Angels are personal spiritual beings who have intelligence, emotions, and will. This is true of both the good and evil angels (demons). Angels possess intelligence (Matthew 8:29; 2 Corinthians 11:3; 1 Peter 1:12), show emotion (Luke 2:13; James 2:19; Revelation 12:17), and exercise will (Luke 8:28-31; 2 Timothy 2:26; Jude 6). Angels are spirit beings (Hebrews 1:14) without true physical bodies. Although they do not have physical bodies, they are still personalities.
Because they are created beings, their knowledge is limited. This means they do not know all things as God does (Matthew 24:36). They do seem to have greater knowledge than humans, however, which may be due to three things. First, angels were created as an order of creatures higher than humans. Therefore, they innately possess greater knowledge. Second, angels study the Bible and the world more thoroughly than humans do and gain knowledge from it (James 2:19; Revelation 12:12). Third, angels gain knowledge through long observation of human activities. Unlike humans, angels do not have to study the past; they have experienced it. Therefore, they know how others have acted and reacted in situations and can predict with a greater degree of accuracy how we may act in similar circumstances.
Though they have wills, angels, like all creatures, are subject to the will of God. Good angels are sent by God to help believers (Hebrews 1:14). Here are some activities the Bible ascribes to angels:
They praise God (Psalm 148:1-2; Isaiah 6:3). They worship God (Hebrews 1:6; Revelation 5:8-13). They rejoice in what God does (Job 38:6-7). They serve God (Psalm 103:20; Revelation 22:9). They appear before God (Job 1:6; 2:1). They are instruments of God's judgments (Revelation 7:1; 8:2). They bring answers to prayer (Acts 12:5-10). They aid in winning people to Christ (Acts 8:26; 10:3). They observe Christian order, work, and suffering (1 Corinthians 4:9; 11:10; Ephesians 3:10; 1 Peter 1:12). They encourage in times of danger (Acts 27:23-24). They care for the righteous at the time of death (Luke 16:22).
Angels are an entirely different order of being than humans. Human beings do not become angels after they die. Angels will never become, and never were, human beings. God created the angels, just as He created humanity. The Bible nowhere states that angels are created in the image and likeness of God, as humans are (Genesis 1:26). Angels are spiritual beings that can, to a certain degree, take on physical form. Humans are primarily physical beings, but with a spiritual aspect. The greatest thing we can learn from the holy angels is their instant, unquestioning obedience to God’s commands.
"What are the different types of angels?"
Answer: Angels fall into two categories: the "unfallen" angels and the fallen angels. Unfallen angels are those who have remained holy throughout their existence and accordingly are called "holy angels." In Scripture, generally when angels are mentioned, it is the class of holy angels in view. By contrast, the fallen angels are those who have not maintained their holiness.
Holy angels fall into special classes, and certain individuals are named and mentioned. Michael the archangel is likely the head of all the holy angels, and his name means "who is like unto God?" (Daniel 10:21; 12:1; 1 Thessalonians 4:16; Jude 1:9; Revelation 12:7-10). Gabriel is one of the principal messengers of God, his name meaning "hero of God," and was entrusted with important messages such as those delivered to Daniel (Daniel 8:16; 9:21), to Zechariah (Luke 1:18-19), and to Mary (Luke 1:26-38).
Most holy angels are not named in the Bible but are described only as "elect angels" (1 Timothy 5:21). The expressions "principalities" and "powers" seem to be used of all angels whether fallen or holy (Luke 21:26; Romans 8:38; Ephesians 1:21; 3:10; Colossians 1:16; 2:10, 15; 1 Peter 3:22). Some angels are designated as "cherubim," which are living creatures who defend God's holiness from any defilement of sin (Genesis 3:24; Exodus 25:18, 20). "Seraphim" are another class of angels, mentioned only once in Scripture in Isaiah 6:2-7, and are described as having three pairs of wings. They apparently have the function of praising God, being God's messengers to earth, and are especially concerned with the holiness of God. Most of the references to holy angels in Scripture refer to their ministries, which are broad. Holy angels were present at creation, the giving of the Law, the birth of Christ and His resurrection, the Ascension, and they will be present at the rapture of the Church and the second coming of Christ.
