QUESTION 61: OF THE PRODUCTION OF THE ANGELS IN THE ORDER OF NATURAL BEING
After dealing with the nature of the angels, their knowledge and will,
it now remains for us to treat of their creation, or, speaking in a
general way, of their origin. Such consideration is threefold. In the
first place we must see how they were brought into natural existence;
secondly, how they were made perfect in grace or glory; and thirdly, how
some of them became wicked.
Under the first heading there are four points of inquiry:
(1) Whether the angel has a cause of his existence?
(2) Whether he has existed from eternity?
(3) Whether he was created before corporeal creatures?
(4) Whether the angels were created in the empyrean heaven?
Article 1: Whether the angels have a cause of their existence?
Objection 1: It would seem that the angels have no cause of their existence.
For the first chapter of Genesis treats of things created by God. But
there is no mention of angels. Therefore the angels were not created by
Objection 2: Further, the Philosopher says (Metaph. viii, text. 16) that if
any substance be a form without matter, "straightway it has being and
unity of itself, and has no cause of its being and unity." But the angels
are immaterial forms, as was shown above (Question , Article ). Therefore they
have no cause of their being.
Objection 3: Further, whatever is produced by any agent, from the very fact of
its being produced, receives form from it. But since the angels are
forms, they do not derive their form from any agent. Therefore the angels
have no active cause.
On the contrary, It is said (Ps. 148:2): "Praise ye Him, all His
angels"; and further on, verse 5: "For He spoke and they were made."
I answer that, It must be affirmed that angels and everything existing,
except God, were made by God. God alone is His own existence; while in
everything else the essence differs from the existence, as was shown
above (Question , Article ). From this it is clear that God alone exists of His
own essence: while all other things have their existence by
participation. Now whatever exists by participation is caused by what
exists essentially; as everything ignited is caused by fire. Consequently
the angels, of necessity, were made by God.
Reply to Objection 1: Augustine says (De Civ. Dei xi, 50) that the angels were
not passed over in that account of the first creation of things, but are
designated by the name "heavens" or of "light." And they were either
passed over, or else designated by the names of corporeal things, because
Moses was addressing an uncultured people, as yet incapable of
understanding an incorporeal nature; and if it had been divulged that
there were creatures existing beyond corporeal nature, it would have
proved to them an occasion of idolatry, to which they were inclined, and
from which Moses especially meant to safeguard them.
Reply to Objection 2: Substances that are subsisting forms have no 'formal' cause
of their existence and unity, nor such active cause as produces its
effect by changing the matter from a state of potentiality to actuality;
but they have a cause productive of their entire substance.
From this the solution of the third difficulty is manifest.
Article 2: Whether the angel was produced by God from eternity?
Objection 1: It would seem that the angel was produced by God from eternity.
For God is the cause of the angel by His being: for He does not act
through something besides His essence. But His being is eternal.
Therefore He produced the angels from eternity.
Objection 2: Further, everything which exists at one period and not at
another, is subject to time. But the angel is above time, as is laid down
in the book De Causis. Therefore the angel is not at one time existing
and at another non-existing, but exists always.
Objection 3: Further, Augustine (De Trin. xiii) proves the soul's
incorruptibility by the fact that the mind is capable of truth. But as
truth is incorruptible, so is it eternal. Therefore the intellectual
nature of the soul and of the angel is not only incorruptible, but
On the contrary, It is said (Prov. 8:22), in the person of begotten
Wisdom: "The Lord possessed me in the beginning of His ways, before He
made anything from the beginning." But, as was shown above (Article ), the
angels were made by God. Therefore at one time the angels were not.
I answer that, God alone, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, is from eternity.
Catholic Faith holds this without doubt; and everything to the contrary
must be rejected as heretical. For God so produced creatures that He made
them "from nothing"; that is, after they had not been.
Reply to Objection 1: God's being is His will. So the fact that God produced the
angels and other creatures by His being does not exclude that He made
them also by His will. But, as was shown above (Question , Article ; Question , Article ), God's will does not act by necessity in producing creatures. Therefore
He produced such as He willed, and when He willed.
Reply to Objection 2: An angel is above that time which is the measure of the
movement of the heavens; because he is above every movement of a
corporeal nature. Nevertheless he is not above time which is the measure
of the succession of his existence after his non-existence, and which is
also the measure of the succession which is in his operations. Hence
Augustine says (Gen. ad lit. viii, 20,21) that "God moves the spiritual
creature according to time."
Reply to Objection 3: Angels and intelligent souls are incorruptible by the very fact of their having a nature whereby they are capable of truth. But they did not possess this nature from eternity; it was bestowed upon them when God Himself willed it. Consequently it does not follow that the angels existed from eternity.
Article 3: Whether the angels were created before the corporeal world?
Objection 1: It would seem that the angels were created before the corporeal
world. For Jerome says (In Ep. ad Tit. i, 2): "Six thousand years of our
time have not yet elapsed; yet how shall we measure the time, how shall
we count the ages, in which the Angels, Thrones, Dominations, and the
other orders served God?" Damascene also says (De Fide Orth. ii): "Some
say that the angels were begotten before all creation; as Gregory the
Theologian declares, He first of all devised the angelic and heavenly
powers, and the devising was the making thereof."
