|Study 1: God || Study 2: The Spirit Of God || Study 3: The Promises Of God || Study 4: God And Death || Study 5: The Kingdom Of God || Study 6: God And Evil || Study 7: The Origin Of Jesus || Study 8: The Nature Of Jesus || Study 9: The Work Of Jesus || Study 10: Baptism Into Jesus || Study 11: Life In Christ||1.1 The Existence Of God || 1.2 The Personality Of God || Doctrine In Practice 1: Knowing God || 1.3 God's Name And Character || Doctrine In Practice 2: Grace || Doctrine In Practice 3: The All Seeing God || Doctrine In Practice 4: God Is Omnipotent || Doctrine In Practice 5: Responding To The One God || 1.4 The Angels || Doctrine In Practice 6: God As Creator || Digression 1: God Manifestation || Digression 2: Why The Trinity Was Accepted|
All that we have considered so far in this study is brought together by a consideration of the angels:
§ real, personal beings
§ carrying God’s name
§ beings in whom God’s Spirit works to execute His will
§ in accordance with His character and purpose
§ and thereby manifesting Him.
We mentioned in Study 1.3 that one of the most common of the Hebrew words translated ‘God’ is ‘Elohim’, which strictly means ‘mighty ones’. The word can frequently be shown to refer to the angels who, as God’s ‘mighty ones’, carry this name and can effectively be called ‘God’ because they represent God.
The record of the creation of the world in Gen. 1 tells us that God spoke certain commands concerning creation, “and it was done”. It was the angels who carried out these commands.
“Angels, that excel in strength, that do His commandments, hearkening unto the voice of His word” (Ps. 103:20).
It is therefore reasonable to assume that when we read of ‘God’ creating the world, this work was actually performed by the angels. Job 38:4-7 hints this way too. Now is a good time to summarise the events of the creation as recorded in Gen.1.
Day 1 “God said, Let there be light: and there was light” (v.3)
Day 2 “God said, Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters (on the earth) from the waters (in the clouds)...and it was so” (v.6,7)
Day 3 “God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together (forming seas and oceans)...and let the dry land appear; and it was so” (v.9)
Day 4 “God said, Let there be lights...in heaven...and it was so” (v.14,15)
Day 5 “God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creatures...and birds that may fly...and God created every living creature” (v.20,21) - i.e. “it was so”
Day 6 “God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature...cattle, and creeping things ...and it was so” (v.24).
Man was created on that same sixth day. “God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Gen. 1:26). We commented on this verse in Study 1.2. For the present, we want to note that “God” here is not just referring to God Himself in person - “Let us make man” shows that ‘God’ is referring to more than one person. The Hebrew word translated ‘God’ here is ‘Elohim’, meaning ‘Mighty Ones’, with reference to the angels. They are very real beings, sharing the same nature as God.
In the Bible there are two ‘natures’; by the very meaning of the word it is not possible to have both these natures simultaneously.
God’s nature (‘divine nature’)
§ He cannot sin (perfect) (Rom.
§ He cannot die, i.e. immortal (1 Tim.
§ He is full of power and energy (Is. 40:28)
This is the nature of God and the angels, and which was given to Jesus after his resurrection (Acts
§ We are tempted to sin (James
§ We are doomed to death, i.e. mortal (Rom.
§ We are of very limited strength, both physically (Is. 40:30) and mentally (Jer.10:23)
This is the nature which all men, good and bad, now possess. The end of that nature is death (Rom.
It is unfortunate that the English word ‘nature’ is rather vague: we can use it in a sentence like ‘John is of a generous nature - it just isn’t in his nature to be mean; but he can be rather proud of his car, which is just human nature, I suppose’. This is not how we will be using the word ‘nature’ in these studies.
The angels who are of God’s nature must therefore be sinless and unable to die - seeing that sin brings death (Rom.
§ Angels came to Abraham to speak God’s words to him; they are described as “three men”, whom Abraham initially treated as human beings, since that was their appearance: “Let a little water, I beg you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree” (Gen. 18:4).
Two of those angels then went to Lot in
the city of
The New Testament comment on these incidents
confirms that angels appear in the form of men: “Remember to entertain
strangers; for some (e.g. Abraham and
§ Jacob wrestled all night with a strange man (Gen. 32:24), which we are later told was an angel (Hos. 12:4).
§ Two men in shining white clothes were present at the resurrection (Lk. 24:4) and ascension (Acts
§ Consider the implications of “the measure of a man, that is, of the angel” (Rev. 21:17).
