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As Revealed By Scripture–

The Angels #1

Biblical Characteristics Of Angels

Have you noticed the recent interest in angels? There have been magazine articles, books, and a popular television series. We also see the fertile imagination of the writers who are involved. They depict the angels for the purpose of making an interesting story.

So that we are not led to accept wrong ideas about angels, it would seem useful to explore the real facts as found in Scripture.

While angels may assume human form, they are spirit beings. The writer to the Hebrews calls them “ministering spirits.” As spirits, they have no bodies of their own. After His resurrection Jesus encouraged His fearful disciples to touch Him, saying: “Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have” (Lk. 24:39). Having no bodies, they are normally invisible to the human eye.

Angels have names, though they are seldom used in Scripture. Gabriel is mentioned a number of times. He was the messenger who announced to Mary that she would bear Jesus (Lk. 1:26). In the book of Jude (1:9), Michael the archangel is mentioned.

There are many angels. We remember from the Christmas gospel “the multitude of the heavenly host” which praised God. When Jesus was taken prisoner in the garden of Gethsemane, He told the disciples that His Father could provide Him with more than 12 legions of angels (Mt. 26:53). There were approximately 5,300 men in a legion. But forget the arithmetic–Jesus said “more than.” And in Hebrews we read that the angels are “innumerable” (Heb. 12:22).

Angels are not eternal since they did not exist until God brought them into being sometime during the six days of creation. It is recorded in Genesis 2:1: “Thus the heavens and earth, and all the host of them, were finished.”

All angels were good when God created them. Some of them rebelled and became evil angels, devils. The good angels are holy and are confirmed in their holiness. The apostle Paul refers to the good angels as “elect” angels (1 Tim. 5:21). As “elect”–chosen by God–they cannot fall from their holy estate.

Angels will never die. While speaking of resurrected believers, Jesus said: “Nor can they die any more, for they are equal to the angels” (Lk. 20:36). These deathless angels have great power but they are not almighty. Only God is almighty. The Psalmist says of the angels that they “excel in strength” (Ps. 103:20).

We know that the angels are important from their frequent mention in Scripture. They are mentioned 273 times in 34 books of the Bible. What these holy and powerful spirit beings do that makes them so important is the topic of the next article on angels.

— Keith N. Olmanson