Angels ‒ Who are They?
There is a current craze going on in the field of religious writing concerning angels. Billy Graham has reissued his book on angels written years ago. Cherubs, the little child with wings, as the world sees it are collectibles now. The craze about angels seems unabated. Yet, the very substance, the very truth about angels, goes undiscovered by the religious and secular society.
Yes, there are angels, but not angels as they are perceived by the world nor by any religion in the world. Yes, they do work for God. Yes, they do appear in the world. Yes, the angels are otherworldly in contrast to this earthly estate. Yes, they do bring good news, for the word angel in the Greek means a messenger of good news. Yes, the angels do fly through heaven, but that does not mean a literal sky. Yes, you can entertain one of them unaware. Yes, it is true that in heaven they are not given in marriage. Yes, it is true that there are no male or female angels in heaven. But what does it all mean?
The world looks for an angel. The religious painters of the Middle Ages have greatly influenced the concept of what an angel looks like. During much of the time only the priests could read because reading was predominately a church-kept control. The Bible was even attached to the podium so that no thief would take it. Books were very expensive and few could read. The clergy and some aristocrats could read, but few others could. Paintings were a means by which the masses could interpret the scripture stories, even as plays were during those times. Plays and entertainment in churches in the late 20th century are no different than that of the Middle Ages in an attempt to explain spiritual truths.
Paintings were commissioned by the church in some cases and independent artists’ works were condoned by them, also. The purpose was to assist the uneducated to understand the Bible and for the people to enjoy the stories of the Bible. The artists had no real source to draw from concerning angels as well as other spiritual things. So they painted a young, white robed, halo covered wing flapper who, for the most part, is a Caucasian angel.
Because of the beauty of these paintings and the power of the visual effect on people, there is an assumption that angels look like people but are of a heavenly disposition, whatever that means, because no one really knows. Scriptures are used to create a picture of what an angel is, but the scriptures used are selective.
In the 1990’s there has been much study on death and out of body experiences. In 1988, as I was taking graduate courses at Moody Bible Institute, a Christian research scientist came and explained the phenomena of "out of body experiences." She had interviewed many people who claimed to have such an experience as well as discussed with the doctors on the individual cases. Her conclusions were quite informative.
First, the similarity of two groups was in the 80% range. There were those who said they had died and left their bodies, and there were those who were comatose. Both had similar experiences. Such a high percentile of similarity suggests almost conclusively, as we cannot say totally conclusively because it is not known with current technology if the people were dead or not, that people were not totally dead who had out of body experiences.
The monitoring equipment that helps determine death does not always do so. While some appear dead on the machines reports, they later "revive." Were these people dead and came back to life or were these people so deep in a comatose state that the machinery could not record it? The answer is unknown at this time.
The truths of these out of body experiences are therefore subjective and not objective. The interesting facet of these studies was that religious people had, for lack of a better word, visions of either hell or heaven situations. Non-religious people had a drawing to a light experience. Question: If these people were really dead would they not all have the same understanding because of the commonality of it all? Question: Is their social and religious upbringing influencing their out of body experience, and if so, can these influences really formulate what the future is? Christian religion sees a heaven/hell; another religion see Nirvana. Why does the faith determine the experience? Question: Can man create, project out the future life? Or is it that the person appears dead by our equipment, but in reality is not dead and is having a mental experience based upon their subconscious and cultural upbringing or lack thereof?
Why raise these questions? It is because one’s concept of angels is built upon ethnic, social, religious and economic factors. Many are so imbedded within that they are subconsciously active. As an example, when I say "hell" you think of fire. But there is no fire in hell. Hell is simply a grave. But tradition ties the two together. Are angels really white robbed? Do they really fly? Why did Jesus suggest that we entertain angels unaware? Is it because angels are people? Why is it that one of the most well known stories is that of the man who asked Jesus to visit him, and during the day three people came to him, and the man saw them all as normal people not as the Lord?
