05-01-18 - OUR GREAT COMMISSION
TO THE ANGELS - Five Part series
By John Aldworth
Col. 2: 15: And having spoiled principalities and powers He made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it (or, in Himself).
Col. 2:18-23: Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind. And not holding the Head, from all the body by joints and bands, having nourishment ministered and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.
2 Cor. 11:13-14: For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel, for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness, whose end shall be according to their works.
The defeated empire strikes back
The dark powers that rule this world are not ones to take defeat lying down. Disarmed, humbled and humiliated by Christ when he ascended in glory to triumph over them (Col. 2:15), they nevertheless rule the world today.
And grace-saved believers looking for ‘the blessed hope’ - the imminent appearing of the Lord and his kingdom - are their especial target. They seek to isolate, undermine and attack us. Not for nothing the Apostle Paul in Eph. 6: 10-12 urges believers to ‘be strong in the Lord and power of his might’ and to ‘put on the whole armour of God that ye might withstand the wiles of the devil … For we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places’.
Nor is he wasting words when he speaks of ‘we all’ having been ‘children of wrath even as others’, walking ‘according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience’ (Eph. 2:1-2).
The reality today is that the world is run by ‘the rulers of darkness', and they are angelic powers intent on blinding men and women to the very truths of grace that would deliver them from evil. That being so it is vital to stand against the wiles of the devil. And, mark well, nowhere is he more wily and powerful in deception than in the world of religion whether it be pagan or supposedly Christian.
The religion of angels
Contrary to popular belief the devil is actually a very religious person. He loves worship in all its forms. It’s just he wants to be the object of worship himself rather than give an iota of praise to God - even if he has to disguise himself as a ‘goody’ in order to receive it.
So in love with himself is the devil that once upon a time he seriously tried to get the Son of God to worship him (Matt. 4:9, Luke 4:7): The devil showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time… ‘If thou therefore wilt worship me all shall be thine’.
What’s more, as the former conductor of the heavenly orchestra and choirs, the devil is expert at devising forms of musical worship that to men seem high and holy but in fact are not of God nor based on the Bible. Indeed, masquerading as ‘an angel of light’ (2 Cor. 11:14) he often succeeds in getting himself worshipped as an angel in disguise in churches.
However, according to Paul, it is the devil’s ministers, rather than Satan per se, who are most likely to deceive Bible believers. In the second chapter of Colossians the apostle four times warns the saved against being ‘beguiled’, ‘spoiled’, ‘judged’ or ‘beguiled of your reward’ - not by the devil as such - but by his disciples, that is men who do his will, often ministers of churches.
For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness, whose end shall be according to their works (2 Cor. 11:13-15).
What’s more most of Christendom, contrary to apostolic instruction, adheres to beliefs and practices that are actually ‘the religion of angels’. By that I mean the devil and his cohorts actually persuade sincere Christians to adopt forms of worship that angels, and fallen angels at that, practice themselves.
I get that from the words ‘worshipping of angels’ in Col. 2: 18. Bear in mind that Paul warns that this form of religion when indulged in by believers can rob them of their reward which is to ‘win Christ’ and to attain to the ‘(out) resurrection’ (Phil. 3:9-11), that is to one day be with Him in glory.
Now the ‘worshipping of angels’ can be read two ways and, in the context, I submit that both are right. In scripture God can and does use carefully chosen words to convey two meanings for the price of one. For example, in Phil: 1:9-10 we read:
And this I pray, that love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment. That ye may approve the things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence until the day of Christ.
The margin note in the King James Bible say that approve also means to try and that the phrase the things that are excellent can also mean the things that differ. After all some things are better than others are they not and therefore 'excell' them and thus are excellent. What's more they also differ from other things.
What's being cited here is a twofold application of the 2 Tim. 2:15 principle of Bible study – ‘rightly dividing the word of truth’. First then, the verse should be divided by noting the things that are better or more excellent – being under grace, for example, (Rom. 6:14) as opposed to law ‘which made nothing perfect’. Then, secondly by observing the things that differ. Grace also differs markedly from law in that grace saves (Eph. 2:5) but the law brings about sin and condemns.
Back to ‘worshipping of angels’ in Col. 2: 18. The first meaning of these words then, is that believers should let no man beguile them of their reward in a ‘voluntary humility and worshipping of angels’. Voluntary humility means acts of outward submission such as bowing, kneeling and falling on one’s face. These physical demonstrations are carried out repeatedly in the rituals of all major world religions, both pagan and supposedly Christian and, as the apostle warns, can lead to direct worshipping of angels rather than God.
Believers, it seems, are particularly prone to being deceived into submission to and adoration of angels. Indeed twice in the Book of Revelation (Rev. 19:10 and 22:8-9) the Apostle John fell at the feet of an angel who had revealed truth about the fulfilment of prophecy to him, only to be told:
See thou do it not; for I am thy fellow servant and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
Now if an apostle could so easily be led into angel worship, it should come as no surprise that the pagan world and most of Christendom is similarly deceived too. Consider: without exception every pagan religion has its ‘messengers’ or angels. They may be devils, demons, supposed spirits of dead ancestors, demi gods or Lucifer himself but to these benighted worshippers they are ‘angels’, messengers.
Angels, including Gabriel, it is said, revealed the precepts of Islam to Mohammed. Whirling dervishes whirl when devils tell them to. Voodoo practitioners swoon as dark angels take hold of them. New Age followers are obsessed with angel visitation while theosophists believe true wisdom comes from Lucifer, the light bearer. Buddhists pray to Buddha as a still living being, although their own history records that his body was burnt and his ashes distributed to pagodas in several lands. He too is an ‘angel’ worshipped in place of God.
Then there are the cults. Joseph Smith received the precepts of Mormonism courtesy of the angel Moroni, even though, when compared to scripture one might think his teachings a lot of baloney. Nevertheless a huge golden statue of Moroni stands outside the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City.
Angel visitations also prompted the thoughts of Mary Baker Eddy the founder of so-called Christian Science while the self-proclaimed Seventh Day Adventist prophetess Ellen G. White again got her Bible wrenching precepts from angels. Yet God has commanded us to hear and heed His Son and the apostles He has sent forth – not to listen to angels. In fact Paul wrote the letter to the Hebrews largely to dissuade Jews from clinging to the ministrations of angels instead of trusting solely in the Lord their Messiah and his atoning sacrifice on their behalf.
As to the world at large, angels, mostly bad, run riot in the fields of film and pulp fiction and get a press mention far beyond what they deserve in the media. And statues of them are prayed to and worshipped in Roman Catholic churches around the globe.
