“Stay on good terms with each other, held together by love. Be ready with a meal or a bed when it’s needed. Why, some have extended hospitality to angels without ever knowing it!” (Hebrews 13:1-2, The Message)
There’s no other time of year angels are given more publicity than Christmas. They’re everywhere: Christmas Cards, yard décor, Christmas tree toppers, ornaments. How many times will you hear or sing, “Angels We Have Heard On High,” and “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” not to mention be reminded that “Every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings?”
Angels. Who are they really? Do we have guardian angels? Do they really look like the pictures? Do they make appearances today? All great questions.
To begin with, they’re not the Precious Moments type of cherubs we see on Christmas cards and store shelves. Far from it. There’s a reason every time an angel shows up in scripture people are terrified, prompting the angel to usually begin with, “Fear not.”
Our world is intrigued with angels, in part, because they’re part of the mysterious, the metaphysical – the supernatural. Everyone has an opinion as to what they are.
The 16th Century Reformer, John Calvin, said,
“We would be wise to renounce vain babblings concerning the nature, ranks, and number of angels without any authority from the Word of God.”
Good advice. So to the Word of God we go.
Both the Old & New Testament words for angel are, in the English, translated “messenger.” One of our largest North American cities, Los Angeles, (The City of Angels) borrows from the Greek word, “angelos.”
Throughout Scripture, an angel’s purpose is to serve God by attending to the needs of His people. Author, John MacArthur, puts is plainly:
“Angels are to worship and serve God by attending to the care of His people.”
The following biblical facts are in no way exhaustive but, nonetheless, contain some interesting biblical facts about angels.
General facts from God’s Word regarding angels:
2. They’re last mentioned in Revelation 22:16.
3. Only three angels in Scripture are given names: Gabriel, Michael, and Lucifer/Satan. NOTE: Most modern translations rightly render the Hebrew text in Isaiah 14 “morning star” or “day star”. The King James translation, for whatever reason, chose to include the word “Lucifer”, the Latin word for morning star or the planet Venus. Hence, the name Lucifer became associated with the only proper name Jesus gave the devil: Satan.
4. Each time Gabriel is mentioned he is delivering a message. Each time Michael is mentioned he is battling the enemy.
5. In heavenly form, two types of angels are mentioned: cherubim & seraphim. The cherubim are mentioned 70 times in the Old Testament, but only once in the New. The seraphim are mentioned only once in all the Bible: Isaiah, chapter 6.
6. When described in human form they are always male, and never described as having wings.
This is Part 1 of a 2-Part Series. Part 2 answers questions such as, “Do we have guardian angels?”, and “Do we encounter angels today?” You can read it here.
Soli Deo Gloria, Nick