TBU: The Bible Unpacked: In-Depth Edition

I.  Angels

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Chapter 5  Part I

Angels

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

Note that there are variations in the descriptions of angelic beings below, suggesting that there are different kinds of angels, and even that they can vary their form. Also note that Hebrews 1:14 (cf. Further attributes of angels) refers to angels as “spirits”, implying that they do not always have a perceivable form.

Judg 13:3, 6a  And the angel of the Lord appeared to the woman and said to her, “Behold, you are barren and have not borne children, but you shall conceive and bear a son. ▤ 6Then the woman came and told her husband, “A man of God came to me, and his appearance was like the appearance of the angel of God, very awesome. ▤ 

The reference to the angel as a “man” (v. 6) suggests that angels have a human-like form.

Ezek 1:4-14, 24  As I looked, behold, a stormy wind came out of the north, and a great cloud, with brightness around it, and fire flashing forth continually, and in the midst of the fire, as it were gleaming metal.u 5And from the midst of it came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance: they had a human likeness, 6but each had four faces, and each of them had four wings. 7Their legs were straight, and the soles of their feet were like the sole of a calf’s foot. And they sparkled like burnished bronze. 8Under their wings on their four sides they had human hands. And the four had their faces and their wings thus: 9their wings touched one another. Each one of them went straight forward, without turning as they went. 10As for the likeness of their faces, each had a human face. The four had the face of a lion on the right side, the four had the face of an ox on the left side, and the four had the face of an eagle. 11Such were their faces. And their wings were spread out above. Each creature had two wings, each of which touched the wing of another, while two covered their bodies. 12And each went straight forward. Wherever the spirit would go, they went, without turning as they went. 13As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, like the appearance of torches moving to and fro among the living creatures. And the fire was bright, and out of the fire went forth lightning. 14And the living creatures darted to and fro, like the appearance of a flash of lightning. ▤ 24And when they went, I heard the sound of their wings like the sound of many waters, like the sound of the Almighty, a sound of tumult like the sound of an army. When they stood still, they let down their wings. ▤ 

u Or amber; also verse 27

These “living creatures” are cherubim (cf. Ezek 10:5, 16, 19a ), understood to be one of the highest orders of angels. Verse 10 speaks of each of them having four different faces, including a human face in front (cf. CEV, NLT).

Ezek 8:2  Then I looked, and behold, a form that had the appearance of a man.v Below what appeared to be his waist was fire, and above his waist was something like the appearance of brightness, like gleaming metal.w ▤ 

v By revocalization (compare Septuagint); Hebrew of fire

w Or amber

Dan 10:5-10, 16a, 18  I lifted up my eyes and looked, and behold, a man clothed in linen, with a belt of fine gold from Uphaz around his waist. 6His body was like beryl, his face like the appearance of lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and the sound of his words like the sound of a multitude. 7And I, Daniel, alone saw the vision, for the men who were with me did not see the vision, but a great trembling fell upon them, and they fled to hide themselves. 8So I was left alone and saw this great vision, and no strength was left in me. My radiant appearance was fearfully changed,x and I retained no strength. 9Then I heard the sound of his words, and as I heard the sound of his words, I fell on my face in deep sleep with my face to the ground. 10And behold, a hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees. ▤ 16And behold, one in the likeness of the children of man touched my lips. ▤ 18Again one having the appearance of a man touched me and strengthened me. ▤ 

x Hebrew My splendor was changed to ruin

The heavenly being described in vv. 5-6 is generally understood to be an angel, though some consider him to be the preincarnate Christ (cf. Rev 1:13-16). It probably is the same being in view in vv. 16a, 18. The awesome nature of his appearance and presence is underlined by the reactions of Daniel and the men with him (vv. 7-8, 10; cf. vv. 15-17).

Matt 28:3-4  His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 4And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. ▤ 

This is speaking of “an angel of the Lord” (v. 2).

Luke 24:4  While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. ▤ 

Heb 13:2  Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. ▤ 

This indicates that angels have or at least can take on a human-like form.

Rev 10:1  Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven, wrapped in a cloud, with a rainbow over his head, and his face was like the sun, and his legs like pillars of fire. ▤ 

Rev 18:1  After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was made bright with his glory. ▤ 

Angels have wings and can fly

See also:

At least some kinds of angelic beings are spoken of as having wings. Note that complementary to verses speaking of angels flying, there are other verses that indicate that angels can move very quickly throughout the earth.

Isa 6:2  Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. ▤ 

The “seraphim” are apparently a high order or class of angelic beings.

Ezek 10:5, 16, 19a  And the sound of the wings of the cherubim was heard as far as the outer court, like the voice of God Almighty when he speaks. ▤ 16And when the cherubim went, the wheels went beside them. And when the cherubim lifted up their wings to mount up from the earth, the wheels did not turn from beside them. ▤ 19And the cherubim lifted up their wings and mounted up from the earth before my eyes as they went out, with the wheels beside them. ▤ 

Dan 9:21  … while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the first, came to me in swift flight at the time of the evening sacrifice. ▤ 

Rev 14:6  Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people. ▤ 

Ps 18:10  He rode on a cherub and flew; he came swiftly on the wings of the wind. ▤ 

This appears to speak poetically of God. The references to a cherub and to flying point to the fact that angels can fly.