Aas explained earlier, worshipping of angels in Col. 2:18 has a double meaning. The first is that we should never do it. The second is that it means the angels' own form of worship, that is their own religion. Angels in fact seek to infiltrate Christian worship, rituals and services with their own form of religion which, in one way or another, worships the devil., albeit under one of his many disguises. Supporting the view that is one meaning of 'worshipping angels' is the Jubilee Bible 2000, which translates Col. 2:18 as:
Let no one govern you according to their own will under pretext of humility and religion of angels, intruding into those things which they have not seen, vainly puffed up by their fleshly mind.
The Douay-Rheims Bible also translates ‘worshipping of angels’ as ‘the religion of angels’.
In the Roman Catholic Church angel worship is openly encouraged and practiced. Each person is held to have their own guardian angel. Thus in the 4th century Basil wrote: ‘Everyone of the faithful has an angel at his side as educator and guide, directing his life’. Pope Gregory the Great noted that every country, city, town, village and even family has its own special guardian angel. Unwittingly, perhaps, he was describing operations of the very ‘principalities and powers’ Paul warned against in Eph. 6:12.
Paul taught us to pray to the Father and to the Lord Jesus Christ, but Catholics are told to pray:
Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom God’s love commits me here, ever this day [or night] be at my side to light and guard, to rule and guide.
Statues and pictures of angels are found in many Catholic churches. And these are worshipped and prayed to; worn away toes pointing to how often devotees kiss the feet of such graven images.
And when it comes to Pentecostalism and the Charismatic Movement angels have had an absolute field day. Both Aimee Semple McPherson and Kathryn Kuhlman said they got their ‘healing ministries’ from angels and false prophet William Branham could not utter his astonishingly accurate ‘words of knowledge’ over audience members until his angel showed up. ‘I always know when he’s come because my hand gets hot’, he would say. To cap it all Branham became an angel himself – the seventh angel of Revelation 11:15 no less. He was buried under a pyramid-shaped tombstone depicting the seven angels with Paul denoted as the first and Branham as the seventh.
Fake healer Benny Hinn entertains angels like little boys in his bedroom but people have been known to die in his healing meetings. And in New Zealand almost every major healing evangelist and big time movement builder has been exposed as an adulterer, paedophile or both, including Graham Capill, erstwhile Presbyterian minister, police prosecutor and leader of the disbanded Christian Heritage Party.
Neville Johnson, founder of the country’s biggest Pentecostal Church, now Auckland’s AOG Victory Centre, received anointings from angels and fornicated with women in his pastor’s office. Exposed he fled to Perth, Western Australia, where he still ministers but has been lately accused of running huge Ponzi schemes to fleece his worshippers.
I personally met and interviewed Frank Houston (now deceased), father of Brian Houston of Hillsong fame, who as an AOG minister in New Zealand claimed healing powers via an angel and seduced a series of young boys on both sides of the Tasman. Fact is every major Pentecostal stream in New Zealand has produced big time ministries who heard from angels and then committed sexual sin. Could it be that the angels they entertained were like those of Gen. 6:4 who went in unto the daughters of men and defiled them, or those of Sodom and Gomorrah in encouraging their devotees to give themselves over to homosexual fornication and thus go after ‘strange flesh’ (Jude 7)?
To this day in Pentecostal circles, as in other churches, the presence of angels is sought and worshipped. Back in my New Life days I remember singing choruses about ‘feeling the brush of angels’ wings’ only to later see major leaders in the movement be exposed for adultery.
Now all this trafficking with heavenly beings, be they bad or good, is being done in defiance of the Apostle Paul’s clear commandment not to worship angels. However, it must be said that often angelic influence is subtle. A sure sign of angelic religion seeping into churches and denominations are rules forbidding the consumption of certain foods, the wearing or prescribing of certain clothes, forbidding singing minor key songs and forbidding marriage. Examples abound in many churches.
These strictures Paul describes as ‘…ordinances (touch not, taste not, handle not, which are all to perish with the using) after the commandments and doctrines of men’ (Col. 2:20-23). Believers, he says, should be dead to such ‘rudiments of the world’. And ‘rudiments’ here means primitive and perverted forms of early religion, religion imposed by angels.
Examples include not eating shellfish (Seventh Day Adventists), not eating pork (Judaism and Islam), rejecting tea and coffee (Mormons), abstaining from certain foods in Lent (Anglicans) and consuming fish not meat on Fridays (Roman Catholicism); the latter introduced because one pope had a monopoly on Rome’s fish shops. Then there is the matter of keeping certain days (either Saturday or Sunday (nearly all religions and many churches) when the apostle says:
Let no man therefore judge you in meat or in drink or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbaths (Col. 2:16).
Please note again the ‘therefore’ in the above verse. We are not to let men impose their strictures on eating, drinking or keeping holydays and Sabbaths on us because (verse 15) Christ has spoiled (i.e. stripped of their power and authority) the principalities and powers (i.e. angels), and ‘made a shew of them openly triumphing over them in it (or, in Himself).
This means that it is precisely because the angels have been put out of a job that we should neither heed them nor have traffic with them and their intrusive persuasions today. Indeed what were once the commandments of the law, such as not eating shellfish or pork, have become ‘doctrines of devils’ (1 Tim. 4:1-3) in the dispensation of grace and are clearly condemned as such.
Such angelic prohibitions have, as the apostle admits, ‘a shew of wisdom in will worship and humility and neglecting of the body’. But, he continues, they are ‘… not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh’. In other words they are worthless attempts to ritually and outwardly make an exhibition of acts of self-righteousness that actually only increase bodily appetites rather than diminish them. And we’ve already seen the sort of appetites such fasting or neglecting of the body produce in men masquerading as ministers of righteousness but in fact giving heed to ‘seducing spirits’, with emphasis on ‘seducing’.
Fact is only the righteousness of Christ and that received by faith will suffice for entry into the Lord’s heavenly kingdom. Bowing and scraping, kneeling and only eating certain foods don’t cut it.
For every creature (created thing) of God is good and nothing to be refused if it be received with thanksgiving 1 Tim. 4:4).
To be continued
Why angels aren’t man’s best friends
By John Aldworth
Behold He put no trust in his servants and his angels He charged with folly (Job 4:18).
It is passing strange that after suffering evil at the hands of heavenly beings for over 6,000 years – that is from the Garden of Eden until now – most people still think of angels as good and have warm fuzzies about them. They ignore the truth that while the Bible speaks only occasionally of elect (good) angels, it repeatedly warns against attack and destruction from the (angelic) powers of darkness.
Fact is there were no warm fuzzies after Eve fell for Satan’s fib – that neither she nor Adam would die from eating the forbidden fruit – because die they did. And mankind has been dying ever since as the result of that sin.
Now it’s fair to say that while dog may be man’s best friend, angels often aren’t. Adam and Eve learned that the hard way as they were driven out of Eden. Far from helping them, angelic beings appeared as heavies that sword in hand now blocked the way to the tree of life. And, for the most part, angels have been unfriendly ever since.
