ANGELS IN THE BIBLE


Raphaello Santi, known as Raphael of Urbino, Italy - The Sistine Madonna, 1514.



Angels appear in the Bible from the beginning to the end, from the Book of Genesis to the Book of Revelation. The Bible is our best source of knowledge about angels - for example, Psalms 91:11, Matthew 18:10 and Acts 12:15 indicate humans have guardian angels.

Angels announce the birth of Jesus to the shepherds (Luke 2:14), minister to Christ after his temptation in the desert (Matthew 4:11), comfort Jesus in his agony in the garden (Luke 22:43), and proclaim his resurrection from the dead (John 20:12). Jesus Christ stated the angels of little ones continually behold the face of the Father (Matthew 18:10): this passage has been traditionally cited as biblical evidence of Guardian Angels. Angels will come with Christ on the Day of Judgement (Matthew 24:31), and the angels will separate the wicked from the just on the Last Day (Matthew 13:49), although they do not know the day of Judgement (Mark 13:32). Christ also said the children of the resurrection will be equal to the angels (Luke 20:34). God sent an angel to free the Apostle Peter after he was jailed by King Herod (Acts 12:7-11)

The Greek word ἄγγελος or "angelos" means messenger or angel. Angels are purely spiritual beings that do God's will (Psalm 103:20, Matthew 26:53). God stationed cherubim to protect the Garden of Eden after the fall of Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:24. An angel of the Lord appeared to Moses in Exodus 3:2 to lead the Israelites from captivity in Egypt to the Promised Land. God sent an angel to punish King David and the Israelites, but stopped the angel from destroying Jerusalem after King David repented and offered sacrifice to the Lord in 2 Samuel 24. An angel rescued the high priest Joshua in Zechariah. Sometimes angels take human form, as seen in the three men who appear to Abraham in Genesis 18 or the two angels who appeared to Lot before the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19), or Raphael appearing in human form to Tobias.

Michael as one of the leading angels is considered "Prince" of the heavenly hosts, and appears three times in the Book of Daniel (10:13, 10:21, and 12:1). He is the only one in the Bible referred to as an Archangel (Jude 1:9), and serves a major role in Chapter 12 of the Book of Revelation. The angel Gabriel first appears twice to Daniel (Daniel 8:16 and 9:21), but is best known for the Annunciation to Mary that she would be the Mother of Jesus, the Son of God (Luke 1:26-38). The Book of Tobias (Tobit) 12:15 names Raphael as "one of the seven who stand before the Lord." Revelation 8:2 also refers to the seven angels who stand before the Lord. The seven are Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, the three named in the Bible, and Raguel, Remiel, Saraqael, and Uriel, named in Enoch 20:1-8, a book found in the Dead Sea Scrolls and in the Bible of the Oriental Orthodox Church of Ethiopia.

Thomas Aquinas was a great medieval theologian, and is known as the "Angelic Doctor" for his extensive writings on angels in his book, the Summa Theologica. Thomas Aquinas believed that angels, being spiritual beings, influence mankind by illuminating one's mind with an idea. Quoting Scripture, he named 9 orders of angels in 3 groups: the highest hierarchy being next to God, Seraphim (Isaiah 6:2), Cherubim (Genesis 3:24, Ezekiel 10:1-22), and Thrones (Colossians 1:16); the middle hierarchy involved in government, Dominations (Colossians 1:16), Virtues (1 Peter 3:22), and Powers (Colossians 1:16); and the third hierarchy involved in work, Principalities (Colossians 1:16), Archangels (1 Thessalonians 4:16), and Angels. Here are a few of the more noted Scriptural passages on Angels.