  • The gold cherubim with wings on the atonement cover of the ark of the covenant:

Ex 25:20  The cherubim shall spread out their wings above, overshadowing the mercy seat with their wings, their faces one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubim be. ▤ 

Angels are very powerful

See also:

  • [Means of God’s judicial retribution:] Angels

Ps 103:20  Bless the Lord, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word! ▤ 

Matt 28:2  And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. ▤ 

The linking of the earthquake with the angel’s appearance and the angel rolling back the enormous stone both point to the angel’s great power.

2Thes 1:7  … and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels … ▤ 

2Pet 2:10b-11  Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones, 11whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not pronounce a blasphemous judgment against them before the Lord. ▤ 

Rev 7:1  After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth, that no wind might blow on earth or sea or against any tree. ▤ 

Rev 10:1-3  Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven, wrapped in a cloud, with a rainbow over his head, and his face was like the sun, and his legs like pillars of fire. 2He had a little scroll open in his hand. And he set his right foot on the sea, and his left foot on the land, 3and called out with a loud voice, like a lion roaring. When he called out, the seven thunders sounded. ▤ 

Verse 3 reflects the “mighty”, awesome nature of this angel (v. 1). His “loud voice, like a lion roaring” (v. 3a) is indicative of his might, as is the resulting awesome revelation (v. 3; cf. v. 4).

Rev 12:7-9  Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, 8but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. 9And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. ▤ 

The great power of God’s angels is shown here by them overcoming and ejecting Satan and his angels.

Rev 18:1  After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was made bright with his glory. ▤ 

Rev 18:21  Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, “So will Babylon the great city be thrown down with violence, and will be found no more; … ▤ 

Rev 20:1-3a  Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pity and a great chain. 2And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, 3and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. ▤ 

y Greek the abyss; also verse 3

The extraordinary might of this angel is shown by the angel seizing, binding and imprisoning Satan. Note that the bottomless pit (vv. 1, 3) is portrayed elsewhere as a prison or abode for demons.

2Chr 32:21a  And the Lord sent an angel, who cut off all the mighty warriors and commanders and officers in the camp of the king of Assyria. So he returned with shame of face to his own land. ▤ 

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

2Sam 14:17, 20  And your servant thought, ‘The word of my lord the king will set me at rest,’ for my lord the king is like the angel of God to discern good and evil. The Lord your God be with you!” ▤ 20In order to change the course of things your servant Joab did this. But my lord has wisdom like the wisdom of the angel of God to know all things that are on the earth. ▤ 

In addressing King David, a woman refers to the great wisdom and knowledge of angels.

Mark 13:32  But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. ▤ 

Although angels have great wisdom and knowledge, this and the following verses show that angels do not know everything.

Eph 3:10  … so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. ▤ 

The “rulers and authorities in the heavenly places” (v. 10) may be referring primarily to angels (cf. GNT) or at least inclusive of them.

1Pet 1:12  It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look. ▤ 

This suggests that there are certain matters related to the gospel that angels are still to learn or learn more about (cf. CEV, GNT).

Angels can communicate and interact with others

See also:

1Ki 19:5-7  And he lay down and slept under a broom tree. And behold, an angel touched him and said to him, “Arise and eat.” 6And he looked, and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. And he ate and drank and lay down again. 7And the angel of the Lord came again a second time and touched him and said, “Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.” ▤ 

Isa 6:2-3  Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”z ▤ 

z Or may his glory fill the whole earth

Dan 10:9-10, 18-19  Then I heard the sound of his words, and as I heard the sound of his words, I fell on my face in deep sleep with my face to the ground. 10And behold, a hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees. ▤ 18Again one having the appearance of a man touched me and strengthened me. 19And he said, “O man greatly loved, fear not, peace be with you; be strong and of good courage.” And as he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.” ▤ 

Luke 1:11-13, 18-20  And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. 13But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. ▤ 18And Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” 19And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. 20And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.” ▤ 

The angel Gabriel’s ability to interact is shown not only in him speaking the message but by his responses to Zechariah, responding to Zechariah’s fear (vv. 12-13a) and to his disbelief (vv. 18-20).

Heb 13:2  Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. ▤ 

That angels can be mistaken for people, suggests that they can communicate and interact as people do.

Rev 19:9-10  And the angel saida to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” 10Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servantb with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.” For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. ▤ 

a Greek he said

b Greek fellow bondservant

Angels have a will and emotions – notably joy

Note that along with such things as their ability to communicate and interact, the fact that angels have a will and emotions suggests that they are personal beings.

1Pet 1:12  It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look. ▤ 

This and the following passage clearly illustrate that angels have a will – along with a mind and the ability to reason.

Rev 22:8-9  I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me, 9but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servantc with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.” ▤ 

c Greek fellow bondservant

Job 38:6-7  On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, 7when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy? ▤ 

The “sons of God” are angels (cf. CEV, NCV, NIV, NLT).

Heb 12:22  But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, … ▤ 

The term “festal gathering” is indicative of joy.

Luke 15:10  Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents. ▤ 

The rejoicing appears to be done at least in part by the angels (cf. AMP, CEV, GNT).

