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Issue Features
Discovery Magazine 10/1/1997

Angelology

Do you know what the word "angelology" means? Anytime you see "ology" tacked onto the end of a word, it means "the study of" something. So what you are about to read on angelology is the study of angels.

What do you know about angels? What is their origin? When were they created? Where are they now? What do they do? Are there such things as "guardian angels"? How many angels are there in existence? When we die, do angels carry our spirit back to God?

The answers to each of these questions can be found in God's Word, the Bible. First, let's examine the idea which some people have that angels are in heaven. That is true, but not all angels are to be found in heaven. In his second letter, Peter wrote that "…God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment" (2:4).

What is the origin of angels? Scriptures like Exodus 20:11 make it clear that God created "...the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them...." Additional scriptures like Revelation 4:11 tell us that God "created all things," and as the Creator, He is to receive "glory and honor...." One of His creations was the angels.

But when did God create angels? In Job 38, God talked to Job about some of the things He did while He was creating the Earth. God said that when the Earth was created, "...all the sons of God shouted for joy" (38:7). Who were these "sons of God" that "shouted for joy" when God created our planet? They could not have been men, because God did not create man until the sixth day of creation. Likely, these "sons of God" were angels that God had created before He created the Earth.

What do angels look like? Angels usually are invisible to humans, because they are spirit-beings. But sometimes God allows them to become visible by taking on the form of a man (read Numbers 22:31). However, the Bible never says anything about angels having halos, or going around playing harps. Those kinds of things were invented by men.

Sometimes angels are pictured as beautiful, young females. But when the Bible speaks of angels taking on human form, it always speaks of them as taking on a male form. However, angels never marry (read Matthew 22:23-30), which means they were not like ordinary men.

It is true that God made man just a little lower than the angels (Psalm 8:5), yet angels are mightier and stronger than any man. An angel of God killed the powerful and wicked King Herod when he allowed himself to be worshipped as a god (Acts 12:21-23). Also, angels are not to be worshipped (Colossians 2:18); they are God’s servants, not God.

It also is true that angels will accompany Christ whenever He returns (1 Thessalonians 1:7), but they do not know when that will be (Matthew 24:36). The Bible makes it clear that some things known by Christians have been kept a secret from angels (1 Peter 1:12). Angels, for example, have not been given a plan to save them from sin. God has been so good to us, because He allows us to repent of our sins.

Angels have been a lot of places during history. They were present at the creation of the world (Job 38:7). They were present at the giving of the Law of Moses (Galatians 3:19). They were present at the birth of Christ (Luke 2:14), and even when Christ was tempted by the devil (Matthew 4:11). Shortly before His crucifixion, an angel strengthened Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:43). And, at Christ’s resurrection on Sunday, the third day after His death, an angel rolled the giant stone away from the entrance to the tomb (Matthew 28:2). This allowed Jesus’ disciples to enter the empty tomb. When Jesus returned to heaven to be with God forever, two "men in white" (angels) stood by (Acts 1:10). Christ was never alone; angels were always present.

How many angels did God create? He must have created many, because Hebrews 12:22 speaks of an "innumerable company of angels." There were so many they could not even be counted.

What do angels do for us today? According to Hebrews 1:14, angels are "...ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation." Angels carried the poor beggar, Lazarus, into Abraham’s bosom at his death (Luke 16:20). It is nice to think that when we, too, die, if we have been faithful to Christ, some of God’s sweet angels will carry our souls back to heaven where we can be with Him forever.



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