A Quick, Compelling Bible Study Vol. 70: Angels in the New Testament
Author's Note: Interested readers can find all previous volumes of this series here . Thanks for joining us as we conclude our two-part series about angels in the Bible. As a refresher, here is last week's Old Testament study. Joining us again is Mike Aquilina, author of "Angels of God," offering more of his angel insight. He has written numerous books and is Executive Vice President of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology. Mike tells us, "Angels are everywhere in the New Testament as they are in the Old but with an important difference. In the Old Testament, angels act more like our superiors where they often served as guardians, but in the New they are our brothers." The difference, Mike explains, "is Christ, since Gospel writers are especially careful to show how the angels serve Jesus in the same way they serve God." The angels began their service to Jesus at an event called the Annunciation starring the angel Gabriel. He is an "angel of the Lord" named in the book of Daniel, as discussed last week. Gabriel, whose Hebrew name means "God Is My Strength," now appears about 600 years later to a young Jewish girl named Miryam, anglicized as Mary. Gabriel famously tells Mary that she has "found favor with God" and shares the glorious news that will forever impact humankind: "'You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob's descendants forever; his kingdom will never end'"(Luke 1:31-33). (For further study, see Vol. 39.) Aquilina says, "Gabriel showed respect for Mary as if she were in some way his superior." Nonetheless, Mary's relationship status — betrothed to a man named Joseph, who is not the baby's father — necessitated Gabriel to go on a holy diplomatic errand to prevent the mother of Jesus from being shamed and sent away. Thus, Gabriel appeared to Joseph and explained Mary's pregnancy: ".. 'conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins'" (Matthew 1:18-21). Gabriel's role in Jesus's conception is the most well-known angel intervention. Then on Jesus's birth-night, "an angel of the Lord" (likely Gabriel), after informing the shepherds, was joined by "a great company of the heavenly host" all "praising God" saying: "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests" (Luke 2: 8-14). But soon after, another intervention was needed: "... an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. 'Get up,' he said, 'take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him'" (Matthew 2-13). As "an angel of the Lord," Gabriel was sent on only the most transformative missions critical to Jesus fulfilling the Old Testament's Messianic prophesies. For example, before Gabriel appeared to Mary, he was mentioned in Luke's gospel, informing an elderly priest named Zechariah about a forthcoming, miraculous birth. The priest's barren, aging wife Elizabeth was going to conceive a son that they were to name John — who later became John the Baptist. However, the visit did not go smoothly, causing Gabriel to punish Zechariah, as recorded in Luke: 5-25. Gabriel could have intervened during other pivotal times in the New Testament, but he is only mentioned by name in the preceding verses. Now let's review some verses where angels are unnamed, starting with the extraordinary conversation between Satan and Jesus. Satan — an angel expelled from heaven by God according to Ezekiel 28:12-17 — taunted Jesus saying: "'If you are the Son of God,' he said, 'throw yourself down. For it is written: "'He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'" Jesus answered him, "It is also written: "'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'" Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 'All this I will give you,' he said, 'if you will bow down and worship me.' Jesus said to him, 'Away from me, Satan! For it is written': "'Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'" Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him" (Matthew 4:1-11). After that confrontation Jesus needed the comfort of angels. Here are two verses where Jesus teaches about angels: Recommended UPDATE: The NAACP Leader Who Declared 'Let Them Die' About Opponents of CRT Has Resigned Rebecca Downs "At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven" (Matthew 22:30). "In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents" (Luke 15:10). In Jude, the second to last chapter in the New Testament written by Jude, "a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James" wrote about angels who were NOT in God's favor: "And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their proper dwelling—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day" (Jude:1-6). The New Testament's last book, Revelation, was written by the apostle John and detailed prophetic end-time visions with numerous angel references. Most prominently named is St. Michael, the archangel — guardian of Israel — discussed in Vol. 20. A sample of angel verses in Revelation: "Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying: 'Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,' who was, and is, and is to come" (Revelation 4:8). "Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth—to every nation, tribe, language and people" (Revelation 14-6). As usual, this study only scratched the surface and is meant to stimulate further research. Mike Aquilina suggests that we remember "a sense of the constant presence of angels" and to "keep the angels in our minds and close to our hearts all the time because they can be of great help when we need them." Amen to that! Myra Kahn Adams is a media producer and conservative political and religious writer with numerous national credits. She is also Executive Director of www.SignFromGod.org , a ministry dedicated to educating people about the Shroud of Turin. Contact: [email protected] or Twitter @MyraKAdams.