Question: "Do angels exist?"
The Bible speaks of angels as real, actual beings. However, Scripture’s depiction of angels is very different from the popular concept of them. The Bible describes angels as vastly powerful, intimidating, and mysterious creatures. They serve God for specific reasons and do not seem to be wandering or random creatures. While we don’t have a great deal of information about angels in the Bible, what’s available is enough to correct many common misconceptions.
The word angel comes from the Greek word aggelos (or angelos), which most literally means “messenger.” In Old Testament Hebrew, these beings are called mal’ak, which means the same thing, “messenger.” Communication seems to be the primary function of angels in the Bible. Most references to angels involve their delivering some news or command on behalf of God. They are occasionally depicted as protecting certain people (Daniel 6:20–23) or nations (Daniel 12:1). However, there is no direct biblical support for the concept of a “guardian angel”—a single spiritual entity assigned to a specific person for purposes of protection or guidance—although such beings may exist.
In modern times, common depictions of angels include things like halos, feathery wings, blond hair, harps, and white robes. Or chubby infants with tiny wings and shining eyes. In reality, the Bible gives no general physical description of angels. Only a few specific types of beings, such as cherubim and seraphim, are given direct visual details (Isaiah 6:2–6; Ezekiel 1:4–28). Only one angel, at the empty tomb of Jesus, is ever described as wearing a white robe (Mark 16:5). Scripture indicates that angels can take on a mundane human form (Genesis 19:1–4).
That being said, most people in Scripture who encounter angels react with fear. Almost every time an angel appears to someone, the angel’s first words are “don’t be afraid!” (Luke 1:13, 30; 2:10; Matthew 28:5) Their presence can be so overwhelming that even apostles such as John had to be warned not to worship them (Revelation 19:9–10). This makes sense, given, the level of power ascribed to angels by the Bible. According to 2 Kings 19:35, a single angel killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers in one night. As spiritual beings created to serve God, angels are not so much “cute” as they are powerful and otherworldly.
Looking at the Bible, we can say that angels are literal beings. Biblical angels exist. The cartoonish versions of angels so often seen in movies and commercials, however, do not.
Question: "Do demons exist?"
The Bible speaks of demons as real, actual beings. However, Scripture’s depiction of demons is very different from the popular concept of them. The Bible describes demons as powerful but limited and ultimately defeated creatures. They are angels who followed Satan in rebellion against God (Revelation 12:3–4). The Bible doesn’t give many details about demons, but what it provides is enough to dispel typical myths.
Demons are referred to by several alternate names, including “unclean spirits” and “evil spirits.” Some of the false gods that received human sacrifices are described as actual demons (2 Chronicles 11:15; Deuteronomy 32:17). Since demons are fallen angels, they possess the same level of power and influence as angels. However, Scripture seems to indicate that God has limited their abilities (2 Thessalonians 2:6–7). The Bible indicates that not all afflictions are due to demonic influence (Matthew 10:1; Luke 8:2). The vast majority of demonic influence is spiritual, not physical.
Popular culture frequently depicts demons in monstrous form. This includes drooling fangs, sharp claws, leathery wings, and so forth. Or they are portrayed as shadows or ghosts. None of these have any biblical basis at all. In fact, the Bible never physically describes any fallen angel. As is the case with angels, demons are spiritual creatures with a primarily spiritual influence, so they are unlikely to have any set physical appearance. If they choose to take on a physical appearance, it actually makes more sense for them to choose something inviting rather than scary (2 Corinthians 11:14).
So, demons are literal, actual beings. The demons described in the Bible exist. However, the oft-portrayed horror-movie and Halloween versions do not.
Angels: Elect & Evil by C. Fred Dickason
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