The Bible has a great deal to say about angels, yet there is much confusion about their existence, their origin, their nature, their work, and even a good measure of confusion among the elect of this day. For that reason, I thought it would be good to make a short, concise study of angels following exactly what the Bible says on this topic.
First of all, angels are created beings. "You alone are the LORD. You have made the heavens, the heaven of heavens with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to all of them and the heavenly host bows down before You." (Nehemiah 9:6)
"Praise Him, all His angels; praise Him, all his hosts! Praise Him, sun and moon; praise Him all stars of light! Praise Him, highest heavens, and the waters that are above the heavens! Let them praise the name of the LORD, for He commanded and they were created." (Psalm 148:2-5)
"For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things have been created through Him and for Him." (Colossians 1:16)
Second, angels are not omniscient (all-knowing). There is proof of this both in the Old and the New Testaments.
"Then I, Daniel, looked, and behold, two others [angels] stood, one on this bank of the stream and one on that bank of the stream. And someone said to the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the stream, 'How long shall it be till the end of these wonders?' And I heard the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the stream; he raised his right hand and his left hand toward heaven and swore by him who lives forever that it would be for a time, times, and half a time, and that when the shattering of the power of the holy people comes to an end all these things would be finished." (Daniel 12:5-7)
As in the case above, if that is not specific enough, we turn to the New Testament, to 1 Peter 1:12, where Peter says, "It was revealed to them [prophets] that they were serving not themselves but you, in these things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look."
Third, angels are created to serve God. We know the names of two notable angels: Michael (Daniel 10:13; Jude 9) and Gabriel (Daniel 9:21; Luke 1:19-26). Angels who appear most often in Scripture carry out a variety of tasks – all designed to serve God.
- Worship & praise — This is the main activity portrayed in heaven (Isaiah 6:1-3; Revelation 4-5).
- Revealing — They serve as messengers to communicate God's will to men. They helped reveal the law of Moses (Acts 7:52-53), and served as the carriers of much of the material in Daniel and Revelation.
- Guiding — Angels gave instructions to Joseph about the birth of Jesus (Matthew 1-2), to the women at the tomb, to Philip (Acts 8:26), and to Cornelius (Acts 10:1-8).
- Providing — Keeping God's people out of physical danger, as in the cases of Daniel and the lions, and his three friends in the fiery furnace (Daniel 3 & 6).
- Delivering — Getting God's people out of danger once they are in it. Angels released the apostles from prison in Acts 5, and repeated the process for Peter in Acts 12.
- Strengthening and encouraging — Angels strengthened Jesus after His temptation (Matt. 4:11), encouraged the apostles to keep preaching after releasing them from prison (Acts 5:19-20), and told Paul that everyone on his ship would survive the impending shipwreck (Acts 27:23-25).
- Answering prayer — God often uses angels as His means of answering the prayers of His people (Daniel 9:20-24; 10:10-12; Acts 12:1-17).
- Caring for believers at the moment of death — In the story of Lazarus and the rich man, we read that angels carried the spirit of Lazarus to "Abraham's bosom" when he died (Luke 16:22).
Angels are higher than man but are not to be worshiped by man. There are some that believe in angel worship. I cannot tell you what to do — I can only tell you what the Bible says about worshiping angels.
God is very adamant when it comes to whom we give our worship. Worship, on the broad scale, means much more than just singing songs in church or kneeling down to pray, giving, eating the Lord's supper, etc.; it is a lifestyle of devotion and obedience to the most important being in our lives that involves singing and praying and other forms of worship.
However, when we think of "angel worship" — i.e. what the angels were refusing (in the passages below), we are speaking of the act of adoration that causes one to fall before another in deep, passionate adoration that excludes all others. That kind of adoration belongs only to God our Savior; it does not belong to an angel or even another human being.
The angels say: Don't do it!
"At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, "Don't do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers and sisters who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." (Revelation 19:10)
"I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me. But he said to me, "Don't do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your fellow prophets and with all who keep the words of this scroll. Worship God!" (Revelation 22:8-9)
"You made them a little lower than the angels; you crowned them with glory and honor, and have appointed Him over the works of Your hands." (Hebrews 2:7)
"But we do see Him who was made lower than the angels, [namely] Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone." (Hebrews 2:9)
Many people believe that each individual, or at least each believer, has a personal, guardian angel, as Billy Graham contends, but there is no hard Bible evidence underlying this belief. Some quote Matthew 18:10 but the context disallows assigning an angel to each believer. Angels are real and have made many appearances down through Bible history.
There is much more in the Bible on this subject but space restrictions do not allow further discussion here.