Friday, April 8, 2016
Q&A: Do People Become Angels After They Die?
ANSWER: In a word—no. But you may have noticed at funerals it's fairly common to hear a poem or song that mentions the deceased person as having gone to heaven to become an angel. One obituary I was reading recently for a child had the family making the statement that this little child had now become their family’s personal guardian angel.
Where do these beliefs come from?
Well, Hollywood has certainly perpetuated this idea in films, but in recent years it has even been popping up more and more in Christian circles. So is there any biblical evidence that a person might become an angel?
Throughout the Scriptures, humans and angels are always distinctively different. Whereas the creation of mankind is retold in the Bible, we really don’t know when the angels were created—but we do know they are very different than human beings.
Below are some of the differences the Bible lists between humans and angels along with their corresponding Scripture references.
1. Humans have physical bodies. Angels do not.
“Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?” (Hebrews 1:14 NIV)
While humans are corporeal, possessing a body of flesh and bone, the Bible tells us here that angels are “spirits.” There are certainly examples in the Scripture where angels have taken on human form, but they remain spirit-beings.
Note: This verse also tells us that angels are servants sent to minister to “those who will inherit salvation.”—meaning humans. This further distinguishes angels from humans.
2. Humans can die. Angels cannot.
“...and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God's children, since they are children of the resurrection.” (Luke 20:36 NIV)
In the passage above, Jesus refers to believers who are made alive in the resurrection as being “like the angels” since they can no longer be touched by death. Jesus doesn’t say we will become angels—only that with respect to death, we will be like the angels.
Since angels are spirit-beings with no physical body, they cannot experience a physical death—they are eternal. Human beings are also created to be eternal, but our physical bodies grow old, wear out and die. That part of us which is spirit remains alive.
3. Humans can be saved (forgiven of their sins and promised eternal life.) Angels cannot.
“For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants.” (Hebrews 2:16 NIV)
When the God of the universe came to live on the earth, He was born as a human baby in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. He became a human because He came to represent humans—not angels. When He died on the cross He did not die for the sins of angels, but only human beings.
4. Humans can become heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ. These same blessings are not available to angels.
“It is not to angels that he has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking.”
(Hebrews 2:5 NIV)
One of the most wonderful blessings that we find in the Scripture centers around the promises of God that are directed toward all who place their faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins. These promises are far too many to list here, but suffice it to say none of them are directed to angels.
God’s angels are wonderful beings and they have important work to do in the plan of the Lord. But it is vitally important that we never confuse the function and ministry of angels with human beings.
It can be said with clear and unquestioning sincerity that God has a much better and bigger plan for humans than merely becoming angels. He has invited us to actually become His beloved children, which He makes possible through His Son—Jesus Christ.