When we meet the person of our dreams and they are just as we dreamed they would be we call them angels and that's a good thing. When we refer to people this way we are using this dictionary definition of angel;
1 John 3:2 NIV Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
Christ is not an angel but became a human being of flesh and blood and came to the earth for our salvation.
John 1:14 NIV The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Hebrews 2:14-17 NIV Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.
What Does The Bible Says About Angels?
The word “angel” comes from the Greek word angelos, which literally means “messenger.” In fact, both the Hebrew word mal,ak and the Greek word angelos are occasionally used in the Bible to refer to human messengers.
2 Samuel 11:22-23 NIV The messenger set out, and when he arrived he told David everything Joab had sent him to say. The messenger said to David, “The men overpowered us and came out against us in the open, but we drove them back to the entrance of the city gate.
Luke 7:24-27 NIV After John’s messengers left, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear expensive clothes and indulge in luxury are in palaces. But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written: “ ‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’
2 Corinthians 8:23 NIV As for Titus, he is my partner and co-worker among you; as for our brothers, they are representatives of the churches and an honor to Christ.
That tells us what angels do but doesn’t tell us what they are.
The best biblical description of angels is that they are “spirit(s)”
Hebrews 1:7, 14 NIV speaking of the angels he says, “He makes his angels spirits, and his servants flames of fire.” Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?
From this description we can say that although angels can appear as people they are not physical beings but spirits sometimes taking on the appearance and mannerisms of physical beings ( before you become confused Jesus became a physical being but angels are only able to appear as if they are physical beings). The title angel is the name of their position or office not their nature. Angels are spiritual beings who serve as God’s messengers to mankind.
Angels are created beings and were created as angels. Angels are not human beings who have died and returned to heaven, nor are angels given physical bodies. They can appear and have the mannerisms of a human being for a time but not permanently. Both humans and angels are created beings and God created them for different purposes and with different different ranks in in God’s hierarchy.
Hebrews 2:6-7 NIV But there is a place where someone has testified: “What is mankind that you are mindful of them, a son of man that you care for him? You made them a little lower than the angels; you crowned them with glory and honor
There is biblical evidence that on some occasions angels were given physical form temporarily. When they appeared as human it was sudden and then they disappeared.
Luke 24:4 NIV While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them.
John 20:11-12 NIV Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.
This was just one on several instances where angels appeared as human in order to interact with humans.
Although angels have no gender they are always referred to in scripture as male. The Bible always uses masculine language for angels because that is the “default” way of speaking when the gender of the individual is unknown or irrelevant. For example God is always referred to as masculine. The Bible never speaks of any angels as feminine or female in nature.
If angels are spirits and are neither male or female then humans could not have been angels before they were conceived and they can't become angels after the physical body dies. If that was the case then at the resurrection those angels who were once human would have to revert back to their human form.
We Were Not Angels Before We Were Born
Human beings don't exist at all prior to their conception. Adam, the very first human became a “living being” when God formed his body from the ground.
Genesis 2:7 NIV Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
He was not an angel first. He originated from the earth. Jesus is the only human being whose existence as a person predated his human life on earth.
1 Corinthians 15:47-49 NIV The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.
John 3:31 NIV The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all.
We Will Not Become Angels After Death
When a person dies we often hear their loved one and others say things like “God needed another angel” or “he/she is an angel in heaven”. Some even believe, as some movies, television, and books portray, that they come back to the earth as angels, either to help those they left behind or others in similar difficulties.
The Bible makes it clear that departed human spirits, are generally not permitted to visit or communicate with human beings.
In Jesus’ parable of Lazarus and the rich man, for example, the rich man’s request for someone to visit his brothers and warn them of the judgment to come was turned down
Luke 16:19, 21-31 NIV “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’ “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’ “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’ “ ‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’ ”
Deuteronomy 18:9-13 NIV When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord ; because of these same detestable practices the Lord your God will drive out those nations before you. You must be blameless before the Lord your God.
God’s plan for human beings after they die is not to become angels, but to await resurrection to immortal, eternal life as glorified, perfected human beings.
That means that we will be like angels but not be angels.
Luke 20:34-36 NIV Jesus replied, “The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are considered worthy of taking part in the age to come and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection.
This was Jesus’ response to a scenario posted by people trying to trick Jesus where the described a problem at the resurrection where a woman had married seven brothers in turn as each died leaving her childless. His point was that angels don’t have a life cycle like ours of birth, marriage, procreation, and death. The widow wouldn't be going back to the old life cycle after the resurrection either.
The good news is that in being like angels everything good that angels have that we don't have now we will in the resurrection. We will be immortal, we will have direct, unfettered access to God. We will have power and knowledge beyond anything we can experience in our present mortal, fallen condition.
In fact it will be even better than that.
1 John 3:1-3 NIV See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.
We will have the best of both worlds. We will have the best things of our human nature. We will be able to enjoy the world that God created in it's originally intended perfection . We will keep our genders although we won't need to be “fruitful and multiply” We will have the best of both worlds, just as God intended.
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Donald Jacobs is an ordained minister with the spiritual gift of teaching. He is the Associate Pastor of a non-denominational church in Los Angeles, CA.