By Elizabeth Prata
The thread of Christianity from generation to generation depends on a mutual understanding of our important words. Hence the Word of the Week. Past Words of the Week have included Justification, Transcendence, Immanence, Propitiation, Sanctification, Glorification, Orthodoxy, Heresy, Omniscience, Aseity, Immutability, and more. I then went to a series examining each of the 9 characteristics of the Fruit of the Spirit: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control.
Aren’t we fascinated with Angels! They appear in art, literature, drama, and of course, the Bible. They are first mentioned in Genesis 2:1 where it is written,
Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.
Host is another name for the angel army. Since God finished His work and called it all good, why does there need to be an army, which fights in warfare? Warfare isn’t good. Matthew Henry explains,
The creatures made both in heaven and earth are the hosts or armies of them, which denotes them to be numerous, but marshalled, disciplined, and under command.” (Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible)
So the Angel host is a troop deployed under a Commander to execute His directives, and also to demonstrate His hierarchy of beings, that He is sole leader.
Other names for angel besides host or heavenly host is sons of God, Morning Stars, Principalities, Rulers and Authorities, and Watchers. Because the Heavenly Host of angels is an army, some of their divisions or classes are also named, Seraphim, Cherubim, and Archangel. Also possibly Rulers, Authorities, Powers and Forces of evil (Ephesians 6:12).
Some angels’ names are given. They are Gabriel, Michael, Lucifer and Apollyon/Abaddon. Though, Lucifer might be simply a title and not an individual name. Wormwood is also another possible name for a specific angel. (Revelation 8:11). In any case we learn from the names Gabriel and Michael that angels have names, and thus are individual beings with a personality and a will. The number of angels is innumerable.
Angels are a class of beings that are not human and not part of the Trinity. They have superior power and abilities than humans, but are not human. When humans die, they do not turn into angels. We should stop saying things like “Heaven gained another angel with the death of…”
A personal peeve of mine is the continual depiction of angels as babies with wings. In Italian Renaissance art (where they became ubiquitous) these beings are called putti and that morphed into what we think of as cherubs or cherubim. However, this is a gross distortion of the actual cherubim, who are extremely powerful and magnificent, as are all angels. In 2 Peter 2:11 they are referred to as “angelic majesties”, beings whom the false prophets are unafraid to rebuke, and this is written as a negative. (So don’t go around “rebuking satan” who is an angel, albeit an unholy one).
Angels roam between the three heavens. When God completed Creation week, we learn that the angels were present in the universe and “the heavenly host sang together [gave a ringing cry] and all the sons of God shouted for joy” (Job 38:7). Angels appear in the throne room of heaven, (Isaiah 6:2) and they roam the earth. (Job 1:7). Some angels are even under the earth AKA in the abyss, chained up and waiting for the day of judgment. (Jude 1:6). Angels are everywhere!
When Lucifer rebelled, he convinced a third of the host to ally with him. They sinned, and thus they fell. These unholy angels are now the demons. They oppose God, His people, and His plan. Though they fell morally, they still have access to the heavenly throne room. (Job 2:1). The unholy angels still retain the power and strength they were created with. So be careful, they can deceive and masquerade as holy angels and they do it well!
It will be during the Tribulation that the door to the throne room will be shut against the unholy angels and they will no longer have access. This enrages Lucifer, called Satan (which means adversary) and his wrath ramps up the Tribulation into high gear. He takes his anger out on the remaining earth population. (Revelation 12:7-9, 13-17). Angels who rebelled will not be redeemed. Their condemnation is fixed. (Matthew 25:41).
If you notice in Revelation, it is the angels who perform the judgments at God’s command. They carry it out. All thorugh the Bible you begin to notice angels performing the commands of judgment God wants: slaying Israel in a plague and about to render wrath on Jerusalem (2 Samuel 24:16), and the Passover angel, destroying Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim and so on. They were also present at the creation, at the giving of the Law (Deuteronomy 33:2; Galatians 3:19).
Angels are spirit beings (Hebrews 1:14) but sometimes when they appear to humans they appear as flesh and blood men (the Bible always refers to angels as men, there are no female angels). We don’t know how they change to flesh and blood looking men when they appear on earth but suffice it to say that part of it is a mystery. Angels have personal will (otherwise Lucifer & Co. would not have fallen). They also have intelligence and emotions.
They holy angels praise God, perform His will, minister to humans (remember the angel helping Elijah in 1 Kings 19:5-7), render His judgments, learn (“angels long to look into these things” 1 Peter 1:12), and so much more!
In fact there is an entire niche of study called Angelology. Different areas of Biblical study include,
Theology Proper (Doctrine of God)
Angelology (Doctrine of angels & demons)
Anthropology (doctrine of man)
Bibliology (origin of the Bible)
Christology (Doctrine of Jesus)
Ecclesiology (Doctrine of the Church)
Eschatology (Doctrine of The End Times, or Last Things)
Hamartiology (Doctrine of the Holy Sin)
Pneumatology (Doctrine of the Holy Spirit)
Soteriology (Doctrine of Salvation)
Prayers & Worship
So rest assured if you want to study the topic of Angels it is a legitimate field of study. They are certainly fascinating beings. Caution is warranted, however. Though the field of study is legitimate, many people who write about angels are not. There is a glut of less than credible resources out there.
C. Fred Dickason’s book Angels Elect & Evil is a good resource I am told.
Martyn Lloyd Jones did a sermon on Good Angels, here. Though the sermon for Jones’s companion to Good Angels sermon, called The Devil and Fallen Angels is lost, the transcription of that sermon is here.
S. Lewis Johnson has a sermon series on angels, here
RC Sproul has a couple of teaching series at Ligonier. This one on angels is two parts and can be listened to for free. This one on Angels & Demons is 4 parts and just the first lecture can be heard for free.
GotQuestions: Angels (this page lists a series of further essays)
Essay by Phil Johnson- Angels: Messengers of God
The End Time: All About Angels