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Bible Dictionaries

Morrish Bible Dictionary


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The words malac ἄγγελος, signify 'messenger.'

1. It is used for the mystic representation of the divine presence, as in Genesis 31:11-13 . "The angel of God" spake unto Jacob saying, "I am the God of Bethel." "The angel of Jehovah" spake to Hagar and said, "I will multiply thy seed exceedingly that it shall not be numbered for multitude." Genesis 16:7-11 . "The angel of Jehovah" spake to Abraham saying, "By myself have I sworn," etc. Genesis 22:11,15,16 . Three 'men' drew near to Abraham's tent. One said Sarah should have a son: at which Sarah laughed, and Jehovah said, "Wherefore did Sarah laugh?" Two of the three left, and were called 'angels' at the gate of Sodom, while Jehovah, the third, talked with Abraham. Genesis 18:1-33 : cf. also Exodus 3:2,6-15; Numbers 22:22-35 . Jacob, in blessing the sons of Joseph, said, "The Angel which redeemed me from all evil bless the lads." Genesis 48:16 . It is generally believed that it was the second person in the Trinity who appeared as a man in the O.T. It is no doubt the same who is called 'the mighty angel' in Revelation 10:1-3 .

2. The intelligent spiritual beings who are constantly referred to in scripture as God's messengers both as carrying good tidings and, as executors of God's judgements. We know little of their nature: "of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire," Hebrews 1:7; and man is described as being a little inferior to the angels. Psalm 8:5; Hebrews 2:7 . There are apparently gradations in rank among them, described as principalities and powers, of which Christ as Man is now the head. Colossians 2:10 . Twice we meet with 'archangel:' an archangel's voice will accompany the rapture of the church, 1 Thessalonians 4:16; and 'Michael the archangel' contended with Satan about the body of Moses. Jude 9 . He with his angels will fight with the dragon and his angels and cast them out of heaven. Revelation 12:7,8 . Gabriel is the only other name of an angel revealed to us: he appeared to Daniel, to Zacharias, and to Mary: he said that he stood in the presence of God. Daniel 8:16; Daniel 9:21; Luke 1:19,26 .

Though we are unconscious of the presence of angels we know that they are ministering spirits sent forth to minister for them who shall inherit salvation, Hebrews 1:14 : cf. Psalm 34:7; and we read also that they ministered to the Lord when He was here. Matthew 4:11; Mark 1:13; Luke 22:43 . There are 'myriads' of these angels, Matthew 26:53; Hebrews 12:22; Revelation 5:11; and they are described as 'mighty,' 'holy,' 'elect,' 2 Thessalonians 1:7; Mark 8:38; 1 Timothy 5:21 : they do not marry, Mark 12:25 . We are not told when they were created, but doubtless they are referred to as 'the sons of God' who shouted for joy when God created the earth. Job 38:4-7 .

The law was given by their ministry, Acts 7:53; Galatians 3:19; Psalm 68:17; and they had to do with proclaiming the birth of the Saviour, Luke 2:8-14; and they attended at the resurrection. Matthew 28:2; John 20:12 . Angels are not the depositaries of the revelation and counsels of God. They desire to look into the things testified by the Spirit of Christ in the prophets, and now reported by the apostles in the power of the same Spirit. 1 Peter 1:12 . The world to come is not to be put in subjection to them, but to man in the person of the Son of man, Hebrews 2:5-8; and the saints will judge angels. 1 Corinthians 6:3 . It is therefore only a false humility that would teach the worshipping of angels. Colossians 2:18 . When John fell down to worship the angel in the Revelation, being overpowered by reason of the stupendous things revealed, he was on two occasions restrained from worshipping his 'fellow servant,' as in Revelation 19:10; Revelation 22:9 .

In Psalm 8:5 the word is elohim, 'God:' the name of God being given to the angels as His representatives: cf. Psalm 82:6 . In Psalm 68:17 it is shinan 'repetition;' reading "even thousands upon thousands." In Psalm 78:25 it is abbir, 'mighty:' "every one did eat the bread of the mighty" margin.


a. We read of angels who kept not their first estate,' but left their own habitation, and are kept in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgement of the great day. Jude 6 . God spared not the angels who sinned. 2 Peter 2:4 . The nature of their sin may be referred to in Genesis 6:2 . Their punishment and that of Sodom and Gomorrah is held up as a warning against fleshly indulgence, and despising government. 2 Peter 2:10; Jude 6-8 .

b. Besides the above which are kept in chains we read of angels connected with Satan. The great dragon and his angels will be subdued by Michael and his angels, and be cast out of heaven. Revelation 12:9 . The lake of fire, or Gehenna, has been specially prepared for the devil and his angels, though, alas, man will also be cast therein. Matthew 25:41 . Abaddon or Apollyon is the name of 'the angel of the bottomless pit,' Revelation 9:11 , that is, 'the abyss,' not hell, which, as seen above, is the place of punishment. Isaiah 14:12-16 and Ezekiel 28:14-19 , may throw somelight on the fallof Satan, but whether the fall of those called 'his angels' was brought about by the same cause and at the same time is not revealed. Scripture is quite clear that all of them will be overcome and eternally punished.

4. The term 'angel' is used metaphorically for a mystical representative. When Peter was delivered from prison, and knocked at the door, those who had been praying for his release said, "It is his angel." Acts 12:15 . They supposed Peter was still in prison, and that the one at the door was his representative, his spirit personified, perhaps with very vague ideas of what they really meant. In Revelation 2,3 , the addresses to the seven churches are made to the angel of each. It signifies the spirit and character of the assembly personified in its mystical representative, each one differing from the others, according to the state of the assembly. The messages, though addressed to churches existing at the time, no doubt set forth the state of the church in its varied phases ever since apostolic times down to its entire rejection as the responsible witness for Christ at the close of the dispensation.

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These files are public domain.
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Bibliography Information
Morrish, George. Entry for 'Angels'. Morrish Bible Dictionary. 1897.

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