What Do Angels Do?

Another good question! And like many questions to do with angels, there are many different answers!

Throughout the Bible we are told that angels have many roles including:

The are very varied activities and, as we'll see, they can sometimes overlap!

God's Messengers

The word angel means 'Messenger' so, not surprisingly, many times in the Bible, God chooses angels to take his message to people.

Probably the most famous time that angels were God's messenger was when they were used to announce the coming of Jesus into the world – both at his birth and to tell Jesus' friends that he had come back to life.

The job of telling Mary that she would have a very special baby went to God's chief messenger, the angel Gabriel 1.

26 In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee,
27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary.
28 The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you."
29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.
30 But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.
31 You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.
32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David,
33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."
34 "How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?"
35 The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.
36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month.
37 For nothing is impossible with God."
38 "I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said." Then the angel left her.
Luke 1:26-38

We're not told the names of the angels that told the shepherds about the birth of Jesus, or those who announced the resurrection of Jesus, but they also had great messages to tell the world 2!

Jesus' Birth
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.
9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
10 But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.
12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."
16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.
17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child,
18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.
Luke 2:8-18

Jesus' Resurrection
2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.
3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow.
4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
5 The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.
6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.
7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: 'He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.' Now I have told you."
Matthew 28:2-7

1 When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus' body.
2 Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb
3 and they asked each other, "Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?"
4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away.
5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.
6 "Don't be alarmed," he said. "You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him.
7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter, 'He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.'"
Mark 16:1-7

1 On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb.
2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb,
3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.
4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them.
5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, "Why do you look for the living among the dead?
6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee:
7 'The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.'"
8 Then they remembered his words.
Luke 24:1-8

The angels opening words 'Do not be Afraid' seem to be a common opening greeting from angels when they are bringing good or comforting news.

In many other places in the Bible, angels are used to help God tell his message. In the Old Testament, angels have a part at the two most occasions in the creation of Jewish (and so also the Christian) faith 3.

First to Abraham
1 Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, "Abraham!" "Here I am," he replied.
2 Then God said, "Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about."
3 Early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about.
4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance.
5 He said to his servants, "Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you."
6 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together,
7 Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, "Father?" "Yes, my son?" Abraham replied. "The fire and wood are here," Isaac said, "but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?"
8 Abraham answered, "God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son." And the two of them went on together.
9 When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood.
10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.
11 But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, "Abraham! Abraham!" "Here I am," he replied.
12 "Do not lay a hand on the boy," he said. "Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son."
13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son.
14 So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, "On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided."
15 The angel of the LORD called to Abraham from heaven a second time
16 and said, "I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son,
17 I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies,
18 and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me."
Genesis 22:1-18

Secondly to Jacob
10 Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Haran.
11 When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep.
12 He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.
13 There above it stood the LORD, and he said: "I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying.
14 Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring.
15 I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you."
16 When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, "Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it."
17 He was afraid and said, "How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven."
Genesis 28:10-17

In the New Testament, angels help to bring Jesus' followers to people who don't know about Jesus. The also can sometimes bring people to Jesus' followers 4!

Firstly to bring the disciple Philip to an powerful Ethiopian
26 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip (one of the early Christians), "Go south to the road--the desert road--that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza."
27 So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship,
28 and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the book of Isaiah the prophet.
29 The Spirit told Philip, "Go to that chariot and stay near it."
30 Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. "Do you understand what you are reading?" Philip asked.
31 "How can I," he said, "unless someone explains it to me?" So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.
32 The eunuch was reading this passage of Scripture: "He was led like a sheep to the slaughter,
and as a lamb before the shearer is silent, so he did not open his mouth.
33 In his humiliation he was deprived of justice. Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth."
34 The eunuch asked Philip, "Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?"
35 Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.
36 As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, "Look, here is water. Why shouldn't I be baptized?"
37/38 And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him.
39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing.
40 Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and traveled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea.
Acts 8:26-40

Secondly to bring a Roman soldier call Cornelius to the disciple Peter
1 At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment.
2 He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly.
3 One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, "Cornelius!"
4 Cornelius stared at him in fear. "What is it, Lord?" he asked. The angel answered, "Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God.
5 Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter.
6 He is staying with Simon the tanner, whose house is by the sea."
7 When the angel who spoke to him had gone, Cornelius called two of his servants and a devout soldier who was one of his attendants.
8 He told them everything that had happened and sent them to Joppa.

