Take the 2-minute tour ×
Christianity Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for committed Christians, experts in Christianity and those interested in learning more. It's 100% free, no registration required.

There a number of biblical passages (such as 1 Corinthians 4:9) that are worded as such indicating angels were created separately from and and are different from humans.

For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like those condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to human beings. (1 Corinthians 4:9, NIV)

From time to time I hear someone talking about their deceased love-one being an angel in heaven. I see this in works of fiction on TV and the like too.

Is there anything in the Bible that suggests humans can become angels?

share|improve this question

closed as off-topic by curiousdannii, Dick Harfield, El'endia Starman Apr 15 at 19:45

  • This question does not appear to be about Christianity within the scope defined in the help center.
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

    
1 Corinthians 4:9 could easily be explained by saying men are people on the earth and angels are spirits in heaven. Could you share the other references regarding this? –  JustinY Sep 4 '11 at 14:48
    
Some Christians believe that humans can become angels, some don't. How about asking what a specific Christian tradition thinks? –  Andres Riofrio Jul 25 '13 at 7:29
    
Though this is an old question that appears off-topic, it's a pretty small topic. The Bible is relatively silent on angels so answers should be pretty small to cover it fairly. I would not vtc. –  fredsbend Feb 12 at 22:03
    
@curiousdannii Asking "What is the Biblical basis for..." negates almost all the answers. –  Mr. Bultitude Mar 13 at 20:49
2  
I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is a Truth Question/Verse request question. See this Meta discussion. –  curiousdannii Apr 15 at 1:48

7 Answers 7

This answer is from the perspective of the theology of Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772), and of the various church denominations that accept his theology.

Swedenborg taught that there are no angels pre-created as a separate race, nor did any such pre-created angels fall from heaven to become Satan and his army. Instead, he taught that all angels and demons were once human beings who lived in the material world, and that Satan or the Devil is a collective term for hell.

As explained more fully in my answer here, Swedenborg is the primary source of the modern-day view that people become angels after death. Swedenborg himself, though, saw this idea as firmly based on the Bible's depiction of angels.

This answer draws heavily on the article, What the Bible Says: Where Angels Come From, which is also written from the perspective of Swedenborg's theology.

The Bible says nothing about angels being created

Genesis 1 describes the creation of "the heavens and the earth," and everything in them. And yet, in the Creation story there is no mention of God creating angels. It seems unlikely that God would leave such an important created being out of the Creation story.

The creation of angels is not mentioned anywhere else in the Bible, either.

The passage about "Lucifer" in Isaiah 14:12, which is often cited as evidence of pre-existing angels, was only interpreted as being about a fallen angel centuries after it was originally written. In the original Hebrew, the word that is translated "Lucifer" in older and more traditional Christian translations actually refers to the morning star (i.e., Venus), using it as a metaphor for the King of Babylon.

Though there are non-Biblical texts describing angels as a separate races of beings, the Bible itself never says that they are a separate race, nor does it make any clear statements about where they came from. The idea that angels as separate beings comes more from tradition and church doctrine than it does from the Bible.

And as covered in the remaining points, there are plenty of things in the Bible suggesting that angels are indeed humans who have gone on to heaven.

The Bible often refers to angels as "men" (or "people")

Examples:

While I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen before in a vision, came to me in swift flight at the time of the evening sacrifice. (Daniel 9:21)

Gabriel is seen by Christians as an angel based on Luke 1:19, 26, but in Daniel he is called a "man."

The two angels who visited Lot in Genesis 19:1-29 (they are called "angels" in verses 1 & 15) are called "men" in Genesis 18:2, 16, 22; 19:10, 12, 16, and in several other verses in Genesis 18 & 19.

When an angel appeared to Manoah and his wife (Samson's parents) in Judges 13, they identified him as a "man of God" and both they and the story also refer to him as a "man"--although he is also clearly identified as an angel. Manoah even calls the angel "a man" when he talks to him, and the angel does not correct him, suggesting that the angel did not have a problem thinking of himself as a human being like Manoah.

In Zechariah's vision of the horsemen in Zechariah 1:7-17, the lead horseman, who was "standing among the myrtle trees" is referred to both as a "man" and as an "angel."

The angel(s) at Jesus' empty tomb is(are) referred to as an angel in Matthew 28:2-7 and as two angels in John 20:11-13, but as a man in Mark 16:5-7 and two men in Luke 24:4-8.

In short, the Bible uses "angel" and "man" almost interchangeably when speaking about angels. If angels were a separate race, the Bible would not refer to them as men, or people. That would be like calling a horse a sheep or a pig a donkey.

Angels look like people

As seen in the passages quoted and referred to just above, when people on earth encounter angels, they commonly think that they are meeting a human being rather than an angel. The writer of the letter to the Hebrews even says:

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it. (Hebrews 13:2)

Although angels are sometimes described in the Bible as having shining faces and clothes, that is not unique to angels. Moses' face also shone after he had spoken with God (see Exodus 34:29-34). And in the final verse of the Parable of the Weeds among the Wheat in Matthew 13:24-30; 36-43, Jesus says:

Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. (Matthew 13:43)

So Jesus himself says that people who are righteous will shine in God's kingdom--just like the angels.

