Angels and Their Responsibilities Part 2

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The imagers of God, eternal members in his family, have a lot more to do than cloud-lounging and singing. But discerning that requires grasping heavenly host (“angelic”) participation and reclaiming the nations currently under the dominion of evil, supernatural beings. A theology of the heavenly host is indispensable for conceiving our eternal destiny as co-rulers with Jesus.
Heiser, Michael S. Angels: What the Bible Really Says about God’s Heavenly Host. Lexham Press, 2018.
The idea of angels being an army is further developed in the Second Temple time period, as seen in the Dead Sea Scrolls War Scroll 1QM, 1 Enoch 29:3
10 Israel, for this will be the day determined by him since ancient times for the war of extermination against the sons of darkness. On this (day), the assembly of the gods and the congregation of men shall confront each other for great destruction.
11 The sons of light and the lot of darkness shall battle together for God’s might, between the roar of a huge multitude and the shout of gods and of men, on the day of the calamity. It will be a time of
12 suffering fo[r al]l the nation redeemed by God. Of all their sufferings, none will be like this, hastening till eternal redemption is fulfilled. And on the day of their war against the Kittim,
13 [t]he[y] shall go out [to] destruction. In the war, the sons of light will be the strongest during three lots, in order to strike down wickedness; and in three (others), the army of Belial will gird themselves in order to force the lot of [light] to retreat.
14 There will be infantry battalions to melt the heart, but God’s might will strengthen the he[art of the sons of light.] And in the seventh lot, God’s great hand will subdue
15 [Belial, and al]l the angels of his dominion and all the men of [his lot.] Blank
16 […] the holy ones, he will appear to assist the […] truth, for the destruction of the sons of darkness.
Garcı́a Martı́nez, Florentino, and Eibert J. C. Tigchelaar. The Dead Sea Scrolls Study Edition (translations). Brill, 1997–1998.
The idea of a heavenly council is embraced by the Second Temple writings. The Dead Sea Scroll 4Q400 is a good example.
1 [Of the Instructor. Song for the sacrifice] of the first [sabba]th, the fourth of the first month. Praise
2 [the God of …,] you, gods of all the most holy ones; and in {his} the divinity
3 [of his kingdom, rejoice. Because he has established] the most holy ones among the eternal holy ones, so that for him they can be priests
4 [of the inner sanctum in the temple of his kingship,] the servants of the Presence in the his glorious sanctuary. In the assembly of all the divinities
5 [of knowledge, and in the council of all the spirits] of God, he has engraved his ordinances for all spiritual creatures, and [his]
6 [glorious] precepts [for those who establish] knowledge, the people of the intelligence of his divine glory, Blank for those who are close to knowledge.
Garcı́a Martı́nez, Florentino, and Eibert J. C. Tigchelaar. The Dead Sea Scrolls Study Edition (translations). Brill, 1997–1998.
Angels in the Intertestamental Period have the function of guarding, interceding, and interpreting in 1 Enoch 40:4-10.
4 The first voice was blessing the name of the Lord of the Spirits. 5 The second voice I heard blessing the Elect One and the elect ones who are clinging onto the Lord of the Spirits. 6 And the third voice I heard interceding and praying on behalf of those who dwell upon the earth and supplicating in the name of the Lord of the Spirits. 7 And the fourth voice I heard expelling the demons and forbidding them from coming to the Lord of the Spirits in order to accuse those who dwell upon the earth. 8 And after that, I asked the angel of peace, who was going with me and showed me everything that was hidden, “Who are these four faces which I have seen and whose voices I have heard and written down?” 9 And he said to me, “The first one is the merciful and forbearing Michael; the second one, who is set over all disease and every wound of the children of the people, is Raphael; the third, who is set over all exercise of strength, is Gabriel; and the fourth, who is set over all actions of repentance unto the hope of those who would inherit eternal life, is Phanuel by name.
Charlesworth, James H. The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. Yale University Press, 1983.
