Spirits Who Minister
“To which of the angels has [God] ever said, ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet’? Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?”- Hebrews 1:13-14
Worshiper, message-bearer, soldier—these are roles that are filled by angels. But there is one more angelic office given to us in Scripture that helps us understand the function of these beings. As Hebrews 1:13–14 indicates, angels are spirits that minister to the needs of God’s people.
If we were to do a little reading on the subject of angels and angelic encounters, we would find many accounts of people even in our own day who claim that angels protected them or sustained them at a point of great need. Many individuals in the media might scoff at such claims, but that betrays more of an anti-supernaturalistic bias than anything else. The official position regarding angels of much of the leadership of the Western world in academia, the press, and other significant areas seems to be the outright denial that such beings could exist.
Stories of angelic encounters can be quite interesting, and perhaps in our own lives there are evidences of protection or sustenance that cannot be explained by ordinary causes. Nevertheless, our only sure guide to what it means for angels to be ministering spirits is the Word of God. As we look at some of the accounts of angels in Scripture, we see that the kind of ministry that they perform often overlaps with their actions as soldiers of the heavenly host. Consider 2 Kings 6:8–23. In this story, we read of the king of Syria’s attempt to capture the prophet Elisha by sending a great army against the city where the prophet was staying. Elisha’s servant was greatly afraid when he saw the Syrian forces, but the prophet was not concerned at all, saying to his servant that “those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” God then gave Elisha’s servant the eyes to see the realm that was normally invisible to him, and he beheld a great army made up of horses and chariots of fire surrounding Elisha. The Lord had commissioned the angelic host to minister to Elisha and his servant by protecting them from the Syrian assault.
Similarly, Acts 5:17–42 describes the angel’s freeing the Apostles from prison so that they could continue their ministry. In this case, the kind of ministry the angel performs is to remove an obstacle to the preaching of the gospel. Though we cannot ordinarily see angels, we have reason to believe God is using them to protect us and to remove hindrances to our gospel outreach.
There are many other ways that angels minister to the people of God, but the key point is that our Lord uses these beings for our benefit. His love is so great that He sends powerful creatures to minister to us in ways that we are not even aware of at times. If you are doubting God’s love this day, know that His use of angels in your behalf shows His great affection for you if you are in Christ.
Passages for Further Study