“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares,” Hebrews 13:2
Throughout the ages, even among religious people, there has been controversy over the existence of angels. Some say “Yes” and others say “No”. Even in the days of the apostles this difference of opinion was a real issue. When Paul was arrested in Jerusalem he brought up the existence of angels in his argument to the Jewish leaders. The Sadducees did not believe in angels while the Pharisees did. This issue caused a heated debate among them and they lost sight of their purpose in bringing the Apostle to trial.
The fact is, angels do exist. Jesus declared this truth in Matthew 22:30 when the Lord informed the Jews that dead people do not marry but “become like angels in heaven”. For me, that settles the issue. Angels DO exist. There is no biblical evidence that people who die become angels. Jesus said the dead become like angels – not they become angels. The Bible is full of angelic appearances in both the Old and New Testaments. Lets look at Scripture to see evidence that angels do exist, to learn their origin and to discover some of the work they do.
BIBLICAL EVIDENCE THAT ANGELS EXIST
Below are some examples of the appearance of angels found in the New Testament.
- An angel appeared to Mary, the mother of Jesus, announcing the birth of Christ, Luke 1:21-36.
- An angel appeared to Joseph to inform him of the origin of Mary’s pregnancy, Matthew 1:20.
- Angelic beings appeared to some shepherds when Jesus was born, Luke 2:8-14.
- The apostle Peter was delivered from a prison cell by an angel, Acts 12:7-11.
- Jesus once said that He could call more than 12 myriads of angels to deliver him from being arrested by the Jews, Matthew 26:53. According to Holman’s Illustrated Dictionary a myriad “in the time of Christ consisted of six thousand, exclusive of horsemen, who were in number a tenth of the foot-men.” That would be more than 72,000 angels by His side. The important part of the passage is that Jesus acknowledged the existence of angels.
- On the day Jesus rose from the dead, an angel stood at the tomb to announce the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, Matthew 28:1-6. Luke 24:4 informs us of the appearance of two angels on resurrection morning.
- The second coming of Jesus will be announced by an archangel and the sound of a trumpet, 1 Thessalonians 4:16.
There are many more appearances of angels in the New Testament in addition to those listed here. We have not looked at any of the angelic appearances from the Old Testament. You might want to research some of them in your Bible concordance. Angels were actively delivering God’s message to men in both the Old and New Testaments. Beyond any doubt, the Bible presents the truth that angels exist. Where did they come from?
BIBLICAL EVIDENCE GOD CREATED ANGELS
When God created this world there was joy in heaven, Job 38:4-7. Who did the rejoicing? According to Job 38:7, “All the sons of God shouted for joy”. The NIV says “All the angels of God”. The NRSV says “heavenly beings shouted for joy”. Since creation is being addressed in this verse it seems evident that it was the angelic host who shouted for joy. Therefore, angels were already in existence when God created the world.
“You are the Lord, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you,” Nehemiah 9:6. The heaven of heavens speaks of the place where the heavenly host dwells. The phrase “host”, “host of heaven,” and “heavenly host” refers to, or at least includes, angels.
Colossians 1:15-17 provides more confirmation that angels are created beings. From this passage we learn that by Jesus “all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible”. This passage clearly says things in heaven (Including angels) were created. It appears that angels were created sometime before God created the physical universe in which we live. As we have already seen, the heavenly host rejoiced when God exercised His mighty creative power.
While God created the angels, He also created man who is a “little lower than angels,” Hebrews 2:7. These messengers of God are not eternal in the same sense that God is eternal. That is evident from the fact that there has never been a time when God did not exist. However, there was a time, sometime before the creation of the earth, when angels did not exist.
THE WORK OF ANGELS
Angels are messengers of God. The Hebrew word “angel” means: “messenger”. To be a messenger presents their major assignment. That is, to deliver messages to men. Therefore, it is not surprising to see, that throughout history, angels often came to earth from heaven to deliver messages of importance to key people of God. Angels came to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and a host of Old Testament believers. Angels also appeared to Zechariah, Mary, Joseph, the wise men, Paul, Peter, and other people of the New Testament era.
Angels are “ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation,” Hebrews 1:14. I doubt we know all of the areas where angels minister to God’s people today. Jesus informs us that little children have angels in heaven, Matthew 18:10.
Another major work of angels is praising God. Revelation 4:4 clearly says they never cease to say “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty”. In Revelation 19:1-5 the angels say hallelujah to God for punishing the wicked. Angels are real and they have many responsibilities to accomplish before God and man.
While angels often made earthly appearances there is no Biblical evidence that any one of them ever lived on earth for an extended period of time. The Bible is silent on that subject so we dare not make unfounded conclusions on the topic. Many times men realized when an angel appeared to them. On other occasions they did not know that an angel was in their presence, Hebrews 13:2. Here is what we know for sure:
- God created the angels.
- Therefore, angels do exist.
- Angels have work to do in heaven and on earth.
- Men do not always know when an angel appears before them, Hebrews 13:2.
“Bless the Lord, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word,
obeying the voice of his word! Bless the Lord, all his hosts,
his ministers, who do his will! Bless the Lord, all his works,
in all places of his dominion.
Bless the Lord, O my soul!”