The Work of Angels (Part 1) — Angels as Punitive Agents


TITLE: The Work of Angels (Part 1) — Angels as Punitive Agents

PROPOSITION: To examine the relationships of angels to men, their work, role, and effect upon men.

OBJECTIVE: To warn of the errors of the popular message today regarding angels, and to teach the truth of the relationships between angels and men, namely: angels only act according to God’s purposes and not necessarily as general provision for the welfare of men.


1. Popularity of Subject

1) 2008 study Baylor University: 55% “Yes” to: “I was protected from harm by a guardian angel” (Biema).

2) Pew Research Center: “nearly seven-in-ten Americans (68%) believe that angels and demons are active in the world” (Pew 12).

2. What is the Bible’s teaching regarding the role of Angels?

1) Hebrew “mal’akh,” and Greek “angelos,”“messenger.”

2) An “angel” is a messenger.

a. Messenger of God (e.g. Genesis 19:1);

b. Messenger of Satan (e.g. Matthew 25:41, Revelation 12:9).

3) Sometimes the Angel is God Himself (e.g. Exodus 3:2, 14:19).

4) The word “angel” carries no inherent notion of “good.”

5) “Thorn in the flesh” as an “angelos satana,” or “angel of Satan” (2 Corinthians 12:7).

6) Created beings (Psalm 148:2, 5), spirits, ministering to God and man (Hebrews 1:14).

3. Reference to S, T, P, and O.

DISCUSSION: Angels as Punitive Agents play different roles:

I.   A positive enabling type function and a negative disabling/preventative type function.

1. Genesis 3:24 says, “So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden the Cherubim, and the flame of a sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.”

2. The Cherubim prevented man from returning and eating of the tree of life.

3. The sin of Adam and Eve caused angels to deny blessings to man.

II.  An angels role in relationship to man is not exclusively to bless man.

1. Two angels came to see Lot in the city of Sodom (Genesis 19:1).

2. Gen.19:11 “And they smote the men that were at the door of the house with blindness, both small and great, so that they wearied themselves to find the door.”

3. The actions of angels in this context were punitive.

4. In 2 Samuel 24 David had committed the sin of numbering the people.

5. 2 Samuel 24:16 says, “And when the angel stretched out his hand toward Jerusalem to destroy it, Jehovah repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed the people, It is enough; now stay thy hand. And the angel of Jehovah was by the threshing–floor of Araunah the Jebusite.”

6. Herod Agrippa I – Acts 12:22-23: “And the people shouted, saying, The voice of a god, and not of a man. And immediately an angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost.”

7. Angels are portrayed in the scriptures as being punitive in relationship to men when the circumstances call for it.

III. God uses angels in a retributive way against some in order to protect His people.

1. Isaiah 37:33-37 – read.

1) Punishment upon Sennacherib for his blasphemy against God (Isaiah 37:23-24);

2) It also provided the protection for which Hezekiah prayed.

2. The King of Syria sent a great force to capture Elisha (2 Kings 6:13-14).

1) 2 Kings 6:17 “And Jehovah opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.”

2) Elisha asked God to smite the Syrians with blindness.

3) The Syrians were punished and Elisha was protected.


1. Angels play some punitive roles in scripture.

1) When men disobey God and God doesn’t want them to have access to certain blessings.

2) When men need to be punished for sin.

3) When God wants to protect His people.

2. Invitation