the Second Week of Advent
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Bridgeway Bible Dictionary
Angels are God’s servants and messengers in the heavenly and spiritual realm, where they find true satisfaction in the unceasing worship and service of God. They were created before humans, they belong to a higher order than humans, and their number is countless (Psalms 103:20; Psalms 148:2; Isaiah 6:2-3; Daniel 7:10; Luke 12:8-9; Luke 15:10; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 12:22; Revelation 4:8; Revelation 5:11-12; Revelation 7:11).
Good and bad angels
At some time before the creation of humans, some of the angels, under the leadership of one who became known as Satan, rebelled against God and so fell from their original sinless state (2 Peter 2:4; Judges 1:6). As a result there are good angels and evil angels. Christ has angels and so has Satan (Job 4:18; Matthew 25:31; Matthew 25:41; Judges 1:9; Revelation 12:7-9).
Both good and bad angels are under God’s sovereign rule, the difference between them being that the good angels are obedient and the evil angels rebellious. Even the chief of the evil angels, Satan, is no more than a created being under the authority of God. Satan and the evil angels who follow him can do their evil work only within the limits that God allows (Job 1:12; Job 2:6; see ).
Because of the high position that angels have as God’s heavenly servants, the Bible speaks of them as holy ones, as stars, and even as sons of God. Again these expressions may apply to good angels and bad angels (Job 1:6; Job 2:1; Job 5:1; Job 15:15; Job 38:7; Psalms 89:5; Psalms 89:7; Revelation 9:1; Revelation 12:3-4; Revelation 12:9). (The remainder of this article will be concerned only with good angels. For further discussion on evil angels see .)
Dealings with humankind
Angels have many functions in relation to humankind, but above all they are God’s messengers (Genesis 19:1; Genesis 28:12; Exodus 3:2; Numbers 22:22; Judges 2:1-4; Judges 6:11; 2 Samuel 24:16; 1 Kings 13:18; 1 Kings 19:5; Matthew 1:20; Matthew 2:19; Matthew 13:41; Matthew 16:27; Luke 1:26-31; Acts 10:3-4; Galatians 3:19; e.g. see ). In many of the earlier Old Testament references, the angel (or messenger) of God appears to be almost the same as God himself. This is possibly because the angel is so closely identified with God as his messenger that when he speaks God speaks. The angel’s temporary physical appearance is God’s temporary physical appearance (cf. Genesis 16:7-13; Genesis 21:17-18; Genesis 22:15-17; Exodus 3:2-6).
To the godly, an angel may be a guide (Genesis 24:7; Genesis 24:40; Exodus 14:19; Acts 8:26; Acts 27:23), a protector (Psalms 34:7; Psalms 91:11; Daniel 6:22; Daniel 10:13; Daniel 10:21; Matthew 18:10), a deliverer (Isaiah 63:9; Daniel 3:28; Matthew 26:53; Acts 5:19), an interpreter of visions (Daniel 8:16; Zechariah 1:8-14; Revelation 1:1; Revelation 22:6) and, in fact, a sympathetic helper in all circumstances (Mark 1:13; Luke 22:43; Hebrews 1:13-14). Yet to the ungodly, angels may be God’s messengers of judgment (Matthew 13:39; Matthew 13:41; Matthew 25:31-32; Acts 12:23; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-8).
There are various categories of angels (Genesis 3:24; Isaiah 6:2; Ezekiel 10:3; Colossians 1:16; 1 Thessalonians 4:16; Judges 1:9; see ). Angels themselves do not have a physical form and do not reproduce their kind as humans do (Matthew 22:30). When God sends them as his messengers to humans, he may give them a form similar to that of humans, though they are usually sufficiently different to create a feeling of great awe (Judges 13:15-20; Matthew 28:2-3; Luke 2:9; Luke 24:4; John 20:12; Acts 1:10; Acts 6:15).
Cherubim are spirit beings of one of the higher angelic orders. They usually feature as guardians of God’s throne and protectors of his interests (Genesis 3:24; Exodus 25:17-22; Psalms 80:1; Ezekiel 1:4-14; Ezekiel 10; cf. Revelation 4:6-11; see ).
Great though angelic beings are, human beings should not worship them (Colossians 2:18; Revelation 19:10; Revelation 22:8-9). Jesus Christ is the one whom people should worship; for he is God, and therefore far above angels (Hebrews 1:5-13; Ephesians 1:20-21; Colossians 2:10; Revelation 5:11-14). Those who through faith are united with Christ will thereby share Christ’s dominion in the age to come, and this will involve them in judgment of angels (Hebrews 2:5-9; 1 Corinthians 6:3).
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Fleming, Don. Entry for 'Angels'. Bridgeway Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​bbd/​a/angels.html. 2004.