Monday, January 15, 2018

What Paul Said About Angels

The majority of the references about the ministry of angels on earth concern Israel and her Messiah. There are 297 references to angels in the Bible, and only 13 are found in Romans through Philemon (13 epistles). There are 76 references in the book of Revelation alone! Nowhere does Paul teach that God uses angels to directly minister (by instruction or intervention) to the Body of Christ. In light of our exalted position in Christ, we do not need them (Eph. 1:15-23; 2:6). 

Paul used the word “angels” just once in his prison epistles (written after the Acts transition), but he did refer to them several times with other words such as “principalities” and “powers” (Col. 1:16). A “principality” is the realm ruled by a prince, and “powers” are the rulers (Dan. 10:10-11:1). Angels are organized according to rank. This is true both of fallen angels (Col. 2:15; Eph. 6:12) and holy angels (Col. 2:10). When Paul taught us about spiritual warfare (Eph. 6:10-20), he said nothing about angels helping us wrestle against evil spirits. We don't need angels because we are to be strong in the LORD, and in the power of HIS MIGHT.

We are not living in a dispensation in which God is using visible manifestations of the supernatural. The rule is that “we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7). God has given us His Spirit and His word, and we are thereby able to become “perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

Here is a simple survey of the references to angels in Paul's epistles:

1) Rom. 8:38-39 – Angels are powerful, but not powerful enough to separate us from love of God.

2) 1 Cor. 4:8-14 – The angels observe us (both good and evil).

3) 1 Cor. 6:1-3 – The Body of Christ will have authority over angels in the ages to come (Eph. 3:21).

4) 1 Cor. 11:10 – I can’t be dogmatic about this verse. Is he referring to good or evil angels? If good, they are interested in seeing former pagans now serving the Lord. If evil, this may be a warning that fallen angels will target those in rebellion. 

5) 1 Cor. 13:1 – Angels apparently have their own language but can also speak the tongues of men. 

6) 2 Cor. 11:13-15 – Satan is a counterfeiter and deceiver that can appear as an angel of light (v.3). 

7) Gal. 1:6-12 – An angel from heaven will not be sent from God to deliver a gospel message contrary to what Christ revealed to Paul. In the future tribulation period an angel from heaven will preach another gospel (Rev. 14:6-7).

8) Gal. 3:19 – God used angels in giving the law to Moses for Israel.

9) Gal. 4:13-16 – Christ has made appearances as the Angel of the Lord.

10) Col. 2:18 – Worshipping angels is idolatry, and angels are not seen today.

11) 2 Thess. 1:3-10 – Angels are in the armies of Christ when He comes to judge the world.

12) 1 Tim. 3:16 – This verse refers to Christ personal and spiritual (the Church). Angels observe the Body of Christ as a demonstration of the wisdom of God (Eph. 3:10).

13) 1 Tim. 5:21 – Elect angels are those that did not follow Satan. Another verse that teaches angels observe us.

Nowhere is these references do we find Paul teaching the Body of Christ to expect the same kind of angelic ministry that Israel received in times past (instructing, strengthening, and protecting). He did tell us that angels are observing us and that God is using the Body of Christ to teach principalities and powers in heavenly places about His manifold wisdom. God purposed what He is doing in this age before the foundation of the world, but kept it hid in Himself until He revealed it through His chosen vessel, the apostle Paul. What He is doing, and how He revealed it, is a great demonstration of His wisdom (1 Cor. 2:6-8; Rom. 11:32-36)!

Angels are amazing creatures with great capabilities, but instead of them ministering to us, we are actually ministering to them! They are not all-knowing. They are learning things about God through us. They cannot experience salvation. They know about God’s power, but they have never experienced His grace, mercy, and love as we have.

In light of our exalted position in Christ, we do not need the ministry of angels! We do not need their:
1. Instruction (Col. 1:25; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 1 Cor. 2:9-16)
2. Strength (Eph. 3:14-21; Col. 2:10)
3. Protection (Eph. 1:13-14; 4:30)

The only angels that are interacting with man today are Satan’s angels. They are not only observing us, they are working against us (Eph. 6:12). Satan sends “seducing spirits” to introduce leaven into churches and ministries (1 Tim. 4:1-6). Satan can appear as “an angel of light” to deceive (2 Cor. 11:14). We are in a SPIRITUAL warfare, and our SPIRITUAL weapon is the word of God.

The Bible teaches us that the Lord has His holy angels and Satan has his evil angels (Matt. 25:31-46). Where did Satan get his angels? He deceived some of the angels to follow him in his initial rebellion against God (the lake of fire was prepared to curtail the rebellion). Who are the devils? They could be the disembodied spirits of the giants that perished in the flood (Gen. 6). The fallen angels that cohabitated with the daughters of men are chained in hell awaiting judgment (2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 6).

God has a twofold purpose concerning heaven and earth (Gen. 1:1; Rev. 21:1; Col. 1:16-20; Eph. 1:10). As the most high God, He is the rightful possessor of heaven and earth (Gen. 14:22; Matt. 28:18). When Lucifer fell in pride, He said, “I will be like the most High” (Isa. 14:14). There is wickedness in the heavens and on earth through Satan’s plan of evil (Gen. 1:8; Job 15:15; Eph. 2:2; 6:12; Rev. 12:7-12).

God’s plan to establish His kingdom on earth was prepared FROM the foundation of the world, and has been spoken by the prophets since the world began (Gen-Acts; Heb.-Rev.). God’s plan for the heavenly places was planned before the foundation of the world, but kept secret since the world began until revealed through Paul (Rom.-Phile.). His plan for the earth concerns Israel, His earthly people. His plan for heaven concerns the Body of Christ, His heavenly people. God will use Israel to rule the earth. God will use the Body of Christ to rule in heaven (Eph. 2:6-7).We will judge angels (1 Cor. 6:3).

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