|Posted on May 12, 2009 at 1:33 AM|
The word “angel” actually comes from the Greek word aggelos, which means “messenger.” The matching Hebrew word mal'ak has the same meaning.
Sometimes, the Bible uses these words for human beings:
ordinary people who carry messages (Job 1:14; Luke 7:24; 9:52)
prophets (Isaiah 42:19; Malachi 3:1)
priests (Malachi 2:7)
church leaders (Rev 1:20)
Sometimes, it speaks figuratively of things or events as “messengers”…
the pillar of cloud (Exodus 14:19)
pestilence or plagues (2 Samuel 24:16-17)
But it usually describes the whole range of spirits whom God has created, including both good and evil angels, and special categories such as cherubim, seraphim, and the archangel.
Angels are mentioned at least 108 times in the Old Testament and 165 times in the New Testament (Chafer, Systematic Theology, II, 3). Hence, there is ample information available in Scripture to allow us to build a foundation for our knowledge of angelic beings.
Angels are created, spiritual beings with moral judgment and high intelligence, but without physical bodies. Since angels are "spirits" (Heb.1:14) or spiritual creatures, they do not ordinarily have physical bodies (Luke 24:39). Therefore they cannot usually be seen by us unless God gives us a special ability to see them. (Numbers 22:31; 2 Kings 6:17; Luke 2:13). In their ordinary activities of guarding and protecting us (Psalm 34:7;91:11;Heb.1:14), and joining with us in worship of God (Heb.12:22), they are invisible. However, from time to time angels took on a bodily form to appear to various people throughout scripture (Matt.28:5; Heb. 13:2). Scripture also uses other terms for angels such as " sons of God" (Job 1:6; 2:1) "holy ones" (Psalm 89:5,7), "spirits"(Heb.1:14) "watchers"(Dan.4:13,17,23) "thrones, dominions, principalities, authorities" (Col.1:16) and "powers" Ephesians 1:21)
When angels do appear, they generally appear in the form of men. In Genesis 18, Abraham welcomed three angelic guests who appeared at first to be nothing more than some travellers. In the following chapter, two angels went to Sodom where they were assumed to be simply a pair of human visitors.
With the possible exception of one debatable passage in Zechariah 5:9, angels always appear as males rather than females (Mark 16:5).
Sometimes an angel appears to be a man with unusual features. Daniel saw an angel with arms and legs resembling polished metal and precious stones, and a face like lightning (Daniel 10:5-6). The angel that rolled back the stone from Christ's tomb was radiating dazzling light (Matthew 28:3; Luke 24:4). The book of Revelation describes some highly unusual beings who may be a variety of angel in Revelation 4:6-8..Angels in the Bible never appear as cute, chubby infants! They are always full-grown adults. When people in the Bible saw an angel, their typical response was to fall on their faces in fear and awe, not to reach out and tickle an adorable baby.