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By Norman Manzon
"Angels" is one study of a compendium of extensive and detailed biblical expositions of the doctrinal statement of The Association of Messianic Congregations. The full compendium may be accessed at: A Key Doctrinal Overview and Exegesis.
This study will demonstrate biblical support for the existence of angels, describe their nature, support the claims in the statement, and lay the foundation for our next study, "Satan and Demons."
"Angels are mentioned in Scripture 273 times, in 33 of the 66 books" (Fruchtenbaum, Dr. Arnold G. Radio Manuscript # 73: Angelology: The Doctrine of the Elect Angels. P. 5. San Antonio: Ariel Ministries Press). I might add that they are mentioned in every type of Bible book. They are mentioned in:
the Nevi'im (Prophets), as in Zechariah 2:3:
the Ketuvim (Writings), as in Psalm 91:11:
The New Testament, in:
the Books of Acts, as in Acts 7:52-53:
the Epistles, as in 1Timothy 5:21:
and The Revelation, as in 5:11:
It is obvious that the writers of Scripture take the existence of angels for granted, as does the Son of Man, Himself. Speaking of Himself, He said,For the Son of Man shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He shall reward each one according to his works (Matthew 16:27).
Angels are not emanations from God, nor are they the present state of the deceased, or fat little babies with wings. The Bible gives no credence to these imaginary ideas. Neither does the Bible ever present angels as imaginary or symbolic beings. What, then, are angels?
All three members of the Tri-unity cooperated in the creation of all things; but Colossians 1:16 focuses on Christ as Creator of all things, including,invisible things, namely, thrones or dominions or principalities or powers, which are rankings of angels: For all things were created in Him, the things in the heavens, and the things on the earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers, all things were created through Him and for Him.
God chides Job,Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me if you have understanding! 5. Who has set its measurements, for you know? Or who has stretched the line on it? 6. On what are its bases sunk, or who cast its cornerstone, 7. when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy? (Job 38:4-6)
Verse 7 tells us thatthe morning stars, the sons of God, that is, angels, rejoiced as God created and established the physical universe. It is clear, then, that God created the angels before He created the physical universe. And inasmuch as the Scriptures say nothing about the creation of angels at any other time, and that Messiah did say that angels are incapable of reproduction (Mark 12:25), it is fair to conclude that they were all created at the same time before the creation of the heavens and the earth.
There are three classes of beings that either are spirit, or have spirits. God is a Spirit, people have spirits, and angels are spirits. That angels are spirit beings is clearly stated in Hebrews 1:14:13. But to which of the angels, did He say at any time, "Sit on My right hand until I make Your enemies Your footstool?" 14. Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for those who shall be the heirs of salvation?
The attributes of personality are intellect, emotions and will.
Angels Possess Intellect. 1 Peter 1:12 tells us thatthe angels desire to look into salvation. They desire to ponder it. This cannot be done without intellect.
Angels Have Emotions. At creation, the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy (Job 38:7). Joy is an emotion.
Each Angel Possesses a Will. Jude 1:6 speaks of certain angels having deserted their dwelling place; and that requires free will.
As we have seen in Hebrews 1:14, angelsare...spirits; and yet the Scriptures present them as having bodies. This is difficult for us to comprehend because the only kinds of bodies we are familiar with are material bodies; but even among material bodies there are vastly different kinds. There are bodies of flesh, blood and bone, but there are also jellyfish bodies; and let's not forget that after the resurrection, we, ourselves, will have vastly different kinds bodies than we have now, immortal bodies suited for life in the heavenlies (1 Corinthians 15:50). So God can be quite versatile in the creation of bodies.
Angels do not have bodies of flesh and bones. In His glorified state, Jesus declared,a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see Me have (Luke 24:39).
Since their bodies are not material bodies, even glorified material bodies, and since the Bible does not say that they have spirits, but are spirits, it seems logical to designate their bodies as spirit bodies.
Angels are always spoken of in the masculine gender. "The Greek does have a neuter form, but does not use the neuter form for angels; it always uses the masculine noun and the masculine pronoun" (Fruchtenbaum, Dr. Arnold G. Radio Manuscript # 73: Angelology: The Doctrine of the Elect Angels. San Antonio: Ariel Ministries Press. P. 11). It is also noteworthy that whenever they do appear in human form, they appear as young men.
There are three classes or ranks or orders of angels. In ascending order, there are those that are simply called angels, and then there are the seraphim (plural of seraph) and the cherubim (plural of cherub). Those that are simply called angels have the appearance of young men. The seraphim and cherubim appear human in certain of their features, and have the appearance of certain kosher (ceremonially clean) or regal animals in other of their features. In addition, the angels have no wings, the seraphim have three pairs, and the cherubim have one pair.