Angels are holy – but not perfect

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

Rev 14:10b  … he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. ▤ 

Ps 89:5-7  Let the heavens praise your wonders, O Lord, your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones! 6For who in the skies can be compared to the Lord? Who among the heavenly beingsd is like the Lord, 7a God greatly to be feared in the council of the holy ones, and awesome above all who are around him? ▤ 

d Hebrew the sons of God, or the sons of might

The term “holy ones” (vv. 5, 7) appears to refer to angelic beings – “the heavenly beings” (v. 6) – who are therefore holy. The same applies to “holy one” in Daniel 4:13 immediately below.

Dan 4:13  I saw in the visions of my head as I lay in bed, and behold, a watcher, a holy one, came down from heaven. ▤ 

Rev 19:14  And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. ▤ 

The “armies of heaven” may well be angelic hosts. If so, being dressed “in fine linen, white and pure” would be symbolic of them being holy or righteous. However, some commentators consider that they may be believers, or at least be inclusive of believers. This view is partly due to believers earlier having been given to wear: “fine linen, bright and pure” (v. 8)

Job 4:18  Even in his servants he puts no trust, and his angels he charges with error; … ▤ 

This and 15:15 below indicate that angels are not perfect.

Job 15:15  Behold, Gode puts no trust in his holy ones, and the heavens are not pure in his sight; … ▤ 

e Hebrew he

Further attributes of angels

Luke 20:36  … for they cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sonsf of the resurrection. ▤ 

f Greek huioi; see Preface

This indicates that angels are immortal.

Heb 1:14  Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation? ▤ 

Angels are spiritual beings.

2Pet 2:10b-11  Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones, 11whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not pronounce a blasphemous judgment against them before the Lord. ▤ 

This and Jude 9 immediately below illustrate that angels are respectful, even meek – not bold and arrogant like the false teachers being spoken of (v. 10b).

Jude 1:9  But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” ▤ 

Note that possibly one reason as to why Michael refrained from bringing a slanderous accusation against Satan is that to do so would be to follow Satan’s own ways as the accuser.

Pray for persecuted Christians

Angels and God

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

See also:

1Ki 22:19  And Micaiah said, “Therefore hear the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing beside him on his right hand and on his left; … ▤ 

Ps 89:7  … a God greatly to be feared in the council of the holy ones, and awesome above all who are around him? ▤ 

Rev 5:11  Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, … ▤ 

2Pet 2:11  … whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not pronounce a blasphemous judgment against them before the Lord. ▤ 

This is not necessarily indicating that angels are generally in the Lord’s presence, but at the very least it implies that they can enter into it.

Matt 18:10  See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.g ▤ 

g Some manuscripts add verse 11: For the Son of Man came to save the lost

In saying that angels “always see the face of” God, Jesus indicates that angels are always in the presence of God (cf. AMP, GNT, NLT) and likewise that they are always with God (cf. CEV, NCV).

Luke 1:19  And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. ▤ 

Bear in mind that this is not actually saying that all angels stand in the presence of God. Revelation 8:2 below speaks of only seven angels doing so. However, the fact that angels surround God (as indicated in the earlier verses in this subsection) suggests that they are at least close to what may be termed as his “presence”.

Rev 8:2  Then I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them. ▤ 

Angels worship God and Jesus Christ

See also:

Neh 9:6  h “You are the Lord, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you. ▤ 

h Septuagint adds And Ezra said

Ps 148:2  Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his hosts! ▤ 

Isa 6:2-3  Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”i ▤ 

i Or may his glory fill the whole earth

Luke 2:13-14  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”j ▤ 

j Some manuscripts peace, good will among men

Rev 4:8-9  And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” 9And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, … ▤ 

The “four living creatures” appear to be angelic beings – and arguably can be identified with the seraphim of Isaiah 6:2-3 above.

Rev 7:11-12  And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” ▤ 

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

Rev 5:11-14  Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” 13And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” 14And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped. ▤ 

Angels serve God . . .

See also:

Ps 103:20-21  Bless the Lord, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word! 21Bless the Lord, all his hosts, his ministers, who do his will! ▤ 

Heb 1:7  Of the angels he says, “He makes his angels winds, and his ministers a flame of fire.” ▤ 

Here “ministers” is used of angels (cf. Ps 103:21 ). The meaning of the quotation may be that God makes his angels “swift as the wind” (NLT) and potent like fire (cf. NCV). Some understand it to literally mean that God changes his angels into winds and flames of fire to carry out various tasks.

Josh 5:13-15  When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” 14And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the Lord. Now I have come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, “What does my lord say to his servant?” 15And the commander of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, “Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so. ▤ 

Possibly Joshua experienced here an encounter with God, although the “man” may have simply been an angel. Either way, the Lord’s army (vv. 14, 15) is presumably an army of angelic beings, ultimately at God’s command to serve him.

Job 25:3a  Is there any number to his armies? ▤ 

This most likely is speaking of God’s “angels who serve him” (GNT).

Dan 7:10  A stream of fire issued and came out from before him; a thousand thousands served him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him; the court sat in judgment, and the books were opened. ▤ 

The “thousands” are probably angels (cf. NCV, NLT) who wait upon God to serve him.