Indeed, as time went on men and women even came to know angels as their executioners. Though no ‘angel of death’ is named as such in the Bible, there is the ‘destroyer’, the angel that slew all the first born of Egypt (Ex. 12:23). And an ‘angel of the Lord’ slew 70,000 Israelites in David’s time (2 Sam. 24:15-16). Again the ‘angel of the Lord’ slew 185,000 Assyrians in one night (2 Ki. 19:35). And one has to ask, are angels being referred to when Job 33:22 states that man’s ‘soul draweth near unto the grave and his life unto the destroyers’?
Police, judge and jury to mankind?
Clearly, angels can play both beneficial and punitive roles toward mankind. For example, the ‘angel of the Lord’ delivered the Apostle Peter from prison (Acts 12:7 and 21-23), but he also ‘immediately ... smote’ Herod - who would have killed Peter. This when the king was told by flatterers that he spoke like a god and ‘… gave not the glory to God’. Herod was eaten of worms and gave up the ghost.
It also appears that angels also have been the legislators, the armed ‘policemen’, ‘court prosecutors’ and even the ‘jailers’ of the human race. They have kept us ‘locked up to the law’, for example, and - as executioners - for thousands of years have kept the human race in bondage to death.
Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He (Jesus) also Himself took part of the same, that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death that is the devil. And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage (Heb. 2:14-15).
Didn’t Jesus speak of angels when He referred to the ‘tormentors’ (Matt. 18:34-35) God would send on those who would not ‘from the heart forgive not everyone his brother their trespasses’?
Dictators of a fiery law
And then there’s the law. Believe it or not, it was angels who formulated, laid down, regulated, dictated and, at Sinai, promulgated the body of laws.
[But I thought it was Moses, I hear you say. Well, Moses was the mediator of the law – he had to be. You see angels don’t mediate; they can’t; it isn’t in their nature. When David saw the destroying ‘angel of the Lord’ poised with sword in hand to kill all in Jerusalem he knew this heavenly warrior wasn’t a mediator. Already the angel had slain 70,000 men. He stopped only when God, in response to David’s prayer, said ‘Enough already’ (2 Sam. 24:16). Had God not spoken undoubtedly the angel would have destroyed all Israel. Angels as mediators, I don’t think so.]
Moses was the mediator of the law, in the sense that he interceded with God to show mercy and spare Israel from the full penalty of the law when they repeatedly broke it. However, it was by angels that the law was given at Sinai, as six separate scriptures attest. Let’s study them. They are:
First Deut. 33: 1-2. In his final blessing of Israel before his death Moses said:
The Lord came from Sinai and rose up from Seir unto them; He shined forth from mount Paran, and He came with 10,000 of his saints; from his right hand went a fiery law for them.
Here Moses recounts how, 38 years before hand he saw angels on mount Sinai (saints, i.e. ones separated to God’s service, hence angels). Ellicott’s translation renders part of this verse as:
…And there came from the ten thousands of holiness, from his right hand, a fire of law for them.
Grammar here dictates that that the ‘them’ refers not only to the Israelites but also to the ‘saints’ themselves. Thus the ‘fiery law’, accompanied thunder and lightning, was both for men and angels. Barnes in his Notes confirms that ‘saints’ means ‘angels’ as does Matthew Poole who comments: ‘Ten thousands of saints, i.e. with a great company of holy angels’.
This confirmed by Psalm 68:17 where David refers to angels at the giving of the law:
The chariots of God are twenty thousands, even thousands of angels: the Lord is among them, as in Sinai, in the holy place.
Before considering further proof that angels gave the law, note that the Sinai issuing of commandments as recalled by Moses was the fulfilment of a prophecy by Enoch spoken before the Flood. This prophecy is recorded in Jude 14:
And Enoch also the seventh from Adam prophesied of these, saying, Behold the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches, which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.
Though Enoch lived before the Flood, and doubtless foreknew God would destroy all mankind bar eight people in the deluge, his prophecy here relates to God’s judgement of people after the Flood, including the Israelites, for their wickedness. Angels were the instrument God used to bring in the whole Mosaic law as a punishment for men. Thus in Gal. 3:19 the Apostle Paul plainly says:
(The law) was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator (Moses).
The disposition of angels
In Acts 7:53 Stephen, on trial for his life, charges the Israelite leaders with being ‘… the betrayers and murderers of the Just One, who have received the law by the disposition of angels and have not kept it’.
The word disposition here means much more than simply being ‘disposed’, or ‘inclined’ to give the law. It means the angels were given authority and power to pronounce, mandate and enforce it. The Greek word translated disposition is diatage. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words says it means an ordinance and derives from diatesso meaning to ‘appoint’ or ‘ordain’. Hence the Revised Version in Acts 7:53 says, ‘as it (the law) was ordained by angels’. In Romans 13:2 diatage is translated as the ‘ordinance’ of God. Collins Dictionary defines ‘ordinance’ as ‘an established rule, religious rite’. The Apostle Paul wrote:
… the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive unto themselves damnation (Rom. 13:1-2).
Interestingly, ‘disposition’ in English is not far removed from ‘dispensation’. However, the ‘disposition’ or ‘dispensation’ of the law was abolished for believers at the cross (Col. 2:14). It remains in force, though, for those who reject God (1 Tim. 1:9). As to the ‘dispensation’ of the angels in ruling the world, that will continue until the end of the current dispensation of the grace of God (Eph. 3:1-3). Then it will stop:
For unto the angels hath He not put in subjection the world to come …’ (Heb. 2:5).
So, looking at the big picture we see that angels not only spoke the law to mankind, but administered its many regulations. They were also the ‘policemen’ who arrested and punished those who disobeyed any part of it.
Angels, it seems, were highly suited to be both police and prosecutors to mankind, since, it seems, they themselves live under very strict rules of obedience and laws of prohibition. Consider the following:
And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, He hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgement of the great day (Jude 6).
Actually, there is good reason to be believe the law was originally designed by God as a system of rules and penalties for regulating the life and obedience of angels, not men Man was a separate creation intended from the first to live by the life of God, his goodness and by his grace. However, when man persisted in willful disobedience the law was ‘added because of transgressions’ (Gal. 3:19). I would submit therefore that man was never intended to live by law in the first place. The law’s proper place in God’s economy then is as a regulatory system imposed on angels in heaven. Indeed, as such it is the angels’ religion.
