Tuesday, January 2, 2018

The Nature of Angels

Angels are created spirit-beings (Heb. 1:7, 14). They are not made of flesh and blood (Heb. 2:14-16). Does this mean that they don't have a body? Paul said, "There are also celestial bodies" (1 Cor. 15:40). Although angels are spiritual in nature, their tangible constitution is such that “some have entertained angels unawares” (Heb. 13:2). This is because angels, consistent with every passage in which a description is given, are said to be men. Some mistakenly think that Christ said angels are sexless. He said that the angels in heaven do not marry (Matt. 22:30), but He never said they were sexless.

The angels that were sent to deliver Lot out of Sodom before its destruction were called men (Gen. 18:16; 19:5, 10, 12). Mary saw the angel Gabriel as “him” (Lk. 1:29), and Daniel said that he had the “appearance of a man” (Dan. 10:18, see also Dan. 9:21). After the resurrection of Christ, there was seen a “young man” (Mk. 16:55) and “two men” (Lk. 24:4) in the tomb who were identified as angels. "Two men" (Acts 1:10) appeared to the disciples at the ascension of Christ and they were angels. Cornelius had a vision of “an angel of God” (Acts 10:3), but later said it was “a man” (Acts 10:30). The apostle John said that the measure of a man was the same as that of an angel (Rev. 21:17).

There is not a passage in the Bible that describes angels as being women, or as having wings. Where do people get that idea? Many think that Cherubs and Seraphims are angels. Cherubs are said to have four wings (Ezek. 1:6), and Seraphims are said to have six wings (Isa. 6:2). The Bible does not say that these heavenly creatures are angels. By the way, Satan was the anointed Cherub before he fell in pride (Ezek. 28:14). Satan may appear as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14), but he is not an angel. He does have fallen angels that follow him (Matt. 25:41). Zechariah saw two women that had wings like a stork (Zech. 5:5-11), but they were associated with wickedness and were not identified as angels. In the book of Revelation we read of angels that fly (8:13; 14:6), but this does not prove that they have wings.

Angels can eat food (Gen. 18:1-8; Ps. 78:25), yet they can pass through walls (Acts 12:7). They have their own language, but they can speak with the tongues of men (1 Cor. 13:1). They are always said to be dressed in white linen (Mk. 16:5; Jn. 20:12; Acts 1:10; Rev. 15:6). Angels are said to have glory (Rev. 18:1), but never a “halo." Angels cannot die (Lk. 20:36). Angels are wise (2 Sam. 14:17, 20). They are interested in the spiritual things of God (1 Pet. 1:12). They have a knowledge of future events (Rev. 17:1), but it is limited (Matt. 24:36).

The physiological abilities of angels is extraordinary. Twice we read that angels are “mighty” (2 Thess. 1:7; Rev. 18:21), and once that they are “strong” (Rev. 5:2). They are said to “excel in strength” (Ps. 103:20), have “great power” (Rev. 18:1), and be “greater in power and might” (2 Pet. 2:11) than men. One angel will bind Satan for “a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit” (Rev. 20:1-2). They can speak from the heavens and be heard on the earth (Rev. 8:13; 19:17). They can exercise power over the elements (Rev. 7:1), and smite men with blindness (Gen. 19:11). That one angel killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers (Isa. 37:36) is one of the greatest illustrations of their strength.

Although called evil when serving God to the detriment of men (Ps. 78:49), angels, excepting those that are fallen (2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 6), and those associated with Satan (Matt. 25:41; Rev. 12:7, 9), are termed “elect” (1 Tim. 5:21), “holy” (Matt. 25:31), and are associated with light. This is not to say that they are perfect like God, for even “his angels he charged with folly” (Job 4:18). But they do obey God (Ps. 103:20), worship Him (Rev. 5:11-12), and direct men to worship Him (Rev. 22:9).

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