Angels is one study of a compendium of extensive and detailed biblical expositions of the doctrinal statement of The Association of Messianic Congregations.*
The third point in the AMC's doctrinal statement declares belief concerning Satan and demons, and the fourth, on the holy angels. Inasmuch as the Bible informs us that all angels were once holy, including those we now refer to as Satan and demons, we'll continue our series with a study of the holy angels, and address the doctrine of Satan and demons in our next study.
THE AMC STATEMENT ON ANGELS
We believe a great company of angels are before the throne of God, praising, worshiping, adoring, and glorifying Him. They are sent forth to bring about God's intended plans and purposes, and to minister to all believers. (Isaiah 6:1-7; Daniel 10:10-21; Luke 15:10; Hebrews 1:13,14; Revelation 7:11-12) *Full AMC Statement
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 Hebrew Scriptures, in:
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 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 that the 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 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.
But to which of the angels, did He say at any time, "Sit on My right hand until I make Your enemies Your footstool?"
Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for those who shall be the heirs of salvation?
~ Hebrews 1:13-14 ~
The attributes of personality are intellect, emotions and will.
Angels Possess Intellect.
1 Peter 1:12 tells us that the 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.
Furthermore, 2 Peter 2:4 states, God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment. To sin requires free will, and God never judges beings who have no free will. (Genesis 18:25: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?)
Father, Son and Holy Spirit are each divine Spirit and possess the attributes of personality. They are Persons. People have spirits and possess the attributes of personality. People are persons. Angels are spirits and possess the attributes of personality. Angels are persons, also.
As we have seen in Hebrews 1:14, angels are . . . 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.
2. Three Kinds of Angelic Bodies
There are three classes or ranks or orders of angels. In ascending order of authority, 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.
3. Angelic Bodies Do Not Have Earthly Space Constrictions
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 a state that theologians refer to as confirmed creaturely holiness. They were tested by God only on this one occasion; and having resisted Lucifer's call to follow him, they became confirmed in their holy state. What this means is that not only do they not sin, but that they cannot sin. Just as Lucifer and the fallen angels became confirmed in their unholiness when they chose to sin, those angels who chose not to follow Satan became confirmed in their holiness. 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).
Cherubim are also employed by God in matters of guardianship. For example, cherubim were assigned to guard the entrance to the Garden of Eden after the expulsion of Adam and Eve. Genesis 3:24: And He drove out the man. And He placed cherubs at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.
Angels will also guard 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.
Inasmuch as cherubim were employed by God to guard the way to the tree of life from Adam and Eve, it is likely that the angels at the twelve gates will be cherubim, as well. But why would guardianship be needed in Heaven, at all? What Jamieson, Fausset and Brown say is worth considering, that their guardianship is "an emblem of perfect security" (Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary).
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.
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."
~ Isaiah 6:1-7 ~
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, and that cherubim serve as guardians over places. We've also seen that Michael, who is in the lower rank of angels, has a guardianship over Israel, a people. It therefore seems likely that the guardian angels, who guard over people, 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 passage definitely applied to Old Testament saints. Whether or not it applies to church saints is addressed below.
Though Satan quoted Psalm 91:11-12 in his temptation of Jesus (Matthew 4:6), the passage applies to all who dwell in the secret place of the most high (v. 1): Psalm 91:11-12: 11. For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. 12. They shall bear you up in their hands, lest you dash your foot against a stone.
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:
1. John was exiled to Patmos because of his effective Christian leadership. It would seem peculiar for the Romans to allow human emissaries from the churches to visit John, knowing full well that they would bring instructions and words of encouragement from John back to the churches. On the other hand, we know that angels have appeared on earth as men, as with Abraham (Genesis 18:1-19:1); and that it would be no problem for them to drop in unnoticed, receive the letters from John, drop out unnoticed and deliver the letters to the churches in Asia.
2. There are guardian angels over saved people and Michael is the guardian over Israel, which is a group of chosen people under a government; so why not angels over churches, which are groups of chosen people (and others) under church governments, and are of particular concern to the Lord?
I would have to conclude that there are angels over churches.
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 identical with Jehovah and God in verse 4.