In stark contrast to the company of holy angels, the fallen angels are also innumerable, though considerably less than the holy angels, and are described as fallen from their first estate. Led by Satan, who was originally a holy angel, the fallen angels defected, rebelled against God, and became sinful in their nature and work. Fallen angels have been divided into two classes: those who are free and those who are bound. Of the fallen angels, Satan alone is given particular mention in the Bible. When Satan fell (John 8:44; Luke 10:18), he drew after him one third of the angels. Of those, some are reserved in chains awaiting judgment (1 Corinthians 6:3; 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 1:6), and the remainder are free and are the demons, or devils, to whom reference is made throughout the New Testament (Mark 5:9, 15; Luke 8:30; 1 Timothy 4:1). They are Satan's servants in all his undertakings and share his doom (Matthew 25:41; Revelation 20:10).
"What are archangels?"
Answer: The word “archangel” occurs in only two verses of the Bible. First Thessalonians 4:16 exclaims, "For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first." Jude verse 9 declares, "But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, 'The Lord rebuke you!'" The word “archangel” comes from a Greek word meaning "chief angel." It refers to an angel who seems to be the leader of other angels.
Jude verse 9 uses the definite article "the archangel Michael," which could possibly indicate that Michael is the only archangel. However, Daniel 10:13 describes Michael as "one of the chief princes." This possibly indicates that there is more than one archangel, because it places Michael on the same level as the other "chief princes." So, while it is possible that there are multiple archangels, it is best not to presume upon the Word of God by declaring other angels as archangels. Daniel 10:21 describes Michael the archangel as "your prince," and Daniel 12:1 identifies Michael as "the great prince who protects." Even if there are multiple archangels, it seems that Michael is the chief among them.
Is there an angel named Raphael in the Bible?"
Answer: No, the Bible nowhere mentions an angel named Raphael. Only two holy angels are named in Scripture—Gabriel (Luke 1:26) and Michael (Daniel 12:1), the latter designated as an “archangel” in Jude 9. The angel Raphael does appear in the apocryphal book of Tobit (or Tobias), which is considered inspired by the Catholic Church. In that account, Raphael disguises himself as a human, keeps the younger Tobias safe on a journey, chases away a demon, and heals the elder Tobias of his blindness. Because of these actions, Raphael is considered by Catholics as the patron of the blind, of travelers, and of physicians.
In the book of Tobias, Raphael identifies himself as one of seven archangels “who stand before the Lord” (Tobit 12:15). Raphael also offers prayers on Tobias’ behalf, and Tobias, in turn, thanks the angel because he is “filled with all good things through him” (Tobit 12:3).
John sheds some light on the religious notions in the time of Christ. “A great multitude of sick people” are sitting beside a pool in Jerusalem, waiting for “the moving of the water.” They believed that an angel would descend from heaven and stir the water, making the pool a place of healing for them. Jesus approaches a man who had been infirm for 38 years and asks him if he wants to be healed. The man’s sad, superstitious reply is that he cannot be healed, because he cannot get into the pool quickly enough. Jesus then bypasses all superstition and shows His power to immediately heal the man (John 5:3-9).
Although the Book of Tobias was not included in the Hebrew Scriptures, the Septuagint did include it; therefore, the story of Raphael would have been familiar to almost everyone in Jesus’ day. It is quite possible that the “angel of the pool” the sick man was waiting for was, in his mind, Raphael. It is interesting that Raphael never shows up in John 5. It is Jesus, not an angel, who “heals all your diseases” (Psalm 103:3).
"Are angels male or female?"
Answer: There is no doubt that every reference to angels in Scripture is in the masculine gender. The Greek word for “angel” in the New Testament, angelos, is in the masculine form. In fact, a feminine form of angelos does not exist. There are three genders in grammar—masculine (he, him, his), feminine (she, her, hers), and neuter (it, its). Angels are never referred to in any gender other than masculine. In the many appearances of angels in the Bible, never is an angel referred to as “she” or “it.” Furthermore, when angels appeared, they were always dressed as human males (Genesis 18:2, 16; Ezekiel 9:2). No angel ever appears in Scripture dressed as a female.
The only named angels in the Bible—Michael, Gabriel, Lucifer—had male names and all are referred to in the masculine. “Michael and his angels” (Revelation 12:7); “Mary was greatly troubled at his [Gabriel’s] words” (Luke 1:29); “Oh, Lucifer, son of the morning” (Isaiah 14:12). Other references to angels are always in the masculine gender. In Judges 6:21, the angel holds a staff in “his” hand. Zechariah asks an angel a question and reports that “he” answered (Zechariah 1:19). The angels in Revelation are all spoken of as “he” and their possessions as “his” (Revelation 10:1, 5; 14:19; 16:2, 4, 17; 19:17; 20:1).