Hebrews 1 stresses that ‘all’ angels are ‘… ministering spirits sent forth to minister for them who shall be the heirs of salvation’ (Heb. 1:14). They are not heirs themselves. Rather, in spiritual terms angels are powerful military grunts organized in legions (regiments) under rigid hierarchies. Unmoved by feelings of tenderness or mercy they simply destroy and kill when told to do so and under the law condemn human beings for the slightest infraction of a system of rules they themselves are governed by. Thus Heb. 2:2 says:
For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast (i.e. inflexible), and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense (i.e. penalty) of reward … how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation which was first spoken by the Lord.
How indeed? For whether whether Jew or Gentile we all need deliverance from the penalty of having disobeyed the law. Just such deliverance was offered Israelites through the Person of their Messiah and Saviour Jesus Christ under the New Covenant. And salvation from all penalty for sinning was offered Gentiles through the gospel of the grace of God (Eph. 3:1-4).
You see, while some think otherwise, the giving of the law at Sinai was not good news. The mount might not be touched on pain of death, it burned with fire and was beset by tempest, blackness and darkness. Those that heard the law - spoken by angels evidently (Heb. 2:2) - begged that they should hear it no more, ‘for they could not endure what was commanded’.
And if so much as a beast touch the mountain it shall be stoned or thrust through with a dart. And so terrible was the sight that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake (Heb. 12:18-21).
In light of the above it is astounding that today so many preachers, churches and denominations preach the law and insist it be obeyed, despite clear apostolic instructions to not do so. Judaism, Islam and other religions also insist laws and regulations must be obeyed, often on pain of death for failing to do so.
Earlier in this study series we learned that in his death, resurrection and ascension the Lord ‘spoiled’ the principalities and powers (Col. 2:15). He stripped these angelic forces of their power and authority and triumphed over them. He has already decided that in the world to come – that is the Day of Christ when the Lord will inaugurate his pre-millennium kingdom by ruling from heaven – they will have no part in his government. In fact they won’t be ruling anything or anyone at all.
For unto the angels He hath He not put in subjection the world to come of which we speak (Heb.2:5).
The Bible student needs to clearly understand, as mentioned earlier in these studies, that as a punishment for man’s increasing wickedness after the Flood, and Israel’s sins in particular, God brought in the law, and that He did so by the ‘disposition of angels’ (Acts 7:53). In other words angels were sent in rather like an armed police attack squad to deal with a recalcitrant Israel and a rebellious mankind that refused to obey God and worshipped idols instead.
Thankfully, since then the devil and his angels have been given notice that soon they will be out of a job. Simply put, they have been served with ‘redundancy notices’. Why? Because, like the law they brought in and the Old Covenant God made with the House of Israel and the House of Judah, their ministry proved a flop. Their brute force tactics did not bring in righteousness, nor did the law did not cause Israel to welcome their Messiah when he came. God found fault with the Old Covenant and made it old (Heb. 8:13). The Spirit of truth deemed it decaying, waxing old and ‘ready to vanish away’.
Behold He put no trust in his servants and his angels He charged with folly (Job 4:18).
Also ready to vanish away, I suggest, is the empire and religion of the angels along with any claim they have to authority and say so over mankind. As to the law brought in by angels Jesus has already blotted it out and nailed it in its entirety to the cross (Col. 2: 14). And as to the Old Covenant God has made a new one (Heb. 8:7-9).
In the case of angels it would seem their dismissal is the result of their ‘over stepping the mark’ in laying down harsh rules then punishing people for disobeying them. They also ‘went too far’ in taking authority unto themselves that belongs to the Lord and to Him alone. This is why Paul sets out the Lord’s credentials as much better than those of angels in Heb. 1:4-6:
Being made so better than the angels, as He hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For unto which of the angels said He at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten Thee? And again, I will be to Him a Father and He shall be to Me a Son? And again when He bringeth the First Begotten in to the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship Him.
The challenge today for grace saved bible believers is to experience for themselves, through practical personal application, that the principalities and powers are indeed a defeated foe and that, dispensationally speaking, the angelic empire is doomed because God has weighed it and found it wanting. The verses they need to be convinced this is so are found in Col. 1:12-14:
Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness and translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son, in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.
Simply put, God has already taken us out of the realm of the dark angelic rule over this world, where evil can continually attack us. In a miracle of ‘time travel’, He has fast-forwarded us into the Lord’s heavenly kingdom even though it is yet to be inaugurated in a time to come (2 Tim. 4:1). By his grace we can enjoy the benefits of it now, even though now living in a world ruled by the angelic 'powers of darkness' .
To be continued
By John Aldworth
Made equal to the angels
And Jesus answering Jesus said unto them, The children (i.e., sons) of this world marry and are given in marriage: But they which shall be counted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage. Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children (i.e., sons) of God, being children (i.e., sons) of the resurrection (Luke 20:35-36).
In this passage the Lord contrasts the marital state in ‘this world’ with the lack of it in those who are resurrected to live in ‘that world’, i.e. ‘the world to come’ and compares their marital state or rather, lack of it, to that of the angels.
Put ‘angels’ and ‘the next world together’ and almost everybody assumed the Lord was talking about heaven. But He was not. Sadly, his reference to ‘that world’ is taken to mean being in heaven but that is not what Jesus meant. Margin notes confirm He was contrasting the ‘sons of this age’ who marry with the sons of the ‘age to come’, i.e. ‘that world’, age being the true meaning of aion, the Greek word often translated ‘world’ in the King James Bible.
Fact is Jesus never spoke of anyone going to heaven. Indeed He said no man had ascended up there (John 3: 13). Nor was ‘going to heaven’ the hope of the Acts period ‘Church of God’. No, indeed. Their goal was the same as that proffered by Jesus when on earth - to be precise, that of entering the kingdom. And the kingdom is actually the age to come when Christ will reign over earth from heaven. Seven times it is called the ‘Day of Christ’ in Paul’s epistles.
Actually, the hope of going to heaven is only proclaimed, for the first time in scripture in Eph. 1:5-6 where believers saved by grace are told they have been raised up together with Christ to sit in heavenly places with Him. Clearly then, the way to heaven is now by way of, first, a spiritual resurrection followed by actual bodily resurrection at the dawn of the age to come, i.e. the Day of Christ. The teaching that at the death of our body our soul goes to straight to heaven is a lie of the devil, one he first told Eve in the Garden of Eden. It doesn’t. Along with our body the soul dies and goes into the grave, from whence only Christ can resurrect us.
In previous studies we learned that, while this ‘present evil age’ is ruled by the ‘powers of darkness’, the age to come will not be controlled by them.
More than conquerors
We also learned that we, as grace-saved believers, have already been delivered ‘from the power of darkness and translated into the kingdom of his dear Son. Meaning that even in this life God has already broken the hold of dark spiritual forces upon us. Indeed, when this is understood and believed by us we can join Paul and say, ‘… God will deliver me from every evil work’ and ‘He will ‘preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom’ (2 Tim. 4:18).
