Skip to comments.The Angels in Sacred Scripture
Posted on 12/09/2006 8:03:09 AM PST by stfassisi
The Angels in Sacred Scripture by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
The angels are not a luxury to Christianity. Angels belong to the heart of our Catholic faith. In other words the existence, the nature, the purpose, the role of the angels, is an essential part of our faith. Only those who believe in angels are Christians.
The angels therefore belong to the mystery of Christianity. Deny their existence, function, or our devotion to the angels and it would be heresy. This is why it is so important to see what Divine Revelation in Sacred Scripture tells us about the angels. As the meditation goes on we will look more closely and more extensively on these numerous revelations on the angelic creatures.
For the present we will take a panoramic view of what Sacred Scripture, inspired by the Holy Spirit, tells us about these creatures and the angelic world.
Needless to say, we will be covering in this meditation will be exhaustive. We will cover the Old and the New testaments and will see how in the first and the last books of Sacred Scriptures, the angels are a part of Gods providence. Our purpose therefore is to see how far, then how they are made, and how a country like the United States, is strictly occupied with matter. Our very language says that if something is important it is material. Dear God! The Divine Trinity, the angels are immaterial. They are pure spirits, immaterial. We are living in a dream world if we are to believe that reality is only material reality.
What we will concentrate on is the voice of the Holy Spirit. In the Old Testament an angel is called a moloch. In the New Testament, originally in Greek, it is angelos. Both words mean messenger. The word angel therefore, does not identify who an angel is. An individual intelligent being, a person with a mind and will. The word angel identifies what the angels do. They are messengers from God to us.
As we read the Old Testament we are told in one book after another, that the angels are messengers of Yahweh, messengers in numerous ways. An angel prevents Abraham from sacrificing his son Isaac. Angels appear to Moses in the burning bush. Angels appear to Elijah the Prophet. Angels lead the Israelites, miraculously to the red sea. Angels slay the enemies of the chosen people. In almost the whole book of Tobit or Tobias, it is described in great detail how an angel helps Tobit and his son.
The Old Testament especially features the angels as adorers of Yahweh. They are in another words, the host, the heavenly army of the adorers of the Almighty. It is the angelic world of adoring God which is the principal theme of the Psalms. The angels, we are told surround Yahweh, they form nothing less than a heavenly army. They are the Divine Retinue which serve and praise God, and their numbers are beyond counting.
The New Testament might almost be called the angelic part of Sacred Scriptures. From the beginning of the gospel of St. Matthew to the closing of the book of Revelation, the angels are featured as a part of Gods mysterious providence over the New Israel. Our Lord Jesus Christ often speaks of the angels. Referring to the children whom the disciples wanted to drive away. Now says our Lord. The angels in heaven are continually in the presence of my Father.
As we have seen in more detail during the retreat, the principal role of the angelic hosts is to honor, praise and adore God. They, in Marks gospel, our Lord foretelling the state of human beings in heavenly glory. No more marrying in heaven, no more begetting of children. The number of the predestined will be completed, says Jesus. In heaven they do not marry. They are like the angels. Each angel is an individual person, and individual species, according to our Catholic theology. There are no angel fathers or mothers for the obvious reasons, they have no bodies.
The angels appear at the beginning and at the end of Christs visible stay on earth. An angel announces the conception of the Savior. Angels appear to the Shepherds to tell them the Messiah is born. And when the disciples on Ascension day, kept looking up and staring, Where did Jesus go. The angels of the disciples told them that was enough looking and to stop. They told them that Christ will come, but, in His majesty.
Saints Peter, John, and Paul, are three principal New Testament spokesmen for the angel. They wrote extensively on the angels not only during Christs visible stay on earth not only during apostolic times, not only until the end of the first century of Christian history, but they foretell how the angels just as they had been with Christ on His physical stay on earth, so they will stay with His Church until the end of Time.
