What About … Angels
It seems as though angels have captured the imagination of people everywhere. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation about angels, along with superstitions and unscriptural understanding. This pamphlet will provide a Biblical perspective on angels.
Do angels exist?
The Word of God—not popular television shows or magazine articles—is our only reliable source for knowing what angels are, and what they do. The Bible teaches us that angels were made by God during the six days of creation. Before creation there was only God (John 1:1-3), and after creation, we are told that on the seventh day God “rested from all the work of creating he had done” (Gen. 2:3b). The Bible does not indicate on which day of creation God made angels. But angels are very real.
What does the word “angel” mean?
The word “angel” comes from a Greek word that means “messenger”. Angels are God’s messengers. Elsewhere in the Bible, angels are described as spirits (cf. Acts 23:9; Heb.1:14). The word “angel” is actually a description of what they do.
What are angels?
Angels are spirits. They are beings who do not have a physical body. Jesus Himself said, “a spirit does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have” (Luke 24:39). Evil angels too are described as not having “flesh and blood” (Eph. 6:12). In the Scriptures, when angels do appear in human form, this is only a momentary appearance for those who need to see them. Angels are not gods. They are God’s creation and serve His holy and perfect will. The good angels are said to be “ministering spirits” (Heb. 1:14), sent by God to serve us, His people.
Are angels human?
Human beings are the crown of God’s creation. Only of human beings, and no other creature, did God say, “Let us make man in our own image” (Gen. 1:26). Furthermore, the Scriptures reveal that only into human beings did God breathe the breath of life (Gen. 2:7). Also, God did not give angels rule over His creation. This privilege He gave only to mankind (Gen. 1:26-28). Angels are not human beings. They exist as spirits who serve God and His people.
Do human beings become angels when they die?
No, human beings do not become angels when they die.
The Scriptures are clear on this point. Until the last day, the souls of the dead are before the Lord, enjoying peace and rest in His presence, awaiting the final day when they will receive glorified bodies for all eternity (see Cor. 15; 1 Thess.5:17; Rev.7)
Are angels intelligent beings?
The Bible describes angels as having both intelligence and a will. The good angels know and follow the wisdom of God, which He has revealed through Christ to His church (Eph.3:10). They gladly serve us, who are the heirs of the salvation Christ has won for us (Heb.1:14). However, angels do not know all things. For instance, they do not know the thoughts of our hearts (1 Kings 8:39).
How powerful are angels?
Angels are extremely powerful beings. They are described as “mighty ones” (Ps.103:20;2 Thess.1:7). The good angels guard and protect God’s children (Ps.91:11-13). The power of the angels is never unlimited, but is always subject to the will and authority of God.
Evil angels too are powerful beings. The Bible tell us that they hold captive all unbelievers (Luke 11:21-22; Eph.2:2). Believers in Christ are able to withstand the temptation of evil angels through the power of God (Eph.6:10-17).
Where are angels?
Angels, like God, do not inhabit the same physical dimension that human beings inhabit. From time to time, they are ordered by God to appear in our physical dimension. Thus, while there are times when angels will make an appearance at a distinct place (cf.Acts 12:7), they remain beings that inhabit no physical space.
How many angels are there?
The Bible does not give us an exact number, but does clearly teach that there are incredibly large numbers of angels who serve God. Scripture speaks of “ten thousand times ten thou-sand angels” (Dan.7:10). Elsewhere Scriptures speaks of “a great company of the heavenly host” (Luke 2:13).
From every indication in the Bible, there are an unimaginably large number of angels, of whom we are totally unaware most of the time. There is a fixed and limited number of angels, nev-er increasing or decreasing. Unlike human beings, angels do not marry and have children (Mark 12:25). They are immoral.
Are all angels the same?
Within the large numbers of angels there are apparently certain orders or classes of angels. Scripture speaks of “cherubim” (Gen.3:24; Ps 80:1), “seraphim” (Is.6:2), “thrones or powers or rulers or authorities” (Col.1:16), “archangel” (1 Thess.4:16).
