Alright guys go easy on me...only have a high school education here. What I don't get is why according to Strongs there are only 7 instances in which it refers to messenger and ALL 179 of the other references refer to a spiritual being, not a human being so why on earth do we say that the angels of the church in Revelation are human pastors? If this is true then I am going to start referring to pastors as the Planetary Body XYZ name because by default they are then also to be considered ἀστήρ. Rev 1:20

What this really is coming from is the word creature in Mark 16:15 κτίσις and the fact that God calls the angel at the church of Ephesus to REPENT. Rev 2:5 and also that κτίσις are delivered to liberty in Romans 8:21 and before you say that is the whole of creation I call BS...it is clearly translated creature (not creation or the whole of creation in those verses). So what say the Planetary Bodies in this forum?

  • +1 for the question. ...And yet in v22 of Romans 8 the exact same Greek word is translated creation in the KJV. Also Rev 2:5 is telling the church to repent not just the aggelos (messenger). I get the impression that messenger has been personified rather than understood as a description. Not all messengers are heavenly beings. Matthew 11:10 would make John the Baptist an angel by your definition because he too is an aggelos Commented Mar 7, 2019 at 21:50
  • Also planetary bodies is not in the Bible. There are no planets in the Bible. There are only wondering stars which still make them lights in the sky. Commented Mar 7, 2019 at 23:54
  • ἀστήρ • (astḗr) m (genitive ἀστέρος); third declension a celestial body (star, planet, and other lights in the sky such as meteors). illustrious person starfish a type of songbird en.wiktionary.org/wiki/ἀστήρ Commented Mar 8, 2019 at 21:56
  • Again planets is a modern definition imposed onto the word. Notice that the definition is further expounded from celestial body with modern explanations in brackets. It meant celestial body. It never meant planet in today’s sense rather planets were considered stars like I already pointed out but not vice verse. Commented Mar 8, 2019 at 22:01
  • The greek definition I showed you clearly states that planet was one of the possible translations for aster. And you would probably like this book which extensively discusses this definition. books.google.com.bz/… Commented Mar 8, 2019 at 22:22

3 Answers 3


As Gina has quite correctly pointed out, the Greek "angelos" is simply messenger. We must infer from the context whether it is a human messenger or a heavenly messenger. Mostly, it is not difficult to determine.

However, there is valid debate about the seven messengers to the seven congregations in Rev 1-3. A quick survey of translations shows that they are quite divided - some rendering the word "messenger" and many giving "angel" (implying a heavenly rather than human messenger).

If one believes that Rev 1-3 is a series of messages to seven literal congregations in Asia Minor at the time of John the Revelator (as I do - but these messages have a much greater significance as well) then the "angelos" to each one could indeed be a literal human messenger carrying John's message. Indeed, the messengers to these seven congregations followed the normal postal route that linked the seven cities beginning with the port closest to Patmos (Ephesus) and ending at the banking city of Laodicea.

Now to the other parts of the question where two more matters are raised.

  • The messages to the seven congregations mostly contain a message to REPENT. This is the message to the congregation and does not necessarily include the messenger. But even if it did, the fact that these (probably) human messengers are called "stars" in Rev 1:20 is consistent with a similar designation in Dan 12:3.
  • The word κτίσις (ktisis) occurs 19 times in the NT in Mark 10:6, 16:19, 16:15, Rom 1:20, 25, 8:19, 20, 21, 22, 39, 2 Cor 5:17, Gal 6:15, Col 1:23, Heb 4:13, 9:11, 1 peter 2:13, 2 Peter 3:4, Rev 3:14. According to BDAG κτίσις (ktisis) has any one of three basic meanings depending on context (I have omitted the secular uses of the word outside the Bible for brevity)

    (1) act of creation eg, Rom 1:20

    (2) the result of a creative act, that which is created (a) individual things, eg Rom 8:39, Heb 4:13, Col 1:13, 2 Cor 5:17 (b) the sum total of everything created, creation, world, eg, Mark 13:19, 2 Peter 3:4, Mark 10:6, 16:15, Heb 9:11, Rom 1:25, Rev 3:14, Rom 8:19-22

    (3) system of established authority that is the result of some founding action, governance system, authority system, eg, 1 Peter 2:13.

As usual, "context is king" when understanding a word of scripture.

