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.
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?
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.
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.”
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?”
Psalm 89:7 A God greatly feared in the council of the holy ones, And awesome above all those who are around Him?”
“Host” (speaks of an angelic army)
1 Kings 22:19 “And Micaiah said, "Therefore, hear the word of the LORD. I saw the LORD sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by Him on His right and on His left.”
Nehemiah 9: 6 “You alone are the LORD. You have made the heavens, The heaven of heavens with all their host, The earth and all that is on it, The seas and all that is in them. You give life to all of them And the heavenly host bows down before You.”
Daniel 4:13 “I was looking in the visions in my mind as I lay on my bed, and behold, an angelic watcher, a holy one, descended from heaven.”
Daniel 4:17 “"This sentence is by the decree of the angelic watchers And the decision is a command of the holy ones, In order that the living may know That the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind, And bestows it on whom He wishes And sets over it the lowliest of men."
Terms in the NT:
Mark 1:23 “Just then there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit; and he cried out…”
Hebrew 1: 14 “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?”
“Men” (unique to Luke)
Luke 24:4-5 “While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men suddenly stood near them in dazzling clothing; and as the women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, ‘Why do you seek the living One among the dead?’”
Acts 1:10 “And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them.”
The Creation of Angels.
The fact is that God created angels. They are created beings, and should be understood as such. They are spiritual beings, but nevertheless they’ve been created.
So they don’t share in God’s eternal attributes.
They’re not omniscient (all-knowing), or omnipresent (everywhere all the time), etc.
Rather, they’re spiritual beings, often very powerful, but nevertheless, they're created, and therefore, finite.
Col. 1:16 “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-- all things have been created through Him and for Him.”
So since they’ve been created, their responsibility is to worship their Creatore (just like the rest of creation is required to do).
Psalm 148: 2-5 “Praise Him, all His angels; Praise Him, all His hosts! Praise Him, sun and moon; Praise Him, all stars of light! Praise Him, highest heavens, And the waters that are above the heavens! Let them praise the name of the LORD, For He commanded and they were created.”
The theological implication of this is that angels are not to be worship. This was a huge problem in Colossea.
Col. 2:18-19 “Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God.”
Rev. 19:10 “Then I [John] fell at his feet [the angel] to worship him. But he said to me, "Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus; worship God. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy."
The timing of their creation.
Gen. 1:1 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
Nehemiah 9:6 You alone are the LORD. You have made the heavens, The heaven of heavens with all their host, The earth and all that is on it, The seas and all that is in them. You give life to all of them And the heavenly host bows down before You.
Some theological conclusions regarding angels as created beings:
The angels were created at the same time as the rest of the creation. We have no reason (or biblical evidence) to think otherwise.
The angels were created holy.
Gen. 1:31 "God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.”
The implication, here, is that creation is done. As such, anything created at this point was very good, indeed, holy.
The angles (and the entire spiritual realm) are certainly included.
The angels are entirely accountable to God.
Matt. 25:41 "Then He will also say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels.”
The implication is the angles will be judges.
Interestingly, Paul speaks of the fact that men will take part in this judging of angels (1Cor. 6:3).
The numbers of angels are innumerable and inconceivable.
Daniel 7:10 “A river of fire was flowing And coming out from before Him; Thousands upon thousands were attending Him, And myriads upon myriads were standing before Him; The court sat, And the books were opened.”
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?”
Rev. 5:11 “Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands…”
The point is that we should be content with the idea that they are too innumerable to count.
There was a debate in medieval scholasticism of how many angels could fit on the pin of a needle. This was more or less a philosophical discussion (Thomas Aquinas).
But there were “scholars” who came up with exact numbers for how many angels exists. One Jewish scholars determined there were 301,655,722 angels.
How he came up with this? Don’t know.
The Scriptures are content to leave it with “myriads upon myriads.”
So what’s their position?
Angels in relation to Christ
As Creator God, He is far above them, simply because He created them (Col. 1:15-16,
As the God-Man during the time of His “kenosis” He was made a little lower (Heb. 2:7).
Hebrew 2:7, 9 "YOU HAVE MADE HIM FOR A LITTLE WHILE LOWER THAN THE ANGELS; YOU HAVE CROWNED HIM WITH GLORY AND HONOR, AND HAVE APPOINTED HIM OVER THE WORKS OF YOUR HANDS…”
"9 But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone”
As a glorified man, He is already exalted far above all creation.
Eph. 1:21 “[Christ has been placed] far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.”
1Pet. 3:22 “[Christ], who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him.”
Angels in relation to man.
During this age they are equal with man in that both are servants of God.
We already saw this in Rev. 19:10 when the angle commands John not to worship him.
Rather, he tells him to worship God.
Having said that, angels are higher than man in their present powers.
We saw this in Heb. 2:7, where it said that Jesus was made a little lower than the angels.
The point, there, is that He was made to be like man. He chose not to invoke His deity in any way, but live in every sense as a man.
So the implication is that man is also lower than the angels in their current and powers.
2 Pet. 2:11 “and especially those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires and despise authority. Daring, self-willed, they do not tremble when they revile angelic majesties, whereas angels who are greater in might and power do not bring a reviling judgment against them before the Lord.”
In the age to come man will receive a status that is above the angels.
1Cor. 6:3 “Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life?”
We’ve just scratched the surface, but next time we’ll talk about things like:
The characteristics of angels.(e.g., intelligence, emotions, will, etc).
Their wisdom and strength.
We’ll look at the various appearances (and visions) of angels.
What do they look like?
How are they described?
We’ll look at the various classifications of angels (i.e., their moral categories and hierarchy).
The Holy/Elect angels.
We’ll look at the various ministries of angles -- and the all important question - Are there guardian angels?