The purpose of this small book is not scholarly, in that scholars will feel that I did not do enough research, although sources will be used. Some have already written to me, when I asked their opinion of this book, that the level writing is "too low and simplistic for people." The purpose of this effort is to cause each of you to find God through Jesus Christ without the trappings of tradition, rituals, or preconceived religious bias. These traditions of the church come from pagan practices brought into the church by the assimilation of cultures, which was a practice of the Roman Catholic church as it conquered people into the faith, even as Islam has done in its history too.
The purpose of this book then is to remove the mask off of erroneous teachings that are centuries old, which hinder the manifestation of Christ Jesus in you so that you might be free to reveal Him and see Him in others. If you dare to read the next few chapters, be prepared to challenge your current understanding. Test all things and hold fast to that which is true, is what scripture declares. Prove all things. Above all things, seek Him and He will verify the truth to you.
Are Men Angels?
Some angels have names and others do not. Perhaps, you have heard the name Gabriel. We find Gabriel in the Old Testament of the Bible in Daniel chapter eight and in chapter nine. He is also found in the New Testament in declaring a word of prophecy to Mary in Luke 1:19, 26. All names in Hebrew are indicative of a person’s nature. In fact, the name declares the nature of the person and the way that the person will act, their personality if you will. Gabriel in Hebrew is the a word that means a warrior of God. It is derived from two words "Geber" meaning valiant or strong and "el" meaning power, mighty.
The word "el" is often translated "God." It is a word used with the Holy One because of the righteousness of the power and the creative ability of the power or might. True power comes from the Holy. Can a man have such a power? The answer is yes. Did not Peter heal people through the power of the Holy Spirit? Did Paul not deliver people from demons? Are not these gifts in use today also? The answer is yes to all. So, the word, "Gabriel," translated by the King James writers, hides the truth because of its transliteration unless you know what "el" stands for.
Valiant means to be courageous, bold, brave, gallant, and chivalrous. Generally these words are used with men and not with the traditional understanding of angels. The word has within it the idea of a "warrior." It is men that fight against principalities and powers with the support of God.
In the Old Testament the word occurs and is translated valiant when used with David’s mighty men. Why did they not use the word Gabriel? Instead of saying mighty men of valor, which David’s men were, the translators, for consistency of translation, could have translated mighty men of valor as a company of Gabriel! David had Gabriels around him. Why the inconsistency when it is the same word? Why would one use of the word be translated as a special heavenly being and another place be translated as a company of mighty men? The inconsistencies in the King James are almost endless. These mistakes by the translators, have corrupted the true meaning, although these men did the best they could under the duress of their culture, their king and their understanding.
First, the translators were humans, prone to error. Secondly translating takes a special anointing in order to establish the spiritual connotation, which is sometimes misplaced because of human frailties, the inability to rightly discern God’s word, and cultural bias. The word Gabriel is used in every situation in relation to men and not angels.
This is even verified further when we read Daniel 9:21 in the NAS which reads: "While I was still speaking in prayer, then the MAN Gabriel whom I had seen…" (the capital letters were added by me for clarification). We note that Gabriel was a MAN. Gabriel was not a white robed, winged creature as taught by the Christian traditions but rather was a man. A more true translation would be that "while I was still speaking in prayer, then a valiant (Hebrew word translated as Gabriel in other places) man, whom I had seen…" Even the NAS that is a closely accurate translation accepts the traditional interpretation of the word as "Gabriel" without further question. Tradition is unconscionable when doing translating.
Scripture can and does interpret itself. You and I cannot be selective in the scriptures that we use to prove a point or even to create a doctrinal issue with others. The truth will stand on its own merits and will cause all falsehood to crumble before it. Many have taught that the Book of Revelation will have a literal city coming down out of the sky. But that is a lie. (see our book: Unmasking the Book of Revelation) Isaiah 60:18 explains that the "walls" are salvation and the "gates" are praise. Hebrews writes that Jerusalem is the mother of us all. These things are allegorical or symbolical but not literal.