"Angel" means "messenger," not a separate race of beings

In both the Hebrew of the Old Testament and the Greek of the New Testament, the word for "angel" simply means "messenger." It does not refer to a separate race of beings. And wherever angels are described, they are described in terms that are also used for people. For example, both angels and people are called:

In fact, human beings are also called "messengers" many times in the Bible, using the very same words, both in Hebrew and in Greek, that are used of angel messengers. For just a few examples, see Genesis 32:3; Deuteronomy 2:26; Joshua 6:17; Matthew 11:10; Luke 7:24; James 2:25.

In short, "angels" or "messengers" in the Bible can be either human beings on earth or angelic beings in heaven, and both of them are described using the same words.

Angels themselves reject the idea that they are superior beings

Not once, but twice in the book of Revelation, John falls down to worship at the feet of the angel who was speaking to him. Both times, the angel stopped him, making himself equal to human beings under God:

At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, "Don't do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers and sisters who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For it is the Spirit of prophecy who bears testimony to Jesus." (Revelation 19:10)

I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me. But he said to me, "Don't do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your fellow prophets and with all who keep the words of this scroll. Worship God!" (Revelation 22:8-9)

Jesus says that we become like angels after death

In the incident of the question from the Sadducees about the Resurrection, recorded in the three Synoptic Gospels, Jesus says we will be "like" or "equal to" the angels. See Matthew 22:30; Mark 12:25; Luke 20:35-36. And the saved are described as having powers similar to those that angels might wield. See, for example, Mark 16:17,18; 11:23; Luke 10:17,19; John 14:12.

Yes, it could be objected that just because people can be just like angels, that doesn't necessarily mean that they can become and be angels. But if it looks like an angel, walks like an angel, and quacks like an angel . . . .

Conclusion

Nowhere in the Bible does it say that angels are a separately created race of beings.

Everywhere in the Bible, angels are described as being human, as having similar characteristics and powers as human beings, and as engaging in similar tasks as human beings.

Further, both angels and Jesus himself make humans--especially humans who have died and been resurrected--equal to and in every way like angels.

Based on all of this, it can reasonably be drawn from the somewhat scanty statements about angels in the Bible that they are indeed human beings who have gone on to the spiritual world and become angels. After all, Jesus himself said to one of the thieves on the cross, "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise" (Luke 23:43).

The main difference between humans and angels is that humans live on earth while angels live in heaven. Other than that, it's difficult if not impossible to find any real differences between them. And since it is commonly believed by many, if not most, Christians that we will live in heaven after death, that would leave no differences at all between angels and humans.

And why would God create two different races of beings that look the same, speak the same, think the same, and act the same as each other?

Once again, this answer is given from the perspective of the theology of Emanuel Swedenborg and the churches that accept his doctrines.

share|improve this answer
    
At the suggestion of @Mr.Bultitude here, this answer has now been re-posted (in a new and improved version!) under a new question here: What is the biblical basis for humans becoming angels? –  Lee Woofenden Apr 16 at 2:01

After we die, We will be like angels in heaven exactly like Jesus taught Saduccees in Matthew 22.

Here is the passage from Matthew 22:23-32 (NIV) if anyone is interested in reading it.

Matthew 22:23-32 (NIV)

That same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. “Teacher,” they said, “Moses told us that if a man dies without having children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for him. Now there were seven brothers among us. The first one married and died, and since he had no children, he left his wife to his brother. The same thing happened to the second and third brother, right on down to the seventh. Finally, the woman died. Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?”

Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. But about the resurrection of the dead—have you not read what God said to you, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.”

share|improve this answer
3  
Being "like angels" is not the same thing as "becoming angels". Since you haven't defined what "like" means in this context, this doesn't really answer the question yet. –  Caleb Jul 25 '13 at 8:45
    
I didn't say they will become angels. The point I made is they will have the qualities of angels. –  konwayk Jul 25 '13 at 15:34

No.

The general accounts of men, angels and the interaction between the two makes a pretty clear distinction that they are different KINDS of beings. Both are created by God but each has a different purpose and different destiny. We understand some things they do not. They are not bound by some of the physical limitations we are.

One interesting note is that angels were never offered salvation. The 1/3 of the angels that sided with Satan in his rebellion were cast out of Heaven and every indication is made that they will never see it again.

share|improve this answer
1  
The fact that 1/3 of the angels won't receive salvation doesn't mean the other 2/3 won't. –  JustinY Sep 4 '11 at 22:44
6  
@JustinY: The other 2/3 wouldn't need salvation in the first place... –  El'endia Starman Sep 4 '11 at 23:58
    
@El'endiaStarman I agree they don't need salvation per se but there is actually a really interesting issue along those lines. I feel a question coming on. I'm really curious to see if the issue that I have in mind gets dealt with! –  Caleb Sep 8 '11 at 20:30
    
We are the other 2/3. –  Brian Hitchcock Mar 12 at 10:06
    
@BrianHitchcock Um, no. Actually we aren't. At least not according to far more that 2/3 of Christianity! –  Caleb Mar 12 at 10:07

There are at least two verses in the Bible where humans and angels are directly compared:

Hebrews 2:6b-7,9a (NIV)

6b what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?

