I was preparing a lesson for Sunday school and came across this passage in the teaching material:

Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding, who set its measurements? Since you know. Or who stretched the line on it? On what were its bases sunk? Or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy? (Job 38:4-7)

The NIV uses "angels" instead of "sons of God" implying angels were present at the creation of the earth.

So my question is, when were the angels created, exactly? Was it on day one of the "Creation Week"? ... Was it before the first day of Creation? (How is that possible?) ... Was it "outside of time"?

Please use Scripture to support your answer. I am also curious whether the passage I quoted relates to the answer (do "sons of God" refer to angels), and if so, how?

closed as primarily opinion-based by Nathaniel, curiousdannii, Lee Woofenden, Flimzy, Mr. Bultitude Jul 15 '16 at 19:16

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • If it is of any help, the Hebrew translations say 'All sons-of GOD'. – Matt Jensen Jun 11 '12 at 6:24
  • 2
    This is a very interesting question. I am thinking we would need to start by determining whether the Bible even talks about the creation of angels. I am not sure whether the "Creation Week" includes the creation of things in "Heaven" (vs. "heavens"). Also, even if Job 38 does reference angels, I'm not sure it proves they were present at the beginning of the Creation Week; often the entire Creation Week is referred to as a single event ("the beginning", etc.) so God could have been "laying the foundations" throughout the Week. – Jas 3.1 Jun 11 '12 at 19:50
  • 1
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… – Narnian Mar 28 '14 at 12:26

Thomas Aquinas cites Psalm 148 in STh Ia 61,1 (Whether the angels have a cause of their existence?), holding that the word "they" in verse 5 refers to all of what is listed earlier in the psalm:

Praise him, all his angels, praise him, all his host! 3 Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars! 4 Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens! 5 Let them praise the name of the LORD! For he commanded and they were created

He seems to be following Augustine here. Compare City of God Book XI, ch. 9, where Augustine cites Psalm 148 and also cites a similar passage from the Prayer of Azariah Canticle of the Three Young Men in Daniel 3 (this portion of Daniel is considered apocryphal by some).

Augustine seems to take it for granted that Job 38:7 refers to the angels, and actually uses this passage as the starting-point in his argument that the creation of the angels is included in what Genesis calls the creation of light (because the angels already existed when the stars were created). I don't know what text of Job he would have had, but he quotes it thus:

Quando facta sunt sidera, laudauerunt me uoce magna omnes angeli mei.

Literally, "when the stars were made, all my angels praised me in a loud voice". The entire (relatively brief) chapter is basically one fascinating answer to your question.

  • It seems like Augustine was referencing an alternate translation of Job 38:7. Your reference to Psalm 148 is the most compelling argument I've heard that angels were created. It also seems to indicate they are "grouped together" with the rest of creation, lending credence to their creation during the Creation Week. I also appreciated the bit about them being created during the creation of light - I had never heard that before. This was all very fascinating to me. – Jas 3.1 Jun 19 '12 at 20:08
  • I really don't know anything about the editions of Scripture that Augustine had access to. I assume he read Greek and knew the Septuagint but I might be mistaken about that. If I'm right, though, then he may have produced the Latin text above on the fly from his memory of the Septuagint. Or perhaps he used a Vetus Latina text? – Ben Dunlap Jun 19 '12 at 20:47
  • Also you might be interested to have a look at Daniel 3:52-90 in a Catholic or Orthodox bible. This is the canticle of Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael. Apart from being a magnificent prayer, verses 57ff. are like a lengthy expansion of those first few verses of Psalm 148. That's what I referred to above (slightly incorrectly) as the "Prayer of Azariah". – Ben Dunlap Jun 19 '12 at 20:52
  • Could you link it? – Jas 3.1 Jun 20 '12 at 0:41
  • @Jas3.1, sure: In this edition of the Douay there's even an old editor's note after v. 24 about the textual question. Vv. 24-91 in Catholic (and I assume Orthodox) editions are the disputed ones: 24-45 is the Prayer of Azariah, and 52-90 is the Canticle of the Three Young Men. – Ben Dunlap Jun 29 '12 at 22:41

Angels were created

Exodus 20:11 (KJV) 11For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is...

