By Irvin Himmel
Questions are sometimes asked about angels. All of these inquiries are not from little children. Having never seen an angel, having never felt the touch of one, and having never heard one speak, all that I know about such creatures is what I find in the word of God.
(1) Angels are real. If we can believe the Bible on any point, we should believe what it reveals about angels. Unlike leprechauns, elves, or others among fairies, angels belong to the realm of reality, not to fantasy and fiction. Jesus taught that when a sinner repents, “there is joy in the presence of the angels of God” (Lk. 15:10). One might as well say that God is a mythological character as to classify angels in that category. Repeatedly, from Genesis to Revelation, the Bible speaks of angels as actual beings. To assert that angels are “pure thoughts” or “exalted thoughts,” as Mary Baker Eddy explains them (Science And Health With Key to the Scriptures, pp. 298, 299), is manifestly absurd.
(2) Angels are a higher order than humans. Angels are not to be classed as Deity. The Son of God is superior to the angels (Heb. 1:4). When the Son of God took on humanity by becoming flesh and dwelling on earth, He was made “a little lower than the angels” (Heb. 2:7,9). This makes it clear that humans are lower in rank than angels.
(3) Angels have great strength. David said, “Bless the Lord, ye his angels, that excel in strength. . .” (Psa. 103:20). These heavenly creatures possess might that is not given to men. When the Lord comes again, He will come with His “mighty angels” (KJV) or “angels of his power” (ASV). During the reign of Hezekiah the Assyrians marched into Judah, but an angel of the Lord smote their army so that 185,000 died (2 Ki. 19:35). This one angel had the power to wipe out so many Assyrians in a single night that Sennacherib left Judah immediately.
(4) Angels are not to be worshiped. Because of their great strength, the suddenness with which they have sometimes appeared, and the manner in which they have come before men, frail humans have been tempted to worship angels. For example, the apostle John on Patmos was rather overwhelmed by the angel that he saw and heard. John said, “And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel . . . .Then said he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellow servant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God” (Rev. 22:8, 9). This holy angel reminded John to worship God. Paul connected the idea of worshiping angels with “will worship,” which is worship devised by the will of man-a plan of homage totally apart from the will of God (Col. 2:18-23).
(5) Angels are messengers of God. In Gen. 22:11-18 one may read about an angel of the Lord that called unto Abraham out of heaven. God used an angel whose name was Gabriel to reveal certain facts to Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist (Lk. 1:5-25). That same angel was God’s messenger sent to Mary, a virgin of Nazareth in Galilee, to inform her that she would give birth to the Son of the Highest (Lk. 1:26-38). The word “angel” means a messenger. God’s holy angels are His heavenly messengers.
(6) Angels are ministering spirits. After showing that the Son of God outranks the angels, the Hebrew writer says of the angels, “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” (Heb. 1:14). Although they often appeared in human form in the Bible, they are spirit beings. The ancient Jewish sect called the Sadducees said, “there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit” (Acts 23:8). Jesus exposed the errors of the Sadducees in Matt. 22:23-33.
(7) Angels do not marry. The Sadducees’ argument to disprove the resurrection pertained to marriage and was based on the assumption that the husband-wife relationship will continue beyond this life. Jesus said, “Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels in heaven” (Matt. 22:29, 30).
(8) Angels are subject to Christ. Peter tells us that Jesus Christ “is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him” (1 Pet. 3:22). This harmonizes with Paul’s teaching in Eph. 1:20-23.
(9) Some angels sinned. “And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day” (Jude 6). Peter teaches us that 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” (2 Pet. 2:4). Our Lord spoke of everlasting fire, “prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41). Wicked men and wicked angels will be judged and punished.
(10) Angels cannot change the gospel. God has placed the responsibility of preaching the gospel in the hands of men, not angels. An angel spoke to Philip the evangelist to put him in contact with the eunuch from Ethiopia, but it was Philip who preached to the eunuch (Acts 8:26, 35). Cornelius saw and heard an angel, but it was by the mouth of Peter that he and the other Gentiles at Caesarea heard the gospel (Acts 10:3; 15:7). Neither men nor angels are allowed to change the gospel. Paul wrote, “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any, other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:8).
The foregoing are plainly revealed facts about angels. All that I know about these wonderful heavenly messengers is what the Bible discloses. That is enough.
Truth Magazine XXII: 14, pp. 236-237
April 6, 1978