It's me again. My friend who's in my old church is asking about whether Jesus is an angel. They have had several changes of the Lord's name now and just recently the pastor is changing all the notes and chorus books because he says the name is now Yaw Hu. So you can imagine the chaos.
Would you be able to send her a little email and the correct site to look in please Bob? I know of that family. They will be eternally grateful.
Very many thanks
In our precious Jesus
I'm happy to address this subject, but am sending the email directly to you to forward to your friend (since as a matter of policy I make it a habit not to send emails if not directly solicited).
I am certainly not averse to addressing this issue because understanding who Jesus is, that is, His Person which possesses, since His virgin birth, two natures, is a fundamental part of the gospel. That is because unless we understand that Jesus is God and that He became a man as well, we do not come close to appreciating the sacrifice He and His Father made in order for us to be saved. His sufferings were genuine in every respect (and what suffering and sacrifice was entailed in God becoming man in addition to His divinity is beyond our ken to fully understand). Importantly as well, without being human, Jesus could not have gone to the cross for us; but without being God, He could not have lived a perfect human life and thus have been qualified to bear the judgment of all of the sins of the world, nor would He have been able to stand this judgment which only someone who was a human being could be subjected to. "Depriving" Jesus of either His deity or His humanity fundamentally misunderstands Him, God's purpose for Him and us, and the sacrifice on Calvary's cross by our Lord and makes the reception of the gospel problematic at best as a result.
The book of Hebrews was written in no small part to defeat this false notion of some angelic connection for our Savior, who is the Son of God:
In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of Gods glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs. For to which of the angels did God ever say, "You are my Son; today I have become your Father"? Or again, "I will be his Father, and he will be my Son"? And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, "Let all Gods angels worship him."
Hebrews 1:1-6 NIV
Throughout this first chapter of Hebrews and also in chapter 2, Paul continues this theme of directly stating and proving that Jesus is not an angel but superior to all angels (cf. Heb.2:2; 2:5; 2:7; 2:9; 2:16). For those who can see very clearly in the Bible that Jesus, in addition to being divine, is certainly a human being and most definitely not an angel, this emphasis in Hebrews may seem odd. However, even though today people seem more willing to doubt the deity of Christ, in antiquity it was the truth of the humanity of Christ which seems to have come in for more satanic attacks. Gnosticism in relation to Christianity and the Person of Christ was one such attack, and we see evidence of this in the books of Colossians and Ephesians, for example. Jewish tradition and religion is also very much fascinated with angels, and in their straying from Christian doctrine and practice, the Jerusalem believers to whom Paul writes in Hebrews were also being led astray by just such false teachings. I think that it is no accident, therefore, that groups which express an excessive fascination with Jewish mysticism and legalism are more likely than others to be pulled in this direction, namely, of doubting Jesus' genuine humanity (unless they have already doubted His deity, another hyper-Messianic failing). For this is also, by the way, a sort of "back door" way to doubt His divinity and therefore preserve the traditional Jewish notion that God's "oneness" has to do with His Person as well as His essence whereas all true believers understand that God is three in Person, one in Essence. Making Jesus "an angel" is a "neat fix" for people who want to identify loosely both with Christianity and Judaism, but who have issues with what the Bible actually teaches about the Person of Christ, namely, that He is both God (always was) and a true human being (always will be since His virgin birth). If Jesus were an angel, well, He would then be something "in between", not God (so as to offend traditional Jews), and not a true man (so as to offend skeptical gentiles).
But Jesus is God (see the link). And Jesus is a true human being (see the link). The latter is patently obvious from the way He is described consistently throughout the scriptures:
He is the actual physical "Seed of the woman" (Gen.3:15; Gal.3:16).
He is the actual physical "seed of David" (Jn.7:42).
He is physically born (Matt.1:16; 2:1).
He grows up physically (Lk.2:40-52).
He gets hungry (Lk.4:2).
He gets tired (Jn.4:6).
He weeps in sorrow (Jn.11:35).
He was physically nailed to the cross (Matt.27:35; cf. Jn.20:27).
He died physically by exhaling His spirit (Matt.27:50).
Blood and serum came from the wound given to His dead body when it was pierced with a lance (Jn.19:34).
His dead body was placed in a tomb (Matt.27:60).
Blessedly beyond blessings He has been raised from the dead as the first-fruits of the resurrection we all aspire to! But since angels are spirits and do not possess physical bodies, since they do not come into being through procreation, since they are not born, do not die, are not subject to hunger or fatigue or sorrow or death, cannot be pierced with nails or put to death, have no spirit within their bodies and in fact no physical bodies at all in the first place, how in the world could anyone seriously maintain that Jesus "was an angel"? That is impossible to argue for, at least if the Bible counts for anything among the disputants.
I am certainly happy to answer any and all specific questions about the above, but when it comes to cults or groups which are headed in a cult-like direction, in my observation and experience the actual meaning of scripture has long since ceased to count for much. What is required for those who have been ensnared is rather that they "wake up" and come to their spiritual senses by embracing again their spiritual common sense, putting the Bible ahead of loyalty to the group and/or individual leading them astray.
Please also see these links:
The Divinity of Jesus Christ Michael is not Jesus
The Archangel Michael is not Jesus Christ
Michael rebuking Satan
Michael in Revelation (in CT 4)
In Jesus Christ, true God and genuine human being, through whose sacrifice alone we have eternal life.
A friend of mine told me that she read in one of your articles you saying that Messiah was not an angel and could never be. Please let me know how you arrived at your conclusion . How I understand it is that He was Michael the Arch Angel in heaven who was born to come and die for us, becoming our Redeemer.
I have just started reading your articles and must say that you have amazing insight on the things that you write, and I am excited in getting more involved in your teachings etc.
Looking forward to your answer
Good to make your acquaintance and thank you so much for your kind and encouraging words.
As to your question, however, I read as follows in the first chapter of the book of Hebrews:
1 In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. 3 The Son is the radiance of Gods glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. 4 So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs. 5 For to which of the angels did God ever say, "You are my Son; today I have become your Father"? Or again, "I will be his Father, and he will be my Son"? 6 And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, "Let all Gods angels worship him."
