Regardless of the clarity of the Bible, some people still believe that people become angels, evidently under certain circumstances, when they die. Let's set a few guidelines about what we are talking about.
Angels, according to the Bible, were created by God along with everything else in the heavens and the earth. There are only two types of angels - good and bad. For our purposes, we are talking about the good angels, not the dark, fallen ones that followed Satan from the war in Heaven. Good angels still respect and worship the Creator - God.
One of my favorite movies has always been It's a Wonderful Life from 1946 starring Jimmy Stewart. It's getting a little old, but for those who have seen it, everyone remembers Clarence, the angel who has not yet earned his wings. He was a "seraphim-in-training" who seemed to bumble everything he did. The character was so warm and kind that it is easy to confuse him with a human person trying to earn his reward from God. However, nowhere in the Bible can you find that angels were once human. Anyone who tells you differently cannot point to the word of God, but must use an alternate source of "information". And boy, is there a lot of that out there.
"Convincing" others, with no references
There are still those people and organizations around that perpetuate this idea that humans can earn their rewards after death. Here is one example you can see at www.lds.org:
These are messengers of the Lord and are spoken of in the epistle to the Hebrews as "ministering spirits" (Heb. 1:14). We learn from latter-day revelation that there are two classes of heavenly beings who minister for the Lord: those who are spirits and those who have bodies of flesh and bone. Spirits are those beings who either have not yet obtained a body of flesh and bone (unembodied) or who have once had a mortal body and have died and are awaiting the Resurrection (disembodied). Ordinarily the word angel means those ministering persons who have a body of flesh and bone, being either resurrected from the dead (reembodied), or else translated, as were Enoch, Elijah, etc. (D&C 129).
"It's true, because we said it is."
Note here the reference to "latter-day revelation" and a reference to one of their own documents (Doctrine and Covenants, 129), but no reference to the Bible at all to justify their conclusion. That means that someone has made up or "received" this revelation long after the Bible was written. While we cannot say that this "receiving" is impossible with any certainty, we can determine that if it contradicts the clear word of God, then it is not from God.
Are ministering spirits actually spirits, or are they flesh and blood? How would this organization classify the "men" who came to Abraham on the way to Sodom and Gomorrah, and ate food prepared for them by Sarah? Also, one question for us to ponder is how their Bible states the words from Gen 18:1-2?
1 The Lord appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. 2 Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground.
Were they men or the Lord? Jesus and some angels? Spirit or flesh? Or both?
Time to look closer
While not everyone believes that angels were once humans, there is some claimed "evidence" put forth by some groups and sites that implies that very thing. It seems to be a matter of whether there are accurate references, but it will take some study to be certain. A site at Spiritual Insights for Everyday Life lists many passages that refer to the appearance of angels as "men", so we can't just write it off as an another worthless opinion without at least a closer look.
First, the site implies that when humans see angels, they are often identified as men so they must be people turned into angels. That logic leaves a little to be desired before convincing any thinking individual. Along those lines, what else would the author call someone standing before him if there were no way to tell the difference between an angel and a human by appearance alone? It seems obvious that they would call them men. This makes even more sense when you view it from the point of view of Hebrews 13:2
Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.
. How would you write about it if you had no sign to tell you the difference?
Then, there are references in different Bible books that show how different authors use the terms "men" and "angels" interchangeably when referring to the same and different events. Examples are, beings are referred to as an angel in Matthew 28:2-7
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."
and as two angels in John 20:11-13
11 Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus' body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.
13 They asked her, "Woman, why are you crying?" "They have taken my Lord away," she said, "and I don't know where they have put him."
, but as a man in Mark 16:5-7
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.' "
and two men in Luke 24:4-8.
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 over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.' " 8 Then they remembered his words.
These passages are all about the same event, so we can say for sure that even though an angel is called a man, he could still be an angel appearing as a man.
Appearances can be deceiving
Even this makes more sense when you see the descriptions attributed to the "angels" ("appearance like lightning, clothes as white as snow"), and the "men" merely sitting in white robes. One author uses more spectacular terms while another describes the same event in plain terms. There is no confusing scenario that remotely clarifies that men become angels after they die.