  • Mac's Musings...Very good! Excellent answer format. Just one note, though. Daniel 12.3 is eschatological (apotheosis) and you should not mix it into this question.
    – XegesIs
    Commented Mar 7, 2019 at 22:02
  • True - I simply quoted it to show that people can, at least on this occasion be referred to or at least likened to stars.
    – user25930
    Commented Mar 7, 2019 at 22:35
  • Ok Mac's, good.
    – XegesIs
    Commented Mar 7, 2019 at 22:37
  • I know how to use google and obviously I already did my greek hebrew lookup online and read the same things you shared above. So let me understand what you are saying: the reason you think it was a human messenger was because of a postal route???? I thought this was a site for experts. I need a real answer. This is very basic information available on google. Commented Mar 8, 2019 at 22:05
  • Gretchen...what Mac's shared is the point of view that if the angel/messenger of each church is a human being, then they might be a carrier of letters (carrying letters to churches). Is this it Mac's ? Gregory Beale does mention this view, but he doesn't prefer this view though.
    – XegesIs
    Commented Mar 8, 2019 at 22:41


One fact you must learn and keep in mind in Biblical Studies is that the Bible contains a variety of book genre (kinds or types of books). We should not interpret historiography as poetry, or apocalyptic as narrative, or epistles as history. Therefore, the book of Revelation and its Greek language should primarily be interpreted in light of its usages and contexts, and so we ought to be careful not to mix it too inattentively with other NT books, such as Paul's letters or the Gospel of Mark. Revelation overwhelmingly uses the OT--especially Daniel, Isaiah, Zechariah) for its imagery and often quotes from the LXX (Septuagint / Greek OT) word-for-word. Clearly, the context of Revelation is the 90s CE (Roman Empire) during which John had a revelation from Jesus about things that were happening and that will happen in the future (however we each interpret all of this). Therefore, we should not mix Revelation too much with Mark and Paul. There are far more textual relationships between the Gospels and Paul than they have with Revelation. Revelation has far more explicit (black and white) textual relationships with LXX Daniel, Isaiah and other OT prophetic books.

Now, as Gina pointed out, angel = messenger and it's an umbrella term for any human or heavenly messenger depending on context (whatever precisely messenger can mean per context).

Also, in Mark and Paul, Ktisis is creation. We do not interpret words by ONLY using lexicons--and Strong's is outdated by the way. No scholar today uses Strong's. Everyone in scholarship uses HALOT (For Hebrew OT = Hebrew + Aramaic) and BDAG (for Greek and Hellenistic literature). Lexicons are not totally exhaustive, even the ones like BDAG that are exhaustive. And Lexicographers warn us about word fallacies that a lot of people make, which is to carry the meaning of a word entry in a lexicon and apply it however one sees fit in all other texts. It does not work that way.

Now, why some scholars have understood some of the angels in Revelation as pastors? I dont specialize in Revelation, but I do have a specialized commentary on Revelation that a lot of active, modern NT scholars have recognized for being one of the best elaborated commentaries on Revelation so far. Here's what Gregory Beale says on this matter:

Instead of “to the angel of the (τῆς) church in Ephesus,” some manuscripts read “to the angel of the church who (τω) [is] in Ephesus” (A C 1854 pc), which locates the angel actually in the church. This variant occurs in the introduction to each letter (2:8, 12, 18; 3:1) except those to Philadelphia and Laodicea (3:7, 14). Perhaps the change was motivated by an attempt to identify the “angel” as a bishop, pastor, or elder in the church. The genitive reading is more probable because of external manuscript evidence and because it places the angel in a position over the church (as its guardian angel). If the “angel” is understood as a human letter carrier (like Tychicus, Eph. 6:21–22; Col. 4:7–9), then an objective genitive might be in view (“to the church”). In 2:3 codex Sinaiticus (א*) reads “you also have all afflictions” (θλιψεις πασας), which may reflect an early interpretation affirming that the trials at Ephesus included more than mere internal strife but perhaps also external persecution (see this use of θλίψις [“tribulation”] in 1:9; 2:9, 10, 22; 7:14).

G. K. Beale, The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text (New International Greek Testament Commentary; Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle, Cumbria: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 1999), 230.

But, Beale doesn't think that the "pastors" view is the best view. Instead, he prefers the heavenly beings view. I cannot paste the whole section of his commentary, it would be too lengthy for this forum, but I'll be selective:

Why are the churches addressed through their angelic representatives in the letters, especially since it does not seem logical to blame and reproach angels for the sins of the churches? The initial answer to this is that inherent to the concept of corporate representation is the representative’s accountability for the group and the group’s accountability for the actions of the representative. So there is some sense in which the angels are accountable (e.g., responsibility of oversight) for the churches, yet the churches also benefit from the position of the angels. The fuller reason for addressing the churches through their representative angels is to remind the churches that already a dimension of their existence is heavenly, that their real home is not with the unbelieving “earth dwellers” (cf. “earth dwellers” in 3:10 and passim), and that they have heavenly help and protection in their struggle not to be conformed to their pagan environment......

