What Do We Know About Whether The Angel Of The Lord Is Jesus?

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Published by Kimberly Wall

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Co-Founder, Disciple Group Leader, Author

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The Hebrew word mal’ak, as well as the Greek term aggelos, are the two keywords that are rendered as “angel” or “angels” in our English scriptures. Both words correspond to “messenger.” Yet in some Old Testament passages (e.g., Job 1:6 and 38:7), angels are mentioned as “sons of God.”

The aforementioned is a description given the notion that the Lord God is a spiritual being [1], along with angels, and angels are creatures of God with the physical form of young men (with no wings). It’s necessary to acknowledge the difference when trying to fully grasp that the angel of the Lord is Jesus, the Son of God, in the Holy Bible and not the angel that we know.

Key Takeaways

  • The Angel of the Lord in the Old Testament is often identified with God Himself, displaying divine attributes and authority, suggesting a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus Christ.
  • The specific term “Angel of the Lord” ceases to appear in the New Testament, implying that this figure’s role as a divine messenger aligns with the incarnation of Jesus Christ.
  • The Angel of the Lord is distinct from other angelic beings, possessing unique powers and the ability to forgive sins, attributes that are solely God’s, reinforcing the concept of Jesus as the visible manifestation of the invisible God.

Who Is The Angel Of The Lord?

This character, sometimes known as the “angel of the Presence,” the “angel of the LORD,” or the “messenger, or angel, of the Covenant,” is mentioned throughout the Bible, both the Old and New Testaments. He is included in a number of substantial settings and stands out among all of the other angels because of how he is depicted.

So, considering the specific characteristics of the angel of the Lord, three basic viewpoints have been advanced:

  1. A magnificent angel who served as the Lord’s own representative.
  2. God the Father taking on human form.
  3. God the Son temporarily assumes a physical body.

The Old Testament also offers brief and subtle hints at the existence of female angels as messengers of God, albeit elusive, adding to the complexity and richness of angelic representations in the Scripture.

angel in a serene garden filled with blooming flowers and angel of the lord is jesus

Does The Bible Say The Angel Of The Lord Is Jesus?

Genesis 16:7–14

Then the angel of the Lord told her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her.” The angel added, “I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count.”

— Genesis 16:9–10

The mention of Jesus in Genesis is a topic of theological debate, as some believe there had been subtle foreshadowing of his arrival in the Old Testament.

The angel is called by the name “angel of the Lord” (Lord denoting YHWH) in Genesis 16. This angel speaks in a manner that only the Almighty would do, for only He can multiply a person’s descendants and make commitments like such.

Hagar calls the angel El Roi, which means the One who sees me, indicating that she too thinks and believes that this is God. In verse 13, she claimed, “You are [El Roi] a God of seeing. Truly, here I have seen Him who looks after me.”

Exodus 3:2–7

It is in Exodus 3 that we learn that the angel of the Lord assumed the shape of tongues of fire; this appearance is undoubtedly God since the passage says, “God called to him from within the burning bush.” It’s in this very same portion, in lines 14 and 15, where the Lord appeared to Moses, revealing His identity as YHWH:

“God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’’ God also said to Moses, ‘Say to the Israelites, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’’ ‘This is my name forever, the name you shall call me from generation to generation.”

Judges 13

Prior to the birth of Samson, his parents (Manoah and his mother) received word from the angel of the Lord that their child would free Israel from the hands of the Philistines. The angel originally appeared to his mother, who later characterized him as having the look of an (amazing) angel of God yet still seeming like a man (Judges 13:6).

Therefore, even though this messenger lacks wings, something about his appearance and stature suggests that he is a higher being than a human. Manoah informs his wife, “We will surely die, for we have seen God” (verse 22), after an extraordinary encounter.

Manoah once questioned the angel’s name during their conversation. “Why do you ask my name, seeing it is wonderful?” the angel retorted. The word “wonderful” that the angel chose to express the Messiah’s arrival is closely correlated with the one Isaiah utilizes to characterize him. “Because a son will be given to us, a child will be born to us; He will be known by the names Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Prince of Peace, and Eternal Father,” says Isaiah 9:6.

Numbers 22:22–35

Balaam was a dishonest prophet who worked as a fortune teller for the Moabite king, Balak, in order to profit from God’s presence. To Balaam’s credit, he constantly spoke of God’s blessings over the Israelites in places where Balak intended to curse them.

However, Balaam was a bad prophet whose primary interest was “the wages of unrighteousness” (2 Peter 2:15–16) because he continued to mingle with Balak’s elders as well as intended to curse Israel to make some additional money (Deuteronomy 23:3–6).

God interfered with Balaam—”But God was angry because he was going, and the angel of the Lord took his stand in the way as an adversary against him. Now he was riding on his donkey, and his two servants were with him.”

Furthermore, “when the donkey saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way with his drawn sword in his hand, the donkey turned off from the way and went into the field; but Balaam struck the donkey to turn her back into the way. Then the angel of the Lord stood in a narrow path of the vineyards, with a wall on this side and a wall on that side.” (Numbers 22:22–35)

The angel is offended by Balaam’s disobedience. Not only does he speak for God, but he also states that “your way was contrary to me” (Numbers 22:32). The angel claims that if events had taken a different course, he would have intended to execute the prophet, adding yet another level of authority and power.

Genesis 18

The Lord showed up to Sarah and Abraham in the image of a man along with other two men in Genesis 18. Abraham acknowledged these unexpected guests as being highly significant, which is why he ran to greet them, quite seemingly out of character for an individual of his wealth and age. However, he observed something unusual concerning one of the men.

