Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Who or what are angels? When we die do we become angels? What does the Bible say about angels?

Many Christians have questions about Angels. It is one of those topics that the Bible just does not give enough information to satisfy all of our curious questions. We should, however, rest assured that the Bible does give us enough information about these amazing beings.

What is an angel?
The word "angel" simply means "messenger". The word does not necessarily have to be in reference to a being from the spiritual realm. Most of the time the word is in reference to special spiritual beings, however, one must consider the context of a particular passage to determine whether or not the word means anything more than "messenger".

Where do angels come from? Are angels dead Christians?
Nowhere in the Bible is it taught that an individual becomes an angel when they die. Angels are different from humans. Concerning this, Dr. Dan Owen writes:
Angels are heavenly beings created by God (Colossians 1:16). They are supposed to be the servants of God and many of them are faithful servants, (Hebrews 1:17, 14; cf., Psalm 104:4). God, however, created them with a free will and some of the angels chose to rebel against God (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6). These angels, along with Satan, are destined to spend eternity in hell, which was prepared for this very purpose (Matthew 25:41) (Owen).
When did Satan and his angels rebell and fall? 
The Bible mentions fallen angels including Satan. Angels who rebelled against God and did not keep their proper place will be punished (Jude 6). Owen attempts to answer the question "When did the fall take place?" in this following quote.
 When the fall of Satan and the rebellious angels occurred is a difficult question. If 2 Peter 2:4 is understood to be in chronological sequence with the events described in the following verses, we know that this fall took place before the time of the flood. The ancient Jews believe that Genesis 6:1-4 was describing this fall and provided the explanation for all of the extreme wickedness in the pre-flood world (Genesis 6:5-7). A difficulty with this understanding is the fact that Satan seems already to be opposed to the purposes of God in Genesis 3. Jesus said he was a murderer and a liar from the beginning (John 8:44; Genesis 3:4). All that we can say with certainty is that sometime in the ancient past, Satan became an enemy of God. He is called the archon or ruler of the spiritual hosts of wickedness (Ephesians 2:2). His position seems to be similar to that of Michael, who is an archangel of God (Revelation 12:7-9). This seems to imply that Satan is an archangel, a great general or commander of angels (Owen).
What do angels do?
The duties of angels vary. Ultimately they are used to accomplish the Lord's will. They are often used as spiritual messengers to deliver a message from God. "The power of angels in Scripture is very great. They can traverse great distances with no trouble at all. They can kill vast numbers of people or deliver vast numbers from danger. They can appear in human form and perform human functions like eating, etc. Their numbers are vast and their functions important in the eternal plan of God. They do not, however, seem to occupy the center of God’s attention as does man" (Owen). 

One might be tempted to be envious of the power and abilities of angels. Although angels do have abilities beyond the scope of human possibility, it seems they are often curious to learn from us. It appears, that the message of salvation we have received, is something angels desire to know. 
It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look. (1 Peter 1:12).
Do any of the angels have names?
Some angels are identified by a name and some are even identified as having almost a military rank. Why some are named and some are not, as well as why do some have a military rank, is a mystery?   
Scripture reveals enough about angels to inform us that angels have varying degrees of rank. The archangels are the most powerful and command other angels below them. They are often spoken of in terms of the "host" or "army" of heaven and are even spoken of as "legions’ in military terminology (2 Kings 6:16-17; Matthew 26:53; Mark 5:9; Revelation 12:7-9). Angels whose names we know from Scripture are Gabriel, Michael, Abaddon, and Satan (Daniel 8:16; 9:21; 10:13; 10:21; 12:1; Luke 1:19, 26; Jude 9:11; 12:7) (Owen).
Mankind will always have questions about angels, because man has always been curious about the unknown. What is it like to not operate within the same physical laws that humans operate in? What is in the spiritual realm? What is it like to be in the presence of God? These questions may never be fully answered in this life, but we must trust that God has revealed what we need.

Cliff Sabroe - Quotes from NASB95. Multiple citations from ("All About Angels" By Dan Owen - www.sourcelight.net)