If you need a good summary post with sound theology on how angels operate in your life and other “angelic issues,” this is your post.
As noted in the other posts, certain interpreters of the Bible try to “demythologize” passages in Scripture that are not to their taste. That is, they try strip them or explain them away because they are myths. In their opinion, the Scriptures must be updated for modern mankind and womankind. They have drunk too deeply of the anti-supernatural biases built into the Enlightenment (1600-1800+).
Renewalists, however, believe the Bible is authoritative and infallible in these matters. Many of us have seen angels, either in dreams or in person. Therefore, we need Scripture to guide us so we don’t stray away from sound doctrine.
Let’s start with a basic definition and description as noted in other posts.
(a) Are messengers (in Hebrew mal’ak and in Greek angelos);
(b) Are created spirit beings;
(c) Have a beginning at their creation (not eternal);
(d) Have a beginning, but they are immortal (deathless).
(e) Have moral judgment;
(f) Have a certain measure of free will;
(g) Have high intelligence;
(h) Do not have physical bodies;
(i) But can manifest with immortal bodies before humans;
(j) They have the emotion of joy.
With those basics, let’s get started with the Bible study.
If you would like to see the verses in many translations, please go to biblegateway.com.
Since the Q & A format is clear, let’s use it and begin.
1.. Angels can manifest in immortal bodies, but didn’t they eat food when they visited Abraham (Gen. 18:1-8)? How can an immortal body do that?
This is not clear, but we can make some Bible-based guesses. Apparently their immortal bodies could absorb the physical food and drink without needing to purge it out a few hours later. But how this digestion happens exactly is unknown to us right now. And it is a such a minor point that we don’t need to focus on it. Let’s move on.
2.. Do angels appear today?
For example, God encourages us to show hospitality to strangers, for sometimes they are angels (Heb. 13:2). This command is general for all believers.
Further, God loves his people today every bit as much as he loved first-century believers and his Chosen People in the Old Covenant. If he used angels back then, there is no biblical theology that rules out his employing them today. Therefore, using Bible-based logic, it is much too restrictive and churlish to claim they stopped helping people today. They are working invisibly right now, and sometimes they appear to people. Therefore their ability to appear has no expiration date that ended after the last apostle died.
And sure enough, reports circulate all the time that they appear in church settings and a lot of others settings, but only to those whom God has gifted to see them, at his will, not theirs.
Therefore, angels can and do certainly appear today at God’s command, in order to help people.
3.. Do angels watch over church services?
1 Cor. 11:10 says we should behave appropriately because of the angels, though some see the angels as human church leaders—”messengers.”
In 1 Tim. 5:10, Paul charges Timothy in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and “elect angels.” This latter context is not exactly angels watching a church service, but Timothy was a church leader, and angels were invoked to hold him accountable.
Rev. 2-3 speaks of angels overseeing the churches in Asia Minor, though some see these being as as human church leaders—“messengers.”
In Ps. 138:1 David says he will praise the LORD before the “gods,” which probably refers to angels.
4.. Should we be aware of angels in our lives?
Aware yes, but seek and obsess over, no. As noted, we can show hospitality to strangers, who are sometimes angels in disguise (Heb. 13:2; Gen. 18:2-5; Gen. 19:1-3).
I never wake up saying, “Will I see an angels today?” I seek God through Christ and in the Holy Spirit.
5.. Do angels appear in dreams?
They appeared in Joseph’s (Jesus’s stepfather’s) dreams (Matt. 1:20; 2:13; 2:19-20) and in Jacob’s dream (Gen. 31:11). People today report they have seen angels in dreams (I have seen them in mine).
6.. Can I command angels?
They are God’s messengers, not yours. “God will command his angels concerning you” (Ps. 91:11). Ps. 103:20 says that angels do God’s bidding and obey his word. Some teachers say that if we speak God’s “word” (the Bible), then we can command angels. But in Hebrew poetry, “word” is just a parallel for “bidding.” They obey God who commands (bids) and issues directives (words). He does this, not you. It is unbiblical and (therefore) arrogant for you to think you can boss them around or command them. Don’t over-read those verses. Just because you know Scripture does not mean you can command them. Angels obey his word (command), not yours.
