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Of Angels and Men

Hebrews 1:14

14 Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?

So says the writer to the Hebrews of ‘Angels’… that is ‘angels of God’ [Heb 1:6-7] ‘..And let all the angels of God worship him. 7And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire.’

Who then are the ‘heirs of salvation’?

Romans 8:16-17

16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:

17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

Hence Angels are spirits that minister to the heirs of salvation, which are the children of God.

In the English Bible the word Angel, is almost always a translation of either the Hebrew word ‘Malak’ or the Greek word Angelos, [from which the English word Angel is derived.]

Both ‘Malak’ and ‘Angelos’ simply mean ‘messenger’, - and in many places this is exactly how the English translation reads – as an earthly messenger, i.e. one person conveying a message to another person. At other times the translators chose to use the word Angel, a judgement made on the basis of whether the writer describes an earthly messenger or a supernatural one.

The various Bible versions available appear to agree on occasions ‘Angel’ is used as opposed to ‘messenger’, almost without exception.

It is apparent that in modern English the principal meaning of the word ‘Angel’ is ‘a celestial being’. It is important to bear this fact in mind, because popular culture inescapably defines how scripture is read and understood, and consequently the word ‘Angel’ today implies certain stereotypes. Images such as chubby winged babies, erroneously called Cherubs, to tall, white robed, halo wearing, harp playing, cloud dwelling, be-winged figures.

Wings figure large in most images of Angels, yet the first examples of God’s Messengers at work in the Bible does not mention them, indeed the context of the narrative actually precludes them, [cf Gen 18:1-3,19:1] - these beings appear as ordinary men to those who see them.

What also is clear from these descriptions is that although very significant, the appearance of Angels as men to men is also a relatively rare event, where as Jesus confirms that the number of Angels which exist as spirits, is very great, for at least each ‘child’ is allotted an angel

Matthew 18:10 Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.

It is important to recognise that the children Jesus speaks of are in fact the children of the Kingdom of God,

Matthew 18:3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

And in Matt. 26:53 Jesus says; ‘Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?

A Roman legion numbered about 6,000 soldiers; such an army would have comprised of more than 72,000 angels, and could easily have laid waste to Roman Palestine.

However again in the Gospels on the occasions Angels are described as appearing as people to people, the description is of men.

Luke 24: 4 & 23

4 And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments:

23 And when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive.

Given this, why then does the winged stereotype arise? A visit to many a church building explains all. Where in the traditional stained glass windows Angels are shown having wings. The origin of this convention is straightforward; in the Middle Ages the stained glass window was more than a decoration. Most people were illiterate and these pictures illustrated to them the Bible they could not read.

To distinguish between Angels and men, the medieval artists gave their Angels wings, the saint’s halos and so on. This practise serves as an example of how the religious traditions of one generation becomes fossilised, to serve as a stumbling block for those which follow; for when Angel is read in the English Bible text, too often it is this, a winged pre-conception born of medieval necessity, that is seen by the minds eye, rather than God’s Messenger of the original text.

Another hand me down is the concept of the fallen celestial being, this time an idea borrowed from Jewish fable, and as Paul warns; Titus 1:14

14 Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth.

One such myth is that angels can father children, however physical relations between people, presupposes that the persons involved are people, [that is flesh and spirit] and not simply spirits, yet angels are spirits by nature

Psalm 104:4

4 Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire:

Any sexual relationship between an angel and a person would require a fully human body created in adult form, for the messenger spirit to occupy.

While the bible records that angels do, on rare occasions, appear as men to men, this only happens when they are sent by God to speak directly to a specific person or persons. Since the natural state of an angel is spiritual, it can only be God who, as the sole author of the angel’s very form, purpose, and existence, that lends to the angel the appearance of human form, for the reason of bringing a specific message. For God’s power and authority is absolute.

Psalm 62:11

God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this; that power belongeth unto God.

There is no good reason therefore to assume that angels possess power of their own to appear human, since all power and authority belongs solely to God.