In another location, it states that the "sea" in Revelation is people (Revelation 17:15). Yet, many have written on the subject and have not come to that conclusion. The scriptures always interpret themselves. The key is to be familiar enough with the texts so that the correct interpretation is done.
In Luke and Daniel we have a "valiant man," the traditional Gabriel, come and give a word to Daniel and Mary. Could this be an apparition or is this a truly heavenly creature that came to the two? Or is it really a person, a man? We will discuss the word "angel" later but let us just consider the word "Gabriel" now. Daniel 9:21 reads clearly that his prayer was interrupted by a man.
Assuming that this man saw Daniel and spoke with him, was it the same man that saw Mary? The time period difference is over 500 years! Surely, God could sustain such a person that long - after all Adam lived 937 years. But the reality is that length of life declined as sin increased. It is not likely the same "valiant" man saw both.
Of course, one place that shows angels are men is not sufficient upon which to build a truth, because God always gives a witness of at least two places to establish a truth. Perhaps we should consider more along this line of thought.
Who gave us the Law?
As we read in Acts, we find that Stephen is testifying before the Council (Acts 6:12). In his testimony, he declares to the Hebrew leaders that they "…have received the law by the disposition of ANGELS and have not kept it (KJV)." Now there is no place in the Old or New Testament which states that the law, the Ten Commandments, the ordinances, the statutes, etc. - were given by angels to the Hebrew people. Think about it. Moses brought the Ten Commandments to the people. Granted that his face shone so brightly from the anointing of God that he would appear as an "angel." The ordinances and statutes were given to the people by the priesthood. The prophets reiterated the law to the people. All these law givers were men, people.
Yet, Stephen stated that the Israelites received the law by angels. The Scriptures do not lie neither do they contradict. Therefore it must be the understanding of man that is futile in its attempt to comprehend the depth of God’s plan. Beloved friends in Christ Jesus, we must begin to question the traditions of men. A man, Moses, gave the Israelites the Law. Prophets and Priests gave the people the Law or restated it to them, but there is no scripture that states a "heavenly creation" that is a "non-human" gave the Israelites the Law.
In Acts we must also consider 6:15 which in the NAS states: "And fixing their gaze on him (Stephen), all who were sitting in the Council saw his face like the face of an angel." Here we find that Stephen’s face was like that of an angel. His appearance revealed who he was. What happened with Moses when he came down from the Mount? Exodus 34:30 in the NAS states: "So when Aaron and all the sons of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him." The people were afraid because Moses appeared to be otherworldly - an angel to them. When Peter saw Jesus transfigured before him, He was ready to build booths (Tabernacles) because he thought the change had come.
People see something that is out of the ordinary, otherworldly, and express it as an "angel." The word "angel" in the Greek means good news messenger. So, the appearance of an angel is the one who brings good news of another order besides the one present. Thus the consternation of the Council at Stephen, the shock of seeing an angel by Samson’s mother, and the fear of Mary, all exhibit the reactions of those about to receive a radical word of the Lord. Stephen was given a special message to the Council. Every prophet of the Old Testament was given a special message by God for the people. Every special message comes from God in a dynamic way but by human agency.
The Law was given to men by men who had been transformed and appeared as angels or divine messengers. The men who brought the word to the people brought ‘good news.’ The word was from another realm, because in the current world there was pain, sickness, death etc. The power of the proclaimed word was so strong that it created a light in darkened minds. It opened another realm to the listeners, who then proclaimed, the word received was ‘angelic.’
Acts 7 states the Law was given by the disposition of angels. The main ‘angel’ then has to be Moses. He wrote down all that was given to him on the mount. Moses gave not only the Ten Commandments, but also the ordinances, statutes and the pattern for the Tabernacle and its vessels to the people.
While it is difficult for anyone to picture Moses as an angel, it was not hard for Pharoah to see Moses as God. Exodus 4 clearly shows that God told Moses he would appear as a god to Pharaoh. If Moses could appear as a god to Pharoah, could he not also appear as an angel?
