Question of the Week: Into Which Angels Long to Look?

  [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

On June 9th, The Mentionables received this question from Brian Goad:

"We know from Scriptures that the angels desire to look into the mysteries of the Gospel. What mysteries about the Gospel seem to perplex even angels?"

These are the answers from the team:

This is the answer from Joel Furches. For the answer from Nick Peters and Randy Hroziencik scroll below.

The relevant passage to this question is the first chapter of 1 Peters. 

Peter’s point, here, is to praise God that he and his readers now lived in an age where these mysteries had finally been revealed. He says: It was revealed to them[the prophets] that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.

So the “things into which angels long to look” refers specifically to “the good news,” meaning the Gospel.

When one dissects the nature of the Gospel, and man’s place therein, the meaning of this passage becomes clear. It was human beings who were the victims of sin and corruption. Humans are moral agents who, by virtue of their sin nature, were unable to perfectly fulfill their moral obligations to God. Angels, presumably, are moral agents who are able to perfectly fulfill their moral obligations and duties toward God.

It was therefore humans who were the beneficiaries of Christ’s work, and of the salvation purchased through this work.

Hence, the entire human story – from Adam to Christ – is the story of sin and salvation. And while the human part of this story is to be the victims and the redeemed, God’s part in this story was to actually incarnate as a human and to work the redemption.

Human being’s relationship with God is to reveal his nature. Because of the human story, we see God’s Holiness, Justice, Love and Grace.

Angels have no such relationship with God. They sit outside the human story looking in. They are neither subjected to sin, nor are they beneficiaries of Christ’s work. And at no point has God ever incarnated as an angel – rather only as a human being.

This passage seems to indicate that angels – who worship God day and night – worship God because of the work of Christ.

Think of Revelation 5, wherein all the host of heaven fall before Jesus and shout, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” 

Why was Christ worthy of power and wealth and wisdom, etc? Because he is the lamb who was slain. This worth of which the angels sing is a direct result of the Gospel – into which they long to look.

In other words, this passage does not speak of the angels be perplexed by the Gospel, so much as a yearning towards the Gospel. They cannot fully appreciate the Gospel in the way that a human can, because they sit outside of it rather than being subject to it.

So the author is attempting to convey to a persecuted church the privileged position they hold, both in history and the cosmos. They are contemporary with the events of their salvation, unlike the prophets who looked forward to them. They have experienced their salvation in a way that no angel ever could. Moreover, they have experienced the mystic union with the Holy Spirit – a direct connection to God more intimate than even the angels have; they who live eternally in God’s very presence.

This answer is from Mentionable Nick Peters for the answer from Randy Hroziencik, scroll below

I think the angels were wondering what God's plan was all along. They didn't know. If there was anything that I think was astounding to them, it was the incarnation. God becoming a man. Not even the prophets as well who prophecied about Jesus knew all that was going to happen. They longed to see it. 

We really need to see the coming of Jesus as the fulfillment of all the hopes of mankind ultimately.

This answer is from Mentionables Network Member Randy Hroziencik

Randy.jpg

What mysteries regarding salvation seem to perplex even angels?  This is a great question, which is based upon 1 Peter 1:12.  I believe that, like us, angels are perplexed by the coexistence of divine predestination (election) and human free will (choice).  Christian believers often debate with each other over whether divine predestination or human free will takes precedence in salvation, and it could very well be that even angels are involved in this debate with one another as well!  By the way, I don’t think that only godly angels are pondering the big questions of salvation, but I believe that even the fallen angels are intensely interested in this issue as well.

When the topic of predestination and free will comes up in the classes that I teach, my answer to the question, “Are you a Calvinist or an Arminian?” is always, “Yes!”  The case for both positions is scripturally sound.  The coexistence of divine predestination and human free will is a paradox that I’ll never get my mind around, and it’s quite possible that the angels can’t fully grasp this issue, either – although they certainly have a better shot at it than I do!

As this debate applies to the angels, another very big question they might have is, “Why are fallen human beings able to attain salvation, while fallen angels are not?”  Have you ever wondered if a fallen angel has, at some time in the past, said to himself, “Why in the world did I ever choose to follow Satan?  What was I thinking?”  Angels were created before humans, and angels were also created with significantly greater power and abilities than humans (Hebrews 2:7), yet humans – and humans alone – are able to attain to salvation.  Certainly that is intriguing, and possibly even frustrating for some fallen angels.  A fallen angel might be inclined to ask what’s so special about mankind, and why weren’t angels alone good enough for God – why did God feel the need to create human beings?  Food for thought.  Shalom in Christ.