From the prediction of his birth through the judgments by Christ at his return, the angels are engaged in working with Jesus. Not only did they predict his birth to Mary (Luke 1:30) and Joseph (Matt. 1:20), they were on hand at that historic birth to announce it to the shepherds (Luke 2:10). When Herod heard about the Messiah’s birth, he planned to destroy Jesus. But God warned Joseph and Mary through angels to go to Egypt (Matt. 2:19).
The angels ministered to Jesus at the beginning of his public ministry in the wilderness (Matt. 4:11) and at the end in the garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:43). They were on hand to defend Jesus during his arrest if he had asked for them (Matt. 26:53), and one was present to roll back the stone on Resurrection morning (Matt. 28:2).
Two angels were the first to officially announce Jesus’ resurrection to the world (Matt. 28:6). They were nearby at the ascension of Christ into heaven and predicted his second coming (Acts 1:11). Jesus taught he would return accompanied by his angels (Matt. 25:31). At the judgment of Christ, angels will be on hand to carry out the judgment pronounced (Matt. 13:39, 40).
Angels in the Ministry of Jesus Christ
- Predicted his birth – Luke 1:30-33
Announced his birth – Luke 2:10-14
Warned his parents of Herod’s plot – Matt. 2:19, 20
- Ministry after the temptation – Matt. 4:11
- Ministry before the betrayal – Luke 22:43
- On call at the arrest of Jesus – Matt. 26:53
- Rolled back the stone from the tomb – Matt. 28:2
- First announcement of the resurrection – Matt. 28:6
- Ascension of Christ – Acts 1:11
- Return of Christ – Matt. 25:31
- Execute the judgment of Christ – Matt. 13:39, 40
Angels and the Church
Much of the general works of angels discussed in the first section of this chapter relates specifically to the church and its members. The Bible tells us that angels may attend the services of the church as spectators of church worship, order, and ministry. The angels are present to observe and presumably report to God concerning the order in our corporate worship (1 Cor. 11:10; Eph. 3:10; 1 Tim. 5:21).
Some commentators suggest that the Book of Hebrews may have referred to angels: “Wherefore, seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us” (Heb. 12:1). If the witnesses that observed the race of Christians were angels, Christians would be motivated by their observation.
Angels and the Nations
The prophet Daniel wrote of a time when Michael the archangel would help protect the nation Israel. “And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time, and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book” (Dan. 12:1). As Israel passes through the Great Tribulation, they will have a national guardian angel.
Angels and the Lost
In many instances when angels appeared to men, one of the first things they said was, “Fear not.” Obviously, the lost should fear angels because they are sometimes used as agents of judgment. God used an angel to kill Herod when he accepted the worship of the people. “And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him because he gave not God the glory; and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost” (Acts 12:23).
God may also do the same thing today. He will use angels to warn of the judgment of the world at Armageddon (Rev. 19:17) as he did in Sodom (Gen. 18:12, 13). They will also be involved in gathering and casting the lost into their assigned place of punishment at the end of the age (Matt. 13:39, 40).
Why Did God Create Angels?
Angels were specially created by God to serve him. To adequately represent God, they were given great strength and superior intelligence. Since God requires “all things be done decently and in order” (1 Cor. 14:40), angels are a highly organized company. They are described as “a multitude of the heavenly host” (Luke 2:13).
The apostle John fell at the feet of one angel to worship him (Rev. 22:8). John was certainly aware the worship of angels was not permitted by Scripture, even though it was practiced by some early sects within Christianity (Col. 2:18). We are therefore led to believe that John was so overwhelmed with all the angel had done and shown him that for the moment he looked upon him as God, perhaps even an incarnation Jesus.
The power of angels is so vast that humans cannot comprehend it. The angels were given great power yet they are not omnipotent. The apostle Paul calls them “mighty angels” (2 Thess. 1:7). The power of a single angel was demonstrated in part on the resurrection morning. “And, behold, there was a great earthquake; for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it” (Matt. 28:2).
First, in an act of authority, the angel broke the Roman seal which was an immediate challenge to the sixteen armed guards at the tomb. But in an act of strength, the angel rolled a massive stone away from the tomb. Isaiah records an instance where God sent an angel to kill one hundred and eighty-five thousand Assyrian soldiers during a single night (Isa. 37:36).