("messengers".) Often with "of God" or "Jehovah" added. Sometimes called the "holy ones," "saints." The "Angel of God" often means the Divide Word, "the Image of the invisible God," God Himself manifested (Colossians 1:15; Genesis 22:11-12; Genesis 16:7; Genesis 16:13; Genesis 31:11; Genesis 31:13; Genesis 48:15-16; Genesis 33:14; compare Isaiah 63:9; Exodus 3:2; Exodus 3:6; Exodus 3:14; Exodus 23:20-22; Acts 27:23-24, compare Acts 23:11; Numbers 22:22-32-35); accepting as His due the worship which angels reject as mere creatures (Revelation 19:10; Revelation 22:9); this manifestation was as man, an anticipation of the incarnation (John 1:18; Genesis 18:2; Genesis 18:22; Genesis 19:1; Genesis 32:24; Genesis 32:30; Joshua 5:13; Joshua 5:15).
"Angel," "Son of God," "Gods" (Elohim), "Holy One," in the fullest sense, are names of the divine Word alone. His incarnation is the center by reference to which all angelic ministration is best understood. Compare John 1:51, Greek (aparti), "from this time forth ye shall see heaven open" (heretofore shut, against man by sin: Hebrews 9:8; Hebrews 10:19-20) "and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man," as the antitypical Jacob's ladder, the center of communication between men and God, the redeemed and the angelic world; Jesus' miracles, of which mention immediately follows (John 2), are firstfruit of this newly opened communion of earth and heaven (Genesis 28:12-17). Secondarily, God's created messengers; as Israel (Isaiah 42:19), Haggai (Haggai 1:13), John (Malachi 3:1; Malachi 2:7), the priesthood, ministers (Ecclesiastes 5:6), the rulers or angels of the Christian churches (Revelation 1:20), as Elohim, "gods" is applied to judges (Psalm 82:6); compare Jesus' application, John 10:34-37.
As to the nature of "angels" in the limited sense, they are "spirits" (Hebrews 1:7; Hebrews 1:14), of wind-like velocity, subtle nature, capable of close communion with God; sharers in His truth, purity, and love, since they ever behold His face (Matthew 18:10), even as the redeemed shall (1 John 3:2); not necessarily incorporeal; Luke 20:36 (compare Philemon 3:21), 1 Corinthians 15:44, seemingly but not certainly imply their having bodies. Their glorious appearance (Daniel 10:6), like our Lord's when transfigured and afterward as the ascended Savior (Revelation 1:14-16), and their human form (Luke 24:4; Acts 1:10), favor the same view. Close kindred of nature between angels and men is implied in both being alike called "sons of God" (Job 1:6; Job 38:7; Daniel 3:25; Daniel 3:28) and "gods" (Elohim) (Psalm 8:5; Hebrew Elohim "angels," Psalm 97:7; Luke 3:38).
Finite, but ever progressing in the participation of God's infinite perfection (Job 4:18; Matthew 24:36; 1 Peter 1:12). Our fellow servants, "sent forth unto ministry for the sake of them who shall be heirs of salvation" (Hebrews 1:14), i.e., on ministrations appointed by God and Christ for the good of them who shall be heirs of salvation. Worship and service are their twofold function; priests in the heavenly temple (Isaiah 6:1-3; 1 Kings 22:19; Daniel 7:9-10; Revelation 5:11), and sent forth thence on God's missions of love and justice. As finite, and having liberty, they were capable of temptation. Some "kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation" (2 Peter 2:4; Judges 1:6). "The elect angels" fell not; they take part, by act and sympathy, in our affairs, and shall witness the Judgment (Luke 15:10; 1 Corinthians 4:9).
The fallen are not yet actually confined in the bottomless pit, but are doomed to it, "reserved unto judgment," and though seeming free, and ranging in our air, under the prince of the powers of the air (Ephesians 2:2), are really in "chains of darkness" already, able only to hurt to the length of their chain. Satan is their prince, a liar, murderer, slanderer; and such are they (John 8:44). The probation of the elect angels is over; their crown is won, they are the "holy ones" now (Daniel 8:13), under the blessed necessity of sinning no more. "Watchers" of men, jealous for God's honor (Daniel 4:13; Daniel 4:23). Bad angels are permitted to try believers now, as Job; good angels are God's ministers of vengeance on the bad (Revelation 12:8-9; Revelation 20:1-2). Such shall the saints be at last, "equal to the angels," holy, made perfect, judges of angels and the world, ministering mediators of blessing to subject creatures (Hebrews 12:23; 1 Corinthians 6:2-3; Revelation 5:10).
In the natural world angels minister, as in directing wind and flame (according to one translation of Psalm 104:4; Hebrews 1:7): "the angel of Jehovah" wrought in the plague on the Egyptian firstborn (Exodus 12:23; Hebrews 11:28), and on the rebels in the wilderness (1 Corinthians 10:10), on Israel under David (2 Samuel 24:16; 1 Chronicles 21:16), on Sennacherib's army (2 Kings 19:35), on Herod (Acts 12:23). An angel troubled the pool of Bethesda (the Alex. manuscript supports the verse, the Sin. and the Vat. manuscripts reject it), giving it a healing power, as in our mineral springs (John 5:4): They act, in an unknown way, in and through "nature's laws." In the spiritual world too: by their ministration the Sinaitic law was given, "ordained by angels" (Galatians 3:19), "spoken" by them (Hebrews 2:2), by their "disposition" or appointment (Acts 7:53; compare Deuteronomy 33:2; Psalm 68:17).
