Angels - Part 6
"Because of the Angels"
"Therefore a woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels" (1 Corinthians 11:10)
What is often forgotten is that a double obligation exists in these verses. Because of these facts, both men and women are under obligation (11:7 "ought not"; 11:10 "ought"). Women are not allowed to cast off the recognized customs of society that express a biblical truth (such as their subjection or femininity). In addition (what at times is forgotten in this whole discussion), men are not allowed to cast off the customs that express their rule or masculinity. Women weren't to rid themselves of the veil, but neither were men wear something that was considered "an article of woman's clothing." "Symbol of authority"-"a sign that she is under man's authority" (Tay); "an outward sign of man's authority." (Phi) Considering the context, the only "sign of authority" present is the veil. In Corinthian culture, the veil symbolized the authority of men over women. "Because of the angels"-"She is to keep the place God has given to her. There were angels who were given position and rank but who refused to keep that rank and they were punished for their rebellion. I think Pau is reminding the women of the danger they play with when they reject their "own domain" and "proper sphere"' (McGuiggan p. 149). Compare with Jude 6.
"An Angel of Light"
"For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness" (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).
"Disguises", is a word that specifically stresses "outward form", in contrast to true inward change. Their religion is only skin deep. (2 Timothy 3:5) "Is to change the outward appearance...of a thing, the thing itself in essence..remaining unchanged" (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 103)."As an angel of light": Points to Note: He is everywhere represented as a deceiver, assuming false guises, and making false representations. Satan does not come to us as Satan; neither does sin present itself to us as sin, but in the guise of virtue; and the teachers of error set themselves forth as the special advocates of truth. 1. Satan often comes to man, claiming to be man’s friend and advocate (Genesis 3:4). 2. Satan can appear and present temptations "in the name of God", that is, temptations that appear to be innocent. He can convince people that adding or subtracting from the Scriptures is a good thing and there are good, impressive and immediate results. 3. "We are not to suppose that all that appears to be piety is piety. Some of the most plausible appearances of piety are assumed by Satan and his ministers. None ever professed a profounder regard for the authority of God than Satan did when he tempted the Savior. And if the prince of wickedness can appear to be an angel of light, we are not to be surprised if those who have the blackest hearts appear to be people of most eminent piety. We are not to expect that Satan will appear to man to be as bad as he is. He never shows himself openly to be a spirit of pure wickedness; or black and abominable in his character; or full of evil and hateful. He would thus defeat himself. It is for this reason that wicked people do not believe that there is such a being as Satan. Though continually under his influence and "led captive by him at his will," yet they neither see him nor the chains which lead them, nor are they willing to believe in the existence of the one or the other" (Barnes Notes, PC Study Bible). 4. Some feel that this verse suggests that Satan was originally an angel of light and that he can still assume the outward appearance of a glorious angel, others counter, that the text says nothing about Satan ever being an angel, but only that he can disguise himself as one.
"Or an angel from heaven"
"But even though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed" (Galatians 1:8).
The gospel taught and recorded by the apostles is the standard by which all other religious messages must be judged. THE GOSPEL IS FIXED FOREVER. It isn't modified by culture or time. We must too abide in the "apostles teaching", just like the first century Christians were obligated (Acts 2:42). God is telling us something very important here. The message He revealed through Paul and the other apostles, WILL NEVER BE REVISED OR CHANGED. Hence many "Latter Day" Religious Bodies find themselves under God's curse, i.e. Seventh Day Adventists, Christian Scientists, Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, and any other group that claims modern day revelations. In fact, Mormonism stands as a "gospel" which this verse specifically condemns. The book of Mormon states, "He called me by name, and said unto me that he was a messenger sent from the presence of God to me...He said there was a book deposited, written upon gold plates... He also said that the fullness of the everlasting gospel was contained in it."
