Updated: Nov 21, 2020
[I highly recommend to have a Bible in hand.]
Angels. They’re known as those higher beings who come down from glorious heaven to minister to us, protect us, and declare God’s messages to our dark, sinful world. It’s no wonder then how they’ve garnered a reputation as denizens of holiness. The very word ‘angel’ in today’s world is associated with physical and spiritual perfection. However, have we ever taken the time to ponder if there might be more to this idea? Are angels really as perfect as we made them out to be? Or are they more flawed than we thought?
Now, when it comes to the Bible’s definition of perfection, it doesn’t only pertain to sinlessness. It also covers completeness, so to be perfect means to have neither faults nor needs. You must be totally blameless and self-sufficient. If one keeps that in mind, then this age old view of perfect angels isn’t supportable by the Word of God. You heard me right. Angels are not perfect. They simply can’t be, but how can we be sure? To claim they’re otherwise might sound audacious - even sacrilegious in some circles. However, the more we recognize this fact to actually be true, the deeper our appreciation for God becomes.
The first thing about angels that is often overlooked is that they are created beings just like us. I may cover this particular subject more in a later blog. For now, just dwell on it this way. The only being who has never had a beginning or an end is God. (Hebrews 7:1-3; Revelation 1:8) This means angels had a beginning, which means they are automatically inferior to their Maker as well. For no servant is greater than their master (John 13:16). This also exposes their dependance on God for their very existence. As for physical strength, a passage in the book of Daniel reveals that even their supernatural abilities have limits (Daniel 10:12-13). Even their minds lack perfect knowledge (Deuteronomy 29:29; Matthew 24:36), and their hearts aren’t unfamiliar with longing. (Romans 8:22; 1 Peter 1:10-12) Thus, based on this evidence, angels are most certainly not complete beings unto themselves. They aren’t self-sufficient enough physically, mentally, or emotionally to thrive apart from God.
This would then leave only the second side of perfection: flawlessness. Are angels without fault before the Biblical God? Well, I believe Job 4:17-19a and 2 Peter 2:4-6,9 say it best. [“Can a mortal be more righteous than God, or a man more pure than his Maker? If God puts no trust in His servants, and He charges His angels with error, how much more those who dwell in houses of clay,”] [“For if God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but cast them deep into hell, placing them in chains of darkness to be held for judgment; if He did not spare the ancient world when He brought the flood on its ungodly people, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, among the eight; . . . . if all this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment.”] Now, again, we can talk more about angels and sin at another time. That’s a dense enough subject on its own, but it would appear that at the very least, they are fallible. Angels can make mistakes. Angels are capable of not always doing, saying, or thinking the right thing. Thus, much unlike our paintings or typical stories would suggest, they are not perfect. They’re likely more generally upright than human beings are, but that still doesn’t make them blameless. After all, only God is good. (Mark 10:18)
Now, while we could go with all the examples I’ve presented and leave this matter at that, I imagine there may be some skeptics who wonder if other Bible translations might imply differently. Perhaps my assertions can be contradicted by a well learned scholar’s commentary. After all, maybe when the Bible said angels could be charged with error it wasn’t referring to good angels. Maybe it was talking about the fallen ones. That is a fair argument. However, there is one piece of Biblical evidence that I’ve been saving that can’t be easily dismissed. It’s the final nail in the coffin that belies all doubt that angels can’t be perfect: the exclusivity of Christ. Answer this. What was required to take on sin’s punishment? The sacrificing of a perfect man. And who did God have drink the cup of His wrath? Who alone never committed wrong, thus making Him the only way? It was no angel. God didn’t send a cherub, a seraph, or even an archangel. They were unfit. It was Jesus, His Son. Only He was blameless before God because He shares in the Father’s perfect deity along with the Holy Spirit. For by no other name can a man be saved. So why did Christ die on the cross? Not only to save us. Not only because He loved us. But because He was the only one fit to do it in the first place. My friends, if He’s the only one then that truly means the only one.
So if both men and angels are imperfect before God, how much greater does that make His grace appear? For not only does He extend mercy to us mortal humans. He shows compassion for the immortal seraphs crying ‘Holy, Holy, Holy’ around His throne. He lended Gabriel the help he sorely needed to reach Daniel. He granted Micheal the courage and strength to fight Satan the terrible dragon. He’s been their sustainer and their hope ever since and even before Eden. For our God is an awesome God, who’s power is immeasurable and who’s love is unfathomable.
How has this article affected your view on angels? How has it affected your view about God? Please discuss and share your thoughts!
Stay tuned for the next Bible Mystery: #2. Are There Really Female Angels?