For millennia mankind has questioned the nature of angels, including their existence, appearance, knowledge, ability, and purpose. Surprisingly, the Bible provides a great deal of knowledge about the angelic realm. In this two-part series we will take an in-depth look at angels and answer age-old questions and much more.
Are Angels Created Beings?
Let’s begin with the question, were angels created? While many believe that angels are eternal, Scripture shows that they had a beginning.
Nehemiah 9:6 states, “Thou, even thou, art Yahweh alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshipeth thee.”
We see that Yahweh created everything in the heaven of heavens, including all their hosts. The word “host” is from the Hebrew tsaba. One of the definitions offered in the Brown Driver Briggs Hebrew Lexicon is a host of angels. From this we find that Yahweh created the angelic realm.
Based on the biblical evidence, this creation was done through Yahshua the Messiah. The Old and New testaments verify that Yahshua preexisted and through Him all things came to exist, including the angelic realm, Proverbs 30:4; John 1:1-3; and Colossians 1:15-16.
From Job 38, verses 4 and 7, we learn that angels were created before the earth. “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding… When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of Elohim shouted for joy?” The references here to the morning stars and sons of Elohim refer to angelic beings.
As a side note, the phrase “sons of Elohim” can also refer to human beings. Evidence for this is found in Matthew 5:9; Luke 3:38; Romans 8:14; Galatians 3:26.
What Angels Look Like
Let’s now consider the appearance of angels. While there is not one right answer, it appears that most angels have a human-like form. We’ll see exceptions to this in part 2 of this series when we review the cherubim and seraphim.
For now, let’s focus on one aspect, a human form. Hebrews 13:2 gives us this insight: “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” If it’s possible to entertain angels without knowing it, they must appear as human beings.
One instance is in Genesis 18 with the three men visiting Abraham. In this case, one of those beings was called Yahweh, which was likely the pre-existent Messiah.
Genesis 19 offers another episode when the two angels came to Lot in the city of Sodom. Lot recognized them as being special, but the men of Sodom saw them as only men.
The New Testament gives us yet more insight with Yahshua the Messiah. After His resurrection, Mary believed that He was only the gardener, which shows that He looked like an average human being.
From these and other occurrences we learn that angels often take human form where one could not tell the difference between an angel and a flesh-and-blood human being.
Bodily Nature of Angels
In addition to the appearance of angels the Bible provides insight into their bodily nature. In Luke 24, we find several clues: “And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them, Saying, The Master is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon. And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread. And as they thus spake, Yahshua himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see, for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet. And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat? And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. And he took it, and did eat before them,” verses 33-43.
Here is a description of Yahshua’s post-resurrection body. Keep in mind that Yahshua would have shared a body similar to angels after His resurrection.
As seen in the passage, Yahshua was able to appear before His disciples. When this happened the disciples believed that it was a spirit and not the person of Yahshua. The word spirit here is from the Greek pneuma. Strong’s Greek Dictionary defines this word as “a current of air, i.e. breath; by analogy or figuratively, a spirit, i.e. (human) the rational soul, (by implication) vital principle, mental disposition, etc., or (superhuman) an angel, demon, or (divine) God, Messiah’s spirit, or the Holy Spirit.”
Because the disciples were afraid, some commentators believe they thought He was an evil spirit and not Yahshua Himself. Eventually, though, they realized that it was indeed the risen Savior standing before them.
Yahshua said something here that is quite fascinating. In trying to convince the disciples that He wasn’t a spirit, he told them, “…for a spirit hath not flesh and bones.” Yahshua verifies that angelic beings can have flesh and bone, but not blood.
The mention here of flesh and bone is somewhat of a mystery. While angels can appear with a physical body, it seems to be different from our mortal bodies, including the flesh and bone that Yahshua mentions. While they can appear solid, they can also transcend the physical world. In reference to the blood, the Bible verifies that the blood is the life-force for humans and animals alike. But as we see here, this is not true for spirit beings or angels.
Have you ever pondered how spirit beings can appear and disappear at will, but also assume a physical form that can also eat, as we find Yahshua doing here?
