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Genesis 16:7-13 ASV

And the angel of Jehovah found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur. 8 And he said, Hagar, Sarai’s handmaid, whence camest thou? and whither goest thou? And she said, I am fleeing from the face of my mistress Sarai. 9 And the angel of Jehovah said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands. 10 And the angel of Jehovah said unto her, I will greatly multiply thy seed, that it shall not be numbered for multitude. 11 And the angel of Jehovah said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son; and thou shalt call his name [b]Ishmael, because Jehovah hath heard thy affliction. 12 And he shall be as a wild ass among men; his hand shall be against every man, and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell [c]over against all his brethren. 13 And she called the name of Jehovah that spake unto her, [d]Thou art [e]a God that seeth: for she said, Have I even here looked after him that seeth me?

Matthew 1:18-20 ASV

18 Now the [o]birth [p]of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. 19 And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. 20 But when he thought on these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is [q]conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit

Is there only one angel of the lord, or are there more?

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  • @Dottard No it does not. Feb 21, 2023 at 6:02
  • My apologies - that was meant for another question. I have deleted the comment.
    – Dottard
    Feb 21, 2023 at 7:54
  • I don't understand the point of the question. The heavenly host appeared to shepherds in the fields. The book of Revelation repeatedly mentions 'seven' angels which is, I would say, symbolic of many angels. There are other references to plural angels 'to which of the angels said he at any time'. In both Hebrew and Greek the word can be translated 'messenger', so it is a 'messenger of the Lord'. Which would be an angelic (or spirit) being. Hagar did not hear the Lord. She dealt with an angel. Hagar represents those in legal bondage, who receive the dispensation of angels, not God.
    – Nigel J
    Feb 21, 2023 at 9:36

3 Answers 3

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Summary: We cannot know if the angel is the same unless the angel is named in both places.

Is there only one angel of the lord, or are there more?

One might think that there is only one angel of the lord by the way the sentence is translated.

For the NIV if you search specifically for "the angle of the lord" you get 61 results.
In the sentence "the" indicates that there is only one angel present in that situation.
"of the lord" indicates that God sent the angel, the angel is acting according to God's will.

In Genesis 28:12 and 32:1 speaks of "the angels of God". There are more than one and they are also "of God" or from God.

Psalm 103:20 has "Praise the Lord, you his angels"
A different way of referring to many of God's angels

What we know:

  1. There are many angels
  2. When God sends one angel that angel is an angel of the Lord, or "his angel" or "the angel"
  3. Sometimes God sends more than one angel, they are also God's angel

Unless the Bible names an angel we don't know which angel is meant. In the case of Genesis 16:7-13 and Matthew 1:18-20 the angel is not named and so we cannot know if the angel was the same or different.

Most of the time the angel is not named. The person to focus on is the message sender, not the messenger.

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  • Up-voted +1. The person to focus on is the message sender, not the messenger.
    – Nigel J
    Feb 22, 2023 at 22:30
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To address your very last sentence Alex, yes, there is only one angel of the Lord, period. Secondly, "The" angel of the Lord "NEVER" appears in the New Testament as "the angel of the Lord."

You referenced Matthew 1:18-20. Notice Matthew 1:24 and how it's worded, "And Joseph arose from his sleep and did as "the" angel of the Lord commanded him." Even though the word "the" is used this is still not "the" angel of the Lord because vs20 clearly states "an" angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream."

The same can be said regarding Stephen at Acts 7 where he mentions the angel of the Lord by quoting the Old Testament. But first notice Acts 7:2, "And he said "hear me, brethren and fathers! "The God of glory APPEARED to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran."

Stephen is giving the Jews a history lesson. Now notice Vs30, "And after forty years had passed, "AN" angel appeared to him/Moses in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in the flame of a burning bush." At vs31, "there came the voice of the Lord." Vs32, "I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, and Isaac and Jacob."

At vs33, the Lord ask Moses to take off his sandals. Skipping down to vs37. "This is the Moses who said to the sons of Israel, God shall raise up for you a prophet like me from your brethren. Now for vs38, "This is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness together with "THE" angel who was speaking to him on Mount Sinai. In essence, the Jews were rejecting God Himself.

What is also noteworthy is what Stephen says while the Jews were stoning him at vs59, "And they went on stoning Stephen as he called upon the Lord and said, "Lord Jesus receive my spirit."

