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Psalm 91:11 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.
There is nothing within the Bible that teaches that each of us as an individual has a guardian angel. True, Jesus once said: “See that you do not despise one of these little ones [Christ’s disciples], for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 18:10) However, Jesus was not saying that each of Christ’s followers has a guardian angel but rather he was implying that angels are actively interested in Jesus’ disciples. Hence, Christians do not assume that because we are faithful there will be a guardian angel on standby to protect us from every difficulty in life.
So, are we saying that angels do not help humans? No, as Psalm 91:11 says, “For he [God] will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.” Some Christians feel quite strongly that God has provided them with a guardian angel that protects and guides them through life. This author would agree with S. Edward Tesh and Walter D. Zorn, “They [angels] also serve as “guardians” of some type (Matt 4:11; 18:10; Acts 12:7–10; Heb 1:14; and others). But I would argue that there is no biblical support for “personal guardian” angels …” (Psalms, The College Press NIV Commentary (Joplin, MO: College Press, 1999), 180.) However, we are not going to be dogmatic that there is no longer any angelic intervention in Christian lives. Some may be correct. There is historical evidence of likely protection, of angelic intervention as Christians like William Tyndale hunted by the Catholic Church as he made the first printed English Bible, engaging in God’s work. However, angels are invisible, so we cannot say to what degree God uses them in helping individuals with various matters. Nevertheless, we would not be overstepping the Bible by thanking the God Almighty for whatever support we may feel that we have received.—Colossians 3:15; James 1:17-18.
Nevertheless, we know this: (1) angels are invisible spiritual creatures; therefore, we cannot know to what extent God is using them in helping individuals with various circumstances. Nonetheless, we should be thanking the Almighty for whatever support he may have provided in the past and may choose to provide in the future. — Colossians 3:15; James 1:17-18.
How Do Angels Aid Us Occasionally?
Faithful angels are very interested in human activities and actively committed to God’s will. During the creation of the earth by God, the angels, “the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy.” (Job 38:4, 7) Throughout human history, there have been “things into which angels long to look.” (1 Pet. 1:11-12.) In God’s Word, the Bible, we can see many incidents where God has used angels to accomplish his will and purposes, which sometimes involved protection for true worshippers. (Psalm 34:7) S. Edward Tesh and Walter D. Zorn offer some examples, “In the Old Testament angels are messengers of God bringing specific commands or instructions from God (Judg 6:11ff.; 13:3–5, etc.). In time of war they may intervene on behalf of Israel (2 Kgs 19:35) or against her (2 Sam 24:16ff.). Two angels (spoken of as men) protected Lot from the Sodomites, smiting the latter with blindness (Genesis 19). At creation angels (called “sons of God”) shouted for joy (Job 38:4–7). Daniel, after surviving his ordeal in the den of lions, explained to the king that, because he, Daniel, was innocent of any crime, God had sent His angel to shut the mouths of the lions (Dan 6:22).” — The College Press NIV Commentary (Joplin, MO: College Press, 1999), 180.
Angels Were Used In the First Century
There were specific times when God’s angels intervened in the activities of the early Christian congregation to carry out God’s will and purposes. For example:
Acts 8:26-31 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch
26 But an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip saying, “Get up and go south to the road that descends from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a desert road.) 27 And he rose and went. And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure; who had come to worship in Jerusalem, 28 and he was returning and sitting in his chariot, and was reading the prophet Isaiah. 29 And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” 30 So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 Now the passage of the Scripture that he was reading was this:
“He was led as a sheep to slaughter
and like a lamb before its shearer is silent,
so he opens not his mouth.
Acts 10:3-5 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
3 About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God come in and say to him, “Cornelius.” 4 And he stared at him, terrified, and asked, “What is it, Lord?” And he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God. 5 And now send men to Joppa and bring one Simon who is called Peter.
Acts 12:1-11 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
James Killed and Peter Imprisoned
12 About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the congregation. 2 And he killed James the brother of John with a sword. 3 And when he saw that it was pleasing to the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. Now this was during the feast of Unleavened Bread. 4 And when he had seized him, he put him in prison, delivering him over to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out to the people. 5 So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the congregation.
Peter Is Miraculously Rescued
6 Now when Herod was about to bring him out, that night Peter was sleeping bound with two chains between two soldiers, and guards in front of the door were keeping watch over the prison. 7 And look, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his hands. 8 And the angel said to him, “Gird yourself and put on your sandals!” And he did so. And he said to him, “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me!” 9 And he went out and followed, and he did not know that what took place through the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. 10 When they had passed the first and second guard, they came to the iron gate that leads into the city, which opened for them by itself; and they went out and went along one street, and immediately the angel departed from him. 11 When Peter came to himself, he said, “Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.”
