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Study 1 Picture Study 12: Angels and Jesus
12-1 Angels And Jesus || 12-2 Angelic Strengthening Of Jesus || 12-3 The Angel Gabriel || 12-4 The Wilderness Temptations Of Jesus || 12-5 "Angels that sinned" || 12-6 Angels And The Law || 12-7 The Devil's Angels || 12-8 The Judaizers || 12-9 Principalities And Powers 

12-5 "Angels that sinned"?

There seems to be the implication that Christ's sacrifice somehow cleansed the Angels. We have to emphasize that there were no sinful Angels in Haven at the time of Christ's sacrifice, and probably never have been. However, we have to bear in mind that "His Angels He charged with folly" (Job 4:18); "The Heavens are not clean in His sight" (Job 15:15), and also the possibility that the "Angels that sinned" (Jude 6; 2 Peter 2:4) were actual Angels before the present creation. This was a view supported by John Thomas (3); the fact that there are such strong connections between  these Angels and the princes associated with Korah's rebellion does not mean that his view is necessarily wrong. Jude's other historical examples are capable of being interpreted with reference to more than one past incident, not all of which are recorded in Scripture. Thus the dispute about the body of Moses (Jude 9) could refer  to the Samaritans disputing about the people of Israel or Joshua the High Priest (see Zech. 3), or it could refer  equally  to  Michael the Archangel, the Angel of Israel, who buried Moses body, disputing with a group of Israelites who wanted to have Moses' body travelling with them, as those of Joseph and the patriarchs did (Acts 7:15,16 RV). Similarly Jude 14 talks of an incident concerning Enoch which is not detailed in the Bible (cp. Jannes and Jambres in 2 Tim. 3:8 too). Thus there is no reason why "the Angels which kept not their first estate" of Jude and 2 Peter should not refer to "Angels that sinned" before creation as well as to Korah's company of Num. 16. Psalm 103 is praise for God's forgiveness and mercy to sin. David concludes it by asking the Angels especially to praise God for this (Ps. 103:19-21)- which would be fitting if they too had benefited in the past from God's mercy towards sin.  The fact that the Angels had crowns when they are symbolized by the elders in Rev. 4:10 suggests that they had won them through overcoming some kind of tribulation.

Heaven Itself

These facts enable us to understand the hints made that Christ's sacrifice benefited the Angels. Heb. 9:23 is a key: "It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the Heavens should be purified" (with blood). The tabernacle and Most Holy were the "pattern showed to (Moses) in the mount" (Heb. 8:5) when he was given the details of the tabernacle (cp. Ex. 25:9; 1 Chron. 28:12 etc). These had to be purified by the sprinkling of blood; "but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these". The "blood of bulls and goats" could purify the tabernacle, but that was a replica of Heaven itself, as well as of the spiritual "heavenlies" of Christian believers. "For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands (the tabernacle- "the patterns of things in the Heavens" of v. 23), but into Heaven itself" (v. 24). Thus there is a parallelism between verses 23 and 24:

v. 23                         

v. 24

The patterns of things in

The holy places made with hands

the Heavens

the tabernacle

The Heavenly things themselves

Heaven itself. . . us

Is this talking about the "Angels that sinned"? Notice the stress of v. 24: Christ is "entered into Heaven itself".  He  did not only enter the spiritual Heavenlies on His resurrection, but "Heaven itself". Thus "Heaven itself" was cleansed by His blood. This interpretation would fit the context of Hebrews, where one of the major themes is the superiority of Christ over the Angels. The fact that they were cleansed by Christ's sacrifice is surely another proof of this. The Angels knowing "good and evil" (Gen. 3:22) implies they had been on probation previously like us; thus they may have sinned like we do, and yet been forgiven through some system of reconciliation. Such a system would have been similar to the Law of Moses- the system would have depended on pointing forward to the sacrifice of Christ, as it is only through Him that sin can be overcome. Thus as Christ's death was "for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament" (Heb. 9:15), so it was also for the redemption of the Angels' transgressions committed during their probations. Therefore the Angels were not actually 'in sin' at the time of Christ, because their sins were forgiven in the same way as those of people who lived before Christ. The "Angels that sinned" would have been those who "continued in sin" and were condemned, or who committed a particularly sinful act. In the same way, the unworthy in our dispensation are called "sinners" (Is. 65:20; 1 Peter 4:18), although in a sense we are all "sinners" (1 Tim. 1:15; Rom. 5:19).

