will of God, so also does the order of spiritual substances. But, as
was said above (Q. 105, A. 6), God sometimes acts outside the order
of corporeal substances. Therefore He also sometimes acts outside the
order of spiritual substances, by enlightening inferior otherwise
than through their superiors. Therefore in that way the inferiors
enlightened by God can enlighten superiors.
Obj. 3: Further, one angel enlightens the other to whom he turns, as
was above explained (A. 1). But since this turning to another is
voluntary, the highest angel can turn to the lowest passing over the
others. Therefore he can enlighten him immediately; and thus the
latter can enlighten his superiors.
_On the contrary,_ Dionysius says that "this is the Divine
unalterable law, that inferior things are led to God by the superior"
(Coel. Hier. iv; Eccl. Hier. v).
_I answer that,_ The inferior angels never enlighten the superior,
but are always enlightened by them. The reason is, because, as above
explained (Q. 105, A. 6), one order is under another, as cause is
under cause; and hence as cause is ordered to cause, so is order to
order. Therefore there is no incongruity if sometimes anything is
done outside the order of the inferior cause, to be ordered to the
superior cause, as in human affairs the command of the president is
passed over from obedience to the prince. So it happens that God
works miraculously outside the order of corporeal nature, that men
may be ordered to the knowledge of Him. But the passing over of the
order that belongs to spiritual substances in no way belongs to the
ordering of men to God; since the angelic operations are not made
known to us; as are the operations of sensible bodies. Thus the order
which belongs to spiritual substances is never passed over by God; so
that the inferiors are always moved by the superior, and not
Reply Obj. 1: The ecclesiastical hierarchy imitates the heavenly in
some degree, but not by a perfect likeness. For in the heavenly
hierarchy the perfection of the order is in proportion to its
nearness to God; so that those who are the nearer to God are the more
sublime in grade, and more clear in knowledge; and on that account
the superiors are never enlightened by the inferiors, whereas in the
ecclesiastical hierarchy, sometimes those who are the nearer to God
in sanctity, are in the lowest grade, and are not conspicuous for
science; and some also are eminent in one kind of science, and fail
in another; and on that account superiors may be taught by inferiors.
Reply Obj. 2: As above explained, there is no similarity between what
God does outside the order of corporeal nature, and that of spiritual
nature. Hence the argument does not hold.
Reply Obj. 3: An angel turns voluntarily to enlighten another angel,
but the angel's will is ever regulated by the Divine law which made
the order in the angels.
FOURTH ARTICLE [I, Q. 106, Art. 4]
Whether the Superior Angel Enlightens the Inferior As Regards All He
Objection 1: It would seem that the superior angel does not enlighten
the inferior concerning all he himself knows. For Dionysius says
(Coel. Hier. xii) that the superior angels have a more universal
knowledge; and the inferior a more particular and individual
knowledge. But more is contained under a universal knowledge than
under a particular knowledge. Therefore not all that the superior
angels know, is known by the inferior, through these being
enlightened by the former.
Obj. 2: Further, the Master of the Sentences (ii, D, 11) says that
the superior angels had long known the Mystery of the Incarnation,
whereas the inferior angels did not know it until it was
accomplished. Thus we find that on some of the angels inquiring, as
it were, in ignorance: "Who is this King of glory?" other angels, who
knew, answered: "The Lord of Hosts, He is the King of glory," as
Dionysius expounds (Coel. Hier. vii). But this would not apply if the
superior angels enlightened the inferior concerning all they know
themselves. Therefore they do not do so.
Obj. 3: Further, if the superior angels enlighten the inferior about
all they know, nothing that the superior angels know would be unknown
to the inferior angels. Therefore the superior angels could
communicate nothing more to the inferior; which appears open to
objection. Therefore the superior angels enlighten the inferior in
_On the contrary,_ Gregory [*Peter Lombard, Sent. ii, D, ix; Cf.
Gregory, Hom. xxxiv, in Ev.] says: "In that heavenly country, though
there are some excellent gifts, yet nothing is held individually."
And Dionysius says: "Each heavenly essence communicates to the
inferior the gift derived from the superior" (Coel. Hier. xv), as
quoted above (A. 1).