Hebrews 1:1-6 NIV
This is a very clear and deliberate statement designed first and foremost to prove that Jesus is not an angel since He is superior to them in every way. One of the purposes of the book of Hebrews was to disabuse Jewish believers of this very notion, namely, the false idea that Jesus was an angel. Nowadays, most attacks on the Person of Christ are aimed at the truth of His deity (that seems to be a sticking point with more people today in our "modern" world); but in the past there were multiple attacks on the truth of His humanity (by Gnostics and others), and the "angel" idea is one of these. However, every place where our Lord is described the Bible not just in Hebrews which makes the point deliberately it is very clear that He is a genuine human being. He was born of a human mother, He had a human body, and He died physically after bearing our sins on the cross. Angels are not born, angels do not have human bodies, and angels cannot die physically. Not only that, but even if what you have been told were theoretically possible, Michael already existed long before Jesus' humanity was born in Bethlehem some 2,000 years ago. Nowhere in scripture do we find any notion of such a "reincarnation" or "trans-incarnation" where one person, angel or human being, becomes something and, more importantly, some-one else. Moreover, angels are angels and human beings are human beings we are similar in that we have free will, but the two categories are fundamentally discrete and different one from the other: angels cannot become human beings and human beings cannot become angels (for all the details, see the link: BB 2A: "Angelology").
But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, and to a judge who is God of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect.
Hebrews 12:22-23 NIV
Being precise about the Person of Christ is very important. He is God and since the incarnation He is also a genuine human being. And this had to be the way of things if humanity were to be saved. That is because Jesus had to be a true human being in order to bear the sins of the human race and if He had not been God as well it would have been impossible for Him to endure the judgment for all of mankind's sins during those three hours of darkness on the cross (please see the link: in BB 4A, "The Spiritual Death of Jesus Christ").
As I indicate above, the truth about who Jesus is and was is very clear from everything in the Bible which speaks about Him. On the other hand, I know of not a single scripture which even suggests that He might have been an angel instead of the genuine human being He manifestly is represented to be throughout scripture. I also feel certain of the truth of the proposition that no neutral party reading the Bible would ever come up with this idea. That speaks volumes to me it indicates that whatever group taught you this developed the false idea for their own purposes. This is a common thing that happens when local churches morph into denominations. For example, the pre-Tribulation rapture is likewise a false doctrine which does not occur anywhere in scripture but nonetheless has legions of ardent defenders not because it is found in the Bible but because this is the tradition they have been taught (see the link). By the time a group has been around a while and this process of human teachings and traditions replacing the clear sense of scripture has been allowed to continue for some time, the next thing one knows you have something like Roman Catholicism.
Here are a couple of links where I discuss this issue at length:
Is Michael Jesus?
What does it mean that Jesus is the Bright Morning Star?
Yours in Jesus Christ the truly human Son of God, our LORD and Savior,
Hello Dr. Luginbill,
I hope you have a God blessed Thanksgiving holiday. Sometime I would ponder the bible about answers to questions and pray over them, and strangely sometimes I get these thoughts in my head that pops up that seems like answers. I am careful to test it with scripture to avoid deceiving spirits that try to masquerade as the Holy Spirit. I believe it was Albert Barnes that said in his commentary that Michael who is mentioned in the book of Daniel is none other than Jesus. He said it has to be because Michael means"Who is like unto the Lord?", and Barnes said along the lines of, "none other than our Lord Jesus Christ". And because of this he said that Michael in the book of Daniel is Jesus Christ. What came to my mind was that the same name Michael is also mention in the New Testament in Jude and Revelation:
Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee. (Jude 1:9)
And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, (Revelation 12:7)
Revelation 12:7 seems to be a parallel of Daniel 12:1
And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. (Daniel 12:1)
Michael in 12:7 HAS to be the same Michael mentioned in Jude and I see no other way around it. Michael in Jude cannot be Jesus because he said, the "Lord" rebuke thee. This tells me that Michael cannot be Jesus. Also when I studied the names of the angels, it doesn't seem to describe "their" attributes, but God's attributes.
Gabriel - God is my strength (this angel is telling us that God is our strength)
Michael - Who is like the Lord? (this angel is telling us that there is NONE like the Lord)
So I respectfully disagree with Barnes on how he said Michael is Jesus because Michael means "he" is like the Lord, which is a wrong interpretation. But "who" is like unto God, which is none but the Lord alone. What do you think?
I forgot to add one more thing about the names of the angels. Since angels are messengers, I think it would be apt that their names are messages, messages about who God is and what He is like.
Yes, I thoroughly agree with you and completely disagree with Barnes. Michael is an archangel, just as we are told he is at Jude 1:9, and there are other such archangels, Gabriel being the other one whose name we are given to know. In my understanding of these matters, there are seven archangels, but only two are named in scripture. The naming of other archangels in extra-biblical materials is erroneous (see the link: Archangels).
Although we do not know the names of other angels, it seems entirely reasonable to suppose that all angels have names just as all human beings are given names. As you rightly observe, Michael, and also Gabriel, have godly names in the manner of many Old Testament believers. "Who is like God?" and "God is my strength" both call attention to the greatness of God.
Jesus is not and has never been an "angel" in the sense that we use that word. The Hebrew word for "angel" means messenger (as does the Greek word from which we get "angel"). When we see in scripture the phrase "the Angel of the Lord", while it is referencing an appearance of our Lord Jesus before His incarnation, it is always, theologically, a Christophany (i.e., our Lord makes an important appearance but does not become "an angel". So Jesus does appear in the Old Testament in Christophany as the Angel of the Lord (see the link), but it is very significant that the Angel of the Lord never appears after the virgin birth because from that point on Jesus is the God-Man incarnate. Since Michael is still around and active in the book of Revelation, for that reason alone he cannot be a Christophany. There is more detail on all this at the following links:
Cases of Christophany in the Old Testament (in BB 1)
Old Testament Appearances of Jesus Christ (in BB 4A)
The Angel of God (in HH 6)
Jesus Christ in the Old Testament (Christophany: Genesis 3:8).
Christophany in Exodus
The Angel of the Lord
The Disappearance of the Angel of the Lord in the New Testament
Jacob and the Angel of the Lord
Jacob wrestles with God
Yours in Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,
Exodus 14:19 has the angel of God and the pillar of cloud as separate things, both present with the Israelites before crossing the red sea. Should I read this as Jesus in human-appearing form separate from the cloud? Does this mean it is possible that Moses was able to speak face to face with Jesus pre-incarnate? In Judges 2:1-4 you have the angel of the Lord addressing all of the Israelites after traveling from Gilgal to Bochim. Should we assume that the pre-incarnate Jesus was traveling with the Israelites through the desert, or visiting them occasionally, or what? Moses talks to God regularly (with God speaking back). Is this possibly sometimes the angel of God (Christ) or is it God the Father? Do you think the "angel of the Lord" spent a great deal of time on earth, like in Judges or are these rare occasions? Just curious.
Yes, this is essentially my understanding of things. Jesus is the visible member of the Trinity:
The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.
