Guardian Angels are said to be Angels that protect each and every one of us (with specific references concerning children) as individuals, they are said to be the guardians of humans. A common repetitive assertion made concerning Guardian Angels states:
“Angels appear in the Bible from the beginning to the end, from the Book of Genesis to the Book of Revelation. The Bible is our best source of knowledge about angels – for example, Psalms 91:11, Matthew 18:10 and Acts 12:15 indicate humans have guardian angels.”
While both Catholics and Protestants would consider the above statement as a correct doctrinal pronouncement, at least as of the last 600 years; is this firmly established in God’s word?
Information We Do Not Have
If we examine Psalms 103:19-22 in regards to Angels, a passage which concludes the chapter concerning the magnificence of God, it states:
“The LORD hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all. Bless the LORD, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word. Bless ye the LORD, all ye his hosts; ye ministers of his, that do his pleasure. Bless the LORD, all his works in all places of his dominion: bless the LORD, O my soul.”
Some suggest that as ministering spirits which do God’s Will, one of their functions would be that of Guarding human beings. However, the grammar does not allow for this interpretation as the object is God, and the subject is His greatness, and Angels are mentioned as His servants to worship and follow His Will as the Divine Creator of all creation, and eternity. To suggest that the Scripture implies or allows for the doctrine that certain angels have a primary function or assignment of protecting human beings is “reading into the text” (This is a common mistake committed by many Christians, it becomes easy when we handle God’s Word without fearful respect, wherein we attempt to prove our own presuppositions [or “things that just make sense”], and perhaps unknowingly utilize God’s Word as a prop. This is done most of the time in ignorance or naivety; as opposed to guile or wrong motives as practiced by the heretics. We are all subject to this type of misinterpretation, and must guard the reading and study of God’s Word with reverence; utilizing the grammar to understand what the text is meant to convey. Many who teach, find it far too easy to comfortably present God’s Word according to our English translations, rather than turning to the original languages which God chose to convey His Word, those languages wherein they were God breathed, the inspired Word of God. Translations always fall short due to the inability to translate certain words that exist in the original work, which do not exist or are diverse in the translated final work. To grasp the full meaning of God’s Word, we need to discipline ourselves to search out the original text and understand the grammar; wherein many controversies fall away so very easily.), information that is not provided; and in fact would rub against the grain of what is stated.
Information We Do Have
What the Bible does provide concerning information regarding Angels is that on a few occasions they protected groups of individuals; on singular occasions, rather than throughout their lives (the Israelites, and the church), and a few examples of them protecting individuals themselves; yet again on certain occasions, during certain events; however not throughout their lives.
In fact, there is no Biblical evidence whatsoever which promotes the concept that ALL humans, or even individual believers that have assigned Angels that are specifically regimented for their protection.
Why the Confusion
The confusion has been that of mistaking individual situations wherein God has directed an Angel to protect an individual or group at a certain time during a certain event; with the assumption that these Angels have the permanent assignment to protect these individuals their whole life. Such as the situation concerning Lot in Sodom and Gomorrah, wherein in actuality the primary assignment of the angels was the destruction of the cities, yet they were not allowed to harm Lot, and therefore protected him during their assignment.
What we should grasp from this situation is that God would not allow the righteous to be judged with the unrighteous (“And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;) The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished” ~ 2 Peter 2:6-9), and that it is God Who protect us, as His children through whatever means He chooses to use, rather it is warning that danger is approaching (Hebrews 11:7; Genesis 41:30-31; Exodus 12:23; Jonah 3:4-5), or the use of His Angels to do the work specifically.
The doctrine of the Guardian Angels is a very ancient doctrine held by many false religions; as well as the Jews; especially after the Babylonian captivity. The Jews had taken the belief concerning Guardian Angels to an extreme where the power and control of God was usurped by the spirit beings that aided men. It is believed that the Jews (Hebrews) received this teaching from Zoroastrianism, which referred to Guardian Angels as the Fravashi.
The English word “angel”, comes from the Greek root word (transliterated into the Romanized) angelos, which has mainly been translated into the English; “messenger.”
The “Complete [Greek] Word Study: states:
ággelos; gen. aggélou, masc. noun. “Messenger,” one sent to announce or proclaim.
(I) A messenger, one who is sent in order to announce, teach, perform, or explore anything (Matt. 11:10; Luke 7:24; Luke 9:52; Gal. 4:14; James 2:25; Sept.: Josh. 6:17; Mal. 2:7). In 1 Cor. 11:10, aggélous, acc. pl., is interpreted variably as spies or angels, good or evil, even demons. The angels of the seven churches are probably the bishops or pastors of those churches, the delegates or messengers of the churches of God (Rev. 1:20; Rev. 2:1, Rev. 2:8, Rev. 2:12, Rev. 2:18; Rev. 3:1, Rev. 3:7, Rev. 3:14). Hebrews 13:2 may have reference to itinerate preachers rather than angels.