Daniel humbled himself and sought God, and then found out a prince of Persia resisted his prayers for twenty-one days. But Daniel did not command the angel. He prayed to God (Dan. 9:4-19), who commanded the angel (Dan. 10:2-21). He did not pray a prayer like this: “Angels of God, I command you to go over there and help so-and-so and do such-and-such! I command you to fight a demon!”
This is what Jesus said to Peter, when the Son of God was being arrested: “Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matt. 26:53). Note that Jesus calls on his Father, and the Father is the one who “sends” and “presents” (the Greek here is present) the angels. Even Jesus would have been required to call on his Father; how much do you have to do this!
The main point is to have a posture of humility and non-omniscience (you don’t know everything), when you ask God to send his angels to help you or someone else. The “angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him” (Ps. 34:7), and “angels are ministering spirits sent to those who will inherit salvation” (Heb. 1:14). Just trust that the Father to send his angels.
Realize that God knows the situation and has already sent an angel or angels. Let God be God, and you be a human.
7.. Can I pray to angels?
We pray to the Father through Jesus and by the power of the Spirit. Your praying to angels assumes they have more power and authority than God actually gave them. God himself is your answer, in Jesus’s name.
8.. If I cannot command or pray to angels, how do I ask God to send angels?
In my own prayer life, I don’t ask God to send angels. I believe that he has already done that. But you may believe differently than I do and feel the need to ask God for angelic help, as noted in the above point no. 6. Maybe I will change and add this belief to my own prayer life. In my view, you should call on the name of the Lord, and not worry about angels. God your Father is willing to help.
9.. Can I talk to an angel when he appears to me?
You may certainly talk to him, if he allows it, just as many Bible characters did, like Zachariah and Mary. But he may not answer. Gideon got sassy with one, asking the angel why God seems to have abandoned Israel (when in fact Israel had abandoned God). The angel did not answer the question directly, but delivered God’s message (Judg. 6:11-14).
Further, if one appeared to you right now in his mighty power, you would swoon or fall in the fear of the Lord and tremble (Dan. 10:10-11). You may not have the gumption to talk to him. But if you do, be sure the conversation will be short. Or he will do most of the messaging (talking) (Dan. 8:15-27). But this does not permit you to pray to them.
Remember, the basic role of an angel, both in Hebrew and Greek, is to be a messenger from God to you, not from you to an angel and then up to God. Your Father hears you and is eager to communicate with you and for you to get to know him directly without intermediaries. In the New Covenant, only Christ Jesus is the Mediator between God and humankind (1 Tim. 2:5), not angels.
10.. But didn’t Abraham have a long conversation with an angel?
Yes, but Abraham was not asking for secret knowledge about his dead father, for example, but about God’s justice and mercy—a theological discussion (Gen. 18:20-33). If an angel dialogues with you for that long, so be it. But I would not count on it. In the vast majority of cases in the Bible, the heaven-sent messenger just told the people what to do or instructed them briefly. As noted, he will do most of the talking, not you.
In contrast, a psychic who claims to speak with an angel for an extended period of time to find out information, like your deceased mother’s name, is talking to an evil spirit. Angels are not to be commanded and interviewed and probed and examined and channeled. They belong to God, not the séance leader or psychic.
Just be careful here. Satan can masquerade as an angel of light (1 Cor. 11:14).
11.. Can I receive doctrines from an angel?
An angel from heaven is vulnerable to teaching false doctrine (Gal. 1:8). As just noted, Satan can disguise himself as an angel of light (1 Cor. 11:14). A lying angel (demon) deceived a man of God (1 Kings 13:18). True, Abraham carried on a theological discussion with the Angel (Messenger) of the Lord, the preincarnate Son of God, not an angel. These warnings should caution us about receiving doctrines from angels.