19 While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, "Simon, three men are looking for you.
20 So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them."
21 Peter went down and said to the men, "I'm the one you're looking for. Why have you come?"
22 The men replied, "We have come from Cornelius the centurion. He is a righteous and God-fearing man, who is respected by all the Jewish people. A holy angel told him to have you come to his house so that he could hear what you have to say."
23 Then Peter invited the men into the house to be his guests. The next day Peter started out with them, and some of the brothers from Joppa went along.
24 The following day he arrived in Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends.
25 As Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence.
26 But Peter made him get up. "Stand up," he said, "I am only a man myself."
27 Talking with him, Peter went inside and found a large gathering of people.
28 He said to them: "You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with a Gentile or visit him. But God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean.
29 So when I was sent for, I came without raising any objection. May I ask why you sent for me?"
30 Cornelius answered: "Four days ago I was in my house praying at this hour, at three in the afternoon. Suddenly a man in shining clothes stood before me
31 and said, 'Cornelius, God has heard your prayer and remembered your gifts to the poor.
32 Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter. He is a guest in the home of Simon the tanner, who lives by the sea.'
33 So I sent for you immediately, and it was good of you to come. Now we are all here in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us."
34 Then Peter began to speak: "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favouritism
35 but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.
36 You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.
37 You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached--
38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.
39 "We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree,
40 but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen.
41 He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen--by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.
42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead.
43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name."
44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message.
45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles.
46 For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said,
47 "Can anyone keep these people from being baptised with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have."
48 So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.
Acts 10:1-8 &19-48

An angel also gives comfort and reassurance to Paul, one of the important early Christians, when we was on his way to Rome to face trail, but got caught in a violent sea storm 5.

20 When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved.
21 After the men had gone a long time without food, Paul stood up before them and said: "Men, you should have taken my advice not to sail from Crete; then you would have spared yourselves this damage and loss.
22 But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed.
23 Last night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me
24 and said, 'Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.'
25 So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me.
26 Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island."
Acts 27:20-26

But like all messengers, angels don't just bring good news to people. In the Bible we see them bringing messages of warnings, telling of judgments and even carrying out the judgments.

In the story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah two angels, who appear to have looked like normal men (albeit very handsome and attractive), warn Lot and his family of them judgment and destruction of the cities and help them escape. But the cities, and all the other inhabitants, are still destroyed by God. The story also gives a warning about looking back at what might have been 6.

1 The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city. When he saw them, he got up to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground.
2 "My lords," he said, "please turn aside to your servant's house. You can wash your feet and spend the night and then go on your way early in the morning." "No," they answered, "we will spend the night in the square."
3 But he insisted so strongly that they did go with him and entered his house. He prepared a meal for them, baking bread without yeast, and they ate.
4 Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom--both young and old--surrounded the house.
5 They called to Lot, "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them."
6 Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him
7 and said, "No, my friends. Don't do this wicked thing.
8 Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don't do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof."
9 "Get out of our way," they replied. And they said, "This fellow came here as an alien, and now he wants to play the judge! We'll treat you worse than them." They kept bringing pressure on Lot and moved forward to break down the door.
10 But the men inside reached out and pulled Lot back into the house and shut the door.
11 Then they struck the men who were at the door of the house, young and old, with blindness so that they could not find the door.
12 The two men said to Lot, "Do you have anyone else here--sons-in-law, sons or daughters, or anyone else in the city who belongs to you? Get them out of here,
13 because we are going to destroy this place. The outcry to the LORD against its people is so great that he has sent us to destroy it."
14 So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were pledged to marry his daughters. He said, "Hurry and get out of this place, because the LORD is about to destroy the city!" But his sons-in-law thought he was joking.
15 With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, "Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished."
16 When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the LORD was merciful to them.
17 As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, "Flee for your lives! Don't look back, and don't stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!"
18 But Lot said to them, "No, my lords, please!
19 Your servant has found favor in your eyes, and you have shown great kindness to me in sparing my life. But I can't flee to the mountains; this disaster will overtake me, and I'll die.
20 Look, here is a town near enough to run to, and it is small. Let me flee to it--it is very small, isn't it? Then my life will be spared."
21 He said to him, "Very well, I will grant this request too; I will not overthrow the town you speak of.
22 But flee there quickly, because I cannot do anything until you reach it." (That is why the town was called Zoar.)
23 By the time Lot reached Zoar, the sun had risen over the land.
24 Then the LORD rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah--from the LORD out of the heavens.
25 Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, including all those living in the cities--and also the vegetation in the land.
26 But Lot's wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.
27 Early the next morning Abraham got up and returned to the place where he had stood before the LORD.
28 He looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, toward all the land of the plain, and he saw dense smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a furnace.
29 So when God destroyed the cities of the plain, he remembered Abraham, and he brought Lot out of the catastrophe that overthrew the cities where Lot had lived.
Genesis 19:1-29