Therefore, even when it may seem on those relatively rare occasions when God speaks or appears to Old Testament believers that it is the Father, we should instead assume that it is actually our Lord Jesus representing the Father. For example, reading Isaiah chapter six for the first time we might surely be forgiven for assuming that "the LORD seated on the throne" is the Father, but later we learn from John that this was actually Jesus Christ representing the Father: "Isaiah said this (i.e., Is.6:10 from this very same passage quoted by John in the previous verse) because he saw Jesus' glory and spoke about him." (Jn.12:41 NIV). As to the pillar of the cloud, this was a representation of the presence of the Lord and not the Lord Himself (just as the Lord was in the burning bush but was not the bush):
By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night.
Exodus 13:1 NIV
Moses was able to speak with the Lord "face to face" (Ex.33:11; Num.12:8), because Jesus appeared not in His unveiled glory which no one can see in this flesh and live Isaiah's experience took place in a vision analogous to John in the book of Revelation), but as "The Angel of the LORD". Both of these issues, namely, of the distinction between the Father and the Son and the manner of the Son's appearance along with your question of "where was the Lord" are really interconnected. Jesus is God, and as such is everywhere at once (omnipresence). It is only in His humanity, that is, since His taking on a human nature at the point of the virgin birth, that He is restricted to being in one place at a time (and again, only in His humanity). So in the sense of His omnipresence, He was always with the children of Israel. And in the sense of being present to help them, He did indeed accompany them in a special way of "presence" (Ex.33:15-17). In the sense of providing a visible sign of that presence He provided the pillar of cloud and fire. And, finally, in the sense of appearing in His pre-incarnate form, Jesus did appear on a number of occasions recorded in scripture in Christophany as the Angel of the Lord. Since this "angel" is actually an "appearance" and not a literal angel (in spite of similarity in appearance to those created beings), our Lord did not have to "transport" this manifestation of His presence from one place to another. He merely appeared when and where necessary. You can find out more at the following links:
Cases of Christophany in the Old Testament (in BB 1)
Old Testament Appearances of Jesus Christ (in BB 4A)
The Angel of God (in HH 6)
Jesus Christ in the Old Testament (Christophany: Genesis 3:8).
Christophany in Exodus
The Angel of the Lord
Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
Once again thanks for taking the time to answer all of these questions. I am reading over some of the links you suggested. I do have a few more questions left.
1. The Bible says that many of us have entertained Angels unaware and in Genesis 6 the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful and had children with them. If Angels can take on human form, why did the devil and his angels lust after bodies?
You are very welcome. As to your latest batch of questions . . .
1) Angels can manifest themselves with human appearance (as with our Lord's two companions in Genesis chapter 18), and they have great abilities to affect and manipulate the material world, many of which we no doubt do not even presently understand. Appearing human and being able to affect/interact with human beings in a variety of extraordinary ways is not the same as being human. Affecting a body is not the same as having a body. Angels have a spirit-body, for want of a better term, but not a physical body as we have which houses our human spirit (see the link: "The Nature of Angels"). They apparently cannot experience and enjoy interaction with the physical world in the same way we can, even though their ability to affect it and manipulate it is vastly greater than ours is at present (the resurrection body will not be limited in the way our current one is, however; see the link). That is one of the reasons why we see possession of bodies (animal as well as human) as being at a premium for the demons, and why, as I have speculated in the SR series, offering them something they did not have but could easily be induced to want was Satan's great lever used to seduce so many angels into following him in revolt (see the link). Not that such possessions could ever approach being the same as God's gift to us of an actual physical body!
2. Why did God allow the deaths of such believers as Abel, John the baptist and Stephen?
2) God could, of course, prevent anything sinful from happening. "Why did God let this happen?" is one of the most common questions believers ask, and, usually, "why did He let it happen to me?" God is control of all things and every single thing that happens is vital to the plan of God. If we really do trust that God is all-knowing, that He has planned the beginning from the end, that nothing happens without His prior decree, and, most particularly in the case of believers, that He really is working absolutely everything out for the good, especially for us who love Him, then we can put fear and worry completely aside and rejoice in everything that happens, knowing that whatever happens it is God's will for us (1Thes.4:3), and that He is using even seeming disaster to further the ultimate and absolute good of those who love Him (Rom.8:28). When it comes to the three specific examples you ask about, Abel, John and Stephen, we can say for certain that each died as a true martyr in the biblical sense of that word, namely, in witnessing to the power of faith in the truth so their reward is great indeed. And that witness continues through the testimony of scripture down to the present day:
By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead.
Hebrews 11:4 NIV
Moreover, Stephen's example no doubt helped prepare the heart of the most productive apostle, Paul (Acts 7:58 - 8:1), and John's death was necessary to bring on the year of intense opposition, the final year of the Messiah's first advent (whereas prior to this time John's continued existence even in prison deflected much of the attention of the religious class from focusing their attacks on Jesus). So while there is much we do not know, the Bible gives us enough to conclude that even tragedies, disasters and untimely deaths are not random but completely in line with everything that the Lord is doing with human history, bringing into His kingdom every single person who would be saved while proving conclusively the unwillingness to be saved of every single person who is not even if it sometimes results in situations we cannot explain and deaths which seem to us to be untimely. He knows everything, and He cares for us more than we can know, having judged His own dear Son in our place that we might be saved.
Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.
Psalm 116:15 NIV
There is much more about all these issues in BB 4B: Soteriology.
3. How was Abel's lamb offering brought in faith?
3) The coats of skin wherewith God clothed Adam and Eve immediately after their expulsion from the garden is traditionally called the protoevangelium or "first giving of the gospel" (Gen.3:15). That is because animal sacrifice was the symbol chosen by God to teach the death of Christ before the cross. Christ is the Lamb of God who is slaughtered in our place, whose (symbolic) blood shed for us cleanses us from our sins. Those who offered animals in this way according to God's teaching were not only honoring His will but also partaking in a ritual which taught about salvation through foreshadowing Christ's coming sacrifice on our behalf. So accepting the regime of animal sacrifice was an act of faith and faithfulness (whereas rejecting it and substituting instead one's own works as Cain did was an act of self-righteousness and unbelief).
4. What is Gods purpose and significance for groups of 3, ie Peter, James and John or Noah, Job and Daniel?
4) I'm not sure that I would place any great significance in the number of these groups of three. Both examples you give are of great believers, but I would focus on the individuals themselves in any interpretation of these passages and not on the number three. There is often significance to biblical numbers, but when there is it is usually something obvious and obviously present. In the history of biblical interpretation in the last two millennia, there has been far more damage done to the truth by assuming significance to numbers where it did not exist than there has been by overlooking some important symbolism. Not that it is not an interesting question and I will mull it but offhand I don't know of any particular significance for either case.
5. 66 seems like an odd number of books for the Bible, 39NT and 27OT. With 6 usually representing the secular and the number of man, would you have an idea why God would choose this number of books for the Bible? Furthermore, is the book of psalms 5 separate books or 1 collection of 5 parts?