Among the Jews as we know, all the Sadducees denied the existence of angels. Over the years in both teaching Judaism and knowing Jewish people, the same distinction can be made today. The truly believing Jews believe in angels. The Sadducees, as in first century Palestine, deny the existence of Angels.
What do Sacred Scriptures tell us about the nature of the angels? A great deal. In Pauls letter to the Hebrews, he describes the angels as spirits. St. Luke said that the angels have no bodies. St. Paul, in his letter to the Colossians, identified the angels as creatures. Time began when the angels were created. St. Matthew made sure that believers in Christ believed that the angels had no gender. There is no male or female among the angels, again for the obvious reason, the angels do not have bodies. St. Luke again tells us that the angels are immortal. Once God creates a spirit, whether the angelic spirit of an angel or our immortal spirit, neither the angel nor our soul will die.
Like the angels we are immortal. We were created for eternity. St. Paul again, this time to the Ephesians, speaks at great length about the wisdom of the angels. Wisdom as we know is that knowledge in the mind that provides great joy and happiness to the will. One reason again as we shall see in greater detail we should ask for the angels intercession with God. Angels intercession with God has to do with a profound reason.
Again St. Luke in the letters to the Evangelists about the angelic world stated that the angels have a free will. They had a free will when they were first created and those now in heaven still have a free will. Of course the only choice they make now in the beatific vision is to choose to love God. The angels, we are told by St. Matthew, see God. How we better make this clear. We not only believe in God, we accept on faith His existence. But the angels see Him face to face. There is no intermediary. There are not even ideas standing between the angelic mind and the Holy Trinity. They see Him directly, intuitively, immediately.
Finally, as the whole Bible but especially the closing book of the New Testament tells us, the angels are holy. Holiness means God-likeness. The angels are most like God. Angels are spiritual beings like God. And they are like God because their will are united to the will of the Holy Trinity.
Does Sacred Scripture tell us something about the number of the angels? There is no specific enumeration. The Bible tells us there are legions, and legion in sacred scripture means a countless number. The New Testament tells us the angels form a multitude. St. Paul tells us there are many thousands. And in the closing book of the bible, which talks about the angels in the first closing chapter of the Apocalypse, angels are part of the life of the mystical body and will be an essential part of the eternal destiny to which we are looking forward.
Says St. John, There are thousands upon thousands of angels adoring God. Just a word of explanation. Can we really talk about the number of angels if they have no bodies? For example, I can say there are three pieces of paper in front of me. Or I can say there is a glass of water. Can we speak of the number of the angels if they have no bodies? Yes. Yes. Numbers have nothing to do with bodies. There are three persons in the Holy Trinity and the Holy Trinity is surely infinite, uncreated, divine, spiritual being.
Why can we speak about the number of the angels? Because each angel is an individual. Each angel is a person. Each angel is distinct from another angel separate from another angel.
The Sacred Scriptures tell us something about the hierarchy of the angels. Hierarchy means holy. Angels are holy. Hierarchy also means classification.
Are all the angels equal? No. Are there some angels higher than others? Yes. In Sacred Scripture we find in the Old Testament seven categories or classes of angels. They are identified as: angels, powers, and virtues. In the New Testament they are identified as principalities and dominations, as thrones and archangels. In the Old Testament they are identified as two main classes, the cherubim and seraphim.
Over the centuries the Catholic teaching on the angels, called angelology, theologians divide these three time three categories, make it nine, on the angels. The highest category are the cherubim, seraphim and the thrones. The next category are the dominations, power, and the virtues. And the last, shall we say the lowest category are the principalities, archangels, and angels.
A lesson for us, I think, is crucial. Does God love all of us? An emphatic yes. Has God gifted all human beings equally? No two people are equal. The hierarchy among the angels, the differences, and not just differences in function, but differences in the gifts which they received from God, teach us that among human beings, there are some who are gifted naturally and supernaturally.
