God's Other Angels
(Revelation 1:20) The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches. In the Scripture, “angel” often refers to God's “...ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation” (HEB 1:14). In this sense we think of the likes of Michael the archangel (JUDE 1:9), Gabriel who appeared to Zacharias and Mary (LUK 1:19-27), the angel who troubled Balaam's ass (NUM 22:22-27), or the angel who smote 185,000 Assyrians in one night (2KI 19:35). They are incredibly powerful creatures of a higher order than man (PSA 8:4-5), but who are under the authority of the God-man, Christ Jesus (1PE 3:22) and also the gospel He gave to Paul: (Galatians 1:8) But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. This should reinforce in our minds the high authority of the gospel. The gospel is superior to the mighty angels: they must abide by it even as we must abide by it. Further, the subjection of the world to come is not theirs (HEB 2:5); it belongs to Christ and to His joint-heir brethren (HEB 2:6-16). We shall judge angels (1CO 6:3), no doubt by the word of truth of the gospel. Elsewhere, “angel” is used to refer to God Himself. Moses recorded that the angel that spoke to Jacob one night was God (GEN 31:11-13), and Jacob would later while blessing Joseph say, “...God...The Angel which redeemed me from all evil...” (GEN 48:15-16). In prophecy, the Lord Jesus Christ is referred to as the “...messenger of the covenant...” (MAL 3:1). The underlying Hebrew word for messenger in this last text is “malak” which is most commonly translated as “angel(s).” But “angel” can also refer to God's human ministers to His churches in this world. The Apostle John was instructed by Jesus to write letters to each of the seven angels of the seven churches in Asia (REV 2:1; REV 2:8 et.al.). It would seem strange if Jesus were instructing John to pen letters to the angels which are the spirit-beings with whom Jesus directly interfaces in glory. The Greek word in REV 2:1; REV 2:8 translated angel is “aggelos” which means, “a messenger; especially, an 'angel'; by implication a pastor: -- angel, messenger.” It refers to human messengers in LUK 7:24, LUK 7:27; LUK 9:52; JAM 2:25. God's pastors to the churches are their messengers (2CO 8:23; PHIL 2:25), their angels. The Galatians once received Paul “...as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus” (GAL 4:14). As our featured text declares, the seven angels of the seven churches are represented as stars. Given that true and faithful ministers are made spectacles unto the world (1CO 4:9), fools for Christ's sake (1CO 4:10), the filth of the world and the offscouring of all things (1CO 4:13), Jesus' depiction of them is as close to stardom as they will come in this life. The world speaks well of false prophets and pastors (LUK 6:26) who may be nothing more than “...wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever” (JUDE 1:13), and are no help in navigating this life. They may occasionally be the darlings of Hollywood movies or rub elbows with Presidents but “...that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God” (LUK 16:15). It is remarkable that John was to write to seven stars. God once rhetorically asked Job whether he could “...bind the sweet influences of Pleiades” (JOB 38:31). The word Pleiades means “the Seven Stars.” Obviously, Job could not bind them. Neither can the forces of darkness bind the message of Jesus' stars, Jesus' angels, Jesus' ministers of the truth to the churches. Paul said, “...I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound” (2TI 2:9). The minister of Christ's word may be bound by Christ's enemies but not His gospel. Paul wrote the following victorious words from Roman prison where he awaited trial before Caesar: (Philippians 1:12) But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; (Philippians 1:13) So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places; (Philippians 1:14) And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. (Philippians 4:22) All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar's household. That Caesar was Nero, a worthless, diabolical, unprincipled fellow. Yet there, the house of a compromised Roman emperor was essentially turned into a church. What a contrast this is to the events of some 250 years later when a compromised church was essentially turned into the house of a Roman emperor. The word of God was not bound in the former and soon not found in the latter.