By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are from the Contemporary English Version of the Bible)
Quotation For Contemplation
The other angels were created by Him, and entrusted with the control of matter and the forms of matter. . . . Just as with men, they have freedom of choice as to both virtue and vice. . . . Some men are diligent in the matters entrusted to them by you, and others are faithless. It is the same among the angels. They are free agents, being created that way by God, as you will observe. Some of them have continued in those things for which God had made them. They have remained over the things to which He had ordained them. But some outraged both the constitution of their nature and the oversight entrusted to them. . . . These angels fell into impure love of virgins and were subjugated by the flesh. . . . Those who are called giants were begotten from these lovers of virgins. (Athenagoras (c. 175, E), 2.142.).
Questions For Consideration
What are angels?
What do angels have to do with suffering in our world?
The Place Of Angels In The Discussion Of Evil, Pain, And Suffering
In our studies of the Book of Job, we have learned that the Lord created His universe and endowed it’s sentient members with the power of freewill.
We have learned that this freewill was a good thing, and that its’ abuse led to the introduction of sin and suffering into our world. The natural result of rebellion against an infinitely perfect God is separation from Him (Isaiah 59:1-2); and as a result of the disobedience of Adam and Eve, the Creation was handed over to the devil.
In the account of Job, the subject of the devil and angels plays a prominent role in understanding the subject of evil, pain, and suffering in the universe. These creatures demand our serious investigation and study.
It is time to investigate the subject of angels.
Angels In The Book Of Job
Several passages in the Book of Job discuss angels. Please consider the following verses:
Job 1:6 One day, when the angels had gathered around the LORD, and Satan was there with them,
Job 2:1 When the angels gathered around the LORD again, Satan was there with them,
Job 4:18 He finds fault with his servants and even with his angels.
Job 15:14-16-14 No human is pure and innocent, 15 and neither are angels— not in the sight of God. If God doesn’t trust his angels, 16 what chance do humans have? We are so terribly evil that we thirst for sin.
Job 33:23-26-23 One of a thousand angels then comes to our rescue by saying we are innocent. 24 The angel shows kindness, commanding death to release us, because the price was paid. 25 Our health is restored, we feel young again, 26 and we ask God to accept us. Then we joyfully worship God, and we are rewarded because we are innocent.
Job 38:4-7-4 How did I lay the foundation for the earth? Were you there? 5 Doubtless you know who decided its length and width. 6 What supports the foundation? Who placed the cornerstone, 7 while morning stars sang, and angels rejoiced?
From these Scriptures in Job, we learn several lessons about angels.
First, angels are created beings.
Second, these beings are inferior to God.
Third, angels have the capacity of freewill.
Fourth, there was some kind of angelic rebellion in the past.
Fifth, angels are connected with humans.
Sixth, one of the responsibilities of angels is to minister to humans.
Seventh, the angels were in existence before the material universe.
Eighth, the angels worship God.
Ninth, angels help humanity by delivering the Word of God to them.
Tenth, angels are contrasted with humans in that humans are formed from clay and angels are not.
Eleventh, angels are able to feel joy (since they sang for joy when the universe was created).
Twelfth, fallen angels want to see mankind sin against God.
What Are Angels?
Our word “angel” actually translates several Hebrew and Greek words, some of which may have reference to “humans” or to “angels.”
Let’s study the Hebrew words translated as “angel” in the Book of Job.
This word is used in Job 4:18. The word is translated in the following ways in the KJV:
angels (100); messengers (74); messenger (24); angels (10); ambassadors (4).
In this passage, the word translated as “angel” is set in contrast to human beings.
Notice how the “angels” are distinguished from humans who are identified as those who are “formed from clay” (Job 4:20).
We also see from this word that one of the responsibilities of angels is to be “messengers” (noticing how the word “angel” used here is also often translated as “messenger” and “ambassador”).
Finally, we see that the angels are primarily “servants” of the Lord. Observe how the word “servant” is elaborated upon in the poetic tense of the passage (i..e, the two parts of the sentence build upon and explain each other). Other passages of Scripture confirm all of these observations.