Although the angels differ so widely in function and in the gifts they receive, there is never any envy among the angels. The angels know there is a hierarchy among human beings, not just in Church, there is a hierarchy in the whole human race. No two human beings are equally gifted by God. And all the while we believe that God wants us to love those who may be more gifted than we and not envy them, or less gifted than we and not dominating them.
In Sacred Scriptures, we are told at great length that the angels have a very special function in their relationship to God. Two words recur in Old and New Testament. Angels worshipped God. Angels obeyed God. Those who deserved Heaven obeyed God and are now in heavenly Glory. And the angels praise God. We are told by St. Paul that this is the language of the angels, to praise God. One more area of angelic revelation in Sacred Scripture.
The angelic relationship to Jesus Christ. They announced His conception, His birth. The angels have been worshipping Christ since He was conceived in His mothers womb. The angels minister to Jesus. Let us not forget, especially in the desert. The angels, what mysterious words, the angels strengthened Jesus Christ during His Agony in the Garden in His humanity. The angels were heralds of His Resurrection. They were witnesses of His Ascension. And the angels, we are told by Sacred Scripture, will announce His final coming. When Christ, who was crucified for our salvation, will come in majesty, and then no longer submitting to the humiliation of the Crucifixion, escorted by the angels, will come to judge the living and the dead.
Lord Jesus, Master of the angels, help us. Help us to recover what we had lost and strengthen where we are weakened in our realization of the vast angelic world. Deepen our appreciation of the angels who pronounced your birth to the shepherds and through the shepherds to us, the Good News of our Salvation.
This writer is not well informed so take it with a grain of salt. Only God has immortality!
According to God's Word, souls do die! We are souls, and souls die. Man is mortal (Job 4:17). Only God is immortal (1 Timothy 6:15, 16). The concept of an undying, immortal soul goes against the Bible, which teaches that souls are subject to death.
Do souls die?
"The soul that sinneth, it shall die." Ezekiel 18:20. "Every living soul died in the sea." Revelation 16:3.
The holy messengers are still with us...
The Lord's messengers... warriors... healers...
And then, when he presented his honored Son to the world, God said, Let all the angels of God worship him.
God calls his angels...
messengers swift as the wind,
...and servants made of flaming fire.
--Hebrews 1:6-7 (NLT)
You,re not making any sense.
Re read the article again.
FYI,the thread I posted is for Catholics, if have not noticed
So you are saying this a devotional post and only for Catholics?
That would explain why you all are putting up with the blatent falsehoods portrayed here.
Point to a "falsehood."
The expression for death in Scipture is probably better translated as a 'state of existence involving separation'. 20th century secular philosophers have attempted to replace the existence of the soul with an existential materialism, positing the soul is merely a process of materialism. That is not the meaning of the soul or spirit in Scripture.
Additionally, the word 'soul' is frequently used in the Old Testament translations in a fashion which merges soul and spirit, whereas the New Testament tends to discern between soul and spirit.
When we say the soul is dead, it might be better understood that the soul is separate from an object which has life or is associated with life. For example, when we sin, we disobey God, by His immutable nature, He remains righteous, but in our sin we have separated ourselves from Him, i.e. dead to Him.
There may also be the separation of soul and spirit upon the second death. Our first death is generally associated with the separation of soul and/or spirit from the body.
The descriptor in Job 4:17 is of 'mortal man', identifying our present state of body soul and spirit which will undergo the first death or separation of the soul from the body. The body may also die or collapse falling into its constituent dust.
1Tim 6:15,16 testifies to the immortality and uniqueness of that immortality attributed in His essence, or His deathlessness.
Some express these observations by stating the soul of the believer has eternal life. This is because believers who die before the resurrection are always associated with a body throughout that eternal life. The first body is corruptible and will return to the dust, while we have an interim body immediately upon death but prior to the resurrection, at which time we receive our thirs body or resurrection body. The eternal life of the believer was given him by God at salvation by the regeneration of the spirit.
