4 occurrences in 4 dictionaries

Reference: Angel


The original word, both in Hebrew and Greek, means messenger, and is so translated, Mt 11:10; Lu 7:24. It is often applied to an ordinary messenger, Job 1:14; 1Sa 11:3; Lu 9:52; to prophets, Isa 42:19; Hag 1:13; to priests, Ec 5:6; Mal 2:7; and even to inanimate objects, Ps 78:49; 104:4; 2Co 12:7. Under the general sense of messenger, the term, angel is properly applied also to Christ, as the great Angel or Messenger of the covenant, Mal 3:1, and to the ministers of his gospel, the overseers or angels of the churches, Re 2:1,8,12, etc. In 1Co 11:10, the best interpreters understand by the term "angels" the holy angels, who were present in an especial sense in the Christian assemblies; and from reverence to them it was proper that the women should have power (veils, as a sign of their being in subjection to a higher power) on their heads. See under VEIL.

But generally in the Bible the word is applied to a race of intelligent beings, of a higher order than man, who surround the Deity, and whom he employs as his messengers or agents in administering the affairs of the world, and in promoting the welfare of individuals, as well as of the whole human race,

Mt 1:20; 22:30; Ac 7:30. Whether pure spirits, or having spiritual bodies, they have no bodily organization like ours, and are not distinguished in sex, Mt 22:30. They were doubtless created long before our present world was made, Job 38:7.

The Bible represents them as exceedingly numerous, Da 7:10; Mt 26:53; Lu 2:13; Heb 12:22-23; as remarkable for strength, Ps 103:20; 2Pe 2:11; Re 5:2; 18:21; 19:17; and for activity, Jg 13:20; Isa 6:2-6; Da 9:21-23; Mt 13:49; 26:53; Ac 27:23; Re 8:13. They appear to be of divers orders, Isa 6:2-6; Eze 10:1; Col 1:16; Re 12:7. Their name indicates their agency in the dispensations of Providence towards man, and the Bible abounds in narratives of events in which they have borne a visible part. Yet in this employment they act as the mere instruments of God, and in fulfilment of his commands, Ps 91:11; 103:20; Heb 1:14. We are not therefore to put trust in them, pay them adoration, or pray in their name, Re 19:10; 22:8-9. Though Scripture does not warrant us to believe that each individual has his particular guardian angel, it teaches very explicitly that the angels minister to every Christian, Mt 18:10; Lu 16:22; Heb 1:14. They are intensely concerned in the salvation of men, Lu 2:10-12; 15:7,10; 1Pe 1:12; and will share with saints the blessedness of heaven forever, Heb 12:22.

Those angels "who kept not their first estate," but fell and rebelled against God, are called the angels of Satan or the devil, Mt 25:41; Re 12:9. These are represented as being "cast down to hell, and reserved unto judgment," 2Pe 2:4. See SYNAGOGUE, ARCHANGEL.

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a word signifying, both in the Hebrew and Greek, a "messenger," and hence employed to denote any agent God sends forth to execute his purposes. It is used of an ordinary messenger (Job 1:14; 1Sa 11:3; Lu 7:24; 9:52), of prophets (Isa 42:19; Hag 1:13), of priests (Mal 2:7), and ministers of the New Testament (Re 1:20).

It is also applied to such impersonal agents as the pestilence (2Sa 24:16-17; 2Ki 19:35), the wind (Ps 104:4).

But its distinctive application is to certain heavenly intelligences whom God employs in carrying on his government of the world. The name does not denote their nature but their office as messengers. The appearances to Abraham at Mamre (Ge 18:2,22. Comp. Ge 19:1), to Jacob at Peniel (Ge 32:24,30), to Joshua at Gilgal (Jos 5:13,15), of the Angel of the Lord, were doubtless manifestations of the Divine presence, "foreshadowings of the incarnation," revelations before the "fulness of the time" of the Son of God.

(1.) The existence and orders of angelic beings can only be discovered from the Scriptures. Although the Bible does not treat of this subject specially, yet there are numerous incidental details that furnish us with ample information. Their personal existence is plainly implied in such passages as Ge 16:7,10-11; Jg 13:1-21; Mt 28:2-5; Heb 1:4, etc.

