions (which communicate a message) are Biblically associated as being caused by angels, as Holy angels are God’s messengers; the Greek word aggelos meaning “messenger”. Many times angels give messages from God by causing dreams or visions.
The word above in Acts 10 for ‘trance’ is “ekstasis” (1611 in the Strong’s). The second definition is “a throwing of the mind out of its normal state, alienation of mind, whether such as makes a lunatic or that of a man who by some sudden emotion is transported as it were out of himself, so that in this rapt condition, although he is awake, his mind is drawn off from all surrounding objects and wholly fixed on things divine that he sees nothing but the forms and images lying within, and thinks that he perceives with his bodily eyes and ears realities shown him by God.”
So, even the Strong’s Concordance defines this trance as an experience in the mind, which is perceived with “bodily eyes and ears”, or in other words is real to the bodily senses. In Peter’s case, he describes that he perceived hearing with his ears, seeing with his eyes, and speaking with his mouth. This indicates he perceived himself as being in his body, experiencing something which seemed real to all the bodily senses. However, it is implied that those around Peter perceived him as being in a trance state. Peter might not have known he had been in a trance, but may have just thought he had been awake, if there had not been other people around that saw him in a trance.
Another instance of a vision, which was also likely facilitated by a Holy angel messenger (Se Rev 1, 1:1) happened to Paul and the men with him in Acts 9 (related again in Acts 22).
And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus.
And it came to pass, that, as I made my journey, and was come nigh unto Damascus about noon, suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me. And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest. And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they understood not the voice of him that spake to me. And I said, What shall I do, LORD? And the Lord said unto me, Arise, and go into Damascus; and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do. And when I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of them that were with me, I came into Damascus.
Observations on these passages:
- Paul and the men saw the light, though no one saw to whom the voice which was speaking belonged.
- Paul saw the glory of the light, and it was so intense he was blinded by it, but the men with him did not even see it in the same intense way he did.
- Paul heard and understood the voice that was speaking
- The men heard the voice that was speaking, but did not understand it
In this case the vision was waking. What is most interesting is that the vision was experienced in one way by Paul, and in another, more limited way, by the men with him. This implies that it is possible for a group of people to experience the same vision. Yet, this case also shows that one person can see A but another person can see B, even while they are both having a shared Vision.
So it seems an angel could cause several people to have a Vision at the same time, but each person might see something different, still experiencing it with their bodily senses, but differently for each person.
Dreams Caused by Angels
Besides Visions, the Bible teaches that angels can also cause dreams, such as seeing an angel in a dream, as is in the case of Joseph the husband of Mary, surrogate father of Jesus Christ:
Matt 1:20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
Matt 2:13 And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.
The Bible also gives an example that some experiences may be a mix between a dream and a vision, but happen when one is asleep in one’s bed. “In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men, in slumberings upon the bed” Job 33:15
Physical Interactions with Angels
Besides Dreams and Visions, the Bible teaches that angels can also interact with people physically, in ways that leave physical effects afterwards.
Acts 12:5-12, 18-19
Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him. And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison. And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands. And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me. And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision. When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him. And when Peter was come to himself, he said,
Now I know of a surety, that the LORD hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews. And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying. …. Now as soon as it was day, there was no small stir among the soldiers, what was become of Peter. And when Herod had sought for him, and found him not, he examined the keepers, and commanded that they should be put to death. And he went down from Judaea to Caesarea, and there abode.
In this case an angel is sent to free Peter from Herod’s prison. At first Peter thinks he is experiencing a vision, but soon realizes these events have truly taken place. Peter had visions before, and his confusion proves the point that visions are real to the bodily senses – as real as objective reality - which is why Peter was not sure if what was happening was a vision or not.
But the events were physically real and did take place in objective reality.
The angel materialized in a physical way and caused lasting physical changes in objective reality. Other people, such as the guards, Herod, and Peter’s friends, were all affected by these lasting physical changes to objective reality, in the angel rescuing Peter from prison.
Not only that, but the angel was able to defy physics in objective reality, or seem to have supernatural powers, by doing things such as causing a light to shine, chains to fall off, likely opening what was a locked gate, and moving a very heavy door with apparently supernatural strength, as well as appearing and disappearing seemingly out of nowhere.
