What Does the Bible Tell Us about Ministering Angels?
- Clarence L. Haynes Jr. Contributing Writer
- 2021 1 Sep
Though we live in a physical world, there is a spiritual realm that exists all around us. Sometimes we are aware of it, but many people walk through life not paying attention to its existence. Within this spiritual realm there are demonic forces which Paul reminds us of in Ephesians 6:12: "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."
However, there are two forces in this spiritual realm demonic forces and angelic forces or angels. In various places throughout the Bible God uses angels not just in the spiritual realm but he allows them to enter the physical realm and engage in the affairs of men and women. A term that is used to describe these angels are ministering angels. What does the Bible say about ministering angels and how they engage with the saints of God?
What are Ministering Angels?
There is a scripture which gives great insight into ministering angels and what their responsibility is.
The word minister means to be a servant so if you are to define what a ministering angel is, it is an angel who serves. The question is who do they serve? When you look at this verse in Hebrews the answer is clear. In this verse I want you to focus on three words, “sent to serve”. Angels do not serve at our command, so we don’t control them or direct them. Angels are sent to serve meaning they take their orders and direction from God himself. The reason they serve those who will inherit salvation is because they are following God’s command to serve them. We are simply the beneficiaries of angels who are following God’s direction.
Examples of Ministering Angels from the Bible
The word angel means messenger. As you look through the scriptures you will see that while they did often deliver messages, they functioned in other capacities as well. Let me share with you some of the ways these ministering angels engaged with people in the Bible.
1. Angels Were Sent to Rescue
The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city. When he saw them, he got up to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground. – Genesis 19:1
In the story of Lo,t God sent angels to rescue Lot and his family. In this capacity, they served as both messengers, rescuers, and executors of judgment. Their ministry or service was to warn Lot of the impending destruction and to rescue him and his family from it.
The two men said to Lot, “Do you have anyone else here--sons-in-law, sons or daughters, or anyone else in the city who belongs to you? Get them out of here, because we are going to destroy this place. The outcry to the Lord against its people is so great that he has sent us to destroy it.” – Genesis 19:12-13
Another example of rescue came in the New Testament with Peter.
So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him. The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance. Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists. – Acts 12:5-7
In this instance, the responsibility was to rescue Peter in answer to the prayers of God’s people. The angel came and freed him from prison.
2. Angels Sent to Protect
Daniel answered, “May the king live forever! My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, Your Majesty.” – Daniel 6:21-22
When Daniel was thrown into the lion's den, God sent an angel to shut the mouths of the lions and to keep Daniel safe. Their job or service in this instance was to be a protector. I don’t know if Daniel saw the angel or if Daniel recognized God sending him because the lion's mouths were shut. Either way God used an angel to protect Daniel.
3. Angels Sent to Offer Assistance
Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him. – Matthew 4:11
When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, after fasting forty days and nights, the Bible says angels attended him. This word means to offer assistance, to serve, even to offer food and drink. In other words, ministering angels will come to bring the type of assistance we need in the moment.
Does God Still Use Ministering Angels Today?
There is nowhere in the Bible that says God does not still using angels today. The truth of Hebrews was not just for first-century Christians but for all believers. God still sends ministering angels to help and assist those who will inherit salvation. Let’s take it a step further sometimes we will even encounter angels and not be aware. Consider this verse.
Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. – Hebrews 13:1-2
This verse tells us it is possible to encounter angels and not even be aware of it. If you think back to Lot’s encounter I am not sure if he recognized these men as angels, the people in the town surely didn’t.
I remember a time I was driving my car home and the car ran into a problem and the engine started smoking. I may be able to do a lot of things, but I am no mechanic. It just so happened that at the spot I had the problem there was a homeless man who just showed up and coincidentally (or not) he happened to be a mechanic. He was able to fix the issue and I was able to get the car home.
I don’t know if this person was an angel, but these are the types of ways God will use ministering angels to serve and help when we are in need. I may have encountered an angel and not even have been aware of it.
In its simplest definition, ministering angels are servants of God who at his direction serve those who belong to God. The promise we have from God is that if we trust in him, he will when necessary dispatch his angels to help us.
If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways. – Psalm 91:9-11
God has promised to protect us and watch over us. To do this he has a whole army of ministering angels who are primed and ready to do what he commands. Thankfully they serve at God’s pleasure and God uses them for our benefit.
Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/NikkiZalewski
Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher, and co-founder of The Bible Study Club. He is the author of The Pursuit of Purpose which will help you understand how God leads you into his will. He has also just released his new book The Pursuit of Victory: How To Conquer Your Greatest Challenges and Win In Your Christian Life. Do you want to go deeper in your walk with the Lord but can’t seem to overcome the stuff that keeps getting in the way? This book will teach you how to put the pieces together so you can live a victorious Christian life and finally become the man or woman of God that you truly desire to be. To learn more about his ministry please visit clarencehaynes.com.