These superior beings are very numerous. "Thousand thousands," etc. (Da 7:10; Mt 26:53; Lu 2:13; Heb 12:22-23). They are also spoken of as of different ranks in dignity and power (Zec 1:9,11; Da 10:13; 12:1; 1Th 4:16; Jude 1:9; Eph 1:21; Col 1:16).

(2.) As to their nature, they are spirits (Heb 1:14), like the soul of man, but not incorporeal. Such expressions as "like the angels" (Lu 20:36), and the fact that whenever angels appeared to man it was always in a human form (Ge 18:2; 19:1,10; Lu 24:4; Ac 1:10), and the titles that are applied to them ("sons of God," Job 1:6; 38:7; Da 3:25; comp. Da 3:28) and to men (Lu 3:38), seem all to indicate some resemblance between them and the human race. Imperfection is ascribed to them as creatures (Job 4:18; Mt 24:36; 1Pe 1:12). As finite creatures they may fall under temptation; and accordingly we read of "fallen angels." Of the cause and manner of their "fall" we are wholly ignorant. We know only that "they left their first estate" (Mt 25:41; Re 12:7,9), and that they are "reserved unto judgement" (2Pe 2:4). When the manna is called "angels' food," this is merely to denote its excellence (Ps 78:25). Angels never die (Lu 20:36). They are possessed of superhuman intelligence and power (Mr 13:32; 2Th 1:7; Ps 103:20). They are called "holy" (Lu 9:26), "elect" (1Ti 5:21). The redeemed in glory are "like unto the angels" (Lu 20:36). They are not to be worshipped (Col 2:18; Re 19:10).

(3.) Their functions are manifold. (a) In the widest sense they are agents of God's providence (Ex 12:23; Ps 104:4; Heb 11:28; 1Co 10:10; 2Sa 24:16; 1Ch 21:16; 2Ki 19:35; Ac 12:23). (b) They are specially God's agents in carrying on his great work of redemption. There is no notice of angelic appearances to man till after the call of Abraham. From that time onward there are frequent references to their ministry on earth (Gen 18; 19; Ge 24:7,40; 28:12; 32:1). They appear to rebuke idolatry (Jg 2:1-4), to call Gideon (Jg 6:11-12), and to consecrate Samson (Jg 13:3). In the days of the prophets, from Samuel downward, the angels appear only in their behalf (1Ki 19:5; 2Ki 6:17; Zech 1-6; 13'>Da 4:13,23; 10:10,13,20-21).

The Incarnation introduces a new era in the ministrations of angels. They come with their Lord to earth to do him service while here. They predict his advent (Mt 1:20; Lu 1:26-38), minister to him after his temptation and agony (Mt 4:11; Lu 22:43), and declare his resurrection and ascension (Mt 28:2-8; Joh 20:12-13; Ac 1:10-11). They are now ministering spirits to the people of God (Heb 1:14; Ps 34:7; 91:11; Mt 18:10; Ac 5:19; 8:26; 10:3; 12:7; 27:23). They rejoice over a penitent sinner (Lu 15:10). They bear the souls of the redeemed to paradise (Lu 16:22); and they will be the ministers of judgement hereafter on the great day (Mt 13:39,41,49; 16:27; 24:31). The passages (Ps 34:7; Mt 18:10) usually referred to in support of the idea that every individual has a particular guardian angel have no such meaning. They merely indicate that God employs the ministry of angels to deliver his people from affliction and danger, and that the angels do not think it below their dignity to minister even to children and to the least among Christ's disciples.

The "angel of his presence" (Isa 63:9. Comp. Ex 23:20-21; 32:34; 33:2; Nu 20:16) is probably rightly interpreted of the Messiah as the guide of his people. Others have supposed the expression to refer to Gabriel (Lu 1:19).

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1. Old Testament.

