Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Do Humans Become Angels When They Die?
THE BIBLE’S VIEWPOINT
When They Die?
Christian Funerals—Dignified, Modest, and Pleasing to God
Death—Is It Really the End?
Does God Take Children to Become Angels in Heaven?
A LITTLE girl named Argyro died when she was only seven years of age. Grief-stricken, her parents looked down at her as she lay in a coffin, dressed in white. In an effort to offer solace, the minister told them: “God wanted another angel, and He took little Argyro to be with him. Now her soul flutters around the Almighty’s throne.”
Many people cherish the belief that angels are the souls of deceased humans, although few religions officially endorse the notion. The media has popularized this concept in movies and television series about dead people who ‘earn their wings’ as angels by helping and protecting the living.
Can you, in truth, expect your loved ones to become angels at death? What does the Bible teach on this matter? To answer, let us first review what the Holy Scriptures really say about the nature of angels and the actual condition of the dead.
Angels are invisible, powerful servants of God who reside in the spirit realm. Their existence is independent of that of humans. Angels are spirits created by God. The Bible says: “Let [the angels] praise the name of Jehovah; for he himself commanded, and they were created.”—Psalm 148:2, 5.
The Bible reveals that many millions of faithful celestial creatures, including seraphs and cherubs, obediently serve in specialized roles according to their rank and assignments. (Psalm 103:20, 21; Isaiah 6:1-7; Daniel 7:9, 10) Did humans have to die in order for God to bring all those angels into existence? In fact, that is quite impossible. Why?
The Bible shows that the angels were created long before humans. When Jehovah created the planet that humans would much later inhabit, the angels—referred to poetically as morning stars—‘joyfully cried out together and began shouting in applause.’ (Job 38:4-7) So they were in existence for aeons before man appeared on earth.
Moreover, angels and humans differ greatly in their nature and their place in Jehovah’s purpose.* God created man “a little lower than angels,” so those spirit creatures are rightly considered superhuman, with greater mental capacities and power. (Hebrews 2:7) The “proper dwelling place” of angels is the heavens. (Jude 6) As to humans, God’s original purpose was for man to live forever on earth. (Genesis 1:28; 2:17; Psalm 37:29) If the first human couple had been obedient to God, they would never have died. From the beginning, then, humans and angels have enjoyed very different places in God’s purpose.
“Let [the angels] praise the name of Jehovah; for he himself commanded, and they were created.”—Psalm 148:2, 5
What Happens at Death?
Other important questions we need to examine are: What happens to humans who die? Do they continue existing but in another form, perhaps as angels in the spirit realm? The Bible has this simple and clear answer: “The living are conscious that they will die; but as for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all.” (Ecclesiastes 9:5) So at death humans cease to exist. The dead know, feel, and experience absolutely nothing.
Is there hope for the dead? Yes! The Bible shows that the hope for most humans who have died is to be resurrected. The vast majority of the dead are to be raised to life as humans on a paradise earth.—Luke 23:43; John 5:28.
A few humans have the hope of being resurrected to life in heaven. Their number is small—144,000 in all. However, these 144,000 are quite distinct from those creatures commonly called angels. For example, the 144,000 rule as immortal kings and priests with Christ. They have authority as judges. (1 Corinthians 6:3; Revelation 20:6) Are they babies who have died? No. They are followers of Christ who have been fully tested and tried!—Luke 22:28, 29.
Consider, too, the contrast between dead humans and living angels. Whereas deceased humans “are conscious of nothing at all,” angels have full consciousness, feelings, and personal will. They are free moral agents. (Genesis 6:2, 4; Psalm 146:4; 2 Peter 2:4) The dead are described as “impotent,” or powerless, while angels are “mighty in power.” (Isaiah 26:14; Psalm 103:20) And while human descendants of Adam die as a result of sin and imperfection, God-fearing angels are perfect, enjoying a fully approved standing before Jehovah.—Matthew 18:10.
The idea that angels are the souls of deceased humans might make for imaginative TV programs or movies, but the notion finds no support in the Scriptures. The Bible truths set forth above help us to avoid any misconception about the fate of our loved ones who die. And the Bible assures us that faithful angels—separately created, powerful servants of God—are superior to humans and are always ready to do Jehovah’s will. Happily, God’s will includes using the angels to watch over and assist those who sincerely respect Jehovah and seek to serve him.—Psalm 34:7.
* The term “angel,” which literally means “messenger,” can at times have a broad meaning, including various spirit creatures and even human servants of God. In this article, however, we refer to those spirit creatures whom the Bible commonly calls angels.