Some people point to Zechariah 5:9 as an example of female angels. That verse says, “Then I looked up—and there before me were two women, with the wind in their wings! They had wings like those of a stork, and they lifted up the basket between heaven and earth.” The problem is that the “women” in this prophetic vision are not called angels. They are called nashiym (“women”), as is the woman in the basket representing wickedness in verses 7 and 8. By contrast, the angel that Zechariah was speaking to is called a malak, a completely different word meaning “angel” or “messenger.” The fact that the women have wings in Zechariah’s vision might suggest angels to our minds, but we must be careful about going beyond what the text actually says. A vision does not necessarily depict actual beings or objects—consider the huge flying scroll Zechariah sees earlier in the same chapter (Zechariah 5:1–2).
The confusion about genderless angels comes from a misreading of Matthew 22:30, which states that there will be no marriage in heaven because we “will be like the angels in heaven.” The fact that there will be no marriage has led some to believe that angels are “sexless” or genderless because (the thinking goes) the purpose of gender is procreation and, if there is to be no marriage and no procreation, there is no need for gender. But this is a leap that cannot be proven from the text. The fact that there is no marriage does not necessarily mean there is no gender. The many references to angels as males contradict the idea of genderless angels. Angels do not marry, but we can’t make the leap from “no marriage” to “no gender.”
Gender in language, then, is not to be understood strictly in terms of sexuality. Rather, the masculine gender pronouns applied to spirit beings throughout Scripture are more a reference to authority than to sex. God always refers to Himself in the masculine. The Holy Spirit is never described as an “it.” God is personal and authoritative—thus, the personal pronouns in the masculine gender. It would simply be inappropriate to refer to heavenly beings as anything other than masculine because of the authority God has granted to them to wield His power (2 Kings 19:35), carry His messages (Luke 2:10), and represent Him on earth.
"What does the Bible say about the angel Gabriel?"
Answer: The angel Gabriel is a messenger who was entrusted to deliver several important messages on God’s behalf. Gabriel appears to at least three people in the Bible: first to the prophet Daniel (Daniel 8:16); next to the priest Zechariah to foretell and announce the miraculous birth of John the Baptist (Luke 1:19); and finally to the virgin Mary to tell her that she would conceive and bear a son (Luke 1:26–38). Gabriel’s name means “God is great,” and, as the angel of the annunciation, he is the one who revealed that the Savior was to be called “Jesus” (Luke 1:31).
The first time we see Gabriel, he appears to Daniel after the prophet had a vision. Gabriel’s role is to explain the vision to Daniel (Daniel 8:16). Gabriel’s appearance was that of a man (Daniel 8:15; 9:21). When Gabriel visited Daniel a second time, he came to him “in swift flight at the time of the evening sacrifice” (Daniel 9:21). Gabriel’s “flight” might suggest wings, but wings are not mentioned. It is also clear that Gabriel’s appearance was rather terrifying, as Daniel fell on his face at the sight of him (Daniel 8:17) and was sick for days after his experience with the angel and the vision (Daniel 8:27).
In Daniel 10 we see another interaction between the prophet and “one in the likeness of the children of men” (verse 16); however, no name is given to this messenger. The angel says he has come to help Daniel understand his vision, so it is very possible that this passage is also referring to the angel Gabriel. From the language in the passage, it is also possible that there are actually two angels with Daniel—one speaking to him and another strengthening him so that he can respond (Daniel 10:16, 18). The angel also refers to a battle occurring in the spiritual realms. This angel, who we can reasonably assume is Gabriel, and the angel Michael were apparently engaged in battle with a series of demonic kings and princes, including those called the prince or kings of Persia (verse 13) and the prince of Greece (verse 20).
Gabriel says that he was sent from heaven in specific answer to Daniel’s prayer. Gabriel had left to bring the answer as soon as Daniel started praying (Daniel 10:12). But Gabriel ran into trouble on the way: “The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days” (Daniel 10:13) and actually kept him from coming to Daniel as quickly as he might have otherwise. Here we have a glimpse into the spiritual world and the battles taking place behind the scenes. The holy angels such as Gabriel are performing God’s will, but they are resisted by other spiritual beings who only want wickedness in the world.
