EDUCATING OUR WORLD

Question: What Do We Learn About Angels From The Everyday Speech Of People In Biblical Times?

AnswerWhile the Bible directly teaches us a number of things about angels, we can also learn much about them from the way people spoke of them in their ordinary speech.

Indeed, when people in biblical times spoke of angels they often referred to their supernatural qualities and abilities. We have a number of examples in Scripture where the everyday speech of the people gives us insight into how they viewed angels.

Angels Were Viewed As Being Trustworthy

For example, David had defected to the side of the Philistines. After being with them for a period of time, King Achish said to him

I am convinced that you are as reliable as the angel of God ( 1 Samuel 29: 9 NET).

This pagan king compared David’s behavior to that of an angel. In other words, David could be counted upon to be trustworthy. Therefore, angels were viewed as beings who were trustworthy, those who could be relied upon.

Angels Had Superior Wisdom To Humans

There is also the account of a wise woman from Tekoa who approached King David in disguise. In speaking to him, she spoke of the superior wisdom of angels.

And now your servant says, ‘May the word of my lord the king secure my inheritance, for my lord the king is like an angel of God in discerning good and evil (2 Samuel 14:17 NIV)

In this instance, we discover that the people viewed angels as beings who had a superior ability to discern right from wrong.

When King David asked the woman whether Joab was back of this plot, she replied as follows.

Yes, it was your servant Joab who instructed me to do this and who put all these words into the mouth of your servant. Your servant Joab did this to change the present situation. My lord has wisdom like that of an angel of God—he knows everything that happens in the land (2 Samuel 14:19,20 NIV).

Again we have the emphasis on the superior wisdom of angels to humans.

Angels Were Worthy Of Special Respect

When Paul wrote to the Galatians, he recalled the former kindness that the people had shown to him.

As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you, and even though my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn. Instead, you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, as if I were Christ Jesus himself (Galatians 4: 14 NIV).

They treated Paul in a special way, the same way they would welcome an angel of God. In other words, while they were not to be worshipped, angels were worthy of very special respect.

Paul Wrote Of The Eloquence Of The Language Which Angels Speak

In his great section on love, Paul wrote to the Corinthians about the eloquence of angels.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but I do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal (1 Corinthians 13:1 NET).

Evidently, angels were viewed as having superior eloquence to humans.

Angels Are Presently Superior To Humans
When Jesus refuted the arguments of the Sadducees against angels and their view of the resurrection of the dead, He pointed out the present superiority of angels to human beings. The Lord said.

The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are considered worthy of taking part in the age to come and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection (Luke 20:34-36 NIV).

This is consistent with what we find elsewhere in Scripture. Those who are “worthy” to take part in the coming age will have a position similar to the righteous angels. This indicates that angels are presently viewed as being superior beings to humans.

God The Son, In His Humanity, Was Lower In Position Than The Angels

This is confirmed by what the Scripture teaches about Jesus coming into our world. When Jesus, God the Son, was here upon the earth, He humbled Himself as a human being. In fact, the writer of Hebrews, stated that that He temporarily assumed a position that inferior to that of the angels.

What we do see is Jesus, who was given a position “a little lower than the angels”; and because he suffered death for us, he is now “crowned with glory and honor (Hebrews 2:9 NET)

While Jesus was superior in His nature to angels, He took a position of inferiority to the angels when He became a human being. However, as the writer stated, Christ ultimately will be the supreme ruler over everything, including angels. Indeed, He is now crowned with glory and honor.

In fact, earlier the writer made it clear of the superiority of the Son to the angels when He wrote.

And furthermore, it is not angels who will control the future world we are talking about ( Hebrews 2: 5 NET).

The Lord Jesus, who temporarily humbled Himself while being here upon the earth, has a position of glory and honor far above angels. Indeed, as the writer states, it is He, and not angels, who will be in control of the future world.

From these passages, we learn much about how angels were generally viewed by the people in biblical times. In their everyday speech we discover that angels were seen as trustworthy beings, who were superior to humans in their wisdom. In fact, when God the Son became a human being, He humbled Himself, taking a position inferior to that of angels.

Summary To Question 4 What Do We Learn About Angels From The Everyday Speech Of People In Biblical Times?

From the everyday speech of people in biblical times, it is possible to discover how angels were viewed. In fact, the Bible gives us a number of instances where people, in their normal conversation, revealed how angels were perceived by them.

We discover that angels were always viewed as superior beings to humans. In fact, they had wisdom and knowledge above ours. While angels do occupy a superior position to humans, this will not always be true. Those who have believed in the God of the Bible will be given a superior position to angels in the world to come.

Furthermore, Scripture says that God the Son, Jesus Christ, in becoming a human took a position of inferiority to the angels. Of course, this position was only temporary. He has now been crowned with glory and honor and He will rule over everything, including angels.

ABOUT DON STEWART

Don Stewart is an internationally recognized Christian apologist and speaker. He graduated cum laude from Talbot Theological Seminary and the International Seminar in Theology and Law in Strasbourg, France, as well as from Biola University. Don is also a best-selling and award-winning author/co-author of over seventy books. [ read more ]

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