In the Letter to the Hebrews we read:

Hebrews 2:1-3: "For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. 2For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, 3how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?"

Was the Word spoken through angels, or was virtually all of Scripture not spoken through human prophets?

  • 1
    was virtually all of Scripture not spoken through human prophets ? - To the rest of Israel; but the prophets themselves received it from God, not from other prophets.
    – Lucian
    Jul 6, 2021 at 6:52
  • 1
    @Lucian I don't understand your comment. The prophets' often spoke: "Thus says the Lord…" As I wrote to one contributor, the problem is there are an estimated 30,000 passages in the Bible containing roughly 1,200 chapters. It seems the human/angel ratio is overwhelming in favor of human prophets speaking for God. If we use Moses as an example, might he not be considered one of them, a messenger of God, or "an angel" of sorts? This seems more likely than citing a few dozen passages spoken by actual, celestial majesties.
    – Xeno
    Jul 6, 2021 at 7:12
  • 1
    @Xeno: Maybe; but these passages don't (usually) employ the term aggelos or malach to refer to said prophets.
    – Lucian
    Jul 6, 2021 at 7:26

5 Answers 5


The word ἀγγέλων simply means messenger and is probably better applied here to the prophets rather than to angelic beings since it was the prophets who were the “messengers / ἀγγέλων” who delivered the words of the Lord to the fathers as we are told in chapter one.

  • 1
    That is what I was thinking as well. As I mentioned in previous comments, given the enormity of Scripture, the human/angel "messenger ratio" is overwhelmingly in favor of human prophets. As well, it's hard not to see someone like Moses as a messenger of God - or "angel".
    – Xeno
    Jul 6, 2021 at 8:59
  • @Xeno - It always amuses me when someone uses "enormity" or "monstrous" in a context that that was clearly intended to be far at odds with their traditional (very negative) meanings. I think this comment just won the prize for July. Unless you really really don't like Scripture, in which case, well done and carry on.
    – T.E.D.
    Jul 6, 2021 at 16:22

While Judaism today debates the involvement of angels at Sinai, the New Testament refers to them. I've quoted some references and verses below.

New Testament Commentaries

Through angels (δἰ ἀγγελων [di’ aggelōn]). Allusion to the use of angels by God at Sinai as in Acts 7:38, 53; Gal. 3:19, though not in the O. T., but in Josephus (Ant. XV. 156). -- Robertson, A. T. (1933). Word Pictures in the New Testament (Heb 2:2). Nashville, TN: Broadman Press.

In a widely recognized Jewish tradition, God had given his law through angels (Acts 7:53; Gal 3:19; Josephus; and Jubilees). (The rabbis preferred to emphasize only the great number of angels present for the Israelites.) The tradition may have some basis in the interchange between God and his angel in Exodus (cf. Ex 3:2), the association of Psalm 68:17 with the Sinai tradition, and especially Deuteronomy 33:2 (more so in the LXX, which declares that his angels were with him on his right). -- Keener, C. S. (1993). The IVP Bible background commentary: New Testament (Heb 2:1–4). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

However, some take these reference to refer to human messengers, especially at Sinai.

...while again D. Heinsius and G. Olearius, seeing that λόγος here must refer to the Mosaic law, have regarded the ἄγγελοι as referring to human messengers. -- Lange, J. P., Schaff, P., Moll, C. B., & Kendrick, A. C. (2008). A commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Hebrews (p. 44). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Scripture Quotes

New Testament

"... you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.” (Acts 7:53, ESV)

Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. (Gal. 3:19, ESV)

Tanakh (Old Testament)

An angel of the LORD appeared to him in a blazing fire out of a bush. He gazed, and there was a bush all aflame, yet the bush was not consumed. (Ex 3:2, JPS)

I am sending an angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have made ready. (Ex 23:20, JPS)

See, My angel shall go before you. But when I make an accounting, I will bring them to account for their sins.” (Ex 32:34, JPS)

JPS Tanakh Commentary

[Ex 3;2] 2. an angel of the LORD The “angel” has no role in the entire theophany; it is the fire that attracts Moses’ attention, and it is always God Himself who speaks. Most likely the angel is mentioned only to avoid what would be the gross anthropomorphism of localizing God in a bush. -- Sarna, N. M. (1991). Exodus (p. 14). Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society.

[Ex 4:24] encountered him Whereas polytheistic literature would attribute the experience to a demonic being, Israelite monotheism admits of no independent forces other than the one God. Hence, the action is directly ascribed to Him. In order to soften the anthropomorphism, rabbinic sources, as reflected in the Targums and medieval commentaries, introduce an angel as the instrument of affliction. -- Sarna, N. M. (1991). Exodus (p. 25). Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society.

[Ex 15;11] the celestials While Hebrew ʾelim (sing. ʾel) may certainly mean “gods,” in some texts, as here, it refers to heavenly beings, the hosts of ministering angels that were imagined to surround the throne of God and to be at His service. -- Sarna, N. M. (1991). Exodus (p. 80). Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society.

[Ex 23:20] 20. an angel On angels in the Bible, see Comment to 3:2. Classical Jewish commentators are divided on whether a heavenly or human45 messenger is here intended by Hebrew malʾakh. The phrase may simply be an idiom expressing the activity of Divine Providence, as in Genesis 24:7. -- Sarna, N. M. (1991). Exodus (pp. 147–148). Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society.