Gabriel’s message to the priest Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, was delivered in the temple as Zechariah was ministering before the Lord. Gabriel appeared to the right of the altar of incense (Luke 1:11), a symbol of prayer, and told Zechariah that his prayers had been heard (verse 13). Zechariah’s barren wife, Elizabeth, was going to conceive and bear a son; this miraculous child was to be named John, and he would fulfill the prophecy of the coming of Elijah (verse 17; cf. Malachi 4:5). Gabriel’s message was met with disbelief, so Gabriel struck the doubting priest dumb until the day of the child’s circumcision (Luke 1:20, 59–64).
Gabriel’s appearance to Mary was to announce the virgin birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. The mother of the Messiah was assured of her favor with God (Luke 1:30) and told that her Son would fulfill the Davidic Covenant: “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” (verses 32–33). In response to Mary’s question about how this was to happen, since she was a virgin, the angel Gabriel said the conception would be the result of the Holy Spirit’s work in her, and therefore “the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God” (verse 35).
In all three appearances, Gabriel was met with fear, and he had to begin his conversations with words of comfort and cheer for Daniel, Zechariah, and Mary. It is possible that Gabriel was also the angel that appeared to Joseph in Matthew 1:20, but this is not certain, since that angel is unnamed in Scripture. What we do know is that Gabriel is one of God’s good and holy angels. He has a favored position as an angel who “stands in the presence of God” (Luke 1:19), and he was selected to deliver important messages of God’s particular love and favor to individuals chosen to be part of God’s plan.
"Is there an angel of death?"
Answer: The idea of an “angel of death” is present in several religions. The “angel of death” is known as Samael, Sariel, or Azrael in Judaism; as Malak Almawt in Islam; as Yama or Yamaraj in Hinduism; and as the Grim Reaper in popular fiction. In various mythologies, the angel of death is imagined as anything from a cloaked skeletal figure with a sickle, to a beautiful woman, to a small child. While the details vary, the core belief is that a being comes to a person at the moment of death, either actually causing death or simply observing it—with the purpose of then taking the person’s soul to the abode of the dead.
This “angel of death” concept is not taught in the Bible. The Bible nowhere teaches that there is a particular angel who is in charge of death or who is present whenever a person dies. Second Kings 19:35 describes an angel putting to death 185,000 Assyrians who had invaded Israel. Some also see Exodus chapter 12, the death of the firstborn of Egypt, as the work of an angel. While this is possible, the Bible nowhere attributes the death of the firstborn to an angel. Whatever the case, while the Bible describes angels causing death at the command of the Lord, Scripture nowhere teaches that there is a specific angel of death.
God, and God alone, is sovereign over the timing of our deaths. No angel or demon can in any sense cause our death before the time God has willed it to occur. According to Romans 6:23 and Revelation 20:11-15, death is separation, separation of our soul-spirit from our body (physical death) and, in the case of unbelievers, everlasting separation from God (eternal death). Death is something that occurs. Death is not an angel, a demon, a person, or any other being. Angels can cause death, and may be involved in what happens to us after death—but there is no such thing as the “angel of death.”
"Do we have guardian angels?"
Answer: Matthew 18:10 states, “See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.” In the context, “these little ones” could either apply to those who believe in Him (v. 6) or it could refer to the little children (vs. 3-5). This is the key passage regarding guardian angels. There is no doubt that good angels help protect (Daniel 6:20-23; 2 Kings 6:13-17), reveal information (Acts 7:52-53; Luke 1:11-20), guide (Matthew 1:20-21; Acts 8:26), provide for (Genesis 21:17-20; 1 Kings 19:5-7), and minister to believers in general (Hebrews 1:14).
The question is whether each person—or each believer—has an angel assigned to him/her. In the Old Testament, the nation of Israel had the archangel (Michael) assigned to it (Daniel 10:21; 12:1), but Scripture nowhere states that an angel is “assigned” to an individual (angels were sometimes sent to individuals, but there is no mention of permanent assignment). The Jews fully developed the belief in guardian angels during the time between the Old and New Testament periods. Some early church fathers believed that each person had not only a good angel assigned to him/her, but a demon as well. The belief in guardian angels has been around for a long time, but there is no explicit scriptural basis for it.
To return to Matthew 18:10, the word “their” is a collective pronoun in the Greek and refers to the fact that believers are served by angels in general. These angels are pictured as “always” watching the face of God so as to hear His command to them to help a believer when it is needed. The angels in this passage do not seem to be guarding a person so much as being attentive to the Father in heaven. The active duty or oversight seems, then, to come more from God than from the angels, which makes perfect sense because God alone is omniscient. He sees every believer at every moment, and He alone knows when one of us needs the intervention of an angel. Because they are continually seeing His face, the angels are at His disposal to help one of His “little ones.”