They may have more knowledge and wisdom than we do about certain things, like the glories and reality of the spiritual realm and heaven, but they are simple messengers. Their knowledge and wisdom are limited. For example, they desire to look into salvation and redemption, but do not experience it fully (1 Pet. 1:12). We have more knowledge about those things than they do. After Christ returns, Jesus’s followers will judge them (1 Cor. 6:3).
Just stay with and depend on Scripture and fellowship at a Spirit-filled, Bible-based church.
12.. Should I seek for an angelic appearance?
Scriptures do not give us warrant to do this. In every case where they appear, it was a sovereign act of God. Just seek Jesus, and he will talk to you and have fellowship with you. He very much wants to do this.
13.. Are there black angels?
Nothing in Scripture forbids it. People say they have seen them in their dreams. I’ve seen them very briefly in my dreams, so I say yes.
14.. Are there healing angels?
Warning! The Scriptures are not perfectly clear about this, but here are some hints. Angels ministered to Jesus when he was in the worst moment of his life in the Garden of Gethsemane, just before he sweat drops of blood. But the angel did not take away the blood drops. But he must have offered sort of mental and physical strength.
Next, an angel ministered to Jesus after his big confrontation with Satan (Mark 1:13). What was that ministry like? It surely included physical and emotional sustenance and encouragement.
Finally, in Is. 63:9, an angel relieved the people’s distress and saved them.
In those three contexts, angels provided some measure of comfort and strengthening and relief.
However, Scripture throughout the NT says God through Christ heals. If angels are involved in healing, then they are merely messengers to help those who will inherit salvation (Heb. 1:14), and salvation includes physical and mental wellbeing. But they are not the healers, for that would take away too much of God’s and his Son’s glory. Jesus is the healer.
15.. Why do I have to submit my experience with angels to Scripture?
Scripture was inspired infallibly by God; you are not. Scripture has stood the test of time for 2000-plus years; you are a latecomer to the whole thing. Scripture is completely trustworthy; you are not.
Our minds are prone to self-deception and self-aggrandizement. Your experience with angels can turn into a status symbol. People may believe you have special power over their lives, so you can fall into temptation to boss them around and lord it over the people, which Scripture forbids (Matt. 20:25-28; 1 Pet. 5:3).
Don’t fall for the “social media and youtube theology” that treats the Bible casually and with little authority. This lightminded “theology” is trending now, but it is misguided and wrongheaded.
Therefore, it is wise to test and submit everything to the Bible.
16.. Is it wise to read websites honoring world religions and promoting angels?
I have seen one. It promotes Hinduism and Shintoism and New Age and angels and other such things. You are opening yourself up to a false angel (demon). As noted twice already, the Bible says Satan can masquerade as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14). This means Satan can mask himself with a glow and can speak sweet words with sugar on them, but in the end of your contact, he will lead you away from the King of kings and Lord of lords, Jesus Christ. This satanic angel will lead you towards darkness.
See my post at my related website Ten Big Differences between Christianity and World Religions I taught world religions for a number of years at community colleges, and you must avoid getting involved in all other religions except biblical, Spirit-filled Christianity.
So how can this post lead me to a deeper walk with the Lord?
This post offers you all kinds of guidance, but the main one is to surrender your life to Jesus Christ and his offer of salvation.
The second area of guidance is to stay close to Scripture, and attend a mature, Bible believing church, which does not throw out half the Bible, but also does not brow beat people with harsh sermons. A solid, Bible-based, Spirit-filled, charismatic church is where you will learn the most about angels.
The third area of advice is not to seek angels. If God sends one in your dreams or personally, it will be by his sovereign will. Instead, just focus on Jesus and his Word. You can have an intimate relationship with him, and he can lead you where he wants you to go. He can speak to you as you quiet your mind and meditate on Scripture.
Finally, if you believe you have seen an angel, submit your experience to Scripture (as noted, above). It is infallible; you are not. It is trustworthy; you are not. It teaches sound doctrine; you may not. It has stood the test of time for 2000-plus years; you have not. And, as noted in the second area, go to a sound, Bible-based, Spirit-filled church that can help you sort out your experiences.