The Fall of Adam and Eve
"The Lord God therefore banished him from the garden of Eden,
to till the ground from which he had been taken.
When he expelled the man, he settled him east of the garden of Eden;
and he stationed the cherubim and the fiery revolving sword,
to guard the way to the tree of life."
Genesis 3:23-24


The Three Angels Appear to Abraham
And the LORD appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day.
He lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, three men stood in front of him.
When he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them, and bowed himself to the earth, and said,
"My lord, if I have found favor in your sight, do not pass by your servant."
Genesis 18:1-3


Jacob's Ladder
"And Jacob went out from Beersheba, and went toward Haran.
And he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set.
And he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep.
And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven;
and behold the angels of God were ascending and descending on it!"
Genesis 28:10-12


God Sends an Angel to Lead Moses
"Behold, I send an angel before you, to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place which I have prepared.
Give heed to him and hearken to his voice, do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgression; for my name is in him.
But if you hearken attentively to his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries.
Exodus 23:20-22


The Angel Raphael
"I am the angel Raphael, one of the seven who stand before the Lord."
Book of Tobias (Tobit) 12:15


Guido Reni - Angel, 1620.


The Book of Psalms
"The angel of the Lord, who encamps with them, delivers all who fear God."
Psalm 34:8

"For God commands the angels to guard you in all your ways.
With their hands they shall support you,
lest you strike your foot against a stone."
Psalm 91:11-12


Bernhard Plockhorst of Brunswick, Germany - The Guardian Angel, 1886.


Prayer to Your Guardian Angel
Angel of God, my guardian dear,
To whom God's love commits me here
Ever this day be at my side
To light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen.



Daniel in the Lion's Den
"Then, at break of day, the king arose and went in haste to the den of lions.
When he came near to the den where Daniel was, he cried out in a tone of anguish and said to Daniel,
"O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?"
Then Daniel said to the king, "O king, live for ever! My God sent his angel and shut the lions' mouths, and they have not hurt me,
because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no wrong."
Daniel 6:19-22



The Angel Appears to Joseph
"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 of the Holy Spirit;
and her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to send her away.
But as he considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying,
"Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit;
she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins."
Matthew 1:18-21


Fra Angelico - The Annunciation


The Angel Gabriel appears to Mary
"In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,
to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David,
and the virgin's name was Mary." And coming to her, he said,

"Hail, Full of Grace! The Lord is with you."
Luke 1:26-28



Noel Nicolas Coypel - The Nativity, Versailles, France, 1715.


An Angel Appears to the Shepherds
And in that region there were shepherds out in the field,
keeping watch over their flock by night.
And an angel of the Lord appeared to them,
and the glory of the Lord shone around them,
and they were filled with fear.
And the angel said to them, "Be not afraid;
for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people;
for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
And this will be a sign for you:
you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger."
And suddenly there was with the angel
a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!"
Luke 2:8-14


William Bouguereau - La Vierge aux Anges (The Virgin with Angels), La Rochelle, France, 1882.


The Resurrection of Jesus
"But Mary stayed outside the tomb weeping.
And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb and saw two angels in white sitting there,
one at the head and one at the feet where the body of Jesus had been.
And they said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?"
She said to them, "They have taken my Lord, and I don't know where they laid him."
When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there, but did not know it was Jesus.
Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?"
John 20:11-15


Raphael - An Angel Rescues Peter From Jail, Vatican City, 1514.


The Angel Rescues Peter from Jail
"The very night when Herod was about to bring him out, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers,
bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison;
and behold, an angel of the Lord appeared, and a light shone in the cell;
and he struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, "Get up quickly."
And the chains fell off his hands. And the angel said to him, "Dress yourself and put on your sandals."
And he did so. And he said to him, "Wrap your mantle around you and follow me."
And he went out and followed him; he did not know that what was done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision.
When they had passed the first and the second guard, they came to the iron gate leading into the city.
It opened to them of its own accord, and they went out and passed on through one street; and immediately the angel left him.
Acts of the Apostles 12:6-10



Letter of St. Paul to the Hebrews
"Let brotherly love continue.
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers,
for thereby some have entertained angels unawares."
Hebrews 13:1-2



The Book of Revelation

"When the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.
Then I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them.
Revelation 8:1-2


Raphael - Michael the Archangel, Musee du Louvre, Paris, 1518.


"Then war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels battled against the dragon.
The dragon and its angels fought back,
but they did not prevail and there was no longer any place for them in heaven.
The huge dragon, the ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan,
who deceived the whole world, was thrown down to earth,
and its angels were thrown down with it."
Revelation 12:7-9



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