City of Angels

There are quite a few movies or shows that depict people conversing with angels, if not God Himself: City of Angels, Bruce Almighty, Joan of Arcadia, Touched by an Angel, and for those who can think way back, Highway to Heaven…

 

In my Bible study class this past Sunday, we began a new series on the life of Mary, taking a fresh look at how her story can be our story… not necessarily the pregnancy thing, but how the whole event was something unexpected. The point is, how does God use unexpected events and circumstances to move us along our journey with Him? And how do we respond to His leading?

 

So, the topic of angels came up as we looked at Gabriel, God’s messenger to Mary. I happened to mention an order in the universe regarding these spiritual beings… God as the highest being, angels and then mankind. This imprecise theology was questioned with the belief that it should be God, mankind and then angels. I needed to research a bit and wanted to follow up with my findings.

 

First, a few verses 

  • 1 Corinthians 6:3 – “Don’t you realize that we will judge angels? So you should surely be able to resolve ordinary disputes in this life.”
  • Hebrews 2:7 – regarding mankind… “Yet you made them only a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor.”
  • Hebrews 1.4 – “Therefore, angels are only servants—spirits sent to care for people who will inherit salvation.”  

Ok, be sure that there is a debate over the order. Now for a few observations 

  • On one side, angels are created beings as are humans, with limited knowledge – Matthew 24:36.
  • While limited in knowledge, they seem to possess greater knowledge than humans in some areas – like the angels that visited Lot (Genesis 19:13, they knew the city was going to be destroyed), or any messenger sent to mankind with a word from God. God never appears to use mankind to send a message to angels, suggesting a closer position.
  • Angels have an everlasting quality in their existence, unlike humans who die (at least physically).
  • Angels exist in the presence of God and serve Him, which is much better position than humans.
  • Angels have continuous access to the throne of God (yet we too have access through prayer) suggesting our position will be greater after this life.
  • Angels have power unlike humans, like to guard the entrance back into the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:24) or to engage in intimidating battle as in 2 Kings 6:16-17 (if angels are actually piloting these horses and chariots of fire).
  • On the other side, unlike humans, they are not created in the image of God, suggesting humans have a superior position – Genesis 1:26-27
  • Angels do not receive or understand salvation – 1 Peter 12, perhaps Ephesians 3:10.
  • Angels have ever been adopted as fellow heirs with Christ – Romans 8:15.  

Back to the primary verses, and a few interpretations to add to the discussion: 

  • 1 Corinthians 6:3 – We will judge angels in the next life rather than this life; so at this point it appears that we are third in the pecking order until that day when we are sinless in the presence of God.
  • Hebrews 2:7 quotes Psalm 8:5 – Psalm 8:5 uses elohim (the plural form of “god”) translating it “a little lower than the gods” or “the spiritual beings” which we call angels (KJV uses angels). Psalm 8:6 includes an image of having dominion over the earth (referring to Genesis 1:26-27). Hebrews 2:7 actually uses the word “angels.” So, perhaps the angels with continual access to God are in a better position, until we enter His presence in our glorified bodies.
  • Hebrews 1:4 – This is in context of the Son being much more superior than the angels, a no brainer, but it appears that angels are servants of God. If angels are sent to care for humans, they might be in a more favorable or powerful position.  

Bottom line, the teaching is vague at best and open to interpretation, which makes this certainly a non-essential for one’s salvation. I will not be dogmatic about it one way or the other. Any thoughts?

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