Angels are so numerous in the Bible that once we begin to pay attention, we practically trip over them. A simple word search of the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) at biblegateway.com reveals 329 appearances of the English word “angel.”
Angels are not a uniform bunch, however. They are creatures that move between heaven and earth, sometimes with wings and sometimes with words and sometimes with ethereal ladders (Genesis 28:12). What many consider generic “angels” actually go by an assortment of names in the Bible. They show up in astonishing variations. More often than not, wings seem entirely optional!
The most well-worn, usual words for angels, in both the Old and New Testaments, can be translated simply as “messenger.” Biblically speaking, angels are known for their work of carrying messages from God to humans. By their very existence, angels also tell us something about the immensity of God, the universe God has created, and our own human place and potential in relationship to God’s cosmos.
This message is excerpted from the Bible study “Journeys with angels” by Christa Von Zychlin in the January/February 2021 Gather magazine. Today we commemorate Michael and all angels.
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