Another example of angels appearing physically and leaving physical effects is Gen 19:
Gen 19:1-7, 10-13, 24-28
And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground; And he said, Behold now, my lords, turn in, I pray you, into your servant’s house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet, and ye shall rise up early, and go on your ways.
And they said, Nay; but we will abide in the street all night. And he pressed upon them greatly; and they turned in unto him, and entered into his house; and he made them a feast, and did bake unleavened bread, and they did eat. But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter: And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them. And Lot went out at the door unto them, and shut the door after him, And said, I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly….But the men put forth their hand, and pulled Lot into the house to them, and shut to the door. And they smote the men that were at the door of the house with blindness, both small and great: so that they wearied themselves to find the door. And the men said unto Lot, Hast thou here any besides? son in law, and thy sons, and thy daughters, and whatsoever thou hast in the city, bring them out of this place: For we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the LORD; and the LORD hath sent us to destroy it…Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven; And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground. But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt. And Abraham gat up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the LORD: And he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain, and beheld, and, lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace.
Some observations: All of the men of the city could see the angels, not just Lot. The angels caused all the men who were harassing Lot to become blind. The angels likely turned Lot’s wife into a pillar of salt. The angels also destroyed the city of Sodom and Gomorrah, and Abraham was able to observe the smoke from the city’s destruction from far away. Today some people (see arkdiscovery.com) say they have found the destroyed city, and no doubt some evidence of this angelic event remains to this day, somewhere.
In the case of Sodom and Gomorrah the angels were seen by men and interacted with them. These angels appeared looking as human men. However, angels can also interact with objective reality without being seen, and remaining invisible, as is seen in Job.
And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.
And there was a day when his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house: And there came a messenger unto Job, and said, The oxen were plowing, and the asses feeding beside them: And the Sabeans fell upon them, and took them away; yea, they have slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee. While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The fire of God is fallen from heaven, and hath burned up the sheep, and the servants, and consumed them; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee. While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The Chaldeans made out three bands, and fell upon the camels, and have carried them away, yea, and slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee. While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, Thy sons and thy daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house: And, behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young men, and they are dead; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.
In this case God effectively removed a “hedge of protection” around Job and allowed everything but Job’s life to be put “into Satan’s hands” (Job 1:12). Satan then inspired people to kill Job’s servants, caused a fire from heaven to come down and kill his sheep and servants, and caused a great wind to demolish a house on top of Job’s children, killing them all. Though Satan was invisible in all of these events, nevertheless the events Satan caused occurred in objective reality, and there were multiple witnesses to the physical effects of what had occurred.
Another lasting effect angels can cause is physical illness or injury, is seen in Acts and in Job:
And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them. And the people gave a shout, saying, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man. And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and died.
In this case in Acts the angel was invisible, at least his public appearance to the crowd is not recorded, and the angel caused a physical ailment resulting in death to the body of a person.
And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life. So went Satan forth from the presence of the LORD, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown.
In Job, the angel Satan was invisible, but in objective reality he caused real and visible injury/disease to Job’s body, and Job was ill for some time, until God set things right.
In the case of fallen angels, such as the fallen cherubim Satan, we also know that they can appear looking like holy angels (who look like men).
And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 2 Cor 11:13
Holy angels are of the messenger-type of angel, who look like men, though sometimes glowing with light. Satan who is a cherubim (with 4 faces, 3 of animals, and 4 wings) can transform himself to appear as looking like a Holy messenger-type angel, like a man and glowing with light. And of course fallen messenger-type angels, who already look like men, can do this all the more easily.
Observations on Physical Interactions with angels:
1. There can be multiple witnesses of angels who appear looking like men
2. There can be multiple witnesses to lasting physical effects caused by angels, including illnesses, injury, and death
3. There can be supernatural occurrences that seem to defy physics, in objective reality
4. Generally reality follows normal physical laws, except for the actions of the angels
5. Physical effects can also be caused by angels that, though present, remain invisible
6. Fallen angels can appear looking like holy angels, who look like men, sometimes glowing
So far we have covered that the Bible teaches that angels can interact with people by the methods of Visions, Dreams, and can interact with people physically either while appearing as men, or while remaining invisible. The Bible also teaches that there can be limited physical interactions during a Vision that seem to combine or merge with the Vision experience itself. These limited physical interactions can leave physical effects that remain after the Vision is over.