One King Herod, who ruled Israel under the Roman occupation and who also opposed God and the early Christians, was judged for speaking too proudly and it was an angel who carried out the judgment 7.

21 On the appointed day Herod, wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people.
22 They shouted, "This is the voice of a god, not of a man."
23 Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died.
Acts 12:21-23

In the final book of the Bible, Revelation (and a book that features lots of angels!), on many occasions angels are seen carrying out God's judgment on His behalf 8.

1 When he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.
2 And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets.
3 Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all the saints, on the golden altar before the throne.
4 The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of the saints, went up before God from the angel's hand.
5 Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth; and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake.
6 Then the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to sound them.
7 The first angel sounded his trumpet, and there came hail and fire mixed with blood, and it was hurled down upon the earth. A third of the earth was burned up, a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up.
8 The second angel sounded his trumpet, and something like a huge mountain, all ablaze, was thrown into the sea. A third of the sea turned into blood,
9 a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.
10 The third angel sounded his trumpet, and a great star, blazing like a torch, fell from the sky on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water--
11 the name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters turned bitter, and many people died from the waters that had become bitter.
12 The fourth angel sounded his trumpet, and a third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them turned dark. A third of the day was without light, and also a third of the night.
13 As I watched, I heard an eagle that was flying in midair call out in a loud voice: "Woe! Woe! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the trumpet blasts about to be sounded by the other three angels!"
Revelation 8:1-13

6 Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth--to every nation, tribe, language and people.
7 He said in a loud voice, "Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water."
8 A second angel followed and said, "Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great, which made all the nations drink the maddening wine of her adulteries."
9 A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: "If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand,
10 he, too, will drink of the wine of God's fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb.
11 And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name."
12 This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God's commandments and remain faithful to Jesus.
Revelation 14:6-12

1 Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, "Go, pour out the seven bowls of God's wrath on the earth."
2 The first angel went and poured out his bowl on the land, and ugly and painful sores broke out on the people who had the mark of the beast and worshiped his image.
3 The second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it turned into blood like that of a dead man, and every living thing in the sea died.
4 The third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood.
5 Then I heard the angel in charge of the waters say:
"You are just in these judgments, you who are and who were, the Holy One, because you have so judged;
6 for they have shed the blood of your saints and prophets, and you have given them blood to drink as they deserve."
7 And I heard the altar respond: 'Yes, Lord God Almighty, true and just are your judgments."
8 The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and the sun was given power to scorch people with fire.
9 They were seared by the intense heat and they cursed the name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify him.
10 The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom was plunged into darkness. Men gnawed their tongues in agony
11 and cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, but they refused to repent of what they had done.
12 The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the East.
13 Then I saw three evil spirits that looked like frogs; they came out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet.
14 They are spirits of demons performing miraculous signs, and they go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty.
15 "Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed."
16 Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.
17 The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and out of the temple came a loud voice from the throne, saying, "It is done!"
18 Then there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder and a severe earthquake. No earthquake like it has ever occurred since man has been on earth, so tremendous was the quake.
19 The great city split into three parts, and the cities of the nations collapsed. God remembered Babylon the Great and gave her the cup filled with the wine of the fury of his wrath.
20 Every island fled away and the mountains could not be found.
21 From the sky huge hailstones of about a hundred pounds each fell upon men. And they cursed God on account of the plague of hail, because the plague was so terrible.
Revelation 16:1-21

17 And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, "Come, gather together for the great supper of God,
18 so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and mighty men, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, small and great."
Revelation 19:17-18

Some of those scenes seem confusing and scary, and they are! But through them all, angels obey and work for God and God alone.