John 1:3 (KJV) 3All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. (emphasis mine in both verses)

From these verses we see that angels were indeed created.

Job 38 refers to angels

It does seem that Job 38:4-7 is referring to angels. The other places in the Bible where this phrase (the Hebrew "ben elohim") is found are Genesis 6:2-4, Job 1:6, and Job 2:1. There is debate on whether the "sons of God" in the Genesis passage are angels; however there seems to be a consensus that the Job passages are referring to angels. This, plus a lack any other suitable candidate, suggests that these "sons of God" were angels.

Angels were created before the earth

Job 38:6-7 (KJV) 6Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; 7 When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

God uses a building analogy, referring to the "foundations" and "corner stone" of the earth. He says, in a very poetic way, that when the foundations of the earth were laid (i.e. when the earth was created), the sons of God (angels) shouted joyfully.

This would indicate that angels were created before the earth. So when was the earth created? The earth is present in Genesis 1:2 and the first day ends in Genesis 1:5, so the earth was created on day 1. For angels to be present when the earth was created, they must have been created on or before day 1. Since angels seem to be within our space-time (Daniel 10:13), I conclude that angels were created on day 1, before the earth.*


A survey of Job 38 and related passages indicates that angels were created on the first day. As with anything the Bible does not explicitly state, I would not be dogmatic about the issue, but after searching the scriptures, this seems to be the best solution.

*This passage says that a demon prevented an angel from contacting Daniel for 21 days. My conjecture is that for this angel be delayed for 21 days, he must be part of our space-time. I freely admit that this is pure speculation on my part, but I don't think it's an unreasonable assumption.

  • Ex 20:11 - sometimes "heaven" / "heavens" refer to the natural skies, space, etc. How do we know this is referring to the realm of angels? Also, can you elaborate on how Daniel 10:13 indicates that angels exist within our space-time? Aren't there similar passages about God, who does not exist within our space-time? (I'm up-voting because you did a great job of finding Scriptures that are on-topic, but I would love to see some of these arguments strengthened if possible.) – Jas 3.1 Jun 17 '12 at 3:46
  • True, "heaven" has multiple possible meanings; however, even if Ex. 20:11 doesn't include angels, they must be included in John 1:3's "all things". I will edit to clarify my "space-time" comment (I didn't originally because I felt that it was a minor point). – Brian Koser Jun 18 '12 at 1:22
  • Very interesting addendum. Thanks for adding this. I also appreciated your use of the early chapters of Job to add context to the passage in question. – Jas 3.1 Jun 19 '12 at 20:07
  • 1
    @BrianKoser: Good answer. I'm not sure, however, I agree with you. True enough, the Word created all things. Paul agrees with John's premise in Colossians 1:16 ("For by Him all things were created, [both] in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible . . ."). As to WHEN exactly the invisible things were created, well, there's the rub. Being materialists and "children of clay," we (I included) tend to think of created things as being corporeal. Angels, however, are not corporeal beings; hence, they could have been created prior to the creation of our corporeal earth. – rhetorician Sep 17 '13 at 0:58

There is nothing in the Bible that definitely says when the angels were created. All we know is that it was before mankind, and that they sinned before man sinned. We know this because the Devil tempted Adam and Eve.

However, there is a history of conjecture that put the angel’s creation at the first day. I provide an example quotation here for reference:

When the angels were first created, those creatures of light, they found God as it were laying the foundations of the heavens and earth; whereon all those “sons of God shouted for joy,” Job 38:7. They rejoiced in the manifestation that was made of the power and wisdom of God in the works which they beheld. Hence it is justly supposed that they were made on the first day, when only the foundations of this glorious fabric were laid, Genesis 1:2; wherein they were able to discern the impressions of his wisdom and power. (THE WORKS OF JOHN OWEN VOLUME 20, Page 347)

Note: The idea of 'son of God' simply means those who bear his image. Adam and Eve were by nature the 'sons of God'. They stood in relation of 'sons' to God by the communication of his image and likeness. On the same account the angels are frequently called the 'sons of God'.