Visions Caused by Angels Can Include Limited Physical Interactions Which Can Leave Physical Aftereffects
Let’s look at an example from the book of Revelation. The entire book of Revelation contains a very long and detailed Vision given to John by a Holy angel, even though some of the terminology seems a little different at first glance,
Rev 17:3 So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.
Rev 21:10 And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,
In these examples John says that “he carried me away in the spirit”. The “he” that is referenced here is an angel of the Lord, a messenger of Jesus Christ, and this is established in Rev 22:8-9 And I John saw these things, and heard [them]. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things. Then saith he unto me, See [thou do it] not: for I am thy fellow servant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.
From these passages, we know that all the things John experienced in the Vision were caused by a Holy angel. An angel can “carry someone away in the spirit”, but this term is synonymous with someone having a Vision caused by an angel. We can know the term is synonymous because John also makes clear that all of this was a Vision:
And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses [were] as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone. Rev 9:17
Altogether, the entire imagery John recorded in the book of Revelation was caused by an angel of the Lord showing John these things in a Vision. Also, the same phrases are used in Eze 11:24, “Afterwards the spirit took me up, and brought me in a vision by the Spirit of God into Chaldea, to them of the captivity. So the vision that I had seen went up from me.” And so if one is “in the spirit”, then the Bible indicates that one is having a Vision.
What John experienced was real to all the bodily senses, even including taste, and internal feeling in his stomach, as John perceived he was experiencing all this bodily. John ate a scroll which was part of the vision, tasted it, and it was “bitter to his stomach”. And I took the little book out of the angel’s hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter. Rev 10:10
In this Vision caused by a Holy angel, John was writing down what he saw and heard throughout his entire experience on a piece of paper.
Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send [it] unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea…Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter; Rev 1:11,19
And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not. Rev 10:4
John did not write down the Vision experience after it had ended, but while it was ongoing. What is astounding is that this paper remained with him after the experience had ended. Whether John was given the paper to write on and the writing instrument during the Vision, or if John carried these things into the experience and out of the experience later, is unknown. But in either case, John took the paper out of the Vision with him, which he had written on during the Vision, and so a greater level of lasting physical effects is shown here than in most Visions.
This example establishes that the Bible teaches an angel can cause a person to have a Vision which leaves minor physical effects or traces, like the scroll John recorded the Vision on, or even bodily effects, even internal bodily effects like his stomach becoming bitter. The Bible also teaches that angels can have physical interactions with people that can include causing people bodily injuries or illness. As Visions can include limited physical interactions with angels that leave physical aftereffects, it makes sense that Visions could possibly include physical aftereffects of injuries or illness as well.
Visions Caused by Angels Can Manipulate a Person’s Perception of Time
A Vision also may include elements of a fallen angel manipulating a person’s perception of time. Another angelic encounter in a passage with similar terminology to “carried me away” uses the phrase “took him up”. These may be synonymous terms. This experience caused by an angel (Satan) was likely also a Vision experience.
And the devil took him up, to a high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time Luke 4:5
(Compare And he carried me away in the spirit, to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God Rev 21:10)
The Greek word here for ‘moment’ is “stigme” (4743) which literally means a “point” of time. This word is used only once in the New Testament, but is used in the Greek Old Testament, the Septuagint, in Isaiah 29:5. The word that is translated as “stigme” is “petha`” (6621) in Hebrew. According to Thayer’s Lexicon, “petha” means “the opening of the eyes”, hence the meaning “a moment of time”. The amount of time referenced to here is the amount of time it takes to open your eyes. This is no more than the time it would take to blink. It takes a human about 300 to 400 milliseconds to blink; that is 3/10ths to 4/10ths of 1 second.
