TBU: The Bible Unpacked: Comprehensive Edition

I.  Angels

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Chapter 5  Part I


The Bible often mentions angels. The existence and role of these mighty servants of God should be a great encouragement to believers. This is in no small part due to the fact that their work often involves believers, including giving believers supernatural help.

Note that while the great majority of references to angels in the Bible are to God’s holy angels, evil angels are also mentioned. These evil angels are commonly identified with demons (discussed in the second half of this chapter). In headings in this book, “Angels” primarily refer to angels of God. But bear in mind that some concepts, such as angels being very powerful, are applicable to all angels.

Attributes of Angels

Angels have human-like features, but are very awesome in appearance

Dan 10:5-6  [Daniel, describing a vision:] I looked up and saw a man clothed in linen; around his waist was a belt made of gold from Upaz. 6His body resembled yellow jasper, and his face had an appearance like lightning. His eyes were like blazing torches; his arms and feet had the gleam of polished bronze. His voice thundered forth like the sound of a large crowd.  NET

This is describing an angel. The reference to the angel as a “man” and the mention of his human-like features (waist, face, eyes, arms and feet) suggest that angels have a human-like form.

Angels have wings and can fly

Isa 6:2  [Isaiah, describing a vision of a scene in heaven:] Seraphs stood over him [God]; each one had six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and they used the remaining two to fly.  NET

The “seraphs” are apparently a high order or class of angelic beings. This verse illustrates that at least some kinds of angelic beings have wings.

Angels are very powerful

2Thes 1:7b  He will do this when the Lord Jesus is revealed, coming from heaven with his mighty angels in a blazing fire.  GW

Matt 28:2  Suddenly there was a severe earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descending from heaven came and rolled away the stone and sat on it.  NET

The accompanying earthquake appears to be indicative of the angel’s awesome power. The stone was the very large one that had sealed the entrance to Jesus’ tomb.

Angels have great wisdom and knowledge – but their knowledge is limited

2Sam 14:20  [A wise woman, to David:] My master, you are wise like an angel of God who knows everything that happens on earth.  NCV™

Mark 13:32  [Jesus, speaking of the time of his return:] But as for that day or hour no one knows it – neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son – except the Father.  NET

Angels can communicate and interact with others

1Ki 19:5-7  Then he [Elijah] lay down under the tree and slept. Suddenly an angel came to him and touched him. “Get up and eat,” the angel said. 6Elijah saw near his head a loaf baked over coals and a jar of water, so he ate and drank. Then he went back to sleep. 7Later the Lord’s angel came to him a second time. The angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat. If you don’t, the journey will be too hard for you.”  NCV™

Angels have a will

1Pet 1:12  They [the prophets] were shown that they were serving not themselves but you, in regard to the things now announced to you through those who proclaimed the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven – things angels long to catch a glimpse of.  NET

This clearly illustrates that angels have a will – also suggesting that they have a mind and the ability to reason.

Angels have emotions – notably joy

Job 38:6-7  [God, to Job:] What were the earth’s foundations set on, or who put its cornerstone in place 7while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted with joy?  NCV™

Note that the fact that angels have a will and emotions suggests that they are personal beings.

Angels are holy

Mark 8:38  [Jesus:] For if anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.  NET

Further attributes of angels

Heb 1:14  All the angels are spirits who serve God and are sent to help those who will receive salvation.  NCV™

Angels are spiritual beings.

Luke 20:36  Nor can they die anymore, because they are like the angels and, since they share in the resurrection, are God’s children.  ISV

Angels are immortal.

 Questions for Section A

Angels and God

Angels are with God, surrounding him and even standing in his presence

Rev 5:11a  [John, describing a vision of a scene in heaven:] Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels in a circle around the throne, as well as the living creatures and the elders.  NET

Luke 1:19  The angel answered him [Zechariah], “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news.  NET

Angels worship God and Jesus Christ

Rev 7:11-12  [John, describing a vision of a scene in heaven:] And all the angels stood there in a circle around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they threw themselves down with their faces to the ground before the throne and worshiped God, 12saying, “Amen! Praise and glory, and wisdom and thanksgiving, and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!”  NET

Heb 1:6  And when God brings his firstborn Son into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.”  NCV™

Angels serve God . . .

