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What does it mean that angels are ministering spirits?

What does it mean that angels are ministering spirits?

Hebrews 1:14 says about angels: “Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?

Angels are spirits

This verse teaches us three things about angels. The first thing is that angels are spirits. They do not have a body. They may appear to people in human form, as they did after Jesus’ resurrection (see Matthew 28:3; Mark 16:5; Luke 24:4). Yet normally their presence is hidden from human eyes, as may be seen from the story where Elisha prays that his servant’s eyes will be opened for the presence of angels around the city (2 Kings 6:15-17).

Secondly, angels are ministering spirits. The nature of angels is to serve. There is hierarchy among the angels, and some have elevated titles: thrones, dominions, rulers, authorities (see Colossians 1:16). Yet their nature is to serve. They serve God. But they also serve the believers.

God protects us with His angels

Thirdly, angels are not serving everybody, but especially God’s children. The Bible is not very clear about what exactly their service consists of, for we should focus on God, and not be overly interested in angels. Yet we can find at least two ways how angels serve God’s children.

  • In Hebrews 1:14 the service of the angels seems to be linked to how believers inherit salvation. So the angels play a role in organising circumstances in such a way that God’s elect will hear and respond to the Gospel.
  • In 2 Kings 6:15-17 angels surround a city to protect God’s prophet. So angels play a role in protecting believers from bodily harm. The same is found in Psalm 34:7: “The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.

What we can be sure of

Only in heaven will we know the exact way that the angels have served us. But we know it happens continuously. In Matthew 18:10 Jesus says: “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.” Angels stand always ready to receive God’s instructions to help the believers.

It is a tremendous privilege to know that God is sending mighty angels to serve us. It shows how much He loves and treasures us.

Also read What do Angels do?

Marten Visser

Marten Visser

Marten Visser, 1971, experienced a call from the Lord to be a missionary while in Kindergarten, and never had any other job ambition. He received M.Div., Th.M. in Missiology, and M.A. in cultural anthropology degrees from Utrecht University, as well as a Ph.D. degree in Theology from the same university. In 1994 he founded Gave, a mission organisation ministering among refugees in the Netherlands. In 2000 he became a church planting missionary in Thailand with OMF, together with his wife Esther. They planted a church in a lower class neighbourhood in Bangkok. In 2006 they moved to Isaan, the North-east of Thailand. Marten planted two more rural churches and a Burmese factory church, while also building up a team of missionary church planters. In 2015 he returned to the Netherlands where he founded GlobalRize. He continues to serve as GlobalRize’s director of evangelism. Marten is an ordained Reformed pastor, who preaches twice almost every Sunday in churches all over the Netherlands. He and his wife have two children.

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