Why Didn’t God Save Fallen Angels?

John Owen gives his answer in Vol. 1 on his commentary on Hebrews, in Part 2, Excercitation VII.14.

Preliminarily, Owen establishes that God may have justly rescued angels from their sin, but that justice does not obligate God to do so. While the same could be said for God’s redemption of man, there is such a difference between the original transgressions of angels and men that God’s righteousness is more gloriously displayed in withholding rescue from one, and that this reflects good concern for God’s glory being displayed in universe.

1. Angels were created in a higher state than man, in the highest heaven, while man was placed on earth. Earth is good and suitable to man, but not as glorious as heaven.

2. In heaven angels were tasked with attending the throne of God, to minister to him, give glory to him, to execute his commands of providence, all of which together are the highest honors given to creatures. Man was given the duty of cultivating the ground, which while good, is below the vocation of angels.

3. Angels enjoyed the immediate presence of God without a mediator resembling themselves. Man was kept at a greater distance and without such direct communion with God.

At this point Owen affirms that this does not excuse the grievousness of man’s sin, but greatly aggravates the wickedness, ingratitude, and pride of the angels.

4. Both men and angels were able to discern the excellencies and to know the mind of God, but angels had greater capability of such knowledge and this should have worked to improve in their communion with God in way not easily accomplished by man.

5. The difference in their sinful defection matters. Man was “circumvented by the craft and policy of the angels, who were made before him and sinned before him.” Our first parents were seduced and deceived into sin. Angels had no external temptation to provoke them to sin, but chose freely to leave their station and oppose their creator.

6. Mankind is propagated by natural generation, our first parents representing all mankind before God. While they represented all mankind, only two people actually sinned, and they by seduction. Angels in “multitudes inconceivable, by joint conspiracy” apostatized against God.

None of these excuse the sinfulness of man, but the aggravation of the sins of angels “may evidence a condecency unto divine wisdom and goodness in passing them by in their sin and misery unto eternity, and yet giving relief unto mankind.”

7. God has great concern for his glory in the universe. If man had not been rescued, the entire human race would have been lost to sin and misery. “Nothing of that kind could have ever come unto the enjoyment of God, nor could God have ever been glorified by them in a way of thankfulness and praise, which yet was the end why he made that sort of creatures.” Yet, with the angels, only a subset fell into sin. “Angelical nature was preserved…in those millions that kept their obedience.”

“The whole cause of the difference [between the redemption of man and angels] made is to be referred unto the sovereign will, wisdom, and pleasure of God, yet there is that, appearing unto reason, which manifests a suitableness unto his excellencies in the distinction to be put between them.”