I'm trying to build a world loosely based on ideas about afterlife in Christianity. In my world God is nowhere to be found and supernatural forces are split into three factions: Hell, Heaven & Purgatory. Each faction has a ruler, and army of angels and human spirits.

Michael rules heaven with army of angels and saints (spirits of good people)

Lucifer rules hell with his army of devils (fallen angels) and demons (spirits of evil people).

Gabriel rules purgatory where angels loyal to him fallowed him after disappearance of god. Gabriel believes that humans are flawed, but their uniqueness is in the journey for improvement.

All three factions covertly compete for human souls. Good people go to heaven, bad people go to hell and those who are flawed but have a chance in redemption go to purgatory.

How to call the angels and human spirits in the service of the Purgatory?

Preferably I would like something that references Christianity, Judaism is OK too.

1st Edit

I don't need biblically correct, just names at least loosely connected with Christianity, that make sense in my world. I don't want to introduce supernatural beings from other religions, like Shintoism or Hinduism or whatever.

I added purgatory because good & evil duality is very boring and has been done to death. Three way fights are much more interesting, whenever one side starts winning the other two gang up together against it, until the new leader emerges when alliances shift again. The unstable dynamics gives me more interesting background to work with.


After some thoughts I decided to combine suggestions from Werrf & Pedro Gabriel.

I decided to keep the name of the third realm as Purgatory, but will use ideas from Sheol. My reasoning is that the term Purgatory is known while the Sheol isn't.

I'll call the angels that rule the third realm watchers since that name fits with my story and there's apocryphal references in Books of Enoch. The alternative shepherds was also good but reminds me too much of Jesus. And those angels are far from good shepherds.

I'll call the human spirits that serve the watchers Rephaim since it has a somewhat sinister sound. The translation shades fits great into my story.

In the end I know that is far from biblically correct, but I don't strive for correctness. So I decided to use elements that I believe serve my storytelling best and at least to my ears sounds good.

In short my idea is described below:

God is absent and without it "angels" play a wicked game of who collects the most human souls by peddling their influence to humans using souls they already have as pawns.

After the soul is sent into one of this"realms", the "angels" might consider it useful enough to return it to Earth in order to bring more souls. They offer the soul a deal, go back to Earth to do their bidding as saint, demon or rephaim, in return you will receive respite from torture, chance to save loved ones or harm your enemies. While the soul is on the Earth, it's job is to influence humans toward the path that leads toward their own realm. Spirits in general work on edge cases, if someone is a remorseless killer, saints & rephaim wouldn't bother with someone who is destined to hell. However as soon as the human soul could go either way, they try to influence it.

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    $\begingroup$ Dante this question is pretty opinion based so I voted to close it. This does not mean it is not interesting just that it is not objectively answerable. I will say (in using the comments to give you some small answer) that purgatory is quite undefined in Catholic teachings. To my knowledge it makes NO appearance in the bible at all. Also Nephilim is a ripoff of the Diablo series so I would suggest avoiding it for original fiction. $\endgroup$
    – James
    Dec 1, 2016 at 14:58
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    $\begingroup$ This is NOT opinion based. I'm writing an answer on angelology, so please don't close it. Also, Nephilim DOES appears on the Bible, on the book of Genesis. $\endgroup$ Dec 1, 2016 at 15:08
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    $\begingroup$ They will know the reference from a videogame, but they won't know the true reference. You said that Nephilim don't appear on the Bible. That is not true. Saying that Nephilim shouldn't be used because of Diablo, is like saying that Zeus shouldn't be used because of God of War. $\endgroup$ Dec 1, 2016 at 15:29
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    $\begingroup$ The series Supernatural had about the same premise. God missing, Heaven and Hell battling and gathering souls. Lucifer vs. Michael. They had a purgatory as well but nobody was running it. Here is a link to perhaps inspire you: supernatural.wikia.com/wiki/Purgatory $\endgroup$
    – DasBeasto
    Dec 1, 2016 at 15:44
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    $\begingroup$ Exactly, Eric. Purgatory IS on the side of Heaven. Purgatory is like a place where the souls, after being purified, enter Heaven (NOT Hell). It is like the shower you take before going to the swimming pool. Pitting Purgatory against Heaven is not compatible with Christianity, just like it doesn't make sense to pit the shower against the pool. However, the OP edited his question saying that it isn't obligatory to be biblically correct, so maybe we can be a little less rigid. $\endgroup$ Dec 1, 2016 at 15:45

3 Answers 3


Disclaimer: I'm not a hebrew scholar, this is entirely from a layman's perspective


Something you may want to investigate is the concept of Sheol, from early Hebrew mythology. This is distinct from later concepts of a divided afterlife in heaven or hell; in earlier times, Sheol was similar to the greek Hades, a place of darkness and quiet where all the dead, righteous or unrighteous, went after death.