(II) An angel, a celestial messenger, a being superior to man. God is represented as surrounded by a host of beings of a higher order than man. These He uses as His messengers and agents in administering the affairs of the world and in promoting the welfare of humans (Matt. 1:20; Matt. 18:10; Matt. 22:30; Acts 7:30).(see Endnote #1)
The term “Angel” has been used as a synonym for “ministering spirits,” as seen in Hebrews 1:13-14 where the two terms are used for single type of being (“But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool? Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation” ~ Hebrews 1:13-14 – the 2 nouns, Angel and ministering spirits are used as referring to the same entity). And whereas the entities referred to are created beings, the common denominator is that their function is singular in that their service is due to God and God alone. The exception to this is those Angels who followed Lucifer, hence referred to as fallen Angels. God’s Angels have always been known as His servants following His directions and never loaned out, or associated with any other function than to singularly follow God’s commands.
As has been stated there are individual assignments, temporary in nature wherein God has elected to send an Angel to do His bidding. Such as the Angel that killed 180,000 Assyrians (2 Kings 19:35); as well as certain individuals wherein Angels saved their lives, such as Hagar (Genesis 16:7, 9, 11, 17); and Lot (Genesis 19:1-24), and others; however, of the dozens of references to Angels, their main function was that of being messengers sent to individuals, such as: Abraham; Jacob; the Israelites going through the wilderness (“The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.” ~ Psalms 34:7); Joshua; the Angel prepared to kill Balaam; Gideon, Manoah, and the other judges; Elijah; Samuel and David; Daniel; Zachariah; Peter freed from prison; and Jesus and the Seven Churches of Revelation 3 and 4 (Rev. 1:20 – thought to be the pastors of the 7 Churches).
The two most prominent Angels addressed in the Bible are the archangels Gabriel and Michael. The term Archangel is the reference that these Angels that function directly for God in the manner that we would refer to as Generals, or lead supervisors (Lucifer at one time was an Archangel). These 2 archangels are the only Angels that appear to have special assignments.
Michael, whose name means “Who Is Like God;” was assigned to oversee Israel (Daniel 10:13; 12:1; Rev. 12:7-9).
And Gabriel, whose name means “Man of God;” was assigned to the Messiah, those things concerning Jesus (Daniel 8:16; 9:21; Luke 1:19, 26).
Proof Text #1
One of the proof texts used to support the concept of Guardian Angels is Psalms 91:10-13; which states:
“There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone. Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.”
However, this is poor exegesis to attempt to use this Scripture to support the concept of Guardian Angels in that it is specifically a reference to the Messiah, and even quoted by Lucifer in his temptation of Christ as found in Matthew 4:6, which states:
“And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.”
You will see there is a very slight difference in these 2 quotations. Lucifer, quoted the common day vernacular translation of the Old Testament in tempting Christ, referred to as the Greek Septuagint. Today, our current translations of the Old Testament comes from the Masoretic text, which was translated in the 9th century AD, from Hebrew, and therefore sounds different from when individuals in the New Testament quoted the Old Testament.
Jesus, almost exclusively quoted from the Septuagint (except such as in Luke 4:18-19 ~ which is where Christ was reading the Hebrew Torah within the synagogue at Nazareth, wherein the custom was to paraphrase the Hebrew into the Aramaic common vernacular of the day); therefore validating the Septuagint version of the Torah.
Misquoted vs. Misapplied
What is interesting is that when Lucifer tempted Eve he misquoted what God had stated, yet he was wise enough when quoting Scripture to Jesus that he did not misquote it (he knew Jesus would spot the misquote), but misapplied it; indicating that it was in reference to something that it was not meant, that of putting God to the test.
This Scripture states that God had given his Angels responsibility to protect Christ on earth – it is an abuse of Scripture to imply that this passage refers to others as well.
Many heretical doctrines have been created NOT from the misquote of Scripture, but from a misapplication of its teaching. This is the case in this text. It should be noted that Christ always responded with Scripture alone, He didn’t even take the time to explain the text to Lucifer. Christ knew that Lucifer was aware that he was misapply what God had stated. One might say that this was a pearls to swine situation (Matthew 7:6), where correction is unwarranted; somewhat analogous to Proverbs 26:2425, which states:
“Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him. Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.”
Back to the Topic
The point is, Psalms 91:10-13 is a reference to the Messiah, and to attempt to utilize it is as a reference to anyone else is again “reading into the text” what is not stated openly, nor implied indirectly.
