Do the Angels of God Have Bodies?

John 20:11,12

Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre, and seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): She knew these to be angels by their white and glistening robes.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): Their garments were bright and glittering like lightning, to set forth the glory and majesty of these celestial spirits, and that they might be known to be what they were.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): Now another point that has often been discussed in the long history of the church is the question as to whether the angels have bodies. Have the angels bodies? The question arises because they are often referred to as spirits in the same way as men as referred to as spirits after their death. You remember that reference in 1 Peter 3:19, “the spirits in prison.” There are people who are not in the body, and that has led some people to think that the angels do not have bodies.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): They imagine them to have been mere specters, and not endued with real bodies. But, in my judgment, the thing is far otherwise.

A. A. HODGE (1823-1886): Angels are called in the Scriptures “spirits” πνευματα, Hebrews 1:14, a word which is also used to designate the souls of men when separate from the body. There is however nothing in that word, nor in the opinions of the Jews at the time of Christ, nor in anything which is told us of the nature or the employments of angels in the Scriptures, which prove that angels are absolutely destitute of proper material bodies of any kind.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: On the whole, I am entirely in agreement with those who say that is probably false teaching. The angels have bodies.

A. A. HODGE: How are the apparitions of angels to be accounted for?

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: They have spiritual bodies, as you and I will eventually have spiritual bodies, and as our Lord’s human frame became a spiritual body, a glorified body, so it is certain that the angels have a body which is appropriate for their spiritual condition, and thus you can account for what are called apparitions to different people.

A. A. HODGE: Indeed, as the Son of God is to have “a glorious body,” and “a spiritual body” forever, and since all the redeemed are to have bodies like His, and since the angels are associated with redeemed men as members of the same infinitely exalted kingdom, it may appear probable that angels may have been created with physical organizations not altogether dissimilar to the “spiritual bodies” of the redeemed.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: But at the same time we must remind ourselves of this: that the angels can appear in the form of human beings. You remember, for instance, the three men which appeared before Abraham in the eighteenth chapter of Genesis, and there are other examples of the same thing.

A. A. HODGE: One of the three men who appeared to Abraham at Mamre and who ate the meat he had prepared, was Jehovah, the second Person of the Trinity, Who had no body till He acquired it many centuries afterwards in the womb of the Virgin. If the apparent human body of one of these angels, was not a real permanent human body, there is no ground to argue from the recorded phenomena that the others were.

JOHN CALVIN: Though Christ appeared in the form of an angel, we must remember what the apostle says to the Hebrews, Hebrews 2:16, that “he took not on him the nature of angels,” so as to become one of them, in the manner in which he truly became man; for even when angels put on human bodies, they did not, on that account, become men…God clothes them for a single day or a short period in bodies, for a distinct purpose and a special use.

A. A. HODGE: In certain situations the angels “appeared” precisely like common men, and in other situations they acted very differently in passing through stone walls, appearing and disappearing at will, (Acts 12:7-10; Numbers 22:31; Judges 6:21).

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: In the case of Samson’s father and mother (Judges 13), there was obviously something unusual about the angel’s physical appearance.

MATTHEW POOLE (1624-1679): The angel “ascended in the flame,” Judges 13:20, to manifest his nature and essence to be spiritual, and celestial, because it was not capable of being hurt by the fire.

A. A. HODGE: The bodily appearance of angels, therefore, must have been something newly assumed, or something preexistent and permanent greatly modified for the purpose of enabling them to hold, upon occasion, profitable interaction with men.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: So that, we decide―on the whole―that the angels probably have a spiritual body which is appropriate for their spiritual condition.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): There was an amusing incident in my early Waterbeach ministry which I have never forgotten.

One day, a gentleman, who was then mayor of Cambridge, and who had more than once tried to correct my youthful mistakes, asked me if I really had told my congregation that if a thief got into Heaven, he would begin picking the angels’ pockets. “Yes, sir,” I replied, “I told them that if it were possible for an ungodly man to go to Heaven without having his nature changed, he would be none the better for being there; and then, by way of illustration, I said that were a thief to get in among the glorified, he would remain a thief still, and he would go round the place picking the angels’ pockets!”

“But, my dear young friend,” asked Mr. Brimley, very seriously, “don’t you know that the angels haven’t any pockets?” “No, sir,” I replied, with equal gravity, “I did not know that, but I am glad to be assured of the fact from a gentlemen who does know. I will take care to put it right the first opportunity I get.”

The following Monday morning, I walked into Mr. Brimley’s shop, and said to him, “I set that matter right yesterday, sir.”

“What matter?” he enquired.

“Why, about the angels’ pockets!”

“What did you say?” he asked, in a tone almost of despair at what he might hear next.

“Oh, sir, I just told the people I was sorry to say that I had made a mistake the last time I preached to them; but that I had met a gentleman—the mayor of Cambridge—who had assured me that the angels had no pockets, so I must correct what I had said, as I did not want anybody to go away with a false notion about Heaven. I would therefore say that, if a thief got among the angels without having his nature changed, he would try to steal the feathers out of their wings!”

“Surely, you did not say that?” said Mr. Brimley.

“I did, though,” I replied.

“Then,” he exclaimed, “I’ll never try to set you right again!”―which was just exactly what I wanted him to say.


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