Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Do Children Have Guardian Angels?

This question arises from a passage in Matthew chapter 18. In verse 10 the text reads "See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven”.  There is a preliminary question that needs to be answered before dealing with the question about angels.

Who are "these little ones"?
  •  This writer is of the persuasion that the "little ones" in this passage is not in reference to children at all, but new disciples. Here is why:
    • In 18:2 Jesus calls a "child to Himself". The New Testament was originally penned in Greek, and the Greek for for child here is "padia" defined as "little child" which would make sense in the context. 
    • In verses 3-5 Jesus makes the point that one needs to be like a Child (ie. humble) if he wants to be great in the Kingdom of Heaven. (Note: In verse 1 Jesus was asked about who is the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven).
    • Then in verse 6 Jesus uses a different term, not the word "padia/child" but "mikros/little or less ones" to describe the ones whom were being lead astray by these disciples who were concerned about being "great".
    • After spending some time talking about the sin of causing one to stumble he mentions the "little ones" again in verse 10. This time saying "See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven”.
    • It would seem true to the text that Jesus is drawing correlation between the humble attitude of a child and the humble attitude of a new disciple as opposed to the prideful attitude of the veteran disciples who were concerned about being the "greatest in the kingdom of heaven".  The newer disciples are the "little ones" that we need to be careful to not cause to stumble.
    • Gill in his commentary explains it this way:
      • That is, one of those little ones that believed in Christ; for he is not speaking of infants in age, but of those who might be compared to such, for their humility and modesty; who were little in their own eyes, and mean and despicable in the eyes of the world, as well as appeared but little in the eyes of their fellow disciples and brethren; for our Lord returns and addresses himself to his disciples, who had been contending among themselves who should be greatest in the kingdom of heaven; and so were striving to lessen one another, each looking upon himself as the greater, and every other as little. Wherefore Christ cautions them against such a spirit, and bids them beware of despising their fellow disciples, as little, and below them; especially since so much notice and care were taken of them, both in heaven, and in earth: 
  • With these thoughts in mind, may we word the question differently:
Does a Disciple Have a Guardian Angel?
  • God does employ angels often to accomplish His will.
    • God used them to protect His followers (Daniel 6:20-23).
    • To reveal information (Luke 1:11-20).
    • To guide (Matthew 1:20-21).
    • To provide for (Genesis 21:17-20).
    •  and to minister to believers in general (Hebrews 1:14).

  • Scripture nowhere states that an angel is “assigned” to an individual (angels were sometimes sent to individuals, but there is no mention of permanent assignment). 
    • Some early church writers believed that each person had not only a good angel assigned to him/her, but a demon as well. 
    • The belief in guardian angels has been around for a long time, but there is no explicit scriptural basis for it.
  • Note: In Matthew 18:10 it states "their angels"
    •  “Their” is probably a collective pronoun.
      • This would refer to the fact that believers are served by angels in general. 
      • These angels are pictured as “always” watching the face of God so as to hear His command to them to help a believer when it is needed. 
      • God sees every believer at every moment, and He alone knows when one of us needs the intervention of an angel. 
      • Because they are continually seeing His face, the angels are at His disposal to help one of His “little ones.”

Conclusion: 
  • It cannot be emphatically answered from Scripture whether or not each believer has a guardian angel assigned to him/her. 
  • As stated earlier, God does use angels in ministering to us. 
  • It is scriptural to say that He uses them as He uses us; to accomplish His divine will.
  • If we have an omniscient, omnipotent, all-loving God with us, does it really matter whether or not there is a finite guardian angel protecting us?

By Cliff Sabroe - Scripture quotations from NASB95 - Materials by Dr. Denny Petrillo and Gill's Exposition of Scripture contributed to the content of this post as well as gotquestions.org.