......The conclusion that ἄγγελοι in 1:20b refer to heavenly angels who represent the church is supported further by the following two broad considerations. (1) Stars as metaphorical for both saints and angels in the OT and Judaism. (2) Angels as corporate representatives of saints in the OT, NT, and Jewish writings.....

......In this regard, it is not too speculative to view the number of “seven stars” as having arisen also in part from the “seven lamps” of Zechariah 4, since the two symbols have been directly related in Revelation 1:20 (λαμπρότης [“brightness”] in Dan. 12:3 [Theod.] and λαμπάδιον [“lampstand”] in Zech. 4:2–3 may have served as further attracting factors, in addition to the “stone” associations between Zechariah 4 and the Daniel “Son of man”; see below). Perhaps since the one lampstand from Zechariah 4 was increased to seven in order to indicate universality, the stars of Daniel 12 may have undergone the same hermeneutical development. A similar phenomenon is traceable in 1 En. 90:20–25, where “seven white ones” (= angels) and seventy “stars” (= angels) are based on the context of Daniel (Dan. 7:10; 9:2, 24; 12:1–3; cf. also 1 En. 21:3, where seven stars are equivalent to seven angels). This evidence suggests that these stars are heavenly angelic beings (see 1 En. 86:1–3 and 88:1, where stars also symbolize angels)....

....For early Jewish symbolic identification of the seven lamps in the temple with the seven planets see Josephus, Ant. 3.145; War 5.217; Philo, Quis Rerum Divinarum Heres 45.221–25; Vita Mosis 2.102–5; Quaestiones in Exodum 2.73–81; Targ. Pal. Exod. 40:4. Midr. Rab. Num. 12.13 equates the seven lamps with the “lights of the firmament of the heaven.”

G. K. Beale, The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text (New International Greek Testament Commentary; Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle, Cumbria: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 1999)

So the "pastors" view seems to have arisen even by some copyists of the NT as far as we can tell in some manuscript variants of Revelation and how one may read and understand the Greek text today in light of the fact a messenger could be a human being and could have been a representative of a local church. But, as Beale and others prefer, it most likely points to heavenly beings--in this particular case, sort of guardian angels.

Now, your post asks : "Are angels creatures (Mark 16:15) and can they repent (Rev 2:5 and Rom 8:21)"

Well, heavenly beings can be called creatures in the OT and NT. I recall the Cherubim in Ezekiel are living creatures, but the context is clearly heavenly. Also, John in Revelation 4.6 uses "living creatures" to refer to these heavenly beings as Revelation also uses the LXX of Ezekiel. The Ktisis in Mark and Paul refer to the creation (humankind).

I dont see anywhere in the entire canonical literature (OT and NT -- with some allusions to 1 Enoch) that heavenly angels can repent from their sins. Only the contrary is found in Isaiah 24:21, Psalm 82 and 1 Peter 3.18-22, 2 Peter 2.4, Jude 5-8.

  • thank you. can you tell me what manuscripts are referred to here "Instead of “to the angel of the (τῆς) church in Ephesus,” some manuscripts read “to the angel of the church who (τω) [is] in Ephesus” (A C 1854 pc)" Commented Mar 8, 2019 at 22:16
  • also if we are to accept that angels in revelations refers to spiritual bodies then why did God call the angel to repent if that was not possible? Perhaps repentance does not lead to eternal salvation but can still be called for here on this earth? Commented Mar 8, 2019 at 22:18
  • and finally if angels are included in creature in Mark 16:15 then what exactly are we to preach to them if it is not the gospel of salvation? Commented Mar 8, 2019 at 22:19
  • Gretchen....Im no textual critic. I dont specialize in textual criticism. What you can do is ask NT scholars and textual critics (guys that specialize in Manuscripts) like Tommy Wasserman or Daniel B. Wallace by email. You can find their emails online by googling. They usually answer me. Now, what Gregory Beale explains is that the church angels represent (corporately) the churches they have been assigned to, therefore it's not necessarily aimed at them specifically. I think that's in part why there are textual variants in the MSS, because copyist saw this problem. Im no expert on this though
    – XegesIs
    Commented Mar 8, 2019 at 22:32
  • Gretchen...as for Mark 16.15, angels are not part of it. Nowhere in the entire corpus of the Judeo-Christian literature do we see this implicitly or explicitly. In fact, we only see the opposite: that angels will be replaced by Christ and human believers and that -- specifically -- the fallen angels are doomed forever without the possibility of forgiveness. It's normal--sinning with full knowledge and in the presence of God makes you damned right away. Compare this with what Jesus says in the Gospels about Sodom and Gomorrah being judged less severely than the cities where Jesus was rejected
    – XegesIs
    Commented Mar 8, 2019 at 22:36

The word "angel" is another one of those Greek words that was Anglicized rather than actually translated. It comes the word "ἄγγελος" - Strong's Gr. 32 - transliterated as "aggelos" pronounced as "angelos" and it just means a messenger, one who is carrying the word from God to men. (1)

The Hebrew word that means messenger is "malak" - Strong's Heb. 4397, and is the root word for Malachi's name which means "my messenger" -Strong's Heb. 4401. Malachi was a man, a prophet who spoke the word of God to the people. (2)

A messenger is anyone who carries God's word to the people, and can be either an earthly man, or a heavenly celestial creature. So, the prophets, the apostles, the disciples, the patriarchs were messengers and may have had the word "angel" used in the OT as well as the NT.