This is the starting point in our experientially realising the truth that Christ has already defeated the enemy and now has ‘all things’ under his feet. The previous two verses tell us that these ‘all things’ include ‘… all principality and power and might and dominion and every name that is named not only in this world but also in that which is to come’. Indeed through Christ as our Head we are ‘more than conquerors’ of the heavenly rulers who hold ‘this present evil world’ (Gal. 1:4) in their thrall.
Now, in this latest study, we look further into the Lord’s clear statement that ‘those counted worthy to obtain that world, i.e. the world to come, the Day of Christ’ will be ‘equal to the angels’ (Luke 20:35-36). Does that mean that we too, in our resurrection or change (Phil. 3:20-21) will be made equal to the angels, not only not marrying in the new resurrection state, but also in might, power and authority? I believe that it does. And, of course, this has an important bearing on the on the theme of this study series, ‘Our great commission to the angels’.
For more needs to be said about how we shall be changed and equipped for this incredibly challenging role. Let’s be realistic. Who are we as feeble, sinning human beings, reconciled to God only through the blood of Christ, to think ourselves able to teach, let alone judge, angels? As the scripture says, ‘What is man that Thou art mindful of him?’ (Heb. 2:6).
Yet the previous verse (Heb. 2:5) clearly says angels will not rule the next age: ‘For unto the angels hath He not put in subjection the world to come’ (Heb. 2:5). And Eph. 3:8-11 makes plain that very purpose of our calling in grace and the mystery is that we, as the many-membered Church over which He is Head, should make known unto the heavenly powers and authorities what we have learned of the ‘unsearchable riches of Christ’. Verses 10 and 11 cut to the heart of the matter:
To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God. According to the eternal purpose which He purposes in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Seated among the angels
Personally I am grateful that the word might is inserted in that sentence. For might means meeting this challenge set before us is conditional. Conditional, that is, upon on us being changed to be like Christ in spirit and body before we undertake such a task. Positionally, of course, we have already been placed ‘in Christ’ and ‘together with Christ’ (Eph. 2:6) in ‘heavenly places’ and there is no doubt that the Lord Himself is seated far above all principality and power (Eph. 1:20-21) and we in Him.
But this is something we must grasp by faith and have tested in the buffetings of this ‘present evil world’ as we still ‘wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places’ (Eph. 6:12).
The discerning student will have noted that in both Eph. 1:20 and 6:12 the word places is in italics in the King James Bible. That is because actually there is no such word in the original Greek. Epourianos, ‘heavenlies’, is an adjective, and the question is: What does it describe? The answer, according to the margin note for Eph. 6:12 is that describes hosts of spirit beings.
Thus in Eph. 6:12 the phrase ‘spiritual wickedness in high places’ should be rendered ‘spiritual hosts of wickedness’. The thought is not so much that they are ‘high’ or ‘heavenly’ in terms of location, i.e. ‘above’ but that they are spiritual, as opposed to being earthly and housed in physical bodies and, therefore, ‘superior’ to us in terms of power and authority. However, Eph. 2:5-6 makes it plain that, spiritually speaking, and if we belieive it, already we are 'seated among the angels', in that we are sitting together with Christ in the heavenly abode. Imagine. We are already counted as of authority in the ranks of the heavenly host.
Of course, angels come with a clout we don't yet possess. This is confirmed in 2 Pet. 2:11 where the Apostle Peter says that angels ‘are greater in power and might’. But that will not always be the case because, as the Lord said, those He will resurrect in the age to come will be ‘equal to the angels … being children of the resurrection’ (Luke 20:35-36). One day then we will rule with Christ fromn heaven with as much as the angels now have.
And, as grace-saved believers who join Paul in the ‘upward climb’ of the ‘high call’, or ‘calling on high’, we look heavenwards, seeking to be included with the Apostle Paul in the ex-anastasis, the ‘out resurrection’. This will occur at the Lord’s appearing, which begins rule from heaven kingdom (2 Tim. 4:1), ushering in the ‘that world’ to come’ that Jesus spoke of in Luke 20:35-36.
And what a different world it will be! No longer run by Satan, nor held in darkness by evil powers; in fact it will not be subject to angels at all, but. For the first time since Adam’s fall, will be ruled by Christ the Lord reigning from heaven. And the most exciting thought for those who have believed the latest word from God, given to us through the Apostle Paul, is that we will rule and reign with Him, having been made fit to do so.
This will be because in being resurrected or changed to have a body ‘fashioned like unto his glorious body [i.e. body of glory, or body in glory] (Phil. 3:21), we shall also be ‘equal to the angels’.
The going may be rough now but ‘if we suffer, we shall also reign with Him’ (2 Tim. 2:12). In our next and last study we will study what scripture tells us about the nature and origin of angels.
To be continued.
WHERE DO ANGELS REALLY COME FROM?
By John Aldworth
A friend of mine has spent hours in Bible study seeking to discover just when and where God created angels. His quest came up with nothing specific in the Bible as to time and place, that is to say nothing that could be confirmed by the ‘in the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established’ (2 Cor. 13:1) rule of scripture interpretation.
In the end my friend has come to believe that angels were created in the Garden of Eden and in Genesis One are metaphorically described as trees. Hence the ‘the tree of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil’ and the ‘tree of life’ really represent angels, he asserts. It’s an intriguing idea but one that is not supported by other scripture.
Now that great Bible expositor and early dispensationalist, Dr E.W. Bullinger, held that angels were created on the 6th day of creation. However, whether angels are actually ‘created’ or come into being in some other way is still in question, as we shall see. Nevertheless his speculation, and that of my friend, prompts the thought that studying angels in the Bible provokes many questions but provides few answers that are not themselves also conundrums.
For example: Why are angels sometimes described as saints? Are angels created beings are or are they something else? If they are created beings, were they made before man’s creation or afterwards? Are angels also the ‘principalities and powers’ of Eph. 6 or a different class of being? Do angels have wings?
We cannot hope to decisively answer all these questions but will seek to understand that which God really wants us to know about angels as derived from such truth on the subject as He reveals in his word.
First, back to my friend’s question: When were angels created? Now it is enough for some that Gen. 2:1 says:
Thus the heavens and earth were finished and all the host of them.
And that this is amplified in Ps. 33:6 which says:
By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all the host of them, by the breath of his mouth.
The host of them in both verses is taken by them to mean the host of angels. Wherefore they assert that angels were created in the Six Days of Creation described in Genesis 1. However, the plain sense of both verses is that is the multitude of stars and planets that is referred to, not angels per se. One only has to view the starry sky on a clear night to be convinced there is indeed a ‘host of them’.
Gen. 2:4 adds to the intrigue, stating:
These are the generations [literally, birthings] of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.