In Luke 8:30, an entire legion of fallen angels had entered into the Gadarene: And Jesus asked him, saying, "What is your name?" And he said, "Legion"; because many demons had entered into him.
Angels are immortal: They are incapable of dying. In Luke 20:36, Jesus said,Nor can they die any more, for they are equal to the angels....
Angels are exceedingly powerful. In 2 Chronicles 32:21, a single angel destroyed the entire Assyrian army:And Jehovah sent an angel to cut off all the mighty men of power, and the leaders and commanders in the camp of the king of Assyria.
Holiness, in this case meaning sinlessness in nature and action, is an attribute that applies only to those angels who did not follow Lucifer in his rebellion against God and have consequently retained their unblemished holiness ever since. In Luke 9:26, Jesus said,For whoever shall be ashamed of Me and of My Words, the Son of Man shall be ashamed of him when He shall come in His own and in His Father's glory, and that of the holy angels.
The angelic rebellion will be covered in our next study.
All of the holy angels are unflagging servants of God and of the saved of all ages. Hebrews 1:14:Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for those who shall be heirs of salvation? But within that broad cover of being servants of God and the saved of all ages, each of the angelic orders has its own areas of holy service. We'll look at each order, beginning with the highest, and touch on the highlights of its realms of service.
Cherubim are intimately associated with the Shechinah, the glorious, visible manifestation of the presence of God, as in Ezekiel 1:26-28; 9:3 and 10:1-22. In Ezekiel 10:1, we see the throne of God burning with glory and hovering above the cherubim:And I looked, and behold! In the expanse over the head of the cherubs was seen the appearance of the form of a throne, like a sapphire stone, above them.
We can see this association, as well, in the multiple representations and associations of the cherubim in the Solomonic Temple (Exodus 25:18-22; 26:1; 37:7-9; 1 Kings 6:23-28; 1 Kings 7:29, 36; 1 Kings 8:6-7; 1 Chronicles 28:18; 2 Chronicles 3:7; Ezekiel 9:3; 10:1-22) and Millennial Temple (Ezekiel 41:18-20).
Angels also appear to be guarding the twelve gates of New Jerusalem, the future and eternal abiding place of the saved of all ages: Revelation 21:12:And it had a great and high wall, with twelve gates. And on the gates were twelve angels, and having names inscribed, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel:
The type of guardianship we see in these scriptures differs from the guardianship of those angels whom we call guardian angels. The Edenic and New Jerusalem guardianship are over places. The guardianship of guardian angels is over individual people or groups of people, as we will see.
Isaiah 6:1-7.1. In the year that King Uzziah died I then saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and His train filled the temple. 2. Above it stood the seraphs; each one had six wings; with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3. And one cried to another, and said, "Holy, holy, holy, is Jehovah of Hosts; the whole earth full of His glory". 4. And the doorposts moved at the voice of the one who cried, and the house was filled with smoke. 5. Then I said, "Woe is me! For I am undone; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, Jehovah of Hosts". 6. Then one of the seraphs flew to me, having a live coal in his hand, snatched with tongs from the altar. 7. And he laid it on my mouth and said, "Lo, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged."
From this passage, we see that the seraphim hover above God's throne and worship Him. We also see that they are involved in the sanctification of those whom God calls. In Revelation 5:8-10, 14, we see them worshiping the Lamb. In Revelation 6:1-7 and chapters 15 and 16, we see them announcing and carrying out God's bowl judgments during the Great Tribulation.
As has been noted, one of the three orders of angels is designated simply as angels. The hosts, or armies, of God, are angels, and Michael the archangel is their commander (Revelation 12:7). In Daniel 10:13-21, we see that Michael has special oversight over the nation of Israel. In Daniel 8:15-27; 9:20-27; Lu. 1:11-20; 26-38, the angel Gabriel was God's messenger of revelation. So we see that members of this class of angels serve in a military capacity, and at least one has served as a messenger. It is likely, as well, that the guardian angels, are of this class of angel.
Guardian angels is not a term found in the Bible, but the Bible does note that some angels are assigned guardianships over individuals and certain groups of people.
We've seen that cherubim and seraphim are primarily engaged in the worship and holiness of God. We've also seen that Michael, who is in the lower rank of angels, has a guardianship over Israel. It therefore seems more than likely that the guardian angels are among the lower rank of angels.
Angels are assigned guardianships over believers. Psalm 34:7:The Angel of Jehovah camps round about those who fear Him, and delivers them.