How could Jesus see “all the kingdoms of the world” in the time it takes to blink? Or even in one full second? It would seem that to be shown all the kingdoms of the world should take at least a couple hours, if not days, if a thorough tour was done. But even snapshot pictures in quick succession would take a couple minutes, and this without any time to really think about what one was seeing. And so the necessary amount of time to be shown all the kingdoms of the world is still incredibly more than 3/10ths of a second, or even one full second.
This passage implies that one second passed in time, but Jesus experienced subjectively a much longer period of time than one second during that one second. And so it’s possible that there can be time perception manipulation in a Vision caused (in particular) by a fallen angel. There is another example in the Bible of something similar on a greater scale, during Joshua’s Long Day.
Then spake Joshua to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon. And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day. And there was no day like that before it or after it, that the LORD hearkened unto the voice of a man: for the LORD fought for Israel. Josh 10:12-14
This passage could be interpreted as to mean that God can pause the progress of time forward, that the clock is paused, but people still can do things while forward-moving time is paused. God seemed to be able to do this to the whole world, a large scale, as the sun stood still in the sky. Because the sun stood still in the sky, if time was being manipulated here (not the earth’s rotation), then this was a case of forward-moving time being paused, and not a case of time travel. Yet while forward-moving time was paused, in that moment time in substance still seemed present, and in a way that still allowed people to interact and do things.
The angels are called “sons of God” or “gods” at times, and in this it seems they may be able to cause someone to perceive something similar on a very limited scale. The effect is that of a longer period of time being experienced during a much shorter period of time. But the only Biblical example of an angel doing this seems to be the fallen angel Satan doing this to Jesus alone, during what was very likely a Vision that Satan was causing Jesus to have. As a Vision, this was a spiritual experience that only affected the person having the Vision, and not everyone else in physical reality. The only Biblical example of a fallen angel being able to add time like this, is during a Vision the fallen angel is causing someone to have. But there is no indication or Biblical example that angels can do this on a larger scale like God Himself can do.
This makes sense as God made time (Gen 1:1), and is outside of it eternally. Only He is “the alpha and the omega the beginning and the end” (Rev 21:6, 22:13) and only God knows the end from the beginning (showing that angels cannot time travel):
Remember the former things of old: for I [am] God, and [there is] none else; [I am] God, and [there is] none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times [the things] that are not [yet] done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: Isa 46:9-10
Angels and Fallen angels are still only created beings who experience linear time as we do, caught in the flow of time moving forward.
But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia. Dan 10:13
Therefore rejoice, [ye] heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time. Rev 12:12
And so while a fallen angel may be able to cause a person to perceive extra time in a Vision, while linear time seems to be paused, there is no indication that fallen angels can do this on a larger scale like God can. He is God who made time, and angels are just created beings who exist caught in the flow of time. And as this could be confusing, I hope that it has been made clear that this does not have anything to do with the science fiction concept of time travel, which in fact the Bible indicates that fallen angels cannot do, and is not possible.
However, the Bible does seem to indicate that a longer time can be condensed into a shorter time, like time itself has a second aspect or dimension to it.
But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day [is] with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 2 Pet 3:8-9
A thousand of our years can seem a short time to God, who is eternal. A thousand years for us doesn’t seem like a long time to Him, but rather a thousand of our years seems to Him like a day would for us. But also, just one of our days, as perceived by Him, would seem to us to stretch on and on like it was taking a thousand years, from our perspective. This may be as in a single one of our days, the Lord is so busy and with so much to do, that it would take us a thousand years to get as much done. It might take us a thousand years to get as much done as He does in a day. This may refer to what it is like, that He hears all of our prayers, and intercedes for all of us,
“Who [is] he that condemneth? [It is] Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” Rom 8:34
All over the world, Jesus Christ intercedes for, and hears the prayers of millions of people, a multi-tasking of an incomprehensible sort. A solution in understanding this may be that a longer period of time can be condensed down into a shorter period. Time itself is a thing that was created by God, and may have been designed in such a way as to allow for this. But again, this is another Biblical example that a longer period of time can seem to be condensed into a shorter period of time. Time perception manipulation caused by the fallen angel Satan followed along these lines in the Vision he seemed to cause Jesus to have in Luke 4:5. And so the only sort of time manipulation that there is any Biblical precedent for is: time perception manipulation of adding time into a paused moment. Fallen angels seem to be able to do this in a limited way, and by the only example of this in the Bible, it seems they only can do this in a Vision they cause a person to experience.