They also show that angels are powerful spiritual creatures, very capable of fulfilling another of their roles as God's mighty Warriors.

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God's Mighty Warriors

As we've seen above, angels aren't just nice, kindly beings, they are also the mighty and powerful warriors of God. In fact there's a dramatic description of a war in the spiritual realm between the Archangel Michael and God's angels and The Devil/Satan/Lucifer and his rebellious angelic followers 9.

7 And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back.
8 But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven.
9 The great dragon was hurled down--that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.
Revelation 12:7-9

Sometimes Michael is pictured in art wearing medieval style armour, showing that he is a warrior. There are other times in the Bible when angels are described like an army or with swords, ready for battle 10.

15 When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. "Oh, my lord, what shall we do?" the servant asked.
16 "Don't be afraid," the prophet answered. "Those who are with us are more than those who are with them."
17 And Elisha prayed, "O LORD, open his eyes so he may see." Then the LORD opened the servant's eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
2 Kings 6:15-17

And sometimes it's not always the people that see the angels to start with 11!

21 Balaam got up in the morning, saddled his donkey and went with the princes of Moab.
22 But God was very angry when he went, and the angel of the LORD stood in the road to oppose him. Balaam was riding on his donkey, and his two servants were with him.
23 When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road with a drawn sword in his hand, she turned off the road into a field. Balaam beat her to get her back on the road.
24 Then the angel of the LORD stood in a narrow path between two vineyards, with walls on both sides.
25 When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, she pressed close to the wall, crushing Balaam's foot against it. So he beat her again.
26 Then the angel of the LORD moved on ahead and stood in a narrow place where there was no room to turn, either to the right or to the left.
27 When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, she lay down under Balaam, and he was angry and beat her with his staff.
28 Then the LORD opened the donkey's mouth, and she said to Balaam, "What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?"
29 Balaam answered the donkey, "You have made a fool of me! If I had a sword in my hand, I would kill you right now."
30 The donkey said to Balaam, "Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?" "No," he said.
31 Then the LORD opened Balaam's eyes, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road with his sword drawn. So he bowed low and fell facedown.
32 The angel of the LORD asked him, "Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? I have come here to oppose you because your path is a reckless one before me.
33 The donkey saw me and turned away from me these three times. If she had not turned away, I would certainly have killed you by now, but I would have spared her."
34 Balaam said to the angel of the LORD, "I have sinned. I did not realize you were standing in the road to oppose me. Now if you are displeased, I will go back."
35 The angel of the LORD said to Balaam, "Go with the men, but speak only what I tell you." So Balaam went with the princes of Balak.
Numbers 22:21-35

Elsewhere in the Bible, angels are described as being at war with spiritual forces that are against them and God.

In the Jewish religion, Michael is the angel of Israel and is referred to as 'Your Prince' (because Daniel was a Jew) 12.

4 On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was standing on the bank of the great river, the Tigris,
5 I looked up and there before me was a man dressed in linen, with a belt of the finest gold around his waist.
6 His body was like chrysolite, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and his voice like the sound of a multitude.
10 A hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees.
11 He said, "Daniel, you who are highly esteemed, consider carefully the words I am about to speak to you, and stand up, for I have now been sent to you." And when he said this to me, I stood up trembling.
12 Then he continued, "Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them.
13 But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia.
14 Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come."

19 "Do not be afraid, O man highly esteemed," he said. "Peace! Be strong now; be strong." When he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, "Speak, my lord, since you have given me strength."
20 So he said, "Do you know why I have come to you? Soon I will return to fight against the prince of Persia, and when I go, the prince of Greece will come;
21 but first I will tell you what is written in the Book of Truth. (No one supports me against them except Michael, your prince.)
Daniel 10:4-6, 10-14 & 19-21

This passage also suggests that other angels also have responsibility for different geographical areas. But not all these 'area' angels are the holy angels of God, some - rebellious angels that now follow the Devil and his evil plans - control areas to try and stop God and his followers. The 'prince of the Persian kingdom' attempted to stop an angel of God visiting Daniel for three weeks! But Michael came and helped his fellow angel. This angel then went back and fight the 'prince of Persia' again and the 'prince of Greece' (one of God's angels) would come and watch over Daniel and his work.