‘Generations’ translates the Hebrew word towledah, which Cruden defines as ‘history, birth, descent, generations’. The history of the heavens and earth, then, is that they were breathed, or birthed, into being by the word of the Lord. They are family and they are a history, a history of what God brought about. Please note, He did so in a special day – the day when He generated, or gave birth to, the earth and the heavens and the host of them.
That is important, because in Matt. 19:28 we learn there will be another day when there will be a regeneration of things God has made. This day, described as the Day of Christ”, seven times in Paul’s epistles in the King James Bible, is when ‘the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory’ and the apostles which followed Him on earth (excluding Judas who betrayed Him), shall ‘sit upon twelve thrones judging the 12 tribes of Israel’.
This regeneration is also referred to in Acts 3:19 and 21 where it is variously depicted as the ‘time of refreshing’ and the ‘times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his prophets since the world began’. When the present dispensation of grace and the mystery closes it will be replaced by the Day of Christ (1 Cor. 1:8, Phil. 1: 6, 10 and 2:16). And what a day that will be!
It is the day of Christ appearing (Titus 2:13); it is the day of resurrection when Christ will judge the quick and the dead (2 Tim. 4:1). It is the day the prophets heralded as that which would see the earth restored to its original created glory. The desert will ‘blossom like a rose’, the lion will not eat the lamb. It is when swords will be beaten into ploughshares and nations will make war no more.
In this day the ‘great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ’ (Titus 2:13) will make Himself irresistibly known to all men and be believed by them. Oh, what a day when the Lord God Almighty will rule forcibly from his throne in heaven above ‘subduing all things unto Himself’ (Phil. 3:21). He will punish both the world for its evil (Isa 13:11) and imprison the ‘host of high ones that are on high and the kings of the earth upon the earth’ (Isa 24:21). Which is why men on earth won’t be subject to angels in the Day of Christ (Heb. 2:5).
The upshot of all this is that I cannot find a verse which decisively tells me when and where angels were created, that is, made by God. What I do find is the following:
Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation (Heb. 1:14). And of the angels He saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire (Heb. 1:7).
Note that the word ‘maketh’ here (Strong’s No. 4349) does not mean ‘make’ in the sense of ‘create’ but means ‘appoint, produce, and effect’. The verse could well read ‘… Who appoints his angels spirits and his ministers a flame of fire’. And since the root meaning of aggelos, the Greek word translated ‘angels’, is ‘messenger’, the verse could read ‘Who appoints his messengers as spirits’.
Appoints them, that is, in the sense of commissioning them for active service. This thought is confirmed by Heb. 1:14 which defines all angels as ‘ministering spirits sent forth to minister to them who shall be the heirs of salvation’. ‘Sent forth’ translates the Greek word apostello ‘one sent forth’, from which we get the word ‘apostle’.
It is necessary to further define the meaning of ‘angel’. In the Greek it is aggelos (Strong’s No. 32) which he defines as: ‘to bring tidings, angel, messenger, (i.e. by implication a pastor)’. The main meaning then is that of ‘messenger’ and, secondarily, ‘pastor’. Thus in Rev. 2:1 the risen Lord commands the Apostle John, ‘Unto the angel [pastor] of the church at Ephesus, write; These things saith He who holdeth the seven stars in his right hand…’ The seven stars are defined in vs. 20 as ‘the angels (messengers) of the seven churches. Evidently in the far off Day of the Lord, which Revelation foretells and describes, church pastors will indeed will be messengers with an actual message direct from God and, presumably, messengers of nothing that is not from God. Would to God that were the case today, but it is not.
Notice, nothing is said here about what role angels may perform when they are not acting as messengers. So, since Hebrews has more to say about angels than any other book of the Bible, we may take it that God wants us to understand that essentially angels are just that, messengers. True they worship God and sing praises to Him but it seems they do so while awaiting ‘assignment’.
Further unpacking of Heb. 1:14 tells us in a roundabout way the time when angels were first ‘sent forth’. Remember, they were ‘sent forth to minister to those who shall be heirs of salvation’. Simply put, they were/are despatched with messages from God to those who were/are to be saved in a future time. This means they could only have been sent forth after Adam and Eve fell into sin in the Garden of Eden. Prior to the fall there was no one in need of salvation; for Adam and Eve were secure in God until they sinned. Therefore no angels were needed to bring messages from God. Because, before sin entered the world, God spoke to Adam and Eve direct as they walked together in the cool of the evening. Angels were not present, nor required.
All this leads to the conclusion that angels are not created as such but, rather, sent forth. That is, until their sending forth they remain as Spirits of God around his throne (Rev. 4: 5, 6 and 11). Only when they are despatched and commissioned with a message from God do they, technically, become ‘angels’. Until then they are spirits. Notice that in Rev. 4:11 the Apostle John only ‘heard’ the voice of thousands of angels; he did not see them. Note too that in verse six the Lamb is seen as having ‘seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth’.
Now God, we learn from Heb. 12:9, is the ‘Father of all spirits’. That is, ‘… He giveth to all life and breath …’ (Acts 17:25). The Lord God ‘who made the heavens and the earth’ is also He who ‘giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein’ (Isa. 42:5). God then generates spirits out of the essence of Himself. He also breathes his spirit into physical beings such as men and animals.
For example, God breathed his own life, that is to say his Spirit, into Adam and consequently man ‘became a living soul’ (Gen. 2:7). Note carefully, however, that nowhere in scripture is it said that God created spirits as such, since all spirits, forms of life itself, are given by God and are in fact the gift of Himself, since ‘God is Spirit’. In fact it can be said that all life forms are inspired or ‘breathed into life’ by God.
As Jesus said, God Himself is Spirit and most certainly both He and God the Father are uncreated Beings. It follows that since the essence of the Godhead is Spirit, that Spirit and Spirit imparted as by and from God’s Spirit is also uncreated.
Before Me there was no God formed, neither shall be after Me (Isa. 43:10).
As the ‘Father of spirits’ God generates spirits and sends them forth. They are each a portion of his Spirit and, as such, a portion of his life. As such they are not created but ‘sent forth’ or breathed into each life form before birth. At death the bodies of men and animals become dust that returns to the earth ‘and the spirit shall return to God who gave it’ (Eccl. 12:7). Since this is true it becomes unnecessary to ask when angels were created since, as spirits, they never were created but were ‘sent forth’ or given by God
God ‘giveth life and breath to all’. Thus in one sense it is true that all people are children of God in that He imparted life to them. However, they are ‘on probation’ during the course of their life to determine whether they qualify to retain this lofty title. And this where the process of adoption comes in.
You see, not all those given life by the imparting of his Spirit become his adult children. Thus while in one sense it is true that all people are children of God in that He imparted life to them, in another only believers are depicted as becoming ‘sons of God’.