Matt 6:10  Your kingdom come, your will be done,k on earth as it is in heaven. ▤ 

k Or Let your kingdom come, let your will be done

This may well be a reference to – or at least encompasses – God’s will being done in heaven by angels, in service to God.

Rev 22:8-9  I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me, 9but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servantl with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.” ▤ 

l Greek fellow bondservant

. . . Angels carry out judgments of God

See also:

Carrying out judgments of God is a prominent role of angels in their service of God.

1Chr 21:15-16  And God sent the angel to Jerusalem to destroy it, but as he was about to destroy it, the Lord saw, and he relented from the calamity. And he said to the angel who was working destruction, “It is enough; now stay your hand.” And the angel of the Lord was standing by the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. 16And David lifted his eyes and saw the angel of the Lord standing between earth and heaven, and in his hand a drawn sword stretched out over Jerusalem. Then David and the elders, clothed in sackcloth, fell upon their faces. ▤ 

Ps 78:49  He let loose on them his burning anger, wrath, indignation, and distress, a company of destroying angels. ▤ 

This is referring to the last of the ten Egyptians plagues – the death of every firstborn male – as having been carried out by angels.

Zec 6:1-8  Again I lifted my eyes and saw, and behold, four chariots came out from between two mountains. And the mountains were mountains of bronze. 2The first chariot had red horses, the second black horses, 3the third white horses, and the fourth chariot dappled horses—all of them strong.m 4Then I answered and said to the angel who talked with me, “What are these, my lord?” 5And the angel answered and said to me, “These are going out to the four winds of heaven, after presenting themselves before the Lord of all the earth. 6The chariot with the black horses goes toward the north country, the white ones go after them, and the dappled ones go toward the south country.” 7When the strong horses came out, they were impatient to go and patrol the earth. And he said, “Go, patrol the earth.” So they patrolled the earth. 8Then he cried to me, “Behold, those who go toward the north country have set my Spirit at rest in the north country.” ▤ 

m Or and the fourth chariot strong dappled horses

The “chariots” are angelic “spirits” (v. 5) sent “throughout the earth” (v. 7) – by the angel speaking in the vision – to carry out God’s judgment. Verse 8 suggests that their works of judgment in the north appeased God’s wrath (cf. GNT, NASB, NLT).

1Cor 10:10  … nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. ▤ 

The “Destroyer” speaks of a “destroying angel” (CEV, NIV).

Acts 12:23  Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him down, because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and breathed his last. ▤ 

Rev 8:5  Then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth, and there were peals of thunder, rumblings,n flashes of lightning, and an earthquake. ▤ 

n Or voices, or sounds

Note that judgments spoken of in Revelation (cf. Rev 14:19-20 ; Rev 15:5-16:4 ) are generally from apocalyptic visions. Much of these visions is symbolic.

Rev 14:19-20  So the angel swung his sickle across the earth and gathered the grape harvest of the earth and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. 20And the winepress was trodden outside the city, and blood flowed from the winepress, as high as a horse’s bridle, for 1,600 stadia.o ▤ 

o About 184 miles; a stadion was about 607 feet or 185 meters

For comment, see the comment on Rev 14:18-20 – under Horrific consequences . . ..

Rev 15:5-816:1-4  After this I looked, and the sanctuary of the tentp of witness in heaven was opened, 6and out of the sanctuary came the seven angels with the seven plagues, clothed in pure, bright linen, with golden sashes around their chests. 7And one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God who lives forever and ever, 8and the sanctuary was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power, and no one could enter the sanctuary until the seven plagues of the seven angels were finished. ▤  16:1 Then I heard a loud voice from the temple telling the seven angels, “Go and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God.” 2So the first angel went and poured out his bowl on the earth, and harmful and painful sores came upon the people who bore the mark of the beast and worshiped its image. 3The second angel poured out his bowl into the sea, and it became like the blood of a corpse, and every living thing died that was in the sea. 4The third angel poured out his bowl into the rivers and the springs of water, and they became blood. ▤ 

p Or tabernacle

The “loud voice from the temple” (16:1) is presumably that of God, giving directions to angels. Further examples of angels carrying out God’s judgments are contained in the subsequent verses and elsewhere in Revelation (cf. Prologue: Judgments Preceding Jesus Christ’s Return).

Angels serve Jesus Christ

See also:

Matt 4:11  Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him. ▤ 

Matt 13:40-42  Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the close of the age. 41The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, 42and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. ▤ 

Matt 26:50b-54  Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him. 51And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servantq of the high priest and cut off his ear. 52Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. 53Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? 54But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?” ▤ 

q Greek bondservant

Rev 1:1  The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servantsr the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servants John, … ▤ 

r Greek bondservants

s Greek bondservant

  • An angel strengthened Jesus in Gethsemane:

Luke 22:41-43  And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, 42saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” 43And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. ▤ 

Note: “The angel of the Lord” is identified with God

See also:

Note that the apparent identification of “the angel of the Lord” with God in such passages as the following ones, has led a number of commentators to believe that this angel is the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ. See also the comment below on Exodus 23:20-22. However, this identification with God may simply be due to the angel in question speaking or acting on behalf of God – as per the comment below on Exodus 3:2-6.