Tn the book of Ezekiel, in the Bible, the Devil/Satan/Lucifer is called 'The King of Tyre' (an ancient city in what is now Lebanon), showing that he had influence over the ruler of that country during that time 13.

11 The word of the LORD came to me:
12 "Son of man, take up a lament concerning the king of Tyre and say to him: 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: "'You were the model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.
13 You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you: ruby, topaz and emerald, chrysolite, onyx and jasper, sapphire, turquoise and beryl. Your settings and mountings were made of gold; on the day you were created they were prepared.
14 You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones.
15 You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you.
16 Through your widespread trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned. So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God, and I expelled you, O guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones.
17 Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor. So I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings.
18 By your many sins and dishonest trade you have desecrated your sanctuaries. So I made a fire come out from you, and it consumed you, and I reduced you to ashes on the ground in the sight of all who were watching.
19 All the nations who knew you are appalled at you; you have come to a horrible end and will be no more.'"
Ezekiel 28:11-19

I believe that angels (both good and evil) have influence over areas and their leaders today. This is a very complex subject and not one that I can cover here. If you'd like to know more about this, I suggest you go to the further reading page and read some of the books suggested there.

One of the early Christian writers, Paul, reminds us of this on going spiritual battle and that Christians have the 'Armour of God' to protect them and help them in this fight 14.

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes.
12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,
15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Ephesians 6:10-17

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Watching History Unfold

We've seen that angels are involved in life here on Earth, but they also like watching events on earth as they happen! We're told in the Book of Job, in the Bible, that angels saw creation and have been watching ever since 15.

1 Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm. He said:
2 "Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge?
3 Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me.
4 "Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? Tell me, if you understand.
5 Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it?
6 On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone--
7 while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?
Job 38:1-7

As well as watching creation, they also watch people, it seems that we're fascinating to them. Paul describes the angels watching people like we would watch a sports event at a large stadium, or in the 'Roman Arena' 16.

For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like men condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to men.
1 Corinthians 4:9

Angels also really celebrate when someone becomes a Christian and accepts Jesus into their life 17!

7 [Jesus is speaking] “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety–nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”,
Luke 15:7

10 [Jesus is speaking] “In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."
Luke 15:10

As well as this 'general' watching, it seems that there might be special 'watching' class of angel. angels described as 'watchers' are mentioned only once in the Bible in a dream/vision of the Babylonian King that was interpreted by Daniel, a Jewish prophet 18.

13 “‘And this also is what I saw as I was stretched out on my bed. I saw a holy watchman descend from heaven,
14 and call out: Chop down the tree, lop off its branches, strip its leaves and scatter its fruit. Chase the animals from beneath it and shoo the birds from its branches.
15 But leave the stump and roots in the ground, belted with a strap of iron and bronze in the grassy meadow. Let him be soaked in heaven's dew and take his meals with the animals that graze.
16 Let him lose his mind and get an animal's mind in exchange, And let this go on for seven seasons.
17 The angels announce this decree, the holy watchmen bring this sentence, So that everyone living will know that the High God rules human kingdoms. He arranges kingdom affairs however he wishes, and makes leaders out of losers.
Daniel 4:13-17 (The Message)

The word used for 'watcher' comes from the Hebrew for 'to be watchful' or 'on the watch'. It's a positive, active word or action, not just simply observing. It also describes them in pural, so there's more than one.

Some people think that these 'watcher' angels could be Cherubim/Cherubs as they are described as covered with eyes, which would be very useful for watching 19!

18 Their rims were high and awesome, and all four rims were full of eyes all around.
Ezekiel 1:18

8 Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night they never stop saying: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come."
Revelation 4:8

So angels have been watching the history of the earth unfold, since the dawn of creation. However, they don't know what's going to happen or when Jesus will return to the earth 20.

35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
36 "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
Matthew 24:35-36

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Praising & Worshipping God

In the Bible, perhaps the biggest and most important role for angels is praising and glorifying God 21.

Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night they never stop saying: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come."
Revelation 4:8

11 All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God,
12 saying: "Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honour and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!"
Revelation 7:11-12

There's a description of over 100 million angels praising God in Heaven 22.

11 Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders.
12 In a loud voice they sang: "Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!"
Revelation 5:11-12

Angels we're also there celebrating the Birth of Jesus. It doesn't say how many, only a 'great company of the heavenly host', but that might have been 100 million 23!

8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.
9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
10 But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
11 Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.
12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."
Luke 2:8-15

So for angels, praising God is very important. In fact, in the Psalms we're told that not only angels, but all of creation (that's also you and me!) is to praise God 24!

1 Praise the LORD. Praise the LORD from the heavens, praise him in the heights above.
2 Praise him, all his angels, praise him, all his heavenly hosts.
3 Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars.
4 Praise him, you highest heavens and you waters above the skies.
5 Let them praise the name of the LORD, for he commanded and they were created.
6 He set them in place for ever and ever; he gave a decree that will never pass away.
7 Praise the LORD from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths,
8 lightning and hail, snow and clouds, stormy winds that do his bidding,
9 you mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars,
10 wild animals and all cattle, small creatures and flying birds,
11 kings of the earth and all nations, you princes and all rulers on earth,
12 young men and maidens, old men and children.
13 Let them praise the name of the LORD, for his name alone is exalted; his splendour is above the earth and the heavens.
14 He has raised up for his people a horn, the praise of all his saints, of Israel, the people close to his heart. Praise the LORD.
Psalms 148

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Guardian Angels

Perhaps the most famous role of angels is as 'Guardian Angels'. This seems to be a 'normal' duty of angels in the Bible – not a big and special role. Several times in the Bible, angels are seen as guardians/protectors and comforters.

In these two accounts, the angel gives support and encouragement to Hagar and Elijah 25.

14 Early the next morning Abraham took some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. He set them on her shoulders and then sent her off with the boy. She went on her way and wandered in the desert of Beersheba.
15 When the water in the skin was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes.
16 Then she went off and sat down nearby, about a bowshot away, for she thought, “I cannot watch the boy die.” And as she sat there nearby, she began to sob.
17 God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there.
18 Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.”
19 Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.
Genesis 21:14-19

1 Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword.
2 So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.”
3 Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there,
4 while he himself went a day's journey into the desert. He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, LORD,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.”
5 Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep.
All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.”
6 He looked around, and there by his head was a cake of bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.
7 The angel of the LORD came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.”
8 So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God.
9 There he went into a cave and spent the night.
1 Kings 19:4-8

In one famous Bible story, again an angel offers support, and something a lot more, as Daniel is saved from starving lions 26!

1 It pleased Darius to appoint 120 satraps to rule throughout the kingdom,
2 with three administrators over them, one of whom was Daniel. The satraps were made accountable to them so that the king might not suffer loss.
3 Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom.
4 At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent.
5 Finally these men said, “We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God.”
6 So the administrators and the satraps went as a group to the king and said: “O King Darius, live forever!
7 The royal administrators, prefects, satraps, advisers and governors have all agreed that the king should issue an edict and enforce the decree that anyone who prays to any god or man during the next thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be thrown into the lions' den.
8 Now, O king, issue the decree and put it in writing so that it cannot be altered—in accordance with the laws of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.”
9 So King Darius put the decree in writing.
10 Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.
11 Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help.
12 So they went to the king and spoke to him about his royal decree: “Did you not publish a decree that during the next thirty days anyone who prays to any god or man except to you, O king, would be thrown into the lions' den?” The king answered, “The decree stands—in accordance with the laws of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.”
13 Then they said to the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or to the decree you put in writing. He still prays three times a day.”
14 When the king heard this, he was greatly distressed; he was determined to rescue Daniel and made every effort until sundown to save him.
15 Then the men went as a group to the king and said to him, “Remember, O king, that according to the law of the Medes and Persians no decree or edict that the king issues can be changed.”
16 So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions' den. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!”
17 A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the rings of his nobles, so that Daniel's situation might not be changed.
18 Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night without eating and without any entertainment being brought to him. And he could not sleep.
19 At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions' den.
20 When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?”
21 Daniel answered, “O king, live forever!
22 My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, O king.”
23 The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.
24 At the king's command, the men who had falsely accused Daniel were brought in and thrown into the lions' den, along with their wives and children. And before they reached the floor of the den, the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones.
25 Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations and men of every language throughout the land: “May you prosper greatly!
26 “I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. “For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end.
27 He rescues and he saves; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.”
28 So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.
Daniel 6:1-28

The impact of the work of the angel was so great that it changed the view of an extremely powerful King!