5) Here is an example of what I mean. The number of books is somewhat arbitrary where the Old Testament is concerned. For example, in the Hebrew there is only "Kings" and "Chronicles" and "Samuel", not a splitting of them up into twos. Since our English system is therefore not divinely inspired, the numbering cannot be of any divine significance. As to Psalms, it is true that there are five "books" of Psalms, but in all ancient formats these are subdivisions. That is to say, I have never heard of anyone trying to make Psalms five separate books. So this is another indication that the number of the books is spiritually insignificant.
6. Why did Paul say that women should keep their heads covered because of the Angels? Does this have anything to do with attraction of Angels to women? ie Genesis 6
6) While I would not rule that out absolutely, because the Genesis 6 episode has not been repeated and will not be (with the definite exception of antichrist and possibly also the ten kings of Revelation) I would sooner think it is because the angels, elect as well as fallen, are watching and observing human history with keen interest (see the links: "angels are learning about God from observing the unfolding of His plan of salvation on earth" and "Angels are observing us"). Paul is getting his readers to remember that everything we do is being watched, and that is a very valuable help in motivating us to do things right at all times, if we remember it. One of the key things that human history is accomplishing from the standpoint of the angels is the justification of God's condemnation of fallen angels. By demonstrating that He could and now actually has provided a means of restoration to fallen creatures with free will the redemption of human beings willing to accept His grace in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ God is putting the lie to the devil's representations that His condemnation of the devil and his followers was somehow "unfair". As human history is proving, God certainly could have and without doubt would have provided at His own cost a means of reconciliation had the fallen angels been willing to be reconciled.
7. Why was idol worship a constant struggle for Israel and also for people today? After all that God has done for Israel, why was it so easy for them to be tempted by idols? How can people worship objects of animals made of wood and the likes? They have eyes but they cant see, they have ears but can't hear. This is one of those things that has always been puzzling to me.
Thanks again in advance
7) Idol worship was indeed a huge problem for Israel before the Babylonian captivity (afterwards, legalism, erring on the other side of the equation, has been the main problem). Human beings have free will, and that means that in most cases most people are going to reject God's WILL for their lives which includes first and foremost their salvation in preference for their own will to do as they see fit without having to worry about God. When they do reject His truth, it is inevitable that they seek a substitute "truth" which is of course only a lie, and the devil has always been very active in supporting and furthering systems of anti-truth to snare all who are not interested in spending eternity with the Lord. Many people are attracted by the idea of the supernatural, and that is of course the key idea behind all idolatry. Most people want a spiritual dimension to their lives they just don't want it to involve God. The advantage of idolatry is that there all sorts of made-up gods who embody, represent, promise all manner of things (albeit as lies), so that whatever the person in question wants or is interested in, there is an idol/false god/false religion which will satisfy that desire. Those of us whose hearts are true have come to the one true God on His terms: accepting the only way of salvation, Jesus Christ the God-man and faith in His work on the cross.
In Him who is our all and our everything, Jesus Christ the Lord.
Hello again Dr. Luginbill,
I forgot to ask this in my other email. Since God is eternal (even in the past) and is there for worship. Was there always worship towards God in eternity past?
Worship is something creatures do in appreciation of God. So there was no worship before creation. There most certainly was worship before the Genesis gap, and it may have been one of the things which stoked Satan's resentment toward God and lust for being worshiped himself. After all, his ultimate objective was to replace God (as ridiculous as that sounds to Christians with an understanding of His majesty), and the devil delights in being worshiped by human beings (hence the big push during the Tribulation to force everyone into the worship of his son, the beast).
Yours in our dear Lord Jesus Christ,
Hello Dr. Luginbill,
This isn't really a doctrinal question, just something that came to my mind that had me thinking. Is there a reason why the winged creatures in Revelation are referred to as "living" creatures? It seems that other creatures should also be referred to as "living" but aren't. Do these creatures have some sort of special relation to the eternal God?
The "living creatures" are the cherubs (cherubim), aka the seraphs (seraphim). Here are some links on these highest ranking elect angels:
The Four Living Creatures
The reason why John calls them zoa, literally, "animals" (the Latin word animal means "a creature with a spirit" or "living creature"), seems to be because he is emphasizing their facial appearance. So the phrase in English "living creature" is merely a way to bring out (and probably over-translate) the Greek word zoa (from which we get zoo and zoology, by the way). The Greek word merely indicates animate creatures who breath as opposed to plants or insects.
Yours in Jesus our dear Lord,
Hello Dr. Luginbill,
Is there a difference between the biblical term devil and demon? The KJV uses devil in place of demon in several passages. I've also heard that there is really only one devil, which is Satan. Revelation states that the serpent is also referred to as "the devil". Are devil and demon synonymous or different in meaning?
Yes, KJV uses "devil" for the Greek words daimon and daimonizo, the noun and verb for "demon" respectively. That was apparently the convention in the 16th century. Today, we make a point of keeping "the devil" and "the followers of the devil" distinct. The definite article is how the KJV distinguishes, so "the devil" in Revelation 12:9 is indeed "the devil", regardless of version.
In Jesus our dear Lord,
Hello again Dr. Luginbill,
My apologies, I meant to add this in my other email but forgot. The bible says that man was created in the image of God. Angelic beings were created before man, would it be safe to say that they are also created in God's image?
In my view, the "image of God" is all about the free will that we human beings have been given to be 'eliym, or "little gods" in the sense of having a will which corresponds to (and is meant to respond to) God's WILL but only through our choice (that is what faith is all about). I have written this up at some length at the following two places in some detail:
The Image and Likeness of God (in BB 3A)
Free Will Faith and the Will of God (in BB 4B)
The Bible says very little about the creation of angels or even directly about the process wherein some chose not to rebel while some chose to follow Satan instead (the Satanic Rebellion series spells out all that I believe can be said about these matters; see the link). Because of the significant differences between angels and human beings (most importantly for these purposes their longevity existing from the beginning of creation and their perfect knowledge of God), and because of the significant difference in what constitutes their elect status (i.e., staying holy as opposed to accepting through faith God's Substitute offered by grace), I usually don't put it precisely this way, even though you probably have a point. The key issue in my view is that both angels and mankind share the critical factor of determining our own eternal destiny through our own choice. That is indeed what distinguishes God's "moral creatures" from His other creations in the animal realm.
Yours in our dear Lord Jesus Christ,
Another set of questions: You wrote: 'And when earth was filled with a population of obedient, God-serving, morally responsible creatures, all responding to the Lord in the exact way that Satan and his followers should have done, well, the lake of fire had already been put into place at this point (Matt.25:41; Rev.20:10), and judgment on Satan had already been passed (Jn.16:11)'.
I assume then that John 16:11 can be applied to a time as far back as the creation of man?
