Angels - by Dr. A. A. HodgeArticles on the Christian Walk, Systematic Theology and Practical Theology
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1 . What are the different senses in which the word αγγελο angel, or messenger, is used Scripture?
“Ordinary messengers, Job 1:14 ; Luke 7:24 ; 9:52 ; prophets, Is. 13:19 ; Mal. 3:1 ; priests, Mal. 2:7 ; ministers of the New Testament, Rev. 1:20 ; also impersonal agents, as pillar of cloud, Ex. 14:19 ; pestilence, 2 Sam. 24:16 , 17 ; winds, Ps. 104:4 ; plagues, called, ‘evil angels,’ 78:49 ; Paul’s thorn in the flesh, ‘angel of Satan,’ 2 Cor. 12:7 .” Also the second person of the Trinity, “Angel of his presence;” “Angel of the Covenant,” Isa. 63:9 ; Mal. 3:1 . But the term is chiefly applied to the heavenly intelligences, Matt. 25:31 .—See Kitto’s “Bib. Ency.”
2 . What are the Scriptural designations of angels, and how far are those designations expressive of their nature and offices?
Good angels (for evil spirits, see Question 15) are designated in Scripture as to their nature, dignity, and power, as “spirits,” Heb. 1:14 ; “thrones, dominions, principalities, powers, mights,” Eph. 1:21 , and Col. 1:16 ; “sons of God,” Luke 20:36 ; Job 1:6 ; “mighty angels,” and “powerful in strength,” 2 Thess. 1:7 ; Ps. 103:20 ; “holy angels,” “elect angels,” Luke 9:26 ; 1 Tim. 5:21 ; and as to the offices they sustain in relation to God and man, they are designated as “angels or messengers,” and as “ministering spirits,” Heb. 1:13 , 14 .
3 . What were the cherubim?
“They were ideal creatures, compounded of four parts, those namely, of a man, an ox, a lion, and an eagle.” “The predominant appearance was that of a man, but the number of faces, feet, and hands differed according to circumstances.”— Ezek. 1:6 , compare with Ezek. 12:18 , 19 , and Ex. 25:20 .
To the same ideal beings is applied the designation “living creatures” ( Ezek. 1:5–22 ; 10:15 , 17 ; Rev. 4:6–9 ; 5:6–14 ; 6:1–7 ; 7:11 ; 14:3 ; 15:7 ; 19:4 ), rendered in our version “beasts,” they were symbolic of the highest properties of creature life, and of these as the outgoings and manifestation of the divine life; but they were typical of redeemed and glorified manhood, or prophetical representations of it, as that in which these properties were to be combined and exhibited.
“They were appointed immediately after the fall to man’s original place in the garden, and to his office in connection with the tree of life.”— Gen. 3:24 .
“The other and more common connection in which the cherub appears is with the throne or peculiar dwelling place of God. In the holy of holies in the tabernacle, Ex. 25:22 , he was called the God who dwelleth between and sitteth upon the cherubim, 1 Sam. 4:4 ; Ps. 80:1 ; Ezek. 1:26 , 28 ; whose glory is above the cherubim. In Rev. 4:6 , we read of the living creatures who were in the midst of the throne and around about it.”
“What does this bespeak but the wonderful fact brought out in the history of redemption, that man’s nature is to be exalted to the dwelling place of the Godhead? In Christ it is taken, so to speak, into the very bosom of the Deity; and because it is so highly honored in him, it shall attain to more than angelic glory in his members.”—Fairbairn’s “Typology,” Pt. 2., Chapter 1., Section 3. See also “Imperial Bible Dictionary,” Art. Cherubim.
4 . What is the etymology (linguistic development) of the word seraphim, and what is taught in Scripture concerning them?
The word signifies burning, bright, dazzling. It occurs in the Bible only once.— Isa. 6:2 , 6 . It probably presents, under a different aspect, the ideal beings commonly designated cherubim and living creatures.
5 . Is there any evidence that angels are of various orders a ranks?
That such distinctions certainly exist appears evident—
1st. From the language of Scripture. Gabriel is distinguished as one that stands in the presence of God ( Luke 1:19 ), evidently in some preeminent sense; and Michael as one of the chief princes.— Dan. 10:13 . Observe also the epithets archangel, thrones, dominions, principalities, powers.— Jude 9 ; Eph. 1:21 .