With this stated, you are correct in that the soul experiences a death or state of existence involving separation when leaving the mortal body for heaven.
Perhaps the intent is better expressed that Christians who advance in faith believe in angels.
Anything added to faith in God through Christ voids that faith as a saving faith. Accordingly, it is possible to be a believer, i.e. a Christian, with faith in God through Christ, yet not yet have been cognizant of angels or further advanced in faith and sanctification to yet recognize them. There may be many testimonies yet to be made in resolving the angelic conflict which still call upon a saint, uncognizant of the angelic domain, to bear an appropriate witness for their observation.
1. There was no angel in the burning bush.
2. Just because angels are not married or given in marriage does not mean that they have no bodies. Ezeikel sites two angels as female.
3. heirarchy is not God like, mearly a word designating order.
4. Holy simply means set apart; not "like God"
Now of course you hide under your auspices of your supposed authority even when it contradicts common usage of words and speculation beyond reason.
The other mistakes and blatant falsehoods are simply props used to maintain the mistakes made by priests and bishop too arogant to recant.
I can list more if you like. You simply wont deal with them. I have seen your post before.
Finanly as difficult as it would have been to simply answer my original question, was this a devotional post, I would then have refrained from posting again.
Oh really? Does my reputation really proceed me? I think you simply don't know what you're talking about, and ask that you retract your comment.
The scriptures are for ALL people! The bible is the light unto our path and a lamp at our feet, and it is not a book of fables.
Thanks, the article was so poor and so lacking in truth, that I did not bother to go over it all. Of course, it was not an angel in the Burning Bush. Thanks for trying to help this poor writer.
I simply mean to say that you are not interested in intelectual honesty when it comes to catholasim. You do not deal with the contradictions of tradition and dogma that are clearly a problem in your tradition. You have gone out of your way to belittle others and then hide behind your acusation of their huberis by saying they wont submit to authority. If that is untrue or inacruate then I will retract that statement.
This article is case in point; their were obvious fabrications based on assumptions that are making the text and common sense stand on it's head. But I clearly see the mark of man made tradition and the monopoly of catholasims behind them. To state that an angel has no body based on the simple statement that they " are neither married nor given in marriage" is taking it too far.
This article is repleat with many of these flagrent speculations presented as truth.
That sir, is what I have noted that you do not deal with.
No, I do not deal what YOU see as apparent contradictions. I do not accept your sola scriptura theology.
You have gone out of your way to belittle others and then hide behind your acusation of their huberis by saying they wont submit to authority. If that is untrue or inacruate then I will retract that statement.
Where have I belittled others? I'd like to point to at least one example.
Overall, if you want to be credible, it helps to spell-check your posts. You may be the most intelligent person in the world, but if you come across as sloppy through your numerous typos/misspellings, how can people take you seriously?
Do not call the scripture "SACRED" if you regard it as some sort of a meaningless joke.
It is very presumptuous of you to think that I hold Sacred Scripture as a "meaningless joke."
I agree somewhat with your statement regarding holiness.
One of the many examples of holiness is provided us in Scripture as the Arc of the Covenant where two angels face one another, one representing His Perfect Righteousness and the other His Perfect Justice. Both are on the Mercy Seat, where the blood of the sacrifice of an unblemished lamb is presented by the High Priest as an atonement sacrifice. Within the Arc were the tablets of the ten commandments (the law broken), Aaron's rod that budded, and manna.
Holy doesn't so much mean 'like God', but is even better revealed to us in the Tabernacle and the Mercy Seat.
If one doesn't understand holiness, one of the first opportunities available for the most trustworthy truth is to simply study the Arc of the Covenant in Scripture through faith in Christ and allow the Holy Spirit to guide the believer's study.
But not all faith is based upon Christ.
Any faith not through Christ is unfaithful.
