The Christian Teaching Explained
We live in a tough world. There are a lot of terrible things that drag us down physically and emotionally, and it would be tough to live all alone without friends and family to help. The same goes for our spiritual well-being. With sin all around us and even within us from our sinful natures, it can be tough to live in this world. Thankfully, we don’t live alone spiritually either because God gives us his powerful angels to help us.
What are Angels?
“For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.”
What are “angels” and where did they come from? The word “angel” itself means “messenger,” and the Bible uses it not only for angels as we understand them, but also for humans that carry his message to people, for example the Old Testament priests and John the Baptist. The context surrounding a particular passage guides us to understand who is being talked about when the word “angel” is used.
Angels, as we generally use the term today, are not physical beings with bodies that occupy space, although some have temporarily assumed human form in the past (e.g., Genesis 18-19; Matthew 28:5-7). They are spiritual and yet personal and individual beings who have names (Luke 1:13,19; Jude 9), have wills (1 Peter 1:12), and were created at some point within the six days of creation. “Through [Jesus] all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made” (John 1:3). “By [Christ] all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him” (Colossians 1:16). Because of these passages, it seems that angels were created at some point during the six days of creation, perhaps early on in the six days because they rejoiced when God “laid the earth’s foundation” (Job 38:4-7), though that passage could be talking about creation in general (see Creation).
However, not all angels rejoice in what God does. In fact, perhaps the most well-known angel does the exact opposite: he completely opposes God. Satan and his fellow evil angels (also called demons or evil spirits) at some point chose to disobey God, and God has bound them for punishment on Judgment Day (Matthew 25:41; 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6). He still allows them to roam the earth, but they can do nothing apart from God knowing it and allowing it (Job 1:12, 2:6; Luke 22:31-32). God allows them to act on this earth as a judgment against unbelievers (e.g., 1 Kings 22:20-23; 1 Timothy 4:1-2). It is a judgment against them because they have rejected the Word of God, which God gives to us to resist the lies of the evil angels who try to lead us astray to sin and to false religions (Matthew 4:1-11; Romans 8:38-39; 1 Corinthians 10:13; James 4:7-8; 1 Peter 5:8-9; Deuteronomy 32:17-18; 1 Corinthians 10:20; for a little more information on Satan himself see the section Forgiveness of Sins for All People).
“Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.'”
Even though there are evil angels out to lead us away from God, God does send his good angels to protect us every day. “He will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone” (Psalm 91:11-12). These angels do not sin and will never sin—they have been confirmed in their holiness and they willingly praise and serve God (e.g., Isaiah 6:1-4; 1 Timothy 5:21; Luke 2:13-14). These angels are not people who have died and gone to heaven. Angels are angels in heaven and people remain people in heaven (Matthew 22:30). We cannot see them, but for the good of mankind they fight against Satan and his evil work according to God’s commands (e.g., Daniel 10:10-21; Jude 9).
We may not be able to see angels, but the Bible is clear about their existence and their efforts in this world. While many angels fight against us in order to drag us down to hell with them, many others are our spiritual brothers who fight for our eternal well-being so we can live together with them and God forever. We need not fear the tough times that the evil angels bring upon us because we know we are not alone: we have our God, his Word, and his holy army of angels on our side.