Angelology: The Doctrine of Angels
The fact that God has created a realm of personal beings other than mankind is a fitting topic for systematic theological studies for it naturally broadens our understanding of God, of what He is doing, and how He works in the universe. We are not to think that man is the highest form of created being. As the distance between man and the lower forms of life is filled with beings of various grades, so it is possible that between man and God there exist creatures of higher than human intelligence and power. Indeed, the existence of lesser deities in all heathen mythologies presumes the existence of a higher order of beings between God and man, superior to man and inferior to God. This possibility is turned into certainty by the express and explicit teaching of the Scriptures. It would be sad indeed if we should allow ourselves to be such victims of sense perception and so materialistic that we should refuse to believe in an order of spiritual beings simply because they were beyond our sight and touch.1 The study of angels or the doctrine of angelology is one of the ten major categories of theology developed in many systematic theological works. The tendency, however, has been to neglect it. As Ryrie writes, One has only to peruse the amount of space devoted to angelology in standard theologies to demonstrate this. This disregard for the doctrine may simply be neglect or it may indicate a tacit rejection of this area of biblical teaching. Even Calvin was cautious in discussing this subject (Institutes, I, xiv, 3).2 Though the doctrine of angels holds an important place in the Word of God, it is often viewed as a difficult subject because, while there is abundant mention of angels in the Bible, the nature of this revelation is without the same kind of explicit description we often find with other subjects developed in the Bible: Every reference to angels is incidental to some other topic. They are not treated in themselves. God’s revelation never aims at informing us regarding the nature of angels. When they are mentioned, it is always in order to inform us further about God, what he does, and how he does it. Since details about angels are not significant for that purpose, they tend to be omitted.3 While many details about angels are omitted, it is important to keep in mind three important elements about the biblical revelation God has given us about angels. (1) The mention of angels is inclusive in Scripture. In the NASB translation these celestial beings are referred to 196 times, 103 times in the Old Testament and 93 times in the New Testament. (2) Further, these many references are scattered throughout the Bible being found in at least 34 books from the very earliest books (whether Job or Genesis) to the last book of the Bible (Revelation). (3) Finally, there are numerous references to angels by the Lord Jesus, who is declared to be the Creator of all things, which includes the angelic beings. Paul wrote, “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities (a reference to angels)—all things have been created by Him and for Him.” So while the mention of angels may seem incidental to some other subject contextually, it is an important element of divine revelation and should not be neglected, especially in view of the present craze and many misconceptions about angels. It is out of this extended body of Scripture, therefore, that the doctrine of angels, as presented in this study, will be developed. The objective is to make the Bible our authority rather than the speculations of men or their experiences or what may sound logical to people. Though theologians have been cautious in their study of angels, in recent years we have been bombarded by what could easily be called Angelmania. In “Kindred Spirit” Dr. Kenneth Gangel has written an article on the widespread discussion and...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document