Angels are spiritual beings created by God. This article explains their origin and place in God's plan of salvation.

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God employs supernatural agents🔗

I asked, “What are these, my lord?” The angel who was talking with me answered, “I will show you what they are.” Then the man standing among the myrtle trees explained, “They are the ones the LORD has sent to go throughout the earth.” Zechariah 1:9-10

Angels (their name means “messengers”) are one of the two sorts of personal beings that God created, humankind being the other. There are many of them (Matt. 26:53; Rev. 5:11). They are intelligent moral agents, not embodied or ordinarily visible, although they are able to show themselves to humans in what appears as a physical form (Gen. 18:2-19:22; John 20:10-14; Acts 12:7-10). They do not marry, and they are not subject to death (Matt. 22:30; Luke 20:35-36). They can move from one point in space to another, and many of them can congregate in a tiny area (Luke 8:30, where the reference is to fallen angels).

Like human beings, the angels were originally set under probation, and some of them fell into sin. The many who passed the test are now evidently confirmed in a state of holiness and immortal glory. Heaven is their headquarters (Matt. 18:10; 22:30; Rev. 5:11), where they constantly worship God (Pss. 103:20-21; 148:2) and whence they move out to render service to Christians at God’s bidding (Heb. 1:14). These are the “holy” and “elect” angels (Matt. 25:31; Mark 8:38; Luke 9:26; Acts 10:22; 1 Tim. 5:21; Rev. 14:10), to whom God’s work of grace through Christ is currently demonstrating more of the divine wisdom and glory than they knew before (Eph. 3:10; 1 Pet. 1:12).

Holy angels guard believers (Pss. 34:7; 91:11), little ones in particular (Matt. 18:10), and constantly observe what goes on in the church (1 Cor. 11:10). It is implied that they are more knowledgeable about divine things than humans are (Mark 13:32), and that they have a special ministry to believers at the time of their death (Luke 16:22), but we know no details about any of this. Suffice it to pinpoint the relevance of angels by saying that if at any time we stand in need of their ministry, we shall receive it; and that as the world watches Christians in hope of seeing them tumble, so do good angels watch Christians in hope of seeing grace triumph in their lives.

The mysterious “angel of the LORD” or “angel of God,” who appears often in the early Old Testament story and is sometimes identified with the God from whom he is at other times distinguished (Gen. 16:7-13; 18:1-33; 22:11-18; 24:7, 40; 31:11-13; 32:24-30; 48:15-16; Exod. 3:2-6; 14:19; 23:20-23; 32:34; 33:5; Num. 22:22-35; Josh. 5:13-15; Judg. 2:1-5; 6:11-23; 9:13-23), is in some sense God acting as his own messenger, and is commonly seen as a preincarnate appearance of God the Son.

Angelic activity was prominent at the great turning points in the divine plan of salvation (the days of the patriarchs, the time of the Exodus and giving of the law, the period of the Exile and restoration, and the birth, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ), and it will be prominent again when Christ returns (Matt. 25:31; Mark 8:38).

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