2nd. From the analogy of the fallen angels.—See Eph. 2:2 ; Matt. 9:34 .
3rd. From the analogy of human society and of the universal creation. Throughout all God’s works gradation of rank prevails.
6 . Do the Scriptures speak of more than one archangel, and is he to be considered a creature?
This term occurs but twice in the New Testament, and in both instances it is used in the singular number, and preceded by the definite article ο . — 1 Thess. 4:16 ; Jude 9 . Thus the term is evidently restricted to one person, called, Jude 9 , Michael, who, in Dan. 10:13 , and 12:1 , is called “one of the chief princes,” and “the great prince,” and in Rev. 12:7 , is said to have fought with his angels against the dragon and his “angels.”
Many suppose that the archangel is the Son of God. Others suppose that he is one of the highest class of creatures, since he is called “one of the chief princes,” Dan. 10:13 ; and since divine attributes are never ascribed to him.
7 . What do the Scriptures teach concerning the number and power of angels?
1st. Concerning their number, revelation determines only that it is very great. “Thousand thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand.”— Dan. 7:10 . “More than twelve legions of angels.”— Matt. 26:53 . “Multitude of the heavenly host.” Luke 2:13 ; “Myriads of angels.”— Heb. 12:22 .
2nd. Concerning their power, the Scriptures teach that it is very great when exercised both in the material and in the spiritual worlds. They are called “mighty angels,” and are said to “excel in strength.”— 2 Thess. 1:7 ; Ps. 103:20 ; 2 Kings 19:35 . Their power, however, is not creative, but, like that of man, it can be exercised only coordinately with the general laws of nature, in the absolute sense of that word.
8 . What are their employments?
1st. They behold the face of God in heaven, adore the divine perfections, study every revelation he makes of himself in providence and redemption, and are perfectly blessed in his presence and service.— Matt. 18:10 ; Rev. 5:11 ; 1 Pet. 1:12 .
2nd. God employs them as his instruments in administering the affairs of his providence.— Gen. 28:12 ; Dan. 10:13 .
( 1 .) The law “was ordained by angels.”— Gal. 3:19 ; Acts 7:53 ; Heb. 2:2 .
(2.) They are instruments of good to God’s people.— Heb. 1:14 ; Acts 12:7 ; Ps. 91:10–12 .
(3.) They execute judgment upon God’s enemies.— Acts 2:23 ; 2 Kings 19:35 ; 1 Chron. 21:16 .
(4.) They will officiate in the final judgment in separating the good from the bad, in gathering the elect, and in bearing them up to meet the Lord in the air. Matt. 13:30 , 39 ; 24:31 ; 1 Thess. 4:17 .
9 . Have angels bodies, and how are the apparitions of angels to be accounted for?
Angels are called in the Scriptures “spirits” πνευματα , Heb. 1:14 , a word which is also used to designate the souls of men when separate from the body.— 1 Pet. 3:19 . There is however nothing in that word, nor in the opinions of the Jews at the time of Christ, nor in anything which is told us of the nature or the employments of angels in the Scriptures, which prove that angels are absolutely destitute of proper material bodies of any kind. Indeed as the Son of God is to have “a glorious body,” “a spiritual body” forever, and since all the redeemed are to have bodies like his, and since the angels are associated with redeemed men as members of the same infinitely exalted kingdom, it may appear probable that angels may have been created with physical organizations not altogether dissimilar to the “spiritual bodies” of the redeemed. They always appeared and spoke to men in Bible times in the bodily form of men, and as such they ate food and lodged in houses like common men.— Gen. 18: & and 19:3 .
It has hence been supposed by some that angels have bodies like the present “natural” or animal bodies of men σωμα ψυχικον , 1 Cor. 15:44 , of flesh, bones, and blood, of head and features, hands and feet, and that the apparition of an angel involved no change in him, but only a coming within the sphere of the sense perception of the observer, when the angel appeared just as he habitually is.
