MAJOR BIBLE THEMES
Louis Sperry Chafer
"Bible doctrines are the bones of
revelation and the attentive Bible student must be
impressed with the New Testament emphasis on sound
doctrine (Matt. 7:28; John 7:16, 17; Acts 2:42; Rom.
6:17; Eph. 4:14; 1 Tim. 1:3; 4:6, 16; 6:1; 2 Tim.
3:10, 16; 4:2, 3; 2 John 1:9, 10)."
~ Dr. Louis Sperry Chafer ~
The studies presented
herein are a continuation
of Major Bible Themes which, Lord willing, will
eventually be presented
in its entirety. Major Bible Themes may serve as a wonderful outline for personal or group
Links to previous studies in the series may be found in our
pages. ~ editor
"Since we know
that there are many forms of created beings of a
lower sphere than man, it is reasonable to believe
that, though invisible, there are beings of a higher
order than man."
The Bible reflects
God's knowledge of the universe rather than man's; therefore, in
the Scriptures, the angels, concerning whom man of himself could
know nothing, are introduced with perfect freedom, being
mentioned about one hundred and eight times in the Old Testament
and one hundred and sixty-five times in the New Testament.
The word angel means messenger, and in its Biblical use is
sometimes employed of God, when as the Angel of Jehovah, He
Himself serves as a messenger to men (Gen. 16:1-13; 21:17-19;
22:11-16); it is used of men (Luke 7:24; Jas. 2:25; Rev. 1:20;
2:1, 8, 12, 18; 3:1, 7, 14); and of departed spirits of men
(Matt. 18:10; Acts 12:15). Of the latter use of the word it
should be noted that, though the departed spirits of men may be
called angels, the angels are not departed spirits of men, nor
do men at death become angels.
The angels are a distinct order of creation and have been given
a heavenly position, or sphere, above the sphere of man (Psa.
8:5; Heb. 2:7; Rev. 5:11; 7:11). Three heavens are mentioned in
the New Testament (2 Cor. 12:2), and in the Old Testament the
word heaven is plural. When entering the human sphere, Christ
was thereby, for a little time made lower than the angels (Heb.
2:9); when returning to Heaven, Christ again passed through the
angelic sphere (Heb. 4:14; 9:24) and was seated far above
principalities and powers (Eph. 1:20, 21).
Since we know that there are many forms of created beings of a
lower sphere than man, it is reasonable to believe that, though
invisible, there are beings of a higher order than man. Like all
beings, other than the Godhead, the angels are created. In
Colossians 1:16 mention is made of their creation, and in
Ezekiel 28:13, 15, the creation of Satan -- one of the angelic
order -- is mentioned in particular.
The angels are always referred to in the masculine gender, and
as to their number we read of "an innumerable company" (Heb.
12:22, which word should be translated "myriads." Note Matt.
26:53; Dan. 7:10; Rev. 5:11). It is also implied that there is
no increase of their number by generation (Matt. 22:30) and we
know of no cessation of their existence by death. If the angels
have bodies, their bodies are of a spiritual order (1 Cor.
15:44). When seen of men they have, for the time being, a
material appearance (Matt. 28:3; Rev. 15:6; 18:1). On the other
hand, those of the angelic company known as demons are seen to
be seeking entrance into the bodies of the creatures of earth
Two classes of angelic beings are to be distinguished:
I. THE UNFALLEN ANGELS
1. Their nature.
The unfallen angels are the "ministering spirits" (Heb. 1:14)
who kept their first estate and are therefore designated as the
"holy angels" (Matt. 25:31). In the Scriptures, these are in
view in almost every reference to the angels.
Of the holy angels, several
are mentioned in particular as well as certain classes:
(1) Michael the Archangel, whose name means "who is like unto
God" (Dan. 10:21; 12:1; Jude 1:9; Rev. 12:7-10).
(2) Gabriel, whose name means "the mighty one," and to whom has
been entrusted various heavenly messages (Dan. 8:16; 9:21; Luke
(3) The Elect Angels (1 Tim. 5:21).
