Tag Archives: angelic

Can Fallen Angels be Redeemed?

As I mentioned in the recent episode of the Naked Bible Podcast, the subject of angelic redemption seems to be percolating on the internet. I’m not sure of the reason. I am sure, as we discussed on that podcast episode, that the idea has led to disastrous spiritual calamity for some. Consequently, it seemed time to address the topic.

Before getting into the topic, I should note that some online think my “arguments” against angelic redemption are weak. This is curious, since I’ve never written anything on the subject. I don’t address the topic in The Unseen Realm. I know I’ve mentioned it here and there, noting that it is indeed a topic some folks have an interest in, or to say that I didn’t find the idea persuasive, as it has real coherence problems. It hasn’t interested me to this point, but in the wake of the podcast episode, it seems the right time to jump in. So this will be my first actual pass through the topic. I’m going to stick with English translation for the most part, trying to avoid a more technical discussion. I think this initial “simple” pass is sufficient to make my points.

The Basic Argument for Angelic Redemption

The notion that fallen angels[1] can be redeemed is basically defended along two lines: (1) God must offer them redemption out of fairness, and (2) the language of Revelation 1-3, where Christ speaks “to the angels” of the churches, apparently includes certain statements that sound like an offer of repentance. I’m not concerned with the first, as it’s a subject that has been beaten to death in discussions of election for millennia with little evidence that the Creator’s decision to have an unredeemed category is unfair. Romans 9-11 comes to mind right away.

It’s far more necessary to focus on the textual issue—the second line of defense. By way of illustration, here’s Rev 2:1-5 (note the underlining):

1To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands. “ ‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.

The argument goes like this. Jesus speaks to the angel, then describes that angel’s moral / spiritual failures, then offers the chance of redemption to the angel. The logic of course presumes that the angel of Rev 2:1 (and elsewhere in Rev 1-3) is not a human and must be understood literally as a spiritual being—and angel. Further, if these angels are offered redemption, then it seems reasonable to assert that other angels who fell previously can be offered redemption as well.

The argument seems easy and effective. But it’s impressive only to those who don’t read the text closely and who don’t factor in other statements in the New Testament about the relationship of angels to God’s offer of redemption.

A Closer Look

We’ll start with Revelation 1-3. Scholars have of course commented on the angelic terminology of the letters to the churches. There are basically four views of how to understand “angel” (ἄγγελος; angelos; plural = angeloi).[2]

  • The term angelos refers to a heavenly, non-human being. Their function would be analogous to the fallen angels (sons of God) over the nations. The angels “guard” the churches.
  • The angelos is actually a human being, likely the pastor/leader of the church. The term simply means “messenger” and is used elsewhere in the New Testament of human beings (Luke 7:24; Luke 9:52; James 2:25).
  • The angels are human beings, but not specific leaders of the individual churches.
  • The angels are emblematic of the churches, and so the communication to the “angel” is meant for the churches as a group. When Jesus tells John to write to the “angel,” he’s really telling him to write to the church. In a symbolic sense, the “angel” is that church.

As we proceed it will become apparent which view I think is the most sensible and why (textually). First a background question – does the analogy of angelic “guardians” of churches to the sons of God over the nations (Deut 32:8-9; see Unseen Realm, chs. 14-15) make sense? I don’t think so. Why? Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Since God punished the nations by allotting the nations to the sons of God (and vice versa), taking Israel to be his own (Deut 32:8-9; 4:19-20), why would he do this to his own family, the Church, the “Israel of God” so to speak? The original arrangement went horribly wrong (Psalm 82), so why would God imitate it with churches? I’d say God wouldn’t do that and didn’t.
  2. God did appoint Michael over his own people, Israel (Dan 10:13, 21; Dan 12:1). But the Church is now God’s people, apart from, but including believing Israelites/Jews. If the Deut 32 thing is the model for angels and churches, wouldn’t it make more sense to have the letters to the churches addressed to Michael? But of course it doesn’t say that (there are seven of them). I’d also add that anyone who wants to force this analogy with Deut 32 might want to think about how it affects their eschatology. They would have a very difficult time maintaining Israel as any sort of unique entity apart from the Church in light of this logic. That might be a big problem for someone’s end times views down the road.
  3. Scripture of course teaches that believers have what we refer to as “guardian angels,” and that angels are here to minister to human believers who “inherit salvation” (Heb 1:13-14). If this is true, what do churches need with guardian angels assigned to churches? I’d say they aren’t needed, and that this isn’t what Revelation 1-3 is describing. Angels already have their task according to Heb 1:13-14 and it isn’t corporate.

