Theology Bites: Angelology (Part I)

We’re continuing our Systematic Theology. We’re not giving a full ST. This is more-or-less bite-size, as we’re calling it.

Remember, if you listened to our episode on “Kinds of Theology,” ST is typically broken into three sections.

So we’re still working through ST 1.

We’ve covered Bibliology, which is where a good ST must begin.

The next section would be “Theology Proper.”

This covers the person of God, His nature, attributes, etc.

We’ve essentially done this in previous episodes.

We’ve did a full series on the Trinity, and covered all three persons.

So we’re just going to jump to the next section in ST I, which is Angelology, Demonology, and Satanology.

Today we’ll be talking about angelology.


Biblical occurrences:

Angels are mentioned about 200 times in 17 books of the OT.

They’re also mentioned about 200 times in 17 books of the NT.

In fact, Jesus makes several explicit references to angels.

Matt. 26:53 -  "Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels?”

Luke 16:22 - "Now it came about that the poor man died and he was carried away by the angels to Abraham's bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried.”

So, here, Jesus is using them in his own teaching- it’s being used in a parable.

But it is a clear indication that Jesus had a strong understanding of the reality of angels. He spoke of them (and referenced them) as if they were real creatures.

Now, many will try and explain this away (typically liberal theologians).

So when you boil it all down, here are the options:

Jesus was deceived, and didn’t know what He was talking about.

Jesus was deceiving through accommodation of their wrong beliefs. 

Jesus was misrepresented by the Gospel writers.

Or, Jesus was fully truth, and His words were accurately recorded.

So what are the key terms the bible uses when speaking about angels?

Explicit Terminology:

Malak (in OT)

The root for this word is generally related to a “messenger.” Or “to send a messenger” in its verbal form. The most common meaning in the OT is “messenger” or “angel.” The term is often applied to “men.”

Gen. 32: 3 - “Then Jacob sent messengers before him to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom.”

Judges 6:35 - “And [Gideon] sent messengers throughout Manasseh, and they also were called together to follow him; and he sent messengers to Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali, and they came up to meet them.

Job 1:14 - “and a messenger came to Job and said, "The oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them…”

And there are dozens more we could look at.

The term is often applied to powerful spirit beings. It’s often translated as the English word, angels, because the translators are choosing to interpret the term as angels.

They’re right in doing so, but it’s still the same Hebrew word Malak (or this idea of messenger).

Gen 19:1 - “Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening as Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground.”

Job 14: 8 [Eliphaz speaking to Job regarding the nature of God] - “He puts no trust even in His servants; And against His angels He charges error.”

Psalm 91:11-12 “ For He will give His angels charge concerning you, To guard you in all your ways. They will bear you up in their hands, Lest you strike your foot against a stone.”

Here, you see more than the idea of simple messenger.

These Malak of God, are also sent to carry out (and accomplish) tasks on behalf of God.

The term is also used to speak of “The Angel of the Lord.”

Gen. 22:11 “But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven, and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am."

Exodus 3:2 “And the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed.”

Angelos (in NT)

The basic meaning is that of “an envoy, messenger, or angel.” This is almost the NT equivalent of Malak in the OT.

General ways in which the term is used:

Applied to men

Matt. 11:10 [Jesus speaking of John the Baptist] - "This is the one about whom it is written, 'Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, Who will prepare Your way before You.’”

Picking up on the prophesied messenger in Mal. 3, which was a prophecy concerning John the Baptist-- this forerunner of the Christ.

Mal. 3:1 "Behold, I am going to send My messenger (malak), and he will clear the way before Me.”

Luke 7:24 “And when the messengers of John had left, He began to speak to the multitudes about John…”

The term is applied to powerful spirit beings:

Matt. 1:20 “But when he [Joseph] had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for that which has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.”

Luke 1:11   [Gabrial appears to Zacharias in the Temple] - “And an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense.”

Gal. 1:18 “But even though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed.”

So those are the explicit term used to speak of angels (Malak in OT, angelos in NT). But there’s quite a few implicit ways the bible will refer to angels.

Implicit Terminology:

Terms in the OT:

“Sons of God.”

Genesis 6:4 “The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.”

Now, this is a much debated passage. Many think the Son’s of God is reference to something else, but if you trace the phrase through the OT, it’s a always a reference to spirit beings.

Job 1:6 “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them.”

“Morning Stars.”

Job 38:7 [God speaking to Job out of a whirlwind, referencing back to the time He made creation] - “When the morning stars sang together, And all the sons of God shouted for joy?”

“Holy Ones”

Psalm 89:7 A God greatly feared in the council of the holy ones, And awesome above all those who are around Him?”