Stephen’s face shone when he was stoned. Moses’ face shined with the glory of God when he came down the mount with the Ten Commandments. Jesus glistened with the glory of God when He was transfigured before them. Some thought Jesus was angelic also or at least one of the prophets who were angels according to Acts 7. The prophets like Moses brought the law to the people.
Jesus quoted Psalms when He told the Pharisees that they were gods. Why then is it so hard for us to grasp that people are angels? If Moses can be a god to Pharoah, then we can be angels! An angel is one who has had God work a divine purpose in his life. The purpose may be great like Moses’ or one that is unknown except to God. But the work wrought in you is what makes you a divine messenger, an angel.
Paul, an Angel of God, too
Not a lot of information is known about Paul, except from what can be gleaned from the scriptures. We know that he was a well-educated man. Born of Roman citizenship he would obviously know Latin. Yet, he lived in an area where Greek was spoken which he had to know to communicate, and he studied Hebrew as a Jew under Gamaliel. Not many people can speak three languages. His command of language is one of the reasons God chose him.
Yet, when he became a Christian, his means of livelihood as a Levite of the Jews was over. Paul expresses that he made "tents" (Acts 18:3). Other places seem to indicate he made nets too. He worked with his hands as he preached, charging nothing for the word of God. Eventually, he could not write and had others write the letters for him. Whether he could not write because of the shackles or arthritis, we do not know. Another location seems to indicate his eyesight was failing him. Surely a man who performed miracles could have one for himself, but it was not in the eternal plan of God for Paul. God received glory whether Paul abased or abounded (Philippians 4:12).
There is no doubt that Paul was a human just like you and I. Yet, his own opinion is considered part of the canon of Scripture (1 Corinthians 7:6, 12, 25). Here was a man so dedicated to God and wrought by God that even his own thoughts were God’s. It is to this that we should attain in our faith individually, because if he could, so can you and I.
The writings of Paul under the anointing of the Holy Spirit became a part of our Bible. His letters were a great encouragement to all because of his experience with God and the anointing of God in the words he wrote. Consider Paul in Galatians 4:14 in the NAS where he wrote: "…you received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus…" Paul was received as an angel. Was this man an otherworld person? No, in the sense he was of flesh and blood like you and I. However, the same question can be answered, Yes, if he is considered as a spiritual man! Is a man capable of being a divine messenger (Greek meaning for "angel")? Yes, if he is given a message from God to proclaim. Paul was given such a special gospel (Romans 2:16, 16:25).
People received him as an angel (messenger of good news). In Thayer’s the Greek brings out that "as" is translated 342 times that way and in some 42 times as "when." "As" in Webster’s is defined: "at a certain time, in accordance with." So, we could clarify Galatians 4:14 by restating it: "You received me, an angel of God at a certain time." The anointing on Paul made him appear as an angel, a divine messenger. Note too that the same verse indicates Paul was received as "Christ Jesus." Whenever the phrase "Christ Jesus" is used by Paul it is referring to the ascended Lord not Jesus Christ, the man, the Savior.
Since Galatians 4:14 is part of the canon of Scripture and is considered inspired, we must then accept the statement that Paul was seen as an angel by some. A man was seen as an angel, even as Christ Jesus. What an authoritative statement! Would you dare say that you were seen as Christ? Yet, our life is hid in God with Christ. We have been translated out of the kingdom of darkness into His marvelous light, and it is no longer you or I that live but Christ in us. So, we too could say the same – if the truth of it has been wrought in us. Paul, a man, was seen as an angel.
We have seen four men, Gabriel, Stephen, Moses and Paul, as angels. All three of these men, as well as the prophets and Moses were angels, divine messengers of a new order, otherworldly. These men were so called out, set apart, consecrated to God, that the world saw the difference in them. Gabriel was a man. Stephen was a man. Moses was a man. Paul was a man. Yet, each was considered an angel, a messenger with a divine purpose for the people of God.