A Vision Caused by an Angel Can Seem So Real As to be Indistinguishable from Reality
Peter couldn’t tell if something was real or a Vision, and so in Acts mistook reality for a Vision, because Visions can seem so indistinguishably real.
Peter followed him (an angel) out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision” Acts 10:9
There is a second witness to this by Paul. I believe in this example the Bible speaks on the difficulty of the confusion in telling one from the other, with guidance on how we should handle that difficulty.
It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. 2 Corinthians 12:1-4
The word here for “caught up” is “harpazo”, and the same word is used in Acts 8:39 when “the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more”. And so being “caught up” does happen to be a term that can refer to the Holy Spirit moving someone to a new place, bodily. It is used in reference to Jesus’ ascension (Rev 12:5) and to believers being caught up into the air to be with the Lord (1 Thes 4:17). And so this word seems to reference more to people being transported by God bodily.
But on the other hand, Paul also makes it very clear that he cannot tell if the man was caught up ‘in his body’ to the third heaven, or caught up ‘out of his body’ to the third heaven. To understand what Paul means here by “out of the body”, we have to look to earlier in this same book, in 2 Cor 5:4-9, where Paul says, “We are confident, [I say], and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” In this case Paul references to one whose body is dead, and so their spirit is with the Lord. Paul defines the term “out of the body” to mean one is “in spirit”.
And so in 2 Cor 12 Paul references back to 2 Cor 5, saying he did not know if the man was “out of his body” which is another way to say “in spirit”. Putting this together what Paul says is that he doesn’t know if the man was caught up to the third heaven in his body, or in his spirit.
The word “harpazo” and term “caught up” is rather synonymous with “carried away” or “taken up”, and these are terms which are both used of Visions caused by angels. And indeed, in this passage Paul is referencing to “visions and revelations of the Lord”.
In 2 Cor 5 Paul is saying that he doesn’t know if this man was caught up bodily to the third heaven, or if the man was caught up in the spirit to the third heaven in a Vision caused by a Holy angel. Many people think Paul was referring to himself in this passage, though this also may have been a story he heard in detail from whoever experience it. In any case, Paul couldn’t figure out if the experience happened bodily, or was a Vision in the spirit. The reason why Paul couldn’t figure out which was the case is because a Vision experience seems so real that it can be indistinguishable from reality.
2 Cor 12 is telling us that it can be impossible to tell by the bodily senses if something was a physical bodily experience, or if it just seemed to be and was a Vision in the spirit. However, as much as Paul admits he does not know if this man was caught up to the third heaven in his body or in his spirit, Paul also makes it very clear that God knows. This means only God has the answers, for instance in His Word, and through His Holy Spirit. We cannot tell with our bodily senses alone whether an experience was in the body, or a Vision, but God can tell. While people sometimes can’t figure out whether an experience was real or a Vision, God can reveal the truth about an experience to those who ask Him.
If a person is “carried away in the spirit” while having a vision caused by an angel, does this mean that a person’s spirit leaves their body?
No. The Bible indicates that a person who is having a Vision, taken in the spirit, actually never leaves their body. Daniel had “visions of his head upon his bed” and in the middle of the vision “was grieved in my spirit in the midst of [my] body, and the visions of my head troubled me.” (Dan 7:1,15) And so we can see that while Daniel had Visions, in his spirit, that this was all in the midst of his own body (no matter where he seemed to be, or what he saw) and that the Visions he experienced were of his head, which is part of his body. Not only that, but all of these Visions Daniel had took place while he never left his bed. Note that part of this vision included Daniel seeing the “Ancient of Days”, likely on His throne, which would be in the third heaven.
Even though a person may seem to be somewhere else, they actually are only “carried in the spirit” in the “midst of their body. The Visions are of their head, in their spirit, which is in their body. So the Bible indicates their spirit never leaves their body, but they have the Vision experience in their spirit, and their spirit remains inside of their body.
