Who Are the "Glorious Ones" in 2 Peter and Jude?

November 23, 2022

In this post we'll be talking about two Bible passages that warn us about the mysterious beings called the "glorious ones." We'll try to figure out who the ancient writers (Saints Peter and Jude) are talking about and what they were actually saying about.  

Here are the passages:

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive opinions, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.... Bold and willful, they are not afraid to slander the glorious ones, whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not bring against them a slanderous judgment from the Lord. - 2 Peter 2:1,9,10, New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSV-CE)

Yet in like manner, these men [false teachers] in their dreamings defile the flesh, reject authority, and revile the glorious ones. But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, disputed about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a reviling judgment upon him, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” But these men revile whatever they do not understand, and by those things that they know by instinct as irrational animals do, they are destroyed. - Jude 8-10 (NRSV-CE)

What Are These Passages Saying?

The passages above are very similar. Each is about untrustworthy teachers who are making false statements about the "glorious ones." Both saints are clear in saying that these teachers will be destroyed.

Both authors go on to remind us of other sinners punished by God. Fallen angels are mentioned in each account.

For if God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of nether gloom to be kept until the judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven other persons, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomor′rah to ashes he condemned them to extinction and made them an example to those who were to be ungodly... then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trial, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment... - 2 Peter 4-6,10 (NRSV-CE)

Now I desire to remind you, though you were once for all fully informed, that he who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels that did not keep their own position but left their proper dwelling have been kept by him in eternal chains in the nether gloom until the judgment of the great day; just as Sodom and Gomor′rah and the surrounding cities, which likewise acted immorally and indulged in unnatural lust, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire. - Jude 5-7 (NRSV-CE)

These passages suggest that God will punish the false teachers for "denying the master" who is Christ. But both authors also obviously believe that slandering the glorious ones is a dangerous game. 

According to St. Peter the false teachers "are not afraid to slander the glorious ones, whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not bring against them a slanderous judgment from the Lord." St. Jude points out that not even St. Michael dared to slander the devil, during their dispute over the body of Moses.

Who are the Glorious Ones?

The ancient (intended) audience of these epistles would have probably known exactly who the glorious ones were, but we do not and the passages are fascinating for that reason alone. There is a mystery here that hints at things lost, or at least partially lost, in the mists of time.

This post, however, focuses on how these passages are relevant in the present day. 

This is what I have come up with:

  1. The glorious ones are angels. If they were not, the analogy about St. Michael refusing to slander the devil (a fallen angel) wouldn't make sense. 
  2. The glorious ones seem to be associated with fallen angels (who are mentioned often in the texts) or angels of a particular rank or both. The rank in question could be the rank of Lucifer (before the fall) - a higher rank than that of St. Michael. I think the glorious ones are very likely fallen and probably high ranking.
  3. Both saints agree that teaching a false doctrine about angels is unwise and that offending the angels, or these particular angels anyway, is a very bad idea. While the punishment of God is mentioned it seems that the authors are also talking about demonic retaliation.

These passages support some things we already know about demons and self-styled exorcisms and lay people trying to command demons. But they also have a very specific message for anyone who teaches (or writes or talks) about angels.

Be wary.

But are we?

A search of the keyword "angel cards" yields over 6000 results on Amazon. A search for "angel guides" yields over 10,000. Paranormal romance categories on Amazon include both "angel" and "demon." And more content like this is being produced every day.

Are angels and demons accurately represented in any of this material? 

Does it matter?

According to Scripture, it does. 

The Bible on Demons

How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! You said in your heart, “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit on the mount of assembly on the heights of Zaphon; I will ascend to the tops of the clouds, I will make myself like the Most High.” - Isaiah 14:12-14 (NRSV-CE)

Satan fell because of pride. That pride is clearly described in Isaiah (above). It is apparent that Lucifer wanted to be like God. Because of this envy, Lucifer becomes Satan (in Hebrew Ha-Satan, the adversary) and rebels against heaven taking a third of the angels with him (Rev 12:4).

St. Michael and the good angels, however, took as their war cry "Who is like God?" And St. Michael's name (מיכאל‎ / Mikha'el) asks the very same question-in direct opposition, in my opinion, to the angels who fell.

The good angels weren't. and aren’t, proud. They don't want to take the place of God or disobey him or (in case you were wondering) be involved in divination which He has expressly forbidden in Scripture.

And I'm pretty sure that they don't want to be glamorized in popular books or media either. Demons, however, are another story entirely.

Are demons offended by the fact that most popular material about angels gets just about everything wrong? I'm not sure, but I do think it gets their attention. And (as I have learned firsthand) that attention has a serious backlash. Always.

But there is a more important consideration. Directing our spiritual practices or our creative work toward demons is a form of sacrifice. And this profoundly offends God. 

They sacrificed to demons, not God, to deities they had never known... You were unmindful of the Rock that bore you; you forgot the God who gave you birth. The Lord saw it, and... spurned his sons and daughters. He said: I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end will be; for they are a perverse generation, children in whom there is no faithfulness. - Deuteronomy 32:17-20 (NRSV-CE)

Or, as St. Peter reminds us, "the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trial, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment..."

God, then, has no problem dividing the godly from the unrighteous. The only question is, on what side of the line do we intend to be?


To read my favorite version of the Bible, the Douay Rheims, for free online, please click here.

Post a Comment

Thank you for taking the time to comment!