7 You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor.

9 What we do see is Jesus, who was given a position “a little lower than the angels”

If men and Jesus Himself were (a little) lower than angels, then I don't think they become angels. And then you have the points raised by Caleb, so the answer is "No".

share|improve this answer
1  
Your answer proves well that we aren't angels in our current state, but that doesn't mean we can't become angels. –  JustinY Sep 4 '11 at 22:42
1  
@El'endia Starman Actually Pslams 8:4-5 in the original text had Elohim in the place of Angels: biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm%208:4-5&version=NLT –  James Khoury Sep 4 '11 at 23:59
    
@JustinY: That's true. There aren't any that speak specifically about a transition from humanhood to angelhood, either for or against. –  El'endia Starman Sep 5 '11 at 0:04
    
@James: ...wow. Indeed, you are correct. I had the wrong version referenced. –  El'endia Starman Sep 5 '11 at 0:06
    
@El'endia Starman Its interesting in that the original translator (seemingly) couldn't comprehend how we could be a little lower than God himself. It doesn't seem that angels are even considered in the verse. But The Hebrews reference is a good one but I would point out Verse 9. –  James Khoury Sep 5 '11 at 0:12

Angels are pure spiritual beings. That is, they are pure intellect with no physical bodies. However, they have the ability to somehow form a manifestation so that we can see them when it is necessary for them to communicate with us. Humans are composite beings. We share a physical nature with the animals, but we also have a spiritual and intellectual nature like the angels. So although we have some things in common with the angels, we are different from them because of our physical bodies.

When we die, our spiritual component is temporarily separated from our physical body, which usually undergoes decay. During this time, we are spirits without bodies, and in a way more like the angels. However, at the end of this age, at the resurrection, we will be reunited with our resurrected bodies, and will maintain this composite physical/spiritual form for eternity.

Note that even Jesus, who is God, has a physical body because he permanently united himself with human nature, and he has already undergone resurrection. He somehow has a physical body, although it is different in nature from the body he had before his death. Similarly, our future bodies will be of a different nature than what we have in this life.

Angels never had and never will have bodies, though.

share|improve this answer
1  
How do you know a physical body in Heaven will have any resemblance or even any characteristics at all like an earthly body. 13 dimensions maybe. –  Hammer Apr 29 '12 at 6:23
    
The question is about the Biblical basis of humans becoming angels. This does not provide an answer to that question. –  Lee Woofenden Apr 13 at 19:58

I perused the entire Bible today looking at verses that mention angels. The strongest one I found was Luke 20:34-36 (ESV):

And Jesus said to them, "The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, for they cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.

Christ said that in the resurrection we will be equal to the angels.

share|improve this answer
4  
I believe this is that we will be like angels in the fact that we will not die. –  James Khoury Sep 4 '11 at 23:55
1  
NIV has "36 and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels". NLT has "36 And they will never die again. In this respect they will be like angels." Thus, James Khoury is correct. –  El'endia Starman Sep 5 '11 at 0:02
4  
Being equal to or like something is NOT an indication of being that thing. Think of this between the difference between a == test operator in most programming languages and === which matches type and not just value. Just because a certain value or properly (in this case, not dying) matches between two things does not mean those things are the same TYPE. –  Caleb Sep 5 '11 at 12:47
    
I'm simply amazed by the level of biblical analysis in these comments. You guys should release your own bible commentary. –  user1694 Aug 20 '12 at 12:08

Revelations 22: 8-9:

8 And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things.

9 Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.

Looks like a pretty clear "yes" to me: the angel sent from heaven to John to deliver the message identifies himself as a (most likely post-mortal) prophet.

share|improve this answer
4  
Looking at the NIV, part of that verse is "I am a fellow servant with you and with your fellow prophets". Thus, the angel isn't saying that he is one of the prophets, but rather that he's a fellow servant WITH the prophets. –  El'endia Starman Sep 4 '11 at 18:09
    
...assuming the NIV is correct, of course. –  Mason Wheeler Sep 4 '11 at 18:11
4  
ESV: "I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets". NLT: "I am a servant of God, just like you and your brothers the prophets". –  El'endia Starman Sep 4 '11 at 18:12
4  
A prophet is a messenger, specifically someone who brings or proclaims a message from God. Angles frequently fill this roll, and in not a few cases God used men for this as well. Just because a horse and an ox can both draw a plow is not evidence that one will ever become the other. –  Caleb Sep 4 '11 at 18:37
    
Futhermore, in the OP's KJV passage, "I am of thy brethren the prophets" can mean "I am the same kind/order of thy brethren the prophets" (i.e. I perform the same function). –  Andres Riofrio Dec 11 '12 at 3:02

protected by Community Sep 11 '13 at 10:56

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality answers, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site.

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.