The Emotions of Angels

Sad angel statue in cemetery
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Angels work hard on adventurous missions that range from praising God in heaven to rescuing people from danger. Going through those experiences would elicit a wide range of feelings in human beings. But what are angel emotions like? Do they experience only positive emotions like joy and peace, or can they also feel negative emotions like sorrow and anger?

Angels do express sorrow and anger, according to descriptions of them from religious texts. Just like God and human beings, angels can express a full range of emotions—and their ability to do so helps them relate to both God and people.

However, angels aren’t tainted by sin, as humans are, so angels are free to express their emotions in pure ways. What you see is what you get when it comes to angel emotions; there’s no confusion or hidden agenda involved like there can be with the way people express their feelings. So when angels speak and act sorrowfully or angrily, you can be sure that they really do feel that way.

People often think of sorrow and anger as negative emotions because of the unhealthy ways people sometimes express those emotions. But to angels, feeling sad or angry is simply an honest fact that they express without sinning against others.

Sorrowful Angels

A passage from the Jewish and Christian apocryphal text 2 Esdras implies that Archangel Uriel feels sad about the prophet Ezra’s limited ability to understand spiritual information. God sends Uriel to answer a series of questions that Ezra asks God. Uriel tells him that God has permitted him to describe signs of good and evil at work in the world, but it will still be difficult for Ezra to understand from his limited human perspective. In 2 Esdras 4:10-11, Archangel Uriel asks Ezra:

"You cannot understand the things with which you have grown up; how then can your mind comprehend the way of the Most High? And how can one who is already worn out by the corrupt world understand incorruption?"

In chapter 43 (Az-Zukhruf) verses 74 to 77, the Qur'an describes the angel Malik telling the people in hell that they must remain there:

"Surely, the disbelievers will be in the torment of hell to abide therein forever. [The torment] will not be lightened for them, and they will be plunged into destruction with deep regrets, sorrows and in despair therein. We wronged them not, but they were the wrongdoers. And they will cry: 'O Malik! Let your Lord make an end of us!' He will say: 'Surely, you shall abide forever.' Indeed we have brought the truth to you, but most of you have a hatred for the truth."

Malik seems to feel sorrow that the people in hell are sorrowful but resigned to doing his duty keeping them there.

Angry Angels

The Bible describes archangel Michael in Revelation 12:7-12 leading armies of angels that battle Satan and his demons during the world’s last conflict. His anger is a righteous anger that motivates him to fight evil.

The Torah and the Bible both describe in Numbers chapter 22 how "the angel of the Lord" gets angry when he sees a man named Balaam abuse his donkey. The angel angrily tells Balaam in verses 32 and 33:

"Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? I have come here to oppose you because your path is a reckless one before me. The donkey saw me and turned away from me these three times. If it had not turned away, I would certainly have killed you by now, but I would have spared it."

Angels in the Qur’an are described as “stern and severe” (two qualities that show the expression of anger) in chapter 66 (At Tahrim), verse 6:

"Oh you who believe! Save yourselves and your families from a rire whose fuel is men and stones, over which are (appointed) angels stern (and) severe, who flinch not (from executing) the commands they receive from Allah, but do (precisely) what they are commanded."

The Bhagavad Gita 16:4 mentions anger as one of the qualities that “arise in one born of the demoniac nature” when fallen angelic beings express their anger in negative ways, displaying qualities such as pride, arrogance, harshness, or ignorance along with their anger.

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Your Citation
Hopler, Whitney. "The Emotions of Angels." Learn Religions, Feb. 8, 2021, Hopler, Whitney. (2021, February 8). The Emotions of Angels. Retrieved from Hopler, Whitney. "The Emotions of Angels." Learn Religions. (accessed March 28, 2023).