What is the role of angels in the bible and their duties?
Would you like to know the role of angels in the Bible and their duties? Angels, also called cherubim or seraphim, are spiritual creatures that sing the glory of God and are sent to deliver messages.
In fact, the word angel comes from the Greek Angelos, which we also find in the Gospel, which means messenger.
Did you know that in the Bible, angels are mentioned more than 300 times? And the book of Revelation teaches us that there are “myriads” (Revelation 5, 11)! In Genesis, they are the ones who close the earthly paradise (Gen 3, 24).
The New Testament gives a great place to the angels, beginning with the appearance of Gabriel to Mary. The New Testament also gives them a large place, beginning with Gabriel’s appearance to Mary. To announce the most important events, God sends the best: the archangels, from the Greek arche which means first. There would be seven, but only three archangels are mentioned in the Bible: Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael. Here we explain the ones that are most mentioned in the word of God and what their role is
Angels in the Bible from creation
Our times are ambivalent. On the one hand, theology, preaching, and studies hardly speak of the action of angels in the cosmos. On the other hand, they are ubiquitous in the New Age nebula (about fifty books in ten years!).
If we expand history and geography: in Africa, and Southeast Asia, among the first peoples, the invisible world outweighs the visible world, while in the West, the latter has supplanted the former since the Renaissance.
In the name of science, it is forbidden to speak of the action of angels in nature.
- What if the emptiness – which grace, like nature, abhors – of rationalism had prepared the overflow of the new gnosis?
- Has the Christian Revelation really expelled from nature these “spiritual, incorporeal beings” that are the angels?
Let’s see what we can find in the bible
angels in the Bible.
Let’s open the Bible. This is sober but explicit: “The Law was decreed by the ministry of angels” ( Ga 3,19; cf. Acts 7,53 ), who, therefore, acted on Mount Sinai, thunderous and smoking ( Ex 19,16-18 ).
Through an angel, the pool of Bethesda sometimes has a healing power ( cf. Jn 5,3-4 ).
From Genesis ( Gn 19,3 ) to the Apocalypse ( Ap 7,1 ), passing through the historical books ( 2 Kings 19,35; 2 Sm 24,15-17 ), wisdom, apocalyptic ( Dn 3,19-93 ), and, in the New Testament, the Gospels ( Mt 28,2 ) or the Pauline writings and the pastoral letters ( 1 Tm 5,21 ), the angels act effectively in nature.
Thus, the Scripture speaks of the action of angels not only with men ( Ex 24,20; 1 R 19,5; Tb 5,4; 2 Chr 32,30; Lk 1,26-38; Hch 5, 19 ; etc. . ), but also in the cosmos. In this, it joins the Greek philosophy and, let’s repeat, how to understand it? We will highlight only two points. Let’s see:
Angels in the Bible from the origin of creation
While we tend to think of angels in a world of their own, we must remember that the universe is one. Many Church Fathers were surprised that neither of the two creation accounts mentioned Angels ( Gen 1-2 ).
- Another intriguing fact: according to Gen 1, 3, the light was created on the first day, at the beginning, therefore, without a source and without support. Now, light needs a cause, the stars. The only answer, according to him: “this originally created light is not corporeal, but spiritual “.
In other words, God first created the angels on the first day. Created first, they will play an active role in the subsequent creation. Of course, creative ability is the exclusive property of God. But, as they watch God creating the material world for the next five days, the angels act as the first witness. They are not just a passive reflection of creative action; they attest that the universe is and belongs to God.
- The Doctor of Hippo goes further: “It is first of all in the knowledge of the angel that the creature is produced.” This mysterious phrase can be understood as follows:
- an architect must first imagine the house before building it; God thus entrusted to the angels the idea, the arrangement of material creation, before it develops into the matter.
This original intuition deserves an update.
Here are some ideas.
God wanted to pass through the angels, deposit in them the entire plan of material creation, in its typical beauty: in their minds and, we dare to say it in their imagination, that ideal really exists.
So, in and through them, God was able to open up, to experience the possibilities, the ways that nature explores (think of the hundreds of millions of species of plants and animals that have disappeared).
Finally, this typological role of the angels would benefit if it intersects with what Saint Thomas affirms about the driving role of the stars, and why not consider their action on subatomic particles.