In Christianity, Sheol evolved into Hell, the place of torment to which all souls go if they're not saved by Jesus. There are apocryphal stories that tell of Jesus going into the edge of hell and retrieving the biblical patriarchs to take them to heaven - this is probably born of the older idea of Sheol as a place where everyone went. It's also the part that is referenced in the Apostles creed with "He descended into hell".

For your scenario, you could consider Sheol to be that third place, distinct from both heaven and Hell, where those who died with original sin but did not commit terrible crimes to deserve hell could be sent.

People (shades) who were in Sheol could be called Rephaites or Rephaim, though that name also refers to a tribe of giants. This could be a good name for those spirits and angels trying to redeem themselves.

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    $\begingroup$ I second your motion, since Sheol would be less problematic from a jewish-christian point of view than pitting Purgatory against Heaven. But Sheol is, like you said, more analogous with Hades, where the shadows of the dead dwelt, without suffering nor joy. Like the darkness and quietness of the tomb. So, Sheol would never stand for penitence... the dwellers of such place would be more of a representative of nihilism, than penitence or morally grey areas. $\endgroup$ Dec 1, 2016 at 16:51
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    $\begingroup$ Sheol works too, I just want to avoid good evil duality since it quickly becomes boring. I think Rephaim is a very good name for angels in that place, sounds old & sinister. Now I just need name for the human spirits analogous to saints and demons. Or I could call the angels watchers and the spirits Rephaim. $\endgroup$
    – Dante
    Dec 1, 2016 at 17:06
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    $\begingroup$ Call the angels Watchers and the human spirits Rephaim. Also, humans spirits shouldn't be named demons, but rather sinners. Demons are angels, not humans. $\endgroup$ Dec 1, 2016 at 17:12
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    $\begingroup$ @Dante Make the human spirits Rephaim, and the angels Shepherds, guiding and guarding their charges towards the light. $\endgroup$
    – Werrf
    Dec 1, 2016 at 17:12
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    $\begingroup$ @slobodan.blazeski: Acording to Christian angelology, "demons", "devils", "fallen angels" and "evil spirits" are completely interchangeable (with the caveat for evil spirits which may refer to phantoms of the damned deceased, which are not demons, because they are not angels) $\endgroup$ Dec 1, 2016 at 17:59

Kingledion is right. You can't have a christian view where God is nowhere to be found and the angels rule over the Three Kingdoms. However, if you still wish to proceed with this idea, here are my suggestions:

First of, I wouldn't recomend Gabriel to rule over Purgatory. I would recomend Raphael or Uriel.

Raphael is an archangel mentioned on the Book of Tobit and he is seen as having healing powers. According to Catholicism, he is one of the patron saints of Medicine. Since Purgatory is seen as a place of purification, this could be seen as a form of healing.

As for Uriel, even though his name isn't mentioned in the Bible, he is an archangel present on jewish tradition that says that he was the one that was sent to guard the Doors of Eden with a fiery sword. Since Purgatory is a fiery place analogous with the Door of Paradise, that will only open after penance has been achieved, I think he is a fitting character.

Another source you must consider for you to study Angelolgy from a christian point of view are the writings of the Pseudo-Dyonisius Areopagite. He orderer the angels according to six hierarchies: Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, Dominations, Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Archangels and Angels.

Note, these are seven hierarchies that correspond to both angels and demons. It is probable that what we call archangels would be actually seraphim, the higher ranking. Lucifer could be a seraphim and all the other fallen angels could belong to any other rank below him.

So, as for angels of Purgatory, you would have to rank them according to this hierarchy too. However, you could make a rank more prevalent on the Purgatory side of the struggle than on the others.

The hierarchies are divided in three spheres: The higher sphere includes Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones - these are closer to God. The middle sphere the Dominations, Powers and Virtues - these are intermediates between the divine and earthly realms. And the inferior the Principalities, Archangels and Angels - these are closer to humans and the world, which they guard.

