Man and Angels
As I was doing research for a topic in one of my classes, a sort of side-bar came up that I thought I would do a little more looking into. While researching humanism in the Renaissance, I read "The Oration on the Dignity of Man" By Giovanni Pico della Mirandola in 1486. What struck my attention was quite a few instances where he alludes to the status of man and angels in the hierarchy of Gods creations.
I decided that I would look into some of his assertions and that of others in regards to this subject and then do what any Christian would do - refer back to Scripture for clarification.
In his oration, Mirandola states that God created man as
a creature of indeterminate and indifferent nature, and, placing him in the middle of the world, said to him, "Adam, we give you no fixed place to live, no form that is particular to you, nor any function that is yours alone.
However, Scripture clearly states otherwise. In Genesis 2:15 we read
"Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to tend and keep it."
That appears to be a fixed place to live. We must remember that this place to live was ordained by God prior to the introduction of sin, so the fact that Adam was cast out of the Garden after the original sin does not convey God's initial intent. Same goes for the image of man, which God tells us in Genesis 1:27
"So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them."
Again, clearly stating man's form. And finally in Genesis 1:28 we see God's function for man,
"Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
One of the other items I noticed in his oration, was how he used various forms of many religions, including Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Through and through he points out how man is set somewhere in the middle and a bit below the angels and that man might ascend to heaven and become angels. This is completely not scriptural as the bible clearly outlines in the following verses:
"Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life?" - 1 Corinthians 6:3
This could represent the angels that followed Satan, however, regardless, it still solidifies man’s placement above the angels.
"But to which of the angels has He ever said: “Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool”? Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?" - Hebrews 1:13-14
Angels are servants and they minister to man. Men do not minister to angels.
"Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind..." - Colossians 2:18
The worship of angels avails nothing. They are created beings, subject to God and in multiple passages of scripture we're told to not worship them.
"For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself" - Philippians 3:20-21
Do you believe in Angels?
Ultimately we are to look like Christ. When we are resurrected, our bodies will not be that of angels, but in the likeness of Christ.
A rebuttal sometimes comes from Hebrews 2:5-9. However, this is clearly stating a brief period that Christ receives the full brunt of sin, therefore being temporarily forsaken by God and being the lowest status possible. Once the penalty was paid, Christ again takes his place in the Godhead.
Another point that has taken hold over the centuries is the idea of by a person’s works they can become angels. Again, there is absolutely no Scripture to back this up. It is a man-made, extra-biblical insertion.
What these passages of Scripture clearly state is that:
- Angels are ministering servants of the elect of God
- Angels will be judged by men
- Man was created a higher order than the angels
- Angels are not to be worshipped
While it may be a comfort when someone passes away and the grieving are told that their loved ones "now have their angel wings" it is not scriptural or accurate. If those same loved ones professed their belief in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior then they are with Him now and will be glorified with Him when He returns and will be the envy of all angels.