Boles is exactly right when he says, "While most non-Mormons do not believe any such angel appeared to Joseph Smith, it would not matter if the story were entirely true. Not even an angel from heaven has the right to change the original gospel" (pp. 35-36). This is a very important verse, for it tells us that God’s written revelation takes precedence over everything, even angelic visitations. If we are to believe what the New Testament says, even if contradicted by an angel, then we are without excuse it places the opinions of men ahead of God’s word. While the verse doesn’t actually say that an angel will try to preach to us another gospel, we know that the devil does try to do this(John 8:44). Years ago Paul Harvey wrote an article entitled, "Here’s Just What Old Satan Would Do": "I would whisper to you as I whispered to Eve, ‘Do as you please’. To the young I would whisper that ‘the Bible is a myth’. I would educate authors in how to make lurid literature exciting so that anything else would appear dull, uninteresting. I would encourage schools to refine young intellects but neglect to discipline emotions. With flattery and promises of promise I would get the courts to vote against God and in favor of pornography. Then in churches I’d substitute psychology for religion and deify science. I’d peddle narcotics to whom I could; I’d sell alcohol to ladies and gentlemen of distinction; I’d tranquilize the rest with pills. In other words, if I were Satan I’d just keep right on doing what he’s doing" (GOT, 7-21-88, p. 11).
"Like the face of an angel"
"And fixing their gaze on him, all who were sitting in the Council saw his face like the face of an angel" (Acts 6:15).
Some say that the above expression is figurative, i.e. how would these people know what the literal face of an angel looked like? Hence, the expression means that Stephen's facial expression manifested innocence, confidence, composure, peace, etc.. "It has even been suggested that Stephen's face took on a glow, a radiance similar to what Moses' face had after he had been in the presence of God(Exodus 34:30; 2 Cor. 3:7ff)" (Reese p. 263). The face of an angel is bright (Daniel 10:6; Revelation 10:1).
1 Timothy 5:21/2 Timothy 4:1
"I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of His chosen angels, to maintain these principles without bias, doing nothing in a spirit of partiality"; "I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom".
"It is not uncommon in the Scriptures to speak as if we were in the presence of holy angels, and of the disembodied spirits of the good; compare notes on Hebrews 12:1. At all events, it is right to urge on others the performance of duty as if the eye of a departed father, mother, or sister were fixed upon us, and as if we were encompassed by all the holy beings of heaven. Sin, too, should be avoided as if every eye in the universe were upon us. How many things do we do which we would not; how many feelings do we cherish which we would at once banish from our minds, if we felt that the heavens above us were as transparent as glass, and that all the holy beings around the throne were fixing an intense gaze upon us!" (Barnes Notes, PC Study Bible). "Because we have become a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men" (1 Corinthians 4:9). The word "spectacle", refers to the old Roman theater or Colosseum which seated 80,000 people. Paul says this world is like a great theater and that the angels are looking down and watching. Angels are watching every day how you stand up for Jesus Christ. They observe how we fight for truth and right.
- "Why don’t we visibly see them?" Because they are spirit beings, and like God they are invisible to human eyes (1 Timothy 6:16).
- "Why don’t we sense their presence more?" "A good question. Brace yourself for the answer. Without meaning to sound harsh, let us consider that it is not the angels’ fault! It is not God’s fault, either. Nor is it the Bible’s fault" (Knowles p. 134). It has been noted that Christians have often lived in total ignorance of angels and many people only think about them around "Christmastime". Paul told the Athenians that God "is not far from everyone of us" (Acts 17:27). The same is true of the angels. They are not far from us either. Angels will become more real to us when a study of what the Bible says about angels becomes real to us.
- "How do I know if an angel has appeared to me?" "Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it" (Hebrews 13:2). At times Christians can be very anxious, "What if that hitchhiker I just passed was an angel?" The passage doesn’t necessarily demand the conclusion that angels appear to us today, but as someone noted, if they do, their actions and behavior would always be consistent with Biblical virtues, such as truth, honesty, virtue, purity, and diligence. God doesn’t try to trick us, for when angels in the Bible did assume a human form they did not take the form of people who had bad attitudes or were ungodly. The angels that appeared to Abraham and Lot were very respectful and dignified (Genesis 18-19).
Mark Dunagan/Beaverton Church of Christ/(503) 644-9017