Do Angels Have Any Relevance To Believers In The Present Age?
Howard Coles, Coleford, England
Angels are mentioned at least 280 times in the scriptures and in these references there are many examples of the angels ministering to the needs of men, e.g., Daniel experienced the ministry of an angel as described in Daniel chapter 10. Even the Lord Jesus experienced their ministry, e.g. at the beginning of His public life, 'And He was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan, and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to Him', Mark 1.13. Also towards the end of His life, 'Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him', Luke 22. 43. However, we will restrict our answer to the relevant mentions of angels in the New Testament relating to believers of the present church age.
- Angels experience joy when a person repents and becomes a child of God, 'Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents', Luke 15. 10. It seems therefore from this that they are vitally interested in the spiritual progress of each individual.
- Angels are interested in the observance of scriptural order in the local assembly, 'For this reason the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels', 1 Cor. 11. 10. This is not cultural but timeless and applies equally to the present day, Eph. 3. 9-10.
- Angels observe the testimony of believers, 'For I think that God has displayed us, the apostles, last, as men condemned to death; for we have been made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men', 1 Cor. 4. 9.
- Angels were involved in delivering the early Christians from threatening personal circumstances e.g., i) Peter. 'Now behold, an angel of the Lord stood by him, and a light shone in the prison; and he struck Peter on the side and raised him up . . . Then the angel said to him, "Gird yourself and tie on your sandals" . . . "Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent His angel, and has delivered me from the hand of Herod and from all the expectation of the Jewish people"’, Acts 12. 7-12. ii) Paul said, 'For there stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve', Acts 27. 23.
- Angels brought men into contact with the gospel: the Ethiopian eunuch, 'Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, "Arise and go toward the south”', Acts 8. 26, and Cornelius, 'was divinely instructed by a holy angel', Acts 10. 22.
- Angels are sent forth from God to minister to those who are to be saved, ‘are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be (alt. 'who are about to be') heirs of salvation?' Heb. 1.13-14.
It would appear from these references that there was angelic ministry toward believers in the early New Testament in terms of their physical protection and spiritual guidance. In this, the last days of the dispensation however, it may be that angelic ministry is restricted to the spiritual interests of believers as in points 1, 2 and 3.
Some would restrict the ministry angels in the New Testament to those of Jewish descent but from the scriptures above it is clear that there was angelic ministry to gentile believers as well.
It should be noted that there are also fallen angels as well as good and these may seek to hinder our spiritual lives, 'Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? . . . I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels', Rom. 8. 35, 38.