In Christian mythology, a fallen angel is an angel exiled or banished from Heaven after not obeying God's mandate or rebelling against Him. After the First War in Heaven, many angels were expelled from it, therefore becoming fallen angels.
A fallen angel is also slang for a bond of a former solid company that has fallen on 'hard times', and which is now selling for significantly less than par value. See junk bond.
The most infamous fallen angel is Lucifer; although this word never refers to a fallen angel in the Bible. According to Christian belief, fallen angels roam the earth until Judgment Day. They are then banished to Hell.
Reasons of their fall
There are a few hypotheses and myths regarding the fall of angels; most of them having free will —lust or pride— as main theme, or an incomprehensible understanding of the acts of God.
The different sides of God
This hypothesis deals with God having two opposite sides of Himself, as he is omnipotent and his radiance is powerful. The first side, a divine or 'bright' side, and the second one, a shadow or 'dark' side. If mortals were to see God's bright side, that would be the end of them; since His radiance would incinerate them instantaneously.
In this hypothesis, the shadow side of God was the side through which God was able to communicate with mortals. As Judaism evolved, so did the two sides of God. The Shadow became God's Word, then the Voice, and finally it became its own being completely with its own free will. Now that the dark side of God had been completely removed from Him, and hence separate, it began to take on some aspects that mortals were familiar with: destruction, betrayal, temptation, etc. This caused the dark side of God to become what many know as Satan. The word "Satan" is incidentally a version of the Hebrew word Ha-Satan, meaning "adversary".
The movie Dogma by Kevin Smith exposes a similar situation: in Dogma, God is unable to speak to humans by his own word; instead He has to use an angel to communicate with them, because his own voice is so powerful that it would kill them immediately.
Consequences of free will
These hypotheses or myths deal with free will and the problems that creatures who possess it can run into.
The hypothesis was first put forth by Origen of Alexandria, one of the most distinguished Fathers of the early Christian Church. Origen believed that God had created all the angels equal and free. However, by having the power of free will, some of these angels began to move farther away from God by their own choice. Origen maintained that those who drifted the least remained in the regions closest to God; while those who moved further out fell into the lower air, and these became what we know as Angels (the lowest order of the angels' hierarchy). Those who moved still further away became humans, and finally those who moved the furthest away from God became the Fallen Ones, or demons. These Fallen are those that make up Hell.
Origen states metaphorically that, although these angels fell and became humans or demons, all hope is not lost because men can become angels, and demons can also regain their former angelic appearance. In contrast, angels can also fall to become men, and if depraved enough, become demons.
This hypothesis comes from a series of non-canonical books titled The Three Books of Enoch, a set of books found in the Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament. According to the hypothesis, God asked a select group of angels (the Grigori) to assist the Archangels in the creation of Eden. This group of angels were called the Watchers. The Watchers who descended to earth saw the daughters of men and became enchanted with them. Consequently, they began to reveal to man some of the secrets of Heaven; such as the movement of the heavenly bodies (Astrology), the art of making weapons (Armory), and also the enhancement of the face and body with perfumes and make-up (vanity). The Watchers fell in love with the women and some of them even took wives and created offspring, giants, known as the Nephilim. This made God angry, so angry in fact that He cursed those who had betrayed Him, threw them out of Heaven, and made them mortal or transformed them into demons. God sent the Great Flood in order to clean the mess done on earth by the wanton killing and destruction perpetrated by the Nephilim. Some notable angels who fell in this account are Semyazza, Sammael (Satan), and Azazel. A single verse from the Book of Genesis in the Old Testament also alludes to this event but nothing more is said about it in the Bible:
And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown. (Genesis 6:1-4)
This myth involves Lucifer's rebellion against God, very known among Christians. Lucifer was the first angel and a Cherub to be created as the mightiest. He had the most intelligence and power in Heaven, second only to God himself. His radiance outshone that of any other angel and his beauty was unmatched anywhere in Heaven. Unfortunately, Lucifer became very ambitious and self-centered, until one day he decided that he was going to show everyone his power. To prove this he was going to raise his throne to the height of God's throne. However, other angels didn't approve Lucifer's plan, as they did not want a lower being trying to be equal to God and his power. When Lucifer went ahead with his plan, he was instantly hurled out of Heaven.
