How Many Angels Can Dance on the Head of a Pin?

Colossians 2:18, 19

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?” Whether in jest or seriousness, the question is thought to be based on what Thomas Aquinas wrote in his Summa Theologica, (circa 1270 AD). In it he proposed several questions about angels, such as “Can several angels be in the same place? ” Aquinas was a Dominican monk and his Summa work is a compendium of the main Catholic theological teachings of that medieval time. Such ‘pin-head’ questions were later used to discredit scholastic philosophers who…

     …did occupie a place; and so, whether many might be 
     in one place at one time; and how many might sit on 
     a Needles point; and six hundred such like needlesse 

This is the first known instance of a statement that is near our featured question. It is found in the 1619 work of an English clergyman, William Sclater, in An exposition with notes upon the first Epistle to the Thessalonians.

It does seem from the Scripture record that angels are not spatial and so are not confined to our three dimensions. So perhaps a thousand angels could occupy a point! But is that worth arguing?

What does the Bible say? I think a fitting warning is what Saint Paul wrote in Colossians 2:18 and 19:

     Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in 
     false humility and worship of angels, intruding into 
     those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up 
     by his fleshly mind,  and not holding fast to the Head, 
     from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by 
     joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is 
     from God. 

Perhaps the phrase, …worship of angels…could include the idea of seeking answers to foolish questions concerning them!

Paul is saying:

     Don’t get sidetracked with...those things which...
     [are] not seen...,instead concentrate on the impor-
     tant truth:...holding fast to the Head, from whom 
     all the body, nourished and knit together by joints 
     and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from 
  • Who is the Head? Paul answers that in Colossians 1:18: Writing about Jesus Christ, he says, “And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.

Jesus is the head! And if you read Colossians 1:12 through verse 22, you will get an idea of what this head has done for you!

     Verse 12 – He has to be partakers 
         of the inheritance of the saints in the light.We will dwell forever in the glory of God (see 
         Revelaion 4:1-11) with our loved ones! (see I 
         Thessalonians 4:14-17). 
Verse 13 – “He has delivered us from the power 
         of darkness and translated us into the kingdom 
         of the Son of His love.” (see John 5:24).

     Verse 14 – By Jesus’ blood we have been redeem-
         ed, and our sins are forgiven! (see Isaiah 1:18; 
         Psalm 103:12).

     Verse 15 – “He is the image of the invisible 
         God (see John 14:9), and the firstborn over all 
         creation. (see I John 1:7).” 

     Verses 16 and 17 – He is creator of all things, 
         and sustainer of all things! (see Hebrews 1:2, 3).

     Verse 18 – “...He is the head of the church...” 
         (see Matthew 16:18).

             The Jubilee Bible translates Matthew 16:18 
             right:  “And I say also unto thee, That thou 
             art Peter, a small rock, and upon the large 
             rock [Christ Himself] I will build my congre-
             gation...and the gates of Hades shall not 
             prevail against her.Verse 18 – “ the beginning, the first-
         born from the dead (see I Corinthians 15:23), 
         that in all things He may have the preeminence.” 
         (see Philippians 2:8-11).

Verse 19 – “For it pleased the Father that in 
         Him all the fulness should dwell....” (see Phi-
         lippians 2:10, 11).

     Verse 20 – All creation is redeemed through His 
         sacrifice! (see Romans 8:20, 21).

     Verse 21 – “And you, who were once alienated and 
         enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He 
         has reconciled....The worst of us sinners can 
         be saved! (see Luke 24:39-43; I Timothy 1:15). 

     Verse 22 – “ the body of His flesh through 
         death (see Isaiah 53:12; John 19:30), to present 
         you holy, and blameless, and irreproachable in 
         His sight.” (see Ephesians 1:6; 2:13).
  • We are but the body of Christ (see I Corinthians 12:27). The body has no mind of its own! It must take all its direction from the head (the brain)! We must be in submission to our Lord Jesus Christ!

Whether we are in studies for our own growth or to better witness to others so that they may come to saving faith in Jesus, don’t get sidetracked by needlesspinhead questions!

  • The best answer concerning angels is in Hebrews 1:14: “Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?
  • The main focus of witnessing is really threefold:
     1.  We are all sinners before God, destined for hell!  

     2.  Jesus Christ lived the holy life we could never 
         live, then laid down that life as a sacrifice for 
         our sins!  

     3.  He rose from the dead to live forever to receive 
         and save all who come to Him in faith!   

So come to Him, and grow in Him!