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Do Angels Have Free Will?

Mary Anthony
Angels are considered as the sinless elites of God who gladly and completely follow the commands of the Most High. Then why did Lucifer and his fellow angels rebel against God? Does this mean God allowed them to act according to their free will?

Did You Know?

"Know ye not that we shall judge the angels?" - I Corinthians 6:3.
Bible states that the saved ones will take part in the judgment of the fallen angels and exercise authority over them.
From the time of creation there are two things that constantly keep appearing in the Bible - the presence of sin along with the existence of free will. Consuming the fruit from the tree of life situated in the garden of Eden was sinful in the sight of God, but Adam and Eve had the choice to obey or disobey what God had commanded them.
Of course they yielded to the temptation and the result was the fall of mankind from heaven. Likewise the heavenly beings created before the first man and woman had a choice to stay in God's eternal presence or fall from the heavenly realms to roam the depths of Hades eternally.
Unlike we humans who received the gift of salvation and forgiveness of sins through Christ, fallen angels are condemned and doomed forever for rebelling against the Most High.

The bible tells us the fate of the fallen angels by stating that they too shall face judgment and be thrown into the eternal flame as a punishment for their actions:
"And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day." - Jude 1: 6

"Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels" - Matthew 25: 41
Let us find out what more does Bible, Judaism, & Islam state regarding the free will of angels:

What Does the Bible Say About Angels Having Free Will ?

Angels were created in all holiness without any blemish or guile. The Bible clearly states that they were mighty and hearkened the voice and commands of God. However, they were presented with a choice as from the above verse (Jude 1:6) one can see that some of them rebelled and were banished from the heavenly estate.

"Bless the LORD, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word.'' - Psalms 103: 20
Lucifer also known as the Fallen Angel, Devil, the Great Serpent, the Dragon, and Satan was earlier an angel of light in heaven (Lucifer= light-bearer).
He prided in his abilities greatly, so much so that he determined himself to be God and seated himself on the throne of God to be worshiped like the Most High. This blinded pride proved to be his downfall. Note how Satan is boosted by his own ego and self praise - the term 'I will' appears five times in the biblical reference below.
"How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: ...
... I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit." - Isaiah 14: 12-15
He chose to disobey the presence, the authority, and the commands of God. With him there were many other angels who rebelled against the power of the Most High which resulted in a battle among - the angels who supported God and chose to dwell with him forever in heavenly eternity and the ones who would be cast down to earth as fallen angels.
Archangel Michael and his army of angels defeated Satan and his angels in this epic celestial battle between good and evil. Thus they had the free will to pick a side - to do the will of God or go against it.

"And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,...
...And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceive the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him." - Revelation 12: 7-13
Bible states that pride was the reason behind Satan's rebellion. He was created perfect, but soon he subjected himself to pompous ambitions and sinned. Thus he and his fellow angels committed the first sin. This projects angels as emotional and intelligent spiritual beings.
They could differentiate between the righteous and unrighteous ways, thus clearly proving that there exists a choice of free will among them. If they did not have the choice of free will then they could not have transgressed, because one of the prerequisites to sin is that there is a free choice to reject God.
"You are the anointed cherub that covers; and I have set you so: you were upon the holy mountain of God; you have walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. You were perfect in your ways from the day that you were created, till iniquity was found in thee." - Ezekiel 28:14-15
Early Christian scholars and theologians like St. Ignatius of Antioch (d. 107) and St. Clement of Alexandria (d. 215) state that the angles were put in a test of faith and obedience similar to Adam and Eve.
Once they picked their sides there was no turning back. Those angels that made the choice to love and serve God and who persisted in remaining faithful to Him achieved the felicity of heaven, whereas those that rose up against him were cast into hell.

What Does Islam Say About Angels Having Free Will ?

Islam states that angels were created separately from rest of the creations and they are holy unlike humans and jinn. Angels do not have free will and they never disobey Allah. They faithfully obey him and carry out His commands, these qualities separate them from all.
"The angels were created from light, the jinn were created from fire. Man was created from what has been described to you." - The Prophet (PBUH) in sound hadith
The angels worshiped Allah day and night and they were quite taken aback when Allah wanted to create Adam but they also said that they are unknown to his works and ways and have knowledge only about the things which Allah has taught them.
Then Allah asked Adam to name all of them and he named them. The angels had been created before Adam and his descendants. When Allah bade to create Adam as his representative on earth, he communicated about it with the angels.
The profound wisdom in sharing the news with them lay in the fact that after Adam was created, the angels would then be connected to him and his descendants. Thus they were commanded to show him respect and admiration by bowing down to him as a test of their obedience.
The Almighty says:

"When your Lord said to the angels, am placing a khalif on the earth.' They said, 'Why place on it one who will corrupt it and shed blood, when we glorify Your praise and call You holy?' He said, I know what You do not know. He taught Adam all the names.
Then He dis- played them to the angels and said, 'Tell me the names of these if you are telling the truth. They said, 'Glory be to You! We have no knowledge except what You have taught us. You are the Knowing, the Wise. 1 He said, 'Adam, tell them their names' 
When he had told them their names He said, 'Did I not tell you that I know the Unseen of the heavens and the earth, and I know all that you make known and all you conceal?' When We said to the angels, 'Prostrate yourselves to Adam!' They prostrated, all except Iblis. He disdained to and grew arrogant and was one of the rejectors." Surat Al-Baqarah 2:30-34
However when Allah created Adam out of clay and asked the holy angels to prostrate before him, all the angels obeyed except Iblis, the jinn. He disobeyed saying that he was created out of fire and Adam out of clay which made him superior towards the human creation.
"He said, 'I am better than he, Thou didst create me form fire, and him from clay." - Quran 7:12

Again Islam says that Satan, the jinn disobeyed Allah and fell short of his mercy to be expelled forever from his presence.

What Does Judaism Say About Angels Having Free Will?

The Jewish belief in angels is set on the scripture stories found in the Book of Genesis which depict them as spiritual beings playing the role of spiritual representatives who carry out the commands of God.
Some references include - angels calling out to Abraham to rescue Isaac from the sacrifice in the ultimate test of faith, angels assisting in Jacob's dream, Jacob struggling with an angel to obtain heavenly blessing. Angels are mentioned as spiritual beings devoid of physical looks & traits throughout the other books of the Torah, Prophets, and Scriptures. 
They cannot exercise free will and are pre-ordained to serve God unlike the humans who possess the freedom to choose their way to serve God. Judaism believes in Satan as a 'challenger' or 'dis-tractor', it means Satan is the incarnation of man's disputes.
He contributes to the difficulties, disputes, and produces obstacles in the spiritual growth of man. Jewish teachings forbid Satan to be a demi-god or an opponent of God. The angelic free will is an alienated concept to Judaism.
According to Jewish scriptures free will is subjected to humans as we have a soul in a physical body, angles are divine and they lack physical attributes or frictions caused by good or evil decisions. Hence angels never sin and they cannot fall from the heavenly realm.
Celestial beings having free will is debatable as different faiths have varied views on the subject. Yet there is a common deceiver among all the religious texts that falls short of obedience and the true virtue of being an angel - The Satan.