There are many myths, traditions, folklores and misconceptions about angels. Without a doubt, angels are a fascinating topic indeed.
In Scripture, angels appear often, about 200 times in the New Testament alone. However, we aren’t provided with a large amount of details concerning them and so we have to read between the lines and make some inferences. At the most basic level, angels play the role of God’s messengers. In fact, the Greek word aggelos means just that—messenger, envoy, one who is sent, or one who brings news.
The Bible shares a number of important things about angels that should encourage us as we seek to influence the world with righteousness and wage war against evil. Here are a few facts to be aware of:
First, angels are spirit beings created and sent out by God to serve those who will inherit salvation (Heb. 1:14). Though they can take on physical form when necessary to interact with the physical world, they are essentially spiritual beings without bodies.
Second, angels are supernaturally powerful beings (Rev. 7:1; Psa. 103:20). The Bible describes them as opening prison doors, rolling away the stone from the tomb, engaging in war with evil, and even binding Satan.
Third, angels are personal beings with the capacity to love, express joy, demonstrate intelligence, and delight in doing God’s will as they carry out his orders.
Fourth, angels are not gods. They are created, finite beings that are lower than God, though superior to us (Psa. 8:5-6).
Fifth, angels are not the spirits of people who have died, nor do we “receive our wings” upon death. A common misconception is that people turn into angels when they die, but humans and angels are distinctly different orders in God’s creation (Psa. 148).
Sixth, angels are sent to aid believers in the struggle against sin, evil, and the power of satanic darkness (Psa. 91:11-14). In God’s divine plan and purpose, he commissions and sends angels to guides us toward his will and help sustain and strengthen us when we’re under spiritual attack.
Seventh, on occasion God directs his angels to be our guardians. However, the popular idea that each of us has a full-time guardian angel watching over us at all time is not based in the Bible. If guardian angels existed, we would have difficulty explaining how it is the people get injured in accidents, murdered, and suffer in countless ways. What we do know is that children have their angels in heaven who always see the face of the Father who is in heaven (Matt. 18:10).
Some angels appear dressed in white clothing (Acts 1:9-11). Some have the appearance of men such as those who came to visit Abraham and Sarah (Gen. 18). We are instructed: “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have entertained angels unaware” (Hebrews 13:2). Angels may be present and unperceived at any time (2 Kings 6:15-17).
There is a classification of mighty commander angels called “archangels” such as Michael, Gabriel, and even Lucifer (who fell and became Satan) (1 Thess. 4:16; Rev. 12:7). At the end of time, Christians will judge angels (1 Cor. 6:3).
It is important to note there are other created spiritual beings that are not necessarily angels per se including cherubim (Gen. 3:24; Exod. 25:20), seraphim who have six wings (Isa. 6:2-6), the four living creatures surrounding/protecting God’s throne (Rev. 4:6-9), and the twenty-four elders also in the throne-room (Rev. 4:10-11).
Angels apparently serve three main functions. The first is service to God (Psa. 148:2). The second is service to Christians (Heb. 1:14). Angels are the messengers of God and serve at His will to help protect us through the Holy Spirit. And the third is performance of God’s Word (Psa. 103:20).
Thank God for his marvelous and mysterious angels!