  • 1
    Perry, the problem I'm having here is that are estimated to be over 30,000 passages in the Bible throughout approximately 1,200 chapters. It seems to me that the human/angel "messenger ratio" is overwhelmingly in favor of human prophets. If we use Moses as an example, might he not be considered a Messenger of God, or "an angel" of sorts? It seems to me this is a bit more favorable than citing a few dozen passages spoken by actual, celestial majesties. Just some thoughts.
    – Xeno
    Jul 6, 2021 at 2:32
  • 1
    You could take Moses as the messenger at Sinai. However the angel with reference to the burning bush wouldn't make sense as a human messenger. But, the passages in Heb., Acts, and Gal. could refer to human messengers.
    – Perry Webb
    Jul 6, 2021 at 8:49
  • I found one reference to human messenger and added a quote.. But, for some reason this interpretation is uncommon.
    – Perry Webb
    Jul 6, 2021 at 9:16
  • I'm not sure if you saw my response to "The role of angels on Mt. Sinai" here. In that post, I addressed several passages you cite in terms of (Heb.) “malak”, and (Gk.) “aggelos” as simply "messenger” - angelic or human. The passage Heb. 2:2: "[If] the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty..." seems to imply that angels were the source of the O/T. But was God not the actual source for Moses and the holy prophets? +1.
    – Xeno
    Jul 6, 2021 at 18:37
  • Yes, there's even a Hebrew prophet by that name, but I was surprised to only find one commentary referencing people who took angels as human messengers with reference to Sinai. Of course I didn't do an exhaustive search, but my sampling was unanimous for heavenly angels. Personally I think there is merit to seeing Moses as the messenger.
    – Perry Webb
    Jul 6, 2021 at 21:07

Hebrews is making the case that the Messiah in fact came and he is King of kings and Lord of lords. The superior authority was sent to fulfill the law. The old covenant vs the new covenant is the theme of Hebrews.

It would seem the context of Hebrews 2:2 is referencing Mosaic Law, with the entire book of Hebrews continuing to contrast the two covenants. Paul clearly says that the law was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator (Moses). Galatians 3:19 is noted below.

Acts 7:38

This is he (Moses), that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us:

Acts 7:53

Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.

Galatians 3:19

Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.

Note: “Ordained” (Gr: “diatasso“) “frequently denotes to arrange, appoint, prescribe”

Hebrews 2:2

For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward. (Obviously speaking of the old covenant Mosaic Law).

Knowing that the law given to Moses was the covenant made with Israel, it is clear to see why it had glory, was unalterable, etc. It (the law) is bringing Israel to Christ.

The emphasis on Christ’s supremacy is glaring. The question is asked, Hebrews 1:5 “For to which of the angels did God ever say: “You are My Son; today I have become Your Father”? Or again: “I will be His Father, and He will be My Son”?” The answer is none! Putting on full display the accuracy of the confession of Peter, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:16)

Deuteronomy 5:2-3

The LORD our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. Not with our fathers did the LORD make this covenant, but with us, who are all of us here alive today.

Exodus 34:28

Moses was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant—the Ten Commandments.

Deuteronomy 4:13

He declared to you His covenant, the Ten Commandments, which he commanded you to follow and then wrote them on two stone tablets.

This covenant was made with Israel for the purpose of carrying the Christ line, the seed Paul refers to as receiving the promise. The first covenant was always intended to be temporary until the time the Messiah arrived. At which time he would bring the “end of the age” and usher in a new age. This was the Hebraic understanding until the priesthood became corrupt in Babylon. Hebrews describes how this was fulfilled. The spiritual (superior) kingdom arrived through the completed work of Christ and the gift of the holy spirit.

Paul's writings fall gloriously into place with the author of Hebrews:

2 Corinthians 3:7-11

7 The old way, with laws etched in stone, led to death, though it began with such glory that the people of Israel could not bear to look at Moses’ face. For his face shone with the glory of God, even though the brightness was already fading away. 8 Shouldn’t we expect far greater glory under the new way, now that the Holy Spirit is giving life? 9 If the old way, which brings condemnation, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new way, which makes us right with God! 10 In fact, that first glory was not glorious at all compared with the overwhelming glory of the new way. 11 So if the old way, which has been replaced, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new, which remains forever!


There are numerous places where an angel of god delivered a message to someone either a prophet or otherwise such as:

  • 1 Kings 19:7 - The angel of the LORD came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.”
  • Num 22:35 - The angel of the LORD said to Balaam, “Go with the men, but speak only what I tell you.” So Balaam went with Balak’s officials.
  • Zech 1:14 - Then the angel who was speaking to me said, “Proclaim this word: This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘I am very jealous for Jerusalem and Zion
  • Zech 2:4 - The other angel said, “Hurry, and say to that young man, ‘Jerusalem will someday be so full of people and livestock that there won’t be room enough for everyone! Many will live outside the city walls.
  • Zech 3:4 - The angel said to those who were standing before him, “Take off his filthy clothes.” Then he said to Joshua, “See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put fine garments on you.”
  • Judges 6:20 - The angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and the unleavened bread, place them on this rock, and pour out the broth.” And Gideon did so.
  • Dan 10:20 - So he said, “Do you know why I have come to you? Soon I will return to fight against the prince of Persia, and when I go, the prince of Greece will come;
  • Dan 11 - this entire message in Dan 11 is spoken by an angel.
  • Dan 8:15 - the explanation of the vision is given by the angel Gabriel. There is a similar situation in Dan 7.

... and so forth. Thus, many prophecies in the OT were delivered by angels. A similar list could be constructed for the NT.


The angel Gabriel spoke to Mary before Jesus was born in Luke 1:

35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.

After Jesus was born, angels appeared to the shepherds in Luke 2:

8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14“Glory to God in the highest heaven,

and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

Besides human prophetic messengers, angelic messengers also played crucial and irreplaceable roles in delivering the messages of God to human beings.

When did angels ever deliver the word?

They did before and after Christ's birth.

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