Always good to hear from you, my friend. As to your questions: Yes indeed. In my understanding of these matters, scripture presents the "trial" of Satan and his angels as already over. As my mentor Col. Thieme often said, we have now to do with the "appeals process" of creature history, namely, God's demonstration through the course of human history of the justice of His own actions and the invalidity of all of Satan's lies (these matters are covered in the Satanic Rebellion series; see the link).
You wrote: ' He could have made angels incapable of falling and human beings incapable of sinning but not and have them also possess the true divine spark, the true "image and likeness of God", for that image and likeness are inextricably wrapped up in the ability to choose for Him (or to refuse to do so)'.
Is my understanding correct - you wrote 'but not have them also possess the true divine spark', because it would not be possible for the human being to be both incapable of sinning and possessing the true divine spark, as possessing the divine spark is associated with choice, rather than being a 'machine' that doesn't make mistakes (and choice can be either way)?
Yes! It is all about free will and our having a choice as to whether or not to be with God forever.
You wrote: 'God, in all three Persons, existed in perfect divine bliss before He brought the finite universe into being, and just as He had no need to create the world, so also He was under no necessity to make finite creatures to populate it'.
A question crossed my mind recently - does the Bible say anything about why God created the world, angels and, subsequently, human beings? Or is it a question that is without an answer (and maybe should be just left like that).
Paul says in 2nd Corinthians 2:5, "Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose (i.e., the resurrection) and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. " (NIV). Since God made us with the purpose of giving us eternal life so as to be able to live with Him forever, and since in order to do this Jesus had to become a human being and suffer and die for the sins of the entire world, I would have to say that love is His motivation. Good parents do all sorts of sacrificial things for their children. Why? Love is often the only answer that can be given to that question too, and God is our Heavenly Father while Jesus is the Husband to us His Bride the Church and after all families and family relationships (i.e., parents love for children; husbands love for wives) were invented by God in no small part to teach us about these things.
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."
John 3:16 NIV
Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
John 15:13 NIV
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8 KJV
And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.
1st John 4:16 KJV
The amazing sacrifice of the Father of the Son and the Son for us demonstrates beyond all argument that we are not after-thoughts or toys or pets. Jesus has become one of us and we are of Him forever as a result through faith. God's love is so deep and profound that it had to be shared. Praise Him that we are the beneficiaries of that boundless love!
You wrote: 'The Seed of the woman who will vanquish Satan and his antichrist is our Lord, Jesus Christ, and it is important for this part of the discussion to understand that Jesus is the only "Seed of the woman" (Gal.3:16)'.
Your explanation about the 'Seed of the woman' vanquishing Satan is clear to me, but I cannot understand the meaning of Gal. 3:16 in reference to this issue:
16 Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, "And to seeds," as referring to many, but rather to one, "And to your seed," that is, Christ.
What does Paul refer to here (I assume he's not referring to the Seed vanquishing Satan - is he referring to the covenant in Genesis 17)?
Paul is disabusing the legalists who are disturbing the Galatian believers of the notion that they are in any true spiritual sense "the seed of Abraham", which might empower their arguments for keeping the Law. Abraham, however, was not under the Law (it came 430 years later; cf. what Paul says about this in Rom.4) and the covenant was given to him on the basis of faith not law (Rom.4:3). Moreover, the promise to him was focused on one Seed, that is Christ so that the promise skips over the Law entirely from Abraham who was not under the Law to Christ who fulfilled and brought an end to the Law (Rom.10:4), thus removing any grounds for finding the covenant of Moses still operative or important or related in any way to Abraham and the promises to him.
Could you please clarify Colossians 1:19-20?
Colossians 1:19-20: 19 For it was the Fathers good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, 20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.
What is meant by the reconciliation of things in heaven? If I remember well, angels (I mean the fallen ones here), because of their nature and knowledge far greater than ours, would not respond God's offer to be reconciled, and the ones who did not rebel don't need a Savior (If my understanding is correct). Hence, if not the angelic kind, what 'things in heaven' are reconciled?
The reconciliation of all things through the blood of Christ is total because through the cross Christ has won the victory in the invisible struggle between God and Satan. There would have been no resolution of history without the cross. Reconciling "all things in heaven and on earth" means ipso facto reconciling all things that can be reconciled because they are willing to be reconciled, and the exclusion (and therefore resolution) of all things that cannot and will not be. Most human beings and all of the demons refuse reconciliation, but because of the victory on the cross 1) human beings who refuse salvation can be fairly judged and condemned because they refused God's gracious gift of eternal life, and 2) fallen angels can fairly have the already passed sentence of condemnation carried out upon them because through the process of human history and in Christ's sacrifice the justice and fairness of God has been demonstrated: were fallen angels willing to be reconciled by humbling themselves before God, He certainly could have (and certainly would have) provided a way of reconciliation for good, just as He did for all mankind even though only a small fraction respond to Him so as to be saved.
You wrote: '(Matt.25:41; Rev.14:10 [where "before" is used in the sense of appearing in front of God for judgment, so that the separation of holiness from sin is maintained]'.
Which 'before' do you mean here? Is it the 'in the presence of' that appears in some translations in Rev.14:10?
Yes. Many translations do have "in the presence of". The Greek improper-preposition enopion (ἐνωπιον) can be translated either way. I felt the need for this parenthetical explanation because many people (wrongly) take this passage to mean that the torment will go on forever "in front of the holy angels and the Lamb", whereas this is really a brachylogy for the last judgment "before the Lamb" at the conclusion of which each unbeliever will be cast into the lake of fire.
Thank you for a very detailed response on Revelation 14:10. I deeply appreciate how exhaustive your answers are - this makes a difference.
One more question on this would be of 'logistical nature' - as you pointed providing a number of passages, eternal condemnation will not take place in heaven, but I assume the moment of the unbelievers being thrown into the lake of fire will be witnessed by 'the angels and the Lamb'? From the point of view of the meaning of what the scripture says, the issue is clear to me now, from the point of the wording of Revelation 14:10 - ' tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of', I wanted to clarify whether my understanding based on your response is correct. Hence my question is about 'the angels and the Lamb' witnessing the torment, or rather the very initial portion of it, following immediately after the judgment. From the 'logistical' point of view, am I correct to understand that during the moment of judgment, the lake of fire will be visible and the judgment and initial portion of the eternal condemnation in the lake of fire will be visible 'to the angels and the Lamb', for this state to change irreversibly and the two realities to be separated? This links with your words: 'we will all be standing there in resurrection watching not only the trial but the immediate execution of judgment', but since, as you said, there will only be one place from where the lake of fire will be visible, I just wanted to clarify if this one place which Isaiah 66:24 seems to suggest refers to eternity rather than that period of time when judgment is taking place. As always, your patience is appreciated and let me emphasize again - even if I ever return to a question already asked (and that doesn't happen often in the first place), your answers, as it was the case in this instance, do transform my understanding. For example, I would have never linked the passages you provided with this problem, as my knowledge of the Scripture is yet far too limited (and I wouldn't remember them to bring them to the discourse) and even now - thanks to your explanation - I'm asking for you to confirm or correct the way I understand the passage, rather than asking for an explanation of something that truly is 'a stick in the craw'. In every case such a 'stick' appears, I always attribute it to my limited understanding anyway. It is one of the most rewarding aspects of our correspondence and my study of your resources - things that bother me as I cannot initially understand them, do become clear - hence I couldn't help but share my happiness with you just a few days ago, when I felt astounded at how cohesive the Bible is, and this coherence is something I have only hardly experienced.
