Saturday, 23 December 2017
Seen by angels, 1 Timothy 3:16d
The word aggelos, or angels, simply means “a messenger,” or “a delegate.” It is used in the New Testament elsewhere to speak of humans. However, despite this being the case, this is most certainly speaking of the heavenly host, not earthly humans. There is no article in front of “angels” in the verse, thus it doesn’t fit that this is speaking of the apostles. Instead, heavenly angels – both during His earthly ministry, and upon completion of it – are what is being written about by Paul here.
His coming was announced by Gabriel to Mary. Though this mighty angel may not have understood the full implication of what was to occur, the proclamation was made. Angels attended Christ at various times in His ministry, and there is no doubt that the heavenly host viewed His life, even at times when no such attendances are recorded. As Christ Himself said in Matthew 26:53 – “Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?” The implication is that the angels were ever-ready to attend to Him.
These same angels would have seen His crucifixion and death, and they would not have known what to make of the sight. It was a mystery kept by God alone until it was revealed. Even the heavenly host had to wait to see what God had planned. And they did see it. In fact, an angel is recorded to have been at the tomb, ready to announce that He was no longer there. That the attending angel was unaware of what would occur is recorded by Paul in Ephesians 3 –
“To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; 10 to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, 11 according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Ephesians 3:8-11
Peter as well said that what the prophets had written was unknown to both them and even to the angels, saying that they desired to look into those things (1 Peter 1:12). The reason Paul includes the angels in this is to show that all of creation was a witness to the spectacle of Christ’s coming, His ministry, His death, and His resurrection. No part of creation would miss the significance of who Christ is. And thus, for all eternity, it would be evident that Jesus Christ is God incarnate. The angels of this clause will be contrasted to the Gentiles in the coming clause to show the scope of the mystery.
Life application: Angels were in attendance at the time of Christ’s earthly ministry. As we are in Christ, it is logical to assume that God has us being watched by angels as well. This cannot mean that we will be free from harm, but that if we ever have an event which appears miraculous occur around us, we may have been attended to by them. In other words, God has our lives safe and secure in His capable hands. Should times of trial and great sadness arrive, it is not that He doesn’t care, but that He has allowed these things to occur for His own sovereign purposes. Christ suffered, and we too may do so, but in the end, we shall be brought safely into that glorious place attended by all of the heavenly host.
Glorious God, knowing that Christ suffered and died for us is to then be assured that our own sufferings are not out of Your control. And because He rose from the dead, we have the absolute guarantee that we, who have received Christ as Lord, will likewise raise from the dead. No grief on earth, and no power in heaven, can prevent us from being raised to new life. Thank You, O God, for Your gift of Jesus to us. Amen.