We see St Paul writing to Galatians at Gal 1: 6-8 (NRSVCE):

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another gospel, but there are some who are confusing you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should proclaim to you a gospel contrary to what we proclaimed to you, let that one be accursed!

KJV has a slightly different translation of Gal 1:8:

But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.

One wonders as to why Paul invokes the imagery of an angel proclaiming a different Gospel at the risk of getting condemned for the act, to tell the Galatians that the Gospel he preached was authentic. Does he indirectly mean that angels have free will and can deviate from their entrusted mission while on earth? My question therefore is: Can angels deviate from their entrusted mission while on earth?

  • I think that this would be much better on Biblical Hermeneutics SX than here.
    – Dottard
    Commented Dec 7, 2020 at 10:46

3 Answers 3


Can angels deviate from their entrusted mission while on earth?

Yes, that's one way for them to sin.

Job 4:18 If God places no trust in his servants,
if he charges his angels with error,
19how much more those who live in houses of clay,
whose foundations are in the dust,
who are crushed more readily than a moth!

The same idea is repeated later in Job 15

15 If God places no trust in his holy ones,
if even the heavens are not pure in his eyes,
16how much less mortals, who are vile and corrupt,
who drink up evil like water!

An angel vs angel warfare is described in Daniel 10:13

But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia

The prince of Persia either had deviated from his initial entrusted mission or soon afterward while Michael had not.

  • Excellent quotations. I'd up-vote this several times, if I could. +1.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Dec 7, 2020 at 17:05

There are two ways for this passage in Gal 1:6-8 to be understood:

  1. It is a standard piece of rhetorical hyperbole. Paul exaggerates to make the point that what he taught the Galatians was absolute truth that not even the angels of heaven could alter.
  2. One of the angels of heaven preaching a false gospel is one of the fallen angels who is one of the minions of Satan presumably included in the one third of angels cast out of heaven, Rev 12:4, 9. There are a number of such angels recorded in Scripture such as the battle recorded in Dan 10 between good and evil angels for the mind of human leaders.

Either explanation, or even a combination of the two is compatible with the rest of Scripture. However, the remaining loyal angels of God are obedient to God's will, if not, by definition they become disloyal and would have been cast out of heaven (as per Rev 12, 4, 9).


Does Gal 1: 7-8 imply that angels can deviate from their designated mission while on earth?

"Yes", angels can deviate from their designated mission while on earth as well as in heaven.

Sin first appeared in the heavens, because of the rebellion by an angel, who came to be called Satan. This once-obedient angel chose to do wrong of his own free will. Thereafter he became a corrupting influence on other spirit creatures, so that by the time of Noah, prior to the Flood, a large number of them joined Satan in rebellion against God.​—Genesis 6:2, footnote; 2 Peter 2:4.

Genesis 6:2 NASB

2 that the sons of God saw that the daughters of mankind were [a]beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose.

Obviously these fallen angels were tolerated , until war broke in heaven and were hurled down to the earth. (Vs 9)

Revelation 12:7-12 NET

War in Heaven

7 Then war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. 8 But the dragon was not strong enough to prevail, so there was no longer any place left in heaven for him and his angels. 9 So that huge dragon—the ancient serpent, the one called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world—was thrown down to the earth, and his angels along with him.

10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven saying,“The salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the ruling authority[i] of his Christ, have now come, because the accuser of our brothers and sisters, the one who accuses them day and night before our God, has been thrown down.

  • Since my question which migrated from XSE has earned two upvotes, I request that the negative vote given to it in XSE be neutralized. Commented Dec 10, 2020 at 6:44

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