Ps 103:20-21  Praise the Lord, you angels of his, you powerful warriors who carry out his decrees and obey his orders! 21Praise the Lord, all you warriors of his, you servants of his who carry out his desires!  NET

. . . Angels carry out judgments of God

Ps 78:49  He [God] sent his burning anger, rage, fury, and hostility against them. He sent an army of destroying angels.  GW

Rev 16:1-4  [John, describing a vision:] Then I heard a loud voice from the temple declaring to the seven angels: “Go and pour out on the earth the seven bowls containing God’s wrath.” 2So the first angel went and poured out his bowl on the earth. Then ugly and painful sores appeared on the people who had the mark of the beast and who worshiped his image. 3Next, the second angel poured out his bowl on the sea and it turned into blood, like that of a corpse, and every living creature that was in the sea died. 4Then the third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and the springs of water, and they turned into blood.  NET

Carrying out judgments of God is a prominent role of angels in their service of God. Note that the “loud voice from the temple” (v. 1) is presumably that of God, giving directions to angels.

Angels serve Jesus Christ

Matt 13:41  The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather from his kingdom everything that causes sin as well as all lawbreakers.  NET

Matt 26:53  [Jesus:] Don’t you think that I could call on my Father to send more than twelve legions of angels to help me now?  GNT

 Questions for Section B

Angels and God’s People

Angels help and care for God’s people

Heb 1:14  What are all the angels? They are spirits sent to serve those who are going to receive salvation.  GW

Ps 34:7  The Lord’s angel camps around the Lord’s loyal followers and delivers them.  NET

Ps 91:11-12  For he [God] will order his angels to protect you in all you do. 12They will lift you up in their hands, so you will not slip and fall on a stone.  NET

Verse 12 figuratively depicts the work of angels in protecting God’s people.

Examples of angels, sent by God, saving God’s people

Dan 6:22  [Daniel, to King Darius:] My God sent his angel and closed the lions’ mouths so that they have not harmed me, because I was found to be innocent before him. Nor have I done any harm to you, O king.  NET

Acts 12:11  When Peter came to himself, he said, “Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from everything the Jewish people were expecting to happen.”  NET

Angels give God’s people messages, such as instructions

Acts 10:3-6  About three o’clock one afternoon he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God who came in and said to him, “Cornelius.” 4Staring at him and becoming greatly afraid, Cornelius replied, “What is it, Lord?” The angel said to him, “Your prayers and your acts of charity have gone up as a memorial before God. 5Now send men to Joppa and summon a man named Simon, who is called Peter. 6This man is staying as a guest with a man named Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea.”  NET

Note that the Hebrew and Greek words for “angel” carry the meaning “messenger”.

Angels also give messages about future events

Acts 27:23-24  [Paul:] For last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve came to me 24and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul! You must stand before Caesar, and God has graciously granted you the safety of all who are sailing with you.’  NET

Rev 22:6  And he [an angel] said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place.”  ESV

Note: Angels played a role in the introduction of the Mosaic Law

Acts 7:53  [Stephen, to the Jewish leaders:] You received the law by decrees given by angels, but you did not obey it.  NET

Note that the term “the Mosaic Law” in the above subheading refers to the law that God gave through Moses, which is referred to in this verse.

 Questions for Section C

Further Teaching about Angels

Angels are very important

Gal 4:14b  [Paul, to the believers in Galatia:] Instead, you welcomed me as though I were an angel of God, as though I were Christ Jesus himself!  NET

This points to the great importance of angels, even making something of a parallel of them with Jesus Christ.

There are different kinds and ranks of angels

Isa 6:1-2  [Isaiah, describing a vision of a scene in heaven:] In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. 2Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.  NKJV

As noted earlier, seraphim (or seraphs) are understood to be a high-ranking order of angels.

1Thes 4:16  For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a shout of command, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  NET

There are thousands upon thousands of angels

Rev 5:11  [John, describing a vision of a scene in heaven:] Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels in a circle around the throne, as well as the living creatures and the elders. Their number was ten thousand times ten thousand – thousands times thousands – …  NET

Angels reside in heaven

Matt 24:36  But as for that day and hour no one knows it – not even the angels in heaven – except the Father alone.  NET

Angels are not to be worshiped

Rev 19:9-10  Then the angel said to me, “Write the following: Blessed are those who are invited to the banquet at the wedding celebration of the Lamb!” He also said to me, “These are the true words of God.” 10So I threw myself down at his feet to worship him, but he said, “Do not do this! I am only a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony about Jesus. Worship God, for the testimony about Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”  NET

 Questions for Section D

Pray for persecuted Christians