At this point I think it's important to define the difference between the little word "an/a" and the word, "the." The chief grammatical function of "an" (or a) is to connote a thing "NOT" previously noted or recognized. "The" connotes a thing "PREVIOUSLY noted or recognized.

The first appearance of the angel of the Lord as "the" angel of the Lord is at Genesis 16:7. He multiplies Hagar's descendants at vs10. Hagar says she saw God and lived to tell about it at vs13.

At Genesis 17:1-2 the Lord God Almighty physically appears to Abraham and God multiplies his descendants. This multiplying Abraham's descendants is reinforced at Genesis 22:17. If you read at Genesis 22 starting at vs11-18 you will discover that it is the angel of the Lord who multiplied Abraham's descendants and swore an oath to Abraham (vs16) to seal the deal, so to speak.

The writer of the book of Hebrews at Hebrews 6:13-17 references this swearing from Genesis 22 and is clearly identified as God. Hebrews 6:13, "For when God made the promise to Abraham, since He could not swear by no one greater, HE SWORE BY HIMSELF, vs14, saying, I will surely bless you and I will surely multiply you."

If the angel of the Lord is just that, an actual angel he could not have sworn the oath to Abraham, angels cannot swear oaths on behalf of God Almighty Himself.

The following site shows many of the early Church Fathers believed the angel of the Lord was the preincarnate Jesus Christ. http://catholicnick.blogspot.com/2019/05/is-angel-of-lord-in-old-testament.html Now, this is a Roman Catholic site and after reading it I realized I posted my comments on this site back in 2022. You can find them at the very bottom when I'm the last poster. Btw, I am "NOT" a Roman Catholic, far from it.

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  • @MrBond. With the part of your answer that says "If the angel of the Lord is just that, an actual angel he could not have sworn the oath to Abraham, angels cannot swear oaths on behalf of God Almighty Himself." are you saying that the angel of the LORD is God Almighty Himself? Feb 22, 2023 at 1:38
  • Bingo Alex. Now, before you start shaking your head, please hear me out. The reason you don't understand this is because you have already determined that the angel of the Lord is just that, an actual angel. Two, you already have determined that Jesus Christ is a created being like the rest of us and He is not Deity. On the plus side you just came to the conclusion that angels cannot swear oaths on behalf of God, hence your question. Jesus has stated that God the Father cannot be seen. So when Genesis 17:1-2 says God Almighty physically appeared to Abraham who do you think it was? Continued.
    – Mr. Bond
    Feb 22, 2023 at 2:24
  • Cont. The Father has no separate manifestation from the Son. The Son is the only physical manifestation and revelation of the Father. What is known of the Father is revealed through the Son. To see the Son is to see the essence of the Father. John 1:18; 10;30; and others. Many of the early Church Fathers believed the angel of the Lord was the preincarnate Jesus Christ and that He was God. How do you think they came to that conclusion, all they had was the OT. Read Exodus 3:2-6. Angel of the Lord is in the bush. vs4, God called to Moses from the midst of the bush., read vs5-6. Who is talking?
    – Mr. Bond
    Feb 22, 2023 at 2:38
  • @MrBond. I read Exodus 3:2-6, even if the angel is in the fire, the account does not show that the angel actually spoke. Feb 22, 2023 at 3:47
  • Hi Alex! What do you mean by "even if the angel is in the fire,?" Exodus 3:2 states the angel of the Lord appeared to him/Moses in a blazing fire from the midst of the bush." And yes, the account clearly states the angel of the Lord was speaking, read vs4. "God called to him from the midst of the bush and said etc. What your doing is separating the angel of the Lord from God Himself. In other words, to you there are two distinct persons. Stephen at Acts 7:38 confirms that it was the angel of the Lord speaking to Moses. Alex, you've run out of excuses, it's time to face the Biblical facts.
    – Mr. Bond
    Feb 22, 2023 at 22:21
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The only named angel in the Bible is Gabriel who is named just four times in the Bible: Dan 8:16, 9:21, Luke 1:19, 26.

Since the LORD has many angels (Gen 28:12, 32:1, Deut 32:43, Heb 1:6, Luke 12:8, 9, 15:10, John 1:51, etc) and we are not told the name of the angel in Matt 1:18-20, we cannot know if it is the same angel that spoke to Hagar in Gen 16.

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