In Job 15:15, we are told about the “angels.”
The word used here (qâdôsh) usually carries with it the idea of a holy one; a saint; one who is set apart for some special service Notice again the contrast between “humans” and the “angels” in this passage.
Both “humans” and “angels” are charged with moral imperfection (Job 15:14).
Though both classes are guilty of sin, they are yet distinguished from each other.
In like fashion, the passage again contrasts “humans” with “angels” (see Job 15:16).
The ancient Hebrew commentators understood that this was a reference to angels, and often compared the passage with the “holy ones” who were present with God when the Hebrews received His Word at Mount Sinai:
Deuteronomy 33:2-The LORD came from Mount Sinai. From Edom, he gave light to his people, and his glory was shining from Mount Paran. Thousands of his WARRIORS were with him, and fire was at his right hand.
The phrase used to describe angels in Job 1:6; 2:1 and 38:7 is Bene Elohim.
This particular word was used throughout the Old Testament to have reference to angels, and the ancient Jewish commentators understood this when commenting on this particular word:
“This strange passage describes the bizarre circumstances that led to the cataclysmic disaster of the famous Flood of Noah. The Hebrew term translated “sons of God” is , B’nai HaElohim, a term consistently used in the Old Testament for angels.224 When the Hebrew Torah, which of course includes the book of Genesis, was translated into Greek in the third century before Christ (giving us what is known as the Septuagint translation), this expression was translated angels.225 With the benefit of the best experts at that time behind it, this translation carries great weight and it was the one most widely quoted by the writers of the New Testament. The Book of Enoch also clearly treats these strange events as involving angels.226 Although this book was not considered a part of the “inspired” canon, the Book of Enoch was venerated by both rabbinical and early Christian authorities from about 200 B.C. through about A.D. 200 and is useful to authenticate the lexicological usage and confirm the accepted beliefs of the period. The Biblical passage refers to supernatural beings intruding upon the planet Earth….The “angel” view of this classic Genesis text is well documented in both ancient Jewish rabbinical literature and Early Church writings. In addition to the Septuagint translation, the venerated (although non-canonical) Book of Enoch, the Syriac Version of the Old Testament, as well as the Testimony of the 12 Patriarchs234 and the Little Genesis,235 confirm the lexicological usage and the extant beliefs of ancient Jewish scholars. Clearly the learned Philo Judaeus understood the passage as relating to angels.236 Josephus Flavius also represents this view: “They made God their enemy; for many angels of God accompanied with women, and begat sons that proved unjust, and despisers of all that was good, on account of the confidence they had in their own strength, for the tradition is that these men did what resembled the acts of those whom the Grecians call giants.”237 In accordance with the ancient interpretation, the Early Church fathers understood the expression “sons of God” as designating angels. These included Justin Martyr,238 Irenaeus,239 Athenagoras,240 Pseudo-Clementine,241 Clement of Alexandria,242 Tertullian,243 Commodianus,244 and Lactantius,245 to list a few. This interpretation was also espoused by Luther and many more modern exegetes including Koppen, Twesten, Dreschler, Hofmann, Baumgarten, Delitzsch, W Kelly, A. C. Gaebelein, and others.” (Chuck Missler & Mark Eastman, Alien Encounters: The Secret Behind The UFO Phenomenon, 205-208 (Kindle Edition-emphasis added, M.A.T.); Coeur d’Alene, ID; Koinonia House)
This phrase teaches us at least two important facts about the angels.
First, they were created by (and are thus inferior to) God.
Second, they are in some ways like unto God.
When Were Angels Created?
The Bible does not go into detail about when the angels were created. However, one passage of Scripture offers some fascinating insight into the matter.
In Job 38, we are told about the creation of the material universe and we see that the angels were praising God and shouting for joy when the Creation was made (Job 38:4-6).
This suggests that the angels were in existence before the Creation of the material universe.
What Form Do Angels Take?
The Bible teaches us many things about angels, and ancient Jewish tradition is also fascinating along these lines.