These basic background issues already show that the first view, that the angels of Rev 1-3 are heavenly beings, has some coherence problems. But the problems don’t end there.

Let’s start reading now. Back to Revelation 2. We’ll start with the first letter to the churches, the letter to the Ephesian church (Rev 2:1-7):

1To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands. “ ‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’

The underlining is important. Revelation 1 makes it clear that Jesus is speaking to John, instructing him to write to “the angel of the church in Ephesus.” Angelic redemption proponents want us to take notice of that. But in verse 7 we discover that what is being written is “to the churches.” So it’s simply not the case that the letter is written to an angel. It’s written to an angel and to the churches. All the rest of the letters follow suit. Yes, they are directed to an angelos (Smyrna, 2:8; Pergamum, 2:12; Thyatira, 2:18; Sardis, 3:1; Philadelphia, 3:7; Laodicea, 3:14), but are all also directed to the churches—i.e., to the people who make up these churches (Smyrna, 2:11; Pergamum, 2:17; Thyatira, 2:29; Sardis, Rev 3:6; Philadelphia, Rev 3:13; Laodicea, Rev 3:22). A phrase like “what the Spirit says to the churches” is in each of these references.

The point of this must not be missed: What is said in these letters isn’t addressed to only the “angel” or only the people of the church. It’s addressed to both. There is no indication that parts of what is written applies to the “angel,” and other parts to the people. The notions are overtly parallel:

Jesus speaks to John, instructing him to write to the angel of XYZ church.

What is written is later described as what the Spirit is saying to the churches.[3]

This issue of “who is Jesus really communicating to” gets even more telling when we look at the text in Greek, since Greek has both singular and plural second person pronouns and verb forms (i.e., singular vs. plural “you” in English cannot be distinguished by the form of the pronoun, but in Greek it can). In Greek the audience of the writing is clearly both the “angel” and the people in the churches. Here’s the point:  You cannot neatly distinguish one from the other, which (in my view) is deliberate and points to the need to identify the “angel” and the people with each other. That is the only reading that can make consistent, coherent sense of what is said in every respect.

But I need to illustrate that point. This brings us to our first interpretive question. As you read, ask yourself if what the letters say:

  1. Makes sense addressed to a specific non-human angel-guardian of that church (view # 1 above),

or

  1. Makes sense addressed to the church’s people collectively? (Or, if you prefer, to the human leader of the church who “stands for” the church collectively) — views #2,3,4 above.

I’m going to suggest that the first option, the option at the heart of the angelic redemption idea, is the least likely. That status will change to “just plain unworkable and wrong” when we leave Revelation 1-3 and factor in other passages to the discussion.

Back to Rev 2:1-7. Read closely what it says:

1 “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands. “ ‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’

Some phrases to consider:

  • you cannot bear with those who are evil
  • (you) have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false
  • you have not grown weary

Do these three descriptors make more sense of people or angels? Do angels get tired? (I’d sure like a verse for that). I’d say they make more sense of people.

Now here’s the next church, Smyrna (Rev 2:8-11):

“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: ‘The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life. “ ‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10 Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. 11 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.’

Consider these descriptive phrases:

  • I know your tribulation and your poverty
  • Do not fear what you are about to suffer
  • Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life
  • The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death

Do these descriptions really make sense of a heavenly angel? Do angels suffer poverty? Why would they need to fear? Does the devil really have the power to throw them into prison for ten days? Do angels die (“be faithful unto death”)? Who threatens them with death? Can Satan kill them? Why would God allow that? Where does Scripture say that Satan can take life like this? Just how do you kill an immortal being like an angel unless you hold the ultimate power of life and death, which only God has (Psa 82:6-7). Will Jesus really give an angel the crown of life? Not according to James 1:12 (“blessed is the man …”). And about the second death – those who are exempt from it are not angels, but people who are raised with Christ whose names are written in the book of life (Rev 20:6, 15).