Now that we have this background, let’s turn and do a survey of the heavenly host in the NT and learn how angels affect our views of what we will be doing for all eternity.
‌The first term we will deal with is “nature.” In the NT, the Greek “gods” θεοὶ (theoi) in 1 Corinthians 8:1-6 is a good example of this.
1 Corinthians 8:1–6 ESV
1 Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. 2 If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. 3 But if anyone loves God, he is known by God. 4 Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “an idol has no real existence,” and that “there is no God but one.” 5 For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”— 6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.
The second term to speak of the nature of the heavenly host is “spirit” πνεῦμα (pneuma)‌. It typically has an accompanying adjective to determine the status of the spirit. For example Matthew 1:18; 10:1; Hebrews 1:13-14.
Matthew 1:18 ESV
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.
Matthew 10:1 ESV
1 And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction.
Hebrews 1:13–14 ESV
13 And to which of the angels has he ever said, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”? 14 Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?
The third term to speak of the nature is “demon” δαιμόνιον (daimonion). In classical Greek it means supernatural being without regard to disposition, similar to Elohim of the OT. However, in the NT it always points to a supernatural being who is hostile toward God. Luke 4:33-35 is a good example of this.
Luke 4:33–35 ESV
33 And in the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, 34 “Ha! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.” 35 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him down in their midst, he came out of him, having done him no harm.
The fourth term for nature is “heavenly ones” ἐπουράνιος (epouranios), and is found in 1 Corinthians 15:48.
1 Corinthians 15:48 ESV
48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven.
‌The fifth term for nature is “glorious ones” δόξας (doxas) in 2 Peter 2:10; Jude 8.
2 Peter 2:10 ESV
10 and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority. Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones,
Jude 8 ESV
8 Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones.
The sixth term for nature is “lights” φώτων (phōtōn) in James 1:17.
James 1:17 ESV
17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
The seventh term for nature is “holy ones” ἁγίαις (hagiais) in Jude 14.
Jude 14 ESV
14 It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones,
“As disembodied beings, angels have no need of physical procreation (Matt 22:30; Mark 12:25), though they can assume physical form and appear as men (Acts 12:7, 13–14).
Matthew 22:30 ESV
30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.
Acts 12:7 ESV
7 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his hands.
The nature of spiritual beings is not all-knowing, as 1 Peter 1:10-12 demonstrates.
1 Peter 1:10–12 ESV
10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the 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.
In the nature usage of the word we also saw status defined by the adjective used, such as “holy” for the Holy Spirit, or “unclean” for a fallen spirit, defined by the NT as a demon.
The status is also defined by casting them as fallen or wandering stars. Mark 13:24-27; Jude 13 are good examples of that.
Mark 13:24–27 ESV
24 “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, 25 and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. 26 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27 And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.
Paul uses status language to describe the fallen supernatural beings in Ephesians 2:2; 6:12; Colossians 2:15. Their status also shows their function of ruling the world which Christ has begun to reclaim through his death and resurrection. These spiritual forces ruling the world is supported by Deut 32:8.
Ephesians 2:2 ESV
2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—
Ephesians 6:12 ESV
12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Colossians 2:15 ESV
15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.
Deuteronomy 32:8 ESV
8 When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when he divided mankind, he fixed the borders of the peoples according to the number of the sons of God.
Let’s look at the words used to show status for the faithful spiritual beings.
‌The first word for status of the faithful is “archangel ἀρχαγγέλου (archanglos). 1 Thessalonians 4:16 and Jude 9 use the term. It means chief angel. Michael, one of the two angels named in Scripture, is an archangel.
1 Thessalonians 4:16 ESV
16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.
Jude 9 ESV
9 But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.”
Angles do not have the status of worship, for they refuse it. Revelation 19:10 and Revelation 22:8-9.
Revelation 22:8–9 ESV
8 I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me, 9 but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.”
Next week we will wrap up the discussion of the heavenly host, looking at the word “angel” in the NT, and how knowing their role will inform our role in the new heaven and earth.
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