Visions Caused by Angels Can Contain Just About Anything
Visions can include settings or landscapes of just about any place, be about anything, and can include anyone or anything as a character in the Vision, and can include perception of travel.
Daniel had a Vision that occurred where he stood by the River Chaldea. Peter had a Vision while on the housetop where he was, of the housetop, though he was in a trance. So Visions can be of places that are a person’s normal surroundings. John had a Vision where he saw heaven, as did Isaiah (Isa 6) and Daniel (Dan 7), and so a Vision could be of Heaven.
Ezekiel saw a Vision of Jerusalem, of the temple, which was a real place. Ezekiel also had a Vision of a valley full of bones, and when the bones came to life into an army, this was not of something taking place in an actual valley somewhere (Eze 37). And so Visions can be of real places or invented places. Even if the valley was a real valley somewhere, what Ezekiel saw was not actually taking place in that valley. Though, what Ezekiel saw in Jerusalem was taking place there. So Visions can be of things that are happening somewhere, or of things that are not actually happening somewhere (but are symbolic, and of truth being taught only in the case of visions from Holy angels).
Ezekiel experienced the perception of travel in a Vision (Eze 8, Eze 40), and Daniel seemed to be near a great sea in his Vision (Dan 7) and so Visions can seem to include travel or being in a different location. But Daniel makes clear he didn’t go anywhere during his Visions, but was in his bed while he had them.
Ezekiel saw people in the Vision of the valley of bones. John saw people in his Vision of Revelation, as well as strange looking locust creatures, angels, a dragon, a strange beast with seven heads and the body parts of various animals. The characters in a Vision could be in the forms of people, real or not, angels, animals that exist, and strange creatures that don’t exist. But like an artist can draw a cartoon of about anything, or any place, so can an angel cause a Vision to contain just about any landscape or characters.
What is seen in a Vision can vary wildly and be of just about anything. During a Vision a person may see angels, people, entities, living creatures, landscapes of strange places, or of familiar ones, as well as perceiving they experience travel to various places. Yet all of this is just part of the Vision caused by the angel, and the Bible teaches, like Daniel, that people don’t actually go anywhere, regardless of what they perceive during a Vision.
The Bible summarily teaches several things about Visions caused by angels:
1. A Vision can seem totally real to a single bodily sense (like sight) or to all of the bodily senses, and a person’s self-perception is usually that they are in their body.
2. A Vision can affect one person or multiple people, though they may perceive it differently
3. A Vision can occur in a waking state, or in a trance state
4. A Vision can be causes by a visible angel, or an invisible angel
5. A Vision can involve some physical effects that remain afterwards, such as objects that remain with a person, and bodily effects, even internal ones.
6. A Vision can involve manipulation of a person’s perception of time, like an hour in a minute.
7. A Vision can contain just about any landscape, or any sort of characters, and can seem to involve travel, even though the person doesn’t actually go anywhere
8. A Vision can seem so real to the bodily senses that it is indistinguishable from reality, even in the case of people who are experienced with Visions, though God knows and can reveal the truth
This level of power in the hands of fallen angels is staggering to conceptualize. I thank God that they are limited in what they can do, and who they can do it to, by God’s laws of spiritual authority grounds. A fallen angel can only attack someone if they have spiritual authority grounds and rights to do so. God places a “hedge of protection” around people, limiting whom the fallen angels can harass and harm, and limiting the level of harassment and the extent of the harm that they can do to a person. (See Job 1 and 2, also the New Testament is full of this concept. This is covered more in a later chapter on spiritual warfare.) It is also a relief to know that for every fallen angel, there are 2 Holy angels working for God and Jesus; and so the fallen angels are outnumbered two to one. Additionally Jesus Christ assures believers in Him:
Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Luke 10:19
False Dreams and False Visions caused by Fallen Angels
In this study we have covered Visions that were had by people who were prophets, or those with the gift of the Holy Spirit of prophecy, such as Daniel, John, Ezekiel, Peter and Paul. Even in the case of Joseph having a dream of an angel, telling him to flee to Egypt, this also was a prophetic warning given by a Holy angel. When Holy angels cause people to have a dream or a Vision they are delivering a message, but often these messages are classified by the Bible as “prophecy” and those who have them as “prophets”.