Objection 2: Further, the angelic nature stands midway between the Divine and
the corporeal natures. But the Divine nature is from eternity; while
corporeal nature is from time. Therefore the angelic nature was produced
ere time was made, and after eternity.
Objection 3: Further, the angelic nature is more remote from the corporeal
nature than one corporeal nature is from another. But one corporeal
nature was made before another; hence the six days of the production of
things are set forth in the opening of Genesis. Much more, therefore, was
the angelic nature made before every corporeal nature.
On the contrary, It is said (Gn. 1:1): "In the beginning God created
heaven and earth." Now, this would not be true if anything had been
created previously. Consequently the angels were not created before
I answer that, There is a twofold opinion on this point to be found in
the writings of the Fathers. The more probable one holds that the angels
were created at the same time as corporeal creatures. For the angels are
part of the universe: they do not constitute a universe of themselves;
but both they and corporeal natures unite in constituting one universe.
This stands in evidence from the relationship of creature to creature;
because the mutual relationship of creatures makes up the good of the
universe. But no part is perfect if separate from the whole. Consequently
it is improbable that God, Whose "works are perfect," as it is said Dt.
32:4, should have created the angelic creature before other creatures. At
the same time the contrary is not to be deemed erroneous; especially on
account of the opinion of Gregory Nazianzen, "whose authority in
Christian doctrine is of such weight that no one has ever raised
objection to his teaching, as is also the case with the doctrine of
Athanasius," as Jerome says.
Reply to Objection 1: Jerome is speaking according to the teaching of the Greek
Fathers; all of whom hold the creation of the angels to have taken place
previously to that of the corporeal world.
Reply to Objection 2: God is not a part of, but far above, the whole universe,
possessing within Himself the entire perfection of the universe in a more
eminent way. But an angel is a part of the universe. Hence the
comparison does not hold.
Reply to Objection 3: All corporeal creatures are one in matter; while the angels
do not agree with them in matter. Consequently the creation of the matter
of the corporeal creature involves in a manner the creation of all
things; but the creation of the angels does not involve creation of the
If the contrary view be held, then in the text of Gn. 1, "In the
beginning God created heaven and earth," the words, "In the beginning,"
must be interpreted, "In the Son," or "In the beginning of time": but
not, "In the beginning, before which there was nothing," unless we say
"Before which there was nothing of the nature of corporeal creatures."
Article 4: Whether the angels were created in the empyrean heaven?
Objection 1: It would seem that the angels were not created in the empyrean
heaven. For the angels are incorporeal substances. Now a substance which
is incorporeal is not dependent upon a body for its existence; and as a
consequence, neither is it for its creation. Therefore the angels were
not created in any corporeal place.
Objection 2: Further, Augustine remarks (Gen. ad lit. iii, 10), that the
angels were created in the upper atmosphere: therefore not in the
Objection 3: Further, the empyrean heaven is said to be the highest heaven. If
therefore the angels were created in the empyrean heaven, it would not
beseem them to mount up to a still higher heaven. And this is contrary to
what is said in Isaias, speaking in the person of the sinning angel: "I
will ascend into heaven" (Is. 14:13).
On the contrary, Strabus, commenting on the text "In the beginning God
created heaven and earth," says: "By heaven he does not mean the visible
firmament, but the empyrean, that is, the fiery or intellectual
firmament, which is not so styled from its heat, but from its splendor;
and which was filled with angels directly it was made."
I answer that, As was observed (Article ), the universe is made up of
corporeal and spiritual creatures. Consequently spiritual creatures were
so created as to bear some relationship to the corporeal creature, and to
rule over every corporeal creature. Hence it was fitting for the angels
to be created in the highest corporeal place, as presiding over all
corporeal nature; whether it be styled the empyrean heaven, or whatever
else it be called. So Isidore says that the highest heaven is the heaven
of the angels, explaining the passage of Dt. 10:14: "Behold heaven is the
Lord's thy God, and the heaven of heaven."
Reply to Objection 1: The angels were created in a corporeal place, not as if
depending upon a body either as to their existence or as to their being
made; because God could have created them before all corporeal creation,
as many holy Doctors hold. They were made in a corporeal place in order
to show their relationship to corporeal nature, and that they are by
their power in touch with bodies.
Reply to Objection 2: By the uppermost atmosphere Augustine possibly means the
highest part of heaven, to which the atmosphere has a kind of affinity
owing to its subtlety and transparency. Or else he is not speaking of all
the angels; but only of such as sinned, who, in the opinion of some,
belonged to the inferior orders. But there is nothing to hinder us from
saying that the higher angels, as having an exalted and universal power
over all corporeal things, were created in the highest place of the
corporeal creature; while the other angels, as having more restricted
powers, were created among the inferior bodies.
Reply to Objection 3: Isaias is not speaking there of any corporeal heaven, but
of the heaven of the Blessed Trinity; unto which the sinning angel wished
to ascend, when he desired to be equal in some manner to God, as will
appear later on (Question , Article ).