Only God is eternal, since he is uncreated. Angels are simple created spiritual substances, meaning that they have no parts. A being with no parts cannot be divided, and hence, destroyed. Once created, a simple substance will endure forever. Now, it is within God's power to annihilate or bring to nothing that which he has created from nothing, but since that which he has created is good in its very being, it seems that the annihilation of angels (even demons) would be contrary to God's justice. Regardless, we know from divine revelation that the angels will endure forever, in either eternal glory or punishment.
The human person, in contrast to the angels, is a compound substance of body and soul or matter and form. A compound substance can be divided or decomposed. The decomposition of body and soul represents death. But while the body proceeds to divide into smaller parts after death, the soul endures, since, considered absolutely, the soul is a simple (spiritual) substance.
Article 5. Whether the angels are incorruptible?
Objection 1. It would seem that the angels are not incorruptible; for Damascene, speaking of the angel, says (De Fide Orth. ii, 3) that he is "an intellectual substance, partaking of immortality by favor, and not by nature."
Objection 2. Further, Plato says in the Timaeus: "O gods of gods, whose maker and father am I: You are indeed my works, dissoluble by nature, yet indissoluble because I so will it." But gods such as these can only be understood to be the angels. Therefore the angels are corruptible by their nature
Objection 3. Further, according to Gregory (Moral. xvi), "all things would tend towards nothing, unless the hand of the Almighty preserved them." But what can be brought to nothing is corruptible. Therefore, since the angels were made by God, it would appear that they are corruptible of their own nature.
On the contrary, Dionysius says (Div. Nom. iv) that the intellectual substances "have unfailing life, being free from all corruption, death, matter, and generation."
I answer that, It must necessarily be maintained that the angels are incorruptible of their own nature. The reason for this is, that nothing is corrupted except by its form being separated from the matter. Hence, since an angel is a subsisting form, as is clear from what was said above (2), it is impossible for its substance to be corruptible. For what belongs to anything considered in itself can never be separated from it; but what belongs to a thing, considered in relation to something else, can be separated, when that something else is taken away, in view of which it belonged to it. Roundness can never be taken from the circle, because it belongs to it of itself; but a bronze circle can lose roundness, if the bronze be deprived of its circular shape. Now to be belongs to a form considered in itself; for everything is an actual being according to its form: whereas matter is an actual being by the form. Consequently a subject composed of matter and form ceases to be actually when the form is separated from the matter. But if the form subsists in its own being, as happens in the angels, as was said above (2), it cannot lose its being. Therefore, the angel's immateriality is the cause why it is incorruptible by its own nature.
A token of this incorruptibility can be gathered from its intellectual operation; for since everything acts according as it is actual, the operation of a thing indicates its mode of being. Now the species and nature of the operation is understood from the object. But an intelligible object, being above time, is everlasting. Hence every intellectual substance is incorruptible of its own nature.
Reply to Objection 1. Damascene is dealing with perfect immortality, which includes complete immutability; since "every change is a kind of death," as Augustine says (Contra Maxim. iii). The angels obtain perfect immutability only by favor, as will appear later (62).
Reply to Objection 2. By the expression 'gods' Plato understands the heavenly bodies, which he supposed to be made up of elements, and therefore dissoluble of their own nature; yet they are for ever preserved in existence by the Divine will.
Reply to Objection 3. As was observed above (44, 1) there is a kind of necessary thing which has a cause of its necessity. Hence it is not repugnant to a necessary or incorruptible being to depend for its existence on another as its cause. Therefore, when it is said that all things, even the angels, would lapse into nothing, unless preserved by God, it is not to be gathered therefrom that there is any principle of corruption in the angels; but that the nature of the angels is dependent upon God as its cause. For a thing is said to be corruptible not merely because God can reduce it to non-existence, by withdrawing His act of preservation; but also because it has some principle of corruption within itself, or some contrariety, or at least the potentiality of matter.
Not to non-christians.
even to non-christians for no other can regenerate the spirit other than God the Holy Spirit.
There are billions of people on this earth that disagree with you because they do not believe in our God.