The key words that describe this process of becoming are adoption and creation. But, I hear someone say, doesn’t Colossians say Christ created all things, including principalities and powers? Yes, it does.
For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers; all things were created by Him, and for Him (Col. 1:16).
Most everybody assumes principalities, powers, dominions and thrones are actually angels but nowhere does scripture say this is so. For example, the nearest Satan, who is certainly a power, principality and has dominion, gets to being an angel is when he transforms himself into ‘an angel of light’ (2 Cor. 11: 14). So he’s only an angel by deception. Really he’s something else.
Actually Satan doesn’t want to be an angel; rather he has vowed to ‘exalt my throne above the stars [spirits] of God (Isa. 13-14). He is in fact a cherub, or cherubim, and as such is a created being, not an angel. For angels, as we have sought to explain, are uncreated spirits of God. Ezekiel 28:14-15, speaking of Satan under the figure of ‘the king of Tyrus’, makes this abundantly clear:
Thou art the anointed cherub [i.e. a cherubim (Gen. 3:24)] that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast on the holy mountain; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day thou was created till iniquity was found in thee.
A further point that can be made to support the view that angels are uncreated is that Jesus said angels ‘always behold the face of my Father in heaven’.
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 (Matt. 18:10).
His statement takes on added significance when it is realised that heaven, in at least one definition, is ‘the uncreated sphere of God’s abode’. That is Vine’s description of the ‘heaven’ as described in Acts 26:13. Perhaps you remember the story. Saul, the strict Pharisee and persecutor of all Jews who were Jesus’s disciples, was on his way to wreak havoc among beliievers at Damascus. Then a light shone from heaven. Paul’s account of his subsequent arrest and conversion is as follows:
At midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me. And when were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking to me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me? It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And I said, Who art thou Lord? And He said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest’.
That this event marked the start of a new chapter in God’s dealings with mankind is beyond dispute, for the Lord went on to send Saul - soon to become Paul - as his apostle to the Gentiles (vss. 16-18). But it is also highly significant for another reason – that it is one of only two places in the New Testament where the Greek word ouranothen (Strong’s No. 3771) is translated ‘heaven’. Mostly, ‘heaven’ in the King James Bible is the translation of ouranos (Strong’s No 3772) or ouranios (Strong’s No. 3770), both meaning the created heaven above earth in the sense of geographical elevation.
Ouranothen, in Acts 26:13, however, means something else. It refers to the uncreated realm in which God has his throne. It is where God lives, where He has his home; indeed it is where God will be ‘at home’ in the ‘kingdom of heaven’, the glorious era of restoration and renewal the Lord called ‘the world to come’.
And, this command post will also be home in time to come to thousands upon thousands of angels in that they also are uncreated and, as befits their status, require an uncreated abode, or sphere of living.
Certainly, the Book of Revelation depicts just such a scene, albeit it is one seen in the far future. This uncreated sphere is also, I suggest, home to the thousands of spirits, i.e. angels, which the Book of Revelation tells us will at a future time be found around his throne.
To be continued
WHY ARE ANGELS CALLED SAINTS?
By John Aldworth
And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these , saying, Behold the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints , to execute judgement upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him (Jude 14-15).
In previous studies we have noted there is no biblical record of when and where angels were created. To the contrary Heb. 1: 14 states that they are ‘ministering spirits (of God) sent forth to minister to them who shall be heirs of salvation’. Since God is the ‘Father of all spirits’ it becomes clear that He sends forth spirits from Himself which, once on their mission become, and are then called, angels.
It was found that since their purpose is to minister to them that shall be heirs of salvation angels could not have been despatched on such mission prior to Adam’s fall in the Garden of Eden, for the simple reason Adam had not yet sinned and so was not in need of being saved. So, arguably, angels were not in existence then.
Angels, in fact, are only mentioned by that name for the first time in scripture in Gen. 19: 1, and here they are indeed sent to save ‘heirs of salvation’, namely Lot and his immediate family:
And there came two angels to Sodom at even: and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot, seeing them, rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground.
As the story unfolds Sodom’s wickedness and Lot’s inability to prevent homosexual pack rape is revealed and so is something else – the scriptural record that angels are men. Granted, they are described as ‘angels’ again in verse 15 but in verses 5, 8, 10, 12, 16 they are called ‘men’. And, since they are messengers of God, perhaps it is not surprising that the Lord speaks through them and that Lot speaks to them as unto the Lord (see verses 18, 21 and 22).
An equally strange scenario, in which the Lord appears as three men, occurs in the previous chapter. Gen. 18:1-2 records:
And the Lord appeared unto him [Abraham] in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day. And he lift up his eyes and looked, and lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground. And said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray Thee from thy servant. Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched and wash your feet and rest yourselves under the tree. And I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts, after that ye shall pass on: for therefore are ye come to your servant.
Were these 'men' angels? In the chapter they are not described as such. However, in Heb. 13:2 believers are urged to, ‘Be not forgetful to entertain strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares’. This is a clear reference to the eager hospitality of Abraham and Lot and teaches that neither man knew the ‘men’ they hosted were angels. They welcomed them ‘unawares’. The point is, they did not look like angels; they looked like men. What’s more they ate and drank like men and talked like men.
The inevitable conclusion, I submit, is that angels are indeed men. That is, they are spirits of men, like Enoch, whom were justified by believing God’s word to them in their earthly lifetime and whose spirits have been ‘made perfect’ (Heb. 12:23). There simply is no other biblical explanation of how they come, or came, or will come, into being. Remember that Heb. 1:14 defines all angels as 'ministering spirits sent forth to minister to them who shall be heirs of salvation'. And, certainly, there must have been many men who trusted God and sought to obey Him both before and after the Flood who could after death have been sent forth again as 'ministering spirits'.
There is a further point in Genesis 18 and 19. It is that when these ‘men’ open their mouths scripture records that it is actually the Lord who speaks. Perhaps this is not as strange as it seems at first glance. After all these beings are spirits – that is they are of God inasmuch as He is the “father of spirits’ and Heb. 1:7, speaking of angels, says: ‘[God] maketh his angels spirits’.
That said, note that scripture distinguishes between ‘angels’ on one hand and ‘sons of God’ on the other. Most people, however, treat angels and sons of God as one and the same. Actually, the sons of God are divided into good ones and bad ones. The bad are those who went in unto ‘the daughters of men’ (Gen. 6:4), Satan is included in their number (Job 1:6) and it is they who are the principalities and powers, rulers of the darkness of this world with whom we wrestle (Eph. 6: 11-12), and again here the devil is numbered with them. Right now it seems we are still waiting for the good sons of God to take their place.
For the earnest expectation of the creature [i.e. the whole creation] waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God … because the creature [creation] also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God (Rom. 8:19-21).