Proof Text #2
The next most obvious passage which is utilized to support the idea of Guardian Angels is found in Matthew 18:10 , which states:
“Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.”
When this verse is taken in isolation, out of context; it appears to states that there are particular Angels that watch over individual children. However, if we examine the context according to the whole text itself, we find something different at play.
“At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh! Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire. Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven. For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.” (Matt. 18:1-11)
First, the context of this text is set in the question “who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven,” this is the subject matter, not children, or Angels that watch over them or others. Verse 3 states:
“except ye be converted and become as in little child, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven“ (Matt. 18:3)
The text is not saying that we must become a child, or that children are the subject. Within grammar, we find the use of the word “as“, which indicates that an analogy is being used, and the reference is not to the direct subject or of the object itself. The use of the word “as” indicates the similarity, yet not the subject being referred too. So, children are being referred to indirectly as is stated in the later verses. Verse 4 goes on to explain the similarity that is referred to, it is humility, when it states:
“whosoever therefore shall humble himself as the little child the same is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.” (Matt. 18:4-5)
The subject of this sentence is humility, and we notice again the use of the word “as“; indicating that were is not a direct reference to children, but that they are being used as an example, an analogy towards making the point of what humility looks like.
What also validates this point is that from this point on, verse 6, a different Greek word is used. In Verses 3, 4, and 5; the Greek word translated into “child” is: paidion, yet it is not used afterwards. From verse 6 on the Greek word mikros, is used; which is rendered “little ones” (“But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” ~ Matt. 18:6).
What is the big difference in these two Greek words, which translate into the phases; “little child” and “little ones.”
The reason for the change is that in verses 3 through 5 the word “child” (paidion) is used allegorically to indicate any sense of humility and acceptance as displayed by child. This term concerns a person young in years.
Yet, when the text becomes more specific, Jesus NO longer uses the term referring to a child; it utilizes the term which means “little one” (mikros) – which refers to one who is immature, as in this case a “young believer” – A believer who is new to the Faith.
Therefore, this text is not speaking about child having Guardian Angels, as it is not talking about humility, and offending believers who are young in the Faith.
Behold the Face of My Father
What must be noted is the phrase “that in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my father which is in heaven.” The 1st question is where are the Angels? or better stated where are they not – they are not with the children or humble believers watching over them. They are in heaven observing the face of the Father concerning how the Father feels when one of these young ones is abused.
The consideration and point of attention of these Angels is with God, not with the little ones. what this phrase is saying is that Angels, God’s messenger to men; representatives and ministers of God Almighty, habitually preside in God’s presence observing God’s Will to do what God would have them to do.
A keyword in this phrase is the word “their,” which is a 3rd person pronoun, which is possessive; it is in the masculine, and is plural, and the case is genitive. Therefore, this word is correctly coupled with the little ones that it references; yet, what is not seen is that the little ones Angels are in the possessive of an individual. The possession here concerns mankind as a group, not individuals in particular.
In essence what this Passage is saying (Matthew 18:10) is that these Angels, which do the bidding of God, stand at attention in God’s presence to do His will concerning mankind; therefore be warned concerning harming one of these immature believers.
There is nothing in the Greek grammar to indicate that these Angels are assigned to individual humans that they are meant to guard specific people. The only place in Scripture that refers to anything like this as discussed above is Psalm 91 in reference to the Messiah.
The expression to: “stand in the presence of God,” is an expression used concerning the Angels who are at God’s beck-n-call, as seen in Luke 1:19, which states:
“And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings.”
This is a reference to where Gabriel meets with John the Baptist’s father, Zacharias. Gabriel states in identifying himself “I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God.” This expression is used throughout the Bible to indicate that the Angels are God’s servants, who wait upon God at His beck and call. The idea is that the Angels are focused on God – it is about God that they function, not man.
Albert Barnes states:
“Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones. … – That is, one who has become like a little child, or a Christian. For I say unto you … – Jesus then proceeds to state the reason why we should not despise his feeblest and obscurest follower. That reason is drawn from the care which God exercises over them. The first instance of that care is, that “in heaven their angels do always behold his face.” He does not mean, I suppose, to state that every good man has his guardian angel, as many of the Jews believed; but that the angels were, in general, the guards of his followers, and aided them and watched over them (See the notes at Heb_1:14). Do always behold the face of God – This is taken from the practice of earthly courts. To be admitted to the presence of a king; to be allowed to see his face continually; to have free access to him at all times, was deemed a mark of special favor (1 Kings 10:8; Est. 1:14), and was esteemed a security for his protection. So, says our Saviour, we should not despise the obscurest Christian, for he is ministered to by the highest and noblest of beings by beings who are always enjoying the favor and friendship of God.”