_I answer that,_ Every creature participates in the Divine goodness,
so as to diffuse the good it possesses to others; for it is of the
nature of good to communicate itself to others. Hence also corporeal
agents give their likeness to others so far as they can. So the more
an agent is established in the share of the Divine goodness, so much
the more does it strive to transmit its perfections to others as far
as possible. Hence the Blessed Peter admonishes those who by grace
share in the Divine goodness; saying: "As every man hath received
grace, ministering the same one to another; as good stewards of the
manifold grace of God" (1 Pet. 4:10). Much more therefore do the holy
angels, who enjoy the plenitude of participation of the Divine
goodness, impart the same to those below them.
Nevertheless this gift is not received so excellently by the inferior
as by the superior angels; and therefore the superior ever remain in
a higher order, and have a more perfect knowledge; as the master
understands the same thing better than the pupil who learns from him.
Reply Obj. 1: The knowledge of the superior angels is said to be more
universal as regards the more eminent mode of knowledge.
Reply Obj. 2: The Master's words are not to be understood as if the
inferior angels were entirely ignorant of the Mystery of the
Incarnation but that they did not know it as fully as the superior
angels; and that they progressed in the knowledge of it afterwards
when the Mystery was accomplished.
Reply Obj. 3: Till the Judgment Day some new things are always being
revealed by God to the highest angels, concerning the course of the
world, and especially the salvation of the elect. Hence there is
always something for the superior angels to make known to the
THE SPEECH OF THE ANGELS
(In Five Articles)
We next consider the speech of the angels. Here there are five points
(1) Whether one angel speaks to another?
(2) Whether the inferior speaks to the superior?
(3) Whether an angel speaks to God?
(4) Whether the angelic speech is subject to local distance?
(5) Whether all the speech of one angel to another is known to all?
FIRST ARTICLE [I, Q. 107, Art. 1]
Whether One Angel Speaks to Another?
Objection 1: It would seem that one angel does not speak to another.
For Gregory says (Moral. xviii) that, in the state of the resurrection
"each one's body will not hide his mind from his fellows." Much less,
therefore, is one angel's mind hidden from another. But speech
manifests to another what lies hidden in the mind. Therefore it is not
necessary that one angel should speak to another.
Obj. 2: Further, speech is twofold; interior, whereby one speaks to
oneself; and exterior, whereby one speaks to another. But exterior
speech takes place by some sensible sign, as by voice, or gesture, or
some bodily member, as the tongue, or the fingers, and this cannot
apply to the angels. Therefore one angel does not speak to another.
Obj. 3: Further, the speaker incites the hearer to listen to what he
says. But it does not appear that one angel incites another to
listen; for this happens among us by some sensible sign. Therefore
one angel does not speak to another.
_On the contrary,_ The Apostle says (1 Cor. 13:1): "If I speak with
the tongues of men and of angels."
_I answer that,_ The angels speak in a certain way. But, as Gregory
says (Moral. ii): "It is fitting that our mind, rising above the
properties of bodily speech, should be lifted to the sublime and
unknown methods of interior speech."
To understand how one angel speaks to another, we must consider that,
as we explained above (Q. 82, A. 4), when treating of the actions and
powers of the soul, the will moves the intellect to its operation.
Now an intelligible object is present to the intellect in three ways;
first, habitually, or in the memory, as Augustine says (De Trin. xiv,
6, 7); secondly, as actually considered or conceived; thirdly, as
related to something else. And it is clear that the intelligible
object passes from the first to the second stage by the command of
the will, and hence in the definition of habit these words occur,
"which anyone uses when he wills." So likewise the intelligible
object passes from the second to the third stage by the will; for by
the will the concept of the mind is ordered to something else, as,
for instance, either to the performing of an action, or to being made
known to another. Now when the mind turns itself to the actual
consideration of any habitual knowledge, then a person speaks to
himself; for the concept of the mind is called "the interior word."
And by the fact that the concept of the angelic mind is ordered to be
made known to another by the will of the angel himself, the concept
of one angel is made known to another; and in this way one angel
speaks to another; for to speak to another only means to make known
the mental concept to another.