QUESTION: A servant girl named Rhoda, upon recognizing the imprisoned Peter’s voice at the door, she reported that Peter was at the gate. Why did the disciples say: “It is his angel”?
Acts 12:12-15 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
12 When he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying. 13 And when he knocked at the door of the gateway, a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer. 14 And recognizing Peter’s voice, in her joy she did not open the gate but ran in and reported that Peter was standing at the gate. 15 They said to her, “You are out of your mind!” But she kept insisting that it was so, and they kept saying, “It is his angel!”
The disciples may have mistakenly or incorrectly believed that an angelic messenger representing Peter was at the gate. Let’s revisit the context of Acts 12:15. If yoActs 1:15 above, please do so now.
Herod had arrested Peter, who had previously put James to death. Therefore, it was within reason that the disciples likely believed that Peter had been put to death. However, Peter was in chains being guarded by four soldiers, each on four shifts. Then, in the night, Peter was miraculously freed from the chains and led out of the prison by an angel of the Lord. When Peter finally understood what was going on and that it was not a vision, he said, “Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod.” — Acts 12:1-11.
Upon being rescued, Peter at once went to the house of Mary, John’s mother, who was also called Mark, where several of the disciples were assembled. After knocking in the gate door, a servant girl named Rhoda went to answer. She recognized Peter’s voice, with such an unexpected surprise, she was likely startled, so she ran to tell the disciples without even opening the door for Peter! Initially, the disciples refused to believe that Peter was at the gate. Instead, they erroneously assumed: “It is his angel.”—Acts 12:12-15.
When he knocked on the door of the gateway, a servant girl named Rhoda went to answer. Upon recognizing Peter’s voice, she ran to tell the others without even letting him in! At first, the disciples could not believe that Peter was at the gate. Instead, they mistakenly assumed: “It is his angel.” — Acts 12:12-15.
This is no reason to believe, as some have suggested, that the disciples thought Herod had executed Peter, and this was his disembodied spirit was at the gate. No, this could hardly have been the case. What did the disciples mean by “It is his angel” then?
Being Jewish, Jesus’ disciples were well aware of all the historical accounts in the Israelite history where angels materialize in human form and came to the aid of some of God’s people. For example, Jacob spoke of “the angel who has redeemed me from all evil.” (Gen. 48:16) And regarding a young child in their midst, Jesus told his followers: “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.” (Matt. 18:10) Then, of course, there was a couple of encounters with angels earlier in the book of Acts mentioned above.
Acts 12:15 Young’s Literal Translation (YLT)
15 and they said unto her, `Thou art mad;’ and she was confidently affirming [it] to be so, and they said, `It is his messenger;’
Notice that in Young’s Literal Translation the Greek noun (angelos) is rendered as “messenger.” (“angel”). It seems that there was a belief among the Jews at that time that each servant of God had his own personal angel. that is a guardian angel.
Many Jews believed in the notion of an angel who was closely associated with a person and could even take on that person’s appearance. Note the book of Tobit, where the angel Raphael took on the disguise of Azarias (a relative of Tobit’s) and became a guide for Tobit’s son, Tobias (Tobit 5:4–16). Jesus himself spoke of angels associated with children: “See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven” (Matt. 18:10). This led to a belief in the church about angels assigned to people for their lifetimes and who from time to time intervene on their behalf.
Of course, this view is nowhere directly taught within the inspired, fully inerrant Scriptures. Nevertheless, it is still possible that when the disciples responded to Rhoda, saying, “It is his angel,” mistakenly believed that an angelic messenger (guardian angel) representing Peter was at the gate. This is not a mistake in the Bible, of course, as it is a possible mistaken notion on the part of the disciples that Luke is accurately recording. This is not a doctrinal position that is being conveyed but rather a recollection of a historical account.
Supposed miraculous rescues throughout the history of Christianity down to the present raise a reasonable question, If every Christian has a guardian angel, why is it that some of God’s people are rescued, whereas many are not? In the last 2,000 years, millions of Christians have died from disease, wars, famines, and natural disasters. Undoubtedly, many of these servants of God earnestly prayed for help. Why didn’t a guardian angel save them?
While God’s angels are interested in our physical welfare, they are definitely more interested in our spiritual welfare. The apostle Paul suggested this in question form: “Are they [angels] not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?” (Heb. 1:14) While there are certainly cases where God steps into humanity to come to a faithful servant’s physical aid, this is the exception to the rule. Physical help brings momentary gains, but spiritual help can bring eternal advantages.
