Angels have existed since their creation. From the Genesis account of creation, we know that God saw all that he created and said that it was good. Even though the story of angels isn’t included here, we can infer that the angels that God created were also good. However, after some unknown period of time, some angels rebelled against God. The leader of this revolt was Lucifer who until then was one of the arch angels in heaven. When he fell from heaven, lots of angels fell with him.
So how many angels fell from heaven?
We don’t know the exact number of angels that fell from heaven but we know the percentage. In Revelation 12:4, John reveals that the devil fell with a third of the holy angels. This means two-thirds were left in heaven and are what we refer to as holy angels while a third fell and are now the fallen angels or the demons.
The Fall of Lucifer and His Cohorts
The fall of Lucifer from heaven is documented in the books of Revelation, Isaiah, and Ezekiel. In Isaiah 14, the prophet gives us a behind-the-scenes of what led to the revolt in heaven. It all started when the devil allowed pride to enter his heart and he thought he could exalt himself above the creator.
How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! You said in your heart, “I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High. But you are brought down to the realm of the dead, to the depths of the pit. Isaiah 14:12-15
Lucifer managed to recruit some angels to go against God and as the Bible says in Revelation, war broke out in heaven. However, the devil had overestimated his ability to win because Archangel Michael and his battalion quickly squashed the revolt after which Lucifer and his cohorts lost their place in heaven.
Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. Revelation 12:7-9
Unlike Isiah’s account which gave us the reason for the revolt, prophet Ezekiel also gives us a “before” image by describing the privilege that Lucifer was enjoying in heaven. Not only was he an archangel but he was also “ the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.”
Counting the Fallen Angels
The Bible doesn’t give us an exact number of the angles that fell from heaven. However, it says that a third of them fell from heaven. Here is the reference scripture:
Its tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth…. Revelation 12:4a
In this context, the stars represent the angels. We know this because Lucifer is referred to as the morning star. So, since we know a third of the angels fell, all we need to know their exact number is to know how many angels existed in heaven before the fall.
But it is not that simple either because the exact number is not given. The closest we can get is the estimate that was given in Hebrews:
But ye are come unto mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, Hebrews 12:22
The angels in heaven were so many that the writer of Hebrews called them innumerable. John the realtor tried to quantify the number of angels in heaven but he too was unable to count them. So he recorded:
And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; Rev. 5:11
It is safe to infer that we can not know the exact number of angels in heaven. At best, we can say they were too many to count. So, it is not possible to calculate the exact number of fallen angels. So we will have to stick with the figure given in the scriptures – a third of the angels.
It might be scary to imagine that such a huge number of angels fell from heaven and that these fallen angels are now working with the devil to oppose God’s people. But perish the scary thought because the reality is, that God has given mankind dominion over the work of his hands – that includes the fallen angels.
What is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet. Psalms 8:4-6
However, we cannot run away from the fact that the devil and his cohorts will continue putting up a spirited fight. And it is a fact that they have succeeded in recruiting so many into the kingdom of darkness. This underscores the need for the church to stay vigilant. In the words of scripture, we should always stay sober because the enemy is always prowling around looking for someone to devour.
In conclusion, the precise number of angels that fell from heaven remains unknown, as the Bible provides a percentage but not an exact count. The rebellion led by Lucifer and the subsequent war in heaven resulted in one-third of the angels becoming fallen angels or demons. The vast number of angels in heaven is described as “innumerable,” making an exact count impossible.