A friend recently confessed that he fellowshipped in a church that strongly emphasizes teachings about angels. The church has over a hundred angels who give different messages on their lists. My friend also talked of how a bishop of the said church, upon disagreeing with pastors from the church branches he was overseeing, threatened to remove the angels guarding their churches if they did not respect him. The bishop believed these churches were under his grace and his guardian angels so that he could command the angels as he desired. These were very strange teachings to my ears.
This article will delve into the truth about the doctrines of angels (angelology) from a Biblical perspective. From the story above, Christians must understand the truth about angels to counter those in error.
Who are Angels?
Angels are created spiritual beings with moral judgment and high intelligence but without physical bodies. The fact that they are created means they did not always exist; God created them, just as he created everything else (Nehemiah 9:6). Their propensity towards moral judgment is evident in that some of them chose to sin against God (2 Peter 2:4). Also, their intelligence is evident in their interaction with humankind and in how they praise God (Matthew 28:5; Revelation 4:11).
The scriptures use various titles when referring to angels, including sons of God (Job 1:6), watchers (Daniels 4:13), dominions, authorities (Colossians 1:16), and so forth. Angels are not the only heavenly beings mentioned in Scripture. We also read of cherubim, beings that guarded the Garden of Eden and on whom God is enthroned (Genesis 3:24; Ezekiel 10:18–22). Seraphim are those beings engaged in continual worship of the Lord (Isaiah 6:2–7), and the living creatures stand around God’s throne as representatives of creation also engaged in worship (Ezekiel 1:5–14; Revelation 4:6–8).
It also appears that angels fall into some ranks and orders. Jude 9 calls Michael an archangel, and Daniel 10:13 refers to him as one of the chief princes. We have no evidence or mention of other archangels. Gabriel is the only other angel named in Scripture (Luke 1:19; Daniel 8:16). The scriptures do not tell us how many angels exist. At various points, we read of tens of thousands (Deuteronomy 33:2), myriads upon myriads (Revelation 5:11), or even innumerable angels (Hebrews 12:22).
Functions of Angels
Angels serve very critical roles in fulfilling the will of God (Psalm 103:20-21). We can learn a lot from angels in their service to God.
- They demonstrate to us the greatness of God’s love and plan for humanity. God did not make angels in his image, and he has not provided a means of atonement for those angels who rebelled against him. Additionally, angels cannot bear children or have dominion over creation. Instead, they serve us (Hebrews 1:14).
- Angels remind us of the tremendous unseen reality that surrounds us. For instance, when we worship, we can remember that we worship in the presence of countless unseen angels (Hebrews 12:22).
- Angels are an example for us. When God wills something, they do it immediately, joyfully, and without question. Angels also exemplify genuine worship of God as they stand before his throne and rejoice in his holiness (Isaiah 6:3; Revelation 5:11–12).
- Angels participate in carrying out God’s plans. They convey messages (Luke 1:11–19), they destroy the enemies of God (2 Chronicles 32:21; Acts 12:23), and they will join the Lord in his mighty return (Matthew 16:27).
- Angels serve God’s purposes by glorifying him; they worship him for his attributes, praise him in obedience to Christ (1 Timothy 3:16), and honor him for our worship and obedience (1 Timothy 5:21; 1 Corinthians 4:9).
Angels Ministry to the Believers
The angels exist for the sake of the saints (Hebrews 1:13-14). In fact, the Bible says that all angels serve the saints. The angels, therefore, take care of the entire church. This is assuring to the saints, especially when the church knows it is at war with unseen forces of darkness (Ephesians 6:10-12). Angels are seen to serve God’s people in both the Old and New Testaments. The angels of the Lord surround those who fear God to deliver them (Psalm 34:7). An excellent example of this is when Daniel witnesses how God sent his angels to shut off the lions’ mouths so that they could not cause him any harm (Daniel 6:22). God also commands his angels to guard the saints in all their ways (Psalm 91:11). We see angels going to deliver a message of hope to God’s people (Judges 13:3). The angels directed Philip where to go (Acts 8:26), therefore directing the great commission. In addition, we see the angels reaching out to Cornelius about what to do to be saved as he was a non-believer (Acts 10:3-8).
Should we Worship Angels?
The false teachers in Colossians advocated for the worship of angels (Colossians 2:18). This is true even presently, where some false teachers will exult angels even to a place above God. Hence, this certainly is a subject we need to engage in. A portion of Scripture worth focusing on is the one highlighting John’s behavior when he got the message of what was to come from God. He bowed to worship the angel who brought him the message (Revelation 22:8). The angel responded in shock, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.” (Revelation 22:9). The Bible does not at all teach us to pray to angels. Our prayers are to be directed to the Father through Jesus Christ, His only Son (John 14:6).
It is good for us to be aware of angels in our daily lives as we come to worship and concerning our daily choices. These spiritual beings witness both our obedience and disobedience. When we desire protection or aid amid danger, we should consider that God may accomplish this through his angelic servants. At the same time, we should refute misleading doctrines about angels (Galatians 1:8; 2 Corinthians 11:14). We should never worship angels (Colossians 2:18; Revelations 19:10), we should not pray to angels (1 Timothy 2:5), and we should beware of an unhealthy desire to see and communicate with angels.
Angels have appeared to many in the New Testament age (Acts 8:26; 12:6–11), and the author of Hebrews mentions that we may encounter such beings (Hebrews 13:2). We, therefore, have no reason to conclude that angels have stopped appearing to people today. Even as we anticipate seeing angels, let us not limit our expectations to just dazzling white people with wings. In light of this, the Bible expects us to show hospitality to strangers as we might also welcome angels (Hebrews 13:2). All in all, let us not unnecessarily obsess over these celestial beings. Christ is incomparably greater than angels; hence, we should rightfully make much of him alone (Hebrews 1:4).