In the Bible, prophecy is heavily associated with a person having dreams or Visions. And as we have established, dreams and Visions can be caused by Holy angels, who are God’s messengers.
“And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams” Acts 2:17
“And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, [I] the LORD will make myself known unto him in a vision, [and] will speak unto him in a dream.” Num 12:6
And so a person who has a dream or a Vision caused by a Holy angel is classified by the Bible as a prophet. And while an angel delivers a message to the prophet, the prophet in turn delivers the message on to other people. The Strong’s definition of prophet is a “spokesman, speaker”, and to prophesy is to ” a) be under the influence of a divine spirit” or or to be “b) a false prophet”.
The Bible also mentions false prophets. True prophets have true Visions that are caused by Holy angels sent by God. But the Bible teaches that false prophets have False Visions and Vain Visions.
“Have ye not seen a vain vision, and have ye not spoken a lying divination, whereas ye say, The LORD saith [it]; albeit I have not spoken? Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Because ye have spoken vanity, and seen lies, therefore, behold, I [am] against you, saith the Lord GOD. And mine hand shall be upon the prophets that see vanity, and that divine lies: they shall not be in the assembly of my people, neither shall they be written in the writing of the house of Israel, neither shall they enter into the land of Israel; and ye shall know that I [am] the Lord GOD.” Eze 13:7-9
Then the LORD said unto me, The prophets prophesy lies in my name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them: they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart. Jer 14:14
False prophets have False Visions, and these are caused by Fallen angels who lie and deceive.
And he saith, `Therefore, hear a word of the Lord; I have seen the Lord sitting on His throne, and all the host of the heavens [angels] standing by Him, on His right and on His left; and the Lord saith, Who doth entice Ahab, and he doth go up and fall in Ramoth-Gilead? and this one saith thus, and that one is saying thus. `And a spirit came out, and stood before the Lord, and saith, I — I do entice him; and the Lord saith unto him, By what? and he saith, I go out, and have been a spirit of falsehood in the mouth of all his prophets; and He saith, Thou dost entice, and also thou art able; go out and do so. 1 Kin 22:19-22
In this passage the angels were around God’s throne, and an angel admits to having been communicating deception or lies to the false prophets. God permissively allows this deceptive angel to continue to do what the falling angel himself is able to do, and chooses to do. This angel was apparently a falling one, one of the second wave that fell with Satan, though this was before they were kicked out of heaven (see chapter 3). And so the Bible teaches that fallen angels do communicate lies and deception to false prophets. And this is by the method of false dreams and False Visions, which false prophets are reported to have.
Beyond false messages which fallen angels can communicate in False Visions or dreams, they can also use False Visions and dreams to simply harass and frighten people, to a terrible extent. While Job was under a series of attacks caused by Satan, a fallen angel, Job records: When I say, My bed shall comfort me, my couch shall ease my complaint; Then you scare me with dreams and terrify me with visionsso that I would choose strangling and death rather than my bones. Job 7:13-15
And so the Bible teaches that fallen angels can victimize people with their ability to cause dreams and Visions, using these to scare and terrify, even to the point of severe traumatization from them. Job here experiences severe depression, longing to die rather than deal with these terrifying dreams and Visions. It seems various other psychological symptoms besides severe depression could result from these experiences as well, as Job’s account here shows they can be very traumatic, and different people handle trauma in different ways.
Along with this, fallen angels can also cause False Dreams and False Visions to communicate a lying or deceptive message, false information, to a person with the intent that the person might become a false prophet, who shares the false message as truth.
This is part of why the Bible warns that people must test spirits, not just believe them, as these fallen angels are at war against us,
“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” (1 Jn 4:1) and as Jesus said, ″Many false prophets will arise, and will mislead many.” (Matt 24:11)
But even in the midst of this war we have God’s reassurance,
Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities nor powers [fallen angels], nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Rom 8:37-39
(For information on Visions and Modern Physics please see the Appendix: Does Science Allow for the Supernatural and Miracles?)