Gen 16:9-10, 13  The angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress and submit to her.” 10The angel of the Lord also said to her, “I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude.” ▤ 13So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,”t for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.”u ▤ 

t Or You are a God who sees me

u Hebrew Have I really seen him here who sees me? or Would I have looked here for the one who sees me?

Here the angel of the Lord (v. 9) is identified with God by: speaking as if he was God – “I will surely multiply your offspring” (v. 10); being referred to as “the Lord who spoke to her” (v. 13a); and Hagar referring to him as “God” and by saying that she had seen God (v. 13b). Note however that there is uncertainty about the Hebrew text of v. 13b.

Ex 3:2-6  And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. 3And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” 4When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” 5Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” 6And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. ▤ 

Note that in Acts 7:35 Stephen interprets this incident as God speaking to Moses “through the angel who appeared to him in the bush.”

Judg 6:22-23  Then Gideon perceived that he was the angel of the Lord. And Gideon said, “Alas, O Lord God! For now I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face.” 23But the Lord said to him, “Peace be to you. Do not fear; you shall not die.” ▤ 

Those who saw God often expected to die (cf. Judg 13:22 ). Here the angel of the Lord is identified with God by Gideon calling him “Lord God” and expecting to die for apparently having seen God.

Judg 13:16-22  And the angel of the Lord said to Manoah, “If you detain me, I will not eat of your food. But if you prepare a burnt offering, then offer it to the Lord.” (For Manoah did not know that he was the angel of the Lord.) 17And Manoah said to the angel of the Lord, “What is your name, so that, when your words come true, we may honor you?” 18And the angel of the Lord said to him, “Why do you ask my name, seeing it is wonderful?” 19So Manoah took the young goat with the grain offering, and offered it on the rock to the Lord, to the one who worksv wonders, and Manoah and his wife were watching. 20And when the flame went up toward heaven from the altar, the angel of the Lord went up in the flame of the altar. Now Manoah and his wife were watching, and they fell on their faces to the ground. 21The angel of the Lord appeared no more to Manoah and to his wife. Then Manoah knew that he was the angel of the Lord. 22And Manoah said to his wife, “We shall surely die, for we have seen God.” ▤ 

v Septuagint, Vulgate; Hebrew Lord, and working

The angel of the Lord’s description of his name as being “wonderful” (v. 18) arguably alludes to deity. Verse 20a may also be correlating the angel of the Lord with the Lord. Manoah, Samson’s father, certainly in a sense at least equated the angel of Lord with God (v. 22).

Zec 3:1-4  Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satanw standing at his right hand to accuse him. 2And the Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, O Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brandx plucked from the fire?” 3Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. 4And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.” ▤ 

w Satan means the accuser

x That is, a burning stick

The “angel of the Lord” is identified with God in that he appears to speak as God (vv. 1-2) and he cleanses and takes away sin (v. 4; cf. v. 9). Later in vv. 6-10 he may also be speaking as God.

Zec 12:8  On that day the Lord will protect the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the feeblest among them on that day shall be like David, and the house of David shall be like God, like the angel of the Lord, going before them. ▤ 

  • The angel who accompanied the Israelites on the desert journey:

Ex 23:20-22  Behold, I send an angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared. 21Pay careful attention to him and obey his voice; do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgression, for my name is in him. 22“But if you carefully obey his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries. ▤ 

This angel is not actually referred to as “the angel of the Lord”, but can plausibly be identified as such. Many commentators identify this angel with the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ or even God himself due to: the implication that the angel is able to forgive (v. 21); the assertion that “my name is in him” (v. 21); and the correlation with what the angel says and what God says (v. 22a).

Pray for persecuted Christians

Angels and God’s People

Angels help and care for God’s people

See also:

Heb 1:14  Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation? ▤ 

Gen 24:40  But he said to me, ‘The Lord, before whom I have walked, will send his angel with you and prosper your way. You shall take a wife for my son from my clan and from my father’s house. ▤ 

1Ki 19:5-7  And he lay down and slept under a broom tree. And behold, an angel touched him and said to him, “Arise and eat.” 6And he looked, and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. And he ate and drank and lay down again. 7And the angel of the Lord came again a second time and touched him and said, “Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.” ▤ 

Ps 34:7  The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them. ▤ 

Ps 91:11-12  For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. 12On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone. ▤ 

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

Dan 10:18-19  Again one having the appearance of a man touched me and strengthened me. 19And he said, “O man greatly loved, fear not, peace be with you; be strong and of good courage.” And as he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.” ▤ 

Matt 18:10  See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.y ▤ 

y Some manuscripts add verse 11: For the Son of Man came to save the lost

The reference to “their angels” who “always see the face of my Father who is in heaven” supports the concept of there being “guardian angels” who care for and in some sense represent individuals in God’s presence (although not all commentators would interpret this verse as such). Note that “little ones” probably refers to those who are like a child in a spiritual sense, either a new or young believer – or any humble believer. Some however think that the term may simply denote little children.