We know that while angels are often identified as spirits (Psalm 104:4; Hebrews 1:7), they can also on occasion take the form of flesh.
“Usually these angels were depicted as immaterial, winged creatures, dark and shadowy demons tempting man to err, whispering wicked thoughts into his ear. But certain key passages in the holy books indicated that there might be more substance—literally and physically—to the fallen angels. The materiality of angels seems to have been an age-old belief. There was the angel with whom Jacob wrestled—physical enough to cripple him at least temporarily, if not for life. So tangible was this angel that the author of the Book of Genesis calls him a man, although elsewhere Scripture reveals that he was an angel. (Gen. 32:24–26; Hos. 12:4) The ‘angel’ said to Jacob, “Let me go, for the day breaketh.” How could Jacob have had hold upon an incorporeal angel? The angels who came to visit Sodom had to be bolted indoors in Lot’s house in order to protect them from an intended sexual assault by local townspeople—Sodomites who wanted to get to ‘know’ the angels. (Gen. 19:1–11) And Manoah offered to cook dinner for his guest—presumed to be an ordinary man until he ascended to heaven in the fire Manoah had lit. Only then did Manoah know that the “man of God” was “an angel of the Lord.” (Judg. 13:3–21)”. (Ezlizabeth Clarke Prophet, Fallen Angels And The Origins Of Evils, 103-110 (Kindle Edition); Gardiner, Montana; Summit University Press)
What Do Angels Do?
Our texts here in Job teach us that angels have several responsibilities.
First, angels worship and serve God (cf. Psalm 103:20).
Second, angels are responsible for bringing the Word of God (whether in the form of inspired Revelation to be made part of inerrant Scripture for all people, or as temporal guidance to God’ servants in special circumstances) to mankind (cf. Acts 7:53; Galatians 3:19; Hebrews 2:2; Revelation 14:6-7).
Third, angels carried out both judgments of God (Exodus 12:23; 2 Samuel 24:17; 1 Chronicles 21:14-18; 2 Chronicles 32:21; Acts 12:23) and deliverance for His people (Psalm 34:7; 91:11-12; Daniel 6:22; Matthew 1:20; Acts 12:7; Hebrews 1:14).
All of these things (as well as our passages in Job) indicate that angels-just like human beings-have freewill.
They also remind us that the angels-just like humans-were created ontologically good (cf. James 1:17).
Finally, the passages in Job show us that it was understood in his day and age that at some point in the past, angels had rebelled against God.
By studying the Scriptures, we see that such angelic rebellion was clearly taught in Scripture.
When Did The Angelic Rebellion Happen?
The Scriptures demonstrate that there were definitely at least two, and possibly four, angelic rebellions against God.
First, many believe that the angelic rebellion started before the Creation of the material universe. This is certainly possible!
However, it raises some tough questions.
At what point before the Creation did Satan rebel against God?
If Satan had already fallen from grace and was at war with God when Adam and Eve were in the Garden, then how did Satan gain entrance to the Garden?
And last-but not least-why was Eve on such good speaking terms with the devil when he is introduced to us in Genesis 3?
These questions are not unsurmountable, but they do give one pause for thought.
Second, the Scriptures indicate that there was a rebellion among the angels during the time human beings were in the Garden of Eden.
Satan (who will be studied in more detail in our next lesson) was in the Garden of Eden. If Satan had not yet fallen from grace, he would no doubt have had plenty of time to gain the trust of Adam and Eve in the Garden.
Extra-biblical Hebrew history books indicate that Adam and Eve may have been in the Garden of Eden for as many as seven years before they fell. For example:
Book Of Jubilees 3:15-15 . And in the first week of the first jubilee, Adam and his wife were in the Garden of Eden for seven years tilling and keeping it, and we gave him work and we instructed him to do everything that is suitable for tillage.
We do not know for certain how long Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden before the Fall, but the text in Genesis suggests that it may have been quite some time.
