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Don Stewart :: What Is the Character of Angels?

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Don Stewart
The Bible tells us much about the nature or character of angels. From a study of Scripture we find them to be personal, intelligent beings who obey the will of God.

1. Obedient

Angels are obedient to God's commandments. They do not hesitate to obey the Lord when He commands them.

Bless the LORD, O you His angels, you mighty ones who do His bidding, obedient to His spoken word (Psalm 103:20).

2. Holy

The angels were originally created as holy beings to serve God. Isaiah records the angels as saying:

And one called to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory" (Isaiah 6:3).

The phrase, "the LORD of hosts" means He is the LORD of angels.

3. Reverent

The highest activity of angels is the worship of God.

And Ezra said: "You are the LORD, You alone; You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. To all of them You give life, and the host of heaven worships You (Nehemiah 9:6).

And again, when He brings the firstborn into the world, He says, "Let all God's angels worship Him" (Hebrews 1:6).

They continually praise and glorify God, usually in His presence. On one occasion, at the birth of Jesus, the angels came to the earth.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom He favors!" (Luke 2:13,14).

4. Communicate To Anyone

Language is no barrier for angels. Paul referred to the speaking ability of angels.

Though I speak with the tongues of humans and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal (1 Corinthians 13:1).

Not only can angels speak, they can communicate to any people, in any language, on the face of the earth. We find an angel preaching the everlasting gospel to the entire world before Christ returns.

Then I saw another angel flying in the middle of heaven, with the everlasting gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth - to every nation and tribe and language and people (Revelation 14:6).

Every language was able to understand the message of this angel.

5. Intelligent Creatures

When the angels were created, they were made as intelligent spirits. They have been learning from the time they were created - having had the opportunity to observe God's dealings with humanity. In addition, their intelligence has not been corrupted by sin as is the case with humanity. Therefore their intelligence is beyond that of humans. Scripture acknowledges their knowledge.

In order to change the course of affairs your servant Joab did this. But my lord has wisdom like the wisdom of the angel of God to know all things that are on the earth (2 Samuel 14:20).

We find angels in a council.

And the heavens will praise Your wonders, O LORD; Your faithfulness also in the assembly of the saints. . . . God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be held in reverence by all those around Him (Psalm 89:5,7).

The fact that we find angels in heavenly councils, and bringing divine revelation to humanity, shows their knowledge is superior to human beings.

6. Limited Knowledge

Though angels have superior intelligence to humans, their knowledge is limited. God cannot add to His knowledge because He knows everything. The same thing cannot be said of angels. They can continue to learn. The Bible says there are things they do not know. For example, they do not know the time of Jesus' return to the earth.

But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father (Matthew 24:36).

They Wanted To Know

Scripture tells us there are some things that they have desired to know.

It was revealed to them [the prophets] that they were serving not themselves but you, in regard to the things that have now been announced to you through those who brought you good news by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven - things into which angels desired to look into! (1 Peter 1:12).

Only God knows what is in the human heart.

Then hear in heaven Your dwelling place, forgive, act, and render to all whose hearts You know according to all their ways (for only You know what is in every human heart) (1 Kings 8:39).

As intelligent as angels may be, they are still limited in what they know.

7. Know Right From Wrong

Angels know the difference between right and wrong.

Your servant thought, 'The word of my lord the king will set me at rest,' for my lord the king is like the angel of God, discerning good and evil. May the LORD your God be with you! (2 Samuel 14:17).

The fact that angels could discern good from evil was a proverbial expression in the nation Israel.

8. Mighty

Angels are greater than humans in power.

whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not bring against them a slanderous judgment from the Lord (2 Peter 2:11).

Bless the LORD, O you His angels, you mighty ones who do His bidding, obedient to His spoken word (Psalm 103:20).

They are called Christ's mighty angels.

and to give relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels (2 Thessalonians 1:7).

Angels are able to do things that humans cannot do. However their power is dependent upon God. They are mighty beings, but they are not the Almighty. Their power is within fixed limits.

Not Like God

Thus they are neither all-powerful, all-knowing, or everywhere present, as is God. If there were another being in the universe who was all-powerful, then God would not be the only God.

Not All-Powerful

The fact that angels are not all-powerful can be seen in the episode of Michael, the archangel, and Satan. The Bible says:

But when the archangel Michael contended with the Devil and disputed about the body of Moses, he did not dare to bring a condemnation of slander against him, but said, "The LORD rebuke you!" (Jude 9).

Michael the archangel, the highest of all the angels, would not rebuke the Devil by himself. This is one example of how angels have limited power.

Not Everywhere Present

Unlike God, angels can be in only one place at a time.

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth (Luke 1:26).

Since the Bible speaks of angels traveling from place to place this indicates they cannot be everywhere at once. Daniel records this testimony of an angel.

He said to me, "Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia opposed me twenty-one days. So Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, and I left him there with the prince of the kingdom of Persia, and have come to help you understand what is to happen to your people at the end of days. For there is a further vision for those days" (Daniel 10:12-14).

This passage shows the limitation of the power of angels as well as the fact that they are not everywhere present.

9. Humble

Though mighty, angels are also humble. They do not seek their own glory but rather the glory of God. They go about their ministry unnoticed by humanity.

For example, when the seraphim worship the Lord, they cover their feet. This act, seemingly, is a sign of humility.

Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew (Isaiah 6:2)

10. Sinless

The angels that did not rebel against Him are without sin. Though this is never directly stated, it is inferred from the various names given to them. They are called both "holy angels" (Mark 8:38) and "elect angels" (1 Timothy 5:21).

Summary

The character, or attributes, of angels are listed for us in Scripture. There is much for us to learn from them. Though powerful, they are humble. Though intelligent, they have devoted their intelligence to the service of the Lord.
CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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