On a couple of occasions in the Bible, angels break Christians out of Jail 27!

17 Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy.
18 They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail.
19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out.
20 “Go, stand in the temple courts,” he said, “and tell the people the full message of this new life.”
Acts 5:17-20

1 It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them.
2 He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword.
3 When he saw that this pleased the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. This happened during the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
4 After arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover.
5 So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.
6 The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance.
7 Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter's wrists.
8 Then the angel said to him, “Put on your clothes and sandals.” And Peter did so. “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me,” the angel told him.
9 Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision.
10 They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself, and they went through it. When they had walked the length of one street, suddenly the angel left him.
11 Then Peter came to himself and said, “Now I know without a doubt that the Lord sent his angel and rescued me from Herod's clutches and from everything the Jewish people were anticipating.”
Acts 12:1-11

Nowhere in the Bible does it say that everyone has a 'personal guardian angel'. In fact, the Bible seems to suggest that angels are primarily involved with the protection of Christians ('those who will inherit salvation' and 'those who fear him') 28.

14 Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?
Hebrews 1:14

7 The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.
Psalm 34:7

9 If you make the Most High your dwelling - even the LORD, who is my refuge -
10 then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;
Psalm 91:9-11

There are only a couple of verses in the Bible that suggests 'personal' angels. One seems to be do with children 29.

10 “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...”
Matthew 18:10

It's thought that this verse is about angels having a duty of care for ALL children. In the Jewish religion and culture there is an 'age of accountability' when children become 'adults' and responsible for their own decisions and actions. This is also known as the 'Bar or Bat Mitzvah' (which means 'one to whom the commandments apply') and is between the ages of 12 and 13.

It is thought that ALL children 'belong to God' until this age – when they can decide for themselves whether to follow God or not. During this time, angels have a duty of care over them. You'll see from the verse that the angels are still in heaven during this time, not here on earth and it doesn't say that it's 'one angel per person'!

The only other mention in the Bible of an angel being identified with a person, is from one of the 'jail break' stories mentioned above 30.

11 Then Peter came to himself and said, “Now I know without a doubt that the Lord sent his angel and rescued me from Herod's clutches and from everything the Jewish people were anticipating.”
12 When this had dawned on him, he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying.
13 Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer the door.
14 When she recognized Peter's voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, “Peter is at the door!”
15 “You're out of your mind,” they told her. When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, “It must be his angel.”
16 But Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished.
17 Peter motioned with his hand for them to be quiet and described how the Lord had brought him out of prison. “Tell James and the brothers about this,” he said, and then he left for another place.
18 In the morning, there was no small commotion among the soldiers as to what had become of Peter.
19 After Herod had a thorough search made for him and did not find him, he cross–examined the guards and ordered that they be executed.
Acts 12:11-19

What many scholars think about this passage, is that by 'Peter's angel' they meant Peter's dead spirit! That would explain why they didn't want to open the door! (Also there's no way that Peter's friends would have thought that he would be able to escape a top security Roman prison alive.)

Whether Christians do have 'individual guardians angels' I don't know: and I don't think we can definitely say either way. What is clear, however, is that they always under God's command.

In the garden of Gethsemane on the night before the death of Jesus, an angel came to comfort him. And then when Jesus was arrested, He makes it clear that angels could have come and guarded and rescued him – but they were under God's orders to allow the arrest death of Jesus to happen 31.

39 Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him.
40 On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.”
41 He withdrew about a stone's throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed,
42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”
43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.
44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.
Luke 22:29-44

47 While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people.
48 Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.”
49 Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him.
50 Jesus replied, “Friend, do what you came for.” Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him.
51 With that, one of Jesus' companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.
52 “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.
53 Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?
54 But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”
55 At that time Jesus said to the crowd, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I sat in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me.
56 But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.
Matthew 26:47-56

If there was one person that any angel would have wanted to protect, I think it would have been Jesus!

