Everyone loves angels. It is normal to hear that someone who has died is now "an
angel in heaven." There are angel cards. People talk about their guardian
angels. Movies feature angels who come to earth with various missions. But a
hard look is needed to see through all these popular notions. Topics covered in
this article: What is an angel? Roma Downey's angels series; roles of angels;
guardian angels; contacting angels; Jesus superior to angels; deception with
angels; and resources.
First, what is an angel?
Quote==Though other words are used for these spiritual beings, the primary word used in the Bible is angel. Three other terms undoubtedly referring to angels are seraphim (Isa. 6:2), cherubim (Ezek. 10:1-3), and ministering spirits, which is perhaps more of a description than a name (Heb. 1:13). More will be said on this later when dealing with the classification of angels. The Hebrew word for angel is mal'ach, and the Greek word is angelos. Both words mean "messenger" and describe one who executes the purpose and will of the one whom they serve. The context must determine if a human messenger is in view, or one of the celestial beings called "angels," or if it is being used of the second Person of the Trinity as will be discussed below. The holy angels are messengers of God, serving Him and doing His bidding. The fallen angels serve Satan, the god of this world (aiwn, "age") (2 Cor. 4:4).==From "Angelology, The Doctrine of Angels" at Bible.org, https://goo.gl/C5gU2Q.
We know from the Bible that
* Angels are spirit beings (Hebrews 1:14)
*That they are "mighty in strength" (Psalm 103:20)
* Angels are intelligent and can communicate in words humans understand (1 Kings 13:18; Matthew 1:20, 2:13, 19; Acts 10:3)
* The holy angels serve God
* The angels who rebelled with Satan are the fallen angels, also known as evil or unclean spirits, or demons (Revelation 12: 4, 7-9)
* Fallen angels may perform supernatural actions or seem to, sometimes through men (Matthew 24:24; 2 Thessalonians 2:9; Revelation 16:14, 19:20).
An example of the promotion of a popular view of angels is found in a series
produced by Roma Downey. Downey, former "Touched by An Angel" star, and producer
with her husband of a film series on the Bible, has produced a video and book
series called Little Angels. This centers around twins (boy and girl) who have
the company of eight little angels who hang out on the bedroom ceiling, and with
whom they interact (Uriel, Ariel, Hammy, Michael, Gabriel, and more, each with a
special area of expertise).
[Here is the Little Angels website with a very brief promo video: http://goo.gl/EJgUG7].
These stories put the spotlight on angels above Jesus Christ, implying the angels are intermediaries between us and God. Rather than pointing the children to Jesus, the Little Angels tales focus on getting help from angels.
Some of the angels are female (although the Bible depicts angels only in male terms). One angel, Tina, teaches the children "right from wrong," Michael "shows us the way," Ariel protects them from the storm, Charmaine shows them how to get along, and the others have their own assignments.
One of the books is Angels Watching Over Us by Karen Moore and Lisa Reed (Roma Downey is not the author of these books but produces, promotes, and sells them):
Quote==In Angels Watching Over Us, the Little Angels are introduced. They explain that their job is to protect and guide Alex and Zoe and to show them God's great love and care. As the Little Angels witness Alex and Zoe squabbling over whether to swing or play ball, Michael appears to explain the concept of cooperation. Soon the twins learn that they can each have more fun if they learn to work and play together. Ages 3-6.
About the series: Little Angels is a faith-based series created just for preschoolers. The stories focus on eight Little Angels who are guardians, teachers, and companions to twins Alex and Zoe. Throughout each book, children will learn practical lessons, values, and Biblical truths in an engaging and appealing manner.==From http://goo.gl/mzu2mt
God gives us the names of only two angels: Michael and Gabriel (Satan is not a
proper name, but rather a title meaning "the adversary"). No position to teach,
advise, or be a "companion" is ever given to angels. Angels in the Bible usually
bring messages from God (to Daniel, Mary, Joseph, the shepherds at Jesus' birth,
the women at the empty tomb of Jesus, and others).
Other activities in the Bible show angels:
* Providing protection (guiding Lot and his family from Sodom in Genesis 19)
* Releasing from prison (Peter in Acts 12)
* Strengthening (Elijah in 1 Kings 19; Jesus in the wilderness after the temptations in Mark 1:13, and Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane in Luke 22:43)
* Bringing death as judgment (2 Samuel 24:17; Acts 12:23; Revelation 9:15)
* Fighting spiritual battles (Daniel 12; Revelation 12)
* Serving as witnesses (Luke 12: 8, 9; 1 Timothy 3:16, 5:21; Revelation 3:5, 14:10)
* Playing a role in the end times (Matthew 13; 39, 49, 24:31; Mark 8:38, 13:27; Luke 9:26; 2 Thessalonians 1:7; and numerous passages in Revelation)
These duties assigned to angels are linked to noteworthy events and for specific purposes to fulfill God's plans for Israel, the Messiah, the spread of the Gospel, and judgment. Angels are never tutors or caretakers. Additionally, the idea of "little angels" is also unbiblical. There is no such thing as child angels as seen in the books.
The idea of children having angels watching over them is likely mistakenly taken
out of Matthew 18:10:
"See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven."
Although Jesus has referred to children in earlier verses, many do not believe that "little ones" refers to children since this phrase is used elsewhere for believers in Christ. As Barnes writes:
Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones. ... - That is, one who has become like a little child, or a Christian. From http://goo.gl/sj5SGt
Quote==That is, one of those little ones that believed in Christ; for he is not speaking of infants in age, but of those who might be compared to such, for their humility and modesty; who were little in their own eyes, and mean and despicable in the eyes of the world, as well as appeared but little in the eyes of their fellow disciples and brethren; for our Lord returns and addresses himself to his disciples, who had been contending among themselves who should be greatest in the kingdom of heaven; and so were striving to lessen one another, each looking upon himself as the greater, and every other as little. Wherefore Christ cautions them against such a spirit, and bids them beware of despising their fellow disciples, as little, and below them; especially since so much notice and care were taken of them, both in heaven, and in earth. ==From previous link
Verse 6 also uses "little ones" but it is clear that those who believe in Christ are being referred to. One must trust God the Father as a little child trusts, but Jesus is not marking children as a special group, or saying that we should be like children or childlike in behavior. One who humbles himself and trusts God with childlike faith is a "little one."
People tend to romanticize children. But God's word teaches that all are born with a sin nature and from early on, children desire to exert their own will above all. Naturally, children are not aware of many things such as sin, but they are not pure and unsullied from sin, either. It would be at odds with Scripture for Jesus to say that all children have an angel watching over them (after all, thousands of babies and children die every day) or make a statement that implies children as a class are somehow superior to others.
The point of the passage is that Jesus was demonstrating that He loves children as much as anyone (children did not have a high status in that culture), and he was pointing to them as examples of childlike trust and humility.
(See Matthew 10:42 and 18:14 where believers are referred to as "little ones;" John also often addresses Christians in his letters as "little children").
Regarding the phrase about "their angels," Gill states:
Quote==...the place where the angels behold the face of God, and who are styled "their angels"; the angels of the little ones, that believe in Christ, who are ministering spirits unto them, the guardians of them, who encamp about them, and do many good offices for them. Some have thought from hence, that every good man has his peculiar angel that waits upon him, and cares for him; but this does not necessarily follow from, these words, only that they all have an interest in angels, and in their good services.==End quote