SS-2 - A Study of Angels
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The apostle Paul said, "Even if we or an angel from heaven preach to you any other
gospel than that which we have preached let him be accursed," Galatians 1:8.
Welcome to our Special Study Series as we think about today the subject of
Angels are very unique and special in many ways in the New Testament. They
are also a very curious topic to many people today. Angels have been the subject of a
host of newsmagazines, tabloids, and even whole TV shows have been based on the
idea of angels. In fact, Time magazine recently conducted a poll among American
adults on the subject of angels. The results were that 69% believe that angels do exist,
45% claim to have had a personal guardian angel, and 32% claimed they had felt some
angelic presence at some time in their life. With a lot of fault among people today about
angels, we want to direct our attention to what the Bible says on this subject. Apart from
what tabloids, magazines, and Hollywood may produce, what does the word of God
really teach on the subject of angels?
First, let's get a definition of what we’re talking about. Angels are an order of
supernatural, heavenly beings who act as God's messengers. In fact, the Hebrew and
the Greek words have some very unique meanings Both the Hebrew and Greek words
for angel can mean either angel or messenger, depending on the context. When we talk
about angels, we're talking about God's special servants whom he issued to do certain
jobs and tasks which we'll talk about in our study.
What do angels look like in the Bible? To familiarize ourselves with this subject,
let's remind ourselves of certain appearances that occurred in the Bible. In the religious
world most photos or drawings depict that angels have wings, they've got a harp, and
they've got a halo. When you see them in the Bible do they have wings, a harp, or a
halo then? What would an angel look like if you were to see one?
Here's what the Bible says. At times, angels can't be distinguished from people.
In Genesis 18:2; 16 during the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah they just thought
the angels were men. When they came to Abraham, they looked like men. Sometimes
angels can't be distinguished from other people in the Bible. Some angels, but not all,
have the ability to fly, Daniel 9:21. Revelation 14:6, describes angels as flying or moving
very fast. Some of the seraphim and cherubim, which were special servants of God, did
have wings, but not all of them did. Even in passages where the angels are described
as flying, it's often in very apocalyptic, figurative context. We know that they were very
awesome creatures, Isaiah 6. Ezekiel 1 describes the majesty and the power of these
beings and in great detail. There are times where they were clothed in white and they
did shine, for example in John 20:12, depicts certain angels that did have that
appearance. What we learn about the appearances of angels in the Bible is they may
look like people, they may have certain special qualities, or they may be something so
majestic and graceful that we would stand in awe of the God who created them.
Let's consider the nature of angels. What do we know about the angels and their
nature? We know that angels are created beings, Colossians 1:16 says, "All things were
created by him and for him." Psalm 148:2 and the following verses say this about angels
and their unique nature, "Praise Him, all angels; Praise Him, all hosts!" Psalm 148:5
says, "Let them praise the name of the Lord, For He commanded and they were
created." Who commanded? Who was created? God commanded the creation of the
angels and He commanded they praise Him. Angels are created beings and they are
immortal beings. In Luke 20:36 the Bible says, "Nor can they die anymore, for they are
equal to Angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection." We learn from this
verse that the things that we mortals face like death and sickness, these beings don't
face. Nor can they die anymore; they're like the angels or the sons of God who will be at
What else do we know about the nature of angels? Angels are in some ways
superior to man in his fleshly mortal state. Hebrews 2:9 says of Jesus, "He was made a
little lower than the angels. He was made lower than the angels in some ways. Of
course we know that Christ came in human form and suffered for each of us as a
human being. Angels are indeed spirit beings; they're not flesh and blood like we are.
Angels are in subjection to Almighty God. Hebrews 1 helps us to understand the true
identity and the purpose of angels. Hebrews 1:5, "To which of the angels did He ever
say: 'You are My Son, Today I have begotten you'?" Hebrews 1:7, "And of the angels he
says: 'Who makes His angels spirits And His ministers a flame of fire.'" Hebrews 1:14,
"Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister to those who will inherit
salvation?" Angels are spirit beings who God created to minister and to serve at His
desire. They're God's special servants often with a unique mission and purpose.
Ultimately they exist to bring about God's plan of salvation and to realize and
understand God's will must always be above their own.
Another unique idea and attribute of angels is they have a certain amount of
limited knowledge of the Divine plan. Matthew 24:36 illustrates this. Concerning the
second coming of Christ, Jesus said, "Of that day and hour no one knows, not even the
angels in Heaven, not even the Son, but the Father knows that." There are certain
things that angels were limited from knowing like man. They weren't privy to all divine
plans and knowledge they're limited in certain things as well.