Yes. That is precisely the way I understand these things (see the link: in CT 6 "The Destruction of the Universe and the Interlude of Final Judgment"). Daniel 7:9-14, which presents the judgment of the beast, gives us an idea of what this will look like, with the lake of fire now ready to hand before the throne (see the link: "The Lake of Fire") and with each unbeliever being cast into the lake upon the verification of the sentence as the angels and elect humanity look on. As to the meaning of Isaiah 66:24 (which I take to refer to eternity; see the link), this tells me that it will be possible to see the lake in the eternal state, though we will probably seldom if ever care to do so (cf. the situation vis-a-vis Paradise and Torments described in Lk.16:23-26).
Finally, on "sticks in the craw", you are right to worry about them and not just dismiss them. As I have said many times now no doubt passages which seem "not to fit" are often our best friends if we will let them be so. That is because they often require us to rethink our doctrines and our evidence from the ground up. That is not a bad thing at all, even if we come to precisely the same conclusions as before (because we grow in confidence and faith in the principle in question having had it confirmed "through fire"), and especially if they cause us to make adjustments in our thinking: even if these are small, we are thereby growing ever closer to the truth. Also, you are certainly entitled to your own level of satisfaction with the answers you receive. After all, we are each responsible to the Lord for what we believe. Generally speaking, a layman who is only able to give a small amount of time to the Lord in pursuit of the truth will be best served by conducting a very thorough search for a good source of the clean fresh water of the Word, then humbly accepting as much of it as he/she can without letting such "sticks" detract from or distract from believing everything else which does not "stick". But of course teachers "incur a stricter judgment" (Jas.3:1), so it behooves us to be sterner with ourselves than with others. Finding the right balance is difficult, but you seem to me to be doing it just right (not that I am the one to judge this). Ideally, we will "squeeze the lemon dry" and discard only the pits and pulp. Learning to tell the difference with precision may take some time.
Regarding Colossioans 1:20, you replied: 'The peace and reconciliation of "all things" to God in Colossians 1:20 comes through Christ's victory at the cross. The conflict in angelic creation is now resolved (peace through Jesus' victory) and humanity is now reconciled (forgiveness through the Substitute). Needless to say, this "peace" is only blessed and beneficial for the elect angels would did not rebel against Him, and this reconciliation is only effective for those human beings willing to accept Him.'
Why did the elect angels need reconciliation in the first place, as they have not rebelled?
As you say, 'We are like Him in what matters most the ability to choose in such a fundamental way that we could not be more so and still be limited to time and space.'
The elect angels did not need any personal reconciliation, but Satan's revolt created two "problems" that need to be resolved ("reconciliation") in order for God's plan to bring about its ultimate objective: the perfect and eternal universe populated by willing subjects intimately united to God through Jesus Christ who is the Rock upon which everything is built: 1) Satan was correct in assuming that what had been lost in his defection needed to be made good or replaced; he was gravely mistaken in his estimation of what God could and would do to effect that replacement. The creation of mankind as a replacement for the devil and his angels effectuates an "after" which is twice as good as the "before" since saved humanity will exactly double the number of fallen angels and bring about the restoration of the integrity and completeness of the family of God in marvelous and superabundant way; 2) Satan and his followers were not interested in responding to God's willingness for them to seek His mercy so as to be reconciled, and their corporate unwillingness to yield even after their collective condemnation meant that a demonstration of God's mercy was necessary not only for the condemned but also for those who had not fallen away in order that God's justice might be vindicated in spite of the devil's false claims. Human history, that is, the salvation provided by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the willingness of the elect to receive it, brings perfect completion to the judicial process at the same time as it brings a superabundant restoration to the gap in the family of God left by the devil's rebellion. So while it is not a matter of forgiveness, even elect angels benefit from this process of "Judgment, Restoration, and Replacement" (outlined in the Satanic Rebellion series, see the link) whereby God has reconciled all things to Himself in Jesus Christ and brought about the perfect eternity from the perfect historical process.
Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.
1st Peter 1:10-12 NIV
What would 'the next level' be like? I thought that angels are 'closer' to the image of God - but they are subject to time and space too?
In my understanding, the angels' free will is precisely like ours. The differences come from the other differences of our respective natures which makes our human decision making process progressive and changeable whereas theirs is comprehensive. The main upshot of this difference is that there would be no redemption possible for angels since the elect did not need it and the reprobate were incapable of change after rebellion not because God prohibited but because of their essential nature. Mankind provides the proof of God's willingness to redeem those who are willing to come back to Him and seek His forgiveness, and also, complementary to this, the entire justness of His condemnation of Satan and his followers: if they had repented, He would and could have saved them (for He did it for us, after all).
In your last response you wrote: 'c) And even so no one could actually make a choice unless God decreed it according to His foreknowledge of what the person would choose in absolute free will since there can be no partial history, only the actual, complete and total whole which comprises everyone and everything (including the devil).'
What do you mean by 'decreed' here? I thought that since we are given the free will, we make the choices and God knows these choices before they've been made, but I'm not sure what you mean by God 'decreeing' our choices.
What you wrote before: 'Moral creatures operating in terms of making genuine choices can only do so in an environment of time and space which is under God's complete control'
I can now understand with regard to the provisions that God made for us which you listed - God's control means giving us time and space to making our choices, creating us in the first place and creating the world. It's just the 'decreeing' of our choices that I'm unsure about.
Everything that happens is decreed. There are no mistakes and no accidents. Everything which happens in history, including the material history of the universe down to the smallest movement of the smallest sub-atomic particle, has to have been decreed by God for it to take place. This seems to some like determinism, but that is not the case. God anticipated (the theological doctrine is "foreknowledge", see the link) every action of every moral agent and allowed that action to happen having "programmed" it into the overall plan in a way that ensured the salvation of all who would be saved and allowed for all of our free will decisions to take place exactly as we chose to make them. As I am wont to say, God made us who we chose to be, and that is true in all things large and small.
