Bible Study on Angels: Biblical Names, Purposes, Nature and More

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

What are the functions of angels?  Do their names have to do with their job?  What is the nature of angels?  What does the Bible say about angels?

The Word Angel

The word angel is an infusion of an old English/Germanic word “engel” and the French word “angele”; both are taken from the Latin “angelus” that basically means “messenger of God.”  The Bible clearly teaches that angels do exist and that we may have actually encountered them or will encounter them during our lives and we either may have realized it only later or may have not even realized it at all.  Hebrews 13:2 exhorts believers to “not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”  The principle is to treat everyone how Jesus Christ would treat them.

The Function of Angels

Angels have many assigned jobs that God has given them specifically to do.  Even though they have free will, they bid to do God’s will alone.   Some angels are assigned to worship God (Rev 4:1-11; Heb 1:6) while others are assigned to minister to believers as written in Hebrews 1:14 that angels are “ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation” whom have sometimes protected the saints (Psalm 91:11-12; Dan 6:22).  Some even feel that every believer has their own angel assigned to them, so-called “guardian angels,” although we cannot be 100% certain of this fact (Matt 18:10; Acts 12:15).  There is no doubt that angels have miraculously intervened on the behalf of Christians (Acts 5:19-20) and may help protect them in other ways (Matt 18:10) because Satan and his demons would love nothing more than to destroy us (1 Peter 5:8).  Maybe that is why it’s said that angels are said to encamp around us (Psalm 34:7; 103:21) and there are plenty to go around for every believer.  There are more than enough to help those who are saved because the number of angels is said to be uncountable, which may mean that they’re at least in the millions, if not more (Heb 12:22; Dan 7:10)

Angel Names and their Meanings

The angel named Gabriel means “strong man of God.”

The angel named Gabriel means “strong man of God.”

The angel Michael has a specific rank as he is an archangel.  His name literally means “who is like God?”  The angel named Gabriel means “strong man of God.”  He is also an archangel and like Michael, he has the highest rank among the angels of God.  God frequently uses these powerful spirit beings because they may be needed as they may encounter resistance from fallen angels.  One such experience was recorded in the Book of Daniel where “The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me [an angel] twenty-one days, but Michael [the archangel], one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I was left there with the kings of Persia, and came to make you understand what is to happen to your people in the latter days” (Dan 10:13-14).  Here was a case of spiritual warfare from “the prince of…Persia” who held back this angel from delivering his message to Daniel in giving him the answer to his prayer.  This “prince of Persia” could well have been the Devil himself, who is also one of the highest orders or ranks of angels and it took Michael the archangel to help get this message through.

Other angelic names are not known and if God had wanted us to know these names He would have ensured that we would have known by including them in the Bible.  The fact that God does not give us a long list of angel’s names seems to indicate that God didn’t want us to focus too much attention on them but to focus exclusively on Him.

Angels are Spirit Beings

Since angels are spirit beings they cannot procreate.  They cannot have children or get married (Mark 12:25; 22:30) since they do not have physical bodies (Heb 1:14).  This does not mean that angels can’t appear in physical form, but it is only when God wills it and not when we pray for it or the angels desire to appear physically.  Angels are always in subjection to God’s will and never, ever operate independently of His will.  One thing about angels is that they are extremely powerful (Rev 18:21).  There was a king in Judea who, when the people boasted that “this is the voice a god and not a man,” an angel who was jealous for the glory of God and He alone should be worshiped, struck him down immediately (Acts 12:21-23).  On another occasion, some sexually immoral men in Sodom wanted to have sinful same-sex relations with two of Lot’s guests and not knowing that these two were actually angels, they blinded those who tried to break down Lot’s door to gain access to them (Gen 19:4-13).

Conclusion

Sadly, people have become preoccupied with angels and there are even monthly magazines devoted to people’s so-called experiences with angels.  There are many that are so engaged in the study of angels that they come dangerously close to worshiping them, which is clearly sin (Col 2:6-19; Rev 19:10; 22:9).  If an angel ever does appear in the Bible, they rebuke anyone who attempts to worship them and state that we are to worship only the Lord God.  It is impossible to know just how many of these stories are legitimate and which are imagined but there is little doubt that many of us may have encountered angels.   We may not have even been aware of it until later or we may have never known at all (Heb 13:2).  If you are fascinated by angels, remember that God alone is worthy of our praise and we must focus on Him and Him only for He will not share His glory with another (Isaiah 42:8).  God does sometimes use angels for our protection but their chief purpose is always to do the will of God.  Unfortunately, there are some that ever pray directly to and even worship angels.  This is idolatry and is a very serious sin for we must only pray to the Father alone, through Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit.  That is the will of God and even the angels of God know this (Rev 19:10; 22:9).

