Angels: Their Origins, Abilities, and Nature

Renewalists believe that angels appear to people in their dreams or in person, even today. It is God’s ongoing ministry to us. But we must get our biblical doctrine straight, or we can stray.

Let’s start with a basic definition and description, as noted in other posts.

Angels:

(a) Are messengers (in Hebrew mal’ak and in Greek angelos);

(b) Are created spirit beings;

(c) Have a beginning at their creation (not eternal);

(d) Have a beginning, but they are immortal (deathless).

(e) Have moral judgment;

(f) Have a certain measure of free will;

(g) Have high intelligence;

(h) Do not have physical bodies;

(i) But can manifest with immortal bodies before humans.

With those basics, let’s get started with the Bible study.

If you would like to see the verses in many translations, please go to biblegateway.com.

1.. They are called spirits.

Heb. 1:14 says that they are ministering spirits who serve the people who will inherit salvation. Theologically this means that they have spirit bodies but are invisible to us, unless God wills to manifest them. But personally, angels are nudging and assisting your loved ones who have not yet been saved. But please don’t pray to them or command them. They are God’s messenger, not yours (Ps. 91:11)

2.. Their manifested bodies are immortal and incorruptible.

In Ex. 3:4, the Angel of Lord called from within the burning bush, but he was not burned. And in Judg. 13:20, the Angel of the Lord ascended in the flame of a burnt offering and was unharmed.

This shows that earthly things cannot harm them.

Incidentally, the same will be true when you receive your resurrected body at the Lord’s return. It will be transformed to such a degree that no earthly thing can harm it.

Luke 20:35-36 is a wonderful passage that says at the resurrection believers will not marry or be given in marriage, and they can no longer die, for they will be like angels.

3.. God created them early in creation.

Job 38:6-7 teaches us that when God laid the foundation of the world, while the morning stars sang together, then the angels shouted for joy, because he was making the world.

Ps. 148:2-5 orders all the angels to praise the LORD, for they and other things were created at his command.

Col. 1:16: here is my translation: “Because by him all things were created in heaven and on earth, visible or invisible, whether thrones or dominions, whether rulers or authorities; all things were created through him and for him.” Angels are included in “all things,” and I get the sense that the “thrones and dominions …. rulers and authorities” may be earthly governments, but they could also be spiritual beings—probably all of the above, earthly and spiritual. God is the origins of everything, after all.

4.. They were created good.

Gen. 1:31 says that all of God’s creation was good, and angels are included in “all.”

5.. They have a beginning because they were created.

Neh. 9:6 says that the multitudes of heaven worship the LORD who made them

Ps. 148:2, as noted above, angels were commanded to praise the LORD who made them.

Ps. 148:5, and verse 5 here is included in the majestic scene.

Theologically it is safe to say that they are not eternal because there was a time when they did not exist. Only God is eternal.

6.. They live in heaven.

Matt. 18:10 says they live in heaven and look at the face of the Father of the little children. “Face” means God’s presence.

Matt. 22:30 teaches that at the resurrection people will neither marry or be given in marriage, but will be like the angels in heaven.

Luke 1:19 tells us that Gabriel said he continuously stands in the presence of God. And God lives in heaven.

Rev. 5:11-12 reveals a wonderful panorama of many angels, thousands and thousands, myriads and myriads who encircle the throne and the creates near it and praise God.

Let’s take some time to discuss what the Bible says about heaven.

Heaven is another dimension, not a distant planet or star within our universe. God did not move his throne room to a corrupt, fallen star or planet. If so, where did he live before he made the heavens and the earth, in the beginning of time and space (Gen. 1:1)? No, heaven is closer than that, but on a completely different order and a completely different realm. Example: When Stephen was about to be martyred, he saw heaven open up and the Son of Man welcoming him (Acts 7:55-56). He didn’t look off into space at a distant planet. Instead, the veil between him and heaven was pulled back. Angels live there, on the other side of the veil.

7.. They have moral judgment and a measure of free will.

2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 9 speak of angels who rebelled against God. Since they revolted against God, they exercised a certain measure of free will and moral judgment—a bad use of free will and moral judgment!

8.. They have limited wisdom and knowledge, but greater than ours in most areas.

2 Sam. 14:20 says that angels have greater wisdom than humankind.

Matt. 24:36 says they don’t know when the Son of Man will return.

1 Pet. 1:12 also teaches that they do not understand redemption and salvation, but long to look into these things. We understand those things more clearly than they do. But surely they understand the spiritual realm and heaven better than we do since they live in it.

They have limitations, therefore. They are not omniscient (all-knowing). Only God is.

9.. They are not to be worshipped.

Col. 2:18 teaches us that we should not allow anyone who does false humility and worships angels to disqualify us. They go into great details about what they have seen, but their minds are unspiritual. My suggestion is that you do not get caught up in secret things at websites that promote world religions and angels. They have many falsehoods in them, which the undiscerning minds cannot sort out.