It should be apparent that a heavenly angel reading here isn’t workable. Should anyone wonder if the “you” references in the above are grammatically plural, they are not. They are grammatically singular. And so you either have a heavenly angel being thrown into a prison in Smyrna, suffering poverty, under threat of physical death, and inheriting the crown of life … OR the “you” here is grammatically singular because the collective church at Smyrna is in view. The latter is quite sensible.  The alternative (that we’re talking about heavenly angels here) lacks coherence, and that (in turn again) makes the angelic redemption idea moot.

Now here’s the next church, Pergamum (Rev 2:13-17):

13 “ ‘I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. Yet you hold fast my name, and you did not deny my faith even in the days of Antipas my faithful witness, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. 14 But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality. 15 So also you have some who hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. 16 Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth. 17 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.’

Some phrases to consider:

  • I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is
  • Antipas my faithful witness, who was killed among you
  • I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam…
  • I will come to you soon and war against them

Archaeologists and New Testament scholars have established that “Satan’s throne” refers to places in Asia Minor where the Roman imperial cult flourished—in other words, a real place on earth in real first-century time. So, if that’s the case, is this passage really telling us that an angel lived on earth in Pergamum? If we’re going to literally understand “angel” here as a heavenly being, then we need to interpret the rest of the passage literally (or else we cheat). Continuing … Was that angel present at the murder of Antipas? Was he “on site” (as opposed to just watching behind the spiritual veil)? Do angels teach Christians things? Are they supposed to do that? (Chapter and verse, please, and duck when you come to Gal 1:8). Apparently this heavenly being (so we must assume) was lax in his responsibility to teach the church members not to follow Balaam. Will Jesus visit him literally, and literally make war against the humans following the teaching of Balaam? Would that visit literally be in Pergamum?

I hope you get the point. It’s much more coherent to opt for the non-heavenly being option when we read what’s actually said. The rest of the letters have the same sort of language in them—language that sounds silly or is contradicted at some other place in the New Testament if it’s applied to angels.

The letter to Thyatira contains an interesting juxtaposition in this regard (Rev 2:18-29):

18 “And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: ‘The words of the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze. 19 “ ‘I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first. 20 But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. 21 I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. 22 Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, 23 and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works. 24 But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden. 25 Only hold fast what you have until I come. 26 The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, 27 and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father. 28 And I will give him the morning star. 29 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

The references to “you” in v. 20 are both singular, and so they refer to either the (alleged) heavenly angel (he’d be the guilty one) or to the people collectively. The passage tells us which makes more sense. “But to the rest of you” is key in that regard. Literally, this phrase is “but to the remainder,” with no Greek “you” pronoun in the text. That makes us ask, “The remainder of who or what?” If the letter had, to this point, been directed just to a heavenly angel, then the “remainder” would either be other angels, which is pretty odd (the angel is part of a whole). This strikes me as silly and, if one cares to be consistent with the text, can’t be the case, since only one (the angel of v. 18) is actually mentioned — i.e., we’d just have to invent the idea of a gang of angels attached to the church out of thin air.

Another option, that the “remainder” points to believers in Thyatira, makes good sense. The “remainder” who have been faithful are a remnant of the human group known as the church. They are part of that whole. Don’t miss that point, obvious as it seems. If the remainder = people, then the ones following Jezebel (“my servants”; v. 20) are also people. The “remainder” is part of that whole. But that in turn means that the guilty party = the church collectively (a group of human offenders), a remnant of which is remaining faithful. Why is that important? Think carefully: It means the “you” language of v. 19 (“I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first”), which are all grammatical singulars in Greek, would not be referring to a solitary figure — but in reality referring to the collective church at Thyatira—to its human members. This fact of the text, drawn from close reading, is significant for the whole discussion. It means the “angel” language actually represents the human, collective church.

With this observation in place, we go on to ask if the thought is consistent with other features of the text. Who, then, would be in view for “holding fast” and “conquering” and “keeping [the Lord’s works,” and “receiving authority over the nations, . .  ruling them with a rod of iron . . . receiving authority from the father . . . the morning star”? Why people of course. This means angelic redemption isn’t in view. All the fruits of repentance are directed toward people.