To better understand what the Apostle is saying this verse should be read in conjunction with Rom. 8: 16-17:
The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God. And if children, then heirs; heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified with Him.
Here then believers are told they are already sons of God [positionally, that is] and that when they are ultimately manifested, or revealed on earth , then all creation along with them will likewise be delivered from death and corruption. How, you ask? The answer is found in Luke 20:35-36 where Jesus explains that those counted worthy to obtain ‘the world to come’ will be resurrected into a glorious new freedom and will not die any more. They will be, as He said, ‘… children [literally, sons] of God, being the children [sons] of the resurrection’.
You will notice that in Luke 20:36 these sons of God, who are yet to be manifested, will neither marry nor die ‘for they are equal to the angels’. The Apostle John in 1 Jn. 3:2 says:
Beloved now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.
John penned this epistle years after the revelation of the mystery, indeed long after Paul’s death. Yet, clearly in the above verse he is looking forward to Christ’s appearing (Titus 2:13) at which event he expected to be transformed into the Lord’s likeness. John also knew he and other faithful, Jewish believers in Jesus, were already called ‘sons of God’ by the Father – which is more than many Christians know today.
The upshot of all this is that we learn that believing men and presumably women too will be transformed (or translated, Col. 1:13) into a state of being ‘equal to the angels’ at resurrection into the ‘world to come’ which, of course, is the day of Christ, his pre-millennial kingdom. Do saints then actually become angels? And if so, is this how angels are brought into being? Let us see.
First up, there can be doubt that holy men will act as angels in the future Day of the Lord. The Book of Revelation plainly reveals that this so. You are invited to study Revelation chapters 17, 18, 19 and 22 to see how this truth is revealed. The key verses are Rev. 19:10 and 22; the one is almost a repeat of the other:
And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not. I am thy fellow servant and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy (Rev. 19:10).
And I John saw these things. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which showed me these things. Then saith he to me, See thou do it not, for I am thy fellow servant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.
Just who this angel is further revealed in two more verses: Rev. 1:1 and Rev. 22:16. The first tells us that the entire vision of the book is a revelation given by God to Jesus Christ who, in turn, ‘sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John’. ‘Signified’ simply means the message was conveyed largely by signs, i.e. the scenes and events the Apostle John saw in vision. That the angel John began to worship was also the personal messenger or envoy of the Lord is confirmed by Jesus Himself in Rev. 22:16:
I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and offspring of David and the bright and morning star.
Be it noted, however, that it is the Messiah Himself who speaks and gives John messages to the seven churches in chapters 1-3 and who also, in chapter 4, calls the apostle up into heaven. There John sees a series of signs (Rev. 15:1). Then, in chapter 17, ‘one of the seven angels which had the seven vials’ comes and talks with him. ‘Come hither’, the angel said and ‘carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness’ to see Mystery Babylon, ‘the great harlot’.
From then on, almost to the end of the book, this same angel is John’s guide, mentor and interpreter. Indeed through chapters 17, 18, 19, 20, 21 and 22 this angel shows John a succession of things, events and pronouncements from the Lord. There can be little doubt that this angel, who, in Rev. 22:9, says he is a brother prophet, is also the one described as ‘mine angel’ by Jesus Christ Himself (Rev. 22:16). He makes such an impression that John falls at his feet to worship him.
Since this angel was once a prophet, then clearly he must also have been a man. But which prophet was he? Possible candidates are Enoch, Joel and Daniel, for each of them prophesied of the future events shown to the Apostle John in Revelation.
For example, Joel prophesied, ‘Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe’ (Joel 3:13). In In Rev. 14: 14-20 his words are fulfilled when ‘one like unto the Son of Man’ [i.e. Jesus Christ] is told by an angel coming out of the temple [i.e. the temple at Jerusalem on earth] to, ‘Thrust in thy sickle and reap, for the time is come for Thee to reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe’. Was the angel who told the Lord to ‘reap’, actually the resurrected Joel?
Jude speaks of Enoch prophesying, ‘Behold the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints to execute judgement upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him’. Note well, He comes not with angels, but with saints.
However, it seems that sometimes the terms can be used interchangeably, for in Matt 25:31 Jesus confirmed this prophecy saying that in the harvest at the ‘end of this world [age]’ He, the Son of Man, would send forth his angels ‘and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend and them that do iniquity’.
And in 1 Thess. 1:7-8 we are told the ‘Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ And this is very much the theme of the judgement of the wicked in the Book of Revelation.
Saints, rather than angels, have a huge role to play in the world to come. The Apostle Paul says if we suffer with Christ then we shall also reign with Him. And it is to saints, not angels but, that kingdom of God’s rule will be given. It ‘shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him’ (Daniel 7:27).
Accordingly, in Rev. 11:15, the seventh angel sounds his trumpet and great voices in heaven say: ‘The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and He shall reign for ever and ever’. No wonder the Book of Daniel is seen as both a precursor and a companion book to Revelation.
So one of these three prophets could well be the ‘angel’ who befriends and guides the Apostle John in the latter chapters of Revelation. The important point is that, whoever he is, he is a man. And there is good reason to surmise that many, if not all, the mighty angels foreseen in the Book of Revelation and other prophetic writings are actually men; that is holy men, saints.
Because when the Lord cometh to judge the earth (Jude 14) he cometh not with angels but with ‘ten thousands of his saints’.
Now, in Heb. 12:22 Paul tells Jewish believers looking in faith to be resurrected to live on earth in the future day of Christ, ‘But ye are come unto mount Sion and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first born, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect.’
Are the angels of the future age, that is the ‘world to come’, actually ‘the spirits of men made perfect’? If scripture is true, and it is, then many, if not all of the ‘mighty angels’ Jesus spoke of and that are further described in Revelation must indeed be men perfected to be spiritual servants of the Lord.
Remember, the Apostle Paul speaks infallible truth when he states (Heb. 2:5): ‘For unto the angels hath He not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak’. Clearly, the beings that will accompany the Lord to earth ‘in flaming fire to execute vengeance’ will be putting into subjection the ‘world to come’. Therefore, lest scripture be contradicted, they must be men, and not angels per se; the spirits of just men made perfect’ in fact.
By the way, since both Paul’s epistle to the Hebrews and the Book of Revelation speak only of this world to come (and not of this ‘present evil world’ in which we live) then all the writings contained in them speak only of a future time. They are not to be applied to present experience.
We are looking then at a future time when perfected saints will be the ‘mighty angels’ that execute judgement and carry out the will of the Lord, ruling over earth and its inhabitants. You recall that Daniel said the kingdom of the Most High would be given to the saints – not angels.
Perhaps this is as far as we can take this inquiry. The reader and Bible student must take it on from here and with the guidance of the Lord determine the truth of the matter for themselves.