Concerning 1 Corinthians 11:2-15, which states:
“Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you. But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head. But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered. For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man. For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels. Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord. For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God. Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered? Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.”
Barnes says of verse 10:
“A woman in the public assemblies, and in speaking in the presence of people, should wear a veil – the usual symbol of modesty and subordination – because the angels of God are witnesses of your public worship [Heb. 1:13], and because they know and appreciate the propriety of subordination and order in public assemblies.”
Concerning Hebrews 1:14, which states:
“Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?”
Concerning this “helpmewithbiblestudy.org,” stated concerning this:
“To what extent do unfallen and fallen angels exhibit free will? Examine Hebrews 1:14. In Hebrews 1:14, the translated term “ministering” comes from the Greek term “leitourgikos,” which means “relating to the performance of service.” While holy angels serve Christians, they do so when specifically sent by God to fulfill His plan or purpose. In their seeming response to the prayers of mankind, unfallen or holy angels are actually sent by God to respond if the Christian’s prayer is according to God’s will or pleasure. Thus the free will exhibited by unfallen angels is that they simply choose to submit to God’s leading. There are no biblical examples where an unfallen or holy angel acted on their own free will to minister to a Believer apart from and independent of God or His will. Consistent with this is the fact that holy angels encourage the worship of God, the only One worthy of worship, and discourage everything else. The only angels that have clearly exhibited free will independent of God are fallen angels who promote evil. Satan is a prime example of this along with biblical examples with his demons. In the instances in which the Bible records angels exerting a will apart from God, human beings have been harmed or were given false theological guidance or heretical doctrine.” (font change, and underline added by author. See #2)
Why Would it be Wrong to Believe that each Christian has their Own Guardian Angel
The problem with this teaching, besides not being supported by God’s Word; is that it ingratiate humanity to the servants of God rather than keeping our focus and gratitude upon God Himself. It is God that takes care of mankind, it is God that takes care of us as individual believers.
God will not share His glory with anyone (“I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.” ~ Isa 42:8). And the problem that is created by this teaching this is that individuals start to pay attention to Angels, rather than God.
If you do a simple Google search you will see how many ministries teach whole doctrines concerning Guardian Angels. They even go so far as to teach that believers should pray to their Guardian Angels, to seek their guidance, and to thank them for their aid.
IT IS JESUS
It is Jesus Christ that has died for us, and now is the only mediator and protector (Psa. 91) we have before God the Father. 1 Timothy 2:5, states
“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus“
It has been wisely stated that a prophet is one who speaks for God to the people; and a priest is one who speaks for the people to God.
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia states concerning the word “priest”:
“A priest is one who is duly authorized to minister in sacred things, particularly to offer sacrifices at the altar, and who acts as mediator between men and God.”
Jesus has become our (Only) High Priest:
“Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.” (Hebrews 4:14)
“For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)
“So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee.” (Hebrews 5:5)
“Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens” (Hebrews 8:1)
“But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building” (Hebrews 9:11)
“Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others” (Hebrews 9:25)
“And having an high priest over the house of God” (Hebrews 10:21)
Why Would it be Wrong – What is the Danger
We should address the following questions:
1) Is there a negative side to the presentation that we all have individual angels protecting us?
2) Doesn’t it make us feel little bit better to know that God has extended His protection to us by assigning an individual Angel whose sole duty is our safeguard?
3) And are there any direct dangers associated with entertaining this doctrine?
The Simple Answer
1) Yes – Being pre-occupied with Angels, affects the preeminence of Christ, and leaves to other dangers.
2) No, it shouldn’t – our trust and faith should always be primarily, as well as only focused on Jesus Christ as our intercessor between man and God.
3) Yes – becoming preoccupied with anything other than Christ, leads us away from the cross and Him.
Anything that takes our attention from Jesus; who is our Saviour (Luke 2:11), who is our mediator (1 Timothy 2:5), who is our High Priest (Hebrews 4), and our protector (Psa. 91); is dangerous and wrong.
It is un-Biblical and an error to teach that each one of us has a Guardian Angel, rather than the sound Biblical teaching that Jesus is our Guardian – ALONE. It is He that we are to keep our eyes focused on (see Luke 2:25-30 ~ Do you understand? ~ Now, continue according to Hebrews 12:2).
Remember Jesus’ words:
“While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled. And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:12-26)
1. THE COMPLETE WORD STUDY NEW TESTAMENT WITH GREEK PARALLEL, Spiros Zodhiates, PH T., AMG Publications, Chattanooga, TN 37422, USA, 1990
2. Used without permission, though verbatim. Thank you for your service – Helpmewithbiblestudy.org