Myth Busting: Angels

On September 29 each year, we observe the Festival of St. Michael & All Angels. This is a festival to highlight the work of God’s angels among us. It also gives us the opportunity to do some myth busting. Here are six myths about angels compared with what the Bible teaches.

Myth #1: Angels were with God before the world was made. Angels are creatures of God, which means they were created sometime during the six days of Creation (we don’t know which day). Colossians 1:16 says that by the Son of God “all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible.”

Myth #2: The devil rebelled against God before Adam and Eve were created. It is true that the devil was a good angel who rebelled against God, enticing perhaps one third of the angels to join him (Revelation 12:3-4). But this must have happened when the Creation was complete. After the sixth day, everything was declared by God to be “very good” (Genesis 1:31).

Myth #3: Angels basically look like humans with two wings. There are different types of angels. Isaiah 6 describes angels called “seraphim” who had six wings. Then there were “cherubim,” who figured prominently in the temple decorations and furnishings. The angels are never described like chubby cupids or like the nice-looking, gentle types we see on TV. They are powerful creatures of God, frightening to behold (Daniel 8:15-18, Luke 1:13 & 30, Matthew 28:2-6).

Myth #4: All Christians should expect to see an angel in their lifetimes. Based on how the Bible describes them, you might not want to! Angels have only appeared to humans at important points in the history of salvation, like the birth, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. They will also return visibly with Jesus on the Last Day. God may allow you to see an angel before then, but He does not promise this. It is also possible that you have seen one already but did not know it (Hebrews 13:2).

Myth #5: God protects us, so we don’t really need the angels. The Bible says that angels are “sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation” (Hebrews 1:14). God protects us through His angels. Their protection is important because “Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). But we are not defenseless, “For He will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways” (Psalm 91:11).

Myth #6: We become angels when we die. Angels are separate creatures from humans; one cannot become the other. Jesus said that believers in Him who are raised on the Last Day will be “like angels in heaven” (Matthew 22:29-31), which is different than saying they will be angels. Besides, it is good to be human. The Son of God did not become an angel to save the angels. He became a Man to save mankind.

The angels played a prominent role in announcing the work of the Christ (Luke 1:26-38, 2:8-14, Mark 16:1-8). As much as we are in awe of the angels, they are in awe of what God has done to save us. The Apostle Peter writes that these are “things into which angels long to look” (1 Peter 1:12).

– Rev. Peter Faugstad