The Bible tells us that there are guardian angels. If one of their functions is to
protect Christians, can we directly solicit or petition them in our times of need?
1. Examine the background to the Apostle Paul’s letters to the Galatians, 2 Corinthians
and Colossians to understand the context of
2 Corinthians 11:14,
Galatians 1:8, and
In what context does Paul refer to angels?
A common problem of the early church was doctrinal heresy. In these instances, Paul made a
reference to angels.
2 Corinthians was in part written in
response to a report from Titus who informed Paul that there were false teachers slandering Paul and challenging
his authority. 2 Corinthians was written in the defense of his apostolic ministry. These "deceitful" teachers
took pride in their Jewish heritage, placed a value on spiritual knowledge and experience, and preached "another
Jesus" and "another Gospel." Against this heresy, Paul draws a comparison: if Satan can disguise himself as an
angel of light, then his human agents of evil, these false teachers, can disguise themselves as ministers of
In Galatia, false teachers were distorting the Gospel by preaching salvation by works of the
Law. This perversion of the Gospel so concerned Paul that he denounced
(Gal 1:1-24) anyone including angels from heaven who promoted
this heresy; they would be accursed. Paul felt that any human or angel who perverted this important doctrine of
salvation by grace deserved the condemnation of eternal destruction.
Troubling the Colossian church was a mixture of Judaism and Gnostic mysticism. False teachers
were teaching the importance of Jewish food regulation and festivals as part of salvation and that Jesus was a
higher being but not God. Paul strongly refutes (Col 2:1-23)
this doctrine by emphasizing the supremacy of Jesus. Jesus’ atonement freed mankind from Mosaic legislation.
Furthermore, the search of new spiritual experiences or worshipping angels was a reflection of false humility for
it demonstrated human pride, which was the refusal to submit to the Gospel of Christ.
In these examples, Paul sees that the spiritual world can influence how we understand the Gospel,
the person of Jesus Christ, and the authority of the apostles. Satan and his demons will use any means to blind
people to the Gospel and hinder a Christian’s usefulness and witness.
False teachers are all associated with deceit and deception and very often under the influence
of fallen angels. Satan demonstrated his deceit by distorting God’s word on two occasions: the temptation of Eve
and the temptation of Christ.
For Christians today, it is vitally important to know the theology and doctrine expounded by the
Bible. Both Jesus and the Apostle Paul used the Scriptures (in Paul’s case, the Gospel) as the standard of truth
and as the basis to refute any theology that was contrary to it
(1 John 5:18-20).
2. While the Bible forbids the worship of angels (Rev 22:8-9,
19:10), is prayer a form of worship? Can one still be devoted
to angels and pray and petition them for their help (examine
Rev 8:3-4)? To learn more about prayer, study
1 Timothy 2:5;
1 John 5:14-15.
Throughout the Old Testament, the examples of prayer were directed only towards God. In the
New Testament, Jesus Christ came specifically to be the mediator and intercessor for man, and in their instructions
on prayer, both Jesus and His apostles indicated that man can and should direct their petitions to God. The Bible
never once encouraged humans to seek or petition any other spiritual being.
Some have argued that since Psalm 103:20-21
and 148:1-2 contain invocations to angels, it means that human
beings can personally pray to and petition angels. However this interpretation is not likely.
This interpretation failed to take into account the literary style and structure of these psalms.
Psalm 103 is a psalm of praise that begins with the psalmist
praising God in the singular and continuing to include the greater community of both people and angels.
Psalm 148 is a wisdom psalm that moves from heaven to the people
of the earth. Angels are mentioned for the poetic purpose of symbolizing created beings of the heavenly realms;
the psalmist is calling on all created personal beings to praise the Lord.
In encouraging all created personal beings to praise the Lord, the psalmist is not suggesting
that one can pray to angels with their personal petitions.
In just these two verses, the Psalmist clearly recognizes that holy angels act to carry out only
God's commands with poetic parallelism:
"… who perform His word, obeying the voice of His word!"
"You who serve Him, doing His will."
Other biblical evidence that some use to support the practice of praying to angels includes
Revelation 8:3-4. In this instance, the passage is interpreted
as an example of a holy angel offering the prayers of Christians on earth and interceding on their behalf. This
is a challenging passage to understand, but within the context of the Bible, this interpretation supporting the
praying to angels is not likely.
Revelation 8:3-4 comes at an important
junction when the seventh seal has just been opened and the contents of the scroll will be read. The outpouring
of God’s judgments is about to occur. The Bible is not clear whether the angel with the golden censer was the
recipient of the prayers of the saints or whether it was received elsewhere and added to the incense smoke.
This was no ordinary time, and it was not likely that these were ordinary prayers. Six seals
had been opened and they represented events prior to the outpouring of God’s judgment contained within the scroll.
These events included: war and conquest, famine, death, and natural catastrophes such as earthquakes.
A similar situation can be seen in the Old Testament
Numbers 16 where a group of Israelites, facing God’s judgment,
prayed and petitioned Him while the censers were lit with incense
(Num 16:22). Shortly after, God rendered His judgment. Notice
that the people prayed directly to God not to any other intermediary (i.e. Moses).
Worship is defined as the reverent devotion to God where this reverence is expressed in
ceremonies and rituals. While the New Testament does not define the specific procedures of a worship service,
several elements appear regularly in the worship practices of the early church. They are prayer, which was a
leading element, praises and hymns, Bible studies, prophecy, and tithing. (1)
So while some advocates of praying to angels attempt to draw distinctions between worship
and prayer to avoid the sin of worshipping angels, they cannot explain away the strong role that prayer played
in the first century church worship service. In the context of the first century church, prayer is indeed a part
of and a form of worship.
3. To what extent do unfallen and fallen angels exhibit free will? Examine
In Hebrews 1:14, the translated term "ministering" comes from the Greek term "leitourgikos,"
which means "relating to the performance of service." While holy angels serve Christians, they do so when
specifically sent by God to fulfill His plan or purpose.
In their seeming response to the prayers of mankind, unfallen or holy angels are actually
sent by God to respond if the Christian’s prayer is according to God’s will or pleasure. Thus the free will
exhibited by unfallen angels is that they simply choose to submit to God’s leading. There are no biblical
examples where an unfallen or holy angel acted on their own free will to minister to a Believer apart from
and independent of God or His will.
Consistent with this is the fact that holy angels encourage the worship of God, the only
One worthy of worship, and discourage everything else.
The only angels that have clearly exhibited free will independent of God are fallen angels
who promote evil. Satan is a prime example of this along with biblical examples with his demons. In the instances
in which the Bible records angels exerting a will apart from God, human beings have been harmed or were given
false theological guidance or heretical doctrine.