The Angel of the Lord in the OT is recognized by many scholars to be the pre-incarnate Christ, where the Hebrew thought of it as "mimra" and actually render it as "the word before the Lord". (3) The messenger of the Lord, the word before the Lord, Christ... John 1:1-3:

" In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

2 The same was in the beginning with God.

3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made." (KJV)

Heavenly, celestial messengers are distinguished from the earthly human messengers by context and a few key words such as in 1 Pet 2:11,

"Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord." (KJV)

but in Young's Literal it reads:

"whereas messengers, in strength and power being greater, do not bear against them before the Lord an evil speaking judgment;"

So, those messengers that are greater in power and might are the heavenly, celestial beings that sometimes interact with men on earth. Those messengers do the will of the Father.

"Bless the Lord, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word." (Psa. 103:20, KJV)

The heavenly celestial angels who face God daily do His will. It is the earthly messengers - men - who have trouble obeying God.

In Mark 16:15, the KJV uses the word "creature" while Young's tranlsates it as "creation". The context is speaking of the preaching of the gospel to mankind.

Excerpt from Benson Commentary at Mark 16:15:

"That is, to all mankind, to every human being, whether Jew or Gentile, for our Lord speaks without any limitation or restriction whatever. " (4)

Excerpt from Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges:

" i. e. to the whole creation, the whole world of men, not Jews only or Samaritans, but Gentiles of all nations. Comp. Romans 8:21-22." (4)

The intent of the context of Mark 16:15 was that the word of the gospel of Christ was not exclusive to the Hebrews / Jews, but was for all men everywhere.

Those messengers / angels of the churches in Revelation were the men who were preaching / teaching the gospel message to the congregations.

Notes: 1) Strong's Gr. 32 - here

2) Strong's Heb 4397 - here

3) Excerpt from Barnes' Notes: here "(b) This term was used by the Jews as applicable to the Messiah. In their writings he was commonly known by the term "Mimra" - that is, "Word;" and no small part of the interpositions of God in defense of the Jewish nation were declared to be by "the Word of God." Thus, in their Targum on Deuteronomy 26:17-18, it is said, "Ye have appointed the word of God a king over you this day, that he may be your God."

4) Source: here

  • What I do not understand is how scholars came to the conclusion that the references in Revelation refer to a human messenger? Was my question unclear? The links you shared clearly show the reference in Rev1:20 is NOT definitive and states in Rev 2, 3, "angels" seems to refer to heavenly angels that serve God in conjunction with these seven local churches. And (Rev 2:1) – "Probably 'the angels of the churches' (Rev 1:20, 2:1, etc.) – i.e. really angels, and not pastors" (DNTT, Vol 1, 103).] That is all from the link YOU shared... Commented Mar 7, 2019 at 19:40
  • @Gretchen, the use of "angel" in Rev. 1:20 is "messenger" & is the same in Rev. 2:1, 8, 12, 18; Rev. 3:1, 7, 14 are all "messengers" of the churches Christ was warning. As these are the same as Rev 1:20, then I did not address all of the individually. Those that were faithful (Rev. 3:4) were described as walking with God. Those who were not faithful were described as "dead" (Rev. 3:1) or "fallen", (Rev. 2:5) meaning that had turned away from the gospel. The English translations using the word "angels" are not truly translating it as "messenger".
    – Gina
    Commented Mar 7, 2019 at 20:59
  • Those messengers of the 7 churches / assemblies in Rev 1 - 3 were the elders of those congregations. If this was not clear in my answer, then I will add more words. Some of the information at those links varies depending upon their belief systems, and I do not reference those as they depart from the word and are using opinions.
    – Gina
    Commented Mar 7, 2019 at 21:01
  • LOL Gina...I gave you one point here because you seem to have understood this particular subject better than baptism :-). However, I'll share with Gretchen what he seems to want since his question is good, but the responses are not unanimous and it gets convoluted in academia.
    – XegesIs
    Commented Mar 7, 2019 at 21:02
  • No Gina, it barely has to do with belief systems, it has not do with Greek and contexts. It's more flexible than you assume.
    – XegesIs
    Commented Mar 7, 2019 at 21:02

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