To mark the wonderful angel tapestry exhibition on display in the priory church this month, we will be doing a series of blog post about angels, to expand on the booklet we produced to go with the exhibition.
Just what are angels anyway?
Angels are one of the most widely known supernatural beings and yet the folk-lore around them and what we all think we know is so widely varied. The majority of what we know about angels actually has no scriptural evidence and some actually goes against scripture. So we plan to make use of this space to clear up any misconceptions about angels, we hope that it is informative for those interested in learning more or for those who are just curious.
The word Angel comes from the Greek word ‘Aggelos’ which translates to messenger and the Hebrew word ‘Mal’ak’ has the same use and meaning, these words usually are used to describe all the spirits which God has created, and all spheres and choirs… we will talk about these words later in this series.
Here we delve more in-depth into the celestial creatures that are angels, we look into their appearance, their behavior and their history.
One of the biggest misconceptions is that Angels don’t appear in the bible.
This is untrue. People then go so far as to say the only angels in the bible are Gabriel and Michael, which yes they are probably the most well-known but actually there are so many more angels mentioned in the bible, in fact they are mentioned a lot in the bible, they appear in 34 of the 66 books of the bible, 108 times being mentioned in the old testament and 187 times within the new testament that’s a total of 295 times these creatures are mentioned in some form or another, and the mentioning of Angels in the old testament solidifies the existence at least for me as angels have been present in our religion back before Christianity was a religion, Jesus and all the saints and prophets, the patriarchs and holy men and women of the past would have learnt about these creatures as they read the scriptures just like we do to this day.
Some of the verses of scripture pertaining to angels I have included below:
The first three are from the old testament (Torah) and the last three are from the new each from different books, these are just a few of the references to angels in the bible, more will follow in each segment if you have a bible to hand whilst reading you can follow along and delve deeper into each misconception and their basis.
The next misconception is that people believe that angels are mysterious creatures and that we can’t find out much about them from the bible.
As stated above angels appear a lot in the bible and with a bit more of focused study of them we can actually learn more about them than some of the people much more widely known in the bible.
However yes our knowledge of angels is limited, but our knowledge of everything is limited in so much as we can only know as much as God will reveal to us. But we know about their appearance and their temperament and also what they do, we will go on to talk about all three of these things later on but the point I’m making is most of us who are relatively acquainted with the bible and especially the passion narrative and stations of the cross will be familiar with Simon of Cyrene, but all we know about him, is his name and where he was from, we know that he was made to help shoulder the cross but we know nothing else. Similarly Joseph of Arimathea, we know he supplied the tomb for the body of Jesus and a lesser known fact is that he was indeed a pharisee but other than that we know nothing. A relatively prominent person in Jesus’ life would have been his step-father Joseph, but after the time of Jesus being left behind in Jerusalem when he was 12 we hear nothing more about him even though Jesus’ brother’s and sister’s and mother are mentioned, not Joseph. We hear as much about each person, angel or human as we need to. Angels are described in great detail within the bible at varying points; we just have to learn to look.