header image
Home arrow Griffin's History arrow Interpreting the Scriptures-The Error of Denying the Existence and Fall of Angels
Interpreting the Scriptures-The Error of Denying the Existence and Fall of Angels PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sylvester Hassell   

The Gospel Messenger--July 1894
The ancient infidel Sadducees denied that there was any resurrection, or angel, or spirit (while the Pharisees, of whom Paul said that, in this respect, he was one, confessed their belief of these truths, Acts xxiii.6-9); and modern Socinians, Universalists, Swedenborgians, Rationalists, and Parkerites or Two-Seed Baptists, deny the personal existence of angels of a higher nature than men. The proud carnal philosophy "which deifies man leaves no room for any order of beings above him, and refers the scriptural statements in regard to angels either to poetical personifications or an accommodation, by the sacred writers, to popular supersititions." The denial, among a few hundred Primitive Baptists, of the existence and fall of angels, comes directly from the Two-Seed Heresies of Eld. Daniel Park, whose basal doctrine of an Eternal Devil is at once annihi-lated by the admission of the fact, plainly revealed in the Scriptures, that the Devil is a fallen created angel. The wild, grotesque inventions of the ancient Babylonians, Persians, and Jewish Rabbins, or the fables of John Milton, in regard to angels, are of course to be rejected; but the teachings of the Scriptures on this subject are to be received, no matter who ridicules or explains them away. If we have a right to reject what the Scriptures teach about angels, we have a right to reject all their other teachings.

The Hebrew word malak (messenger) occurs 219 times in the Old Testament; and, in the King James Version, it is translated ambassador four times, messenger 98 times, and angel 117 times. The Greek translation of malak is aggelos, pronounced ang-el-os (messenger), and occurs 187 times in the New Testament; and, in the King James Version, it is translated messenger seven times, and angel 180 times. The Revised Version retains all these translations, except that in Job xxxiii.23 it has angel (instead of messenger); in Psalm viii.5, it has God (instead of angels, but it retains angels in the margin, and Paul, in Heb. ii.7, renders this word angels); in Psalm lxxviii.25, it has the mighty (instead of angels); and in Psalm civ.4, it has messengers (instead of angels). The word malak or aggelos is applied to ordinary messengers (Job i.14; Luke vii.24); to prophets (Isa. xliii.19; Mal. iii.1); to priests (Mal. ii.7); possibly, in connection with the Seven Churches of Asia, to Christian pastors or ministers, though this is very uncertain and very much disputed (by "the angels of the churches" may be represented the churches themselves in their spiritual, heavenly relation, Rev. i-iii); to the Messiah, the Second Person of the Trinity, called the Angel of the Covenant, Angel of His Presence, Angel of Jehovah (Mal. iii.1; Isa. lxiii.9; Exod. iii.2); and to impersonal agents, as the pillar of cloud (Exod. xiv.19), pestilence (2 Sam. xxiv.16, 17), winds (Psalm civ.4, "spirits" is here rendered "winds" in the Revised Version), plagues, called "evil angels" or angels of evil (Psalm lxxxviii.40), and Paul's thorn in the flesh, "the messenger of Satan" (2 Cor. xii.7). Of the 297 times where the term angel occurs in the King James Version, the language evidently refers to God 20 times (Christ, called occasionally in the Old Testament the Angel of the Lord, Angel of the Covenant, and Angel of His presence); to plagues one time; and it may refer eight times to gospel ministers (in Rev. i-iii), but every simple unsophisticated mind would infer, from the context, as both the King James and the Revised translators imply by their using the English word angel, that in 268 places, or in nine-tenths of all the places where the word angel occurs in the King James Version, the reference is to spiritual beings of a higher nature than men. In 24 passages these beings seem clearly distinguished from men (Psalm lxxviii.25; Matt. xiii.39, 41, 49; xvi.27; xxii.30; xxix 31; xxv.31, 41; Mark viii.38, xii.25; xiii.27; Luke ix.26; xvi.22; xx.36; 1 Cor. iv.9; xiii.1; 1 Tim. iii.16; Heb. ii, 7, 9, 16; xii.22; 1 Pet. i.12; 2 Pet. ii.11).