There are many similarities between the Angels and the Mosaic system- highlighted by the judges under the Law being called 'elohim', and the hierarchical system being a "pattern of things in the Heavens" among Angels. This hierarchical system is again alluded to in Mal. 1:6: "A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master. . . where is mine honour. . my fear? saith the Lord of Hosts (Angels) unto you, O priests. . ", suggesting that the Angels are fathers and masters to the hierarchy of priests beneath them.

Rev. 15:6 is one of several examples of Angels being described in Mosaic terms- "clothed. . in linen" (as priests- Ex. 28:8,27). Similarly, the "morning stars" (Angels) laid the "foundations of the earth"- the same word used about the "pins " of the tabernacle (Job 38:6,7).

If the Angels did not receive their final forgiveness and justification until some time after their 'probations'- i. e. at the time of Christ- it may be that the sinful ones will not receive their final punishment until later- hence we "shall   judge  Angels"  (1  Cor. 6:3-  the  idea of  judging ecclesial elders at the last day seems a bit far fetched!). "The Angels which kept not their first estate. . He hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgement of the great day" (Jude 6)- clearly the judgement at the second coming.

Reconciling All Things

In addition to the above suggestions about the "Angels that sinned", Colossians and Ephesians emphasize the reconciling of both Christians and Angels through the death of Christ, perhaps due to the cross taking away the Angel-coordinated Mosaic system which separated man from God and the Angels. "Having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things (a phrase which elsewhere includes Angels- e. g. Heb. 2:8) unto Himself; by Him, I say, whether they be things in earth or things in Heaven" (Col. 1:20). What are the things in earth and Heaven if they are not Christians and Angels? In Christ "dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily" (Col. 2:9)- the fulness of Gentiles, Jews and Angels. "And ye are complete in Him, which is the head of all principality and power (i. e. Angels- Col. 2:15)"- 2:10. As Christ is the head of the Angels, so if we are in the body of Christ, He is our head too, and we are therefore with the Angels in the same body. There is thus no need to worship them, nor the Mosaic ordinances they instituted. This seems to be a major theme in Col. 2 "Let no man beguile you of your reward in. . . worshipping of Angels. . and not holding the Head (Christ), from which all the body (both Christians and Angels, whose head is Christ, v. 10,15) by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together (Angels and Christians!) increaseth (both of us growing in knowledge of God) with the increase of God. Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the elements of the (Mosaic/ Angelic) world, are ye subject to (Mosaic/ Angelic) ordinances. . ?" (v. 18-20).

The evident  similarities between Colossians and Ephesians invite us to interpret Ephesians 1 in the same way: "In the dispensation of the fulness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth (Angels and Christians, Jews and Gentiles). . . in whom we also (as well as Angels- it is hard to understand why Paul, being a Jew, should speak like this about Gentiles also, as well as Jews, obtaining an inheritance) have obtained an inheritance. . . (God) raised (Christ) from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the Heavenly places , far above all principality and power (i. e. Angels- Col. 2:15), and might, and dominion (Angels- Jude 8,9), and every name that is named (Christ "hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name" than Angels- Heb. 1:4), not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: and hath put all things (literally all things- including Angels) under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all" (v. 10,11,20-23).

The reference in Eph. 3:15 to "the whole family in Heaven and earth" probably refers to the Angelic and human parts of the family of God in Heaven and earth respectively being united by the sacrifice of Christ. Christ's parables of the lost coin  and lost sheep lend support to this. The woman and the shepherd on one level represent Jesus searching for the lost saint, calling together the friends to rejoice on finding him (Lk. 15:9,29). These friends represent Angels, we are told (v. 10). However, those in the ecclesia are also members of God's household; Christ laid down His life for us His friends; "Ye are My friends. . . I have called you friends" (Jn. 15:13-15). The parables of Luke 15 were initially directed at the Pharisees, implying that they as the shepherds of the ecclesia should be mixing with the weak of the flock to win them back (Lk. 15:2-4; n. b. "which man of you. . "). Thus Jesus also expected the woman, shepherd and friends to refer to members of the ecclesia on earth. Yet He also specifically says that they have reference to the Angelic household in Heaven. Thus both Angels and earthly believers are part of the same "family in Heaven and earth" of Eph. 3:15.