Angels are the messengers or agents of God. While some of them rose from a position of mortality to the ranks of Archangel, God created most angels (and archangels) for this very purpose. This begs the question: ” Do angels have free will? ” or better, did angels have free will in the past and do they have free will now? Let’s try to give a clearer view of this subject!
What is Free Will?
In this article, we will attempt to answer that question by taking a look at what constitutes “free will” and to what extent angels possess this ability. We’ll take a look at a few examples from scripture to help us along the way.
If asking whether or not angels have free will wasn’t a big enough question, defining free will is equally as difficult. In simple terms, free will is having the ability to act based on your own choice without the restraints of fate.
This raises other questions though: if we are designed by a higher being to behave a certain way or feel certain emotions, can we have free will and still be navigated by our innate urges and desires?
Returning back to the question at hand, we can simplify free will in relation to angels by asking one simple question: Can angels defy God?
To defy God is to sin and sinning is a behavior exclusive to humans:
Romans 5:12 states:
Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned…
But angels have no reason to sin, they lack a sinful nature and therefore have no desire to defy God.
Is that the same as not having the choice to defy God? Let’s explore that idea further as we take a look at an example that basically answers the question: Do angels have free will or not?
Satan and free will
Do angels have free will? Keep that question in mind as we take a look at the story of Satan. Many know Satan and The Devil as being on in the same but few realize that he was once an angel of God.
Not only that, he was one of God’s favorite angels and the most beautiful. Satan made a decision: a decision that directly relates to an angel’s free will.
He chose to defy God. He had decided that he didn’t want to be a servant or messenger of God anymore but rather he wanted to be God, to have his power, his respect, and his control.
This leads to the fall of Satan from Heaven but he wasn’t alone. There were some angels who followed Satan and we see that God punished these angels who chose to defy him in :
Peter 2:4 :
For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment…
We can see further examples of this in:
And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day.
To What Extent Do Angels have Free Will?
We can conclude that angels do indeed have free will. We can see from previous examples of angel’s defying God that they had the ability to do so.
However, most (if not all angels today) are sinless and so despite having the option to defy God, would never choose to do so. They choose morality over sin.