Skip to main content

Angels of the Seven Churches

Angels of the Seven Churches

The ‘seven stars’ of the Patmos vision are explained as referring to ‘the angels (angeloi) of the seven churches’ (Rev. 1:20), to whom the letters of Rev. 2 and 3 are then addressed. The ‘angel’ concept is problematic. It is often taken either of guardian angels or of human leaders or bishops of the churches. Both suggestions involve difficulty. Elsewhere in Rev., angelos certainly means ‘angel’, but the 'angel’ can scarcely be made to share responsibility for the sins of the church. The interpretation ‘bishop’ seems contrary to usage, and unsupported by effective parallels. There is no such emphasis on episcopacy as later in Ignatius. Nor can this view be based on the inferior reading ‘your wife’ in 2:20 (sou inserted by dittography). And again it would be strange to hold one man individually and absolutely responsible for the church. angelos is literally ‘messenger’, but the initially attractive idea that the angeloi might be messengers appointed by the churches breaks down for a combination of similar reasons.
The real difficulty is probably that the image belongs to a context and genre which eludes the logic of modern categories. angelos must be rendered verbally as ‘angel’, but the verbal equivalence does not sufficiently explain the underlying thought. The ‘angel’ is perhaps something like a heavenly counterpart of the church. In practice, we may visualize this as amounting to a personification of the church, even if this does less than justice to the connotations of the original concept. More
Hemer, C. J. “Angels of the Churches.” Ed. D. R. W. Wood et al. New Bible Dictionary 1996: 37. Print.
Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

My Utmost for His Highest

July 1st The inevitable penalty Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou have paid the uttermost farthing.Matthew 5:26. “There is no heaven with a little of hell in it.” God is determined to make you pure and holy and right; he will not allow you to escape for one moment from the scrutiny of the Holy Spirit. He urged you to come to judgment right away when He convicted you, but you did not; the inevitable process began to work and now you are in prison, and you will only get out when you have paid the uttermost farthing. ‘Is this a God of mercy, and of love?’ you say. Seen from God’s side, it is a glorious ministry of love. God is going to bring you out pure and spotless and undefiled; but He wants you to recognize the disposition you were showing—the disposition of your right to yourself. The moment you are willing that God should alter your disposition, His re-creating forces will begin to work. The moment you realize God’s purpose, which is to get you …

Revised Common Lectionary

Sunday, July 9, 2017 | After Pentecost Proper 9 Year A

Old Testament & Psalm, Option I Old TestamentGenesis 24:34–38, 42–49, 58–67 Psalm Psalm 45:10–17 or Song of Solomon 2:8–13 or Old Testament & Psalm, Option II Old Testament Zechariah 9:9–12 Psalm Psalm 145:8–14 New Testament Romans 7:15–25a Gospel Matthew 11:16–19, 25–30

Revised Common Lectionary. Bellingham, WA: Faithlife, 2009. Print.

Connect the Testaments

September 11: Bad Things, Good People, and Grace Amos 6:1–7:17; Acts 10:1–33; Job 20:12–29 We often wonder why God allows bad things to happen. We’re not unique in this; people have asked this same question since the beginning of time. Job struggled with this question after he lost everything. Job’s friends strove to answer it as they sought to prove that Job had somehow sinned against God and brought his terrible fate upon himself. At one point, Job’s friend Zophar offers up the common wisdom of the time: “Did you know this from of old, since the setting of the human being on earth, that the rejoicing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the godless lasts only a moment?… [The wicked man] will suck the poison of horned vipers; the viper’s tongue will kill [the wicked man]” (Job 20:4–5, 16). Zophar is right about one thing: Eventually the wicked will be punished. The rest of Zophar’s words prove his short-sightedness. The wicked are not always punished immediately. And God does not allow…