Reply Obj. 1: Our mental concept is hidden by a twofold obstacle. The
first is in the will, which can retain the mental concept within, or
can direct it externally. In this way God alone can see the mind of
another, according to 1 Cor. 2:11: "What man knoweth the things of a
man, but the spirit of a man that is in him?" The other obstacle
whereby the mental concept is excluded from another one's knowledge,
comes from the body; and so it happens that even when the will
directs the concept of the mind to make itself known, it is not at
once make known to another; but some sensible sign must be used.
Gregory alludes to this fact when he says (Moral. ii): "To other eyes
we seem to stand aloof as it were behind the wall of the body; and
when we wish to make ourselves known, we go out as it were by the
door of the tongue to show what we really are." But an angel is under
no such obstacle, and so he can make his concept known to another at
Reply Obj. 2: External speech, made by the voice, is a necessity for
us on account of the obstacle of the body. Hence it does not befit an
angel; but only interior speech belongs to him, and this includes not
only the interior speech by mental concept, but also its being
ordered to another's knowledge by the will. So the tongue of an angel
is called metaphorically the angel's power, whereby he manifests his
Reply Obj. 3: There is no need to draw the attention of the good
angels, inasmuch as they always see each other in the Word; for as
one ever sees the other, so he ever sees what is ordered to himself.
But because by their very nature they can speak to each other, and
even now the bad angels speak to each other, we must say that the
intellect is moved by the intelligible object just as sense is
affected by the sensible object. Therefore, as sense is aroused by
the sensible object, so the mind of an angel can be aroused to
attention by some intelligible power.
SECOND ARTICLE [I, Q. 107, Art. 2]
Whether the Inferior Angel Speaks to the Superior?
Objection 1: It would seem that the inferior angel does not speak to
the superior. For on the text (1 Cor. 13:1), "If I speak with the
tongues of men and of angels," a gloss remarks that the speech of the
angels is an enlightenment whereby the superior enlightens the
inferior. But the inferior never enlightens the superior, as was
above explained (Q. 106, A. 3). Therefore neither do the inferior
speak to the superior.
Obj. 2: Further, as was said above (Q. 106, A. 1), to enlighten means
merely to acquaint one man of what is known to another; and this is
to speak. Therefore to speak and to enlighten are the same; so the
same conclusion follows.
Obj. 3: Further, Gregory says (Moral. ii): "God speaks to the angels
by the very fact that He shows to their hearts His hidden and
invisible things." But this is to enlighten them. Therefore, whenever
God speaks, He enlightens. In the same way every angelic speech is an
enlightening. Therefore an inferior angel can in no way speak to a
_On the contrary,_ According to the exposition of Dionysius (Coel.
Hier. vii), the inferior angels said to the superior: "Who is this
King of Glory?"
_I answer that,_ The inferior angels can speak to the superior. To
make this clear, we must consider that every angelic enlightening is
an angelic speech; but on the other hand, not every speech is an
enlightening; because, as we have said (A. 1), for one angel to speak
to another angel means nothing else, but that by his own will he
directs his mental concept in such a way, that it becomes known to
the other. Now what the mind conceives may be reduced to a twofold
principle; to God Himself, Who is the primal truth; and to the will
of the one who understands, whereby we actually consider anything.
But because truth is the light of the intellect, and God Himself is
the rule of all truth; the manifestation of what is conceived by the
mind, as depending on the primary truth, is both speech and
enlightenment; for example, when one man says to another: "Heaven was
created by God"; or, "Man is an animal." The manifestation, however,
of what depends on the will of the one who understands, cannot be
called an enlightenment, but is only a speech; for instance, when one
says to another: "I wish to learn this; I wish to do this or that."
The reason is that the created will is not a light, nor a rule of
truth; but participates of light. Hence to communicate what comes
from the created will is not, as such, an enlightening. For to know
what you may will, or what you may understand does not belong to the
perfection of my intellect; but only to know the truth in reality.
Now it is clear that the angels are called superior or inferior by
comparison with this principle, God; and therefore enlightenment,
which depends on the principle which is God, is conveyed only by the
superior angels to the inferior. But as regards the will as the
principle, he who wills is first and supreme; and therefore the
manifestation of what belongs to the will, is conveyed to others by
the one who wills. In that manner both the superior angels speak to
the inferior, and the inferior speak to the superior.