Here is a theory that the late Elder Donald Mansager believed on this issue. He reasoned that spirit beings, including angels, can either speed up or slow down their molecules allowing them either to transcend or to occupy the physical world. This can be shown when boiling water changes in form to steam.
While this is only conjecture, it seems plausible, especially if you understand the makeup of an atom.
It is a scientific fact that there is more empty space than solid space within an atom. In fact, according to the site www.education.jlab.org, “A hydrogen atom is about 99.9999999999996% empty space. Put another way, if a hydrogen atom were the size of the earth, the proton at its center would be about 200 meters (600 feet) across.”
The Apostle Paul provides some insight on what it means to be an angelic being in 1Corinthians 15:42-44. “So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.”
Paul draws a contrast between the bodies we have now and the bodies given at the resurrection. He begins by saying that we were sown in corruption, but will be raised in incorruption. The word “corruption” in Greek refers to decay or ruin, while the word “incorruption” refers to unending existence or immortality.
For a moment, consider this difference: Human beings are preordained to die, but as spirit beings we live forever. The Bible describes the life we have now as a vapor and a flower that quickly fades away. But in the resurrection the saints will be like the angels in heaven and will live forever.
Paul continues and says that we were sown in dishonor, but will be raised in glory. The word “dishonor” in Greek refers to infamy, shame, or disgrace. The word “glory” comes from the Greek doxa and according to Thayer’s refers to “the glorious condition of blessedness into which is appointed and promised that true [believers] shall enter after their Savior’s return from heaven.”
There’s just no comparison between our earthly bodies and the bodies that we’re going to receive at the resurrection if we prove faithful.
Paul also says that we were sown in weakness, but will be raised in power. The word “weakness” refers to feebleness of mind or body, while the word “power” refers to force or to something miraculous. Being spirit not only will death not exist, but neither will pain or disease.
Not only do we find a glimpse of what it will be like in the resurrection, but also see what it’s like for an angel in heaven.
Self-Inherent Immortality of Angels
As the above implies, the Bible shows that angels are immortal. Yahshua reveals this in Luke 20:34-36. “And Yahshua answering said unto them, The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage. But they which shall be accounted 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 of Elohim, being the children of the resurrection.”
In this passage Yahshua is describing the first resurrection at the return or Second Coming, of Yahshua the Messiah, likely to happen on the Feast of Trumpets.
The angels will gather the saints from the four corners of this earth. The righteous dead will rise first, followed by the righteous living. Both will be changed from flesh to spirit.
Those in the resurrection will live forever, as immortal, no different from the angels in heaven. They will be called children or sons of Elohim and also sons of the resurrection.
Because they are immortal angels live forever. But because they are immortal can they still be destroyed? From prophecies pertaining to Satan the devil, we believe the answer is yes.
Ezekiel 28:18 prophesies that Satan will be turned into ashes. In the Greek Paul in Romans 16:20 says that Yahshua will bruise Satan under His feet, referring to a lopping off or to complete destruction. And as we see in Revelation 20:10, Satan will be cast into the lake of fire.
If Satan the devil, an anointed cherub according to Ezekiel 28:16, can be destroyed, reason would conclude that angels too can also be destroyed. What Yahweh creates He can also destroy.
Beings with Limited Knowledge
In addition to the appearance and existence of angels, many wonder whether angels have all knowledge. Matthew 24:36 verifies this is not the case: “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.”
Yahshua is referring to His Second Coming and the first resurrection. We learn that no one knows the exact day or hour of His Coming and this includes angels. So we see that angels are limited in what they know.
But what about Satan the devil, does he have all knowledge? While Satan is a very powerful being, we don’t see in Scripture where he has all knowledge.
In fact, the above passage shows that the only one who knows the day and hour of Yahshua’s coming is Yahweh. This also implies that Yahshua Himself is limited in knowledge, but second to the Father.
Only Yahweh, our Father in heaven, is all-knowing and all-powerful. This is one reason we perceive that the Father and Son are two separate beings as opposed to what we see from the Oneness or Trinity beliefs.
