Take the 2-minute tour ×
Christianity Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for committed Christians, experts in Christianity and those interested in learning more. It's 100% free, no registration required.

In the Summa Theologica Thomas Aquinas answers that Satan could have belonged to either the lower grade of angels or to the higher angels before he fell.

According to Catholic texts, which of the orders/choirs of angels revealed in the Bible did Satan most likely belong to before he fell?

share|improve this question
I edited out your statements that answers from Judaism, Islam, and a few other religions were welcome because this is the Christianity StackExchange, not Religion StackExchange. Answers on this site are expected to be from a Christian viewpoint, and as such, questions should not ask for answers from other viewpoints. –  El'endia Starman Jul 9 at 20:20
Got it @El'endiaStarman and thank you. Still learning the ropes. –  FMS Jul 9 at 21:12
@curiousdannii, actually St. Thomas argues for both the lower grade angels and for higher angels; hence my edited question as this has not been resolved in Catholic theology. Your edited question is accurate, but it does not cover St. Thomas' entire answer. –  FMS Jul 10 at 3:24
@FMShyanguya apologies, I had trouble understand exactly what he was saying. Please do edit your question again to fix my mistake! –  curiousdannii Jul 10 at 3:25
Done and thank you @curiousdannii! –  FMS Jul 10 at 3:34

2 Answers 2

Then there are those (like myself) who will argue whether he has either truly fallen or not yet. However, here is the Christian (assuming Catholic as well) hierarchy of angels, and the likeliness of Satan being/not being one based on Scripture, and not opinion:

First Heirarchy (Highest)
Seraphim - it's possible, I suppose, however Ezekiel 28 tells us he was a Cherubim. First noted in Isaiah 6:1-7.

Cherubim - The most likely, and supported by Scripture assuming Ezekiel 28 is about Satan. First noted in Eden in Genesis 3:24, also guard God's Throne in Ezekiel 28:14–16

Thrones/Ophanim - If they are angelic beings meant to care for the thrones, or make up the thrones themselves I am not quite sure. However, given that they are one of the two, I doubt myself that this is what Satan is. Noted first in Daniel 7:9, and again by Paul in Colossians 1:16.

Second Heirarchy (Middle)
Dominations - They regulate the duties of the lower angels, and are described in Eph. 1:21 and Col. 1:16. This could be suitable as an order in which Satan belonged, hence his amassing an army.

Virtues - Their primary duty is to supervise the movements of the heavenly bodies in order to ensure that the cosmos remains in order. While this could make sense as well, it seems unlikely. One of them not doing their job sounds like it'd be noticeable. They are described in Ephesians 1:21.

Powers - They are the bearers of conscience and the keepers of history. They are also the warrior angels created to be completely loyal to God. Some believe that no Power has ever fallen from grace, but another theory states that Satan was the Chief of the Powers before he Fell (see also Ephesians 6:12). Their duty is to oversee the distribution of power among humankind, hence their name.

Third Heirarchy (Lowest)
Principalities - Their duty also is said to be to carry out the orders given to them by the Dominions and bequeath blessings to the material world. Their task is to oversee groups of people. They are the educators and guardians of the realm of earth. Like beings related to the world of the germinal ideas, they are said to inspire living things to many things such as art or science.

Archangels - The word "archangel" comes from the Greek ἀρχάγγελος (archangělǒs), meaning chief angel, a translation of the Hebrew רב־מלאך (rav-mal'ákh) [11] It derives from the Greek archō, meaning to be first in rank or power; and angělǒs which means messenger or envoy. The word is only used twice in the New Testament: 1 Thessalonians 4:16 and Jude 1:9. Only Archangels Gabriel and Michael are mentioned by name in the New Testament. It's possible he could have been one of these, but they seem rather loyal to God in the stories.

Angels - well, you know - the plain ones apparently. I think we can all agree he was not a "regular" angel if anything.

You can read more about them here, which expands on Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite's book De Coelesti Hierarchia (On the Celestial Hierarchy) and Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologica.

share|improve this answer
I was looking for argument for and/or against each choir of angel. cf. Eph 6:12, St. Paul mentions a spiritual was against Principalities and Powers, could Satan have been a leader in any of the choirs? Why and and why not? –  FMS Jul 9 at 21:32
I've edited my answer to try to be more specific, drawing from a read on both Pseuo-Dionysius and Thomas Aquinas' hierarchy of angels. Tried to give my best yes/no probability as well, though some of them by description seemed flat out obvious. –  Jesse Jul 10 at 2:47
Thank you @Jesse, it is shaping up. Let me throw this one in: cf. Rv 12:7-8, the war between Michael and his angels and the dragon and his angels. If Michael is archangel, could have Satan been an archangel for the fight to be fair? Hint: for the choir for which there is no evidence in scripture, that answer will be acceptable, since I am looking for arguments from scripture. –  FMS Jul 10 at 3:29
@FMShyanguya that depends. In Revelation, would you consider him to be an actual dragon with seven heads? If so, the closest thing in Hebrew to line up to that would be a Seraphim, as Seraph (שָׂרָף) translates literally to "burning ones" (you know, Dragons breathing fire?). Otherwise, Scripture still tells us he is a Cherubim unless he is an actual dragon. If translation was incorrect, and one of the multi-headed beasts are meant to be Satan himself (being that the Dragon appears to serve more a servant role), then that would also suggest Cherubim since they are multiheaded. –  Jesse Jul 10 at 3:53
It is getting very intriguing @Jesse! –  FMS Jul 10 at 4:07
up vote 0 down vote accepted

The ordering of the Christian angelic hierarchy in choirs, according to St. Thomas Aquinas in Summa Theologica (1225–1274) [as noted by @Jesse] is, in descending order:

  1. Seraphim, Cherubim, and Thrones;
  2. Dominations, Virtues, and Powers;
  3. Principalities, and Angels.

The place of the Arch-angels is in the heavenly court. Arch-angel meaning being above all angels [of the 8 orders], of any Choir [3 choirs].

Ans. The being, who later became known as, the primeval serpent, the devil or satan, did not belong to any of these 3 choirs.

The Day [morning] Star, Lucifer, son of Dawn [cf. Is 14:12], was member of the heavenly court; with him the four living creatures, and the seven spirits of God. These were the morning stars [Jb 38:7], first created by God, it seems, in that order.

Then came the rest of the 8 orders of the heavenly hosts revealed in scripture: Seraphim, Cherubim, and Thrones; Dominations, Virtues, and Powers; Principalities, and Angels.

The seven spirits of God are the Arch-angels [cf. Tb 12:15: "I am Raph′ael, one of the seven holy angels who present the prayers of the saints and enter into the presence of the glory of the Holy One."]. Only two others are named in scripture: Arch-angel Michael [Jude 1:9] and Arch-angel Gabriel [Lk 1:19].

How this was deduced:

From the book of revelation, the four living creatures are present, and the seven spirits of God. This adds up to 11 and not 12 which represents totality, wholeness, and the completion of God's purpose. The missing one must have been one of the heavenly court.

The Day Star, Lucifer, son of Dawn. While the rest of the stars flee as it dawns, only he remains.

Morning Star

“I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven;"/“How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! [...]"

Satan falls

Paradise Lost. This is sad ...

Paradise Lost | Gustave Dore

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.