All of John Owen's works can be found here.

  • Two questions: (1) How does the Devil tempting Adam and Eve prove that angels were created before man? Couldn't the creation and fall of angels have occurred between the creation of man and the fall of man? (2) Could you provide any references to the claim that the angels are frequently called 'sons of God'? (I recently read a paper by a theologian claiming angels are never referred to as 'sons of God'.) – Jas 3.1 Jun 11 '12 at 18:30
  • 3
    1)The devil tempting man only proves agels existed before the temptation. It is from Job that people think of them as being created before any material was created. As angels had a beggining time was created with them.2) For the common translation of sons of god to angels I mean like in this context, the NIV traslators use it this way so it is common. Gen 6:2 in NIV says sons of god, which seems to just mean the church members. I take sons of god as a loose term to be interpretated based on the context. Traditionaly Job is taken as angels and Gen 6:2 as the church, or elect. – Mike Jun 12 '12 at 1:19
  • So to summarize your argument, the angels were created before the earth because some people interpret Job 38:4-7 to mean that they were created before the earth. It seems like that was already evident from the OP, so I feel compelled to down-vote. – Jas 3.1 Jun 17 '12 at 3:43
  • 1
    @Jas3.1 - No offence. Yes you are correct, I think the answer was already built into the question. I was saying that the angels were created before the earth because that is how many of us interpret Job. – Mike Jun 17 '12 at 6:07

The record of creation in Genesis is a record of the creation of the physical universe and has nothing to do with the creation of the spiritual realm.

As it was recorded in Job, the angels sang for joy when the foundation of the world was laid, and its is a basic principle that before building a house or any structure,laying a foundation is the beginning or the first thing to be done. So if the angels were there when the foundation of the world was laid, then that means they were already there before the genesis creation. This was illustrated in the fall of lucifer in Ezekiel 28

`You were blameless in your ways From the day you were created Until unrighteousness was found in you. 16"By the abundance of your trade You were internally filled with violence, And you sinned; Therefore I have cast you as profane From the mountain of God. And I have destroyed you, O covering cherub, From the midst of the stones of fire. 17"Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; You corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendor. I cast you to the ground'.

This passage shows that Lucifer the covering cherub had been trading (or whatever it is angels do) abundantly, which means he had been doing it a lot, or as some other bible translations render it as `by the multitude of your trade'. So, if Lucifer had been doing it a lot, to the point that he became filled with violence, that is a clear indication that he had probably been around with other angels before the creation of the physical universe.

Just as there is no record of the creation of heaven ( when I say heaven, I mean the home of God and his angels, and not the skies and the firmament) in Genesis, there is also no record of the creation of angels, and the most reasonable reason for that is that God had already created the spiritual realm of which the angels and heaven belong to, way before he decided to create the physical universe.

Also, angels are not part of our space-time, as with all spirits, angels are not limited by our physical laws because they do not belong to our physical realm and can also enter and exit our realm at will, this is illustrated in almost all cases of angelic appearance in the bible, where they exhibit characteristics that defy all natural laws, like they can choose to be either visible or invisible, they disappear at will,enable humans to talk to animals as in the case of Balaam, they can fly etc. in the case of Daniel, the angel was given a message and was supposed to deliver it to Daniel. Daniel is a man and he exists in the physical realm, so for the angel to give the message to Daniel, he had to enter into the physical realm or our space-time, and that was where he was held by the Prince of Persia.

So, angels are not part of the Genesis creation and were thus created before the first day of the creation in Genesis.


The expression "all things” (as it appears in John 1:3 and Colossians 1:16, for example) includes the angelic host, to be sure. [Furthermore, as a side point, Christ’s death on the cross, Paul tells us, has reconciled "all things to Himself . . . things on earth or things in heaven" (Col 1:20), since sin has infected perhaps a third of the angelic host and all humankind.] The question then arises:

Did God's creation of all things occur at some point in the creation week described in Genesis 1 and 2?

