Most translations say that "Now I know that you fear God" and I refers to the angel in the previous verse.

But Open Theists say that God is learning, that "I" refers to God, but I don't see that in the translations.

Is there any evidence of this belief, that "I" refers to God, in the text?

  • 4
    Two things to note: First, there are non-open theists (including many Church Fathers) who believe that the Angel of the Lord is the pre-incarnate Word, not a 'regular' angel. Second: "Now I know" does not necessarily mean "I have gained knowledge" --- "I have seen the evidence" works just as well.
    – bradimus
    Commented Jun 4, 2017 at 13:02
  • hermeneutics.stackexchange.com Commented Jun 5, 2017 at 14:35

2 Answers 2


The Patristic View

The Church Fathers teach that the Angel of Lord is God, specifically the Son.

The earliest Patristic reference I know of is Justin Martyr's Dialog with Trypho. Justin says to Trypho:

And I continued: “It is again written by Moses, my brethren, that He who is called God and appeared to the patriarchs is called both Angel and Lord, in order that from this you may understand Him to be minister to the Father of all things, as you have already admitted, and may remain firm, persuaded by additional arguments. The word of God, therefore, [recorded] by Moses, when referring to Jacob the grandson of Abraham, speaks thus: ‘And it came to pass, when the sheep conceived, that I saw them with my eyes in the dream: And, behold, the he-goats and the rams which leaped upon the sheep and she-goats were spotted 226 with white, and speckled and sprinkled with a dun colour. And the Angel of God said to me in the dream, Jacob, Jacob. And I said, What is it, Lord? And He said, Lift up thine eyes, and see that the he-goats and rams leaping on the sheep and she-goats are spotted with white, speckled, and sprinkled with a dun colour. For I have seen what Laban doeth unto thee. I am the God who appeared to thee in Bethel Dialog LVIII

Irenaeus identifies the Son with the Angel that guided Abraham:

With regard to Christ, the law and the prophets and the evangelists have proclaimed that He was born of a virgin, that He suffered upon a beam of wood, and that He appeared from the dead; that He also ascended to the heavens, and was glorified by the Father, and is the Eternal King; that He is the perfect Intelligence, the Word of God, who was begotten before the light; that He was the Founder of the universe, along with it (light), and the Maker of man; that He is All in all: Patriarch among the patriarchs; Law in the laws; Chief Priest among priests; Ruler among kings; the Prophet among prophets; the Angel among angels; the Man among men; Son in the Father; God in God; King to all eternity. For it is He who sailed [in the ark] along with Noah, and who guided Abraham; who was bound along with Isaac, and was a Wanderer with Jacob; the Shepherd of those who are saved, and the Bridegroom of the Church; the Chief also of the cherubim, the Prince of the angelic powers; God of God; Son of the Father; Jesus Christ; King for ever and ever. Amen. Fragment 53

Athanasius identifies the Angel of the Lord with the Word

And none other than God blessed Abraham and Isaac; and Isaac praying for Jacob, said, ‘May God bless thee and increase thee and multiply thee, and thou shalt be for many companies of nations, and may He give thee the blessing of Abraham my father.’ But if it belong to none other than God to bless and to deliver, and none other was the deliverer of Jacob than the Lord Himself and Him that delivered him the Patriarch besought for his grandsons, evidently none other did he join to God in his prayer, than God’s Word, whom therefore he called Angel, because it is He alone who reveals the Father. Which the Apostle also did when he said, ‘Grace unto you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ Against the Arians, 3.25.13


But if at any time, when the Angel was seen, he who saw it heard God's voice, as took place at the bush; for 'the Angel of the Lord was seen in a flame of fire out of the bush, and the Lord called Moses out of the bush, saying, I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob ,' yet was not the Angel the God of Abraham, but in the Angel God spoke. And what was seen was an Angel; but God spoke in him. For as He spoke to Moses in the pillar of a cloud in the tabernacle, so also God appears and speaks in Angels. So again to the son of Nun He spoke by an Angel. But what God speaks, it is very plain He speaks through the Word, and not through another. And the Word, as being not separate from the Father, nor unlike and foreign to the Father's Essence, what He works, those are the Father's works, and His framing of all things is one with His; and what the Son gives, that is the Father's gift. Against the Arians, 3.25.14

  • Is this similar to Michael is Jesus beliefs?
    – user3961
    Commented Jun 6, 2017 at 13:10
  • @fredsbend That would probably make a good new question. I am not familiar with the theologies that equate Michael with Jesus. (Is that an LDS belief?) From the Patristic point of view, Michael is an (arch)angel, a created being. He is distinct from the uncreated eternal Word.
    – bradimus
    Commented Jun 6, 2017 at 15:01
  • Origin of Michael is Jesus beliefs. It's a very old belief.
    – user3961
    Commented Jun 6, 2017 at 17:37

"I" is referring to the messenger of Yahweh (malakh Yahweh). In Exodus 23:21-23, we learn that the messenger is to be listened and obeyed, and not to be rebelled because he will not pardon those sins, "for my name is in him."

As it has been noted in the verse given in your question, "I" is following from the messenger, whom, given the verse in Exodus, indicates two individuals, not one.

  • 1
    This answer seems incomplete. The question ask for evidence that "I" refers to God. Perhaps you are expecting us to infer something that I'm missing. Does "for my name is in him" indicate that the Angel is God, is God's representative, or something else?
    – bradimus
    Commented Jun 5, 2017 at 0:39
  • The verse in Exodus shows that Yahweh's messenger carries his name, thus acting in some way like Joseph was to Pharaoh. Thus, Yahweh's omniscience is preserved. I amended my answer. Commented Jun 5, 2017 at 3:57
  • 1
    Without a citation, this just appears to be your opinion. Also, to parrot @bradimus it doesn't seem to be a complete answer.
    – user3961
    Commented Jun 6, 2017 at 13:13
  • @fredsbend It's in vv. 11, 12. That's not an opinion. I even pointed to it. Although this isn't a Christian site, it's treated as one. I'm done with this part of SE. Commented Jun 6, 2017 at 14:58
  • Exodus is a different book. The question is almost a textual one, so you need to stay in the same text.
    – user3961
    Commented Jun 6, 2017 at 17:35

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