John Told Not to Worship Angels
The Bible says that we are to avoid worshiping angels. Paul in Colossians 2:18 states, “Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind.” Also, we see this from Revelation 22:8-9: “And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things. Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship Elohim.”
In Revelation 22 the angel tells John of Patmos not to bow down to him. The reason was that the angel himself was a fellow servant.
Even though angels are on a higher plane than human beings, in many ways we serve the same role. We are all servants and deferential to our Heavenly Father.
More specifically, just as there are angelic messengers doing Yahweh’s will, we also see earthly messengers doing the same. In fact, the Hebrew word for angel simply means a messenger and can refer to human beings as such.
Let’s change focus now and consider the different roles of angels.
How Yahweh Uses Angels
As seen in Scripture, they mainly are messengers. The word angel comes from the Hebrew malak, literally meaning, “messenger.”
We see this in Matthew 1:18-21. “Now the birth of Yahshua Messiah was on this wise: When as his mother Miriam was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of Yahweh appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Miriam thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name YAHSHUA: for he shall save his people from their sins.”
All should be familiar with this passage. We see here an angel coming to Joseph regarding the birth of Yahshua the Messiah.
As an aside, we see here that Joseph was planning to divorce Miriam because of his belief that Miriam had been unfaithful, even though they were only espoused or engaged.
The Bible shows that engagement begins marriage. This is important because only during the engagement is divorce an option. As seen in Matthew 19, when two people have come together and consummated that marriage, man is not to separate what Yahweh has joined together. Romans 7:2 tells us that when this happens, we are bound together for life.
Returning to Matthew 1 we again see that an angel came to Joseph in a dream, told him not to fear, and to take Miriam as his wife. The angel explained that what was conceived in her was of the Holy Spirit. As we know, the birth of Yahshua the Messiah was not by man, but by the power of Almighty Yahweh.
As a side note, we also see here that an angel communicated to Joseph in a dream. So not only can angels communicate to us when we are awake or conscious, but also when we’re unconscious or asleep.
We can see many more instances like this one throughout Scripture. The use of angels as Yahweh’s messengers is recognized throughout the Old and New testaments.
In addition to serving as messengers, we also see angels protecting mankind. In 2Kings 6:15-17 we find a miracle involving Elisha and an angelic host: “And when the servant of the man of Elohim was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do? And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. And Elisha prayed, and said, Yahweh, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And Yahweh opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.”
The Syrian army had entrapped Elisha in the city. In response to this threat, Elisha says something very powerful to his servant. He tells him not to fear and reveals in vision the overwhelming army of Yahweh. Obviously the horses and chariots of fire were angelic beings and they were there to protect Elisha from the Syrian army.
This is one of the few times we are given insight into the spirit realm. This also reveals that much of what we see in the physical seems to be an image of the spiritual. In this case, it appears there are horse-like creatures within the angelic sphere. In many ways it appears that the angelic realm is more like our physical realm than what we may realize. Even we were created in Yahweh’s image.
Guardians of Human Beings
Finally, the Bible seems to show that all human beings have guardian angels. We see this in Matthew 18:10 and Acts 12:15.
“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,” Matthew 18:10.
Here Yahshua intimates that children have guardian angels as “their angels do always behold the face of my Father…” This appears to support the idea of guardian angels generally.
There is also evidence that even adults have guardian angels assigned to them. “And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel,” Acts 12:15. It was assumed that it was not Peter at the door, but his angel.
Clearly, Peter may have had a guardian angel. If Peter had a guardian angel it is possible that all adults or possibly all believers also have guardian angels.
In part two we will consider specific types of angelic beings, including cherubim, seraphim, and ophanim. We will also explore how Judaism defines the angelic hierarchy, along with some amazing examples of spirit beings found in Scripture
On the topic on Angels, we received a Q&A on the topic of Angels in Noah’s Time. Check it out here>>
[…] In shedding light on the angelic realm part 1 we looked at some general characteristics of angels, including their existence, their appearance, their knowledge, their purpose, and more. In this segment we will delve into the different types of angels based on what we find in Judaism and the Bible. […]