Another unique attribute of angels is that angels don't marry and they don't
procreate as men and women do. Look in Mark 12:25, Jesus is here showing that the
resurrection is true-that it has happened and he uses this proof, " For when they rise
from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in
Heaven." The Jews had asked about a woman who had had seven husbands. They
wanted to know, whose wife she would be in the resurrection? Jesus answered that she
wouldn't be married to anyone, like the angels they neither marry nor are given in
marriage. There are certain things that we are so accustomed to that don't exist for
angels and isn't a part of their nature.
We do know that angels definitely have a free; will they're not robots, they are
created beings. They are created to serve and minister to Almighty God, but angels
have the free will and choose to do that. Two passages illustrate this, I want you to
notice Jude 6, "And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own
abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains of darkness for the judgment of that great
day." There are angels who didn't obey, who didn't stay where God wanted them to
stay, and do what he wanted them to do. They had the ability to choose to obey God or
choose to disobey and suffer the consequences. Another passage 2 Peter 2:4 says this,
"For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and
delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; and did not spare
the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people,..." He goes on to say you've got
to be careful as well. If God did not spare the angels who sinned, angels are free moral
agents they can choose to do well and serve God; they can choose to do evil and
become servants of Satan, locked in darkness for that great and awful day where God's
judgment will be revealed upon them.
Angels are also beings that worship God by their very nature. Hebrews 1:6, "But
when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says: Let all the angels of God
worship Him." Angels are not at the top, they're not gods, and they’re under God. They
worship, they pay honor and homage to something greater than them. Another
example, in Revelation 4:5 there's this great throne room scene and where God's on the
throne and Christ the Lamb is there. The Angels fall down and pray our creator,
Almighty God. And so they're under God, and they, by their very nature worship God as
their creator and the one whom they're amenable to.
Angels are not to be worshiped by a person, that’s not the way God designed it,
and God clearly teaches us that's not the case. In Revelation 19:10, John has been
receiving some magnificent testimonies and prophecies from God. Revelations from
God and this one is so encouraging to John that I want you notice what he tries to do.
Revelation 19:10 the Bible says, of this angel, "And I fell at his feet to worship him. But
he said to me, 'See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your
brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is
the spirit of prophecy." Are angels to be worshiped? The angel here said get up, stop
doing that, I'm a servant like you. You worship God. Colossians 2:18 mentions one of
vain things that some in that day had gotten caught up in one was, angel worship, which
again is not at all approved by God. And so we sometimes see images where people
worship them or falling down before them, and friend that's not the case, we're not
created to worship angels. Angels worship God and we worship God just as well.
One of the most common myths has to do with, again, the way angels look.
Sometimes in most every picture you see all angels will have wings. Did you know that's
just very rarely the idea in the Bible? There's only a slight reference to any other angels
having wings besides created beings like the cherubim and the seraphim. In Daniel 9:21
and Revelation 14:6 they are said to fly. Those verses imply that angels have the ability
to fly with wings, but both of those contexts are figurative. There's a host of things that
happened in the book Revelation that were never meant to be taken literally. The first
myth we want to address is that angels, all angels have wings. In the Bible most of the
angelic appearances that we read about they look like men. They weren't very different
than me and you; they took on the form of a man when they came to this earth.
Another myth we can address is this, sometimes people teach that we're going to
become angels. Someone may say well he's an angel, or he's going to be an angel. We
understand that they're saying that he's a good person. Sometimes that idea is that
we're going to be angels in Heaven and that’s not taught in the Bible. 1 Corinthians
15:52, "In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. The trumpet will
sound and the dead will be raised incorruptible." We'll all be changed. What are we
going to be like? Philippians 3:20-21 says that we're going to be transformed into a
different body, a different state like unto Christ himself. The mortal will put on
immortality the corruptible will put on incorruption, but nowhere in the Bible does it say
that we're going become angels after this life. That's a myth that maybe has been
promoted, but is not taught in the Scripture.
Another myth is that angels talk to us today. We might hear this quite often
whether it is in a song, whether be in a movie, or whether we're talking to someone
about a Biblical matter. A person may say well I saw an angel or an angel talked to me.
Is that really how God speaks to us today? How does God say he'll speak to man?
Here's how: Hebrews 1:1, "God, who at various times in various ways spoke in times
past to the fathers by the prophets has in these last days spoken to us by his Son." God
chose to use His Son to speak His message. That message we now have in the words
of the Bible. That message is powerful, it has the ability to save, and it's God's final
Revelation to save man, to get him to Heaven, and to help them to be everything God
wants him to be.