Many who relate miraculous angel stories, the accounts come across as superficial and trivial. In one, an angel is said to have helped an elderly woman to make her bed. In another, an angel reminded a shopper that he needed to buy matches. And there are angels said to help drivers find good parking places. Even more silly than this is a woman that prayed to her guardian angel to watch over her care when she parked illegally so that the angel would move the traffic police from giving her a ticket. These are stories like Santa Claus and the fairy godmother.
Angels of God do not contradict the Word of God. The Word of God does not change so anyone relating angelic stories that go beyond the Scriptures may want to prayerfully reconsider. The apostle Paul wrote to some in the first century: “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel; not that there is another, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should proclaim to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed!” — Galatians 1:6-8.
Never does the Bible tell us, encourage us, or even suggest or infer to us that we are to call upon angels. Jesus made this point clear in the example prayer that he gave us. He said, “Pray in this way: “Our Father who is in the heaven …’” (Matthew 6:9) Similarly, the apostle Paul wrote: “In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” — Philippians 4:6.
The Bible itself reveals the names of only two of God’s faithful angels, Michael and Gabriel. (Dan. 12:1; Lu 1:26) This limited number helps his servants to understand angels are unique spirit persons just as humans are unique individuals. However, no more names are given because God did not want his servants elevating angels to a position of unwarranted honor, which angels themselves would never seek out nor desire. Remember Jacob asked an angel to tell him his name but the angel refused to do so. (Gen. 32:29) Later, an angel who physically materialized to Joshua and did not identify himself by name but as the “commander of the army of Jehovah.” (Josh.5:14) Likewise, Samson’s father asked an angel his name, he was told: “Why do you ask my name, seeing it is wonderful?” (Judges 13:17, 18) God’s faithful angels are not looking for or seeking attention for themselves but rather want us to honor God and call on his name.
God comes to the rescue some of his faithful followers both physically and spiritually according to his will and purposes both miraculously and by sending an angel. Even in biblical times, these were extreme exceptions to the rule. Out of 4,100 years of Bible history, you can find many periods of time, sometimes centuries, when there was no miraculous activity of any sort.
Psalm 91:11 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.
Looking again at Psalm 91:11, we note that God promises to protect those who love and trust him. What sort of protection did he mean? We notice from our study of the Scriptures that sometimes, God protected some of his people physically to preserve the genealogical line leading to the promised Messiah. Nevertheless, many other faithful servants of God were imprisoned, tortured, and killed in Satanic attempts to turn them away from their faithful life course of walking with God. Those who suffered physically found the courage to endure these difficult times because God protected them spiritually so they would not be in danger of breaking their integrity.
Psalm 91:1-2 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
91 He who dwells in the hiding place* of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say to Jehovah, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
* or secret place
The 91st Psalm can be interpreted as a commitment to spiritual protection. “The secret place of the Most High is a figurative place where the faithful servants of God find spiritual safety and security. In other words, they find protection from being harmed spiritually. Why is it secret or hidden? It is secret or hidden because it is unknown to the unbeliever, as they do not know God let alone have faith in God. This would also hold true for the so-called believer who is not a faithful servant of God. Jehovah offers his protection to all who faithfully turn to him. However, this offer of protection is no guarantee that one will receive physical protection from an angel, but the spiritual protection is always there. Lastly, Psalms 91 does not allow for reckless behavior.
Michael the archangel is under the command of Jesus Christ himself. (Matt 13:41; 16:27; 24:31; 2 Thess. 1:7; 1 Pet. 3:22; Rev. 19:14-16) Michael is a guardian of God’s faithful servants as a whole but he is not a guardian angel of individual persons though. However, he does assign angels to prevent rebel angels from slaughtering true Christians. We may recall that one faithful angel slaughter 185,000 Assyrian warriors in one night. Thus, it would be nothing for millions of rebel angels to slaughter every faithful servant of God in one night. So, like Job, they have a hedge of protection from such an attack or demonic possession. However, they are not sitting around waiting to protect us from our own human imperfection and the wicked, fallen world.
-  That is, about 3:00 p.m.
-  Lit quaternions; a quaternion was composed of four soldiers; so, four shifts of four soldiers
-  Lit in himself
-  I.e., when Peter came to realize what was happening
-  Lit the expectation of the people of the Jews
-  Clinton E. Arnold, Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary: John, Acts., vol. 2 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002), 329.
- Why has God Permitted Wickedness and Suffering?
- Why is Life So Unfair?
- When Bad Things Happen to Good People
- Does God Step in and Solve Our Every Problem Because We are Faithful?
- No Absolutes
- God is INDIRECTLY responsible for ALL things and DIRECTLY responsible for SOME things
- Is Foreknowledge Compatible with Free Will?