The Seven Angels Of The Seven Apocalyptic Churches -- By: Isaac Jennings

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 012:46 (Apr 1855)
Article: The Seven Angels Of The Seven Apocalyptic Churches
Author: Isaac Jennings

The Seven Angels Of The Seven Apocalyptic Churches

Isaac Jennings

The opinions of critics, commentators and theologians respecting the angels of the apocalyptic churches, have been very divided and contradictory. It may, therefore, appear rather presumptuous in the writer to add to the number of these conflicting opinions. We will, however, offer no apology, but proceed, at once, briefly to review the various solutions of the difficulty which have been proposed, and then with equal brevity to state our own. The different views which have been advocated by various writers may be stated in the following order:

1. The angels denote the churches themselves, as viewed in their collective, corporate capacity. This has been called the ultra-Congregational view; and certainly it is an ultra-violent one. It makes little account of the principles of interpretation, or even of the common sense of the document to be interpreted. Suffice it to say, with the “Faithful and True Witness,” by way of refutation, “the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches;” language sufficiently decisive, that the angels and the churches are not the same.

2. The angels are the pastors of the churches; each church having but one pastor. This view is recommended by its simplicity; but several weighty objections lie against it, and forbid its reception. First, the apostolic churches had generally, if not universally, a plurality of pastors, elders, or bishops. Thus, for instance, the church at Ephesus had, as we know, several. The twentieth chapter of the Acts puts this out of question: “From Miletus Paul sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church, and said unto them: Take heed to all the flock over which the Holy Ghost hath made you bishops” (vs. 17, 28). Now, assuming the earlier or later date of the Apocalypse, it is improbable that this numerous eldership should, in so short a period, have dwindled down to one. But, secondly, we attach more weight to the fact, that pastors are never elsewhere designated angels. It is true

that the priest and the prophet are, in the Old Testament, entitled מַלְאָךְ or angel (Mal. 2:7. Hag. 1:13). But the New Testament pastor is neither a prophet nor a priest. We urge, thirdly, against the view in question, the consideration, weighty to our minds,...

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