Not necessarily. We of the human species are bipartite (or tripartite) beings, consisting of flesh/blood and spirit (or flesh/blood, spirit, and soul). Angels, on the other hand, are purely spiritual beings, although God seems to have given them the ability (which He Himself had even before Christ's incarnation) to assume human form at His direction (e.g., Genesis 18). Because they are purely spirit does not mean they couldn't therefore have been created at some time during the creation week of Genesis, particularly if the "days" of Genesis 1 and 2 are ages and not literal 24-hour days.

As difficult as it may be to comprehend, however, the angelic host could have been in existence "billions and billions of years" (as the late Carl Sagan would say!) before God spoke the corporeal universe into being. To me, this premise makes perfect sense, even though there is likely no biblical proof to back it up (although Psalm 148 could perhaps be pressed into service in this regard).

Frankly, I simply like the idea of an angelic host worshiping God enthusiastically and ceaselessly "both day and night" (sorry for the corporeal slip, but it's biblical!) for aeons and aeons,* well before God spoke the first atomic particle into existence in Genesis 1:3. The general tenor, or feeling, of the few passages describing what God's heaven is like, is that the worship of Almighty God has been going on long before humans came on the scene. Angels, as it were, constituted "phase one" of creation; human beings constituted "phase two."

The scene Isaiah describes in his chapter six, as well as almost the entire book of Revelation, gives us an inkling of what God's heaven is like. We sing the chorus (in part), "Angels bow before Him, Heaven and earth adore Him, What a mighty God we serve!" Well, the unfettered worship and adoration of our ineffable God may very well have been going on uninterrupted long before Genesis 1:3.

As important--and perhaps even as central--as the redemption of humankind is in the grand arc of all history, the history of the corporeal universe, by analogy, could very well be a grain of sand, and the history of the incorporeal universe (if universe is the correct word) prior to the fall of Satan and his minions could, by contrast, be all the grains of sand on all the seashores.

And why not? God has been and always will be worthy of praise, glory, and honor. What a privilege, then, is ours as mere children of clay to be allowed to join, on earth and someday in heaven, with the angelic host in ascribing praise, glory, and honor to God and to the Lamb forever and ever by virtue of God's grace in redeeming us through His Son's blood and the new birth.

*Interestingly, the very word aeons also denotes in Gnostic terms one of a class of powers or beings conceived as emanating from the Supreme Being and performing various functions in the operations of the universe. I am not a gnostic, by the way!

  • Thanks for adding your perspective. It sounds like you believe the angels were created either before or on day/age 1, but I'm not sure which. Could you clarify? – Brian Koser Sep 18 '13 at 1:11
  • @BrianKoser: I prefer BEFORE day/age 1, but I have no biblical proof. Since angels are spiritual beings, time to them, as we humans measure it, may be completely irrelevant, as it is to God. Angels are not a part of our time/space continuum, though they can and do enter it at God's command. Even my use of the term "billions and billions of years" in my answer may be completely inaccurate when it comes to "dating" the creation of the angels of God's heaven. They inhabit a sphere of existence that in many ways is different from ours, and only eternity will reveal those differences. – rhetorician Sep 18 '13 at 3:58

Genesis 2:1 "Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them" Exodus 20:11 "for six days hath Jehovah made the heavens and the earth...and all that is in them" Pay attention : original is HEAVENS not heaven and ALL that is in them. ' Ezekiel 28:15 "You were blameless in your ways From the DAY you were created..." Pay attention : THE DAY you were created ! That assumes Satan was time based creation to the least. There are no other days of creation but the first 6 days /according to the bible/ Jesus referred to the beginning of creation as well. Mark 10:6 ""But at the BEGINNING of creation God 'made them male and female.'" John 8:44 "... He was a murderer from the BEGINNING..." Its obvious to me that If Satan was created in reference of a day /Ezekiel 28:15/ and Jesus references the beginning in Genesis as THE BEGINNING and "trough Him all things were created" ...It only makes sense from Biblical perspective that angels were part of the 6 days creation. Most likely day 1. There are no other days of creation other than the ones described in Genesis. Interesting question never the less !