I really doesn't matter if every living soul on the face of the planet from eternity past to eternity future disagrees.
What matters is the faith that is provided by God Himself.
You are making less sense than before.
The significance of faith isn't that it is our thinking, but rather that from Scripture we are told all faith comes from God. The discernment comes from identifying the faith that is from God and the types of thinking which come from ourselves independent of God.
There are many people who associate anything religious, based upon a method of thinking, as being identifiable with faith. The Faith provided by God, though, is a trustworthy faith. Faith that is provided by God to the believer is a mode of thinking which is nonmeritorious of the thinker, yet places the object of that faith as God Himself and how He has provided the mechanics for man to have a relationship with Him.
It has been said that it only takes just a very little more faith, than absolutely no faith whatsoever, to have a saving faith. This is an outstanding check on our thinking when we study Scripture. If the basis of our thinking isn't as simple as a child in our thinking through Christ, then we might very well be thinking independently of Him. This happens easily due to our past scarred thinking processes, which were developed to create order out of chaos by our thoughts prior to our believing in Him. Such 'wrong thinking' might be very rationalistic and fleshly, but without placing our faith in Him, our reliance is on something less trustworthy which will ultimately be burnt up like hay, wood, and stubble.
Such an argument to those out of fellowship with Him, or without a regenerated spirit does indeed appear to be foolish because they are unable to identify with spiritual things. Such things are not independent of the flesh, body, mind, or soul because man was originally created to be whole in body, soul and spirit. Our old sin nature though naturally separates us from Him because of sin and i the incompatability of sin with perfect righteousness and the true living spirit.
There are many, many attempts to counterfeit man's entrance into the spiritual domain, but the spirit made by God is perfect by the only living truth through Him, not by our counterfeit of His true spirit. All faith is from Him, meaning all true living faith as He has revealed Himself. He doesn't have to include anything false in His grouping of things that are spirit, because He is by His immutable nature completely incompatible with anything false. His revelation, of what He has provided us, speaks in terms of His perfect Truth and reveals all such true faith is only and always provided by Him and none other. He is the source of all faith.
Thos counterfeit religions which attempt to emulate glandular feelings of emotion, or statements of rational doctrines without faith through Him, or structures emulating the geometry of spiritual experiences, or contact with the supernatural by telepathy, or channelling of other spirits all fall in the realm of false faith.
There is no need nor good to criticize such false faith, because the good that is provided is always available by His grace to all men. That grace, though, flows by His methods and decisions, and policies of grace, not by our interpretations of what we want, ie.e our volition.
This doesn;t mean though that we might not be able to perform good works which He will recognize. On the contrary He has created us to perform good works, which again are good by His standards ONLY if we perform those works through faith in Him. If we work independent of Him, we aren't necessarily the victim of any other person nor Satan, but in strong liklihood are merely exercising an independent volition which He has given us, again independent of Satan and God. Sin, therefore is merely the disobedience to His Will, a turning away from Him, a mere thought independent of Him, anything which is not through Him.
Now such thinking, even if in the performance of enormous worldly human good, still is PONEROS or good for nothingness if not performed through faith in Him. Such human good without faith through Him, by His protocols, merely results in temprary human good which is parlayed into evil by the Adversary.
Accordingly, it doesn't matter in the angelic conflict if evey soul which ever existed other than Christ or any other fail to exercise faith through Christ, because any such alternate faith fails to be the same faith of Christ (Rom 3:22-24) and will not stand up to the same faith only He has provided.
The billions of people who disagree with the faith of Christianity fail to recognize and identify the faith provided by God Himself.
Faith in one sense is a state of trustworthiness, in another it is used in the sense of Bible doctrine, and also in a fashion where the object of our thinking is nonmeritorious to ourselves because the object of our thinking is in another worthy of trust.
There are many forms of thinking which are not through Christ and those who build such systems of thought may refer to their thinking as faith, but such faith is unfaithful, because the only true faith is the one provided by the Living and True God.