What Does the Bible Teach About Angels? (Part 1)
Billy Graham once wrote the following: "The history of virtually all nations and cultures reveals at least some belief in angelic beings. Ancient Egyptians made the tombs of their dead more impregnable and lavish than their homes because they felt angels would visit there in succeeding ages. Islamic scholars have proposed that at least two angels are assigned to each person: one angel records the good deeds and the other the bad. In fact, long before Islam arose, and even apart from the contact with Scriptures, some religions taught the existence of angels. But no matter what the traditions, our frame of reference must be the Scripture as our supreme authority on this subject."

Although there is plenty to which I would disagree with Mr. Graham, the previous quote is a good one, especially his last comment. When discussing some topics, there is a host of information that might be available to us from a variety of sources, though much of it is unreliable. The subject of angels is one such topic. There are many beliefs regarding angels that are grounded more in speculation than they are in God's word. We must be careful not to be deceived into believing things that are not true. We must study the Bible to learn what it teaches on this subject. After doing such, it is likely that there will still be many unanswered questions, but that is okay. There are many things that we simply do not need to know! Let us be content in the knowledge that the Lord makes available to us and not covet "the secret things" that belong to Him (Deut. 29:29). Today, let us consider three primary points concerning angels.

The Hebrew and Greek words for "angel" or "angels" are used several hundred times in the Bible. In the most basic sense, an angel is simply a messenger. Typically, when the Scriptures speak of angels, the reference is to intelligent, heavenly beings sent by God for a specific purpose. However, the same words used by the Holy Spirit to refer to these heavenly beings are occasionally used in reference to people who are acting as messengers for human or divine purposes (e.g., Job. 1:14; Mal. 2:7; Mark 1:2; Gal. 4:14; James 2:25; etc.). One must pay special attention to the context of a passage to determine whether or not the angels or messengers mentioned are heavenly or human.

This is a point that few will argue against. Nehemiah 9:6 teaches - "You alone are the LORD; you have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and everything on it, the seas and all that is in them, and You preserve them all. The host of heaven worships You." The "host of heaven" that worships God and was created by Him would seemingly include angels. Colossians 1:16 declares in broad terms that "all things were created through Him [i.e., Jesus] and for Him."

But, when were angels created? One can deduce that angels were created before the Earth was made. In Job 38:4-7, God asks Job where he was when the planet was created out of nothing. Job cannot answer such, but we see in that passage that "the sons of God shouted for joy" as the Earth was being fashioned. This phrase appears to be a reference to angelic beings in this context (cf. Job 1:6).

Psalm 8:5 - "For You have made him [i.e., man] a little lower than the angels..." How exactly is mankind lower than angels? Such is impossible to answer with certainty, since the Bible does not address such. However, since angels reside in the heavenly realm with Almighty God, one might suggest that they are superior to man in his present condition in every way (i.e., knowledge, power, abilities, etc.). It is even more difficult to know how angels will compare with man in the heavenly realm after the resurrection.

The fact that angels are inferior to God should be readily seen from Revelation 22:8,9, which teaches that angels are not worthy of being worshipped (cf. Col. 2:18). The implication is that they, as created beings, are not deity. Only the eternal God is worthy of such devotion!

We will continue this study tomorrow.