As Jesus taught

30 For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven. Matthew 22:30

Clearly heavenly angels as spirits are sexless, and since God embodies these spirits, as God deems necessary, for a specific purpose, to advance the proposition that embodied angels might rebel against their express purpose and sin is precisely the subject Peter deals with in his second letter saying [2 Peter 2:4], that ‘God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them in gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment.’

Peter then further warns [2 Peter 2:10-11] ‘Bold and arrogant, these men are not afraid to slander celestial beings; yet even angels, although they are stronger and more powerful, do not bring slanderous accusations against such beings in the presence of the Lord.’

To understand Peters argument we have to first recognise that the bible actually refers to different kinds of Angels, – that is spirit beings who act as messengers.

Type one – Angels of God - that is elect angels

Acts 10:3; 1 3 He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius.

Timothy 5:21

21 I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.

Type two – other angels

Acts 12:14-15

14 And when she knew Peter’s voice, she opened not the gate for gladness, but ran in, and told how Peter stood before the gate. 15 And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel.

Here Peter has just been released miraculously from prison, his fellow believers not knowing this first assumed the woman Rhoda was mad, before assuming that she had seen a spirit – one that a least looked liked Peter – which they called his angel.

Thus the term angel i.e. messenger is not used solely of God’s elect messengers.

As Jesus says Matthew 25:31,41

31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:

And then says:

41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

Again we see ‘holy angels’ against ‘the devil and his angels’

However it is God who commands and controls all things including these.

Psalm 78:49

49 He cast upon them the fierceness of his anger, wrath, and indignation, and trouble, by sending evil angels among them.

This must be understood in the context of 1 Samuel 16:14

14 But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him.

Understanding this we can see that evil angels, and evil spirits are by their nature evil, they are not fallen from an earlier state of grace, they are simply evil.

More over we can recognise celestial beings as elect angels i.e. angels that ‘always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven’. You can’t get more heavenly, more celestial, than beholding the face of God

Hence the angels that sinned, those that are chained in Tartaros the deepest abyss of Hades, are evil spirits, evil angels which are by their nature evil, even ‘angels’ [i.e. spirits who are not celestial] ‘do not bring slanderous accusations against such beings [i.e. celestial spirits, that is elect angels] in the presence of the Lord. [Remembering God is everywhere – see Ps 139 7-8]’ Hence the boldness, or is that stupidity of the false teachers who accuse these messengers of God of sin!

What then can we conclude about these celestial beings?

They are clearly great in number, since for every ‘child’ there is an angel that is always before God. Yet these beings are rarely seen in a physical sense appearing to men, as men. How then are these celestial and elect angels ‘all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?’ When only a relatively small number of these many spirits, which are heavenly Angels, have been seen as people, coming to people?

Simply put we are also Spiritual beings

As Jesus said

39 Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. Luke 24:39

And Paul affirms

1 Thessalonians 5:23

And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Yet some have said that the sons of God are angels:

Job 1:6

6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them.

Saying that these ‘sons of God’ as described here in Job, are angels, however as we have already seen, the writer to the Hebrews observes ‘Are [angels] not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation’ Are we to conclude that angels are sent forth to minister to themselves?

Thus these sons of God can only be people, as Jesus said.’

John 10:34-35

34 Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? 35 If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;

Jesus quoted Psalm 82:

6 I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High. 7 But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.

Who are these ‘children of the most High’?

Exodus 4:22-23

22 And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD, Israel is my son, even my firstborn: 23 And I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me: and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, even thy firstborn.

Deuteronomy 14:1

Ye are the children of the LORD your God:

So why should we be confused when the scripture says ‘the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD’ Do we not present ourselves before God in prayer and worship? Does not Scripture say ‘For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them’. Matthew 18:20

Did not Job say Job 19:25

25 For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:

If Job testified this, would his people be ignorant of his testimony?

Does not the Prophet say

6 Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God. [Isaiah 44:6] Saying ‘thou, O LORD, art our father, our redeemer; thy name is from everlasting’. [Isaiah 63:16]

Job knew his God, his father, his redeemer and Saviour, thus Job was one of the sons of God in that time - Men who knew their God.

However we first see the title sons of God in Genesis 6:2

'That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.'