Job 33:23-25  If there be for him an angel, a mediator, one of the thousand, to declare to man what is right for him, 24and he is merciful to him, and says, ‘Deliver him from going down into the pit; I have found a ransom; 25let his flesh become fresh with youth; let him return to the days of his youthful vigor’; … ▤ 

Elihu puts forward the concept of angels having an advocacy role on behalf of people – not dissimilar to that now fulfilled by Jesus Christ – and also giving guidance (v. 23b).

Rev 1:20  As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches. ▤ 

This and the references to these angels in the subsequent chapters (cf. 2:1, 8, 12, 18; 3:1, 7, 14) suggest that churches have angels who represent them and have responsibility for them. However other common views of the meaning here of “angels” are: the term designates human ministers or messengers (cf. CEV text note); and these “angels” are personifications of the seven churches.

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

Num 20:16a  And when we cried to the Lord, he heard our voice and sent an angel and brought us out of Egypt. ▤ 

2Ki 6:15-17  When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” 16He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 17Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. ▤ 

Verse 17 tells of Elisha’s servant being enabled to see the surrounding heavenly forces protecting them. The “horses and chariots of fire” presumably depict angelic forces.

2Chr 32:20-21a  Then Hezekiah the king and Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, prayed because of this and cried to heaven. 21And the Lord sent an angel, who cut off all the mighty warriors and commanders and officers in the camp of the king of Assyria. So he returned with shame of face to his own land. ▤ 

Isa 63:9  In all their affliction he was afflicted,z and the angel of his presence saved them; in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old. ▤ 

z Or he did not afflict

Note that a number of commentators identify “the angel of his presence” with “the angel of the Lord”.

Dan 3:24-25, 28  Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” 25He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.” ▤ 28Nebuchadnezzar answered and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set asidea the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God. ▤ 

a Aramaic and changed

The fourth figure (vv. 24-25) may have simply been an angel (v. 28), but some scholars think that it was a Christophany, a manifestation of Christ, possibly as “the angel of the Lord”.

Dan 6:22  My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm. ▤ 

Acts 5:18-19  … they arrested the apostles and put them in the public prison. 19But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, … ▤ 

Acts 12:6-11  Now when Herod was about to bring him out, on that very night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison. 7And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his hands. 8And the angel said to him, “Dress yourself and put on your sandals.” And he did so. And he said to him, “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.” 9And he went out and followed him. He did not know that what was being done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. 10When they had passed the first and the second guard, they came to the iron gate leading into the city. It opened for them of its own accord, and they went out and went along one street, and immediately the angel left him. 11When Peter came to himself, he said, “Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.” ▤ 

Angels give God’s people messages, such as instructions

See also:

The Hebrew and Greek words for “angel” carry the meaning “messenger” (cf. Dan 4:13, 17 ).

Gen 16:9  The angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress and submit to her.” ▤ 

Judg 13:3-5  And the angel of the Lord appeared to the woman and said to her, “Behold, you are barren and have not borne children, but you shall conceive and bear a son. 4Therefore be careful and drink no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean, 5for behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. No razor shall come upon his head, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb, and he shall begin to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines.” ▤ 

Matt 1:20-21  But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” ▤ 

Matt 2:13, 19-20  Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” ▤ 19But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” ▤ 

Matt 28:5-7  But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where heb lay. 7Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” ▤ 

b Some manuscripts the Lord

Acts 7:35  This Moses, whom they rejected, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge?’—this man God sent as both ruler and redeemer by the hand of the angel who appeared to him in the bush. ▤ 

Acts 8:26a  Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the southc to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” ▤ 

c Or go at about noon

Acts 10:3-6  About the ninth hour of the dayd he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God come in and say to him, “Cornelius.” 4And he stared at him in terror and said, “What is it, Lord?” And he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God. 5And now send men to Joppa and bring one Simon who is called Peter. 6He is lodging with one Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea.” ▤ 

d That is, 3 P. M.

  • An angel with the gospel to proclaim to all:

Rev 14:6-7  Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people. 7And he said with a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.” ▤ 

Note that “angel” – meaning “messenger” – is possibly symbolically speaking of believers, who are to proclaim the gospel to every nation. The “hour of his judgment” (v. 7) presumably does not refer to the final judgment – with other judgments still to come in the following chapters – although it may be inclusive of it.

Angels also give messages about future events

See also:

As indicated by the above cross references, note that a number of the passages in the previous subsection also contain examples of angels giving messages about future events. Note also that a number of the examples below contain extracts of messages and so not the complete messages.

Gen 16:10-12  The angel of the Lord also said to her [Hagar], “I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude.” 11And the angel of the Lord said to her, “Behold, you are pregnant and shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael,e because the Lord has listened to your affliction. 12He shall be a wild donkey of a man, his hand against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen.” ▤ 

e Ishmael means God hears

Dan 4:13, 15b-16  I saw in the visions of my head as I lay in bed, and behold, a watcher, a holy one, came down from heaven. ▤ 15… [The angel, speaking of Nebuchadnezzar:] Let him be wet with the dew of heaven. Let his portion be with the beasts in the grass of the earth. 16Let his mind be changed from a man’s, and let a beast’s mind be given to him; and let seven periods of time pass over him. ▤ 

