To return to
Humans and angels
Query for the Month
Next up-date: October 1st 2005 (God willing).
Previous "Queries" are available. Click here to access.
Some perpetual questions ....
Do you know the difference
between the "love" that is of Christianity
Click on the link for a good book on the character of our God which you can download for free and share amongst your friends. It's called "Light on the Dark Side of God" and is one of the best on this subject that I have ever read!
Do humans become angels after death? Angels often appear as humans, so maybe. . .
There is a belief among some professed Christians that when a human dies he or she goes to heaven and becomes an angel. This is not taught in the Bible. There the two races are clearly defined as being separate from each other, with the angels being a higher creation.
As our query text reveals, humans were created a little lower in God’s family, and as He has no favourites that means that they were created a little later than the angels. We are the "babies" of God’s family. How is this so?
In the following Scripture we are told that the others in the universe rejoiced when the earth was remodelled and Adam and Eve made.
1Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said, 2 "Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? 3 Gird up now your loins like a man; for I will demand of you, and answer you Me.
4"Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare, if you have understanding. 5 who has laid the measures thereof, if you know? Or who has stretched the line upon it? 6 Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? Or who laid the corner stone thereof;
7when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God [the angels and the other people of the universe] shouted for joy?"
As the "babies" in the family Adam and Eve needed guidance and that became the privilege of the angelic host. But this was as "elder brothers", not superior creations as we might think. Twice John the Revelator made the mistake, and twice he was corrected.
10And I [John] fell at his feet to worship him. And he said to me, "See you do it not: I am your fellowservant, and of your brothers [and sisters] that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy."
8And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which showed me these things. 9 Then says he to me, "See you do it not: for I am your fellowservant, and of your brothers [and sisters] the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God."
There are two major categories of angels mentioned in the Bible – seraphims and cherubims – leading angels and ordinary ones. They are distinguished in visions by the number of wings they possess. The "wings" indicate the speed at which they can fulfill their commissions, for the universe is a busy place. Isaiah and Ezekiel saw these creatures in vision at different times.
1In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the LORD sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and His train filled the temple. 2 Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with two he covered his face [before God], and with two he covered his feet [as his clothes], and with two he did fly.
20This is the living creature that I saw under the God of Israel by the river of Chebar; and I knew that they were the cherubims. 21 Every one had four faces apiece [showing their affinity with all the creatures of the universe], and every one four wings [they are slower than seraphims]; and the likeness of the hands of a man was under their wings [showing their co-operation with humans].
As our query text makes plain, angels have their own world in which to live and will not inhabit the new earth. "For to the angels has He not put in subjection the world to come" we read. Right now heaven is the place where God and the angels live, but that will change one day. "And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea[great oceans]. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle [house] of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away." Revelation 21:1-4.
When Lucifer rebelled and left heaven to set up his own kingdom, he took with him a third of the angels as followers. Revelation 12:3-4. That left a gap in the universe’s population and the Son of God began to make that up by creating Adam and Eve and giving them the unheard of privilege of reproducing themselves by pro-creation to fill the vacancies.
Jesus told us that angels do not marry or have children. Then He said, "They which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that[new] world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage: neither can they die any more: for they are equal to the angels; and are [then] the [grownup] children of God, being the children of the resurrection." Luke 20:35-36. So it is the resurrection, not death, that makes us, not into angels, but equal to them. In fact, due to our experience with sin and overcoming, we shall be a little higher than them in our ability to help others, and so Jesus tells us that we can sit on His throne with Him. "To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne." Revelation 3:21.
Humans were not created until AFTER Lucifer’s rejection of God’s offer of grace, which made them the "babies" of the family of God. Of course, at their creation they were fully grown and with great intelligence, but still needing to progress in knowledge as do all of God’s creatures wherever they may be. But all heaven (that is, the people of the universe) is waiting for us to "grow up". It is written; "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waits for the manifestation of the sons of God." Romans 8:18-19. The NKJ version puts it this way. "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation waits for the revealing of the sons of God."
