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How is it possible for angels (heavenly hosts not merely human messengers) to touch humans?

Do they have bodies? Are these bodies temporary? What proof is there that they are temporary?

New Testament

“And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his hands.” ‭‭Acts‬ ‭12:7‬ ‭

Old Testament

“And he lay down and slept under a broom tree. And behold, an angel touched him and said to him, “Arise and eat.” ‭‭1 Kings‬ ‭19:5

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  • Seriously @NigelJ? how can you smuggling “temporary manifestation” without explanation or proof text? – Nihil Sine Deo Dec 20 '20 at 5:18
  • @NigelJ thank you I noticed the votes to reopen. You say it’s obvious that they have bodies (I agree they have spiritual bodies in my view), but I’ve not seen any text where angels take on bodies, much less temporary bodies which they take on and remove. It seems you are arriving at this conclusion based on deduction and reasoning and not based on passages of Scripture. Maybe you can remind me of a passage that I’m overlooking. Thank you – Nihil Sine Deo Dec 20 '20 at 5:31
  • 1 kings 6:17 (Then Elisha prayed and said, "O LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see." And the LORD opened the servant's eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. )The angels are already in human form but, as this text & Jewish sources say, are made of fire, though they do appear to us in the flesh, the true nature of their bodies is 'pneumatic' or 'spirit'. compare 1 Cor 15:44 & Luke 20:36 We'll have spiritual bodies (pneuma somatikos), we'll be isa angeloi (equal to angels) when we are raised from the dead. – early christology Dec 20 '20 at 6:58
  • @RadzMatthewC.Brown that doesn’t really help make an argument because if we take Jesus’ account with Thomas, He says He has flesh and bones yet Jesus was able to appear and disappear from before their eyes at Emmaus and His argument was that He wasn’t a spirit (that doesn’t have flesh and bones). So if Jesus could do those things with a body why couldn’t angels do the same and still have spiritual bodies just like Jesus? – Nihil Sine Deo Dec 20 '20 at 10:57
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    You know from Jesus' words that a spirit does not have body or bones. Now God and angels are not just mere "spirits" , or else they would not be visible etc. so they are spirits who also have "bodies", and so we have the New Testament phrase "pneumato somatikos" (literally, body of spirit), so when OT scripture said that they saw God or an angel and described what they saw as human in form, who at times, even eat, that kind of body is what Christ had and that is also exactly what we will have based on 1 Cor 15:44, which of course cohere with Luke's gospel (Luke 20:36). – early christology Dec 20 '20 at 14:26
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Both the short and long answer to this question is - We do not know anything about what "bodies" spirits have. The reason? We are told nothing about them. 1 Cor 15 makes a clear distinction between earthly (mortal) bodies and our resurrection bodies but the extent to which these are anything like spiritual bodies is completely unknown.

What we do know (which very little) can be summarized as follows:

  • Angels are one form of spirit beings Heb 1:7, 14. How many other forms of spirit being are there we are not told.
  • Angels possess enough physical form to be able to speak (ie, vibrate the air) to make intelligible sounds, Zech 2:3, 4:1, 5:5; Judges 13:6, etc.
  • Angels possess enough physical form to be able to eat food, Gen 18 (compare Gen 19:1 and Heb 13:2)
  • Angels are capable of touching a person so that they feel the sensation, 1 Kings 19:5, 7; Acts 12:7.
  • Angels are capable of physically taking hold of people and dragging them as occurred to Lot, his wife and daughters in Sodom, see Gen 19.

Now to the Body of Jesus after the resurrection as described Luke 24:36-49. Clearly Jesus said He had a human body but it was no ordinary human body that could pass through walls and locked doors. Just how this worked we are not told.

Some things are not revealed and the details of spirit bodies is one of those things. In 1 Cor 15 we read:

  • V40 - There are also heavenly bodies and earthly bodies. But the splendor of the heavenly bodies is of one degree, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is of another.
  • V44, 45 - It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being;” the last Adam a life-giving spirit.

Note that in this text Jesus is said to be "a life giving spirit" - but one that has flesh and bone as recorded in Luke.

I cannot explain any of this and so I look forward to finding out at the resurrection of the dead.

