Beliefnet
Find Out:
  • What Does Angel Mean?
  • Can Angels Become Human?
  • How Many Angels Exist?
  • How Often Does the Bible Mentions Angels?
  • Are Angels Always Loving?


    What does the word angel mean?

    The original meaning of the word angel is messenger. The Old Testament was written in Hebrew and the word for angel is mal’akh. The New Testament was written in Greek, and the Greek word for angel is aggelos. The double G, (in Greek it is double gamma) is pronounced like ng, so the Greek word is pronounced “angelos.” Our English word angel comes from the Greek.

    In the original Biblical languages the word could mean either an earthly messenger or one of the heavenly hosts. The translators need to take their clue from the context to know whether the translation should be messenger or angel.

    While bringing messages from God was one of the most frequent duties assigned to angels in the Scripture, they also had many other functions.

    Our English word angel has several meanings. Webster’s Dictionary gives as its primary definition “a supernatural being, either good or bad, to whom are attributed greater than human power, intelligence, etc.” But the dictionary also includes other meanings, including “a guiding spirit or influence (one’s good angel), and a person regarded as beautiful, good, innocent.”

    Can angels become humans?

    In popular culture, there are often television and movie plotlines about a guardian angel (usually male) who falls in love with his charge (usually female) and has to make the difficult decision to become mortal or remain a heavenly host. Nicolas Cage faced this dilemma in the film City of Angels, portraying an angel who strives to become human after falling in love. It makes a lovely, romantic drama, but the premise is theologically impossible. Angels in the Bible are not male or female. They do not have gender, at least as we understand it. Theologians use the phrase, "confirmed in holiness" to describe the state of the good angels. This means that the holy angels are so consumed with one great love, the love for God, that they are kept from sin. No lesser love, such as the love for a mortal woman or man, could tempt angels to leave their high estate. More importantly, angels do not have the option to stop being an angel and become human. The Scripture always portray the heavenly hosts as having been created as angels, and they will continue to be the same throughout eternity.

    Is it true that God’s angels are always loving and never judgmental?

    Sophy Burnham writes in A Book of Angels that angels never punish and are never judgmental. They are utterly compassionate. Their message is, “Don’t be afraid. Everything is just fine. There is nothing but love.” But in the Bible there are law and order angels who carry out God’s judgments. Biblical examples of law and order angels are the cherubim God stationed at the Garden of Eden, the angels that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, the angel that struck King Herod, and the angels that will bring Satan’s final defeat.

    How many angels are there?

    More than we can count. The Apostle John reported seeing ten-thousand-times-ten-thousand angels encircling the throne of God. That would be one hundred million in one place if we take the count literally. Most likely references, such as Hebrews 12:22 (“to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly”) indicate that the number of angels is beyond counting.

    How many times are angels mentioned in the Bible?

    The answer most often given is 300 times, but this is based only on the number of times the word angel appears in our English translations of the Bible. The actual count in the King James Version is 292 and the Revised Standard Version is 294.

    From Genesis to Revelation the Bible is filled with references to angels.The Holy Scriptures use many other words, in addition to angel, to refer to these special creations of God. In the New International Version, words for God’s holy angels include cherubim, seraphs, ministering spirits, watchers, sons of God, chariots of God, holy ones, morning stars, thrones, powers, rulers, authorities, heavenly bodies, and miracles. A favorite name for God in the Bible is The Lord of Hosts, referring to the heavenly hosts of the angels. God is commander-in-chief of the armies of heaven, which is quite an awesome thought. There are also fallen angels. The Bible uses the terms such as Satan’s angels, evil spirits, and unclean spirits to refer to evil angels.

  • Join the Discussion
    comments powered by Disqus