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ANGEL, a spiritual, intelligent substance, the first in rank and dignity among created beings The word angel, ???????, is not properly a denomination of nature but of office; denoting as much as nuncius, messenger, a person employed to carry one's orders, or declare his will. Thus it is St. Paul represents angels, Heb 1:14, where he calls them "ministering spirits;" and yet custom has prevailed so much, that angel is now commonly taken for the denomination of a particular order of spiritual beings, of great understanding and power, superior to the souls or spirits of men. Some of these are spoken of in Scripture in such a manner as plainly to signify that they are real beings, of a spiritual nature, of high power, perfection, dignity, and happiness. Others of them are distinguished as not having kept their first station, Jude 1:6. These are represented as evil spirits, enemies of God, and intent on mischief. The devil as the head of them, and they as his angels, are represented as the rulers of the darkness of this world, or spiritual wickednesses, or wicked spirits, ?? ?????????? ??? ???????? ?? ???? ???????????, Eph 6:12; which may not be unfitly rendered, "the spiritual managers of opposition to the kingdom of God." The existence of angels is supposed in all religions, though it is incapable of being proved a priori. Indeed, the ancient Sadducees are represented as denying all spirits; and yet the Samaritans, and Caraites, who are reputed Sadducees, openly allowed them: witness Abusaid, the author of an Arabic version of the Pentateuch; and Aaron, a Caraite Jew, in his comment on the Pentateuch; both extant in manuscript in the king of France's library. In the Alcoran we find frequent mention of angels. The Mussulmen believe them of different orders or degrees, and to be destined for different employments both in heaven and on earth. They attribute exceedingly great power to the angel Gabriel, as that he is able to descend in the space of an hour from heaven to earth; to overturn a mountain with a single feather of his wing, &c. The angel Asrael, they suppose, is appointed to take the souls of such as die; and another angel, named Esraphil, they tell us, stands with a trumpet ready in his mouth to proclaim the day of judgment.

The Heathen philosophers and poets were also agreed as to the existence of intelligent beings, superior to man; as is shown by St. Cyprian in his treatise of the vanity of idols; from the testimonies of Plato, Socrates, Trismegistus, &c. They were acknowledged under different appellations; the Greeks calling them daemons, and the Romans genii, or lares. Epicurus seems to have been the only one among the old philosophers who absolutely rejected them.

Authors are not so unanimous about the nature as about the existence of angels. Clemens Alexandrinus believed they had bodies; which was also the opinion of Origen, Caesarius, Tertullian, and several others. Athanasius, St. Basil, St. Gregory Nicene, St. Cyril, St. Chrysostom, &c, held them to be mere spirits. It has been the more current opinion, especially in later times, that they are substances entirely spiritual, who can, at any time, assume bodies, and appear in human or other shapes. Ecclesiastical writers make a hierarchy of nine orders of angels. Others have distributed angels into nine orders, according to the names by which they are called in Scripture, and reduced these orders into three hierarchies; to the first of which belong seraphim, cherubim, and thrones; to the second, dominions, virtues, and powers; and to the third, principalities, archangels, and angels. The Jews reckon four orders or companies of angels, each headed by an archangel; the first order being that of Michael; the second, of Gabriel; the third, of Uriel; and the fourth, of Raphael. Following the Scripture account, we shall find mention made of different orders of these superior beings; for such a distinction of orders seems intimated in the names given to different classes. Thus we have thrones, dominions, principalities, or princedoms, powers, authorities, living ones, cherubim and seraphim. That some of these titles may indicate the same class of angels is probable; but that they all should be but different appellations of one common and equal order is improbable. We learn also from Scripture, that they dwell in the immediate presence of God; that they "excel in strength;" that they are immortal; and that they are the agents through which God very often accomplishes his special purposes of judgment and mercy. Nothing is more frequent in Scripture than the missions and appearances of good and bad angels, whom God employed to declare his will; to correct, teach, reprove, and comfort. God gave the law to Moses, and appeared to the old patriarchs, by the mediation of angels, who represented him, and spoke in his name, Ac 7:30,35; Ga 3:19; Heb 13:2.

Though the Jews, in general, believed the existence of angels, there was a sect among them, namely, the Sadducees, who denied the existence of all spirits whatever, God only excepted, Ac 23:8. Before the Babylonish captivity, the Hebrews seem not to have known the names of any angel. The Talmudists say they brought the names of angels from Babylon. Tobit, who is thought to have resided in Nineveh some time before the captivity, mentions the angel Raphael, Tob. 3:17; 11:2, 7; and Daniel, who lived at Babylon some time after Tobit, has taught us the names of Michael and Gabriel, Da 8:16; 9:21; 10:21. In the New Testament, we find only the two latter mentioned by name.

There are various opinions as to the time when the angels were created. Some think this took place when our heavens and the earth were made. For this opinion, however, there is no just foundation in the Mosaic account. Others think that angels existed long before the formation of our solar system; and Scripture seems to favour this opinion, Job 38:4,7, where God says, "Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?

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