The Bible is full of the work of ‘the angels’ – some human and some divine. God uses the angels to work with His creation and to fulfil His purpose.

The Hebrew word (malak) and the Greek word (angelos) for ’angel’ both mean ‘messenger’, ‘one sent’. The context and event show whether the Bible is describing a messenger who is a Divine being [1] or a human being. [2]

Divine Angels

The Bible indicates that these angels have been involved with this earth since they created it on the instructions of God. They are immortal, not influenced by evil, and carry out the commands of God and Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit which has been given to them. They have the ability to appear and disappear at will, and can show themselves as human beings or glorious beings, as a burning bush, or a hand that writes on a wall, or a pillar of cloud or fire.

The Bible names some of them (eg Gabriel and Michael) and shows that they have different ranks, for some are called archangels. [3]

The work of the angels:

  • Representing God [4]
  • Directing the nations [5]
  • Helping and guiding believers [6]

Representing God

There are angels that represent God, that, on occasion, are referred to as LORD (Yahweh), on other occasions as God. The word ‘God’ is often used of these angels. The plural Hebrew word elohim means ‘mighty ones’. It was the angels (‘God’; elohim) that said: “Let us make man in our image” [7].

It was an angel that spoke to Moses at the burning bush and said:

“I am the God of thy father . . .”

and in the same passage we read:

“And when the LORD [Yahweh] saw that he [Moses] turned aside . . .”

This shows us that God was being represented by this angel.

Jesus has now become the one who represents his Father and the angels go forth under his command and in his power. [8]

Directing the affairs of the nations

The Bible says that sometimes the angels had an influence on the history of the nation of Israel. This was done by both direct and indirect action, such as slaying an army as it slept in tents around Jerusalem, or changing weather patterns to bring about droughts, famines, or floods.

Sometimes rulers and governments are removed or installed by the angels, so that God’s will is fulfilled. This has been the case since the beginning of time, and the last book of the Bible (Revelation) emphasises that it will continue until God’s Kingdom is established.

The fulfilment of Bible prophecy needs the work of angels 9. For example, the scattering of Israel in 70 A.D. and then the amazing regathering and establishment of the Jews as a nation in the land of Israel in 1948, is a clear witness to the work of the angels.

Helping and guiding believers

The care of the believer, and the moulding of the believer’s character through the experiences and events of his or her life, are important parts of the work of the angels. The Bible says that during each believer’s life he or she is brought into the presence of “an innumerable company of angels” [10].

The psalmist understood that all his thoughts, words and actions were seen by the angels, communicated to God, and the events in his life were influenced by them. The same was true for men such as Jacob, Daniel and Paul. Under the guidance of God and Christ, the angels “minister” to us and “encamp . . . round about” us, to “keep [us] in all [our] ways”. They chasten and test us as necessary. They do not remove our free will, but they try to influence us in the ways of God.

Angels are involved with our prayers, while remaining unseen, so that our faith might be developed as required by our Heavenly Father.

Bible references

1 Judges 13:20 and Acts 12:7
2 Malachi 2:7; 3:1 and James 2:25
3 Dan. 10:13,21; 12:1; 1 Thess. 4:16; Jude v. 9; Ex. 3:2; Judg. 13
4 Ex. 3:1-6
5 Dan. 4:35
6 Heb. 1:14
7 Gen. 1:26
8 Ex. 3:1-6; 23:20-23; Heb. 1:1-5; 1 Pet. 3:22; Rev. 1:1
9 Isa. 37:36; Job 37:12,13; Ps. 148:7, 8; Dan. 4:25,35; 10:13,21; Rev. 7:1-3; 8:2-6; 16:1
10 Gen. 28:12; 45:7; 48:15,16; Ps. 34:6,7; 91:11; Dan. 6:22; Acts 10:1-8; 27:23; Heb. 1:14; 12:22