Dan 8:16-17, 19  And I heard a man’s voice between the banks of the Ulai [Canal], and it called, “Gabriel, make this man understand the vision.” 17So he came near where I stood. And when he came, I was frightened and fell on my face. But he said to me, “Understand, O son of man, that the vision is for the time of the end.” ▤ 19He said, “Behold, I will make known to you what shall be at the latter end of the indignation, for it refers to the appointed time of the end. ▤ 

Dan 9:22-25a  He [Gabriel] made me understand, speaking with me and saying, “O Daniel, I have now come out to give you insight and understanding. 23At the beginning of your pleas for mercy a word went out, and I have come to tell it to you, for you are greatly loved. Therefore consider the word and understand the vision. 24“Seventy weeksf are decreed about your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place.g 25Know therefore and understand that from the going out of the word to restore and build Jerusalem to the coming of an anointed one, a prince, there shall be seven weeks. ▤ 

f Or sevens; also twice in verse 25 and once in verse 26

g Or thing, or one

Dan 10:13b-14  [An angel:] I was left there with the kings of Persia, 14and came to make you understand what is to happen to your people in the latter days. For the vision is for days yet to come. ▤ 

Zec 1:14-17  So the angel who talked with me said to me, ‘Cry out, Thus says the Lord of hosts: I am exceedingly jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion. 15And I am exceedingly angry with the nations that are at ease; for while I was angry but a little, they furthered the disaster. 16Therefore, thus says the Lord, I have returned to Jerusalem with mercy; my house shall be built in it, declares the Lord of hosts, and the measuring line shall be stretched out over Jerusalem. 17Cry out again, Thus says the Lord of hosts: My cities shall again overflow with prosperity, and the Lord will again comfort Zion and again choose Jerusalem.’ ▤ 

Throughout Zechariah’s visions in ch. 1-6 an angel speaks with Zechariah, revealing and explaining things to him, including future matters.

Luke 1:19  And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. ▤ 

The angel Gabriel (cf. Luke 1:26-33 ) is speaking to Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, after having informed him of John’s forthcoming birth and role (cf. vv. 13-17). Note that the subsequent chapter records the appearance of the angel to the shepherds informing them of Jesus Christ’s birth (2:8-15).

Luke 1:26-33  In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27to a virgin betrothedh to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”i 29But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” ▤ 

h That is, legally pledged to be married

i Some manuscripts add Blessed are you among women!

Acts 1:10-11  And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” ▤ 

Acts 27:23-24  For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, 24and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you. ▤ 

Rev 22:6, 16  And he 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.” ▤ 16“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” ▤ 

Similarly 1:1 says: “The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John,,…” Additionally, elsewhere in Revelation John tells of angels showing and explaining to him things of the future (cf. 17:1, 7; 21:9-10).

  • The angel’s message of Jesus Christ’s birth:

Luke 2:8-12  And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” ▤ 

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

The Mosaic Law (i.e. the law given through Moses, to Israel) was put into effect through angels (cf. Acts 7:53 ; Gal 3:19 ). This subsection’s content suggests that God gave the law through angels to the mediator Moses to pass on to the people.

Acts 7:37-38  This is the Moses who said to the Israelites, ‘God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers.’ 38This is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the angel who spoke to him at Mount Sinai, and with our fathers. He received living oracles to give to us. ▤ 

The term “living oracles” is a reference to the Mosaic Law (cf. v. 53 ).

Acts 7:53  … you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it. ▤ 

Gal 3:19  Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. ▤ 

Heb 2:2  For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, … ▤ 

The “message” refers to the law (cf. AMP, NLT, NIrV), as reflected in the second part of the verse. It is spoken of here as being given through angels.

Pray for persecuted Christians

Further Teaching about Angels

Angels are very important

See also:

Although not stated directly, the importance and high status of angels is implied and/or reflected in each of the following verses.

2Sam 19:27b  But my lord the king is like the angel of God; do therefore what seems good to you. ▤ 

Dan 4:16-17  Let his mind be changed from a man’s, and let a beast’s mind be given to him; and let seven periods of time pass over him. 17The sentence is by the decree of the watchers, the decision by the word of the holy ones, to the end that the living may know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will and sets over it the lowliest of men. ▤ 

Through a vision, an angel – “a watcher, a holy one” (v. 13; cf. v. 17) – tells of how Nebuchadnezzar would become like a wild animal (v. 15). In v. 17a the angel appears to be saying that the decision has been made by angels (cf. GNT), which would exemplify the important status of angels. Alternatively, he may simply be underlining that this decision has been announced by angels.

Luke 12:8-9  And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God, 9but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God. ▤ 

This speaks of judgment day and angels being witness to Jesus Christ’s judgments. The fact that being spoken of as such underlines the high status of angels is reinforced by the parallel verses in Matthew 10:32-33, which speak of God in the same way. That is, they speak of Jesus Christ acknowledging people and disowning others “before my Father who is in heaven.”

Gal 4:14  … and though my condition was a trial to you, you did not scorn or despise me, but received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus. ▤ 

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

1Tim 5:21  In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels I charge you to keep these rules without prejudging, doing nothing from partiality. ▤ 

Here the importance of angels is borne out by them being grouped with God and Jesus Christ, in regard to bearing witness to and approving of Paul’s charge.