  • Welcome to the site! This doesn't really have much to do with your answer, but I find that sharing the following tends to help new visitors avoid mistaking the purpose of this site. I do hope to see more from you! When you get a chance, please see How we are different than other sites? and What makes a good supported answer? – David Stratton Apr 28 '14 at 1:23
  • The single "day" of creation is also mentioned in Genesis 2:4. My understanding is this single Day is the remaining portion of Adam's life that laps over into Day 7 during his period of dominion when he and Eve are given the charge to "name" all of the "creatures". The 7th Day or the 7th Heaven is the period of time in which the creation to follow (aka "world to come") is organized (aka created) by Adam with Eve as his helpmeet and companion. Adam is the Father because he is redeemed from his fall by Son of Man and regains his throne in victory. He finishes out his life in power and glory. – Jason L Wharton May 28 '14 at 14:38

Well there are a lot of great replies, some guesses, and some scripture, but if we put them ALL together it's quite clear what happened...at least to me lol.

On day one, we know that the heavens and the earth were created, but they were in no means completed. Gen 1:1-2, but we know from Ex chapters 20/31 regarding the Sabbath practice. The Sabbath was the 7th day because EVERYTHING created was done in 6 days, and God rested on the 7th day, chapter 31 says after God said these things (12 chapters), that He wrote all of these in stone with His own finger. He wrote these 12 chapters for Moses, and He didn't stutter. He wrote it in Moses time and understanding, and it wasn't an age, otherwise we should have 6 ages and 1 Sabbath age right? (Well this happens when Jesus returns after 6,000 years since the Beginning and reigns in Jerusalem for 1,000 years). Also, pay attention to the order of creation, flowers rely on two things for survival, sunlight to be fed, and bees and other pollen carrying creations to spread the pollen and procreate other flowers...however flowers were created BEFORE Sunlight, and BEFORE bees, so it could NOT have been ages, only a literal 6 days, He also said "and there was evening and morning, thee first day"...and "thee second day," etc.

In Col 1:16 Paul CLEARLY defines ALL realms as having been CREATED by God, so again reference back to Exodus chapters 20 and 31 and the angels fall EXACTLY into the literal and complete 6 days of creation week.

Also we know 2 things from Ez 28:13-15, first we know it says "...on the DAY you were created." (referring to Lucifer), but we also discover he was "in the Garden of Eden BEFORE iniquity was found in him" so Lucifer and the third of the angels hadn't yet fallen before 6 days was up. As for Job 38:4-7, it says "...ALL the sons of God." which would include Lucifer and a third that later fell, right?

The thing most people miss though, is what was the PURPOSE of creation in the first place? Wasn't it for God to fellowship with man? Well why would He even NEED the angels before they were to help serve mankind and God's relationship? It would be unnecessary, right? It also says we (the saints) will JUDGE the angels in the coming age, I Cor 6:3, they are subject to us, and until the fall, man was above the angels because we could fellowship directly with God (I believe this is the most likely reason of what caused Lucifer to have iniquity, much like Cain had towards Able's fellowship and approval of God). We ALWAYS need to ask important questions about motive, don't we? So what would have made Lucifer jealous BEFORE mankind???

As for angels being "timeless" as is said in a few posts above, explain me this, it says, "they cry, 'Holy, Holy, Holy'" as they keep discovering new aspects/facets/faces of God's greatness, in Rev 4:8 it says, "Day and night they never stop saying, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.'" why then would we think they are outside of time, and they keep learning new aspects of God they didn't know before, or am I missing what it says???