Angels Do Not Sin
As angels share God’s nature they cannot die. Seeing that sin brings death, it follows therefore that they cannot sin. The original Greek and Hebrew words translated ‘angel’ mean ‘messenger’; the angels are the messengers or servants of God, obedient to Him, therefore it is impossible to think of them as being sinful. Thus the Greek word ‘aggelos’ which is translated ‘angels’ is also translated ‘messengers’ when speaking of human beings - e.g. John the Baptist (Mt. 11:10) and his messengers (Lk. 7:24); the messengers of Jesus (Lk. 9:52) and the men who spied out Jericho (James 2:25). It is, of course, possible that ‘angels’ in the sense of human messengers can sin.
The following passages clearly show that all the angels (not just some of them!) are by nature obedient to God, and therefore cannot sin:
“The Lord has prepared His throne in the heavens; and his kingdom rules over all (i.e. there can be no rebellion against God in heaven). Praise the Lord, you His angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of His word. Praise the Lord, all you His hosts; you ministers of His, that do his pleasure” (Ps. 103:19-21).
“Praise him, all his angels...his hosts” (Ps. 148:2)
“The angels...are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them (the believers) who shall be heirs of salvation?” (Heb. 1:13,14).
The repetition of the word “all” shows that the angels are not divided into two groups, one good and the other sinful. The importance of clearly understanding the nature of the angels is that the reward of the faithful is to share their nature: “They which shall be accounted worthy...neither marry...neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels” (Lk.
If angels could sin, then God is left impotent to act in our lives and the affairs of the world, seeing that He has declared that He works through His angels (Ps. 103:19-21). God achieves all things by His spirit power acting through the angels (Ps. 104:4). That they should be disobedient to Him is an impossibility. Christians should daily pray for God’s kingdom to come on earth, that His will should be done here as it is now done in heaven (Mt. 6:10). If God’s obedient angels had to compete with sinful angels in heaven, then His will could not be fully executed there, and therefore the same situation would obtain in God’s future kingdom. To spend eternity in a world which would be a perpetual battlefield between sin and obedience is hardly an encouraging prospect, but that, of course, is not the case.
Angels And Believers
There is good reason to believe that each true believer has angels - perhaps one special one - helping them in their lives.
§ “The Angel of the Lord camps round about those that fear him, and delivers them” (Ps. 34:7).
§ “...these little ones which believe in me (i.e. weak disciples - Zech. 13:7 cf. Mt. 26:31)...in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father” (Mt. 18:6,10).
§ The early Christians clearly believed that Peter had a guardian angel (Acts
The people of
If the angels could be evil in the sense of being sinful, then such promises of angelic control and influence in our lives would become a curse instead of a blessing.
We have seen, then, that angels are beings...
§ with God’s eternal nature
§ who cannot sin
§ who always do God’s commands
§ and who are the beings through whom God’s spirit-power speaks and works (Ps. 104:4).
Many churches have the idea that angels can sin, and that sinful angels now exist who are responsible for sin and problems on the earth. We will discuss this misconception more fully in Study 6. For the present we will make the following points.
§ It has been suggested that there was a creation previous to our own, i.e. to that recorded in Gen. 1. It is also conceivable that the present angels came to have an awareness of “good and evil” (Gen. 3:5) through having been in a similar situation to what we are in this life. That some of the beings who lived in that age did sin is not to be ruled out; but all this is the kind of speculation which men love to indulge in. The Bible does not tell us of these things but tells us clearly what we need to know about the present situation, which is that there are no sinful angels; all angels are totally obedient to God.
§ There can be no sinful beings in heaven, seeing that God is “of purer eyes than to behold evil” (Hab.
§ The Greek word translated “angel” means “messenger” and can refer to human beings, as we have shown. Such human “messengers” can, of course, sin.
§ That there are evil, sinful beings upon whom all the negative aspects of life can be blamed is one of the most commonly held beliefs in paganism. In the same way that pagan ideas concerning Christmas have entered what passes for ‘Christianity’, so, too, have those pagan notions.
§ There is only a handful of Biblical passages which can be misunderstood to support this idea of sinful angels now being in existence. These are considered in The Real Devil and Debating Bible Basics, available from the publishers. Such passages cannot be allowed to contradict the wealth of Bible teaching to the contrary which has been presented.
Jesus Was Not An Angel
Hebrews 1 clarifies that God spoke in Old Testament times through Angels and prophets- but not through His Son. This He began to do in the ministry of the human Jesus. That path of thought alone should remove all possibility that any Old Testament Angel was in fact the Lord Jesus.