In 2 Peter 3:1, here's how God speaks to me. Peter said, "Beloved, I now write to
you of this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of
reminder)." So how does the Bible say God speaks? Through His Son and through the
written word given by the apostles inspired by God. If someone says, an angel spoke to
me. Consider that this is God's message and that the Bible tells me do not even believe
an angel if it's message is different than this book. In Galatians 1:8 Paul said, "even if
we, or an angel from Heaven, preach to you any other gospel than that which we have
preached, let him be accursed. As I said before so now I say again if anyone preaches
any other gospel to you than that which you received let him be accursed.' What do we
learn from that passage? If the apostle Paul or an angel came back and taught
something different than this book which should I believe? Paul, the angel, or the Bible.
Paul said believe the Bible, believe what's been preached, and believe what's been
written. Someone may say an angel told me to do this, but if we open our Bible, that's
not there. Which should you believe? The Book, believe the Word of God, believe the
Holy Bible; because, it is indeed God's final Revelation to mankind.
A common myth and that is the idea of guardian angels. Do we all have some
special guardian angel, who is watching over us and making sure that nothing bad
happens to us? Consider a few things first. If it's the case that we all have a guardian
angel watching over us, then some peoples are better than other's. If someone does
walk in front of the car and gets hit or has something fall off of a building on top of them.
Where was their guardian angel? Are we ready to say their guardian angel didn't do too
good? Trusting in that is really trusting in something that the Bible doesn't necessarily
teach. Now where do those ideas come from? Hebrews 1:14, "Are they not all
ministering spirits sent to minister to those who will receive salvation?" People will get
the idea from this verse that God sent angels and they were sent to minister to us. If we
understand the context God used the angels to carry out parts of His plan. The Gospel,
God getting his plan out, God working through the ages, "God who spoke at various
times various ways to the prophets has now in these last days spoken to us." Talking
about God, bringing the fulfillment of His ultimate gospel plan to mankind. Did God use
angels in that? He absolutely did, they announced the birth of Jesus, they told of coming
hope and future. That was the working of the angels then. Am I to imply from Hebrews
1:14 that that's not what's taught, that's not the context, that's not what's being applied.
What's being taught is their work throughout history in bringing that salvation in helping
in the way God told them to through the ages to us and to Christians who are now living
who have that hope of salvation.
There's another myth that may be popular today that may be caused by an abuse
of a context. There's a myth that people may entertain angels. Hebrews 13:1-2, "Let
brotherly love continue. And do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some
have unwittingly entertained angels." Now here's the point, you've got to love one
another. Why? You've got to entertain strangers because that's how you show love,
that's how you create relationships, and remember this some in entertaining strangers
even unwittingly entertained angels. Now what's the point there? The importance of that
context will go all the way back to the time of Abraham. When they unwittingly
entertained angels, and how that that was such a great event and it showed their love
for all mankind. What's the writer saying? The writer's saying love one another, the
writer says entertained strangers, and the writer uses that example from the Old
Testament of entertaining angels to show the importance of putting others before self.
The special nature of that and how we need to have the closeness and love that God
wants us to. Is he trying to say that? That's not even the point, the point is love one
another, entertain strangers. This one case example, special case example shows in a
unique way how important that is for God's people to do.
And so friend, as we think about angels let's realize that of all God's created
beings, I want you to listen real carefully, of all God's created beings man is the one
God sent his son to save. Angels is not where my emphasis needs to be. Am I thankful
for the work they did in God's plan? Absolutely. Our focus needs not to be so much on
angels, but on Christ and on following Him. If we were to put our attention, our effort,
and our aim into serving Christ above all else, that's what really counts.
Jesus asked these two questions, "What will it profit a man if he gains the whole
world and loses his own soul?" or, "What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?"
Your soul is the most important thing you have. And so we ask you today, are you really
giving attention to your soul? Have you heard about Christ? Do you really believe in
Him? Would you repent of your sin and confess His name before men? Would you be
immersed in water for the forgiveness of sins? Let's indeed, as Acts 2:38 teaches, put
the emphasis on Christ, His plan of salvation, and not on created beings that we're not
Study Questions for: “Special Studies: A Study of Angels”
1. How does Revelation 14:6 describe Angels?
2. How does John 20:12 depict Angels?
3. According to Colossians, were Angels created?
4. What were the Angels commanded to do in Psalm 148:2, 5?
5. According to Luke 20:36, do Angels face the same issues mortals face?
6. Are Angels superior to men according to Hebrews 2:9?
7. Are Angels all-knowing according to Matthew 24:36?
8. Do Angels marry and procreate according to Mark 12:25?
9. According to 2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 6, do Angels have free will?
10. According to Revelation 19:10, are we to worship Angels?