Abraham recognized that this was the One who provided for him. The term “declares the LORD” appeared in the same line as the angel of the Lord speaks, indicating that the Lord (YHWH) and the angel of the Lord are plainly one and similar in this instance, suggesting the angel of the Lord is Jesus.

The Lord called and repeated the promise He had made to Abraham in Genesis 12:1–3, and ended His statement by declaring, “You have obeyed my voice.”

Genesis 31, 32, and 48

It is apparent that the “angel of God” who appears in Jacob’s dream is truly God speaking. Jacob also has a direct experience with God in Genesis 32:24–30. Jacob believes that this God, who looked to be a man, was the one with whom he struggled.

“By the time their battle is over, Jacob is certain that his adversary is none other than God,” according to the ESV Study Bible (refer to v. 30). Knowing that God had earlier appeared to Abraham in His human form (18:1–15), this is not unlikely.

When Jacob grew older, he gave blessings to Joseph and his other two sons in Genesis 48:15–16: “And he blessed Joseph and said, ‘The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life long to this day, the angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the boys; and in them let my name be carried on, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.’

Exodus 14:19–20

Despite having left Egypt, the Israelites are still in peril (Exodus 13:21–22). God’s plan shifts as Pharaoh alters his mind and pursues the Israelites, rather than leading Israel. God now stands guard between Egypt’s forces and the Israelites. The protector’s identity does, however, change this time.

The pillar of cloud moved from in front of them to behind them, and the angel of God who had been leading the army of Israel moved and followed behind them. It moved in between the camps of Egypt and Israel, where there was darkness and a cloud, yet it also provided light at night. As a result, they stayed far apart during the entire night (Exodus 14:19–20).

What Power And Authority Does The Angel Of The Lord Have?

  • The angel is explicitly identified as God in several verses and circumstances.
  • The angel possesses the ability to grant life (Genesis 16:10), an authority that only God possesses, as well as the ability to take life (2 Samuel 6).
  • Exodus 3:7 and Genesis 16:13 refer to the angel as omniscient, which is a quality that can only belong to God.
  • In Genesis 18:25, he is referred to as the judge of the entire world, a title meant for only God.
  • The angel is claimed to have the power to pardon wrongdoing according to Exodus 23:21, which only God can do.
  • Joshua and Moses offered worship to this angel, and this angel allowed them to do so. In other biblical texts, angelic entities forbid honor or glory to be given to them when it is solely due to God.
  • The angel wielded extraordinary power, unlike any other angel in the Holy Bible.

The angel of the Lord appears to be God manifested in numerous Old Testament writings, and the sole member of the Trinity is mentioned in the Holy Scriptures as having assumed a human form or taken on human characteristics—Jesus Christ, God the Son.

How Do We Know That The Angel Of The Lord Is Jesus?

In various Bible passages, people have seen the angel of the Lord. We cannot say that the Father in the Holy Trinity is the angel of God because no one has seen the Father (John 6:46). Furthermore, the Holy Spirit never assumes a human form and rarely takes any shape at all.

The Spirit is revealed as a dove during Jesus’ baptism in Matthew 3:16 as well as fiery flames during the time of Pentecost in Acts 2:3–4, though He is never depicted in the Bible assuming the shape of a man. Thus, there is no basis for assuming that the Spirit is the angel of the Lord based on these Old Testament instances.

Ultimately, in Colossians 1:15–20, Paul affirms that Christ has constantly been the true “image of the invisible God”. As a result, references to the angel of the Lord as the “pre-incarnate” Jesus are made since He stood in for the invisible God before He became human. That same angel also fails to appear in the New Testament after Christ became a human being and after His ascension to heaven.

Moreover, Jesus Christ embodies the characteristics of an angel or messenger. He is the messenger of God who delivered important messages to man. So God did not solely send His only Son, the pre-incarnate Christ, but He also sent the angel of the Lord, making the earth a holy ground.

angel standing atop a cloud and angel of the lord is jesus

Summary

The Lord Himself appears to have been revealed as the angel of the Lord in several instances in the Old Testament. The angel possesses qualities that can be found in God alone. Additionally, He is referred to as the Lord. In this case, He is not some sort of created entity but rather God Himself, who assumed the shape of an angel.

Although some have speculated that it could be God the Father, it is most probable to be Jesus Christ, the only Son of God and the second Person of the Holy Trinity, who came to earth briefly as a man to bring God’s plan of salvation to fruition.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is The Angel Of The Lord God Or Jesus?

The angel of the Lord is often interpreted as a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus Christ, who in the Old Testament demonstrates divine attributes and actions that suggest he is more than an angel; he is God revealing himself, specifically as the second person of the Trinity before the incarnation.

Who Does The Bible Refer To As The Angel Of The Lord?

The Bible refers to the angel of the Lord as a unique figure who appears in key moments of the Old Testament narrative, exhibiting divine authority and characteristics, leading many to view him as a manifestation of God, often associated with the pre-incarnate Christ.

Who Was The Angel That Named Jesus?

The angel that named Jesus was Gabriel, who was sent by God to Mary to announce the birth of Jesus, telling her, “You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus” (Luke 1:31).

Is The Angel Of The Lord The Same As The Holy Spirit?

No, the angel of the Lord is not the same as the Holy Spirit. The angel of the Lord is interpreted as a manifestation of God in the Old Testament, often seen as a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit, on the other hand, is the third person of the Trinity, primarily as the indwelling presence of God guiding, teaching, and empowering them.

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