Ministering Spirits

This entry is part 230 of 332 in the series Inquiring Minds

What do the ministering angels mentioned in the Bible actually do?

The idea of the ministering spirits or angels comes from Hebrews 1:14, the ending of a chapter that talks about how much greater Jesus is than the angels in heaven. After explaining that Jesus is greater than these angels, he makes mention of them at the end of the chapter as ministering spirits God sends to serve those who inherit salvation.

“Inherit salvation” refers to the saints. These are the ones who receive God’s salvation. Angels themselves cannot be saved. Salvation is for human beings. But just as angels are not the ones to fulfill the work of Jesus, so they are also ministering spirits.

This tells us that angels are not flesh and blood. They are spirits that serve for believers in Jesus. So then, as the question asks, what do they do? Some people believe in guardian angels, although much of the understanding of guardian angels does not come from the Old or New Testament. Most of that comes from writings written between the testaments.

we know that they minister to Jesus from time to time. One time that comes to mind is when Jesus prays in the Garden of Gethsemane. As he is sweating drops of blood, the Angels come to minister to him (Luke 22:43-44).

But a clearer understanding of Hebrews 1:14 should read, “sent to serve on behalf of those inheriting salvation,” or “on account of those inheriting salvation.” So they are not sent to serve those who know Jesus.

Angels are sent to serve on behalf or on account of Christians. They are not our servants. They are God’s servants which he sends on our behalf. They may deal with situations that Christians don’t deal with.

They may do things behind the scenes so that God’s plans for us and for the gospel work out. We don’t really know everything that they can be credited with doing on our behalf. But we know that God uses them however he desires. They serve him, not us.

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