Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Was Jesus Mistaken About Angels

 

Was Jesus mistaken about angels?

 B. Hodge, Biblical Authority Ministries, December 2, 2020

Who makes His angels spirits, His ministers a flame of fire. (Psalm 104:4)

Perhaps another “nail in the coffin” to the fallen angels view came from Christ Himself. Upon the resurrection, Jesus makes a statement about the nature of spirits.  Luke 24 says: 

33  So they rose up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together,

34  saying, "The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!"

35  And they told about the things that had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of bread.

36 Now as they said these things, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, "Peace to you."

37  But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit.

38  And He said to them, "Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts?

39  "Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have."

40  When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. 

Jesus appeared in a room with the disciples but they were terrified and thought they had seen a spirit. They recognized it was Jesus, but they didn’t think it was Jesus in bodily form. They seemed to think it was Jesus’ spirit and that was it—no body. In their minds, it was like the spirits that some of them had encountered at the transfiguration for instance. 

Jesus then says something profound to dispel this idea that it was just His spirit. He says that a spirit doesn’t have flesh and bones as He had.  Jesus did this as proof of the bodily resurrection.    

But it is fascinating that he who knows all things (Colossians 2:3) made it clear that spirits do not have flesh and bones as Christ’s body had. Why is this so significant? Angels are ministering spirits per the book of Hebrews.  Hebrews 1 says: 

13  But to which of the angels has He ever said: "Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool"? 14  Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation? 

Angels then do not have flesh and bones as Christ did. They are spirits. So how can a spirit breed physically with a woman? This would be impossible without the power of God! 

One friend who recognized this could be the death kneel of his fallen angel view made the argument that what Jesus meant here is “ghost” and not spirit. In other words when the disciples saw this ghost in the room they were terrified.  My friend defended this by arguing that the Greek word [pneuma] could also mean “ghost” and so it doesn’t necessary refer to “spirits” like angels which could then presumably still materialize when they want to.   

But this explanation falls tragically short and presents a problem. First why didn’t the text use the common word for ghost (phantasma)? Why did Jesus use the word pneuma or spirit as in Holy “Spirit” or God is “Spirit” (John 4:24) or angels are ministering “spirits”, etc. Was Jesus just being inaccurate? 

Phantasma is where we get our modern word “phantom”, which means “ghost” or “apparition”. It was used when Jesus was walking on water: 

Matthew 14:26  And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, "It is a ghost (phantasma)!" And they cried out for fear.

Mark 6:49  And when they saw Him walking on the sea, they supposed it was a ghost (phantasma), and cried out; 

In the distance from the boat the disciples saw something and the use of phantasma gives us a clue as to what they meant. It appeared in the distance as an apparition, phantom, or ghost.  They couldn’t quite make out what it was. The disciples weren’t even sure what it was because they could not discern it very well. This is why they were troubled. That is until Christ called out to them and they recognized who it was. Then they realize their error. 

The difference of context of being in the room with Christ when He appeared to the disciples is simple.  They saw Christ immediately, and knew it was Christ. But they simply thought it was the spirit of Christ, not him in bodily form (again think of the spiritual transfiguration with Elijah and Moses). It wasn’t a question of identification of Jesus from a distance (not knowing what they saw) but a question of the nature of Jesus after the resurrection. So using the word pneuma was indeed significant. It meant that Christ did not mean ghost at all—but truly did mean spirit.  Otherwise, it destroys the very meaning of why Christ responded the way he did distinguishing his bodily resurrection.  

But let’s analyze this further. If pneuma really meant, “ghost” instead of “spirit” in Luke 24:39, then it still doesn’t help the case anyway! The reason is simple, if pneuma really meant ghost, then when pneuma is used in Hebrews 1:14 where angels are ministering spirits or “ghosts”, the pneuma could just as easily be ghost there too and so we are right back to the problem of angels not having flesh and bones as Christ had regardless of the terminology! This really is a death kneel argument for the fallen angels view. 

This is a situation where someone has a belief about something and they are willing to try to play  games of strange semantics to reinterpret the plain meaning of Scripture. 

Implications 

Let’s consider for a moment the implications of this idea that fallen angels can materialize when they want to and do things (like marry women) when they want to. How can those who hold to this view consistently argue that it was not a fallen angel that faked the resurrection? If they could materialize whenever they want to in an effort to deceive people, then how can one know? If one responds, well the Bible says so. The Bible also says angels are spirits that don’t marry (Mark 12:25)… So this is problematic either way for a fallen angels view. 

The fact is that never once in Scripture is there even one instance where fallen angels materialized. Not one. This is why Christ’s proof of the bodily resurrection is so powerful when presented to the disciples by the Word of God. Spirits do not have flesh and bones as the resurrected Christ has. 

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