Angels in the Bible at the “return” of creation
Just as all creation comes from God, it is also called to return to Him: not only at the end of time but at all times. This return to the Father’s house is the key to universal harmony. And the angels play a liturgical role there.
Indeed, to be perfect, this return requires awareness, that is, intelligence.
Furthermore, it can only be done in the act of praise: what God gives by grace returns to Him in thanksgiving. If the creation arises from the Creator’s song, the creatures must respond with their own song.
Just as the gift of God asks for the Fiat of Mary, which is the only one that fully receives it, so the whole cosmos asks for the magnificence that it be the only one that fully turns it around. Such a song, sometimes unknowingly, gives rhythm to many astonished researchers.
However, man cannot be enough for this universal anthem. Because creation preceded him; because his beauty is too varied and changeable; because some of its sumptuousness is too far away in all corners of the cosmos (ah, nurseries of stars!); because there are not enough contemplatives in number and in full faithful attention to exercise this ministry of praise.
How not to conclude that God also disposes of the angels to glorify him? That is why they must also be so numerous, “myriads of myriads” ( Dn 7,10 ). What Origins, what Maxim of Confessor, what Teilhard de Chardin will today have a soul big enough and grateful enough to celebrate this cosmic liturgy?
Angelology: The Doctrine of Angels in the Bible
The fact that God has created a kingdom of personal beings distinct from humanity is an appropriate subject for systematic theological studies since it naturally broadens our understanding of God, what he is doing, and how he works in the universe.
We should not think that man is the highest form of being created. Just as the distance between man and the lower forms of life is filled with beings of various degrees, it is possible that between man and God, there are creatures of intelligence and power superior to humans. In fact, the existence of minor deities in all pagan mythologies presupposes the existence of a higher order of beings between God and man, superior to man and inferior to God.
This possibility is made certain by the express and explicit teaching of the Scriptures. It would be really sad if we allowed ourselves to be victims of sensory perception and so materialistic that we refused to believe in the order of spiritual beings simply because they are beyond our sight and touch.
Modern society, seemingly secular and desperately materialistic, is desperately searching for some spiritual and supernatural meaning. If the angels can provide it, then the angels will.
Bookstores abound with books about angels, and many claims encounter with angels. The author of Hebrews names them as “ministering spirits, sent to render service for the sake of those who shall inherit salvation.” This is also seen in Psalm 91:11 and Matthew 4:11. So certainly, because of the inspired and infallible character of the Scriptures.
A simple definition of angels in the Bible
Angels are spiritual beings created by God to serve him, although created above man. Some, the good angels, have remained obedient to Him and have carried out His will, while others, the fallen angels, have disobeyed, fallen from their holy position, and are now in active opposition to His work and plan. God.
The terms used by angels
Now, let’s see the general terms of angels in the Bible:
Although other words are used for these spiritual beings, the main word used in the Bible is an angel. Three other terms that undoubtedly refer to angels are seraphim ( Isaiah 6:2 ), cherubim ( Ezekiel 10:1-3 ), and ministering spirits, which is perhaps more of a description than a name ( Hebrews 1:13 ). This will be discussed later when it comes to the classification of angels.
The Hebrew word for Angel is mal’ach, and the Greek word is Angelos. Both words mean “messenger” and describe someone who executes the purpose and will of the one they serve.
The context must determine whether there is a human messenger in view or one of the heavenly beings called “angels “, or whether it is being used for the second Person of the Trinity, as will be discussed below. The holy angels are messengers of God, they serve him and carry out his orders. The fallen angels serve Satan, the God of this world ( 2 Cor. 4:4 ).
Illustrations of uses that do not refer to celestial beings:
- For human messengers from one human being to another ( Luke 7:24; James 2:25 ).
- For human messengers carrying a divine message ( 1:13; Gal. 4:14 ).
- To an impersonal agent, Paul’s thorn in the flesh is described as “a messenger of Satan” ( 2 Cor. 12:7 ).
- For the messengers of the seven churches (Revelation 2-3). It is also used in relation to the seven churches of Asia, “To the Angel of the church in… “. Some interpret him as a special messenger or delegation to the church as a teaching elder, others interpret him as a guardian angel.
