[Luke 12:8 YLT] 'And I say to you, Every one -- whoever may confess with me before men, the Son of Man also shall confess with him before the messengers of God,

12:8 λέγω δὲ ὑμῖν πᾶς ὃς ἂν ὁμολογήσῃ ἐν ἐμοὶ ἔμπροσθεν τῶν ἀνθρώπων καὶ ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ὁμολογήσει ἐν αὐτῷ ἔμπροσθεν τῶν ἀγγέλων τοῦ θεοῦ

In the next verse it is contrasted with "deny":

[Luke 12:9 YLT] and he who hath denied me before men, shall be denied before the messengers of God,


Why "before the angels/messengers of God"?

  • I'm not quite sure what you're asking here. It seems to me that it means "whoever publicly declares Me to Christ/Son of God" and "whoever denies that I am Christ/Son of God" What do you find confusing about it? Mar 15 '19 at 0:17
  • Is this some kind of rite, like Mikveh/"water baptism"? (1 Peter 3:2) Something to do with interrogation? (attalus.org/old/pliny10b.html#96) Or Romans 10:9-10. Martyrdom? Preach? Fail to obey the creeds? Etc. As to deny, did Peter deny the Lord? Ignorantly? What about Hebrews 6? It is an important rock to look under.
    – Ruminator
    Mar 15 '19 at 13:43
  • To deny Jesus before men means to not do what Jesus commands, which is to actively love one's neighbor without blaspheming the Holy Spirit. It does not merely mean to fail to verbally confess Jesus, because he specifically pointed out the discrepancy in believing in him without the accompaniment of good works. Apr 23 '19 at 10:29

As you point out, ἄγγελος literally means messenger and could be translated either as such or angel (i.e. angelic being).

An explanation assuming the latter is that Jesus is contrasting the earthly witness of earthly beings (i.e. men) with the heavenly witness of heavenly beings (i.e. angels) that will be present at the eschaton. We also have Matthew's description of angels being present at the final judgment:

When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations (Matt 25:31-32).

Confess (ὁμολογέω) here could also be translated as acknowledge (see, e.g. Matt 7:23 YLT). In Luke 12:9 ἀρνέομαι might also be translated as disown rather than deny (as is the YLT rendering later in Luke 22:57). The two in this context could be taken as antonyms: acknowledgement and disownment are the two possible outcomes of the judgment.

Basil the Great comments:

It is customary for the saints to deliver the commandments of God in the presence of witnesses, as also the apostle himself says to Timothy, The things which thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men (2 Tim 2:2) and now he calls the angels to witness, for he knows that angels shall be present with the Lord when He shall come in the glory of His Father to judge the world in righteousness. For He says, Whoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of Man also confess before the angels of God, but he that denieth Me before men shall be denied before the angels of God and Paul in another place says, When the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his angels (2 Thess 1:7). Thus he already testifies before the angels, preparing good proofs for himself at the great tribunal.1

Basil also calls attention to a number of Old Testament references that allude to the convocation that will take place at the heavenly judgment:

And not only Paul, but generally all those to whom is committed any ministry of the word, never cease from testifying, but call heaven and earth to witness on the ground that now every deed that is done is done within them, and that in the examination of all the actions of life they will be present with the judged. So it is said, He shall summon heaven above and the earth that He may judge His people (Ps 50:4). And so Moses when about to deliver his oracles to the people says, I call heaven and earth to witness this day (Deut 4:26) and again in his song he says, Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak, and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth (Deut 2:21) and Isaiah, Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth (Is 1:2).2

1. "Statement of the reason why in the writings of Paul the angels are associated with the Father and the Son", On the Spirit XIII; in Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers 2-08
2. Ibid.

  • FYI, I consider Matthew 25 (sheep/goats) to refer specifically to the Jewish leadership in fulfillment of Ezekiel 34, not to mankind in general. And I believe it took place in Jerusalem, circa 70ad.
    – Ruminator
    Apr 23 '19 at 13:12

Luke 9:26 (DRB) For he that shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him the Son of man shall be ashamed, when he shall come in his majesty, and that of his Father, and of the holy angels.

If we are embarrassed to "confess" or live Christ, He warns us that He will not be indifferent to it, but will condemn us also (to deny Christ is to go back in time and cheer at His crucifixion). This isn't because He's harsh or revengeful, but just: because it cannot be that we both have saving faith in Him and reject Him openly before others: it is not possible for true faith to be present and this be the case, and thus "it is impossible to please God" and go to heaven (Heb. 11:6). In other words, it is to lie to say you "have faith but have not works" (Jas. 2:14).

As for angels, they will surely be present ("before the angels") at the Last Judgement when this reciprocal denial will take place.

  • Good answer. I think "the fearful" (cowardly) from Revelation 21:8 is exactly what is being spoken of here concerning those that deny Christ. "The "fearful" denote those who had not firmness boldly to maintain their professed principles, or who were afraid to avow themselves as the friends of God in a wicked world. They stand in contrast with those who "overcome," Revelation 21:7." -Barnes on Rev 21:8
    – GFFG
    Apr 14 '19 at 13:36
  • Thanks. I concur! Apr 14 '19 at 13:39
  • I was not able to find the phrase "last judgment" in Blue Letter Bible. To what passage are you referring?
    – Ruminator
    Apr 15 '19 at 12:56
  • Well, I wasn't referring to a particular passage, just the Final Judgement described in Matthew 25. Apr 15 '19 at 15:04
  • FYI, I consider Matthew 25 (sheep/goats) to refer specifically to the Jewish leadership in fulfillment of Ezekiel 34, not to mankind in general. And I believe it took place in Jerusalem, circa 70ad.
    – Ruminator
    Apr 23 '19 at 12:33

Messengers of God usually refers to the Prophets of God. I would suggest that Barnes Notes has the best commentary on this:

"It means to acknowledge the Lord Jesus Christ, and our dependence on him for salvation, and our attachment to him, in every proper manner...We must be ashamed neither of the person, the character, the doctrines, nor the requirements of Christ. If we are; if we deny him in these things before people; if we are unwilling to express our attachment to him in every way possible, then it is right that he should "disown all connection with us," or deny us before God, and he will do it."


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