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  • Appreciate the response Dottard. Two points, second last paragraph should read flesh and bone. Whether or not Jesus has blood also is not mentioned. Second point there are but two categories, natural and spiritual. All that is natural is confined to natural law and all that is spiritual confined to spiritual law. Why then would all those many forms of spirits not be subject to the spiritual law? – Nihil Sine Deo Dec 20 '20 at 14:17
  • As usual, a very detailed answer, but nevertheless one query - ‘Clearly Jesus said he had a human body’? So, are you equating ‘flesh and bone’ = ‘human’? – Dave Dec 20 '20 at 17:40
  • @NihilSineDeo - Thanks - and I agree with your comments. – Dottard Dec 20 '20 at 19:46
  • @Dave - flesh and bone does not necessarily mean human but implies it. But in the case of Jesus and the verse quoted above, I do not know. We must wait and see. – Dottard Dec 20 '20 at 19:48
  • Up-voted +1. I agree with the restraint of this answer. Not everything is revealed, as yet. – Nigel J Dec 21 '20 at 17:46
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Angels have heavenly bodies. They ‘operate’ (live) in heaven. Man has an earthly body. Man ‘operates’ on earth. I, at times equate ‘heavenly’ to ‘spiritual’, and ‘earthly’ to ‘physical’, that is, ‘put’ man into a physical body, and angels into a ‘spiritual’ body, but although this can ‘fit’, this isn’t always precise enough.

Now to your question, ‘do angels have bodies, are they temporary’ yes, they have bodies, created for them, and, just like man, the bodies were formed for a purpose. So, no, they are not temporary. But, their bodies are not earthly (physical).

JUDE 6 And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode,

The word ‘abode’ comes from the Greek ‘oikētērion’, which means ’habitation’, ‘the body as the dwelling-place of the spirit’ [strongs]. And, interestingly’ is used in only one other place - translated as ‘house’ in this verse ..

2 COR 5:2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven:

Paul here is describing our resurrection bodies. Not ‘earthly’, same [type] of body Jesus was resurrected ‘into’. A body of ‘flesh and bone’ - but heavenly!

[back to Jude] So these angels were chained because they did not keep, that is, they left their body! Now, this verse in Jude is a reference to the [non-canonical] book Enoch 1, and the context is Genesis 6....

GEN 6:4 There were giants on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them.

So it seems [does not explicitly say] that these angels deliberately used their heavenly bodies outside of the purpose it was created for, they used their heavenly body in an earthly way, and thereby interacted with man in an unnatural manner. That’s certainly why Jude (brother of Jesus) says they were ‘chained’. [cross reference in 2 Peter 2, so ‘two witnesses’]. Grace and Mercy does not apply to heavenly hosts.

Appreciate that this may be controversial, but nevertheless I have provided enough scripture and reference for you to start with, and then consider and come to your own conclusion.

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  • The response you provided puts the problem backwards. You state the heavenly hosts by default have a body and can leave it whereas the arguments being made is that they are by default bodiless and can take on a body. The former seems to have precedent (potentially in your Jude text) though it’s not necessary in my view that they leave their bodies, the latter I am waiting for someone to give references where they take on bodies at least temporarily. Abode I read as meaning second heaven their place of residence, not their bodies. Heavenly hosts according to Gen3:15 have DNA – Nihil Sine Deo Dec 20 '20 at 20:12
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    @Nihil Sine Deo Apologies! I read the Q too quickly, and answered a slightly different Q. Some edits made, but am considering removing. – Dave Dec 20 '20 at 21:36
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1 Kings 6:17 Then Elisha prayed and said, "O LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see." And the LORD opened the servant's eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

The bible does not say that angels transform from invisible spirit to visible body in order to communicate with humans. Based on 1 Kings 6:17, the angels already have a body but that they are just invisible for us so that we need our eyes to be opened (not that the angels need to change or transform) in order for us to see them. Thus, we humans are the ones who need to change in order to see angels, and God is the only one who can open our eyes to see his angels based on the text in question.

The angels are already in human form but, as this verse & Jewish sources say, they are made of fire, though they do appear to us in the flesh, the true nature of their bodies is 'pneumatic' or 'spirit'. We'll have "spiritual bodies" (1 Cor 15:44), we'll be isa angeloi (equal to angels) when we are raised from the dead (Luke 20:36).

We know from Jesus' words that a spirit does not have body or bones (Luke 24:29). Now God and angels are not just mere "spirits" , or else they would not be visible etc. so they are spirits who also have "bodies", and so we have the New Testament phrase soma pneumatikon (literally, body of spirit), so when OT scripture said that they saw God or an angel and described what they saw as human in form, who at times, even eat, that kind of body is what Christ had and that is also exactly what we will have based on 1 Cor 15:44, which of course cohere with Luke's gospel (Luke 20:36).

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