The world of angels

Angels are spirits, messengers and servants of God. They play a special role in four important events in Jesus' life, and Jesus referred to them on occasion as he taught about other subjects.

The gospels do not have the purpose of answering all our questions about angels. They only give us incidental information when angels enter the stage.

In gospel history, angels enter the stage before Jesus. Gabriel appeared to Zacharias to announce that he would have a son - John the Baptist (Lk 1,11-19). Gabriel also told Mary that she would have a son (V. 26-38). Joseph was told about it by an angel in the dream (Mt 1,20-24).

An angel proclaimed to the shepherds the birth of Jesus and a heavenly host praised God (Lk 2,9-15). An angel once again appeared to Joseph in a dream to carry him away, to flee to Egypt, and then return again when it was safe (Mt 2,13.19).

Angels are mentioned again at the temptation of Jesus. Satan quoted a Bible passage on the protection of angels and angels Jesus served after the temptation was over (Mt 4,6.11). An angel helped Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane during a heavy temptation (Lk 22,43).

Angels also played an important role in Jesus' resurrection, as the four Gospels tell us. An angel rolled away the stone and told the women that Jesus was risen (Mt 28,2-5). The women saw one or two angels inside the tomb (Mk 16,5, Lk 24,4.23, Joh 20,11).

Divine messengers pointed to the significance of the resurrection.

Jesus said that angels will also play an important role in coming back. Angels will accompany him on return and collect the elect for salvation and the wicked for destruction (Mt 13,39-49; 24,31).

Jesus could have summoned legions of angels, but he did not ask for it (Mt 26,53). They will accompany him when he comes back. Angels will be involved in the court (Lk 12,8-9). This is probably the time when people see the angels "going up and down over the Son of Man" (Joh 1,51).

Angels may appear as a person or with unusual glory (Lk 2,9; 24,4). They do not die and do not marry, which obviously means that they have no sexuality and do not reproduce (Lk 20,35-36). People sometimes believe that unusual events are caused by angels (Joh 5,4, 12,29).

Jesus said, "Those little ones who believe in me" have angels in heaven who take care of them (Mt 18,6.10). Angels rejoice when people turn back to God and angels bring the departed righteous to paradise (Lk 15,10; 16,22).

Michael Morrison

pdfThe angelic world