Office of Angels

Do all believing Christians have a guardian angel? This came up in our Sunday-school lesson on Matthew 18:10, and Mr. Wesley was quoted as believing that all Christians had a guardian angel. I am not after Mr. Wesley’s theory, but I am after the plain truth as taught in the word of God by our Lord Jesus Christ and the holy apostles. Please give me the best information you can. There are plenty of places in the New Testament where the angel of the Lord spoke and said things, and the angel of the Lord smote Peter on the side when he was in the prison.

Also please tell me what is meant in Hebrews 1:14. Are they not all ministering spirits? Was Paul alluding to the prophets and to Jesus and himself and the rest of the apostles?

“That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.” What was meant by “their angels”? Please give me the best information you can on the question, and oblige me.

I am a subscriber to your paper, and am well pleased with it. I am a member of the Methodist Church, but am not satisfied. Brother Joiner, of Morgan County, a Christian minister, preached for us about two months ago, and promised he would preach more for us when the weather got better. I have not been baptized; was sprinkled when a boy. I hope I may get settled as to which is the nearest after the teaching of Jesus and the apostles. We have no church near here, except Methodist; but I am hopeful of Brother Joiner’s promise to me. I am reading the Bible daily, and find I am learning something every day, and feel the help I have already derived from your good Gospel Advocate. I am going to order some of your Sabbath-school helps; and if they teach as plain and simply the truths of the word of God as the Advocate does, I will try to get our good Methodist brethren to introduce them into the school.

 

I do not find any clear indication in the Bible that each person has a guardian angel. Angels came to men during the miraculous ages of the world, but always with a clear and distinct form and with a clear, well-delivered message from God. They never influenced men in a mysterious way, nor is there any evidence that they sought to lead them or influence them otherwise than through the message they delivered to them. None of us believe they come in visible form or with an audible message now. If not, I cannot see how they can affect men or their courses. The Bible says, “The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him;” but this was from the Psalms, when angels did come to reveal God’s word, and means the same thing as the expression: “For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.” (1 Peter. 3:12.)

The passage in Hebrews 1:14 clearly refers to the ministry of angels in giving the Jewish law and their visitations to men under that law. The whole connection is a contrast between the ministry of angels in the Jewish law and the ministry of Christ under the Christian dispensation. Read from the beginning of the first chapter, and see the superiority of the ministry of Christ over the ministry of angels is continually kept up. Paul says: “To which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool? Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them [under their ministration] who shall be heirs of salvation? Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels [this shows how and when the angels were ministering spirits] was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him, God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?” (Hebrews 1:13-2:4.) The connection clearly shows that the angels ministered to them by giving the law and revealing the will of God. It was the ministration of angels in contrast with the ministration of Christ. The only trouble is, the expression, “ministering spirits,” is in the present tense. This we think not strong enough to break the force of the whole connection. Besides, they do minister just as the law and the prophets testify of Jesus as the Christ.

The passage, “their angels do always behold the face of my Father,” means when they are transformed into the angelic state, they will then always behold the face of the Father in heaven. We do not think there is any evidence of what is called “angelic guardianship” here, nor can we see what possible office they perform. The will of God is revealed and completed in the Bible. Their office was to minister to the heirs of salvation by making the will of God known to them. When that perfect will was made known, we can see no more room for their office.

It is well always to speak of Bible things in Bible terms. It is common to call the Lord’s day the “Sabbath,” but it is never so called in the Bible. Saturday was the Jewish Sabbath. Saturday is always referred to when “Sabbath” is used. To call the Lord’s day “Sabbath” is to confuse terms and ideas that ought to be kept distinct.

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