As represented in the Scriptures, "angels have all the properties and do all the acts of real persons. They were created by God (probably at the time between the Divine acts recorded in the first and second verses of the first chapter of Genesis - (see Gen. ii.1; Exod. xx.11; Job xxxviii.7; Deu. iv.35; Luke ii.12; Colos. i.16; Rev. iv.11); they have a nature, for Christ did not assume it (Heb. iv.16); are holy or unholy (Rev. xiv.10); Matt. xxv.41); love and rejoice (Luke xv.10); desire (1 Pet. i.12); contend (Rev. xii.7); worship (Heb. i.6); go and come (Gen. xix.1; Luke ix.26); talk (Zech. i.9; Luke  i.13); have knowledge, yet finite (2 Sam. xiv.29; Matt. xxiv.36); minister in various acts (Matt. xiii.29, 49; Luke xvi.22; Acts v.19); and dwell with the saints who resemble them, in heaven (Matt. xxii.30). If all this language was not intended to assure us of the personal existence of angels, then there is no dependence to be placed on the word of God or the laws of its interpretation." Angels are spirits (Psalm civ.4; Heb. i.7, 14); are numerous (Psalm lxviii.17; Dan. vii.10; Luke ii.13; Matt. xxvi.53; Heb. xii.22); wise (2 Sam. xiv.20; appearing as man's teachers in Dan. and Rev.); and powerful (Sam. Ciii.20; Colos. i.16; 2 Kings xix.35; Job i.12; 2 Thes. i.7); but they are dependent upon God, and are never to be worshipped (Matt. iv.10; Colos. ii.18; Rev. xxii.8, 9). They are everywhere shown to have access to our world, and to be often occupied with its affairs; and they seem to be of different ranks and orders (Jude 9; Ephes. i.2); Colos. i.16; Gen. iii.24; Ezek. x; Isa. vi.2; Matt. xxv.14); and at times they assume bodily forms, and appear to men in dreams and visions and also when the observers are in the usual exercise of their senses.

All the angels were originally sinless or holy (Gen. i.31; 1 John i.5; iii.4); and "the elect angels," through the favor of God, so continue (1 Tim. v.21; Psalm ciii.20; Matt. vii.10; xxv.31). They are the messengers of God; are "employed in His worship," in executing His will, and in ministering to the heirs of salvation. They smote the Egyptians; served in the giving of the law at Mount Sinai; attended the Israelites during their journey; destroyed their enemies; and encamped around the people of God as a defense in hours of danger. They predicted and celebrated the birth of Christ; ministered to Him in His temptation and sufferings; and announced His resurrection and ascension. They are still ministering spirits to believers; delivered Peter from prison; watch over children; bear the soul of departed Saints to paradise; and are to attend Christ at His second coming, and to gather His people into His kingdom."

