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.
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:
The patterns of things in
The holy places made with hands
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
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
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.