In Judges 6:11-12 we read:

The angel of the Lord came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. 12 When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”

In Judges 6:14 we read:

14 The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”

The Angel of the Lord appears to speak God's mind, and is interchangeable (by the writer) with the Lord himself. He doesn't speak as a messenger (as Gabriel does to Mary).

One might conclude then that the person who knows the mind of God, and who the writer treats as interchangeable with God would be a pre-incarnation of Jesus.

My question is: What is the evidence that the Angel of the Lord in the old Testament is probably Jesus?

Clarification: This is asking generally across the whole old Testament - and is not limited to this passage.


2 Answers 2


Justin Martyr is probably the strongest early advocate for the view that the "Angel of the Lord" in the OT often refers to Christ. In his Dialogue with Trypho, he argues that many supernatural appearances in the OT are manifestations of the second member of the Trinity. One such example is that of the burning bush in Exodus 3:2-4, where reference to the "Angel of the Lord" and "the Lord" appear to switch (in a way similar to the Judges passage you quote). He says:

[I]n the vision of Moses, this same One alone who is called an Angel, and who is God, appeared to and communed with Moses. (chapter 60)

In this and other examples Justin equates the angel or mysterious man with God himself.

Justin finds more support from other church fathers when we turn to the mysterious men who are not specifically called "angels" in Scripture, but who appear to be supernatural. Origen agrees that the mysterious figure in Joshua 5:13-15 is Christ, and bases this argument on the fact that Joshua worships him:

Joshua recognized not only something from God but that which is God; for certainly he would not have worshiped unless he had recognized God. For who else is chief of the army of the powers of God except our Lord Jesus Christ? ("Homilies on Joshua 6:2")1

Eusebius of Caesaria suggests that the close parallel in wording between this passage and Exodus 3:4-5 indicates "that this is no other than he who also spoke to Moses," that is, God.1

That said, this text does not refer to this man as an angel, so I don't know if you'd consider it a valid example. Other fathers and commentators refer to this figure as an angel, do not ascribe deity to him, and explain Joshua's worship as mere "veneration" (John of Damascus).1

A similar episode occurs in Daniel 8:15-17. I don't have a church father quote, but John Calvin says:

We ought probably to interpret this passage of Christ, who is now called like a man, as formerly. (Daniel 7:13.) For he had not yet put on our flesh, so as to be properly entitled to the name of a man; but he was here like a man, because he wished to allow the holy fathers a taste from which they might understand his future coming as Mediator, when he should put on human nature as God manifest in flesh. (Commentary on Daniel, Volume II)

Note that Calvin is careful to say that this is not the second person of the Trinity incarnate, but that he is appearing "like a man."

1. Ancient Christian Commentary, page 31


Here is some evidence:

The first appearance of the Angel of the Lord in the bible is Genesis Chapter 16. Hagar, the runaway slave girl, is met by the Angel of the Lord who tells her to return home, that she is pregnant, and will give birth to a Son who will be blessed. Hagar calls the Angel of the Lord "God who sees me", and called the place "well of the living one who sees me". Genesis 16:13.

Now Fast forward to John Chapter 4, Jesus meets the Samaritan woman at the well. "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks for a drink, you would have asked him and he would give you living water." John 4:10. Then Jesus told the Samaritan woman her own private information, that she had five husbands, just as the Angel of the Lord told Hagar that she was pregnant with a son and that she was a runaway, her own private information.

Fast forward to Revelation 1:18. Jesus says: "I am the living one".

The living one is a title of the Angel of the Lord. Jesus says "I am the living one." He offers living water, which presumably only comes from the living one or the living God. He proved himself to be the Angel of the Lord by telling the Samaritan woman "everything she ever did" just as he told Hagar everything she ever did. This proves that Jesus is El Roi, "God who sees me", a title of the Angel of the Lord. If Jesus is not the Angel of the Lord, why would he offer the Samaritan woman living water and claim to be the living one?

For more proof about Jesus being the Angel of the Lord, look to Malachi 3:1

"Behold, I send forth my messenger, and he shall survey the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come into his temple, even the angel of the covenant, whom ye take pleasure in: behold, he is coming, saith the Lord Almighty." Who cleansed and purified the temple?

If John the Baptist is widely understood to be the messenger who is to prepare the way for the Lord in fullfillment of this scripture, then Jesus is the Lord, the Angel of the Covenant, another title of the Angel of the Lord. Note that the Angel of the Lord makes covenants with men as God and on behalf of God.

Genesis 22:16. "The Angel of the LORD told Abraham, “By Myself I have sworn, says the LORD, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son—blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants . . .and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed”

Also note Exodus 24:9-11 when Moses and the 70 elders of Israel saw God and ate a meal with him. This was the Angel of the Lord. Acts 37:38.

Here are some questions: Who himself made good on the Angel of the Lord's promise that he swore by himself to multiply Abraham's descendants and bless all nations? Galatians 3:13 "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged upon a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith."

If Jesus is not the Angel of the Lord, or the Angel of the Covenant, how is he allowed to make a new covenant on behalf of God? See 1 Corinthians 11:25. Jesus must be the Angel of the Lord or our New covenant is illegitimate.

God bless you.

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