XXIV: Angels

Q: Do Lutherans believe in angels?

A:   Yes, the belief in angels is amply attested in both the Old and New Testaments. From the Greek word for “messenger,” they are represented in the Bible as part of the multitude of beings between God and humans (Gen. 32:2) and as members of the heavenly court who continually sing the praises of God (ls. 6), even being given three proper names - Michael (Dan. 10:13), Gabriel (Dan. 8:16), and Raphael (Tobit. 7:8).

The New Testament authors associate angels with the most important times in Christ's life: they announce His Incarnation (Mt. 1:20-24) and His birth (Lk. 2:9-15); they minister to Him in the desert (Mt. 4:11); strengthen Him in His agony (Lk. 22:23); would defend Him if He were captured (Mat. 26:53); and are the first witnesses to the Resurrection (Mt. 28:2-7; Jn. 20:12ff). In Revelation angels play a predominant role, for their worship in heaven is the prototype of the Church's worship on earth.

Luther's morning and evening prayers included a petition that God let His “holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me.” (LSB p. 295, 298). Numerous hymns refer to angels... and not only in Christmas hymns!

Since biblical times, interest in angels has waned. Lutherans stress that God speaks to us, not through intermediate messengers, but directly: through the preached Word, through the Blessed Sacraments, through the Holy Spirit. Still, whenever we gather to sing “Glory to God in the Highest” or “Holy, Holy, Holy” we join our song with the heavenly angels.

Adapted from About Being Lutheran © Lutheran Liturgical Renewal 1991. Used by permission.