It cannot be emphatically answered from Scripture whether or not each believer has a guardian angel assigned to him/her. But, as stated earlier, God does use angels in ministering to us. It is scriptural to say that He uses them as He uses us; that is, He in no way needs us or them to accomplish His purposes, but chooses to use us and them nevertheless (Hebrews 1:7). In the end, whether or not we have an angel assigned to protect us, we have an even greater assurance from God: if we are His children through faith in Christ, He works all things together for good (Romans 8:28-30), and Jesus Christ will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5-6). If we have an omniscient, omnipotent, all-loving God with us, does it really matter whether or not there is a finite guardian angel protecting us?
"Do angels have free will?"
Answer: Although the Bible mentions angels over 250 times, the references are usually incidental to some other topic. Learning what the Bible has to say about angels can certainly aid in an understanding of God and His ways, but what is learned about the angels themselves must usually be drawn from implicit, rather than explicit, descriptions.
Angels are spiritual beings who have personalities that include emotions (Luke 2:13–14), intelligence (2 Corinthians 11:3, 14), and wills (2 Timothy 2:26). Satan was an angel who was cast out of heaven along with many other angels who decided to follow him and chose to sin (2 Peter 2:4). In terms of free will, the Bible reveals this was an exercise of their ability to choose (Jude 1:6).
Some scholars believe there was a sort of “probation period” for the angels, similar to the time when Adam and Eve were in the garden. Those angels who did not choose to sin and follow Satan have become the “elect” angels (1 Timothy 5:21), confirmed in holiness. These angels are also referred to as “holy angels” (Mark 8:38) and “holy ones” (Psalm 89:5).
Even if the elect angels are confirmed in their holiness, it doesn’t mean they have lost their free will. Certainly, every living creature has choices to make at any given moment. The holy angels might have the ability to sin, but that does not in any way mean that they will sin.
To help understand this issue, we can consider the life of Christ. Christ was “tempted in every way” (Hebrews 4:15), yet He did not sin. Jesus had the ability to choose whatever He pleased (John 10:17-18). However, Jesus’ first priority was always to please His Father, and that is always what He chose (John 4:34). In a similar way, the elect angels praise and serve God because they choose to; they obey God because that is what they desire most to do.
Humans have free will, but they struggle with sin because the human nature has been corrupted by sin. This is why all humans sin (Romans 5:12) and find it much more difficult to “be good” than to “be bad.” The holy angels are without a sinful nature. They are not inclined toward sin but rather toward righteousness, doing everything that pleases God.
In conclusion, the holy angels have a free will, but the Bible makes it clear they will not sin. The apostle John, in describing heaven, wrote there will be no mourning, crying, or pain there (Revelation 21:4), and anyone who does evil will never be permitted to enter (Revelation 21:27). The angels who are part of heaven are sinless.
Question: "Do angels exist?"
Answer: The Bible speaks of angels as real, actual beings. However, Scripture’s depiction of angels is very different from the popular concept of them. The Bible describes angels as vastly powerful, intimidating, and mysterious creatures. They serve God for specific reasons and do not seem to be wandering or random creatures. While we don’t have a great deal of information about angels in the Bible, what’s available is enough to correct many common misconceptions.
The word angel comes from the Greek word aggelos (or angelos), which most literally means “messenger.” In Old Testament Hebrew, these beings are called mal’ak, which means the same thing, “messenger.” Communication seems to be the primary function of angels in the Bible. Most references to angels involve their delivering some news or command on behalf of God. They are occasionally depicted as protecting certain people (Daniel 6:20–23) or nations (Daniel 12:1). However, there is no direct biblical support for the concept of a “guardian angel”—a single spiritual entity assigned to a specific person for purposes of protection or guidance—although such beings may exist.
In modern times, common depictions of angels include things like halos, feathery wings, blond hair, harps, and white robes. Or chubby infants with tiny wings and shining eyes. In reality, the Bible gives no general physical description of angels. Only a few specific types of beings, such as cherubimand seraphim, are given direct visual details (Isaiah 6:2–6; Ezekiel 1:4–28). Only one angel, at the empty tomb of Jesus, is ever described as wearing a white robe (Mark 16:5). Scripture indicates that angels can take on a mundane human form (Genesis 19:1–4).
