Parent Category: Bible
Category: Biblical People
Angel. [Heb. malak, "messenger"; Gr. aggelos, "messenger."] A supernatural being, created by God, superior to man, and acting as a representative or messenger of God. There are Bible passages where malak and aggelos do not refer to supernatural beings, but to prophets and others fulfilling the function of "messenger" (2 Sa 3:14; Eze 23:16; Hag 1:13; Mt 11:10; Lk 7:24; etc.). There are other passages where the terms seem to apply to Christ Himself (Ex 23:20; Mal 3:1b; Acts 7:35). The specific references in any case must be found by a study of the context.
The existence and activity of angels is taken for granted throughout the OT and NT. The word "angel" occurs first in the OT in Gen 16:7-12, which describes the ministry of "the angel of the Lord" to the fugitive Hagar. Angels had a part in the warning of Lot before the destruction of Sodom (ch 19:1). Jacob saw "angels of God" ascending and descending between earth and heaven (ch 28:12), and in his old age reminisced about "the Angel which redeemed me from all evil" (ch 48:16). Angels appeared to Moses (Ex 3:2), led Israel (chs 14:19; 23:23), frustrated Balaam (Num 22:22), commissioned Gideon (Jgs 6:11), promised a son to Manoah (ch 13:3), threatened to destroy David's people (2 Sa 24:16), ministered to Elijah (1 Ki 19:5), destroyed the Assyrian army (2 Ki 19:35), saved Daniel from the lions (Dan 6:22), gave prophetic messages to Zechariah and other prophets (Zec 1:9). In some cases it is hard to distinguish between the direct intervention of God, of Christ, and of angels. This problem emphasises the unity that exists among the heavenly beings.
The references to angels in connection with the life of Jesus are many. Angels directed the parents of Jesus (Mt 1:20; 2:13, 19), sang in chorus on the night of His birth (Lk 2:13), ministered to Him on the Mount of Temptation (Mt 4:11), rolled away the stone from the tomb (ch 28:2), and proclaimed the resurrected Christ (vs. 5-7). The teachings of Jesus often referred to angels (Mt 13:41; 18:10; 22:30; 25:41; Lk 15:10). Jesus made clear that angels are a higher and different order of being from man (Mt 22:30; Mk 12:25). He also taught the existence of evil angels (Mt 25:41).
Angels ministered to the early Christian church. They opened prison doors (Acts 5:19; 12:7-11), guided in missionary endeavour (ch 8:26), impressed non-Christians to inquire about the gospel (ch 10:1-7), appeared to Paul during a storm at sea (ch 27:23), stood by the side of John during his apocalyptic visions (Rev 1:1).
The book of Revelation mentions angels more than seventy times. The author saw angels surrounding God's throne (Rev 5:11), blowing trumpets (ch 8:2, 6), carrying messages (ch 7:2, 3), executing judgement (ch 16), and reaping earth's harvest at the last day (ch 14:19). A large number of the actors in the drama of the Apocalypse are angels.
Perhaps the most definitive text regarding angels is Heb 1:14. From man's standpoint, angels' ministry to man is most significant. Eternity will reveal the breadth of the functions of these beings in relation to the universe. Man will in eternity be "equal unto the angels" (Lk 20:36; cf. Mt 22:30). The relationship between angels and men in the plan of redemption indicates the possibility of a unique relationship throughout eternity -- Seventh-day Adventist Bible Dictionary.