Heb 13:2  Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. ▤ 

This appears to imply that showing hospitality to angels is a greater privilege than doing so to humans, suggesting that angels are regarded more highly than humans.

Rev 14:10  … he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. ▤ 

Similar to 1 Timothy 5:21 above, the importance of angels is indicated by them being grouped with Jesus Christ, “the Lamb” – even being listed before him – in regard to observing such judgment.

There are different kinds and ranks of angels

Gen 3:24  He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life. ▤ 

As noted earlier, cherubim and seraphim (cf. Isa 6:2 ) are understood to be amongst the highest orders of the different kinds of angels.

Isa 6:1-2  In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the trainn of his robe filled the temple. 2Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. ▤ 

n Or hem

The high ranking of seraphim is implied by their close proximity to God and his throne (cf. Rev 4:4 ).

Eph 3:10  … so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. ▤ 

Here and in Colossians 1:16 and 1 Peter 3:22 immediately below, “rulers”, “authorities” and like terms are often understood as referring to various rankings of angels; hence the inclusion of these verses in this subsection. This may well be the case, particularly here with the reference to the “heavenly” places. However the terms may more generally be intended to cover all spiritual powers – i.e. both good and evil spiritual beings. Earthly powers appear to also be included in Colossians 1:16.

Col 1:16  For byo him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. ▤ 

o That is, by means of; or in

1Pet 3:22  … who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him. ▤ 

1Thes 4:16  For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. ▤ 

The reference may well be to Michael (cf. Jude 1:9 ; Dan 10:13 ), the only angel actually called an archangel in Scripture (cf. Jude 1:9 ).

Jude 1:9  But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” ▤ 

Dan 10:13  The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days, but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I was left there with the kings of Persia, … ▤ 

This reference highlights Michael’s high rank, as similarly does 12:1 below.

Dan 12:1a  “At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. ▤ 

Rev 4:4  Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads. ▤ 

The “elders”, seated in close proximity to God’s throne, are quite possibly a high order of angelic beings.

There are thousands upon thousands of angels

Heb 12:22  But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, … ▤ 

Jude 1:14  It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, … ▤ 

Rev 5:11  Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, … ▤ 

Ps 68:17  The chariots of God are twice ten thousand, thousands upon thousands; the Lord is among them; Sinai is now in the sanctuary. ▤ 

This appears to be figuratively speaking of God’s angelic forces as chariots – of which there are “thousands upon thousands”.

Deut 33:2  He said, “The Lord came from Sinai and dawned from Seir upon us;p he shone forth from Mount Paran; he came from the ten thousands of holy ones, with flaming fireq at his right hand. ▤ 

p Septuagint, Syriac, Vulgate; Hebrew them

q The meaning of the Hebrew word is uncertain

Matt 26:53  Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? ▤ 

A Roman legion had 3,000 to 6,000 soldiers, plus cavalrymen.

  • God’s angelic forces can hardly be numbered:

Job 25:2-3a  “Dominion and fear are with God;r he makes peace in his high heaven. 3Is there any number to his armies? ▤ 

r Hebrew him

The rhetorical question (v. 3a) appears to be implying that no person could possibly count the number of God’s angelic forces, such is their vast number.

Angels reside in heaven

See also:

Matt 22:30  For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. ▤ 

Matt 24:36  But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son,s but the Father only. ▤ 

s Some manuscripts omit nor the Son

Matt 28:2  And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. ▤ 

Luke 2:15  When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” ▤ 

John 1:51  And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you,t you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” ▤ 

t The Greek for you is plural; twice in this verse

For comment, see the comment on John 1:51 – under God’s people have access to God through Jesus Christ – by the Holy Spirit.

Gal 1:8  But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. ▤ 

2Thes 1:7  … and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels … ▤ 

Angels are not to be worshiped

Col 2:18  Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions,j puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, … ▤ 

j Or about the things he has seen

Here Paul refers with strong disapproval to the practice of worshiping angels.

Rev 19:9-10  And the angel saidk to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” 10Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servantl with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.” For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. ▤ 

k Greek he said

l Greek fellow bondservant

Rev 22:8-9  I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me, 9but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servantm with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.” ▤ 

m Greek fellow bondservant

Other teachings about angels

Col 1:16  For byu him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. ▤ 

u That is, by means of; or in

Like all other things, angels have been created, by Jesus Christ (cf. Ps 148:2, 5 ) and for Jesus Christ.

Ps 148:2, 5  Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his hosts! ▤ 5Let them praise the name of the Lord! For he commanded and they were created. ▤ 

This is also a possible reference to angels being created. However, v. 5 may only be referring to various elements of the heavens and the skies mentioned in the intervening verses (cf. vv. 3-4), rather than being also inclusive of angels (v. 2).

Matt 22:30  For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. ▤ 

This implies that angels do not marry.

1Tim 5:21  In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels I charge you to keep these rules without prejudging, doing nothing from partiality. ▤ 

God’s holy angels have been chosen by him as such, in contrast to fallen angels.

1Cor 6:3  Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! ▤ 

Angels will be judged by God’s people. A number of commentators consider that Paul is most likely speaking in particular of believers having a role in the judgment of evil angels.

Pray for persecuted Christians