The word “angel” means “messenger.” This is true of both the Old Testament word (malak), and the New Testament word (angelos). These words are used of human messengers (e.g. Genesis 32:3; Numbers 21:21; 2 Chronicles 36:15; Haggai 1:13; Malachi 1:1 (note: “Malachi” means “My messenger”); 2:7; 3:1; Mark 1:1-4; Luke 7:24; Galatians 4:14; James 2:25; cf. Joshua 2; possibly, 1 Peter 1:12 cf. 1:10], including prophets (2 Chronicles 36:15; Haggai 1:13; Mark 1:1-4; cf. Luke 7:28), and priests (Malachi 2:7). These words also are used of non-human, heavenly messengers (e.g. Genesis 19:1; Exodus 3:2; 2 Chronicles 32:21; Daniel 3:28; 6:2; Matthew 13:49; Luke 1:11-13, 19; 1: 26-28; 2:8-15; 16:22, etc.). Context helps one determine the usage. In this series, the subject is non-human angels.
The Work of Angels
Angels have functioned as messengers from God to man. Angels spoke about the births of Ishmael (Genesis 16:7-12), and Isaac (Genesis 18:1-5, 16, 22; 19:1 cf. Hebrews 13:1), and Samson (Judges 13:3-24), and John (Luke 1:11-20), and Jesus (Luke 1:26-38; Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 2:8-15); An angel communicated with Joseph to protect the child Jesus (Matthew 2:13-15; 2:19-23). Angels had a role in delivering the law of Moses (Acts 7:53; Hebrews 2:1-3; Deuteronomy 33:2; Psalm 68:17). Angels declared the resurrection (Matthew 28:1-8; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-12). Angels communicated with the apostles (Acts 1:9-11; 5:17-20; 27:22-26). Angels helped make sure that the Gospel went to all including: eunuchs (Acts 8:26-27 cf. Deuteronomy 23:1; Isaiah 56:3-5), and gentiles (Acts 10:1-8; 10:30-33; 11:12-14). While revelation was being revealed, God used angels as His messengers.
Sometimes people claim that they can follow a different gospel than the one which has been revealed and confirmed. They justify such by claiming that an angel has appeared to them. Some have even said, “I don’t care what the Bible says, an angel has told me that I am OK in my practices, though they conflict with the Bible.” However, Paul wrote, “If we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8-9).
Angels have been used to aid and protect man. Angels aided Hagar and Ishmael (Genesis 21:14-21), and the Israelites during the Exodus (Exodus 14:16-20; 23:20-23; 32:30-35; 33:2; Numbers 20:15-16; Psalm 78:25), and David (Psalm 34:4-7), and Shadrach, Meshach, Abed-Nego and Daniel (Daniel 3:23-25, 28; 6:22). Angels aided and protected Jesus (Matthew 4:11; Mark 1:12-13; Luke 22:42-43), and Peter (Acts 5:17-21; 12:5-10).
Angels have served as God’s army. Cherubim guarded the tree of life (Genesis 3:24). Angels brought destruction to Sodom (Genesis 19:1, 12-14), and Jerusalem (2 Samuel 24:15-16), and the Assyrian army (2 Kings 19:35-36), and Herod Agrippa I (Acts 12:20-23). Moreover, Angels will be involved in the judgment (Matthew 13:47-50; 25:31-32; 2 Thessalonians 1:6-9).
Angels are with the righteous at death. They carried the beggar to Abraham’s bosom (Luke 16:22). There is no mention of angels connected with the death of Lazarus (Luke 16:22). Do the unrighteous have to die alone?
Angels are “ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation” (Hebrews 1:14). Wayne Jackson has written, “But how do angels accomplish these missions? One may not conclude that this phenomenon is miraculous, because the New Testament clearly teaches that the age of miracles has been terminated (1 Corinthians 13:8-10; Ephesians 4:8-16). Since the super-natural era is gone, and only God’s providential activity (i.e. the divine manipulation of natural law) remains, one must conclude, I believe, that God employs angels in the implementation of his providential will on behalf of his saints in today’s world. This seems to be a reasonable conclusion, but beyond this we should not speculate” (christiancourier.com, Do Angels Minister to Christians Today?).
What Angels Do Not Do
There are times when angels intervened to get a preacher and a hearer together. This is the case with the eunuch (Acts 8:26-27). This is the case with Cornelius (Acts 10:1-8; 10:30-37; 11:12-14). Jesus, Himself, appeared to Saul (Acts 9:1-6). However, no heavenly messenger ever tells one, in the New Testament, what one must do to be saved. The message is always delivered by men (Acts 8:26-40; Acts 22:6-16). Do not wait for an angel or Jesus to appear to your friends or family and teach them the Gospel. You do it.
Good angels do not accept worship from men. John twice fell down before an angel and was corrected for such (Revelation 19:10; 22:8-9). God alone is worthy of such.