Dr. Fruchtenbaum writes, "... in every passage where He appears, in one part of the context He is called the Angel of Jehovah, and in another part of the same context He is called Jehovah Himself." (Fruchtenbaum, Dr. Arnold G. Radio Manuscript # 50: The Trinity. San Antonio: Ariel Ministries Press. P. 9)
We'll prove this by relating passages from Exodus 3 and 4 and Numbers 22-24 with 1 Corinthians 10:1-4.
First, Exodus 3 and 4. In 3:2, the Angel of Jehovah appeared to Moses from the burning bush; in 3:8, He told him, I am coming down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, to bring them up out of that land, to a good land; in 3:10, I will send you to Pharaoh; in 3:12, I will be with you; in 3:16, I have surely visited you and have seen what is done to you in Egypt; in 3:20, I will stretch out My hand and smite Egypt with all My wonders; in 3:21, I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; in 4:3-8, He gave Moses the sign of His authority in the rod turned into a snake and then back into a rod, and in Moses' hand turned leprous and then healed; in 4:9, He instructed Moses as to his part in the plague of blood; in 4:12, I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say; in 4:15, He instructed Moses to tell Aaron what to say to Pharaoh, and that He would be with both of their mouths and would teach Moses what to do. In 14:18-19, He led Israel in the pillar of fire, and then moved between Israel and the pursuing Egyptian army. In Numbers 22-24, the Angel caused Balaam to bless Israel prior to Israel's entry into Canaan instead of cursing them, as was his intent.
It is obvious that this Angel is God - but which Person?
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.
~ 1 Corinthians 10:1-4 ~
The spiritual 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 that his hand would be against his brother (Isaac's descendants 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).
But did Peter, Paul and John receive ministry from angels solely because of the critical nature of their apostolic calls? It cannot be said that they did. Philip received the ministry of an angel, and his call was less critical than those of the apostles, being evangelistic, not apostolic. On the other hand, even Jesus, in His glorified, ascended state, employed the service of an angel, and He is Deity. He did not need an angel, yet He employed His own personal angel in ministry to John. Again, I must emphasize, they were all filled with the Spirit - and Jesus' filling is eternally without measure (John 3:34).
Do angels minister on our behalf today? Consider, as well, the testimonies of Psalm 91:11 and Hebrews 1:14, which speak of angelic ministry to the saints in terms unbounded by time limitations. Indeed, Hebrews 1:14 was written in the present tense during the Church Age, making it unequivocal. They are all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for those who shall be heirs of salvation (Hebrews 1:14). Angels do minister on our behalf today.
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 employed 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. It therefore cannot be concluded that the Angel of the LORD camps round about church saints, that is, believers between Pentecost and the Rapture. I would say that it is likely that He does not. J. Vernon McGee (Through the Bible) makes a persuasive comment here: "You do not find the Angel of the Lord in the New Testament because the Lord is no longer an angel, but a Man."
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. It is therefore reasonable to 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.
In explanation of Psalm 34:7 and Psalm 91:11, Dr. Fruchtenbaum writes, "These verses do not teach that nothing bad can happen to believers, but that nothing can happen outside of God's will." (Fruchtenbaum, Dr. Arnold G. Radio Manuscript # 073: The Trinity. San Antonio: Ariel Ministries Press. P. 23)
It is plain that God has a specific purpose for everyone He has called. Esther was placed in Persia for such a time as this (Esther 4:14), and 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 Revelation 19:10, John sought to worship the angel of Revelation 1:1, who brought him the Revelation: And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said to me, "See, do not do it! I am your fellow servant, and of your brothers who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God, for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
And again. 8. And I, John, saw and heard these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel showing me these things. 9. Then he said to me, "Behold! See, do not do it! For I am your fellow-servant, and of your brothers the prophets, and of those who keep the Words of this Book. Do worship to God."
~ Revelation 22:8-9 ~
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 . . . .
We are warned to not worship angels; but neither are we to pray to them.
To whom are we to pray? In Matthew 6:9, Jesus taught His disciples to pray, Our Father, who is in Heaven. To my recollection, all of the dozens of prayers in the New Testament are made to the Father, and so ought the great bulk of our prayers. However, in Revelation 22:20, John does pray, Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
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:
Compile a list of the ministries of angels and the ministries of the Spirit. Then see which are unique to angels, which are unique to the Spirit, and where there is overlap (such as, the ministry of sanctification).
Perhaps this would be a study for you to carry out. Let me know what you come up with. :-)