From this clearly appear the replies to the first and second
Reply Obj. 3: Every speech of God to the angels is an enlightening;
because since the will of God is the rule of truth, it belongs to the
perfection and enlightenment of the created mind to know even what
God wills. But the same does not apply to the will of the angels, as
was explained above.
THIRD ARTICLE [I, Q. 107, Art. 3]
Whether an Angel Speaks to God?
Objection 1: It would seem that an angel does not speak to God. For
speech makes known something to another. But an angel cannot make
known anything to God, Who knows all things. Therefore an angel does
not speak to God.
Obj. 2: Further, to speak is to order the mental concept in reference
to another, as was shown above (A. 1). But an angel ever orders his
mental concept to God. So if an angel speaks to God, he ever speaks
to God; which in some ways appears to be unreasonable, since an angel
sometimes speaks to another angel. Therefore it seems that an angel
never speaks to God.
_On the contrary,_ It is written (Zech. 1:12): "The angel of the Lord
answered and said: O Lord of hosts, how long wilt Thou not have mercy
on Jerusalem." Therefore an angel speaks to God.
_I answer that,_ As was said above (AA. 1, 2), the angel speaks by
ordering his mental concept to something else. Now one thing is
ordered to another in a twofold manner. In one way for the purpose of
giving one thing to another, as in natural things the agent is
ordered to the patient, and in human speech the teacher is ordered to
the learner; and in this sense an angel in no way speaks to God
either of what concerns the truth, or of whatever depends on the
created will; because God is the principle and source of all truth
and of all will. In another way one thing is ordered to another to
receive something, as in natural things the passive is ordered to the
agent, and in human speech the disciple to the master; and in this
way an angel speaks to God, either by consulting the Divine will of
what ought to be done, or by admiring the Divine excellence which he
can never comprehend; thus Gregory says (Moral. ii) that "the angels
speak to God, when by contemplating what is above themselves they
rise to emotions of admiration."
Reply Obj. 1: Speech is not always for the purpose of making
something known to another; but is sometimes finally ordered to the
purpose of manifesting something to the speaker himself; as when the
disciples ask instruction from the master.
Reply Obj. 2: The angels are ever speaking to God in the sense of
praising and admiring Him and His works; but they speak to Him by
consulting Him about what ought to be done whenever they have to
perform any new work, concerning which they desire enlightenment.
FOURTH ARTICLE [I, Q. 107, Art. 4]
Whether Local Distance Influences the Angelic Speech?
Objection 1: It would seem that local distance affects the angelic
speech. For as Damascene says (De Fide Orth. i, 13): "An angel works
where he is." But speech is an angelic operation. Therefore, as an
angel is in a determinate place, it seems that an angel's speech is
limited by the bounds of that place.
Obj. 2: Further, a speaker cries out on account of the distance of
the hearer. But it is said of the Seraphim that "they cried one to
another" (Isa. 6:3). Therefore in the angelic speech local distance
has some effect.
_On the contrary,_ It is said that the rich man in hell spoke to
Abraham, notwithstanding the local distance (Luke 16:24). Much less
therefore does local distance impede the speech of one angel to
_I answer that,_ The angelic speech consists in an intellectual
operation, as explained above (AA. 1, 2, 3). And the intellectual
operation of an angel abstracts from the "here and now." For even our
own intellectual operation takes place by abstraction from the "here
and now," except accidentally on the part of the phantasms, which do
not exist at all in an angel. But as regards whatever is abstracted
from "here and now," neither difference of time nor local distance has
any influence whatever. Hence in the angelic speech local distance is
Reply Obj. 1: The angelic speech, as above explained (A. 1, ad 2), is
interior; perceived, nevertheless, by another; and therefore it
exists in the angel who speaks, and consequently where the angel is
who speaks. But as local distance does not prevent one angel seeing
another, so neither does it prevent an angel perceiving what is
ordered to him on the part of another; and this is to perceive his
Reply Obj. 2: The cry mentioned is not a bodily voice raised by
reason of the local distance; but is taken to signify the magnitude
of what is said, or the intensity of the affection, according to what
Gregory says (Moral. ii): "The less one desires, the less one cries
FIFTH ARTICLE [I, Q. 107, Art. 5]
Whether All the Angels Know What One Speaks to Another?
