Angelic Messengers

Genesis 16:7-12

And the angel of the LORD found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur. And he said, Hagar, Sarai’s maid, whence camest thou? and whither wilt thou go?

And she said, I flee from the face of my mistress Sarai.

And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands…

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): Here is the first mention we have in Scripture of an angel’s appearance.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): Hagar, being hardly used by her mistress, runs away. She is met by an angel, and counselled to return to her mistress…Angels are in a peculiar sense the attendants and messengers of the Almighty.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): The word מלאך, malak, means a messenger; and angels are called מלאכים, melakim.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): The Bible teaches us that God uses the angels as the instruments of His will.  How has he done so?  Well, here are some of the ways in which He has done so―First of all, we are told that the law was given to the children of Israel through the medium of the angels. If you want the authority for that, you’ll find it Galatians 3:19, in Acts 7:53, and in Hebrews 2:2―Indeed, in Galatians we are told that the law was “ordained by angels.

JOHN CALVIN: Angels were the messengers of God and His witnesses in publishing the law, that the authority thereof might be firm and stable.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Another function of the angels is make known and to reveal God’s purposes.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): Sometimes such are God’s messengers, sent by Him on errands to men, and are interpreters of things to them, as Gabriel was to Daniel (Daniel 8:16; 9:21).

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: We are told about Gabriel that he “stands in the presence of God,” waiting, as it were, to be given a message. And he has been given messages. It was he, you remember, that was given the special message to tell Mary what was to happen to her, and how she was to become the mother to the Son of God…It was he who gave the message to Zacharias―remember that Zacharias was told about the birth of his son, who became known as John the Baptist, through an angel that appeared to him when he was in the temple? God tells His people what He’s going to do, and His purposes, through angels…And, of course, we have this crucial statement in that last verse of the first chapter of Hebrews, where they are described as “ministering spirits”―“Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?

MATTHEW HENRY: They are employed by the Redeemer as His messengers, and they go cheerfully on His errands, because they are His Father’s humble servants, and His children’s hearty friends and well-wishers.

JOHN GILL: And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip,” Acts 8:26. This angel was one of the ministering spirits sent forth by Christ, to serve a gracious purpose of His, and for the good of one of the heirs of salvation.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): How ready are the holy angels to serve the saints, rejoicing more in their names of office than of honour, of employment than preferment―so those heavenly courtiers rejoice rather to be styled angels―that is, “messengers,” and “ministering spirits,” than thrones, principalities, powers.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Do you remember how God revealed His will to Abraham His purpose with regard to Sodom and Gomorrah through angels? Read it in Genesis 18. Do you remember how He revealed His will to Jacob more than once through the medium of angels? Do you remember how He told Gideon what he’d got to do and what God purposed through an angel?

ADAM CLARKE: An angel appears to the wife of Manoah, foretells the birth of her son, and gives her directions how to treat both herself and her child, who was to be a deliverer of Israel. She informs her husband [and] Manoah prays that the Angel may reappear; he is heard, and the Angel appears to him and his wife, and repeats his former directions concerning the mother and the child, Judges 13:2-14.

ROBERT HAWKER (1753-1827): Angels―and it should seem a multitude, though one only came forward to the shepherds to be the speaker―came from heaven to proclaim the wonders of Christ’s birth, Luke 2:8-14.

MATTHEW POOLE (1624-1679): This publication of His birth is made by an angel, but whether the angel Gabriel before mentioned, or another, is not certain.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Let me remind you also how it was an angel that told Joseph that he needn’t worry about the condition of his espoused wife Mary; it was an angel that told him to flee to Egypt; it was an angel that told him to come out of Egypt―all along this intimation was given through the medium of an angel.

ADAM CLARKE: See the case of Cornelius, Acts 10:3―an angel appears to Cornelius, a centurion, and directs him to send to Joppa, for Peter, to instruct him in the way of salvation.

MATTHEW HENRY: The orders are given him from heaven, by the ministry of an angel, to send for Peter to come to him, which he would never have done if he had not been thus directed to do it…How far God may now, in an invisible way, make use of the ministration of angels, for extricating His people out of their straits, we cannot say; but this we are sure of, they are all ministering spirits for their good.

JOHN CALVIN: Though the angels are not nigh us, or at least do not appear to us in a visible form, yet God can by other means afford us help when there is any perplexity in His Word: He promises to give us the spirit of understanding and wisdom, whenever there is need.

MATTHEW HENRY: Though angels were not employed to preach the gospel, they were often employed in carrying messages to ministers for advice and encouragement. We cannot now expect such guides in our way; but doubtless there is a special providence of God conversant about the removes and settlements of ministers, and one way or other He will direct those who sincerely desire to follow Him.

JOHN CALVIN: If any man object, that angels come not down daily from heaven to reveal unto us what we ought to do, the answer if ready, that we are sufficiently taught in the Word of God what we ought to do, and that they are never destitute of the counsel who ask it of Him, and submit themselves to the government of the Spirit.


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