Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Wednesday 27 October |
Saint of the Day: Bl. Emilina of Boulancourt
Aleteia logo
home iconSpirituality
line break icon

How do angels battle demons?


Ail Lee | CC BY 2.0

Philip Kosloski - published on 02/14/18

Do they have swords or special angel-sabers?

In his letter to the Ephesians, St. Paul writes, “For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).

In other words, there is a spiritual battle all around us that we cannot see. This reality is hard to fathom, but it is confirmed throughout the Bible, even in Jesus’ life when he went off to the desert to battle against the devil. Sometimes we may wonder what this “spiritual battle” really looks like. Is it full of swords, shields and armor, or do they have special “angel-sabers”?

How exactly do angels battle demons?

First of all, the Catechism of the Catholic Church explains their nature.

St. Augustine says: “‘Angel’ is the name of their office, not of their nature. If you seek the name of their nature, it is ‘spirit’; if you seek the name of their office, it is ‘angel’: from what they are, ‘spirit,’ from what they do, ‘angel.’”

The Baltimore Catechism succinctly states the same belief, with a little clarification.

What are angels? Angels are created spirits, without bodies, having understanding and free will.

Just as God is by nature a pure spirit, the angels are pure spirits without a body. In this way they image God in a way that we humans do not. We often depict angels with “wings,” not because they possess wings, but because it represents their speed and symbolizes their role as messengers.

While they do not possess bodies like we do, they are able to battle other spiritual creatures. The most famous example is in the book of Revelation, where Michael the Archangel casts Satan out of heaven.

And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. (Revelation 12:9)

This passage doesn’t give us any clues, besides the fact that demons can be “thrown down.” Since they are pure spirits, this was not a physical act, but a spiritual one.

Philosopher Peter Kreeft provides one possible explanation in his book Angels and Demons, describing how angels communicate with each other.

Angels communicate immediately, mind to mind, without any medium like air or ears or even words–direct mental telepathy.

Read more:
This is what it’s like to see an angel

One way to think of it is a battle of intellects rather than a battle of swords. There is nothing material about their fight, which is hard to imagine from our point of view. This is why artists have always depicted angels and demons in a physical way with shields, swords and armor. It is much easier for our mind to grasp a physical fight than an immaterial one.

It is not very exciting to paint a battle between two creatures that more closely resemble electrons than humans.


Read more:
Do angels have wings?


Read more:
Angels: Are they cute babies or fierce warriors?

Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
Philip Kosloski
Meet Sandra Sabattini, a newly beatified 22-year-old
J-P Mauro
How St. Jerome’s pun made an apple the “forbidden fruit”
Philip Kosloski
Padre Pio replied to John Paul II’s letter with a miracle
Theresa Civantos Barber
St. John Paul II’s perfect advice for lasting love in marriage
Fr. Patrick Briscoe, OP
4 Steps of prayer to learn from today’s Gospel
John Burger
Member of the singing Von Trapp family dies in Vermont
Marinella Bandini
Exclusive: Carlo Acutis as seen by his mother
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.