Also among the evil angels there are ranks and classes of angels (Matt.25:41). Stan is described as the “Prince of the devils” (Luke 11:15). It is pointless, however, to try to invent complicated divisions and ranks of angels, since Scripture itself does not provide us with this information.
What are evil angels, and what do they do?
Originally, all angels God created were good and did His will perfectly. At some point after God created them, some angels chose to rebel against Him. They fell away from God and into great sin and evil. At that point, they were confirmed in their evil condition. There is no hope for them. In Matt.8:29, they recognize that there will be a time when they must suffer eternal torment and punishment for their rebellion against God.
Satan is the chief evil angel, the “prince of demons” (Luke 11:15). Here is how our Lord Jesus Christ describes Satan: “He was a mur-dered from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth to him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).
When precisely the evil angels rebelled and fell away form God we cannot say for sure, but we do know it was some time at the very be-ginning of the world. Most Christian church fathers believe that the evil angels’ original sin was pride, based on the fact that Satan’s temp-tation of Adam and Eve was an appeal to their pride. Also, 1 Tim.3:6 indicated that pride was the cause of the devil’s condemnation.
The devil is our great enemy, who “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Pet.5:8). The Bible tells us that the devil is the cause of unbelief in the world (Eph.2:1-2). Every person who does not believe the good news of Christ Jesus is thinking and doing what he devil wants. Unbelievers are described in the Bible as being in the devil’s kingdom and under his power (Acts 26:18; Col. 1:13). The very fact that people do not realize this, and even deny it, is the devil’s greatest deception. The devil is so deceptive, at times he will even disguise himself as an “angel of light” (2 Cor.11:14). In fact, the Old Testament once refers to Stan as “Lucifer,” which means, “light bearer” (Isa.14:12;KJV).
We need to keep in mind that all the Bible says about evil angels, and their eternal punishment, is for the purpose of making us recog-nize the need to repent and believe in God’s Son, Jesus Christ, who has ransomed mankind by His death, and saved us for eternal life, not in hell, but in heaven.
What do good angels do?
Good angels enjoy the blessing of being able to see God. They are in the immediate presence of God, always beholding His great glory, majesty and power (Matt.18:10). This is called the “beatific vision,” which all Christians will enjoy one day when they are in heaven.
God’s Word reveals the following things about the activity of good angels: They praise God (Is.6:3; Luke 2:13), and they are the Lord’s servants in the world and in the Church (Ps.103:20-21; Heb.1:14).
God sends angels to serve and to protect Christian believers in their work and their callings in life (Ps.91:11-12). They attend to the dying (Luke 16:22). They care for children (Matt.18:10). Angels are deeply interested in all that occurs in the Church. They adore and take great joy in the work of Jesus Christ for the salvation for the world (Luke 2:13;Eph.3:10) They rejoice over every sinner who repents (Luke 15:10) .
Scripture mentions the presence of angels at every great event in the Kingdom of God. Angels were present when God gave His law on Mt.Sinai (Deut.33:2; Gal.3:19). Angels were present at the concep-tion, birth, resurrection and ascension of our Lord (Luke 1:26; 2:11; Mark 1:13; 24:5; Acts 1:10). Angels will come with Jesus when He returns on the last day (Matt.13:41; 24:31).
The Bible tells us that angels are present in the public worship of Christians (1 Cor. 11:10). God also uses angels to help the family and to preserve law and order (Gen.24:7; Matt.18:10; Dan.10:13).
How are we to treat angels?
We need to praise and thank God for good angels. We are told that we are to take care not to offend them through sin and unbelief (1 Cor.11:10; 1 Tim.5:21). But the Scriptures are also clear that we must not pray to angels, nor offer them our worship. The angels them-selves protest any worship given to them (Rev.22:8-9).
As believers, we have the privilege of having angels surrounding us and protecting us and working to do God’s good and perfect will in our lives. Our hope and trust is always in God, whom we now sends His angels to watch over us and to see us through whatever difficulty in life may come our way.
Dr. A. L. Barry
The Lutheran Church –Missouri Synod