Angels

The doctrine of angels has been long embedded in Christian theology yet there is little that is known about these creatures who are thought to be the servants of God. This lack of knowledge has been the cause of much speculation about them.

Causes for Doubt

  1. Why does God need angels to do his bidding?
  2. If human agents of God exist then what necessity is there for supernatural agents of God to exist?
  3. How can an angel as an immaterial spirit being interact with the material world?

Existence

The creation of angels is completely lacking from the scriptures.

Of note is that the Bible describes the function of angels as 'messengers' and does not indicate when the creation of angels occurred.Angel, Wikipedia

The word angel simply means messenger and should not be inferred to mean a supernatural creature.

Again, the word 'angel' comes from the old Greek noun angelos which meant 'a messenger' or 'a message-bearer'. The related verb angellô meant 'to bear a message to someone'. The nouns angelia and angelma meant 'a report', 'a message', 'tidings', 'news'.What does the Bible say about angels?

The most that can be inferred from the word “angel” is a messenger. It could equally be used to infer a human messenger as it could to infer a supernatural messenger. Even if the passage refers to the divinity of the messenger, it could still be interpreted as a human messenger who is divine because he does the works of God.

Young's literal translation properly translates the Greek word used for angel as 'messenger'. In the original Greek, There is no distinction between the word used for a heavenly being or a earthly being who is sent as a messenger.[^1]The Day of His Power, LightHouse Prophecy

Appearance

Everyone believes angels have wings but the scriptures never so describes them as having such.

However, while cherubim and seraphim have wings in the Bible, no angel is mentioned as having wingsAngel, Wikipedia

Angels, as immaterial spirit beings, are impossible for the material physical eye to see.

When we see an entity, it is because photons (light) are emitted by that entity, or bounce off the entity - actually, are absorbed and then emitted by the entity - and then these photons enter our eye, and stimulate an electrical signal to our brain. An entity which is not physical to the extent that it can bounce or emit photons cannot be physically seen. ... an angel can also be a non-physical being, and therefore presumably if an angel existed, it would not exist in a physical sense. According to these interpretations, it would not have physical meaning to state that the angel walked somewhere or picked up something, or said something, since all these imply a physical structure existing in spacetime. Similarly, the angel if it were not physical - could not be said to emit or bounce off photons, and therefore it could not be said with physical meaning that the angel could be ‘seen’. And, since it cannot be seen or measured or felt by any physical means, it would perhaps be meaningless to say that the angel was there - in any physical sense of ‘being’ - but simply could not be seen. Therefore if someone were to ‘see’ an angel, it would presumably be due to an image which was formed directly in their minds by some spiritual agency, rather than by physical means. This would mean that the person would see the angel, but this vision of the angel would be an internal reality, and would not correspond to a physical entity outside the viewer - there would not be an angel ‘out there’. Of course it would be possible for God to create a physical being and send it to someone, who would then see it. This however would be a physical being and not an angel, if an angel is defined to be a spiritual being. If however ‘angel’ means simply ‘messenger of God’, then it would be possible to see physical angels of course.Divine Encounters in the Torah: Rambam vs. Ramban

Rank

That there exists different angels with various ranks in the heavens is based on the word archangel.

The Greek word in question, archangelos, simply meant 'chief messenger', and as we all know, it is Jesus who is God’s Chief Messenger. 1 Thessalonians 4:16 clearly refers to Jesus, and probably Jude 9 as well.What does the Bible say about angels? But the simple word angel is nevertheless expressive of office, and does not therefore necessarily signify a superhuman being. The angels of the seven churches of Asia mentioned in the Book of Revelation, were the ministers of those churches, and consequently men in the flesh.Moore, Asher, Universalism, the doctrine of the Bible p. 41

That there exists guardians angels for each individual is based on the beliefs of the Zoroastrians which were adopted by the Jews while in captivity in Babylon.

In Zoroastrianism there are different angel-like figures. For example, each person has one guardian angel, called Fravashi. They patronize human beings and other creatures, and also manifest God’s energy.Angel, Wikipedia

Guardian angels were part of the belief system of the Jews by the time of Jesus.

Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.Matthew 18:10 KJV

Judaism

Similar to how the spirit of anger does not refer to a spirit but simply the disposition of the person, Maimondies, a 12th century Jewish rabbi, believed that angels do not refer to supernatural beings, but rather to various laws of nature.

On the other end of the philosophical spectrum is the view of Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, better known as Maimonides. He had a neo-Aristotelian interpretation of the Bible. Maimonides writes that to the wise man, one sees that what the Bible and Talmud refer to as “angels” are actually allusions to the various laws of nature; they are the principles by which the physical universe operates.Cherub, Wikipedia For all forces are angels! How blind, how perniciously blind are the naive?! If you told someone who purports to be a sage of Israel that the Deity sends an angel who enters a woman's womb and there forms an embryo, he would think this a miracle and accept it as a mark of the majesty and power of the Deity, despite the fact that he believes an angel to be a body of fire one third the size of the entire world. All this, he thinks, is possible for God. But if you tell him that God placed in the sperm the power of forming and demarcating these organs, and that this is the angel, or that all forms are produced by the Active Intellect; that here is the angel, the “vice-regent of the world” constantly mentioned by the sages, then he will recoilMaimonides. Guide for the Perplexed II:4 For he {the naive person} does not understand that the true majesty and power are in the bringing into being of forces which are active in a thing although they cannot be perceived by the senses....Thus the Sages reveal to the aware that the imaginative faculty is also called an angel; and the mind is called a cherub. How beautiful this will appear to the sophisticated mind, and how disturbing to the primitive.Maimonides. Guide for the Perplexed II:6 [Furthermore] Maimonides says.. that the figures of the cherubaim were placed in the sanctuary only to preserve among the people the belief in angels, there being two in order that the people might not be led to believe that they were the image of God.Cherub, Wikipedia

Because of the teachings of Maimonides there are now certain sects of Judaism that view angels differently.

The existences of angels is generally widely contested within traditional rabbinic Judaism; there is, however, a wide range of views on what angels actually are, and how literally one should interpret biblical passages associated with them. Reform Judaism and Reconstructionist Judaism generally either drop references to angels or interpret them metaphorically.Cherub, Wikipedia

Christianity

In Christianity, it is thought that the angels of light are in the heavens and/or upon the earth doing battle with the angels of darkness. It seems strange for two opposing factions of angels to be fighting in a battle in which neither side can be “physically” harmed.

Having thus made an insurrection and a battle in Heaven, in which none of the combatants could either be killed or wounded..Paine, Thomas, The Age of Reason p. 12

References

1. LightHouse Prophecy. The Day of His Power

Additional Quotes

Mention is made in the scriptures of angels, as created beings, superior to man; but they are never supposed to interfere in the affairs of men, except on particular occasions, and by the express appointment of the Supreme Being, never by their own voluntary agency. They are employed merely as messengers (for so their name in the Hebrew signifies) to convey the orders of the Almighty. But according to the system of the philosophers, as well as that of the vulgar, among the heathens, they are beings inferior to the Supreme, who at their own pleasure, interfere in the affairs of men, and act according to their own peculiar humours and passions.Priestley, Joseph, Discourses relating to the evidences of revealed religion p. 197 Though Democritus rejected the doctrine of a Supreme Deity, he admitted the popular belief of divinities [angels] inhabiting the aerial regions, saying that "they made themselves visible to favoured mortals, and enabled them to foretel future events.Priestley, Joseph, Discourses relating to the evidences of revealed religion p. 199

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