Linked to the above, should 'God's complete control' be understood as what you described as 'baking everything in the cake' and designing the whole plan? I'm asking in order to understand the relationship between God's complete control and our free will, which God doesn't violate. I understand God's control as the design of the plan and positioning all of human beings (but that refers to angels also) in specific time and space.
Yes. The control is complete but the control absolutely and perfectly allows complete and unhindered free will. Indeed, without the decree, there could be no such free will because we can only exist in the time and space that God decrees and, often missed in discussions of this sort, God could only decree the entire comprehensive whole and could only do so in an absolutely perfect way, being perfect as He is. Jesus died for every sin, past and future. Therefore God knew in perfect and complete detail at the time of the cross not only every thought of every moral creature in the past (for example) but also every flawed and sinful word of every moral creature in the future from that time down until now (for example) including also all that is yet to come.
In your last response you wrote: 'Satan was correct in assuming that what had been lost in his defection needed to be made good or replaced'. How do we know about Satan's awareness of the need for replacement? Also, what was his plan regarding this matter, as he know that his replacement was needed?
The fact that Satan "cares" about mankind (in the sense of seeking to destroy us) certainly indicates his awareness of our status as a threat to him. Otherwise, why bother? The creation of Adam and Eve similarly constituted creatures who possessed free will and the ability to respond to God in the very place where he had launched his rebellion was certainly no accident. After all, the seven days of restoration occurred as a complete surprise to the devil. The universe had been plunged into darkness as a result of judgment and filled up with the universal deep; he and his were no doubt expected the immediate execution of the sentence this judgment upon the world of that time foreshadowed. Instead, mankind furnished a sort of "appeals process" wherein God demonstrates His willingness to save all willing to repent and turn to Him (something the devil and his angels are not willing to do, being angels whose decision-making process is inestimably more rigid and once-and-for-all than is the case with human beings). The devil's "plan" is entirely reactive: thwart the Plan of God and head off the process of replacement by all possible means. This is actually written up in detail in part 5 of Satan's Rebellion: "Satan's Counter-Strategy".
Could you please clarify:
Eph. 3:10: so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.
Who does Paul mean by 'through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places'? Is this passage suppose to mean that the wisdom of God (now shown in full in Jesus) is now known to Satan? So the problem that you described as 'God being in the box' when Satan rebelled has now been solved in front of Satan's eyes through God's mercy in the sacrifice of our Lord? Just as in Eph. 3, in Col. 2:14-15 the same terms are used - 'rulers and authorities', which prompted me towards this interpretation. Please clarify and correct my understanding.
Maybe this could include the faithful angels too, as through our Lord God's wisdom and ability to be both merciful and righteous was shown (I don't know if the angels that did not rebel knew it or not?).
Yes. As well as representing mid-level commanders in Satan's hierarchy (see the link), "rulers and authorities" are the two highest "operational" ranks among the elect angels (i.e., the archangels and those directly below them) so that these two terms are used in tandem as short-hand for all angelic kind. I think that fallen angels are not being left out of the equation here. The phase indicates that this is being made known "at the highest levels" of those involved in the angelic warfare. This and other passages make it clear that mankind's purpose cannot be fully understood without reference to the rebellion of Satan, to which we human beings collectively form the divine counterpoint (or "appeals process" as my old pastor used to say), and that angels are very much interested in everything going on here on earth for that reason (see the link). We are demonstrating by our response to God that not only would some creatures made in His image be willing to respond to Him to be saved but also that He is able to make that salvation available even though it cost Him more than we can come close to appreciating in the death of His one and only dear Son our Lord Jesus.
Could you please clarify Zechariah 3?
1 Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and [a]Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. 2 The LORD said to Satan, "The LORD rebuke you, Satan! Indeed, the LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you!
Where the English translation states 'The Lord said to Satan', the Polish one says 'the angel of the Lord'. Is the angel of the Lord saying these words (if so, then why does it just say 'the LORD'), or is it God saying them? If so, why does He says 'The LORD rebuke you', when He is the one rebuking?
The Polish translation is adding the words "Angel of". They are not there in the Hebrew. However, we do know from verse one and verse three that it is "the Angel of the Lord" who is doing the talking, and the fact, as you note, that the Person says "the Lord rebuke you" must be taken into account. My understanding of this passage is that we have a very typical case of Satan appearing as he often does before God the Father in order to slander believers; appearing in defense of Joshua then was our Lord Jesus Christ (who also is our Advocate now: Rom.8:34; 1Jn.2:1; cf. Job 16:19; 1Tim.2:5). Before the incarnation, our Lord appeared as "an angel", or better, "the Angel of the Lord" (see the link) not an actual angel but a visible manifestation in creature form (see the link: "Christophany"). That is the Person appearing and speaking here in my view, so that describing Him either as "the Lord" or "the Angel of the Lord" is equally appropriate.
Did the elect angels know that God would sacrifice His Son for the reconciliation of mankind? My assumption is that the fallen angelic kind did not think it would happen, but I'm wondering whether we can discern what was the thinking of the faithful angels.
My impression is that the creation of mankind came as complete surprise to all angelic kind and so did the initiation of the plan of redemption after the fall. Before the rebellion, all angels were holy, but if the angels who ended up following Satan had realized that God could and would judge them and the universe for rebelling in spite of the devil's clever assurances that such action was incompatible with God's character they most likely never would have followed him. They did not realize that God could judge and be the loving and merciful God He is because He can also provide a means of reconciliation. Also, if by then fallen angels had realized that God was going to rescue fallen mankind after the temptation by sending Jesus to die for all sin, they might have been motivated to restrain Satan from tempting Eve or at least have sought their own form of reconciliation before it was too late and the demonstration phase of the "appeals process" began: human history / the redemption of the righteous through faith by the grace provision of Jesus Christ. In both instances, not trusting God or believing His Word was the problem: not trusting what He said was true, not accepting that His character was perfect, not believing that He would and could be merciful to all who sought His mercy in truth. This sort of thinking which essentially calls God a liar and then inevitably takes the word of an actual liar instead is at the heart of all unbelief, and it always leads to the same place: damnation.
Could you please clarify what is meant by 'things into which angels long to look' in 1 Peter 1:12 in the context of the paragraph in which it is used?
Peter is referring to angelic interest in the plan of salvation. That is to say, angels are not interested in baseball or soccer or music or politics or business they are interested in what is really important, namely, God's working out of His plan to save elect mankind in replacement of the fallen angels. The pivot of that plan was the cross, and now that Jesus has fulfilled the plan, we, His followers, are the targets of the evil one's legions and the points of interest for the elect angels (whose help we receive).