Therefore, the term Angelos is not only a generic term, pertaining to a special order of beings (ie angels), but is also descriptive and expressive of their office and service. So when we read the word “angel“, we should think of it this way.
Unfallen angels are also spoken of as “holy ones” ( Ps. 89:5, 7 ). The reason is twofold. First, being the creation of a holy God, they were created perfect without any flaw or sin. Second, they are called saints for their purpose. They were “set apart” by God and for God as his servants and as assistants to his holiness ( Isa. 6 ).
“Host” is the Hebrew tsaba , “army, armies, hosts “. It is a military term and carries the idea of war. The angels are referred to as the “host “, which draws our attention to two ideas.
- First, it is used to describe God’s angels as the “armies of heaven” serving in God’s army engaged in spiritual warfare ( 89:6, 8; 1 Sam. 1:11; 17:45 ).
- Second, it draws our attention to angels as a host of heavenly beings who surround and serve God as seen in the phrase “Lord of hosts” ( 31:4 ).
Also, tsaba sometimes includes the multitude of heavenly bodies, the stars of the universe.
Difficult angel terms in the Bible
Now, let’s look at the difficult terms for angels in the Bible.
Children of God
The unfallen angels are called “sons of God” in the sense that they were brought into existence by God’s creation ( Job 1:6; 38:7 ). Although they are never spoken of as being created in the image of God, they can also be called “sons of God” because they possess a personality like God’s.
This will be demonstrated later in this study. This term is also used in Genesis 6:2, which tells us that the “sons of God “took wives from among the “daughters of men “.
Some scholars understand the “sons of God” in Genesis 6:2 to refer to the sons of the godly line of Seth and the “daughters of men” to refer to the godless line of Cainites.
Others, in keeping with the use of “sons of God” in Job, I believe the term refers to fallen angels who mated with the daughters of men to produce extremely wicked and powerful progeny leading to the extreme wickedness of the days of Noah. Most of those who hold the latter view find further support in 2 Peter 2:4-6 and Jude 6-7.
the Angel of the lord
The second difficulty concerns the identity of the “angel of the Lord” as used in the Old Testament. A careful study of the many passages that use this term suggests that this is not an ordinary angel, but a Theophany, or better, a Christophany, a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ.
The Angel identifies himself as God, speaks as God, and claims to exercise God’s prerogatives. However, in some passages, he is distinguished from Yahweh.
- ( Genesis 16:7-14; 21:17-18; 22:11-18; 31:11-13, Exodus 3:2; Judges 2:1-4 ; 5:23; 6:11-22; 13: 3-22; 2 Samuel 24:16; Zechariah 1:12; 3:1; 12:8 ).
That the Angel of the Lord is a Christophany is suggested by the fact that a clear reference to the “Angel of the Lord” ceases after the incarnation. References to an angel of the Lord in Luke 1:11; and 2:8 and Acts 5:19 lack the Greek article suggesting a common angel.
The origin, nature, and number of angels
Angels in the Bible are created beings. Let’s see what the Bible says
The fact of its creation
That angels are created beings and not the spirits of deceased or glorified human beings is made clear in Psalm 148. There, the psalmist calls all who are in the heavenly heavens, including the angels, to praise God. The reason given is:
- “Because he commanded and they were created” ( 148:1-5 ).
Angels and the heavenly heavens are declared to have been created by God. Since God is Spirit ( John 4:24 ), it is natural to assume that there are created beings that are more like God than mundane creatures that combine both material and immaterial. There is a material kingdom, an animal kingdom, and a human kingdom; Therefore, it can be assumed that there is an angelic or spiritual realm. However, angelology is not based on reason or assumption but on Revelation.
At the time of its creation
Although the exact time of their creation is never stated, we know that they were created before the world’s creation. From the book of Job, we are told that they were present when the earth was created ( Job 38:4-7 ), so their creation predated the creation of the earth as described in Genesis one.
The agent of your creation
The Scriptures specifically state that Christ, as the one who created all things, is the Creator of the angels ( cf. John 1:1-3 with Col. 1:16 ).
The Son’s creation includes “all” things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible. These indicate the entire universe, both material and immaterial. The word knows a highly organized hierarchy of angelic beings:
- “thrones” (qronoi)
- “powers” (kuriothtes)
- “rulers” (arcai)
- and “authorities” (exousiai)
Not only does this indicate a highly organized dominance in the spirit world of angels, but it shows that Paul was writing to refute an emerging form of Gnosticism that promoted the worship of angels rather than the worship of Christ ( Colossians 2:18 ).