Read Jack’s personal story about angels: Seat Belts and Angels

Resource –  “Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Robert Miller March 4, 2014 at 7:56 am

Quick question Jack: You said we are to pray to the Father alone, through Jesus, and in the Spirit. Does this mean it’s sinful to speak/pray directly to Jesus or the Holy Spirit?

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Jack Wellman March 4, 2014 at 8:21 am

Thank you Mr. Miller. I see nothing wroth with praying or speaking directly to Jesus or the Holy Spirit at all. It most certainly is not sin but Jesus also said to pray to the Father thru His name and Paul said that the Spirit helps us in our prayers when we don’t know what to ask for but to Jesus and the Holy Spirit, there is nothing inherently wrong as long as this is not the typical patter. For more on a biblical model of prayer please read this Mr. Miller at: http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/how-should-i-pray-a-biblical-analysis/ Thank you sir.

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DocReits March 4, 2014 at 11:45 am

Thank you Jack for the article. I love the story in 2 Kings 6:17 when Elisha asks God to open the eyes of his servant:

“And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.”

I believe, as you said, that there are angels around us, protecting us from the hoard serving Satan.

The other point you raise is an important one in praying to the Father. Jesus wanted all praise and honor directed toward His Father, which we often lose sight of in worship.

OTOH, there is Biblical precedence for praying to Jesus as Stephen did when he was being stoned in Acts 7:59:

“While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.””

Ultimately the Three are One, so the point is rather moot, but our “default” setting, as you said, should be for relationship with the Father which Jesus secured with His Blood, mediated through the power of the Holy Spirit, working in the heart of the believer.

Good food Jack. Thank you!

DocReits

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Jack Wellman March 4, 2014 at 5:15 pm

Thanks brother for your always encouraging comments. You are a Barnabas to this website and I thank God for you. As for Stephen, I don’t know if it was as much a prayer as a welcome me Jesus, here I come but you are are so spot on in this comment that I can say nothing but well said Doc. Thanks much.

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Jack H March 6, 2014 at 3:15 pm

Hello, Pastor Jack! 😀 Again, you have researched this topic to the fullest and relied on the Holy Spirit to produce the best results! And on an unrelated note, did you hear that scientists have discovered an ancient virus in Russia, exposed by the melting permafrost? And what’s more interesting is, it has no ability to infect humans whatsoever! Do you know what this means? ^_^ God has answered the skeptic’s groans and gripes, and provided some crucial evidence that proves there was no illness in creation and explains why there wasn’t any illness in the first place! What people sadly don’t realize is that science does indeed point to God’s truth, but it has been corrupted for the past 100 years by atheistic bigwigs. True, the Catholics of the Middle Ages tried to be scientists and failed, but science is never really complete anyway. There is ALWAYS something being discovered, and there is also evidence that earthquakes generate electricity! Blessings to you, Pastor, and I hope you enjoy this new information!
Thanks, Jack H 😀

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Jack Wellman March 6, 2014 at 8:58 pm

Greetings Jack. Love to always hear from you brother. You are so right. The world and humans were perfect before the fall. You are spot on and this proves what God said in the beginning, that “It was good.” God is a God of order and not of chaos (1 Cor 14:33). This is the theme of the book, and later the film, the Privileged Planet by Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay Richards (Regnery Publishing 2004). The perfect and precision of God’s creation is plainly known to science. If the moon were any closer or further away…if the earth’s axis were not exactly where it is, and other such scientific evidences of particulars on earth, life could not have existed. The false idea that this was blind chance is so astronomically impossible that mathematicians cannot comprehend the odds. This symmetry reflects God’s nature in the beauty of the creation and a beauty that we can only imagine. There was no doubt proportional balance and a beauty form that necessarily arose from these perfectly balanced proportions. The heavens declare the glory of the work of His hands (Psalm 19:1). Dr. Babcock’s’ suggestion that we use the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible (NRSV) makes Psalm 19:1 fit perfectly with the point I am making as it says “The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.” They do tell about God and they are telling of His glory. The creation is indicative that God should be glorified and mankind’s proper response should be to live a holy life worthy of His creating us, and that He is most worthy (worth ascribed to) to be worshiped and we know that He seeks glory for Himself and seeks those who would worship Him in spirit and truth as Jesus said in John 4:23-24. To worship God in disorder is not truth and to not worship God sincerely is not in the right spirit. Truth without the spirit is religion. Spirit without truth is error. I seek to do both and in the church I am the under-shepherd of, I hope that we strive for both…and that to worship Him in spirit and in truth in a harmonious manner without confusion.

What He creates is also good and that it why I believe that after God had created the heavens and the earth was that He also said that “It was good.” What God creates is good and knowing that whatever is repeated must be of supreme importance for us to know and importance to God. The phrase “And God saw that it was good” is repeated 5 times so the author is emphasizing to us that God Himself saw that it was good and so it must necessarily be good and because God is good, this same good of the created things must also be perfect and without blemish.

Thanks for the new info…I love it and love you too Jack H.

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