Angels have long been the source of confusion in the world. Perhaps the biggest problem stems from a lack of information. The truth is, the scriptures shed little light on angels. (The Bible is about redeeming man, not the history of angels.) Man has further muddied the water by creating artwork that depicts angels as white-robed, white-winged, halo bearing Anglo-Saxons. Man has also created fantastical stories about the angels. The Catholic church even has extensive literature about angels that interestingly enough has more information than the Bible actually reveals. Hopefully this bulletin will serve as an aid and guide in your understanding of the Lord’s angels.
Angels By Definition
The English word for angel actually comes from the Greek angellos. Angellos simply means messenger. There are several times the word is used to describe a human messenger, rather than a messenger sent from Heaven. For instance, John sent messengers (angellos) to Christ in Luke 7:23 and James pointed out that Rahab received messengers in James 2:25. These messengers were clearly to be understood as the spies sent in by Joshua.
It should then be understood that angel is not so much a name as it is a position or “job.” Angels are messengers for the Lord. Some messages were to foretell a birth such as Mary and Elizabeth received. Others were to foretell destruction such as what Lot received concerning Sodom and Gomorrah.
Angels Vs. Humans
There are some similarities as well as differences between mankind and angels. Let us examine a few of these.
1. Both are (or have spirits. In Heb. 1:5-4 the Hebrew writer is emphasizing Christ’s superiority over the angels. But for the purpose of this study our focus is on verse 14 where he writes, “are they not all ministering spirits.” Of course, we also know that man has a spirit (Matt. 22:37), and that we will one day put on a spiritual body (I Cor. 15) making us just like the angels (Luke 20:34-38).
2. Both are living beings. Angels can speak, praise God, chase, persecute, smite among others (Luke 1:13; Zech. 1:19; Psa. 148:2; 35:5-6; Acts 12:23; I Chron. 21:13). We can witness with our own eyes man do these same things.
3. Both are in subjection to God as he created both of us (Col. 1:16).
4. Both have free will. Some angels gave up their proper abode (Jude 6) just as man did in the garden (Gen. 3).
1. Although both are living creatures, man can physically die, where as angles cannot. In Luke 20:34-38 Christ explains that one day (in heaven) we will be like angels in that we cannot die.
2. Although both have free will, men can marry and are given in marriage, angels can neither marry, nor are they given in marriage (Matt. 22:30).
3. Man has redemption through Christ Jesus (Heb. 2:17). The scriptures also explain that man has a mediator in Jesus (I Tim. 2:5). The scriptures are silent concerning this for the fallen angels and whether or not they can be redeemed.
1. There is no evidence that an angel can save a sinner from his sins. In fact, in Heb. 1:1-14 the Hebrew writer is trying to explain that Christ is superior to angels and that it is He whom we are to look toward for the Father chose the Son, not an angel.
2. There is no evidence an angel preached the gospel to anyone. According to Peter, the Holy Spirit inspired men, who were already in good standing with the Lord, not an angel (II Pet. 1:21). Furthermore, we do find occasions in the scripture that would seem fitting for an angel to do this work. An angel told Phillip to go the chariot and speak to the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:36-39) and it was an angel that told Cornelius to send for Peter in Acts 10:1-33. If God intended angels to do the work of evangelism two golden opportunities were missed!
3. There is no evidence that angels would speak to man today. In fact the evidence is against it. Again in the Hebrew letter, the Hebrew writer explains that today he speaks to us through His Son (Heb. 1:1-2). Even if they were to speak to us today, it would be illogical. God has already delivered the gospel once and for all (Jude 3) and he has given us everything pertaining to life and godliness (II Pet. 1:3). Therefore if they spoke what God has already given, then it would not be necessary and if they spoke contrary to what has already been received, then they are to be accursed (Gal. 1:8-9). - WTK
Grinnell church of Christ
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Volume 3 Issue 50 November 18, 2012