a word signifying, both in the Hebrew and Greek, a "messenger," and hence employed to denote any agent God sends forth to execute his purposes. It is used of an ordinary messenger ( Job 1:14 : 1 Samuel 11:3 ; Luke 7:24 ; 9:52 ), of prophets ( Isaiah 42:19 ; Haggai 1:13 ), of priests ( Malachi 2:7 ), and ministers of the New Testament ( Revelation 1:20 ).
But its distinctive application is to certain heavenly intelligences whom God employs in carrying on his government of the world. The name does not denote their nature but their office as messengers. The appearances to Abraham at Mamre ( Genesis 18:2 Genesis 18:22 . Comp 19:1 ), to Jacob at Peniel ( Genesis 32:24 Genesis 32:30 ), to Joshua at Gilgal ( Joshua 5:13 Joshua 5:15 ), of the Angel of the Lord, were doubtless manifestations of the Divine presence, "foreshadowings of the incarnation," revelations before the "fulness of the time" of the Son of God.
These superior beings are very numerous. "Thousand thousands," etc. ( Daniel 7:10 ; Matthew 26:53 ; Luke 2:13 ; Hebrews 12:22 Hebrews 12:23 ). They are also spoken of as of different ranks in dignity and power ( Zechariah 1:9 Zechariah 1:11 ; Daniel 10:13 ; 12:1 ; 1 Thessalonians 4:16 ; Jude 1:9 ; Ephesians 1:21 ; Colossians 1:16 ).
The Incarnation introduces a new era in the ministrations of angels. They come with their Lord to earth to do him service while here. They predict his advent ( Matthew 1:20 ; Luke 1:26-38 ), minister to him after his temptation and agony ( Matthew 4:11 ; Luke 22:43 ), and declare his resurrection and ascension ( Matthew 28:2-8 ; John 20:12 John 20:13 ; Acts 1:10 Acts 1:11 ). They are now ministering spirits to the people of God ( Hebrews 1:14 ; Psalms 34:7 ; 91:11 ; Matthew 18:10 ; Acts 5:19 ; 8:26 ; 10:3 ; 12:7 ; 27:23 ). They rejoice over a penitent sinner ( Luke 15:10 ). They bear the souls of the redeemed to paradise ( Luke 16:22 ); and they will be the ministers of judgement hereafter on the great day ( Matthew 13:39 Matthew 13:41 Matthew 13:49 ; 16:27 ; 24:31 ). The passages ( Psalms 34:7 , Matthew 18:10 ) usually referred to in support of the idea that every individual has a particular guardian angel have no such meaning. They merely indicate that God employs the ministry of angels to deliver his people from affliction and danger, and that the angels do not think it below their dignity to minister even to children and to the least among Christ's disciples.
The "angel of his presence" ( Isaiah 63:9 . Compare Exodus 23:20 Exodus 23:21 ; 32:34 ; 33:2 ; Numbers 20:16 ) is probably rightly interpreted of the Messiah as the guide of his people. Others have supposed the expression to refer to Gabriel ( Luke 1:19 ).
M.G. Easton M.A., D.D., Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition,
published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain, copy freely.
[B] indicates this entry was also found in Baker's Evangelical Dictionary
Bibliography InformationEaston, Matthew George. "Entry for Angel". "Easton's Bible Dictionary".