Regarding Ephesians 1:9-10 and Colossians 1:19-20 - I think the meaning of these two passages is now clear to me. The last thing that I wanted to confirm is that the 'things in heaven' can be thus understood as pre-Christ believers, who needed His sacrifice to be reconciled (as you said, Old Testament believers were saved 'on credit'). And the second meaning of the 'things in heaven', referring to elect angels is that although they need no reconciliation, they will be 'summed up' with the earthly things, as the barrier between the two has been removed through our Lord's sacrifice, so the heavenly and earthly things are reconciled by the earthly things now being allowed to be 'one' with heavenly things, to 'move up' to the heavenly things (as the elect angels don't need reconciliation, if my understanding is correct).
Yes, though I would not want to get too particular about it and restrict Colossians 1:19-20 too much; as can be seen from Ephesians 1:9-10 Paul is summing up the whole plan of God with this language in respect to the deliverance of the elect. The result of the cross Christ's great victory whereby the entire plan of God is won and fulfilled is the complete restoration of all that was lost in the rebellion of Satan including the harmony of the original Eden before Satan's fall (and not only that, but the result of this process of judgment, restoration and replacement [based on Christ's sacrifice] is something far better than what was lost: the New Jerusalem in the New Heavens and New Earth; see the link). Part 5 of Satan's Rebellion deals with the three phases of the plan of God in judgment, restoration and replacement (see the link).
You wrote: Also, if the by then fallen angels had realized that God was going to rescue fallen mankind after the temptation by sending Jesus to die for all sin, they might have been motivated to restrain Satan from tempting Eve -- or at least have sought their own form of reconciliation -- before it was too late and the "appeals process" began: human history / the redemption of the righteous through faith by the grace provision of Jesus Christ.'
Is the reason for the potential desire to restrain Satan from tempting Eve that once Eve was tempted, the 'appeals process' began and there was no turning back? So if my understanding is correct - they could have believed that reconciliation was possible and could have sought it, rather than in their unbelief claiming it was not possible all the way until the human history began (and now that it began and our Lord paid for the sins there is no more room for them to believe - reconciliation and mercy have been proven as a fact, so it's no longer a matter of belief - for them it's a matter of knowledge).
Just a final thought on Revelation 22:11 - what would you say is the primary purpose of these words? Since you say that the unbelievers are encouraged to reconsider their view, would you say there is an element of irony in these words?
Also, since the word 'let' is used - could these words also stress the free will choice of believers and unbelievers, emphasising that the whatever happens, the responsibility is ours?
Yes, with one caveat: I think the problem for the fallen angels is that their point of no return was reached the moment mankind fell. Of course, in God's perfect plan, all moral creatures end up making their true and heart-felt choice. That is to say, none of the fallen angels was ever going to change anyway so that this is a hypothetical consideration. It's important to the degree that it demonstrates the lengths God goes to in order to lead even the reprobate to salvation not just to demonstrate His justice but out of a love deeper than we can imagine. Finally, yes, the "let" here indicates to me that there is hope because unbelievers may respond to this challenge and yet be saved (as long as they are alive, there is hope).
Could you please clarify:
1 Ephesians 3:10: so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.
Who does Paul mean by 'the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places'? Is it the angelic kind? If so, does it mean it's the church which will explain or make known to the angelic kind the mystery of the Son of God?
Yes, that is precisely it. The justice of God's judgment upon Satan and His angels, as well the depth of His grace and mercy in saving believing mankind are being made known to all angelic kind through God's working out of the Plan of Salvation in human history.
In your last response you wrote: '1d) Yes, with one caveat. I think the problem for the fallen angels is that their point of no return was reached the moment mankind fell.'
Why is it the moment mankind fell rather than the moment mankind was created? Is it to do with the fact that the fall of mankind triggered the most important part of the plan - our Lord's coming?
Yes. That is one reason I would place the termination point of any chance of repentance on the part of the devil and his fallen angels at the fall of mankind. Also importantly mankind's creation was in some respects a peace-offering from the Lord (see the link: "God's Last Olive-Branch"). When He judged the universe, blacking it out entirely and flooding it with the universal deep, there must have been nothing but an expectation of immediate execution of sentence on the part of Satan and his followers. The re-creation of the heavens and the earth to habitable status and the creation of mankind could thus have been taken two ways: 1) as a demonstration that God could indeed replace him and his minions, and an indication that since he and his had not yet been destroyed that now it was high time to repent; or 2), what the devil and his followers actually did do, namely, take this as confirmation of their assumption that they were indispensable to God's plan, especially if He were unable to actually carry through on the incipient replacement represented by Adam and Eve: if they could corrupt these two right from the start, God's plan would fall apart or so they foolishly thought (not anticipating Christ's incarnation and sacrifice). Clearly, arrogance corrupts logic and judgment. Anyone with an ounce of humility having experienced the awesome nature of God's judgment on the entire original universe and His overwhelmingly gracious and completely unexpected reconstruction of it should have fallen at His feet and pleaded for mercy, realizing the impossibility of competing with His wisdom and power. That Satan and company did no such thing but still thought they could outsmart and outmaneuver the Lord speaks volumes about their hardness of heart.
In your last reply you wrote: 'In fact, there are scriptural indications that the number of these millennial believers will precisely equal the number of believers in the Church'.
How do we know this?
I derive this first from the fact that this is the only way for fallen angels to be replaced one-for-one by the Church, and for Christ's double-portion to be precisely that, an exact doubling of the Church in the Friends of the Bride (i.e., the Millennial believers). Secondly, these proportions are also taught by the Jewish Ceremonial calendar which represents the relative size of the echelons of the family of God by its distribution of festivals and the gaps between them (as this is somewhat of a complicated argument please see the link: "The Jewish Ceremonial Calendar" in SR 5).
Could you please clarify why in 1Pet.3:22 the 'arch' part is left out? You wrote: 'All three categories listed by Peter in this verse are "angels", so it begs the question as to what sort of "angels" these "angels" are in the context of the other two groups being "authorities and powers". The point Peter is making is Jesus' supremacy over all angelic ranks, and he does this by listing three of the highest angelic ranks first. Since in the context the "angels" are first in order and are followed by ranks lower than archangel, assuming them to be archangels would be the natural way for his readers to take the passage. I.e., in such a context "angel" is short hand for "archangel". We see this in Revelation quite a bit (i.e., where a particular type or class of angel is often called only "angel"). Perhaps the reason for this is that the archangels are the ones who most commonly appear in scripture (whether named for unnamed). Given the three names, I think it very unlikely for the "angels" to be merely "rank and file", especially as they come first in the order.'
Since you write that Peter is listing three highest angelic ranks, why aren't these angels 'cherubs' then?
It's a fair question. My guess is that this is because the cherubs are protectors and not "operational". That is to say, they never leave the throne of God and are not engaged in the conflict here on earth. It is "up and over" this whole realm of conflict that our Lord ascended, so that His superiority to all angels "here below" involved in the fight is the operative point.