Angels Of The Churches In Revelation 1-3:“ Status” “Quaestionis” And Another Proposal -- By: Everett Ferguson

Journal: Bulletin for Biblical Research
Volume: BBR 21:3 (NA 2011)
Article: Angels Of The Churches In Revelation 1-3:“ Status” “Quaestionis” And Another Proposal
Author: Everett Ferguson

Angels Of The Churches In Revelation 1-3:“
Status” “Quaestionis” And Another Proposal

Everett Ferguson

Abilene Christian University

This article surveys the interpretations of “the angel of the church” in each of the seven letters in Rev 2-3, the advocates of each position, and the principal arguments for and against each view. These interpretations are guardian angel, heavenly counterpart, prevailing spirit of the church, bishop/pastor, prophet, messenger to or from John. Another possibility is that the angel is the reader of the communication to the church.

Key Words: Revelation, angels, guardian angel, heavenly counterpart, bishop, messenger, prophet, reader


The seven stars are the angels [ἄγγελοι]
of the seven churches, and the seven
lampstands are the seven churches.

Revelation 1:20

No conclusive determination has been reached on the interpretation of the angels of the churches to which each of the seven letters in Rev 2-3 is addressed (2:1, 8, 12, 18; 3:1, 7, 14). This does not result from lack of attention to the book of Revelation.1 David Aune offers a helpful classification of the major categories of interpretation:2

1. Supernatural beings

a. Guardian angels of each congregation

b. Personified heavenly counterparts of earthly Christian communities

c. Visionary counterparts of community prophets

2. Human beings

a. Human messengers or emissaries

b. Prophets

c. Bishops or community leaders with title unspecified

3. Heavenly bodies

My survey will modify the order of these interpretations and offer some refinements.

Heavenly Bodies

Aune’s last category has been the least popular.3 This interpretation has in its favor the explicit statement identifying stars and angels (Rev 1:20) but fails to account for the arguments adduced for other interpretations.

Guardian Angels

An old...

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