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English Bible Dictionary



By the word "angels" (i.e. "messengers" of God) we ordinarily understand a race of spiritual beings of a nature exalted far above that of man, although infinitely removed from that of God--whose office is "to do him service in heaven, and by his appointment to succor and defend men on earth.

I. Scriptural use of the word: There are many passages in which the expression "angel of God" is certainly used for a manifestation of God himself (Genesis 22:11) with Genesis 22:12 and Exod 3:2 with Exod 3:6 and Exod 3:14 It is to be observed, also, that side by side with these expressions we read of God's being manifested in the form of man--as to Abraham at Mamre, (Genesis 18:2,22) comp. (Genesis 19:1) To Jacob at Penuel, (Genesis 32:24,30) to Joshua at Gilgal, (Joshua 5:13,15) etc. Besides this, which is the highest application of the word angel, we find the phrase used of any messengers of God, such as the prophets, (Isaiah 42:19; Haggai 1:13; Malachi 3:1) the priests, (Malachi 2:7) and the rulers of the Christian churches. (Revelation 1:20)

II. Nature of angels--Angels are termed "spirits," as in (Hebrews 1:14)--but it is not asserted that the angelic nature is incorporeal. The contrary seems expressly implied in (Luke 20:36; Philemon 3:21) The angels are revealed to us as beings such as man might be, and will be when the power of sin and death is removed, because always beholding his face, (Matthew 18:10) and therefore being "made like him." (1 John 3:2) Their number must be very large, (1 Kings 22:19; Matthew 26:53; Hebrews 12:22) their strength is great, (Psalms 103:20; Revelation 5:2; 18:21) their activity marvelous (Isaiah 6:2-6; Matthew 26:53; Revelation 8:13) their appearance varied according to circumstances, but was often brilliant and dazzling. (Matthew 28:2-7; Revelation 10:1,2) Of the nature of "fallen angels," the circumstances and nature of the temptation by which they fell, we know absolutely nothing, and you can find more about that here on on other commentaries and dictionary entries.All that is certain is that they "left their first estate" and that they are now "angels of the devil." (Matthew 25:41; Revelation 12:7,9) On the other hand the title especially assigned to the angels of God--that of the "holy ones," see (Daniel 4:13,23; 8:13; Matthew 25:31)--is precisely the one which is given to those men who are renewed in Christ's image. Comp. (Hebrews 2:10; 5:9; 12:23)

III. Office of the angels. Of their office in heaven we have only vague prophetic glimpses as in (1 Kings 22:19; Isaiah 6:1-3; Daniel 7:9,10; Revelation 6:11), etc., which show us nothing but a never-ceasing adoration. They are represented as being, in the widest sense, agents of God's providence, natural and supernatural, to the body and to the soul. In one word, they are Christ's ministers of grace now, and they shall be of judgment hereafter. (Matthew 13:39,41,49; 16:27; 24:31) etc. That there are degrees of the angelic nature, both fallen and unfallen, and special titles and agencies belonging to each, is clearly declared by St. Paul, (Ephesians 1:21; Romans 8:38) but what their general nature is it is useless to speculate.


* See also: Angel in the Coptic Terms, Heavenly Hosts.                     Divider of Saint TaklaHaymanot's website فاصل - موقع الأنبا تكلاهيمانوت

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