Skip to main content

Angels of the Seven Churches

Angels of the Seven Churches

Excerpt
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

Connect the Testaments

March 29: Prayer and Hope for the Anxious Numbers 33:1–49; 1 Corinthians 15:12–34; Psalm 28:1–9 Anxiety, depression, and fear aren’t part of the Christian life—or the ideal Christian life, anyway. But for those who struggle with these emotions, this tidy concept isn’t helpful or true. What is helpful is hope and belief in the midst of tumultuous emotion. The writer of Psa 28 expresses deep anxiety, but even as he does this, he expresses trust in Yahweh: “To you, O Yahweh, I call. O my rock, do not be deaf to me. Or else, if you are silent to me, then I will become like those descending to the pit” (Psa 28:1). Though he feels like God is not listening, the psalmist doesn’t stop pursuing God. He worships and cries for help anyway. In contrast to the “workers of evil” who “do not regard the works of Yahweh, nor the work of his hands,” the psalmist puts all of his dependence and trust in Yahweh (Psa 28:3, 5). Halfway through the psalm, the petition turns to praise when Yahweh answers his pray…

Connect the Testaments

March 28: Risk: Oversold and Underplayed Numbers 32:1–42; 1 Corinthians 14:26–15:11; Psalm 27:1–14 The fears of the psalmist are not our fears today, and the fact that they aren’t should bother us. The psalmist remarks, “Do not give me over to the desire of my enemies, because false witnesses have arisen against me, and each breathing out violence. Surely I believe that I will see the goodness of Yahweh in the land of the living” (Psa 27:12–13). How many of us have legitimate enemies because of our faith? And how many of us experience violence because of the way we believe? There are many problems with Christianity today, but one of the most pervasive is the lack of willingness to take major risks for Jesus. Likewise, there is unbelief in God’s incredible ability to overcome all that we face. We may say that we affirm God’s power to beat all odds, but we don’t face the odds as if that were true. If we did, there would be far more world-changing Christians than there are. Instead, most Chr…

Morning and Evening

Morning, December 2Go To Evening Reading
“Thou art all fair, my love.” Song of Solomon 4:7
The Lord’s admiration of his Church is very wonderful, and his description of her beauty is very glowing. She is not merely fair, but “all fair.” He views her in himself, washed in his sin-atoning blood and clothed in his meritorious righteousness, and he considers her to be full of comeliness and beauty. No wonder that such is the case, since it is but his own perfect excellency that he admires; for the holiness, glory, and perfection of his Church are his own glorious garments on the back of his own well-beloved spouse. She is not simply pure, or well-proportioned; she is positively lovely and fair! She has actual merit! Her deformities of sin are removed; but more, she has through her Lord obtained a meritorious righteousness by which an actual beauty is conferred upon her. Believers have a positive righteousness given to them when they become “accepted in the beloved” (Eph. 1:6). Nor is the Ch…