The descriptions of the churches in Revelation 3 follow this course. The singular “you” language that seems to refer to the “angel” really applies to people—the people in the churches, to whom the Spirit is speaking in every letter. This view has explanatory power because it offers interpretive consistency (across both testaments). Just look at what’s said about the “angel” in each case:

Sardis (Rev 3:1-6)

To the angel of the church in Sardis write…

  • You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead (an odd description for a heavenly angel on God’s side)
  • If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you (interesting that this language is used elsewhere of human believers at the Lord’s return: 1 Thess 5)
  • I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels (This language found elsewhere in Scripture has only humans in view, so it’s no description of an angelic possibility: blotting out of the book: Exod 32:32; Deut 29:20; Luke 10:20; Phil 4:3; Rev 13:8; Rev 17:8; Rev 20:12, 15; Rev 21:27; Rev 22:19; confessing before the Father: Matt. 10:32; Luke 12:8).

Philadelphia (Rev 3:7-13)

To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write…

  • you have kept my word and have not denied my name (who bears the name of Christ in NT theology? People: 2 Tim 2:19; cp. Acts 11:26)
  • I will make [the synagogue of Satan] come and bow down before your feet, and they will learn that I have loved you. Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth (the last item is telling – the words are clearly directed to people, those who dwell on the earth—and yet the “you’s” preceding are singular, pointing back to the “angel”. The angel = the church, its people.
  • Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown (singular again, and wording that elsewhere clearly refers to human believers: James 1:12).

Laodicea (Rev 3:14-22)

To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write…

  • For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked (Does this really describe a heavenly angel?)
  • If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me (Who gets to participate in divine feasting in both OT and NT theology? Who shares a meal with the Lord? Human believers: Exod 24:9-11; Rev 19:7-9)
  • The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne (With whom does Jesus share the throne? Human believers: 2 Tim. 2:12; 19:28)

To summarize all this, I’d say these points are salient:

1. It’s not possible to isolate some of what is said to “the angel” of the churches in such a way that certain things do not apply to the church.

2. It’s quite coherent to see what is said to the singular angel to also be directed to the corporate church and its human members.

3. Much of what is said to the churches is said specifically to the human redeemed.

4. In view of the preceding, it is incoherent to argue that the letters to the churches are good evidence of the offer of redemption to angels. There is simply no redemptive language in the letters that can only apply to the singular angel to make a case that the redemption language has more than humans in view.

5. Since the content of the letters is directed to BOTH the “angel” and the human members of the church, and since the content is elsewhere directed specifically to humans, it is best to identify the angel and the members of church with each other. This strategy leaves no interpretive outliers (i.e., it has high explanatory power for everything in them), is consistent with the use of angelos for humans elsewhere, and doesn’t invite a contrived idea into the text.

 

But wait … there’s more. And it’s really the most important stuff.

 

Angelic Redemption Denied

This post is getting lengthy (my apologies), but I didn’t want to break it up and have readers wait for installments. Most of my readers are used to it anyway!

Let’s look at Hebrews.

That the supremacy of Christ over angels is a central theme to the book of Hebrews is well known. Hebrews 1 establishes that point by comparing and contrasting Jesus to the angels. The chapter ends this way (Heb 1:13-14):

13 And to which of the angels has he ever said,

“Sit at my right hand

until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”?

14 Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?

In light of the discussion of the letters to the churches, it is interesting to note that v. 13, a quote from Psalm 110 about the messiah, is mimed closely by something Paul says about individual human believers:

Rom 16:20 – The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

The “your” here is plural—it is not a reference to the serpent / Satan being crushed by the heel of the messiah. It’s a reference to human believers placing their feet on the enemy (and all his, by extension) and crushing them. Victory formation, for you football fans.

But this isn’t why I referenced Heb 1:13-14. I want you to note the last verse. Ministering spirits are sent to serve those who will inherit salvation. Two questions are pertinent: Who might those inheritors be? Are angels possibly numbered among those inheritors? Hebrews 2 answers those questions, and those answers are plain as day. I’ve underlined the key phrases that are followed by brief comments:

Hebrews 2:5-18

For it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking. It has been testified somewhere,

What is man, that you are mindful of him,

or the son of man, that you care for him?

