The main biblical reference is Colossians 1:16, which says that all things were created in Christ, “the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers.” The Letter to the Ephesians says that Christ is above “every principality, authority, power, and dominion” (1:21). The Seraphim, of course, are key players here because they sing “Holy, Holy, Holy” first in Isaiah 6:2-6.
I have been pondering about the hierarchy of angels as I think about the RM3 Prefaces. While I know there is evidence of the Cherubim and Seraphim, and Archangels, and Hosts in scripture but if you read the passages about “Thrones”, “Dominions”, “Principalities”, etc. you do not necessary come to the conclusion that St. Paul is talking about “heavenly things”. You could take it to mean that Christ is greater than “earthly” ‘thrones, dominions, powers’, etc. (kings, authorities, etc.) At least that is how I always interpreted these passages.
What am I missing that points directly that St. Paul is talking about heavenly beings? Please help.
I referenced this in my book In These or Similar Words. The naming of various groups of angels was in all three Latin editions of the Roman Missal, but the English translation simplified it in the first two editions. New translation rules restored the references in the third edition. Could Paul be referring to earthly powers? Possibly. But the New Testament letters influenced the traditional listing of the choirs of angels, which is reflected in the prefaces. Here’s a quote from my book:
A more literal translation of the Latin conclusion of the first list would be this: “And therefore, with Angels and Archangels, with Thrones and Dominions, and with the entire host of the heavenly army, we sing the hymn of your glory, acclaiming without end.” The translators apparently went to the biblical sources to create the list. The Latin preface does not specifically mention “Powers”.