Study 1: God
The Existence of God | The Personality of God | God's Name and Character | The Angels | Digressions ("God Is A Spirit", The Use of God's Name, God Manifestation) | Questions
1.4 The Angels
All that we have considered so far in this Study is brought together by a consideration of the Angels:
We mentioned in the last study that one of the most common Hebrew words translated 'God' is 'Elohim', which really means 'mighty ones'; these 'mighty ones' who carry God's Name can effectively be called 'God' because of their close association with Him. These beings are the Angels.
The record of the creation of the world in Genesis 1 tells us that God spoke certain commands concerning creation, "and it was done". It was the Angels who carried out these commands:
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 summarize 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 a firmament (sky, 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 creature...and fowl 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 thing...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. The fact that the Angels created us in their image means that they have the same bodily appearance as we have. They are therefore very real, tangible, corporeal beings, sharing the same nature as God.
'Nature' in this sense refers to what someone is fundamentally like by reason of their physical structure. In the Bible there are two 'natures'; by the very meaning of the word it is not possible to have both these natures simultaneously.
This is the nature of God and the Angels, and which was given to Jesus after his resurrection (Acts 13:34; Rev.1:18; Heb.1:3). This is the nature which we are promised (Lk.20:35,36; 2 Pet.1:4; Is.40:28 cp.v 31).
This is the nature which all men, good and bad, now possess. The end of that nature is death (Rom.6:23). It was the nature which Jesus had during his mortal life (Heb.2:14-18; Rom.8:3; Jn.2:25; Mk.10:18).
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 being of God's nature, they must be sinless and therefore unable to die - seeing that sin brings death (Rom.6:23). They must have a literal, physical form of existence. It is for this reason that when Angels have appeared on earth they have looked like ordinary men:
- 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 pray 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 Sodom. Again, they were recognized only as men by both Lot and the people of Sodom. "There came two Angels to Sodom", whom Lot invited to spend the night with him. But the men of Sodom came to his house, asking in a threatening way "Where are the men which came in to thee this night?". Lot pleaded, "Unto these men do nothing". The inspired record also calls them "men": "The men (Angels) put forth their hand" and rescued Lot; "And the men said unto Lot...The Lord hath sent us to destroy" Sodom (Gen.19:1,5,8, 10,12, 13).
- The New Testament comment on these incidents confirms that Angels are in the form of men: "Be not forgetful to entertain strangers; for some (e.g. Abraham and Lot) have entertained Angels unawares" (Heb.13:2).
- 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 1:10) of Jesus. These were clearly Angels.
- Consider the implications of "the measure of a man, that is, of the Angel" (Rev.21:17).
Angels Do Not Sin
The Angels being of 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 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.20:35,36). This is a vital point to grasp. Angels cannot die: "Death...does not lay hold of Angels" (Heb 2:16 Diaglott margin) If Angels could sin, then those who are found worthy of reward at Christ's return will also still be able to sin. And seeing that sin brings death (Rom.6:23), they will therefore not have eternal life; if we have a possibility of sinning, we have the capability of dying. Thus to say Angels can sin makes God's promise of eternal life meaningless, seeing that our reward is to share the nature of the Angels. The reference to "the Angels" (Luke 20:35,36) shows that there is no categorization of Angels as good or sinful; there is only one category of Angels.
If Angels could sin, then God is left impotent to righteously 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). They are 'made Spirit' by God in the sense that He achieves all things by His spirit/power, acting through the Angels (Ps. 104:4). That they should be disobedient to Him is therefore an impossibility. The Christian 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 Angels had to compete with sinful Angels inheaven, 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:-
If the Angels can be evil in the sense of being sinful, then such promises of Angelic control and influence in our lives become a curse instead of a blessing.
We have seen, then, that Angels are beings...
Many "Christian" 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 is possible that there was a creation previous to our own, i.e. that recorded in Genesis 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 speculation which the minds of men love to indulge in. The Bible tells us 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.1:13). In similar vein, Ps.5:4,5 explains: "Neither shall evil dwell with Thee. The foolish shall not stand" in God's Heavenly dwelling place. The idea of there being rebellion against God in Heaven by sinful Angels quite contradicts the impression given by these passages.
- 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 "In Search of Satan", available from the publishers. Such passages cannot be allowed to contradict the wealth of Bible teaching to the contrary which has been presented.