Some other references attempting to prove their point in the site at Spiritual Insights for Everyday Life are to passages where "angels look like people". So? That makes Hebrews 13:2
Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.
even more believable.
Another tidbit that is supposed to convince us is that "The Bible says nothing about angels being created." Well, what about Exodus 20:11
For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
? Unless you can show that the angels are not part of the heavens, we can see that God created the angels along with everyone and everything else in the universe in the same six days. According to the logic of the statement on the site, gravity does not exist because the Bible never says it was created. Unless gravity existed before matter, that is. Think about it...
One last point before giving up on this site. The site says that Matt 22:30
At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.
proves that angels were once humans. So, because the Lord makes a statement trying to correct an error on the part of the Pharisees regarding marriage in eternal life, we are to take it as a declaration of something else that was not even under discussion? If you believe that is the message of Matthew 22:30, then you are probably a Sunday-keeper, think Easter is really a Christian holiday, and believe that the Rapture will take all believers to Heaven before the Tribulation starts. In other words, you believe whatever you are told without any investigation, or justification from the Bible, as long as it makes you feel good. Good luck with that.
Now, as a simple measure, read Hebrew 1:14
Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?
again. This passage actually says that angels are ministering spirits sent to help a particular group of people - those who will inherit salvation. Now, if you are a member of that group of people, then you are not one of the ones sent to help them. People are not spirits. We have spirits, and we speak to the Spirit of God, but we are not ministering spirits. In all of the passages where angels are mentioned, they always seem to know what they are doing - on a mission, so to speak - to help people.
Was Samuel an angel?
Instead of just blabbing here (kind of like babbling, but different), let's take an example. In 1 Samuel 28:15
15 Samuel said to Saul, "Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?" (NIV)
Actually, the interlinear Hebrew indicates that he said, "Why are you disturbing my rest?"
, Samuel asks a question that does not make him sound like he is full of the super knowledge that many claim someone sent to Heaven would have. In fact, he sounds just like the rest of us when someone wakes us up from a sleep. For those of you who feel that this is because no one actually went to Heaven until after the death of Jesus, more on that subject in the Heaven page elsewhere on this site. (The Bible never says we go to Heaven when we die, or any other time.) Either way, based on available evidence, the "risen" Samuel was not an angel, nor a ministering spirit; just a disgruntled sleeper.
There is another small point to make for this issue. It is a question that anyone who believes that angels were once people never seems to consider. If people turn into angels after they die, does that mean they get two chances to live for God? That is, if the angels were once people, they were supposedly in Heaven with God because they were upright humans.
If that is the case, while we are on this subject, was Satan once a person, before he became the angel Lucifer? How did Satan, being person who became an angel, deceive Eve before anyone had even died? How did Satan convince those "successful" people-angels to follow him and therefore "fall" from God's grace again after they went through this human life successfully? If you think angels were once people, you must take some sort of stand here, or turn a blind eye and deaf ear and believe something that cannot be true.
One subject I hesitate to mention because there is no clear teaching on it in the Bible. There are references that mention it, but the meaning of the terms used is unclear. In Genesis 6, there is mention of the "sons of God" marrying any of the daughters of men as they chose. The results of these marriages were children (called Nephilim, or "fallen ones") that were "the heroes of old, men of renown". There are two main viewpoints on these passages.
First, the most popular one
Now, the popular romantic, exciting viewpoint is that these sons of God were angels. The supposed result of these unions was "giants" like Goliath. As you will see, some think that Goliath is a descendant of one of these children. The only way we can continue the concept of these angel babies is to do some conjecturing that since they were "half angel", they did not die in the flood (see the implication for this in the painting description below). Some hold to this view as evidenced by this article by Ellen White (no, not the Adventist one), a Ph.D. from University of St. Michaels, who stated the following in an article first published in 2014:
The Nephilim, the product of the sons of god mingling with the daughters of Adam, the great Biblical giants, "the fallen ones," the Rephaim, "the dead ones" - these descriptions are all applied to one group of characters found within the Hebrew Bible. Who are the Nephilim? From where do the "heroes of old, the men of renown" come?