Another way that angels are believed to help people is that they might help to take Christians to heaven following death. (These angels are sometimes referred to as 'psychopomps', although they aren't called that in the Bible.) In fact, this type of angelic activity isn't really mentioned at all in the Bible. They are only mentioned once in a story told by Jesus about a rich man and a beggar called Lazarus 32.

19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day.
20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores
21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man's table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried.
23 In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side.
24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’
25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony.
26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’
27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father's house,
28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’
29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’”
30 ‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”
Luke 16:19-31

There are many stories of Christians seeing angels/and or Jesus at the time of death, leading them into heaven and the presence of God.

There are also many miraculous stories of angelic guardians and protectors helping Christians all over the world. But this site isn't the place for them! If you'd like to read about some of these wonderful occurrences, I really recommend you read some of the books listed on the 'further reading' page.

However, I'll put one story here as it happened about 20 miles from where I live, at a Christian centre called 'Lee Abbey'. Like many stories to do with angelic intervention, the angels are there to protect people – not to stop something bad happening.

The tractor at Lee Abbey – an expert from Angels by John Woolmer (ISBN-10 0825460085 / ISBN-13 978-0825460081) pg 144:

Ray and Pam Fardon, who once helped me with a Parish Mission, told me a wonderful story of protection, and escape from disaster. In the late 1960s, they were leading a youth camp at Lee Abbey, near Lynton, in North Devon. Pam was enjoying the beauty of the coastline, when suddenly her thoughts were disturbed by the loud noise of an engine. She looked up and saw a tractor, out of control, careering wildly down a steep field. The driver managed to steer it through a gate, but it was, gaining speed all the time as it raced through a second field. By now, many of the guests at the house on the top of the hill, and many in the youth camp, were watching with horror. They started to pray for the tractor driver who was trying desperately to bring his machine under control. The tractor was racing towards a car park crowded with holiday makers, eating their picnics. Pam remembers praying, "Lord, please change its direction." Moments later, it veered aside, missed the car park, and somersaulted over the cliff.

Ray took a few men with him and raced down the cliff pathway, instructing everyone else to pray. Quickly, Ray found the tractor upside down on a car parked by a chalet on the beach, far below the original scene. The owner, a widowed mother of a large family, had just left the car and wandered back to the chalet, wondering why she had got out of the car. Her car was completely crushed, but no one was hurt. Ray, and his friends, searched for the tractor driver, but there was no sign of anyone.

A little while later, the original tractor driver, who had got out of the tractor leaving the engine running while he opened a gate, appeared on the scene. Pam and Ray and others were certain they had seen someone driving the tractor, and steering so that it avoided the car park. Pam, at the time, described a man in brown, leaning right over the steering wheel with his hands almost crossed over. Ray, Pam, and others who witnessed the scene, are quite convinced that they saw an angel driving the tractor. Like many similar other stories, it is simpler to believe that the second driver was an angel. The alternative is that a number of people all suffered hallucinations; and that, by chance, the tractor swerved to avoid ploughing into the car park.

My editor asks, pertinently, why didn't the angel stop the engine or put the brake on? I have already addressed this issue (see pp. 27, 81), and would add that angels seem concerned with saving life and not property. If the angel had stopped the tractor there would have been no story! If the Ethiopian eunuch had directed his chariot to Samaria, he would naturally have met Philip; again there would have been no story. God seems to allow these incidents to give us glimpses of his sovereign power.

Lee Abbey is a great place of prayer, a place where other have seen angels and heard them singing. Its founder, Jack Winslow, wrote a book which includes many stories of miraculous protection, and several about angels. Many stories about angels are stories of protection, usually from extreme change from people hostile to the Christian Gospel.

So there certainly are guardian angels that do get involved with the lives of people on earth. But there are warnings in the Bible not to 'call on' or 'pray to' angels as they all fall under God's control and have to follow his will. There are also clear warnings that the 'fallen angels'/unclean spirits/demons, who rebelled against God, want to trick people into following and worshipping them rather than following God 33.

14 They are spirits of demons performing miraculous signs, and they go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty.
Revelation 16:14

4 Jesus answered: "Watch out that no one deceives you.
5 For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many.
Matthew 24:4-5

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