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Systematic Theology I Angelology – Part I
The Doctrine of Angels n n Angels are mentioned in at least thirtythree books of the Bible. Both the Hebrew word %a; l. m; and the Greek word a; ggeloj mean messenger. n Though the predominant usage of these terms refers to spirit beings, there are times when they are used of human messengers.
The Origin of Angels n Created Beings n n Angels are part of the created order and therefore finite (Col 1: 16). Created on Day One of Creation n This is not explicit in Genesis 1 but is an inference drawn from such passages as: n n n Job 38: 4 -7 "Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding, Who set its measurements, since you know? Or who stretched the line on it? On what were its bases sunk? Or who laid its cornerstone, When the morning stars sang together, And all the sons of God shouted for joy? “ Genesis 2: 1 Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts. Direct Creation n Angels were created during the creation week but are unlike humans in at least two significant ways: they do not reproduce and they cannot be redeemed.
The Nature of Angels n Personal Beings n n n Spirit Beings n n Angels bear all the marks of personality, i. e. , they have will, intellect, emotion, ability to use language, etc. Scripture does not affirm that they are made in the image of God the way man is. They are called “spirits” in Scripture (Heb 1: 4; Luke 8: 2), though they do at times appear in human form. Angels are powerful, but not omnipotent, omniscient, or omnipresent. They are God’s messengers and serve at His pleasure. Moral Beings n n Angels were originally created good, in a state of moral purity and holiness, but a third rebelled and left their proper abode (Rev 12: 3 -4; Jude 1: 6). Both good and evil angels are now fixed in their moral status.
Good Angels n Number, Names, and Organization n n The number of angels appears to be beyond human calculation (Deut 33: 2; Psa 68: 17; Dan 7: 10; Rev 5: 11). Angels are also called ministers, hosts, sons of God, holy ones, and stars. Scripture also indicates a hierarchy of organization, but does not give detailed information about this. Archangels n Michael (“Who is like God? ”) – He is the only one explicitly identified as an archangel (Jude 1: 9). n n n Dan 10: 13 and I Thess 4: 16 could imply that there are more. Michael seems to have a special role in protecting Israel (Dan 12: 1; Rev 12: 7). Gabriel (“Mighty One of God”) n n He interprets Daniel’s dream of the ram and male goat in Dan 8, as well as reveals the prophecy of the seventy weeks (Dan 9). He also announces the births of both John the Baptist (Luke 1: 820) and Jesus (Luke 1: 26 -38).
Good Angels n Other Special Classes of Angels n Cherubim n n Seraphim n n First found in the Garden of Eden, where they guarded the path to the Tree of Life after the Fall. There were two cherubim of gold that stood at the ends of the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies. They were also woven into the fabric of the tabernacle curtains (Exod 26: 1) and the veil of the tabernacle (Exod 26: 31). In Solomon’s temple there were two 15 -feet high cherubim stationed at the inner sanctuary (1 Kings 6: 23), as well as cherubim carved in the walls (2 Chron 3: 7). These are found only in Isa 6: 1 -3. Their work is to extol the holiness of God. Living Creatures n n In Ezek 10: 20 -22 these are classed as cherubim, but some argue that the ones that appear in Revelation more resemble seraphim in their form and role. They have a position particularly close to the throne of God and extol His holiness (Rev 4: 6 -11).
Ministries of Good Angels n Ministry to God n n n Angels praise and worship God continuously (Psa 148: 2; Isa 6: 1 -3; Job 38: 6; Luke 2: 14). They also serve God at all times (Psa 103: 20 -21). Angels were prominent in giving the Law to Moses at Sinai (Deu 33: 2; Gal 3: 19; Heb 2: 2). Angels played an important role in explaining biblical visions to Daniel (Dan 7: 16; 8: 15 -26; 9: 21; 10: 1 – 12: 13) and in mediating Revelation to the Apostle John (Rev 1: 1; 22: 6). Angels evidently appear regularly before God to give an account of their services and receive new orders (1 Kings 22: 19 -23; Job 1: 6; 2: 1; Psa 89: 5, 7) Ministry to Jesus Christ n n n An angel announced Christ’s birth (Luke 1: 27 -28), another explained it to Joseph (Matt 1: 18 -25), and others proclaimed it to the shepherds (Luke 2: 18 -25). Angels instructed Christ’s earthly father to flee to Egypt (Matt 2: 13). They strengthened Him in His wilderness temptation (Matt 4: 11) and in His agony in Gethsemane (Luke 22: 43). Angels rolled away the stone at Christ’s tomb and proclaimed His resurrection (Matt 28: 1). At His ascension they predicted His return (Acts 1: 11) and will attend that return (Matt 25: 31).
Ministries of Good Angels n Ministry to the Nations n n n Angels watched over the goings-on of the Neo-Babylonian empire, especially during Israel’s exile (Dan 4: 13, 17, 23). Michael served as the prince of Israel to lead the nation’s angelic forces against the evil angels of the Persian empire (Dan 10: 1221). He will serve in the same kind of role during the future Tribulation (Dan 12: 1). Ministry to Believers n n n Hebrews 1: 14 Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation? Esau (Gen 32: 1 -2), Elisha (2 Kings 6: 8 -18), and David (Psa 34: 7) all experienced personal protection by angels. Angels evidently observe what is going on in the church (1 Cor 4: 9; 11: 10). Angels spoke to Zacharias concerning the birth of his son (Luke 1: 11 -19), Philip concerning the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8: 26), Cornelius concerning Peter (Acts 10: 1 -8), and Paul regarding his safe passage to Rome (Act 27: 23 -24). Angels will accompany Christ at His return (Matt 24: 31).
Do Believers Have Guardian Angels? n n n Many have suggested this based on Matt 18: 10 and Acts 12: 15. Roman Catholic theology emphasizes personal guardian angels, even for unbelievers. “In short, while believers have any number of angels as their servants (Heb 1: 14), there is not any sure support that each believer has a guardian angel” (Mc. Cune, p. 372).
Ministries of Good Angels n Ministry to Unbelievers n n 2 Kings 19: 35 Then it happened that night that the angel of the LORD went out, and struck 185, 000 in the camp of the Assyrians; and when men rose early in the morning, behold, all of them were dead. Acts 12: 23 And immediately an angel of the Lord struck [Herod] because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and died. Matthew 13: 40 -42 “Therefore just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. ” Angels will also participate in the seal, trumpet, and bowl judgments of the Tribulation (Rev 8 – 16).
Next Week: Angelology Part II Satan and Evil Angels