I think the inferior spheres would be nearer to humans and therefore, would be more compassionate for their frailty. But you can imagine other alternatives, just study each hierarchy's properties:


Another hypothesis would be to use The Watchers. Those were featured on the recent Noah movie.

Basically they aren't present on canonical books, but in apocryphal books, like the Book of Enoch. They fell on Earth because they pitied the fallen human race. But they are not equal to the demons, who fell because they rejected God and hated humans.

So, the Watchers, while un-ortodox from a religious point of view, are actually a kind of intermediate state between angel and demon.

You also have a list of names: "And these are the names of their leaders: Sêmîazâz, their leader, Arâkîba, Râmêêl, Kôkabîêl, Tâmîêl, Râmîêl, Dânêl, Êzêqêêl, Barâqîjâl, Asâêl, Armârôs, Batârêl, Anânêl, Zaqîêl, Samsâpêêl, Satarêl, Tûrêl, Jômjâêl, Sariêl. 8. These are their chiefs of tens."

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watcher_(angel)

Finally, I would refer you to Dante's Purgatorio. Though the angels, as far as I remember, aren't named there, there are many names which you could use as characters from your book, even angelic ones.

I would also like to say that I like Lu22's idea of calling the humans, The Penitent. It is absolutely in keeping with the christian's idea of Purgatory.

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    $\begingroup$ I did take the poster's pre-requisites and go from there. He said he wanted something taken from Christianism or Judaism... but his plot isn't compatible with Christianity. This isn't about opinion, it's about theology. Ask any theologically-literate christian. So yeah, it is "contrary to known science" if you count theology in. HOWEVER: after my disclaimer, I went on to answer the OP's question. I think I did it and managed to do it with good references on christianity and judaism, which is what the OP asked. If the OP thinks I missed anything, he may comment and say what I didn't get. $\endgroup$ Dec 1, 2016 at 15:34
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    $\begingroup$ Any person that is trying to build a world based on christian angelology MUST know about Pseudo-Dyonisius Areopagite. Christian angelology began with him. This isn't opinion. This is fact. $\endgroup$ Dec 1, 2016 at 15:37
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    $\begingroup$ Rather, name the angels Watchers and name the humans as Penitents $\endgroup$ Dec 1, 2016 at 15:57
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    $\begingroup$ @PedroGabriel OK watchers for the angels. However Penitent has too many syllables, how about ruthful dictionary.com/browse/ruthful for the human spirits? $\endgroup$
    – Dante
    Dec 1, 2016 at 16:13
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    $\begingroup$ @Dante: English is not my native language... but from what I read on the dictionary, I think ruthful is fine. $\endgroup$ Dec 1, 2016 at 16:16

Well considering they aren't aligned with good or evil here are a few ideas:

  • The Remnant (Those who do not fit good or evil)
  • The Forsaken (Not good enough for Heaven so left behind)
  • The Penitent or Repentant (Hoping to be absolved of their sin)
  • The Unmarked (Neither having the mark of God or the Mark of the Beast)

For more effect you could also translate the names (Hebrew and Greek to keep with the biblical languages) or Latin (in line with the catholic texts).

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    $\begingroup$ Upvote because this is the only direct answer to the only direct question. The question was about what the class of beings should be named - not about hierarchies or mechanics or the biblical accuracy of the idea $\endgroup$
    – automaton
    Dec 1, 2016 at 21:15
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    $\begingroup$ @automaton Appreciated. An unfortunate trend in World Building SE is that people are more concerned with showing how smart they are than actually answering the question. $\endgroup$
    – Lu22
    Dec 2, 2016 at 5:13
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    $\begingroup$ I'm not debating the legitimacy of our answer - it's well though out and I agree with the names you gave 100% -, just saying that the OP asked for names for a made up world BASED on but not consisting OF Judeo-Christian theology, so imposing that theology on the OP is unnecessary. $\endgroup$
    – Lu22
    Dec 2, 2016 at 10:17
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    $\begingroup$ No worries man. I also did not mean to offend in any way. My comment was referring other Worldbuilding threads I've been on. I had not even read your answer when I wrote it. Sorry for the mix up $\endgroup$
    – Lu22
    Dec 2, 2016 at 10:21
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    $\begingroup$ @Dante. Thanks. The cool thing about Watchers and Shades is that both names are neutral, but can easily be shifted to good or evil if need be. $\endgroup$
    – Lu22
    Dec 4, 2016 at 8:51

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