Bible Study Opportunities
How Many Angels on the Head of a Pin?
By Jon W. Quinn
There was a raging debate over the question “How many angels can fit on the head of a pin?” back in the middle ages. I do not know how it was resolved, nor do I care.
There is a renewed interest in angels today. Writers of fiction have found a lot of fuel for interesting and sometimes bizarre plot lines for books, television and movies. I do not doubt that for many people, their only source of (mis)information about angels so far has been these works of fiction. There have even been some rather wild theories masquerading as non fiction, such as the speculation that Biblical encounters with angels were really encounters with extra terrestrial life forms that visited our planet.
But the fact of the matter is that not all angels are not fictional. What the Scriptures actually say about angels is quite different from what many believe about them. Speaking of God's protection of those who trust in Him, the Psalmist says, “For He will give His angels charge concerning you, to guard you in all your ways, They will bear you up in their hands, lest you strike your foot against the stone.” (Psalm 91:11,12).
A Defining Moment
“Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:53).
The word “angel” comes from the Greek word “angelos” which means “messenger”.The corresponding Hebrew word is “Malakh”. Sometimes, in the Scripture, these terms are used to denote merely human messengers, but most often refer to supernatural, celestial, spiritual beings a step above man in the order of created beings.
From Where Do Angels Come?
“Praise Him all His angels, praise Him all His hosts!... Let them praise the name of the Lord, for He commanded and they were created.” (Psalm 148:2,5).
Everything in the universe, both physical and spiritual, was created by God (Colossians 1:16). They are majestic beings created to serve God and perform according to His will.
We are not told in the creation account of Genesis exactly when they were created. Genesis is concerned more with the creation of the physical universe and mankind. However, we do know that angels were already created by the time God created the world (Job 38:4-7).
Do The Saved Become Angels When
“For in the resurrection, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.” (Matthew 22:30).
No, there is not another angel in heaven when a righteous man or woman dies. Angels are not humans in heaven. Angels were created as angels in the beginning. However, the Bible does say that the saved become like angels in some respects when they die and go to heaven. For example, angels are spiritual beings, and the righteous are changed from mortal to immortal; from flesh to spirit when they go to heaven (Luke 20:34-38; 1 Corinthians 15:42-44).
What Do Angels Look Like?
“Saraphim stood above Him, each having six wings...” (Isaiah 6:2).
We are all familiar with the common portrayal of angels in paintings and cartoons. They look as if they are part man and part bird. The passage above gives them six wings instead of two.
But the fact is that angels seem to appear in whatever form suits their purpose for that occasion. Sometimes they have appeared to be ordinary men (Genesis 19:1,5,8,10; 18:2,6; see Hebrews 13:2) and at other times as something far above men (Luke 1:11,12). Remember that angels are spiritual beings and not flesh and blood creatures (Luke 24:39). And yes, some of God's heavenly creatures are depicted as having wings in earthly visions of them, but nothing suggests we know what their spiritual forms are like.
Do People Have Guardian Angels?
“See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say unto you, that their angels in heaven continually behold the face of My Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 18:10).
If any passage teaches that each soul has a specific angel assigned to it, then this is it. However, that might be reading too much into the verse. While angels have been assigned to serve individual human beings (Genesis 22:10-12) this does not necessarily mean that a special angel is assigned to each one of us throughout our lives. One thing is for sure, on that final day, it will be angels dispensing God's justice and vengeance upon those who have mistreated His believers on earth (2 Thessalonians 1:6-9).
Is There A Death Angel?
“... and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two door posts, the Lord will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to come to your houses to smite you.” (Exodus 12:23).
While there were times that angels were assigned by God to the task of bringing pestilence and even death, there is nothing to suggest that it was the same angel all the time; nothing to suggest that death is the special job of a single angel (see also Psalm 78:43-51; 2 Kings 19:35; Acts 12:23).
Are angles still active today? The Bible indicates they are (Hebrews 1:7,14). And they have always been intensely interested in things pertaining to our salvation (1 Peter 1:10-12; Luke 15:10). When Jesus comes again, angels will be with Him. We had best be on their good side when we learn by sight the answer to the question, “What does an angel look like?” (Matthew 13:41).
Reprinted From the Bradley Banner
Bradley Church of Christ
April 19, 1998