Summary: This is an in-depth, Biblical study of angels, demons and satan. Profitable for every Christian; essential for every minister!
The Doctrine of Angels
The Nature of Angels #1
Dr. Russell K. Tardo
This message is the first in a series of studies of angels, demons and Satan. It will be an interesting and very profitable study, and an important subject on which to concentrate.
Much has been said about angels over the past few years. Books have been written on the subject and unfortunately, not all that has been said has been correct. When it comes to this particular aspect of study, as any study in theology, the Bible has to be our final guide. What is understood about angels is known only because of what the Bible reveals.
Church history reveals that early church leaders held many different opinions and arguments concerning angels. They pondered such things as how many angels could stand on the head of a pin. A variety of such considerations were discussed and debated. Much of what was deliberated was so absurd that it doesn’t bear mentioning and could not be backed up with Scripture.
It’s surprising how little Christians know concerning the subject of angels, demons, Satan, etc. There are many misconceptions in this particular area of study. We’ve all heard the comment when someone dies, "Well, God wanted another angel," implying that God took the individual because He needed another angel. This is particularly true when it is a child that dies. The fact is that people do not become angels; children do not become angels. That’s a popular misconception. While such comments may bring comfort to someone who is grieving over the loss of a loved one or child, it is nevertheless wrong because people do not become angels. Angels are an entirely separate order of being and are definitely not the spirits of dead adults or children. While angels are in some ways angels similar to men, in other ways they are quite unlike men.
Farther into this study it will be seen in the scriptures that angels sometimes took on the appearance of men and walked among men. The Bible records in Genesis, chapter 18, that the angels seen by Abraham appeared as three men who walked up to Abraham as he sat in the door of his tent in the heat of the day. The Bible clearly describes them as three men. It later became obvious that these men were actually angels. When Abraham saw them, however, they had the appearance of men. They dressed like men; their form was like men. Their feet were dusty just like men who had been travelling on the road. Abraham’s response was, "Let me get some water and wipe the dust from your feet." At Abraham’s offer of hospitality, they sat down and ate and drank with him. From all outward appearances, they looked like ordinary men. Of course, one of those angels was the pre-incarnate Christ.
The angels went on to Sodom where Genesis, chapter 19 records, they destroyed the city. When the angels went into Sodom, the Sodomites went to Lot’s house and knocked on the door. These men even tried to break in. They wanted those two men who were guests in Lot’s house, not having recognized them as being angels. So they had the appearance of men.
Depictions of angels generally portray them as baby cherubs or as soft, even effeminate in appearance. Such portraits of angels (and Jesus) are an abomination to God. Both pictures and statues of angels found in some churches have the appearance of feminine figures with wings. Angels don’t really look like that! According to the scriptures, angels take different forms because there are different types of angels. While you may not have been aware of it, the Bible says there are different kinds of angels. For the most part however, angels have taken the form of men. Not recognizing them as angels, the Sodomites wanted to get to those men. Throughout the scriptures, there are instances where angels appeared as men.
Following the resurrection (Mark 16), Mary and Salome went to the tomb to find Jesus. Upon their arrival however, they found that Jesus was gone. The stone sealing the tomb had been rolled away and the Bible says there was a young man seated there. He was attired in a long, white garment and obviously, he was an angel. "A young man" is how the women described him. Thus we see that angels can look like men in their appearance.
Believers are exhorted to offer hospitality to strangers. Why? Because some have thereby entertained angels unaware.
Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. [Heb. 13:2]
Believers are supposed to offer hospitality to strangers, i.e., Christians, brothers, sisters that need help, food, clothing, shelter, etc. Believers are to be a blessing to them. The Bible says that some have done that thinking they were helping a brother or sister but in actuality, they did these acts of kindness to an angel. That’s how angels often appeared in Scripture -- as men.