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Worship of Angels



Pages In This Entry:

  1. Angels
  2. What Are Angels?
  3. How does the study of angels benefit us?
  4. Worship of Angels
  5. Angels -- Research Resources

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People have a tendency to worship spiritual beings, but the Bible forbids the worship op angels.

As created beings, they are of course mere creatures. They are not divine and their worship is explicitly forbidden (see Col. 2:18; Rev. 19:10; 22:9). As a separate order of creatures, they are both distinct from human beings and higher than humans with powers far beyond human abilities in this present age (cf. 1 Cor. 6:3; Heb. 1:14; 2:7). But as creatures they are limited in their powers, knowledge, and activities (1 Peter 1:11-12; Rev. 7:1). Like all of creation, angels are under God’s authority and subject to His judgment (1 Cor. 6:3; Matt. 25:41).

Following the revelation given to John, on two occasions the apostle fell on his face in worship, but the angel quickly told John not to worship him and then gave the reason. Angels are but “fellow servants” and called upon to serve God as all God’s creatures should. So John was told to “worship God.” The worship of angels (as with any other object of worship) distracts from the worship of God and attributes godlike powers to the object of worship. Angels are powerful and awesome in many ways, but, like us, they are only creatures and servants of the living God who alone deserves our worship. This means we are not to pray to them or trust in them even though God may use them to minister to our needs in various ways. Our trust is to be in God, not angels. They minister to us at His bidding under His authority and power. Though sometimes the instrument of aid or deliverance was an angel, New Testament believers recognized it was the Lord who delivered them (see Acts 12:11).

In Acts 27:23-25, Luke recounted Paul’s experience with an angel who brought him a message from the Lord, but there was no worship of the angel. Instead, Paul’s faith was in the God he served.

23 For this very night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood before me, 24 saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar; and behold, God has granted you all those who are sailing with you.’ 25 "Therefore, keep up your courage, men, for I believe God, that it will turn out exactly as I have been told.

Though writing about their invisibility to mankind, Chafer has an interesting comment:

One reason angels are rendered invisible to human sight may be that , if they were seen, they would be worhiped. Man, who is so prone to idolatry as to worship the works of his own hands, would hardly be able to resist the worship of angels were they before his eyes.18

The church at Colossae had been invaded by false teachers who were teaching a false humility and the worship of angels as a part of the means to spirituality. It seems these teachers were claiming special mystic insights by way of visions in connection with their worship of angels. Concerning this, Paul wrote:

Colossians 2:18 Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions (NIV).

The person attempting to make such judgment is described as one “who delights in false humility and the worship of angels.” The context suggests that he seeks to impose these things on the Colossians and that this is the means by which he attempts to disqualify them for their prize.19

This was demonic because it was an attempt to usurp the preeminent place and sufficiency of Christ as Savior and Lord (cf. Col. 2:10). It is no wonder, then, that the author of Hebrews, in the most extended passage on angels in the New Testament (Heb. 1:5-29), demonstrates the superiority of Christ to even the mighty angels (Heb. 1:2-4, 13). In this he concludes his argument with a question designed to show that Christ, God’s very Son and the radiance of His glory who sits at God’s right hand, is superior to angels for he asked, “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?” (Heb. 1:14).
- Source: J. Hampton Keathley, III, Angelology: The Doctrine of Angelsoffsite

Jesus is the only mediator between God and mankind

The Bible teaches that Jesus is the only mediator between God and mankind (1 Timothy 2:5), and Jesus told his disciples that no one comes to the Father except through him. (see John 14:6-14).

There is no Biblical justification for initiating a conversation with an angel, for 'channeling' angels (a New Age practice), ordering angels around (see Jude 1:8-10), or praying to angels.

When Jesus was tempted by Satan, he said, "“Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only." (Matthew 4:10).

Evaluating messages brought by angels

While we should not outright reject testimonies about the alleged appearance of angels, Christians should carefully discern the true nature of such reports.

God's angels will never communicate any message that is contrary to the teachings of Bible.

In chiding the Corinthians, Paul warned that Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light:

I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.
[...]

…such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.
- Source: 1 Corinthians 11:3-4; 13-15

And to the Galatians he wrote:

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel -- which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!
- Source: Galatians 1:6-9

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This post was last updated: Nov. 15, 2010