First, we are told that the Lord communed with Adam and Eve in the “cool of the evening” (Genesis 3:8). Speaking of the Hebrew of this passage, one scholar has pointed out the following:
“Yahweh God is represented as “walking about in the garden.” The almost casual way in which this is remarked indicates that this did not occur for the first time just then. The assumption that God had repeatedly done this is quite feasible. Besides, there is extreme likelihood that the Almighty assumed some form analogous to the human form which was made in His image. Nor is there anything farfetched about the further supposition that previously our first parents had freely met with and conversed with their heavenly Father. In this instance they again hear His “voice.” Though qôl does often mean “sound” (cf. 2 Samuel 5:24 ; 1 Kings 14:6 ) and now by almost common consent is quite regularly translated thus in this verse, yet verse 10 definitely points to the use of the word in the more common meaning of “voice,” and this must be a reference to the word qôl used in our verse. This “walking about” (in the case of a man, we should have translated: “taking a walk”) of Yahweh in the garden is said to have taken place “at the time of the breeze ( rû’ach ‘wind’) of the day.” The le introducing this phrase is the ” le temporal.” Experience has shown that in oriental countries the wind springs up at the close of day. Consequently, all this transpired in the evening. The article before “day” is the article of absolute familiarity (K. S. 297 a), for this phenomenon occurred daily.”. (H.C. Leopold, Exposition Of Genesis: Volumes One & Two, 2334-2335 (Kindle Edition); Ephesians Four Group)
Second, the passage suggests that Adam and Eve may have had children already at this point.
Notice that one of the punishments against the woman for her sin was the increase of pain in child-bearing (Genesis 3:16).
If Eve had never had children, how would this increase in pain make any sense? This has led many to believe that Adam and Eve had already had some children (cf. Genesis 1:28) before the Fall.
The third angelic rebellion is referenced in Genesis 6, where the “sons of God” took as wives some of the “daughters of men” and brought forth the “nephilim.”
Both Jude and Peter seem to refer to this when they write:
2 Peter 2:4-God did not have pity on the angels that sinned. He had them tied up and thrown into the dark pits of hell until the time of judgment.
Jude 1:6-You also know about the angels who didn’t do their work and left their proper places. God chained them with everlasting chains and is now keeping them in dark pits until the great day of judgment.
Further, Peter and Jude place these angelic sins in a context that deals with the time-frame of Noah, and with the subject of sexual sin (in particular, the sexual sins of the peoples of Sodom and Gomorrah).
Studying the Greek of the passage in Jude, Kenneth Wuest has written:
“From the apostasy of Israel, Jude turns to the sin of the angels. He describes them as those who “kept not their first estate.” The word “estate” is the A.V. translation of archē. The word means first of all, “beginning.” Thus does the A.V. understand it. The angels left their first or original status as angels, their original position, to violate the laws of God which kept them separate from the human race, members of which latter race occupy a different category among the created intelligences than that of angels….The second meaning of archē is derived from the first, namely, “sovereignty, dominion, magistracy,” the beginning or first place of power. The word is translated “principalities” in Eph 6:12, and refers to demons there. Thus, this meaning of archē teaches that these angels left their original dignity and high positions. Archē is used, in the Book of Enoch (12:4) of the Watchers (Angels) who have abandoned the high heaven and the holy eternal place and defiled themselves with women (Mayor). This original state of high dignity which these angels possessed, Jude says, they did not keep. The verb is tēreō, “to guard.” The verb expresses the act of watchful care. That is, these angels did not fulfil their obligation of carefully guarding and maintaining their original position in which they were created, but transgressed those limits to invade territory which was foreign to them, namely, the human race. They left their own habitation. “Habitation” is oikētērion, “a dwelling-place,” here, heaven. “Their own” is idion, “one’s own private, personal, unique possession,” indicating here that heaven is the peculiar, private abode of the angels. Heaven was made for the angels, not for man. It is the temporary abode of the departed saints until the new heavens and new earth are brought into being, but man’s eternal dwelling-place will be on the perfect earth (Rev 21:1-3). “Left” is apoleipō. The simple verb leipō means “to leave.” The prefixed preposition apo makes the compound verb mean “to leave behind.” These angels left heaven behind. That is, they had abandoned heaven. They were done with it forever. The verb is aorist in tense which refers to a once-for-all act. This was apostasy with