The theology and doctrine of angels is an often neglected area of Christian theology and study. Most systematic theologies list angelology as one of the major categories of study, yet it is often overlooked when we discuss doctrine. A theological definition of angels is that they “are spiritual beings created by God to serve Him, though created higher than man. Some, the good angels, have remained obedient to Him and carry out His will, while others, fallen angels, disobeyed, fell from their holy position, and now stand in active opposition to the work and plan of God.”
A common idea in many segments of Christianity and even in some non-Christian New Age teaching is that everyone has a guardian angel assigned to them for life. The Roman Catholic Church, for example, has taught the doctrine of guardian angels since its earliest days. Catholic theologians acknowledge, though, that this belief is not overtly spelled out in Scripture.
Most teaching on guardian angels comes from just a couple of passages of Scripture. In Matthew 18:10 Jesus says, “Beware that you don’t despise a single one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels are always in the presence of my heavenly Father.” This verse does seem to imply that children have angels assigned to them. It is difficult to create a doctrine out of this verse, however, because it just is not that clear.
A second passage of Scripture that is often used to create a theology of guardian angels is from Psalm 91:9-12. “If you make the LORD your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your dwelling. For he orders his angels to protect you wherever you go. They will hold you with their hands to keep you from striking your foot on a stone.” While these verses clearly imply angelic protection, they do not say that we are assigned a guardian angel.
One of the best passages in all of the Bible that discusses angelic ministry is found in the Letter to the Hebrews. In the first part of this letter, actually a written sermon, the author seeks to establish the supremacy of Christ. This passage also clearly seeks to define the deity of Jesus as opposed to Him just being merely another prophet. The writer goes on to say that Christ is also superior to the angels since He was the One who created them.
While the angels are powerful spiritual beings, the author to the Hebrews makes clear that they are created beings that God has given tasks to accomplish. One of these tasks has to do with serving those who have put their trust in Christ. “But angels are only servants. They are spirits sent from God to care for those who will receive salvation.” (Hebrews 1:14) While this verse acknowledges angelic ministry in the lives of Christians, it stops short of saying that every believer has an angel assigned to them.
There are many other passages in the Bible that discuss angels and their ministry. There are none that explicitly define a doctrine that every Christian or every person has a guardian angel. This does not mean that angels do not have a place in the world or that they are not active. Indeed, as the pages of Scripture show over and over again, God’s angels are working behind the scenes protecting and serving God’s people. Only eternity will reveal the important role that God’s angels have played in all of our lives.
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