In J. B. Philips’ translation the people of the creation "wait on tiptoe"!
Adam and Eve were taught the story of Lucifer’s rebellion, and were told of the simple test they must endure if they were to be safe. (They needed to keep their hands off God’s personal property – the tree of the knowledge of good and evil!)
However, Lucifer, who had now become Satan the adversary of God, concentrated his efforts on that point and persuaded them to transgress. Then he came up with the greatest lie of all – the assertion that God did not mean what He said when He had told them that they would die the day they transgressed God’s command.
16And the LORD God commanded the man [Eve wasn’t separated from him at this point], saying, "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat: 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it: for in the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die."
4And the serpent said to the woman, "You shall not surely die: 5 for God does know that in the day you eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil."
It was not God’s word that changed, but their choice.
THAT DAY they accepted the offer of salvation which Lucifer had turned down, and the whole saga of redemption began. But die that day they did, for salvation requires the "death" of the "old man" and the "birth" of a "new man." As Paul says, "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me." Galatians 2:20.
Because angels are so much greater in power and appearance they can cause distress if they appear in their glory here on earth. "And David lifted up his eyes, and saw the angel of the LORD stand between the earth and the heaven, having a drawn sword in his hand stretched out over Jerusalem[as a warning of disaster]. Then David and the elders of Israel, who were clothed in sackcloth, fell upon their faces [they fainted]." 1 Chronicles 21:16. So when they come to earth they normally clothe themselves in human form, not as a disguise, but as a protection for us.
God reminds us, "Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares." Hebrews 13:2.
This is the record of one of those occasions:
1And the LORD appeared to him [Abraham] in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day; 2 and he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him [Christ and two angels]: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground, 3 and said, "My lord, if now I have found favour in your sight, pass not away, I pray you, from your servant: 4 let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree: 5 and I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort you your hearts; after that you shall pass on: for therefore are you come to your servant." [Abraham saw them as three weary travelers and was simply offering hospitality.] And they said, "So do, as you have said [Thank you]."
Angels are helpers; "But to which of the angels said He at any time, ‘Sit on My right hand[on My throne], until I make your enemies your footstool?’ Are they not all ministering spirits [personalities], sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?" Hebrews 1:13-14. As we have seen, there is no increase among angels for they do not procreate. They weren't born. They're a direct creation from Christ. All angels were created at the same time, and all angels are the same age.
How do they work? They guide us to those who need help. Acts 8:26. They protect us from harm. Daniel 6:22. They can help us to do the LORD’s will. Acts 12:7. It is their job to stay around us. "The angel of the LORD encamps round about them that fear Him, and delivers them." Psalm 34:7. They bring us messages from God as Paul told the sailors of his ship. "And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man's life among you, but of the ship. For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, saying, ‘Fear not, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God has given you all them that sail with you.’ Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me." Acts 27:22-25.
One day, if faithful, we will all have the privilege of meeting them face to face, especially the one who has been with us from birth – our "guardian" angel. Jesus warned would-be persecutors, "Take heed that you despise not[ill treat] one of these little ones [Christians]; for I say to you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of My Father which is in heaven." Matthew 18:10. This means that the guardian angels have immediate access to God’s presence in an emergency.
Angels are a different species of God’s creatures who live on the planet we call "heaven". They are helpers of those less capable than themselves. Humans do not turn into angels after death but forever remain human, a separate species who will live on the earth made new.
Who wants to add (or subtract!) from these thoughts? I won't argue as I have stated, but I will publish your Scriptures so that we may review all the words of God on the subject.
Some of the comments on this page are adapted from books in my library. No recognition is given because they are not intended as authorities, but are used because they express my understanding clearly.
Next query. To be discussed from October 1st 2005.
Was Paul right to claim exemption under Roman law?
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