Q. In my recent study of false prophets in 2 Peter 2:10 and Jude 8 the term glorious ones (ESV) or celestial beings (NIV) was used to describe that which the false prophets blaspheme but angels dare not. Who are these glorious ones? The Greek word for glorious ones and how it’s used in other verses it puzzling.
A. The Greek word translated celestial beings is doxa. Various superlatives are used to define the word, one of which is the majesty of God to which Christ was raised after His ascension. Paul described this as being far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given not only in the present age but in the one to come (Ephes. 1:19-21).
By comparing the two references you cited we see that while neither writer was referring to the Father or the Son, the phrase celestial beings doesn’t describe ordinary angels either. Jude used the example of Michael the Archangel not daring to bring accusations against Satan (Jude 1:9). The title Archangel means chief of the angels and Michael’s function is captain of the Lord’s Host, or head of His armies. Therefore Satan must have been numbered among these celestial beings, all of whom are superior in rank to Michael. That would place them at the very head of the angelic ranks.
Perhaps the most remarkable use of this word is that Paul chose a compound form of it to describe us as a glorious church in Ephes 5:27. When Jesus stepped down from His throne, He bypassed the angelic ranks to become a man so He could save mankind. When He ascended to Heaven and returned to His throne He provided the way for us to ascend above the angels and be seated with Him there (Ephes. 2:6-7, Hebrews 2:5-8).