Now this is inconsistent with the facts of the inspired record. In certain situations the angels “appeared” precisely like common men, and in other situation) they acted very differently ( Acts 12:7–10 ; Num. 22:31 ), in passing through stone walls, appearing and disappearing at will, etc. Besides, one of the three men who appeared to Abraham at Mamre, and whose feet he washed, and who ate the meat he had prepared, was Jehovah, the second Person of the Trinity, who had no body till he acquired it many centuries afterwards in the womb of the Virgin. If the apparent human body of the one angels, was not a real, permanent human body, there is not ground to argue from the recorded phenomena that the others were.— Gen. 18:1–33 .
Besides this, the theory in question indicates absurd confusion of thought. The animal human body, as we know it, is a physical organization in equilibrium with certain definite and nicely adjusted physical conditions, and it can exist only under those conditions. The vertebrate type, of which the human body is the highest form, has been continually changed as the physical conditions of the globe have changed, and it ceases always to exist whenever those conditions are changed in any decided degree. If it would be absurd to conceive of a human body existing in water, or in fire, how much more absurd is it to conceive of a warm–blooded, food–consuming animal existing indifferently on earth and in heaven; traversing at will the interstellar spaces, and as a true cosmopolite inhabiting alternately and indifferently all worlds, and all elements, ether, air and water, and all temperatures, from the molten sun to the absolute zero of the starless void.
The bodily appearance of angels, therefore, must have been something new assumed, or something preexistent and permanent greatly modified for the purpose of enabling them to hold, upon occasion, profitable interaction with men.
10 . What is the Romish doctrine and practice with regard to the worship of angels?
“Catechismus Romanus,” 3. 2, 9, 10.—“For the Holy Spirit who says, Honor and glory unto the only God ( 1 Tim. 1:17 ), commands us also to honor our parents and elders ( Lev. 19:32 , etc.); and the holy men who worshipped one God only are also said in the sacred Scriptures to have adored ( Gen. 23:7 , 12 , etc.), that is, to have suppliantly venerated, kings. If then kings, by whose agency God governs the world, are treated with so high an honor, shall we not give to the angelic spirits an honor greater in proportion as these blessed minds exceed kings in dignity; [to those angelic spirits] whom God has been pleased to constitute his ministers; whose services he makes use of, not only in the government of the Church, but also of the rest of the universe; by whose aid, although we see them not, we are daily delivered from the greatest dangers both of soul and body? Add to this the charity with which they love us, through which, as Scripture informs us, they pour out their prayers for those countries ( Dan. 2:13 ) over which they are placed by Providence, and for those too, no doubt, whose guardians they are, for they present our prayers and tears before the throne of God ( Job 3:25 ; 12:12 ; Rev. 8:3 ). Hence our Lord has taught us in the gospel not to scandalize the little ones, because in heaven their angels do always behold the face of his Father which is in heaven.”
“Their intercession, therefore, we must invoke, because they always behold God, and receive from him the most willing advocacy of our salvation. To this, their invocation, the sacred Scriptures bear testimony.— Gen. 48:15 , 16 .”
11 . What views have been entertained with respect to “Guardian Angels”?
“It was a favorite opinion of the Christian Fathers that every individual is under the care of a particular angel, who is assigned to him as a guardian. They spoke also of two angels—the one good, the other evil—whom they conceived to be attendant on each individual:the good angel prompting to all good, and averting ill; and the evil angel prompting to all ill, and averting good (Hermas 11. 6). The Jews (excepting the Sadducees) entertained this belief, as do the Moslems. The heathen held it in a modified form—the Greeks having their tutelary demon, and the Romans their genius. There is however nothing to support this notion in the Bible. The passages usually referred to for its support ( Ps. 34:7 , Matt. 18:10 ), have assuredly no such meaning. The former simply denotes that God employs the ministry of angels to deliver his people from affliction and danger; and the celebrated passage in Matthew means that the infant children of believers, or the least among the disciples of Christ, whom the ministers of the church might be disposed to neglect, are in such estimation elsewhere, that angels do not think it below their dignity to minister unto them.” Nothing is said of the personal assignment of angels to individual men.—Kitto’s “Bib. Encyclo.”
12 . What are the names by which Satan is distinguished, a what is their import?