Genesis 6:1-4 tells the readers that the Nephilim, which means "fallen ones" when translated into English, were the product of copulation between the divine beings (lit. sons of god) and human women (lit. daughters of Adam). The Nephilim are known as great warriors and Biblical giants (see Ezekiel 32:27 and Numbers 13:33).
NOTE: You can view this entire article at Biblical History Daily
Accompanying the article is this painting from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C., with a comment below:
First, this suggests that angel "DNA" is compatible with human DNA, otherwise, they could not mate successfully. Goliath was a descendant of the Nephilim? As popular as this view is, it creates some questions that must be addressed today by any thinking person. If the Nephilim died in the flood, they had no descendants. If they did not die in the flood because they cannot die, then how did David kill Goliath, and where are they today? Also, if the angels lived and were the bad guys, then why did God kill all the humans and let the perpetrators of the detestable action live? Again, you must take a stand and follow the logic to it's end if you want to make sure it is true.
What did God say He was mad about?
Yeah, so far this is not proof, but it doesn't make sense when you look at the comments of God in Gen 6:3, 5-7:
3 Then the Lord said, "My Spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years."
5 The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. 6 The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. 7 So the Lord said, "I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created - and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground - for I regret that I have made them."
Then, there's the one that fits
The trouble with the previous view is that, as far as we know, Noah and his family were the only humans (and/or "half-breeds"?) who survived the flood. Since they were good people, God saved them. Because of God's view of "mankind" being wicked, they would not have been saved if they had participated in the wickedness based on this angelic intimacy with women.
Sons of God
Let's think about this in a more fitting way. Angels are never called "sons of God" in the Bible (BibleStudy.org speaks of 10 different passages, and directly to the passages in Genesis 6:1-3). Perhaps the "sons of God" were just men who once believed, then followed their own human desires, ignored God's rules, and sought after the women outside their own people and married as many as they wanted. At the time, incest was still happening as God had long ago told them to be fruitful and multiply, so that could have been involved as well.
Daughters of men?
Remember that Cain, the first murderer, left the fold and went out to the world and started his own society. His daughters, and others, became the "daughters of men" rather than Godly women who still believed, and were raised away from those who stayed close to God. When those close to God ("sons of God") found them beautiful, they took them for their wives, demonstrating their lust and greed. Once God saw this happening, He grieved that He had created men (verse 6), and vowed to wipe them out. This would explain why He was so mad at "everyone" but the eight He saved.
In Gen 6:13
So God said to Noah, "I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth."
, God told Noah His plans to destroy all people - except those eight chosen for survival. He said nothing about angels. This concept allows for His being angry with "man" and not "angels" for being so lustful and greedy. Also, it does not require an explanation for "angel babies" and how they survived the flood. The text of the Bible says that Nephilim were on the earth "in those days", a result of these unapproved marriages, "and also afterward" (Gen 6:4
The Nephilim were on the earth in those days - and also afterward - when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.
). If we see that this means that man became bad after the flood (which we know he did) and did the same thing, having babies called Nephilim as well, then Goliath does not have to be immortal - or half angel - just big. And since God promised that He would never again destroy the earth by flood, we are still here, but there haven't been any recent rumors of women and angels getting together again - just everyone else.
Perfect? No, but much more feasible
There are other explanations out there, but none of them have any stamp of Biblical approval, including the two above. We just have to make sure that we have a good reason for believing what we believe that also fits within the rest of the words of the Book.
And, while we are stumbling around here, what about Hebrews 2:9
You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor,
? This passage is speaking of Jesus, so some must believe that when people die, they become higher than Jesus was while He was on earth? At least, the people who died after Him. Also, what a terrible surprise to Lazarus, getting yanked out of his rest like Saul had done to Samuel, then having to spend the rest of his life here - again. Just thinkin' out loud here.
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