         You made him for a little while lower than the angels;

you have crowned him with glory and honor,

         putting everything in subjection under his feet.” …

 

The world to come is the new earth described in Revelation 21-22. It is the global Eden I talked a lot about in The Unseen Realm. It is the goal of God’s plan. The climax of the eschaton. It is what the saved, the redeemed, the forgiven, inherit. And so, who is it for? Man. Humankind. We who were made lesser than the divine beings (Heb 2:6-7 quotes Psalm 8:4-, where it reads humanity was made a little lower than the elohim). Human believers, human members of God’s household (see the rest of Hebrews 2) are the ones crowned. It’s hard to miss that reference to the language of the letters to the seven churches (and again, James 1:12). Angels are conspicuously absent from end-times global Eden statement in Hebrews 2:5-8. We’ll find out why as we keep reading.

8 … Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

Who is the “everyone” here? If we care about reading in context, it’s the human beings the writer referred to a few lines ago. There’s no other plural or collective noun that could be the grammatical antecedent. And Hebrews 2:5 specifically tells us angels aren’t in the picture and aren’t the referent.

10 For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. 11 For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, 12 saying,

“I will tell of your name to my brothers;

in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.”

13 And again,

“I will put my trust in him.”

And again,

“Behold, I and the children God has given me.”

Are the angels Jesus’ brothers and sisters—his brethren? By definition they cannot be. They are created; he is uncreated. They might be described as “made of something”; he cannot be so described. He has attributes they do not possess. He is Yahweh incarnate; they are not. He was never made like them—never made at all. Jesus and the angels are not, as it were, of the same “stock.”

But, amazingly, Jesus and humans are of the same stock. How? God the Son became human. And so he is not ashamed to be called our brother. And if you read verse 10, it’s clear that WE are the object of the salvation he founded. Not the angels.

14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. 16 For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. 17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

We, not angels, were the ones under the curse of death. This is why redemption has us in view, not the angels. And verse 16 makes it absolutely explicit:

For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham.

Galatians 3 (esp. vv. 7-9, 26-29) make it clear that the “offspring of Abraham” are believers, Jew or Gentile (not angels):

7 Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” 9 So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. . . .

26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

The “help” in context in Hebrews 2:16 = rescue from death (via resurrection) and, therefore, a home in the new Eden, the new earth. That’s the destination of the redeemed. The salvation of humanity is the goal of the plan of incarnation, substitutional death, and resurrection. The angels are not. “Therefore he [Jesus] he had to be made like his brothers in every respect” (even unto death). Jesus wasn’t made like the angels (Hebrews 1 denies this in many ways). He was made like us, so that we could be made like him at his coming (1 John 3:1-3).

I’m not sure why all this isn’t crystal clear to some. It’s difficult to imagine the writer of Hebrews being any clearer. It’s so clear in fact that, for me, Hebrews 1-2 is the place any defender of angelic redemption must start. But I’m not at all sure why anyone would invest time in making those chapters not say what they very obviously are saying. But I’ve seen people absorbed by stranger things.

 

NOTES

[1] As readers of Unseen Realm know, I’m using “fallen angels” because the phrase is familiar to a popular readership. The “fallen angels” that are normally the focus of this angelic redemption topic are the sons of God of Gen 6:1-4 (the Watchers in Enochian parlance). “Angel” in OT thought is a job description of a particular elohim, a term used to denote any member of the disembodied spiritual world, not an ontological label to be equated with a specific set of unique attributes (see Unseen Realm, chs. 3-4). In the Hellenistic period “angel” became more of a catch-all term, akin to Old Testament elohim or Greco-Roman daimon/daimonion. The semantic issues are more complex than this, but for purposes here, this is adequate.

[2] In Greek two gamma letters (γ) side-by-side are pronounced “ng”.

[3] For you Trinitarian deniers out there, take note of how Jesus and the Spirit fill the same slots here. Just a side observation of this non-coincidence.

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