(4) Principalities and Powers, which term is sometimes used of
all angels, and sometimes of only the fallen angels (Rom. 8:38;
Eph. 1:21; 3:10; Col. 1:16; 2:10, 15; 1 Pet. 3:22; Luke 21:26).
(5) Cherubim, or living creatures, who defend God's holiness
from the pollution of sinful beings (Gen. 3:24; Exod. 25:17-20;
Ezk. 1:1-18. Note also the original purpose for which Satan was
created, Ezk. 28:14).
(6) Seraphim (Isa. 6:2-7).
(7) The Angel of Jehovah, which title belongs only to God and is
used in connection with the divine manifestations in the earth
and therefore is in no way to be included in the angelic hosts
(Gen. 18:1 to 19:29; 22:11, 12; 31:11-13; 48:15, 16; 32:24-32;
Josh. 5:13-15; Judg. 13:19-22; 2 Kings 19:35; 1 Chron. 21:12-30;
Psa. 34:7). The strongest contrasts between Christ, who is the
Angel of Jehovah, and the angelic beings is presented in Hebrews
2. Their ministry.
Of the ministry of the unfallen angels revelation declares:
(1) They were present at creation (Job. 38:7), at the giving of
the law (Gal. 3:19; Acts 7:53; Heb. 2:2; Rev. 22:16), at the
birth of Christ (Luke 2:13), at the temptation (Matt. 4:11), in
the garden (Luke 22:43), at the resurrection (Matt. 28:2), at
the ascension (Acts 1:10), and they will yet appear at the
second coming of Christ (Matt. 24:31; 25:31; 2 Thess. 1:7).
(2) The angels are ministering spirits sent forth to minister to
those who shall be heirs of salvation (Heb. 1:14; Psa. 34:7;
91:11). Though we have been given no communication or fellowship
with the angels, yet we should recognize the fact of their
ministry which is constant
(3) The angels are spectators and witnesses of the things of
earth (Psa. 103:20; Luke 12:8, 9; 15:10; 1 Cor. 11:10; 1 Tim.
3:16; 1 Pet. 1:12; Rev. 14:10).
(4) Lazarus was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom (Luke
II. THE FALLEN ANGELS
The fallen angels have been
divided into two classes: (1) those that are free and (2) those
that are bound. Of the fallen angels, Satan alone is given
particular mention in the Scriptures.
It is probable that when
Satan fell (John 8:44) he drew after him a multitude of lesser
beings. Of these, some are reserved in chains unto judgment (2
Pet. 2:4; Jude 1:6; 1 Cor. 6:3); the remainder are free and are
the demons, or devils, to whom reference is constantly made
throughout the New Testament (Mark 5:9, 15; Luke 8:30; 1 Tim.
4:1). They are Satan's aids in all his undertakings and share
his doom (Matt. 25:41; Rev. 20:10).
1. What is indicated as to
the authorship of the Scriptures when they treat of angels as
freely as they do of men?
a. What is the meaning of the word angel?
b. Of what classes is the title used?
3. Where is the abode of the angels in relation to man and in
relation to Christ's present position?
4. What is revealed as to the gender of angels, as to their
number, as to their increase, and as to their death?
5. Have the angels bodies?
6. What are the two general classes of angels?
7. Name the particular angels and classes of angels referred to
in the Scriptures.
8. Who is the Angel of Jehovah?
9. In connection with what great events are the angels said to
10. What relation do they sustain to the child of God?
11. What is said of the angels as witnesses?
12. What ministry was committed to them in connection with
Lazarus the beggar?
13. Into what two classes are the fallen angels divided?
14. Describe the position and service of each of these classes.
Themes herein presented is its first edition
(copyright 1926), is in the public domain, and may be
freely downloaded in its entirety or chapter by chapter
Information for purchase
of the revised edition by John F. Walvoord (copyright
1974) may be found at the same address.
Dr. Louis Sperry Chafer (1871-1952)
was the founder of Dallas Theological Seminary, and from
1924 until his death, served as the its first President
and Professor of Systematic Theology. His
ground-breaking eight volume Systematic Theology,
first published in 1947-1948,
was the first systematization of a premillennial,
dispensational interpretation of the Scriptures.
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