Fact a Day: December 3rd - Ankerberg Theological Research Institute, John Ankerberg Show

Fact a Day: December 3rd

The Facts on Angels (Harvest House, 1995) p. 9


What is the meaning of the biblical words for angel?


The Hebrew word mal’akh and the Greek word aggelos both mean “messenger” and can be used of either men or spirits. For example, in Mark 1:2 aggelos is applied directly to John the Baptist, “Behold I send my messenger [aggelos] before your face,” while mal’akh is used in the corresponding prophecy of Malachi 3:1.

Because the meaning of the word “angel” is simply that of “messenger,” only the context can determine whether a human or angelic messenger is being referred to. In rare cases, it is difficult to determine which is meant. By far the most common use of the “angel” in the Bible is of a godly spirit messenger—what we normally think of as a good angel.

When Scripture uses the term “holy angel” or “angel,” it refers to the godly and unfallen spirits created directly by God (Mark 8:38; Luke 9:26; Acts 10:22; Revelation 14:10). When it uses “Satan’s angels,” “evil spirits,” “unclean spirits,” and the like, it refers to fallen angels, who are the servants of Satan (Matthew 12:24; 25:41). .

The word “angel” appears some 300 times in 24 books of the Bible; however, this does not include additional words that also designate angels, such as “sons of God,” “holy ones,” “morning stars,” “cherubim,” “seraphs,” “ministering spirits,” and “watchers.” In all, the term “angel” or its equivalents are found in 35 books of the Bible.

*For full documentation, please see The Facts on Angels.


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