In this, Paul demonstrates the superiority and rightful place of worship as supreme ( Ephesians 1:21; 3:10; 6:12; Philippians 2:9-10; Colossians 2:10, 15 )
The nature and number of his creation
The angels in the Bible were created simultaneously as prodigals or companions. God created man and the animal kingdom in pairs with the responsibility and ability to procreate.
The angels, however, were simultaneously created as a company, an innumerable multitude of myriads ( Col. 1:16; Neh. 9:6 ). This is suggested by the fact that they are not subject to death or any form of extinction and do not spread or multiply like humans.
- Hebrews 9:27 says, “…it is appointed for men to die once, and after that comes judgment.”
While the fallen angels will be judged in the future and permanently confined to the lake of fire ( Matthew 25:41; 1 Corinthians 6:4; 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6 ), the death of the angels is never mentioned ( Luke 20:36 ).
However, they are an innumerable army created before the creation of the earth ( Job 38:7; Neh. 9:6; Ps. 148:2, 5; Heb. 12:22; Dan. 7:10; Matt. 26:53; Revelation 5:11; with Matthew 22:28-30; Luke 20:20-36 ).
Angels in the Bible are spiritual beings.
Let’s see other characteristics of angels in the Bible:
Statements such as “the angels who are in heaven” ( Mark 13:32 ) and “an angel from heaven” suggest that angels have fixed abodes or centers for their activities. However, due to the ministry and abilities, they have been given in the service of God, they have access to the entire universe.
They are described as serving in heaven and on earth ( Isaiah 6:1ff; Dan. 9:21; Revelation 7:2; 10:1 ).
Although the fallen angels appear to have a different abode than heaven itself, no specific location is given except that Satan will be bound in the “Abyss” for the thousand years after the Second Coming before being released ( Revelation 20:3 ).
Likewise, the plague that appears to be demonic is said to come from the Abyss ( 9:1-30 ). The fallen angels also have a king who is referred to as “the angel of the bottomless pit” ( vs. 11 ). The destination of the fallen angels is the lake of fire ( Matt. 25:41 ). Holy angels will dwell in the new heavens and new earth described in Revelation 21-22.
Although they have sometimes been revealed in the form of human bodies (angelophanies) as in Genesis 18:3, they are described as “spirits” in Hebrews 1:14. This suggests that they do not have material bodies like humans. This is reinforced by the fact that they do not function as human beings in terms of marriage and procreation ( Mark 12:25 ) nor are they subject to death ( Luke 20:36 ).
Humanity, including our incarnate Lord, is “lesser than the angels” ( Heb. 2:7 ). The angels in the Bible are not subject to the limitations of man, especially since they are incapable of dying ( Luke 20:36 ).
Angels in the Bible have greater wisdom than man ( 2 Sam. 14:20 ), but it is limited ( Matt. 24:36 ). Angels have greater power than man ( Matt. 28:2; Acts 5:19; 2 Pet. 2:11 ), but their power is limited ( Dan. 10:13 ).
Since they are spiritual beings, they are not usually seen unless God gives them the ability to see them or they manifest. Balaam could not see the Angel standing in his way until the Lord opened his eyes ( Num.22:31 ) and Elisha’s servant could not see the host of angels around him until Elisha prayed for him to be saved. open their eyes ( 2 Kings 6:17 ).
When angels have been seen as recorded in the scriptures, they were often mistaken for men because they manifested in a human guise.
- ( Gen.18: 2, 16, 22; 19: 1, 5, 10, 12, 15, 16 ; Judges 13: 6; Mark 16: 5; Luke 24: 4 ).
Sometimes they appear in a way that manifests the glory of God (Luke 2:9; 9:26) or in some form of brilliant clothing (Matthew 28:3; John 20:12; Acts 1:10 with Ez. 1: 13; Dan.10: 6). They have consistently appeared as real men, never as ghosts or winged animals (cf. Gen. 18:2; 19:1; Mark 16:3; Luke 24:4).