Clearly these were men, who being called sons of God knew God as their father, and had in that time great status, however these same men fell into sin, and perished, as we know Ps 82:7 But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.

Let us now consider Job 38:4-7

4 Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. 5 Who determined its measurements? Surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? 6 To what were its foundations fastened? Or who laid its corner stone, 7 When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? [NKJV]

God asked Job - Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. [Job 38:4]

Can you answer that question, do you know where you were when God ‘laid the foundations of the earth?’

Some people think this an odd question, saying, Job was not born! Why would God ask such a question?

Yet God asks ‘Who determined its measurements?’ saying ‘Surely you know!’ [Job 38:5 NKJV]

Why would Job know, how could Job have witnessed this?

Job 38:7 When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

Who were these sons of God?

For has not God said ‘Thus saith the LORD, Israel is my son, even my firstborn:’

If Israel is God’s firstborn, who are these sons who shout at the foundation of the world – how is it they exist before Jacob was born? How can Israel be God’s first born, if these sons who shouted existed first - could it be that Jacob was among them?

Indeed was Job among them? Was this why God asked him ‘Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?’

Saying ‘5 Who determined its measurements? Surely you know!’ [NKJV]

It is clear our first and foremost state is a spiritual one, that we existed first as a spirit to which was added a mortal soul and body.

As God said to Job - ‘Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof;’ [Job 38:6]

We know of this cornerstone, as Peter says in 1 Peter 2:6

‘Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.’

Paul says Ephesians 2:20 ‘Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;’

And 1 Corinthians 3:11 ‘For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.’

It is upon Jesus everyman builds, because it is Jesus the Word, that gives everyone life.

Look at Job 27:2 'As God liveth, who hath taken away my judgment; and the Almighty, who hath vexed my soul; 3All the while my breath [= n^eshamah] is in me, and the spirit [= ruwach ] of God is in my nostrils;'

Here Spirit = ruwach is the same Spirit as spoken of in Genesis 'And the [Spirit = ruwach] of God moved upon the face of the waters.' Gen 1.1

Moreover Psalm 33:5 instructs us 'By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the [breath = ruwach ie Spirit] of his mouth.'

We read in Genesis 2:7

7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath [= n^eshamah] of life; and man became a living soul.

However there is more to life than just this breath [= n^eshamah] as we observe I the terrible consequences of the flood. Genesis 7:21-22

21 And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man: 22 All in whose nostrils was the breath of life of all that was in the dry land, died.

Where breath of life = literally ‘breath of the spirit of life’ i.e. = both n^eshamah & ruwach

Does not David say?

Psalm 139:13-15

13 For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. 14 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. 15 My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.

David had substance before his birth, he was made in secret, that is in the place hid from physical eyes, the realm of the spirit,

In verse 16 he says ‘Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.' [NKJV]

So the days of David were already written in the Lords book, before he was formed, it as the scriptures affirm,

Ephesians 1:4-5

4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,'

Paul teaches God chose us in him, before the foundation of the world.

And the scripture says

‘Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us?..’ [Malachi 2:10]

So like David, we had substance, though being yet unformed.

If this is true of us, then more so for Israel, who sang for joy as God laid the foundations of the world. For ‘Israel is my son, even my firstborn’

No wonder Paul says of us

Romans 1:20-21

20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: 21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

Now we are able to understand how we knew even his eternal power and Godhead, for we all were there at the creation of the world, having substance, but yet unformed.

‘God is a Spirit: [John 4:24]

Moses cried .. O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh,..’ Numbers 16:22

And the writer to the Hebrews says ‘Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?’ Hebrews 12:9

God is therefore the God of the spirits of all flesh, the Father of spirits.

What can we conclude – as the writer says God ‘maketh his angels spirits’ this is their principal and natural state; hence all God’s Angels are ‘ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation’ and as ministering spirits they minister to the sons of God; the heirs of salvation, principally as spirits to our spirits.

Thus we can see that our first and foremost condition is a spiritual one; we are spirits first and flesh second, the latter only clothes the former.

That God is the Father of our spirit, if we will accept him.