“Blogging the Institutes” is my on-going attempt to paraphrase John Calvin’s work, the Institutes of the Christian Religion. You can find out more about the series in the Introduction. For all the posts in this series, check out the Master List.
So Then, What are Angels?
One point about angels is certain: they are ministering spirits (Hebrews 1:14). God employs their service to protect his people, to distribute his favor, and to execute other words on his behalf. The Sadducees of old maintained that angels were merely God working on people or demonstrations of God’s power (Acts 23:8). Scripture contradicts their beliefs so thoroughly, it’s strange they could believe it! Many passages speak of angels rejoicing, bearing up the faithful in their hands, seeing the face of their Father and many other things (Luke 15:10; Psalm 91:11; Matthew 4:6; Luke 4:10, 4:16, 4:22; Matt. 18:10; Acts 7:55; Galatians 3:19; Matthew 24:36; 1 Peter 1:12; Hebrews 1:6). They are real being who have a spiritual existence. Stephen and Paul says that angels helped give the Law. Jesus himself says that in the resurrection the elect will be like angels. Angels don’t even know the day of judgment. Jesus will come with the holy angels. Although many try to twist their meaning, the passages are plain. Angels are real and exist on their own.
In a similar way, Paul urges Timothy to keep his teaching like he is standing before Christ and the elect angels. He is not speaking of qualities or things which aren’t real. In Hebrews, it talks about how Christ took on the nature of human beings, not angels, which assumes that angels have a nature! Hebrews also tells us that Christ puts the osuls of believers and holy angels together in the kingdom of heaven.
Furthermore, in the passages we have already quoted, the angels of children are said to see the face of God, to defend us by their protection, to rejoice in our salvation, and to admire God’s grace found in the Christ, and to be submissive to Christ, their head. They also frequently appear to the holy patriarchs in human form. They speak and allow themselves to be shown hospitality. Christ too, because of he is supreme as the Mediator, is called the Angel, “Messenger” (Malachi 3:1). I wanted to touch on angels to help us guard against foolish teaching, which suggested by Satan many centuries ago, are starting up anew again.