That being said, most people in Scripture who encounter angels react with fear. Almost every time an angel appears to someone, the angel’s first words are “don’t be afraid!” (Luke 1:13, 30; 2:10; Matthew 28:5) Their presence can be so overwhelming that even apostles such as John had to be warned not to worship them (Revelation 19:9–10). This makes sense, given, the level of power ascribed to angels by the Bible. According to 2 Kings 19:35, a single angel killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers in one night. As spiritual beings created to serve God, angels are not so much “cute” as they are powerful and otherworldly.
Looking at the Bible, we can say that angels are literal beings. Biblical angels exist. The cartoonish versions of angels so often seen in movies and commercials, however, do not.
Question: "Do angels appear to people today?"
Answer: In the Bible angels appear to people in unpredictable and various ways. From a casual reading of Scripture, a person might get the idea that angelic appearances were somewhat common, but that is not the case. There is an increasing interest in angels today, and there are many reports of angelic appearances. Angels are part of almost every religion and generally seem to have the same role of messenger. In order to determine whether angels appear today, we must first get a biblical view of their ancient appearances.
The first appearance of angels in the Bible is in Genesis 3:24, when Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden. God placed cherubim to block the entrance with a flaming sword. The next angelic appearance is in Genesis 16:7, about 1,900 years later. Hagar, the Egyptian servant who bore Ishmael to Abraham, was instructed by an angel to return and submit to her mistress, Sarai. Abraham was visited by God and two angels in Genesis 18:2, when God informed him of the impending destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. The same two angels visited Lot and instructed him to escape the city with his family before it was destroyed (Genesis 19:1-11). The angels in this case also displayed supernatural power by blinding the wicked men who were threatening Lot.
When Jacob saw a multitude of angels (Genesis 32:1), he immediately recognized them as the army of God. In Numbers 22:22, an angel confronted the disobedient prophet Balaam, but Balaam did not see the angel at first, although his donkey did. Mary received a visit from an angel who told her that she would be the mother of the Messiah, and Joseph was warned by an angel to take Mary and Jesus to Egypt to protect them from Herod’s edict (Matthew 2:13). When angels appear, those who see them are often struck with fear (Judges 6:22; 1 Chronicles 21:30; Matthew 28:5). Angels deliver messages from God and do His bidding, sometimes by supernatural means. In every case, the angels point people to God and give the glory to Him. Holy angels refuse to be worshiped (Revelation 22:8-9).
According to modern reports, angelic visitations come in a variety of forms. In some cases, a stranger prevents serious injury or death and then mysteriously disappears. In other cases, a winged or white-clothed being is seen momentarily and is then gone. The person who sees the angel is often left with a feeling of peace and assurance of God's presence. This type of visitation seems to agree with the biblical pattern as seen in Acts 27:23.
Another type of visitation that is sometimes reported today is the “angel choir” type. In Luke 2:13, the shepherds were visited by a heavenly choir as they were told of the birth of Jesus. Some people have reported similar experiences in places of worship. This experience does not fit the model so well, as it typically serves no purpose other than to provide a feeling of spiritual elation. The angel choir in Luke’s Gospel was heralding some very specific news.
A third type of visitation involves only a physical feeling. Elderly people have often reported feeling as though arms or wings were wrapped around them in times of extreme loneliness. God is certainly the God of all comfort, and Scripture speaks of God covering with His wings (Psalm 91:4). Such reports may well be examples of that covering.
God is still as active in the world as He has always been, and His angels are certainly still at work. Just as angels protected God's people in the past, we can be assured that they are guarding us today. Hebrews 13:2says, “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” As we obey God's commands, it is quite possible that we may encounter His angels, even if we do not realize it. In special circumstances, God allowed His people to see His unseen angels, so God’s people would be encouraged and continue in His service (2 Kings 6:16-17).
We must also heed the warnings of Scripture concerning angelic beings: there are fallen angels who work for Satan who will do anything to subvert and destroy us. Galatians 1:8 warns us to beware of any “new” gospel, even if it is delivered by an angel. Colossians 2:18 warns against the worship of angels. Every time in the Bible when men bowed down before angels, those beings firmly refused to be worshiped. Any angel who receives worship, or who does not give glory to the Lord Jesus, is an imposter. Second Corinthians 11:14-15states that Satan and his angels disguise themselves as angels of light in order to deceive and lead astray anyone who will listen to them.
We are encouraged by the knowledge that God's angels are at work. In special circumstances, we might even have one of those rare personal visitations. Greater than that knowledge, however, is the knowledge that Jesus Himself has said, “Surely I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). Jesus, who made the angels and receives their worship, has promised us His own presence in our trials.