From the first creation of our world they took the liveliest interest in the earth (Job 38:7). When man fell by evil angels, with beautiful propriety it was ordered that other angels, holy and unfallen, should minister for God in His reparation of the evil caused to man by their fallen fellow spirits. They rescued at Jehovah's command righteous Lot from doomed Sodom, Jacob from his murderous brother (Genesis 19; 32). "Manna" is called "angels' food," "the grain of heaven"; not that angels eat it, but it came from above whence angels come, and through their ministry (Psalm 78:25). When Elisha was in Dothan, surrounded by Syrian hosts, and his servant cried, "Alas! how shall we do?" the Lord opened his eyes to see the mount full of chariots and horses of fire round about (2 Kings 6:15; 2 Kings 6:17, compare Psalm 94:7). By God's angel Daniel was saved in the lions' den (Daniel 6:22); compare Daniel 3:28 as to the fiery furnace.
Michael (whom some questionably identify with the Son of God) is represented as Israel's champion against Israel's (the literal and the spiritual) accuser, Satan (Daniel 12:1, compare Revelation 12:7-10). Daniel 10 unfolds the mysterious truth that there are angel princes in the spirit world, answering to the God-opposed leaders of kingdoms in the political world, the prince of Persia and the prince of Grecia standing in antagonism to Michael. In patriarchal times their ministry is more familiar, and less awful, than in after times. Compare Genesis 24:7; Genesis 24:40 (the angelic guidance of Abraham's servant in choosing a wife for Isaac, and encouraging Jacob in his loneliness at Bethel on first leaving home, Genesis 28) with Judges 6:21-22; Judges 13:16; Judges 13:22. They appear, like the prophets and kings in subsequent times, in the character of God's ministers, carrying out God's purposes in relation to Israel and the pagan world powers (Zechariah 1; 2; 3; 4, etc.).
When the Lord of angels became flesh, they ministered before and at His birth (Luke 1; 2; Matthew 1:20), after the temptation (Matthew 4:11), in the agony of Gethsemane (Luke 22:43), at His resurrection and ascension (Matthew 28:2; Luke 24:4; John 20:12; Acts 1:10-11). Their previous and subsequent ministrations to men (Acts 5:19; Acts 8:26; Acts 10:3; Acts 12:7, Peter's deliverance, Acts 27:23) all hinge on their intimate connection with and ministry to Him, redeemed man's divine Head (Psalm 91:11; Matthew 4:6), Hence they are the guardians of Christ's little ones, not thinking it beneath their dignity to minister to them (Matthew 18:10); not attached singly to single individuals, but all or one ready at God's bidding to minister to each. (In Acts 12, the remark, "it is his Peter's angel," receives no countenance from Peter or the inspired writer of Acts, Luke; but is the uninspired guess of those in Mary's house.)
Rejoice over each recovered penitent (Luke 15:10); are present in Christian congregations (1 Corinthians 11:10); exercising some function in presenting the saints' prayers, incensed by Christ's merits, the one Mediator, before God (Revelation 8:3; Revelation 5:8); not to be prayed to, which is thrice forbidden (Revelation 19:10; Revelation 22:9; Colossians 2:18): when we send an offering to the King, the King's messenger durst not appropriate the King's exclusive due. Ministers of grace now, and at the dying hour carrying the believer's soul to paradise (Luke 16:22), but ministers of judgment, and gathering the elect, in the great day (Matthew 13:39; Matthew 13:41; Matthew 13:49; Matthew 16:27; Matthew 24:31). Their number is counted by myriad's (Hebrews 12:22; Greek "to myriads, namely the festal assembly of angels") (Deuteronomy 33:2; Psalm 68:17; Daniel 7:10; Judges 1:14).
There are various ranks, thrones, principalities, powers in the angelic kingdom of light, as there are also in Satan's kingdom of darkness (Ephesians 1:22; Ephesians 6:12; Colossians 1:16; Daniel 10:13; Daniel 12:1; Romans 8:38). (See SERAPHIM; CHERUBIM; MICHAEL; GABRIEL.) Some conjecture that angels had originally natural bodies, which have been developed into spiritual bodies, as the saints' bodies shall (1 Corinthians 15:40-46); for they in Scripture accept material food (Genesis 18) and appear in human form, and never dwell in men's bodies as the demons, who, naked and homeless, seek human bodies as their habitation (see Luke 20:36, "equal unto the angels": Philemon 3:20-21).
Many of the momentous issues of life are seen often to hinge upon seemingly slight incidents. Doubtless, besides the material instruments and visible agents, the invisible angels work in a marvelous way, under God's providence, guiding events at the crisis so as to carry out the foreordained end. They "desire to look into" the mysteries of redemption, and they learn "by the church the manifold wisdom of God" (Ephesians 3:10; 1 Peter 1:12). The saints (the living creatures and 24 elders) occupy the inner circle, the angels the outer circle, round the throne of the Lamb (Revelation 5:11).
These dictionary topics are from Fausset Bible Dictionary, 1949. Public Domain.