It should be noted that this account for the rebellion might come from ancient Canaanite manuscripts that deal with one of their own deities, a being by the name of Shahar . Shahar was thrown out due to the same shortcoming that Lucifer had, pride.
The hypothesis establishes that God created the angels with free will, but He observed that they were fallible . God thought that his creation might give in to sin too easily. His solution was to strengthen some of his angels in a pursuit of goodness by an act of Grace. He then created another group of angels, but this time he did not give them His Grace and waited to see what happened. As He thought, this second group of angels gave in to sin. War erupted in heaven and ended with a legion of pure angels casting out the sinners.
This hypothesis is usually linked with the Pride hypothesis, in which Lucifer had an army of angels supporting him and waged the First War in Heaven when other angels opposed his plan.
Bowing to mankind
This hypothesis deals with God's mandate to the angels to bow before men. It is said that when God created man, He wanted to have His angels acknowledge him by bowing down to him, but the angels didn't obey the mandate. This origin of this idea is most likely the Book of Adam and Eve, an apocryphal text which most scholars agree was written somewhere near the end of the first century A.D.
- The devil replied, 'Adam, what dost thou tell me? It is for thy sake that I have been hurled from that place. When thou wast formed, I was hurled out of the presence of God and banished from the company of the angels. When God blew into thee the breath of life and thy face and likeness was made in the image of God, Michael also brought thee and made (us) worship thee in the sight of God; and God the Lord spake: Here is Adam. I have made thee in our image and likeness.'
- And Michael went out and called all the angels saying: 'Worship the image of God as the Lord God hath commanded.' And Michael himself worshipped first; then he called me and said: 'Worship the image of God the Lord.' And I answered, 'I have no (need) to worship Adam.' And since Michael kept urging me to worship, I said to him, 'Why dost thou urge me? I will not worship an inferior and younger being (than I). I am his senior in the Creation, before he was made was I already made. It is his duty to worship me.'
- When the angels who were under me heard this, they refused to worship him. And Michael saith, 'Worship the image of God, but if thou wilt not worship him, the Lord God will be wrath with thee.' And I said, 'If He be wrath with me, I will set my seat above the stars of heaven and will be like the Highest.'
- Author Unknown: Book of Adam and Eve, 13–15.
Disobedience & Pride
In John Milton's epic poem Paradise Lost, Azazel is the standard-bearer of the infernal host. According to the Koran, when God commanded the angels to worship Adam, Azazil replied, "Why should the son of fire fall down before a son of clay?" and God cast him out of heaven. His name was then changed to Eblis, which means "despair."
- Then straight commands that, at the warlike sound
- Of trumpets loud and clarions, be upreared
- His mighty standard. That proud honour claimed
- Azazel as his right, a Cherub tall:
- Milton: Paradise Lost, Book I. v530–533. 
Though this myth appears in the Koran and later in Milton's work, it is clear that the Koran offers only a slightly modified version of the account contained in the Book of Adam and Eve. Most likely, the presence of this myth in both the Muslim and Christian religions can be traced back to the first century A.D. and the Book of Adam and Eve which was popular reading among early Christians and would have certainly found its way into secular life as well.
Obedience of God
There is a Sufi version of the story that states that Lucifer was the angel who loved God the most. At the time of the angels' creation, God told them to bow to no one but Him. However, God created mankind, whom He considered were superior to the angels and commanded the angels to bow before the new figure; forgetting His previous commandment. Lucifer refused, partly because he could not forget the first commandment, but also because he would only bow to his Beloved God. The other angels expelled Lucifer from Heaven as they saw him as insubordinate; because after all, God's mandate is unquestionable, regardless of what He said in the past. Those who believe in this myth do not consider Lucifer nor the Fallen Angels as demons, as they didn't literally rebel against God by refusing His mandate, because they believed that creatures should only bow before God and no one else.
List of fallen angels
Main article: List of fallen angels.
- Goldwin, Malcom. Angels: An Endangered Species. Gill & Macmillan Ltd. ISBN 0752205706. November 4, 1996.
- Benton, C. Summary of Angels: An endangered species.