- The Greek word aggelos means ‘messenger’ and as such angels are described as bearing messages from God to the patriarchs (e.g. Gen. 22:11). In the later (post-exilic) literature (perhaps influenced by contact with Zoroastrianism) angels are regarded as supernatural beings organized before God in a hierarchy (e.g. Dan. 7:10; 9:21). Against them are ranged evil angels under Satan (Matt. 25:41). Unlike the more conservative Sadducees, the Pharisees encouraged these developed beliefs (Acts 23:9), which were needed to complement a doctrine of God's absolute transcendence. From the time of the book of Daniel (2nd cent. BCE) angels are given names (Dan. 8:16; 10:13) and specific tasks. In the gospels they are available to assist Jesus (Matt. 4:11) and to be personal representatives of children before the Father (Matt. 18:10). The devil also has a troop of angelic assistants (Matt. 25:41).In several epistles (e.g. 1 Pet. 3:22) the redemptive work of Christ is interpreted in terms of his triumph over supernatural celestial beings who may be angels. So also Paul in Col. 2:8–15. The writers of the NT inhabited a different thought-world from us, but Paul's essential affirmation is that the Law, which Jews believed was given to Israel by the mediation of angels, has been superseded and Christ's authority established.
Dictionary of the Bible.
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