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It is written:
1 Corinthians 15:40-There are also celestial bodies and terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.
There are many accounts of people who have had their dead loved ones appear to them. Could it be that there is some truth to the idea that the dead saints join in service to the living as angels of God?
Years ago, I was stunned to learn that dead Christians are identified by John as the four living creatures (Revelation 4:8-11; 5:8-10), which is terminology borrowed from Ezekiel’s description of beings that are identified as angels of God (Ezekiel 1:6; 10:14). The implication was stunning: there is some mysterious between angels and humans which suggests that dead Christians may serve in some capacity as angels of God!
Recently, I learned some more evidence which suggests that this is indeed the case:
“CHRISTIANS BECOME ANGELS WHEN THEY DIE” Many who embrace the idea are not conscious of its biblical roots. 22 These roots are deep, though “becoming an angel” is precisely what’s in view. The idea that believers become angels after death draws on several scriptural threads. Two that might be familiar to most Christians are the doctrine of glorification (being made like Jesus; 1 John 3: 1–3); statements that a believer’s existence in the afterlife makes them “like the angels” (Matt 22: 30; Mark 12: 25); and Paul’s teaching that the believer’s resurrection body is “celestial flesh” (a “spiritual body”; 1 Cor 15: 35–49). Less familiar is the fact that the family and inheritance vocabulary used of Christians in the New Testament is tied to vocabulary for the divine family (divine council) in the Old Testament, and Eden (including the new Eden) derives from “cosmic abode” motifs in the ancient Near East. I devoted a good deal of attention to all of these trajectories in The Unseen Realm, and so readers are directed to that discussion for details and sources. 23 Briefly, these threads weave a tapestry of the believer’s destiny that culminates in being made divine. Christian theologians use various terms for the doctrine: glorification, deification, theosis among them. The idea is not that we become the same as Yahweh or Jesus, but, as John wrote, “we shall be like him” (1 John 3: 2). Believers are already “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pet 1: 4). We are destined to reconstitute the divine council of Yahweh alongside his spiritual children, the “sons of God,” the members of his loyal heavenly host. The same language is used of believers (1 John 3: 1–3). We are the “holy ones,” the common term for angels in the Old Testament. 24 We have been “adopted” into God’s heavenly family. Our “inheritance” is in heaven, and that heaven will come to earth as the new global Eden. We will be placed over the nations, currently under the dominion of the fallen sons of God, displacing them in that role, sharing messianic rule with Jesus, our brother (Heb 2: 5–18; Rev 2: 26–28; Rev 3: 21). In so doing, we will “judge angels,” ruling over them in terms of Old Testament divine council hierarchical terminology (1 Cor 6: 3; John 1: 12). The end result is not that glorified believers become angels. Rather, we are fully grafted into the glorious family council of God. Our “already” status in that regard becomes full reality at death. We join the heavenly children of God in a blended divine family and actually outrank angels in the new global Eden.” (Michael S. Heiser,
Angels: What the Bible Really Says About God’s Heavenly Host, 166-167 (Kindle Edition); Bellingham, WA; Lexham Press)
In addition to the Revelation passages noted at the beginning of our study, there is another possible reference to dead Christians serving as angels later in that great Book:
Revelation 12:1-5-1 Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars. 2 Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth. 3 And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. 4 His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born. 5 She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne.
Clearly, the primary reference to the “Child” here is Jesus.
However, the Child may also have reference to the children that the woman bore through the Child, i..e, Christians!
How do we know this?
John is referencing an Old Testament prophecy about the Messiah and His people (i.e., the church).
Isaiah 66:7-8-Before she was in labor, she gave birth; Before her pain came, She delivered a male child. 8 Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall the earth be made to give birth in one day? Or shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion was in labor, She gave birth to her children.
Observe how the “male child” in Isaiah 66:7 also includes the “nation” and the “children” that came from Him (Isaiah 66:8). Furthermore, notice that in Revelation 12:5, the male Child (Jesus) rules the nations with a rod of iron, which is the same promise given to Christians who die faithful to God:
Revelation 2:26-27-And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations— 27 ‘HE SHALL RULE THEM WITH A ROD OF IRON; THEY SHALL BE DASHED TO PIECES LIKE THE POTTER’S VESSELS’—as I also have received from My Father;
So there are clear connections between the male Child (Jesus) and His people (the church).
Now, what does all this have to do with the possibility of dead Christians being angels?
Revelation 12:13-17-Now when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male Child. 14 But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent. 15 So the serpent spewed water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood. 16 But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. 17 And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
The woman represents the people of God. Notice that the people of God (the church) who are still alive on Earth are attacked by Satan and they flee and are provided help by someone. She was given supernatural help in being delivered from the persecutor, and nourished for a time with help. What is interesting is that the “nourishing” in this passage that is provided to the church on Earth seems to go directly back to the “Male Child” Who had ascended to the throne of Heaven. However, as we tie in the prophecy of Isaiah 66:7-8 with this, we see that there is also a reference to the Christians who had died!
Could it be that the dead Christians here are somehow providing assistance and aid to the people of God still alive? We have already noticed that there is a connection between angels and saints earlier in Revelation with Ezekiel, so this interpretation seems to have some credibility.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.