It also says in Gen 6:1-8 it says, "...the sons of God (fallen angels) saw that the daughters of man were attractive and they took as their wives...""....when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man (to reproduce half demon/half man) and they bore children to them...{they} were the mighty men...{And} the men of renown." I believe these spawn of demon were the creatures told about in mythology told down from Noah's sons to their sons and sons of sons, but I could be wrong but I don't think so. After the flood God did SEVERAL things. God limited age, He brought about 4 seasons instead of 2 (summer and winter were now here), He destroyed the ice canopy talked about in Gen 1:6, which protected us all from radiation, and allowed dinosaurs to grow to great sizes, allowed us to run forever, and heal almost immediately (scientists are always trying to figure out why fossilized amber has 50% MORE oxygen, the Bible tells them the answers, but II Peter says they are "willingly ignorant"...dumb on purpose), and who knows perhaps man could be 12 feet tall?! In Turkey, they don't want you to know they've uncovered skeletons that are enormously tall, some 12 feet in length, that would make that ark twice as long, twice as high, twice as tall, we use a 6 ft man's cubit of 1 1/2 ft to determine how big we think the ark is, a 12 ft Noah, has a 3 ft cubit?! Also, there is No mention of eating meat till after the flood, I believe it's because that was all there was to eat, grass or meat. PLUS the fear and dread of man on animals came after the flood. Even rain didn't exist before the flood, which is why the rainbow was God's new promise, before that time no rain, equals no rainbow! When the fountains of the deep broke forth, you can bet it was super heated water like in a radiator that turned to steam, steam expands 10,000 to 1, and therefore rises immediately! When the steam ran into our protective ice canopy it started to melt, I believe it took 40 days and 40 nights to completely melt, just a guess ;-)

So the last thing is that we KNOW that Jesus said, "and I saw Satan fall from Heaven to earth like a lightning bolt." How could Satan have fallen to earth if earth was not yet around?

How could God say in Gen 1:31 "it is VERY good." if there was a guy in all red, horns and a pitchfork up to no good already here with a third of the Heavenly hosts?

The adjectives "cunning" or "subtle" describe the serpent tempting Eve, these words are used to describe SPEECH and therefore it's being used to say the snake (as an animal, literally) was a better speaker than the rest of the beasts, in Gen 3:1, nobody even wants to discuss that the animals and man spoke and communicated with each other BEFORE the fall of man.

Keep in mind that God creates everything in 5 1/2 days, then He creates Adam, then Adam watches Him create Eden to the East of him, then God places Adam in the garden and creates one of every beast, cattle and bird to both name and find a help meet, none was found, so God puts Adam to sleep, and creates Eve from a rib of Adam, when Adam awakes he sees her and names her woman...this is EXACTLY what Ch 2 in Gen says, read it.

So Adam witnessed God create the Garden of Eden, and one of each kind of land and air animal out of the dust (birds in ch 1 are created out of air, not in ch 2), and knows but did not witness God create Eve, however, and unfortunately, Eve never saw anything created, she just heard Adam recount his story. It was Adam whom God said not to eat the fruit, and we can conclude by Satan's question, "Hath God truly said?" in ch 3, that Adam had told Eve what God had said. Satan obviously knew Adam had told her 2nd hand, so he used that to create doubt?! See???

I could keep going and going, but I will stop with one last observation, remember that Lucifer was created to "cover" God's full glory to the Heavenly hosts, and Lucifer lead the Angels in corporate worship, this created a unique god-like complex I think, they were facing him, but his back was to God, however when God walked with Adam and Eve in the cool of the day, no Lucifer required, so you can simply do the math! I believe this is the catalyst that caused him to be jealous because of man not having to be filtered through him to worship God!!!

I hope I have helped at least one person here, God Bless ;-)

  • 1
    Whoa! Use paragraphs, please! Click the edit button and add some in! – curiousdannii Mar 27 '14 at 23:17
  • Welcome to the site! What follows next has nothing to do with the quality of your answer (which is good); it's just standard to help new visitors avoid misunderstanding the site (as I did at first). As a new visitor, I'd recommend checking out the following two posts, which are meant to help newcomers "learn the ropes": the help page and How we are different than other sites?. I hope to see you around! – WelcomeNewUsers Mar 28 '14 at 1:02
  • I tried to edit and save, now it looks even weirder?! – Fox Schaffer Mar 28 '14 at 15:13

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