Who were the Three Men that Visited Abraham?
Almost all Biblical scholars agree that a "theophany" occurred in Genesis 18. This is a belief that God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit appeared to Abraham. We note in NAS in Genesis 18:2 it states the following: "And when he (Abraham) lifted up his eyes and looked, behold three MEN were standing opposite him." Note that it states three men. In Genesis 18:22 it reads in the NAS "Then the MEN turned away from there and went toward Sodom…" Here it is referring to the Holy Spirit and the Son, since the Father stays and talks with Abraham. This is the accepted norm of interpretation of biblical scholars.
In Genesis 18:2 there is no doubt that "men" means "men." The Hebrew word for men, said as ‘enowsh,’is translated over 520 times as men or mankind. But it comes from the root Hebrew ‘anosh’ which Thayer’s brings out is translated as incurable, desperate/desperately wicked, woeful. So these three that visited Abraham were not heavenly beings appearing as men but in reality were men. For if these were heavenly creations, they would have used a different word that does not have such a corrupt connotation. God obviously appeared to Abraham as a man or in a man and also as a messenger with Lot.
Are the biblical scholars correct in their understanding that these three men were the Trinity? Yes, as a type and shadow (Romans 15:4, 1 Corinthians 10:6-11). But these men were men that had been changed from their vile nature and were now identified with the nature of God. That is why they could have fellowship with Abraham. For we have fellowship one with another if we walk in the Light as He is in the Light, 1 John 1:7 states. Abram had a vile nature that was changed to Abraham. Abraham was dead to self (Ishmael) and had produced life (Isaac) according to God’s word in him.
Yet, in Genesis 19:1 it states something radically different. The NAS reads: "Now the two ANGELS came to Sodom…" Is there a difference here? One place it calls them men and in another place it calls them angels. A contradiction? I think not.
Consider. Abraham could recognize an angel as a man (Father, Son, Holy Spirit). Daniel could recognize an angel (Gabriel) as a man. Paul was recognized as an angel, even though a man. A spiritual person sees past the flesh and sees the messenger. That is why Abraham was a man of faith. That is why Daniel could see God in Gabriel, a man. That is why Paul wrote that faith is substance of things unseen.
The residents of Sodom were fleshly, carnal. They could not see the angels as Lot saw them. In 19:5 the citizens call Lot out and state that they want the two men for relations. The carnal mind cannot see the spiritual vessel.
Jacob and Joshua
In Genesis 32:24-30 Jacob is wresting at Peniel. I have heard it ministered from the pulpit that Jacob wrestled with an angel. But reading 32:24 the Bible clearly states, "Then Jacob was let alone, and a MAN wrestled with him until daybreak." (I capitalized "man" for emphasis). Further on in the chapter Jacob names the place Peniel,, because he has seen God face to face and his life was spared (verse 30). Was the man Jacob saw God? Was it a spirit that confronted him? The Hebrew word here in English is translated as "ish" or "man." It is derived from the same root as we saw previously in Genesis 18:12. There can be no doubt that a man wrestled with Jacob, but the result was that Jacob came to a greater understanding of God.
Even with Joshua at Gigal (5:13-17) had a confrontation with the captain of the LORD of Hosts. It clearly states that it was a man. When Joshua falls down before him he calls him lord, meaning master, not God. But I thought the captain of the LORD of Hosts would be an angel? So it is normally taught. But the hosts of the Lord are those that do battle for Him. Some places the word valiant is used!
It is interesting to note that the carnal mind is a god to itself. The sin of Adam was that of religion. He was already in union with God, but did not know it. And so he separated himself from God in order to make himself, Adam, a law unto himself - a god, if you will. A religious mind, trying to be holy, will set up rules, traditions, desires, etc. that will forever block it from truly becoming godly. If it truly became godly, it would have to forego its role as god. Therefore its religion is designed to make sure it appears holy but also makes the person fail in his quest for holiness so that the religious mind can remain as god of self.