10.. They do not marry.

As noted, Luke 20:35-36 says at the resurrection believers will not marry or be given in marriage, for they will be like angels.

So these and other passages teach us that they are immortal and God’s special creation with nonphysical bodies, and therefore they are incapable of reproducing.

11.. They are not made in the image of God, but we are.

Gen. 1:26-27 says that Adam and Eve were made in God’s likeness.

Gen. 9:6 teaches that anyone who has shed blood (murdered) has to have his blood shed, because the victim was made in the image of God. Angels cannot be killed by humans, so they cannot be included in the image of God idea.

Gen. 5:3 tells us that we can procreate humans in God’s image, but angels cannot procreate, so they are excluded from being made in God’s image.

12.. They can be only in one place at a time.

Dan. 10:12-14 teaches us that Michael, one of the princes of the heavenly world, had to come and help Daniel’s personal messenger, to defeat a spirit being who hindered Daniels prayers. If Michael had to arrive on the scene, then he was not everywhere at once.

Luke 1:26 says that God sent Gabriel to Nazareth. If Gabriel had to be sent, then he was not everywhere.

Thus they are not omnipresent (everywhere at once), for only God is.

13.. They are powerful, but not omnipotent (all-powerful).

Ps. 103:20 says they are mighty ones.

Eph. 1:21 calls them powers, which means they have a certain ability to exert over people and other spiritual forces, but not entire power over them.

Col. 1:16 says there are such things as dominions and authorities or an angelic hierarchy.

2 Peter 2:11 says that they greater in might and power than rebellious humans.

Matt. 28:2 sys that legions of angels could wipe out humanity.

Dan. 10:13 and Rev. 12:7-8 and Rev. 20:13 teach that they can defeat demonic forces.

Only God is omnipotent; angels are not.

14.. They are called by other names.

A.. Sons of God

Some Bible interpreters say that the “sons of God” who married daughters of humans were angels (Gen. 6:2). However, angels do not marry or are given in marriage (Matt. 22:30). They were probably descendants from the godly line of Seth, Adam and Eve’s named son, Seth (Gen. 5:4) and so had a special relationship with God, hence their honorific “sons of God,” and were leaders.

Most scholars believe that the sons of God in Job 1:6 and 2:1 are angels. The New International Version translates the phrase like that, but also notes that the Hebrew says “sons of God.” However, I do not believe that these are angels, and the meeting was not in heaven, but on earth in some sort of sacred space with leading men, as it happened a few other times in the Hebrew Bible.

See Who Were the ‘Sons of God’ in Genesis and Job?

B.. Holy ones

Ps. 89:5 and Ps. 89:7 call them this title. “Holy” at its root means separateness, and the opposite is common or profane—soiled by the world and creation.

C.. Hosts or armies of heaven

Ps. 89:6 and Ps. 89:8 also calls them by this name, which indicates their function—they know how to join forces and fight and worship God.

Is. 31:4 teaches us that the LORD of hosts or armies will do battle for his people.

D.. Watchers

In Dan. 4:13, Dan. 4:17, Dan. 4:23 they are called watchmen or in the singular watchman.

E.. Spirits (as noted above)

Heb. 1:14 teaches that they are not made of the physical stuff that humans have.

F.. Thrones, dominions, principalities, authorities (Col. 1:16) and powers (Eph. 1:21)

These verses teach that angels have certain jurisdictions and a hierarchy. However, the details are not clear, though some Bible teachers claim they can figure out the hierarchy. They may be right, or they may miss the point, which is that they have power and authority over dominions.

15.. God did not spare them when the sinned.

2 Pet. 2:4: Fallen angels were put in hell to await judgment. This indicates that God shows us his love to us humans in his redemption and forgiveness, but angels do not get a second chance, since they lived in God’s absolutely glorious presence, while we do not. Greater privilege means greater judgment.

So how does this post help me know God better?

As noted in the other posts about angels, certain modern interpreters have drunk too deeply of the anti-supernatural biases in the Enlightenment (1600-1800+). So they try to strip away those passages about angels. That is, these interpreters “demythologize” them or explain them away, because the interpreters believe they are myths.

However, Renewalists believe in the infallibility and authority of Scripture, and interpret those passages as real. Many of them have seen angels, either in their dreams or in person.

Renewalists should not seek angels, but seek God through Christ. He wants to have an intimate relationship and personal communication with you. You can learn to receive guidance from the Father in the Holy Spirit. I suppose it is all right for you to ask God to send an angel, at least in your dreams, but if he does not, then just fall in love with Jesus—you should do this in any case.

Written by James Malcolm

SOURCES

Works Cited at Renewal Theology

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