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Bible Dictionaries

Charles Buck Theological Dictionary

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A spiritual intelligent substance, the first in rank and dignity among created beings. The word angel is Greek, and signifies a messenger. The Hebrew word signifies the same. Angels, therefore in the proper signification of the word, do not import the nature of any being, but only the office to which they are appointed especially by way of message or intercourse between God and his creatures.

Hence the word is used differently in various parts of the scripture, and signifies,

1. Human messengers, or agents for other, 2 Samuel 2:5 . "David sent Messengers (Heb. angels) to Jabesh Gilead, Proverbs 13:17 . Mark 1:2 . James 2:25 .

2. Officers of the churches, whether prophets or ordinary ministers, Haggai 1:13 . Revelation 1:20 .

3. Jesus Christ, Malachi 3:1 . Isaiah 63:9 .

4. Some add the dispensations of God's providence, either beneficial or calamitous, Genesis 24:7 . Psalms 34:7 . Acts 12:23 . 1 Samuel 14:14; but I must confess, that, though I do not at all see the impropriety of considering the providences of God as his angels or messengers for good or for evil, yet the passages generally adduced under this head do not prove to me that the providences of God are meant in distinction from created angels.

5. Created intelligences, both good and bad, Hebrews 1:14 . Jude

6. the subject of the present article.

As to the time when the angels were created, much has been said by the learned. Some wonder that Moses, in his account of the creation, should pass over this in silence. Others suppose that he did this because of the proneness of the Gentile world, and even the Jews, to idolatry; but a better reason has been assigned by others, viz. that this first history was purposely and principally written for information concerning the visible world; the invisible, of which we know but in part, being reserved for a better life. Some think that the idea of God's not creating them before this world was made, is very contracted. To suppose, say they, that no creatures whatever, neither angels nor other worlds, had been created previous to the creation of our world, is to suppose that a Being of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness, had remained totally inactive from all eternity, and had permitted the infinity of space to continue a perfect vacuum till within these 6000 years; that such an idea only tends to discredit revelation, instead of serving it.

On the other hand it is alleged, that they must have been created within the six days; because it is said, that within this space God made heaven and earth, and all things that are therein. It is, however, a needless speculation, and we dare not indulge a spirit of conjecture. It is our happiness to know that they are all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister to them who are heirs of salvation. As to the nature of these beings, we are told that they are spirits; but whether pure spirits divested of all matter, or united to some thin bodies, or corporeal vehicles, has been a controversy of long standing: the more general opinion is, that they are substances entirely spiritual, though they can at any time assume bodies, and appear in human shape, Genesis 18:19 : Genesis 32:1-32 : Matthew 28:1-20 : Luke 1:1-80 : &c. The scriptures represent them as endued with extraordinary wisdom and power, 2 Samuel 14:20 . Psalms 103:20; holy and regular in their inclinations; zealous in their employ, and completely happy in their minds, Job 38:7 . Hebrews 1:7 . Matthew 18:10 . Their number seems to be great, Psalms 68:17 . Hebrews 12:22; and perhaps have distinct orders, Colossians 1:16-17 . 1 Peter 3:22 . 1 Thessalonians 4:16 . Daniel 10:13 . They are delighted with the grand scheme of redemption, and the conversion of sinners to God, Luke 2:12 . 1 Peter 1:12 . Luke 15:10 .

They not only worship God, and execute his commands at large, but are attendant on the saints of God while here below, Psa 91:1-16;11:12. Hebrews 1:13 . Luke 16:22 . Some conjecture that every good man has his particular guardian angel, Matthew 18:10 . Acts 12:15; but this is easier to be supposed than to be proved; nor is it a matter on consequence to know. "What need we dispute, " says Henry, "whether every particular saint has a guardian angel, when we are sure he has a guard of angels about him?" They will gather the elect in the last day, attend the final judgment, Matthew 25:31 . Revelation 14:18 . Matthew 13:39 , and live for ever in the world of glory, Luke 20:36 . Although the angels were originally created perfect, yet they were mutable: some of them sinned, and kept not their first estate; and so, of the most blessed and glorious, became the most vile and miserable of all God's creatures. They were expelled the regions of light, and with heaven lost their heavenly disposition, and fell into a settled rancour against God, and malice against men. What their offence was is difficult to determine, the scripture being silent about it.

Some think envy, others unbelief; but most suppose it was pride. As to the time of their fall, we are certain it could not be before the sixth day of the creation, because on that day it is said, "God saw every thing that he had mad, and behold it was very good;" but that it was not long after, is very probable, as it must have preceded the fall of our first parents. The number of the fallen angels seems to be great, and, like the holy angels, perhaps have various orders among them, Matthew 12:24 . Ephesians 2:2 . Ephesians 6:12 . Colossians 2:15 . Revelation 12:7 . Their constant employ is not only doing evil themselves, but endeavoring by all arts to seduce and pervert mankind, 1 Peter 5:8 . Job 1:6 . It is supposed they will be restrained during the millennium, Revelation 20:2 , but afterwards again, for a short time, deceive the nations, Revelation 20:8 , and then be finally punished, Matthew 25:41 .

The authors who have written on this subject have been very numerous; we shall only refer to a few: Reynolds's Enquiry into the State and Economy of the Angelical World; Doddridge's Lect. p.10. lect. 210. to 214; Milton's Paradise Lost; Bp. Newton's Works, vol. 3: p. 538, 568; Shepherd of Angels; Gilpin on Temptations; Casmanni Angelographia; Gill and Ridgeley's Bodies of Divinity.

Bibliography Information
Buck, Charles. Entry for 'Angel'. Charles Buck Theological Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​cbd/​a/angel.html. 1802.
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