The men of Sodom, gods unto themselves, could not recognize God. Therefore they sought to abuse god for their own pleasure. But a true saint, one crucified with Christ, walking in the union (Tabernacles, the third experience after Passover and Pentecost) can see a man as God and recognize the nature of God, like Abraham did. "Not that any man has seen the Father, except the One who is from God; He has seen the Father." John 6:46 or 1 John 4:12 "No one has beheld God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us." No man, no Adamic nature can see God, but the new creation man in Christ Jesus can recognize God.
The incorruptible seed placed into each vessel through Jesus Christ is the seed of Christ Himself. He is the seed who is growing in the womb of the passing Adam (us). He allows us to come boldly into the presence of God, to the throne of grace. We who were unworthy are now cleansed and able to see God face to face, and as we behold Him we are being changed into His image, from glory to glory. Our face shall shine even as Moses’ did. As we walk in Him we too will be able to appear as an angel.
If you think this is not so, consider then Revelation 21:9-10 in the NAS which states: "…Come here, I shall show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb. And he carried me away in the Spirit…and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem…" What we see is that the bride of Christ, the church if you will, is Jerusalem. This is not some literal city coming down out of the sky and to be set up on the ground as some would teach. The reason we share this is so that we can look at 21:17 which states: "And he measured its wall seventy-two yards according to human measurements, which are also ANGELIC measurements." The KJV states it as the measure of a man, an angel. The measure of an angel is that of a man.
So, the city of God, the New Jerusalem is corporately and individually a measure of a man. The book of Revelation interprets itself for us. What is important to note is that the spiritual city, which is you, is housed within you. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5 that there is a house within our house, a spiritual house. This is the angelic house. The man, the adamic, fallen nature is the outer house.
The Lord was called the son of Man. Few saw Him as the Savior unless God revealed it to them. Beloved friends, since He is our pattern would it not be so with us? Are we not to be conformed to His image? His flesh revealed He was a man and hid from the world that He was the son of God. Even so it is the same with us. Our outer body hides the spiritual man within, the inChristed vessel, the new creation man in Christ Jesus.
Consequently, it is difficult for some to see men as angels. It is even more difficult for saints to see brethren as angels! For most saints are carnal with their eyes (they have beams in them!) and look on the outer man not knowing how to communicate with the inner man, the inChristed one of their brethren. Most saints still identify themselves with their fallen nature and do not know their own inner nature - which is the new creation man. Therefore they cannot identify with the inner nature of someone else since they cannot see themselves in Christ daily.
Howard Rand, now deceased, wrote concerning Billy Graham’s book, Angels: God’s Secret Agents, the following. " In the Evangelical Newsletter for March 12,1976, it was stated that ‘Billy Graham’s book, Angels: God’s Secret Agents, is number one on Publisher’s Weekly for 1975. In one sweeping statement, Billy Graham’s book states that angels are ‘among the invisible things made by God’ and he cites Colossians 1:16 to corroborate his assertion. He goes on to conclude: ‘The Bible frequently makes it clear that angels are non-material; Hebrews 1:14 calls them ministering spirits. Intrinsically, they do not possess physical bodies, although they may take on physical bodies when God appoints them to special tasks.’ This deduction by Dr. Graham propounds a very dangerous doctrine, for he is actually saying that angels are disembodied spirits. The truth is that the only entities the Bible mentions as disembodied are demonic spirits.’ "
The word angel in Hebrew is "mal’ak" which is also translated as a messenger. In the Hebrew we also find the angels were called "bene’ elohim" or sons of God. The corresponding Greek word in the New Testament "angelos" is translated as angel or messenger.
In summary of this section then we have given many Scriptures inspired of God which clearly delineate that an angel can be a man and vice versa. It is my belief from thorough study, albeit never complete enough for God is always enlarging our tents, that angels are men. The few Scriptures we have shared would seem to indicate that to the person who studies the Bible.
Charles W. Weller
1948 - 2001