They are occasionally depicted in other forms and in other manifestations such as with wings, and as a combination of man, beast, and birds as in Ezekiel 1:5f and Isaiah 6:6. But apparently, such manifestations only occurred by way of vision or Revelation of God’s special. No angel literally appeared in such a form.
They also seem to have always appeared as young or mature men (Mark 16:5), but never as old men, perhaps because they do not age or die (Luke 20:36).
All angels were created holy, without sin, and in a state of perfect holiness. Originally, all angelic creatures were created holy. God pronounced his creation to be good ( Genesis 1:31 ), and of course, he could not create sin.
Even after sin entered the world, God’s good angels, who did not rebel against Him, are called saints ( Mark 8:38 ). These are the elect angels ( 1 Tim. 5:21 ) in contrast to the evil angels who followed Satan in his rebellion against God ( Matthew 25:41 ).
As created beings, they are of course, mere creatures. They are not divine and their worship is explicitly prohibited ( Col. 2:18; Rev. 19:10; 22:9 ). As a separate order of creatures, they are both distinct from human beings and superior to humans with powers far beyond human capabilities in this current age ( cf. 1 Cor. 6:3; Heb. 1:14; 2: 7 ).
But as creatures, they have limited powers, knowledge, and activities ( 1 Peter 1:11-12; Revelation 7:1 ). Like all creation, angels are under God’s authority and subject to his judgment ( 1 Cor. 6:3; Matt. 25:41 ).
After the Revelation given to John, on two occasions the apostle fell on his face in adoration, but the Angel quickly told John not to worship him and then agreed. The angels are nothing more than “collaborators” and are called to serve God as all God’s creatures should. So John was told to “worship God .”
The worship of angels (as with any other object of worship) distracts from the worship of God and attributes divine powers to the object of worship. The angels in the Bible are powerful and amazing in many ways but, like us, they are just creatures and servants of the living God who is the only one worthy of our worship.
This means that we should not pray to them or trust them even though God may use them to meet our needs in various ways. Our trust is to be in God, not in angels. They minister to us at his will under his authority and power.
The division of angels in the Bible: good and evil
While all angels were originally created holy and sinless, there was a rebellion on the part of Satan, who, being lifted up by his own beauty, rebelled and sought to exalt himself above God. In his rebellion, he took a third of the angels with him ( Revelation 12:4 ). This rebellion and fall are probably described to us in Isaiah 14:12-15 and Ezekiel 28:15 embodied in the kings of Babylon and Tyre.
Prophesying about a future angelic conflict that will occur in the midst of the Tribulation, John wrote: “And there was a war in heaven, Michael and his angels were at war with the dragon. And the dragon and his angels made war” ( Revelation 12:7 ). In other words, there are good angels and bad angels.
As the great antagonist of God, Satan hates God and his people and is constantly on the prowl like a roaring lion looking for those whom he can devour with his nefarious plans ( 1 Peter 5:8 ).
As an angelic being, Satan, along with his demon-like angels, is supernaturally powerful and brilliant, using all of his powers against humanity.
Not only is he a liar, a thief, and a distorter, but one of his main characterizations is deception. John describes him as the “one who deceives the whole world” ( Revelation 12:9 ). In his cunning, he masquerades as an angel of light ( 2 Corinthians 11:14 ).
The many references to angels in the Bible are primarily records of their many activities, but two things quickly stand out. They are constantly seen in the activities of worshiping God and in humble service, totally submissive to the will of God. If these heavenly beings, with all their strength, holiness, and knowledge of God are so committed, shouldn’t they be a motivation and an example for us?
It was after Isaiah saw the holy seraphim in adoration and humility (suggested by covering their feet) exalting the Lord that he then saw and confessed his own sinfulness and became a willing servant.
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It was then, in response to the Lord’s question: “Whom shall I send?” that the prophet said, “Here I am, send me” ( Isa. 6:1-8 ). Following the joyous news of the Messiah’s birth, the experience of seeing Jesus in Bethlehem and hearing the heavenly hosts of angels praising God, it was the shepherds who, following the example of the angels, returned “glorifying and praising God for all which they had heard and seen, just as it had been told them” ( Luke 2:20 ).
Awareness of the reality of the vast hosts of angelic beings—the benefit derived from good and the opposition from evil—can only be achieved through meditation on the Scriptures that record these truths and through prayer