This scripture definitely applied to Old Testament saints. Whether or not it applies to church saints is addressed below.
In view of the fact that the righteous have guardian angels, Albert Barnes concludes: "We should not despise the obscurest Christian, for he is ministered to by the highest and noblest of beings, by beings who are always enjoying the favor and friendship of God." (Albert Barnes' Notes on the Bible)
In Matthew 18:10, Jesus said,Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I say to you that in Heaven their angels always behold the face of My Father in Heaven.
Judging from Psalm 34:7 and Psalm 91:11-12, and by the fact that Jesus said,Take heed! Watch out! we need to conclude that these angels are guardians; and as it is obvious that babies are alive within the womb (Luke 1:41), it is fair to conclude that each child is assigned a guardian angel at the moment of conception.
In Revelation 2:1 - 3:14, John was commissioned to write a letter to the angel over each of the seven churches of Asia. The Greek word for "angel," angelos, means messenger. Angelos has been translated that way a number of times in the New Testament in clear reference to human messengers (Matthew 11:10, Mark 1:2, Luke 7:27, Philippians 2:25), but it is also used frequently in clear reference to heavenly angels (e.g., Acts 5:19). As concerns the angels to the seven churches, the question arises as to whether angelos should be translated as a celestial "angel," or as a human "messenger." I've seen good arguments for both positions, but I lean toward the former for these reasons:
This angel is never called an angel of the LORD, but always the Angel of the LORD (YHVH). He is a special, unique angel.
Exodus 3:2,4:2. And the Angel of Jehovah appeared to him in a flame of fire, out of the midst of a thorn bush.... 4. And Jehovah saw that he had turned aside to see. God called to him out of the midst of the thorn bush, and said, "Moses! Moses!" And he said, "Here I am."
The Angel of Jehovah in verse 2 is clearly identical with Jehovah and God in verse 4.
We'll prove this by relating passages from Exodus 3 and 4 and Numbers 22-24 with 1 Corinthians 10:1-4.
It is obvious that this Angel is God - but which Person?
Now, 1 Corinthians 10:1-4: 1. And, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea. 2. And all were baptized to Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3. and all ate the same spiritual food, 4. and all drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank of the spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.
Thespiritual Rock that followed them was the Angel so intimately involved in their Exodus and wilderness wanderings; and that Rock was Christ.
As did the other angels who appeared on earth, whenever the Angel of the Jehovah appeared on earth, He had the appearance of a man, as can be seen in Judges 13:3-11, in which Samson's parents thought that the Angel was a man.
In examining the passages in which the Angel of the LORD appeared, the overall picture is that He orchestrated Israel's history, and orchestrated history for Israel. It must be remembered that it was the Son of God who appeared as the Angel of the LORD, and that it was this same Son who would one day climax Israel's history at the cross. In Genesis 16, the Angel promised that Ishmael would live and thathis hand would be against his brother (Isaac's descendents through Jacob). In Genesis 18, Abraham pled with Him on behalf of Sodom, but in Genesis 19, He dispatched His two companion angels to destroy Sodom, whose extreme wickedness would no doubt have eventually defiled Israel. In Genesis 22:1, the Angel tested Abraham's faith and then stayed his hand from slaying Isaac. In Genesis 24:7 and 40, Abraham promised Eliezer the Angel's protection as he embarked to find a wife for Isaac. In Genesis 31:11-12, He affirmed to Jacob that it was He who blessed Jacob with the striped and spotted cattle of Laban's herds, thereby blessing him with wealth before his return to his land. In Genesis 32:24, Jacob prevailed over the Angel and won His blessing. In Genesis 48:16, we see that it was the Angel who redeemed Israel (Jacob) from all evil. In Exodus 3 and 4, we saw that it was the Angel who protected, provided for, and guided Israel into Canaan. In Joshua 5:14, the Angel strengthened Joshua with the knowledge of His presence before Joshua's attack on Jericho. In Judges 2, the Angel rebuked Israel for not driving out all of the Canaanites. Again, the big picture that we see in the Scripture is that He orchestrated Israel's history, and that He orchestrated history for Israel.