Satan, which signifies adversary, Luke 10:18 . The Devil ( διαβολος always occurs in the singular) signifying slanderer, Rev. 20:2 ; Apollyon, which means destroyer, and Abaddon, Rev. 9:11 ; Beelzebub, the prince of devils, from the god of the Ekronites, chief among the heathen divinities all of which the Jews regarded as devils, 2 Kings 1:2 ; Matt 12:24 ; Angel of the Bottomless Pit, Rev. 9:11 Prince of the World, John 12:31 ; Prince of Darkness, Eph. 6:12 ; A Roaring Lion, 1 Pet. 5:8 ; a Sinner from the Beginning, 1 John 3:8 ; Accuser, Rev. 12:10 ; Belial, 2 Cor. 6:15 ; Deceiver, Rev. 20:10 ; Dragon, Rev. 12:7 ; Liar and Murderer, John 8:44 ; Leviathan, Isa. 27:1 ; Lucifer, Is. 14:12 ; Serpent, Is. 27:1 ; Tormentor; Matt. 18:34 ; God of this World, 2 Cor. 4:4 ; he that hath the Power of Death, Heb. 2:14 .—See Cruden’s “Concordance.”
13 . How may it be proved that Satan is a personal being, and not a mere personification of evil?
Throughout all the various books of Scripture Satan is always consistently spoken of as a person, and personal attributes are predicated of him. Such passages as Matt. 4: I- 11 , and John 8:44 , are decisive.
14 . What do the Scriptures teach concerning the relation of Satan to other evil spirits and to our world?
Other evil spirits are called “his angels,” Matt. 25:41 ; and he is called “Prince of Devils,” Matt. 9:34 ; and “Prince of the powers of the Air,” and “Prince of Darkness,” Eph. 6:12 . This indicates that he is the master spirit of evil.
His relation to this world is indicated by the history of the Fall, 2 Cor. 11:3 ; Rev. 12:9 , and by such expressions as “God of this World,” 2 Cor. 4:4 ; and “Spirit that worketh in the children of disobedience,” Eph. 2:2 ; wicked men are said to be his children, 1 John 3:10 ; he blinds the minds of those that believe not and leads them captive at his will, 2 Tim. 2:26 ; he also pains, harasses, and tempts God’s true people as far as is permitted for their ultimate good.— Luke 22:31 ; 2Cor. 12:7 ; 1 Thess. 2:18 .
15 . What are the terms by which fallen spirits are designated?
The Greek word διαβολος , the devil, is in the original applied only to Beelzebub. Other evil spirits are called διαμονες , demons, Mark 5:12 (translated devils); unclean spirits, Mark 5:13 ; angels of the devil, Matt. 25:41 ; principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this world, Eph. 6:12 ; angels that sinned, 2 Pet. 2:4 ; angels that kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, Jude 6: ; lying spirits, 2 Chron. 18:22 .
16 . What power or agency over the bodies and souls of men is ascribed to them?
Satan, like all other finite beings, can only be in one place at a time; yet all that is done by his agents being attributed to him, he appears to be practically ubiquitous.
It is certain that at times at least they have exercised an inexplicable influence over the bodies of men, yet that influence is entirely subject to God’s control.— Job 2:1 ; Luke 13:16 ; Acts 10:38 . They have caused and aggravated diseases, and excited appetites and passions.— 1 Cor. 5:5 . Satan, in some sense, has the power of death.— Heb. 2:14 .
With respect to the souls of men, Satan and his angels are utterly destitute of any power either to change the heart or to coerce the will, their influence being simply moral, and exercised in the way of deception, suggestion, and persuasion. The descriptive phrases applied by the Scriptures to their working are such as—“the deceivableness of unrighteousness,” “power, signs, lying wonders,” 2 Thess. 2:9 , 10 ; he “transforms himself into an angel of light.”— 2 Cor. 11:14 . If he can deceive or persuade he uses “wiles,” Eph. 6:11 ; “snares,” 1 Tim. 3:7 ; “depths,” Rev. 2:24 ; he “blinds the mind,” 2 Cor. 4:4 ; “leads captive the will,” 2 Tim. 2:26 ; and so “deceives the whole world.”— Rev. 12:9 . If he cannot persuade he uses “fiery darts,” Eph. 6:16 ; and “buffetings.”— 2 Cor. 12:7 .
As examples of his influence in tempting men to sin the Scriptures cite the case of Adam, Gen. 3: ; of David, 1 Chron. 21:1 ; of Judas, Luke 22:3 ; Ananias and Sapphira, Acts 5:3 , and the temptation of our blessed Lord, Matt. 4.