a vengeance. They had, so to speak, burnt their bridges behind them, and had descended to a new sphere, the earth, and into a foreign relationship, that with the human race, foreign, because the latter belongs to a different category of created intelligences than they. These angels are reserved in everlasting chains under darkness. “Reserved” is tēreō, and is in the perfect tense. That is, they have been placed under a complete and careful guard, with the result that they are in a state of being under this complete and careful guard continually. These angels are carefully guarded in everlasting chains. “Chains” is desmos, “a band or bond.” The word does not indicate that the angels are chained, but that they are in custody, detained in a certain place. The custody is everlasting. The Greek word is aidios, “everlasting.” “Darkness” is zophos, “darkness, blackness,” used of the darkness of the nether world…This verse begins with hōs, an adverb of comparison having the meanings of “in the same manner as, after the fashion of, as, just as.” Here it introduces a comparison showing a likeness between the angels of verse 6 and the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah of this verse. But the likeness between them lies deep-er than the fact that both were guilty of committing sin. It extends to the fact that both were guilty of the same identical sin. The punctuation of the A.V. is misleading, as an examination of Greek text discloses. The A.V. punctuation gives the reader the impression that Sodom and Gomorrah committed fornication and that the cities about them committed fornication in like manner to the two cities named. The phrase “in like manner” is according to the punctuation construed with the words “the cities about them.” A rule of Greek grammar comes into play here. The word “cities” is in the nominative case. The words “in like manner” are in the accusative case and are classified as an adverbial accusative by Dana and Mantey in their Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament (pp. 91, 93). This latter construction is related syntactically, not with a word in the nominative case but with the verbal form in the sentence. All of which means that the words “in like manner” are related to the verbal forms, “giving themselves over to fornication” and “going after strange flesh.” In addition to all this, the Greek text has toutois, “to these.” Thus, the translation should read, “just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities about them, in like manner to these, having given themselves over to fornication and having gone after strange flesh.” The sense of the entire passage (vv. 6, 7) is that the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities about them, in like manner to these (the angels), have given themselves over to fornication and have gone after strange flesh. That means that the sin of the fallen angels was fornication. This sin on the part of the angels is described in the words, “going after strange flesh.” The word “strange” is heteros, “another of a different kind.” That is, these angels transgressed the limits of their own natures to invade a realm of created beings of a different nature. This invasion took the form of fornication, a cohabitation with beings of a different nature from theirs. This takes us back to Gen 6:1-4 where we have the account of the sons of God (here, fallen angels), cohabiting with women of the human race.” (Kenneth Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies In The Greek New Testament, (E-Sword Edition, emphasis added-M.A.T.))
When Jesus died on the Cross, it is possible that there was yet another angelic rebellion (recorded in Revelation 12:5-12).
However, it is also possible that this was not another angelic rebellion, but was instead an expulsion of the already rebellious angels from the realms of Heaven which they possessed.
What We Have Learned
First, angels-just like humans-are created beings who have freewill.
Second, the angels are not made of dirt (clay) like humans are.
Third, angels were originally given very important responsibilities that involved serving God, protecting mankind, bringing judgment, delivering the Word of God to man, and delivering God’s people from danger.
Fourth, there was common knowledge in Job’s day that there had been some kind of angelic rebellion against God.
Fifth, there were definitely two (and possibly as many as four) angelic rebellions against God.
The last lesson I would encourage you to take from Job in these regards is this: some of the evil angels have a vested interest in seeing mankind sin against God. Indeed, they will go to any lengths possible-inflict any degree of suffering to mankind which they can-to bring about this goal.
All of these important topics still leave much for us to consider. In our next lesson, we will examine some of the following questions:
Who was Satan?
Why did Satan rebel against God?
How can a perfectly created being fall from grace?
What do all of these things ultimately teach us about the existence of evil, pain, and suffering in the universe?
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.