Sunday, January 3, 2010

A Biblical Look at Angels - Introduction

by Joe Trofemuk

I am currently teaching through the book of Hebrews in the FaithBuilders Sunday School class at Lakeside Community Chapel. Chapter 1 of Hebrews establishes the superiority of Jesus Christ over every other thing in the universe. The book begins with an unapologetic declaration that Jesus Christ is God’s perfect revelation (1:1-2), God’s perfect representation (1:3a), creation’s perfect sustainer (1:3b) man’s perfect Redeemer (1:3c), and God’s perfect Son (1:4).
Owing no doubt to strands of Jewish theology which carried over into the church, the recipients of Hebrews apparently not only needed encouragement and teaching regarding the character of Jesus Christ, they also needed correction regarding angels. Some apparently had elevated angels to a status equal to, or perhaps even higher than, the Son of God.
As such the writer of Hebrews spends the majority of chapter 1 (verses 4-14) arguing that Jesus as God’s Son is far superior to the mere created beings which are angels. The chapter concludes with an intriguing statement regarding the nature of angels: 1:14 Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?
After completing Chapter 1, I did a five part series on angels in FaithBuilders, examining the biblical teaching on this important topic. I wanted to add depth to the statement of verse 14, while also providing a corrective to our society’s consistently wrong portrayal of angels. A chubby cherub with a bow and arrow, for example, does not do justice to the truth regarding angels which is set forth in Scripture. For my first substantive postings on Inverted Planet I have decided, over the course of several posts, to provide a summary of those teachings on angels.
A couple of caveats/disclaimers are in order (the fact that I was formerly an attorney will likely be obvious in my posts…I cannot escape caveats and disclaimers). The following posts are distillations of my own teaching but I do not pretend to have any original thoughts on angels. After thousands of years of biblical history, I am at best standing on the shoulders of men much more capable than I would pretend to be. I readily acknowledge the value of numerous commentaries and theologies, as well as a very helpful and concise summary on angels I found by Phil Johnson (of Pyromaniacs fame).
Also, my material is merely a summary, presented in what I hope is a logical order. I am not going to quote every verse on every topic related to angels. I did a non-scientific Bible search using some Bible research software. I found the word angel in 188 verses, the word angels in 89 verses, the word demons in 42 verses, and the word demon in 18 verses. All told this shows at least 337 Bible verses that touch on angels. Obviously this is far more than I could ever cover in detail in this format.
So bear with me. I may not mention a verse that pops to your mind on a particular point. And it may have relevance. I am merely trying to give a biblical overview of angels, not recreate a theological treatise.
Finally, a preview of what to expect is in order. The following questions will be addressed in these posts on angels:
1. What are angels?
2. How many angels are there?
3. How are angels organized?
4. What do “good” angels do?
5. Who or what is Satan?
6. Who or what are demons?

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