For Israel under Moses, and even from Abraham to Moses, as we've seen, it could surely be said... The Angel of Jehovah camps round about those who fear Him, and delivers them. (Psalm 34:7)
Some doubt or deny that angels minister on behalf of Christians today. The chief reason that is given, it seems, is that we don't need the ministry of angels because we have the Holy Spirit. But the apostles had the Holy Spirit also, and yet, angels ministered on their behalf. In Acts 5:19, an angel got the apostles out of prison; in Acts 8:26, an angel directed Philip to go to Gaza - and this Philip was not an apostle; in Acts 12:7-11, an angel got Peter out of prison; in Acts 27:21-26, an angel told Paul that he must stand before Caesar and gave him counsel for his storm-tossed shipmates; in Revelation 1:1, an angel brought the Revelation from Jesus to John. The argument that saints do not receive ministry from angels because they have the Spirit obviously does not stand. Even Jesus, in His glorified, ascended state, is said to have His own angel (Revelation 1:1).
Psalm 34:7 says,The Angel of the LORD camps round about those who fear Him.
That statement was made under the Law of Moses; but is it true today?
Several translations of Acts 5:19, 8:26 and 12:7 contain the phrase the Angel of the Lord, and these are the only three passages where the phrase appears after the day of Pentecost in Acts 2. In each case, however, the literal translations I checked render it, an angel of the Lord, using the indefinite article an, not the definite article the. Furthermore, in each case, the word Lord is used in all of the above translations, not LORD. Lord is translated from the word kurios, the possible translations of which are God, Lord or Master (Strong's Concordance). LORD, however, all in capital letters, is universally used to represent YHVH or Jehovah in the Angel of the LORD. In addition, I found at least one commentator for each of these passages that aver that it was an angel and not the Angel, and no commentator for any of these passages that states that it was the Angel. In other words, the Angel of the LORD is nowhere mentioned as acting during the Church Age. I therefore cannot conclude that the Angel of the LORD camps round about church saints, that is, believers between Pentecost and the Rapture, but can conclude that He probably does not.
Has a specific group of angels been charged with general oversight over a specific group of people, or have individual angels been assigned oversight over individual people or groups? Consider:
Many[disciples] who had gathered to pray (Acts 12:12) thought that Peter, whom they thought was in jail and now knocked at their door, was his angel. Acts 12:15: And they said to her, You are mad. But she kept on saying that it was so. And they said, It is his angel.
The archangel Michael was assigned by God to be Israel's guardian (Daniel 12:1), and Daniel 10:13 and 20 tell us that Persia and Greece had their own specific angelic rulers. The angels over Persia and Greece were demons, but were overseers over individual nations, nevertheless.
The close disciples of the apostles believed that the one who stood at the door was Peter's own angel, Jesus stated that children have their own angels, individual nations have their own angels, and each of the seven churches of Asia had its own angel. I must therefore conclude that all children, church saints, churches and nations have their own individual angels.
It is instructive to see that the same Angel who guarded Israel from the Egyptian army and brought them into Canaan cursed the Israeli city of Meroz for not assisting Israel in the day of battle (Judges 5:3). The guardianship of angels, then, does not contradict the liberty to sin that God has given, nor does it prevent the elements of the curse from having its effects, nor does it prevent trials, injustices, persecutions, divine chastisements, reaping the bad fruit of bad seed that we sow, and the like. All of these things are either caused or permitted by God.
It is plain that God has a specific purpose for everyone He has called. Consider, for example, that Esther was placed in Persiafor such a time as this (Esther 4:14), and that each believer is endowed with spiritual gifts specifically chosen by the Holy Spirit for that individual (1 Corinthians 12:11). The purpose of angelic guardianships, then, is to allow only those things into our lives that will mold us, direct us and propel us according to God's good pleasure and purpose in and through our lives.
One caution. It may be tempting to some to worship or pray to angels, knowing that they guard us, our children, our brothers and sisters in the Lord and our churches, and if we are Israelis, our nation; but we are warned not to do it.
In Colossians 2:18, Paul speaks disdainfully of those who worship angels:Let no one defraud you, delighting in humility and worship of the angels, intruding into things which he has not seen, without a cause being vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind....
In the above verses, we are warned to not worship angels; but neither are we to pray to them.
So be it.
Angels do minister on behalf of believers today, but so does the Holy Spirit. In view of this double celestial ministry toward us, the question arises, "How do the ministries of the angels and the Holy Spirit coordinate?" To come up with specifics, it would seem helpful to consider these points and carry out the suggested project:
1. The Spirit has all the attributes of Godhead. Angels have rigid creaturely restrictions.
2. The Spirit is in us in a personal way. The angels are not in us, at all.
3. There is evidence that the Spirit is active in all divine works. For instance, He was involved in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the resurrection of Jesus. No angel is active in all divine works.
Perhaps this would be a study for you to carry out. Let me know what you come up with. :-)
Norman Manzon is a Bible teacher in Hawaii
and may be reached