ASK Commentary
January 10, 2004 

Jesus Was Not An Angel

Commentary for January 10, 2004 — Presupposition Versus Biblical Consistency

I recently came across a scholarly article abstract that proposed that Jesus Christ was an angel. It said that He was introduced as an angel in the beginning and presented again at the end of the book of Revelation. This caught my interest because, if true, this would seem to contradict a passage that says the direct opposite. Look at the first passage:

The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him [Jesus], to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: Who bore record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.”

Revelation 1:1–2

The author of this paper presumably identifies Jesus Christ with the angel, claiming them to be the same person. However, John presents in the gospel of John chapter 1 (and reminds us in Revelation 1:1) that Jesus is the Word of God. The Word of God is the Creator, the direct agent of God the Father, which is distinct from being angel or a carrier of a message from God.

The text of verse 1:1 says that there are three beings involved in the transmission of the Revelation to John. First is Jesus Christ who is “unveiled.” Second is God the Father who gave it to Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ then “sent and signified it by his angel.” The angel bore record of the Word of God. The angel was the means from whom John received the direct message, just like the angels were sent to deliver messages to the churches of Revelation and elsewhere (Revelation 2:1, 8, 12, 18; 3:1, 7, 14; 22:16).

It is always important to note in the book of Revelation WHO is speaking and WHAT is seen by John. If you keep those two elements in mind, your understanding the book of Revelation will be easier. What John saw and heard was the Revelation of Jesus Christ from God the Father. The angel assisted (1) by taking it to John, (2) by commenting on what John saw and heard and (3) by answering questions direct to John.

There are elements of close similarity and even identical phrases between Revelation 1:1 and Revelation 22:6. This is well known to scholars. If you diagram the sentences (keeping in mind that word order in Greek is somewhat flexible) the identity is even stronger. It is not too difficult to see how someone could identify Jesus with the angel.

“And he [the angel] said unto me, ‘These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to show unto his servants the things which must shortly [Greek, same as quickly below] be done. Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keeps the sayings of the prophecy of this book.’ And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship ...”

Revelation 22:6–8

In Revelation 1:1 John is writing and describing the process of transmission. In Revelation 22:6 the angel is speaking and John is writing down his words. The angel is quoting Jesus Christ, but this might not be clear on first reading.

For example, who is speaking, who is hearing and viewing in Revelation 22:6–8? The angel is not coming, but Jesus is coming quickly and without delay as is shown in Revelation 2:5, 2:16, 3:11, 22:12, 20 (as well as 1:1 and 22:7 where the same Greek word meaning “quickly” is used).

The rest of Revelation 22:8 and the next verse helps:

“And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which showed me these things. Then said he [the angel] unto me, ‘See you do it not: for I am your fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.’”

Revelation 22:8–9

If Jesus were the angel, John would not have been denied worship of Him. John knew Jesus. He grew up in his neighborhood. He lived in very close contact with Jesus for at least 2˝ years with the other disciples. Jesus appeared to Thomas and the other apostles after the resurrection. In John 20:28, when John was present, Thomas exclaimed when Jesus appeared, “My Lord and my God!” Thomas was not rebuked or corrected for that expression of joy. But in Revelation 22:8–9, the angel was not Jesus. He was not worthy of worship and he corrected John.

Finally, Revelation 22:16 shows that there is a distinction between the Jesus Christ and the angel, that they are different personalities.

Strongest Evidence

The passage that completely denies Jesus was an angel of any kind is found in Hebrews chapter 1. This analysis is unique:

“Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For unto which of the angels said he at any time,
[1] You are my Son, this day have I begotten thee’? [2] And again, ‘I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son’? [3] And again, when he brings in the firstbegotten into the world, he says, ‘And let all the angels of God worship him.’
And of the angels he says, ‘Who makes his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire.’ But unto the Son he says, Your throne, O God, is for ever and ever [literally, the age of the age or the greatest age]: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom.”

Hebrews 1:3–8

Three times Paul cites Old Testament references that distinguish Jesus Christ from angels: [1] Psalm 2:7; [2] 2 Samuel 7:14, 1 Chronicles 17:13, 22:10, 28:6; and [3] Psalm 97:7. The passage that says, “But unto the Son ...” is directly from Psalm 45:6-7. Jesus is described as the Son of God in Revelation 2:18, “And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God ...” In other words three direct proofs, and more, are given that Jesus was not and could not be an angel, but that he was a son. Note also that all the angels are to worship Him.

As far as I have found, this unique and obvious understanding of these verses in Hebrews chapter 1 is unique to Dr. Martin and no one has followed up on the implications to other passages in the Bible in the correct manner like he has done. See the articles “How God Uses Angels to Govern the Universe,” “Do You Have a Guardian Angel?,” and “The Philosophy of Christianity.” And there are other articles on the ASK Website that deal obliquely with this subject.

The Chief Messenger

Is not Jesus as Lord described as an archangel in Thessalonians? No, he is not.

“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first.”

1 Thessalonians 4:16

The Lord is described as shouting with the voice of an archangel; the text does not say that he is an archangel. If Jesus is an archangel from this passage, then He must also be a trumpet from the same usage in that verse.

By the way, did you ever notice that Paul received the Gospel through the “revelation of Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1:12)? John received the “revelation of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 1:1).

Conclusion

If a person considers the Bible to be a slap-together collection of documents then one could begin to think in terms of such contradictions. But if a person looks upon the Bible as a carefully and divinely planned, produced and protected composition as a whole, then one can see elements of the design throughout.

One of the best presentations of that design is in Dr. Martin’s Restoring the Original Bible (Portland, OR: ASK, 1994). In this book Dr. Martin discusses at length the probable double-revealing of the book of Revelation to the apostle John. It is a remarkable story, every bit as remarkable as the design and development of the Holy Scriptures themselves. You will find more about the Bible from that one book than you ever thought possible.

David Sielaff
david@askelm.com

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