If there are "elect angels," there are certainly also non-elect angels, who, very soon after the sixth day of creation (Gen. i.31), in the beginning of their own creation or the creation of man (John viii.44), in pride against God and envy of man (1 Tim. iii.6; Isa. xiv.12-15; Gen. 1.28), voluntarily sinned, when left to themselves, just as Adam and Eve did, transgressing the law of their being (2 Pet. ii.4; Jude 6; 1 John iii.4), kept not their first estate of rectitude, left their own habitation of light, abode not (continued not, persevered not) in the truth, were cast down from that heaven, in which they before dwelt, into the air of this world, and are reserved, in spiritual darkness, falsehood, hatred, misery and restraint, a hellish condition, unto the judgment of the great day, when, having no Redeemer, they will receive the full reward of their wickedness by being consigned to everlasting punishment (2 Pet. ii.4; Jude 6; John viii.44; Isa. xiv.12; Luke x.18; Rev. xii.9; Eph. ii.2; vi.12; Isa. lx.2; Job i.7; ii.2; 1 Pet. v.8; Matt. viii.29; xxv.41; Rev. xx.10). A comparison of 2 Pet. ii.4 and Jude 6 plainly shows that the angels therein referred to could not have been men, for these characters, by sinning, kept not their first estate, whereas the first estate of all men, since the fall of Adam, has been sinful (Psalm ii.5; Ephes. ii.3). And, similarly, Christ says (John viii.44) that the Devil was a "murderer" (literally, manslayer) from the beginning (that is, of man's creation - he could not murder man before man was made), and abode not in the truth" (the Greek verb esteke, here rendered abode, is as shown by the oldest manuscripts, and the context here - "was a murderer" - not the perfect tense of istemi, with a present meaning, "stands," as it is rendered in the latest New School Baptist Version, but the past tense of steike, a strengthened form of istemi, and means to stand firm, rendered in the Revised Version, "stood" - clearly implying the Devil was at first in the truth, but did not continue in it - that he, like the other non-elect angels, who followed him, sinned, and thus kept not his first estate, in accordance with the language of Peter and Jude). Just as Michael (signifying Who is like God?) Is the only archangel, the created chief of the holy angels (Dan. x.13; xxi.1; 1 Thess. iv.6; Jude i; Rev. xii.7), so Satan (signifying adversary), who has more than twenty names in the Scriptures, descriptive of his character or history - such as the Devil (slanderer), Apollyon or Abaddon (destroyer), Prince of darkness, God of this world, Lucifer (the morning star), the Old Serpent, the Dragon, the Wicked One - is the chief of the fallen angels, who are called his angels, because of their following him in rebellion against God, and will share in his punishment (Matt. xxv.41; ix.34; Ephes. ii.2). He is the originator of sin, the great enemy of God and man, the opposer of all that is good, the promoter of all that is evil, the head of the kingdom of darkness, who, with his subordinate demons, or fallen angels, or evil spirits, is now mysteriously permitted to tempt and afflict men in soul and body, but who shall at last be utterly vanquished by Christ, and his power over all the people of God forever destroyed (Gen. iii.1-15; Rom. xvi.20; Rev. xx).

As Satan was once an angel of light (Isa. xiv.12 - compare Rev. viii and Luke x.18; John viii.44), so he now presents himself before the Lord among the children of God (Job i.6; ii.1; Zech. iii.1, 2), and transforms himself into an angel of light, in order to deceive (2 Cor. xi.2, 13-15); and he has succeeded in persuading the rationalistic infidel theologians of Germany, and a few Primitive Baptists in this country, that he has no personal existence, and that the declarations of the Scriptures in regard to him are allegorical fables (Gen. iii.4; John viii.44). Some of our able brethren, from not carefully comparing Jude 6 with 2 Pet. ii.4, and both these Scriptures with John viii.44, make Jude and Peter refer, not to Satan and the other apostate angels, but to "his children," "the false prophets among the ancient Israelites;" and another able brother, though admitting that "the non-elect angels" are here spoken of by Jude and Peter, thinks that Satan is not included, and he says, "We do not hold that Satan was once an angel of light; we not know where he came from;" but he says also, "We hold that God never created a man or angel wicked." In his editorials of the Signs of the Times, vol. i.p.573. Eld. G. Beebe says, "Satan is called an angel, and sometimes transforms himself into an angel of light;" and on p.745 he says, "We believe that he [Satan] came a sinless creature from the hand of his Creator, and that he has apostatized from his native sinless state." Mr. J. C. Philpot, of England, in a sermon on Colos. 1.12, 13, preached May 2, 1858 says, "Satan was once an angel of light, a pure and bright seraph, shining in the courts of heaven as the morning star in the eastern sky, resplendent in beauty and glory; but pride and disobedience hurled him down and turned him into a foul fiend, and now hold him in chains and darkness unto the judgement of the great day (Isa. xiv. 12; Jude 6)." A close comparison of all the scriptures bearing on this subject, which I have cited in this article, shows this to be the truth. Many heavens are spoken of in the Old and New Testaments (Gen. ii. 1; 1Kings viii. 27; Psalm cxlviii 4; 2Cor xvii. 2; Ephes. iv. 10). We are not informed in which one Satan was while he was an angel of light; but we know all of God's elect people, like all His elect angels, will be kept forever from falling and perishing, by His almighty, unchangeable, and everlasting grace (Rom. viii.28-39; John x. 27-30; xvii.2, 3, 24).

< Previous   Next >


The Primitive or Old School Baptists cling to the doctrines and practices held by Baptist Churches throughout America at the close of the Revolutionary War. This site is dedicated to providing access to our rich heritage, with both historic and contemporary writings.