What Does the Bible Teach About Angels?
Fascination with angels has reached an all-time high, but the Bible's teachings on angles stands in sharp contrast to what our society believes about them. Angels are spiritual beings whom God created to serve and glorify Him. Both the Hebrew word (mal'ak) and the Greek word (angelos) mean "messenger". Angels are God's messengers who deliver urgent warnings, important commands, and valuable promises from God to His people.
God created angels before He created the earth (Jb 38:4-7). Angels hold a higher position than man and possess greater wisdom. Hebrews 2:7 says humans were made "lower than angels." Yet angels are not omnipotent (all-powerful), omniscient (all-knowing), or omnipresent (existing everywhere at once), as God is (Mt 24:36). Angels worship God; they are not meant to receive worship themselves, despite what many people believe today. The angels were created all together as a host, not as individuals (Lk 2:13; Col 1:16). They are immortal; they neither die nor reproduce. Contrary to popular belief, people do not turn into angels when they die (1Co 6:3; 13:1).
Both holy (good) angles and fallen (evil) angels exist. Gabriel and Michael are examples of holy angels; Lucifer is an example of a fallen angel. The holy angels have remained obedient in service to God, which was the purpose for which all angels were created. The fallen angels, with Lucifer as their leader; were created holy, but became evil when they rebelled against God. (Is 14:12-14 and Ezk 28:15 describe this, using language that extends beyond the immediate context of kings.) In total, Scripture seems to indicate that a third of all angels rebelled (Rv 12:4). These were cast down from heaven and now actively oppose God's plan and His people. We call these fallen angels demons, and Lucifer is now called Satan.
In Bible passages that recount times when angels appeared to humans, the angels took on human form, but still reflected the Lord's radiance. Most people experienced fear when they saw an angel; for this reason angels often prefaced their messages by saying words of reassurance, such as, "Do not be afraid" (Mt 28:5; Lk 1:13; 1:30; 2:10). Luke 2:9-11 describes the shepherds' response when they saw an angel on the night Jesus was born; "Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people: Today a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord, was born for you in the city of David."
Here we see several important points: (1) the holiness of the angels troubled the shepherds; (2) the angels had been sent as messengers of God; and (3) they served humans by telling them good news. Today, angels continue to serve as God's messengers and powerful agents of His grace in the world.
This article can be found in "Apologetics Study Bible for Students", page 1079.
Please also see our comprehensive study for the book of Luke that includes commentary from www.enduringword.com.