There are so many angels in Revelation, we lost count way back in Chapter 4. God likes to have an entourage, what can we say? There are angels of destruction, angels of death, messenger angels, warrior angels, and angels who just love playing the trumpet. So what's the deal with all these angels?
Angelic Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
No matter what their job in Heaven, all the angels are servants of God himself. That means they take their orders directly from the Big Guy. In essence, the angels' role is to keep God from getting his hands dirty. Seriously, does the Lord and Creator of the Universe have time to hold back the corners of the Earth? No. So he outsources a bit.
Angels are also obedient to a fault. And they do not question God. Ever. It must be in the angelic handbook or something. Here are just a few of the things they do with absolutely no argument:
• Appear before John to tell him he's going to write Revelation (1:1)
• Sound trumpets of destruction all over the Earth (8:7-10:7)
• Gather non-believers and crush them in a giant wine press (14:19)
• Pour out bowls of plague and death on the people of Earth (16:2-17)
So angels kill a lot of people. Sure, they kill non-believers, but still, they're people. Part of God's creation and all that. Are the angels cool with that? Revelation never says they're anything but loyal and perfectly happy to kill in the name of God. They even dance and sing for joy as the people of Earth are tortured and die.
They're No Angels
Revelation ever so briefly mentions "the angel of the bottomless pit" (9:11). This angel is apparently so evil that he is cast into the core of the Earth. Out of his bottomless pit come freaky-looking locusts that terrorize the Earth.
But if you think this angel is just a disobedient rebel, think again. The angel of the pit still does everything God asks him to. Sure, the angel and his minions really seem to like terrorizing the people of Earth, but when their time is up, they go back into the pit without so much as a whimper.
Actually, the Greek name that's given for this angel—"Apollyon"—might even be another coded stab at Rome. The name means "Destroyer" and might be a reference to the God Apollo (take that, other deities!). It might also be a bit of a slam against Nero, who claimed to be a manifestation of Apollo. Oooh, first-century biblical burn (source, p. 1294).
There is also a brief mention of other angels that fight with the Dragon. Again, the story doesn't explain how these angels found themselves on the side of evil, or why they thought they could get one over on the armies of Heaven. But, kudos for trying anyway, Fallen Angel Army.
Speaking of Angel Armies
Revelation also name drops Michael the Archangel. He leads the angelic heavenly army into battle against the Dragon (12:7), and he manages to toss the Dragon's butt out of Heaven (yet again, if you believe Jude 1:9). It's only one of a handful of times Michael is even mentioned in the Bible, so it's clear that John is bringing out the big guns for this all-out divine war.
Not only do they destroy the world and battle evil, angels also tend to move the story forward. Sometimes they ask questions that prompt important answers (like, "Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?" [5:2] Never mind, it's Jesus. No worries.). Sometimes they explain tough concepts to John (for example, what's the deal with that whole Whore of Babylon thing? [17:7]).
In this way, they're kind of all around players. They're more than willing to pass the ball, but they're also not afraid to go to the rim and dunk when it's needed. Especially when the ball is actually a severed head of some Roman creep. Way to play, Angels. Time to hit the showers and wash off all that blood.
Angels of death, destruction, and war pop up all over the place. In Pilgrim's Progress Apollyon himself battles Christians. John Travolta plays Michael in the Archangel who comes to Earth (but doesn't go to battle with anyone) in the movie Michael. And in Dogma, Loki is a fallen angel of death who decides to challenge God on his policy of killing sinners and is cast out of Heaven and exiled to pre-historic Wisconsin. Patmos is looking better and better.