Objection 1: It would seem that all the angels know what one speaks
to another. For unequal local distance is the reason why all men do
not know what one man says to another. But in the angelic speech
local distance has no effect, as above explained (A. 4). Therefore
all the angels know what one speaks to another.
Obj. 2: Further, all the angels have the intellectual power in
common. So if the mental concept of one ordered to another is known
by one, it is for the same reason known by all.
Obj. 3: Further, enlightenment is a kind of speech. But the
enlightenment of one angel by another extends to all the angels,
because, as Dionysius says (Coel. Hier. xv): "Each one of the
heavenly beings communicates what he learns to the others." Therefore
the speech of one angel to another extends to all.
_On the contrary,_ One man can speak to another alone; much more can
this be the case among the angels.
_I answer that,_ As above explained (AA. 1, 2), the mental concept of
one angel can be perceived by another when the angel who possesses
the concept refers it by his will to another. Now a thing can be
ordered through some cause to one thing and not to another;
consequently the concept of one (angel) may be known by one and not
by another; and therefore an angel can perceive the speech of one
angel to another; whereas others do not, not through the obstacle of
local distance, but on account of the will so ordering, as explained
From this appear the replies to the first and second objections.
Reply Obj. 3: Enlightenment is of those truths that emanate from the
first rule of truth, which is the principle common to all the angels;
and in that way all enlightenments are common to all. But speech may
be of something ordered to the principle of the created will, which
is proper to each angel; and in this way it is not necessary that
these speeches should be common to all.
OF THE ANGELIC DEGREES OF HIERARCHIES AND ORDERS
(In Eight Articles)
We next consider the degrees of the angels in their hierarchies and
orders; for it was said above (Q. 106, A. 3), that the superior
angels enlighten the inferior angels; and not conversely.
Under this head there are eight points of inquiry:
(1) Whether all the angels belong to one hierarchy?
(2) Whether in one hierarchy there is only one order?
(3) Whether in one order there are many angels?
(4) Whether the distinction of hierarchies and orders is natural?
(5) Of the names and properties of each order.
(6) Of the comparison of the orders to one another.
(7) Whether the orders will outlast the Day of Judgment?
(8) Whether men are taken up into the angelic orders?
FIRST ARTICLE [I, Q. 108, Art. 1]
Whether All the Angels Are of One Hierarchy?
Objection 1: It would seem that all the angels belong to one
hierarchy. For since the angels are supreme among creatures, it is
evident that they are ordered for the best. But the best ordering of
a multitude is for it to be governed by one authority, as the
Philosopher shows (Metaph. xii, Did. xi, 10; Polit. iii, 4).
Therefore as a hierarchy is nothing but a sacred principality, it
seems that all the angels belong to one hierarchy.
Obj. 2: Further, Dionysius says (Coel. Hier. iii) that "hierarchy is
order, knowledge, and action." But all the angels agree in one order
towards God, Whom they know, and by Whom in their actions they are
ruled. Therefore all the angels belong to one hierarchy.
Obj. 3: Further, the sacred principality called hierarchy is to be
found among men and angels. But all men are of one hierarchy.
Therefore likewise all the angels are of one hierarchy.
_On the contrary,_ Dionysius (Coel. Hier. vi) distinguishes three
hierarchies of angels.
_I answer that,_ Hierarchy means a "sacred" principality, as above
explained. Now principality includes two things: the prince himself
and the multitude ordered under the prince. Therefore because there
is one God, the Prince not only of all the angels but also of men and
all creatures; so there is one hierarchy, not only of all the angels,
but also of all rational creatures, who can be participators of
sacred things; according to Augustine (De Civ. Dei xii, 1): "There
are two cities, that is, two societies, one of the good angels and
men, the other of the wicked." But if we consider the principality on
the part of the multitude ordered under the prince, then principality
is said to be "one" accordingly as the multitude can be subject in