Some denominations believe humans can become angels - Any biblical support for this?

It’s been a popular notion for some time in literature etc. that people can become angels and many biblical literalists take this as a fact. Others say there is scant support for this notion, and that the Bible is clear about angels being entities that are distinctly non-human.

What does the Bible really say? Is the notion of people becoming angels contained in the bible or not?

Both sides are right in saying the Bible is unclear, especially if one tosses out the constraint of literalism.

I can’t think of any questions where the Bible is clear, especially if one does not have to take it literally.

Nope.

The Bible presents Angels as messengers of God who can take on human form, and can be indistinguishable from people. Angels do Gods will - the Angel of Death unleashed on Egypt that killed the firstborn, angels who killed the enemies of Israel. Angels can be responsible for areas (the angel Michael as described in Daniel 10 who fights in the heavenlies, the angels of the churches in Asia Minor in Revelation) Some of the prophetic books also include Cherubim and Seraphim, angelic creatures who worship in the throneroom of God - these are non-human supernatural beings. Angels form a retinue for Jesus, announcing His birth and resurrection. Finally, there is some evidence of what people call guardian angels - who provide a measure of spiritual defence.

However nothing in the bible suggests that people can become angels - humans (including those who were taken without dying - Enoch, Moses, Elijah) get resurrection bodies like the body of the risen Christ.

Si

Deut. 34:6 says that Moses died in Moab and was buried there:

Does is say somewhere else he was taken without dying? It wouldn’t be the first contradiction in the Bible.

No - my bad.

Si

I’ve long suspected Luke 20:36 and its parallels had a lot to do with the common misconception. In the context of whether marriage exists in heaven, Luke has Jesus saying that people become “equal to the angels” (KJV). The original Greek is ισαγγελοι, which probably means something like “similar to angels” (in being sexless?) rather than “exactly the same thing as angels.”

The same story is given in Matthew 22:30 and Mark 12:25, but the wording is different from Luke’s: ως αγγελοι (“as the angels” in the KJV but ως probably means “like” here).

Many depictions of humans in heaven, like many depictions of angels, show them as looking like humans dressed all in white, with wings and halos. On seeing such depictions, it might be easy to get them confused. Then again, though, angels don’t necessarily look like that, either: There are angels described as great flaming wheels, for instance, or as masses of wings, eyes, and flames, or other just plain weird forms.

What is the argument by religious scholars as to why god would need angels in the first place?

What does god need with a starship?

Perhaps because God is a believer in the power of delegation of duties?

Strictly speaking, none of the Abrahamic religions says that God needs angels. Or humans for that matter, or the universe. He just likes to have them around. He enjoys the company. :smiley:

Pseudepigraphical works, such as Enoch claim that Enoch became the angel Metatron when he was taken up into Heaven. Not remotely Biblical but there’s a long tradition for the idea within some Judaic circles dating well back to before Christianity.

This is different than everyone getting harps 'n halos upon dying, of course.

And there’s a similar tradition which has Elijah transformed into Sandalphon.

By the way, thank you for sparing the time to honour us with an authoritative answer! :smiley:

I knew that some non-canon sources made these claims. I’m interested in understanding how a belief in human ascension to angelhood gets connected to biblical literalism, when it does not literally occur in the canonical bible. It’s the sort of thing that I’d associate more with the mystic christian traditions.

Si

Gods in other local theolgies had messengers (Zeus had Iris, and later Hermes), probably in imitation of the kings who had messengers to carry their messages everywhere in his domain. People back then didn’t start with their theology de nono, figuring that they had an omnipotent god who could do anything without effort – their gods were constructed in imitation of the political reality threy had. Heaven, after all, wouldn’t be less efficient than their own wonderful government. And their gods wouldn’t lack the offices and features their own rulers had. In fact, they’d have better, souped-up versions. So instead of Zeus communicating directly with the heroes, he had the swiftest or the most beautiful messengers. Or he sent Dreams. The Hebrews were undoubtedly influenced by the same thought processes, and their neighbors, and developed the same things.

After a time, those perfect messengers started to develop their own mythologies and characters. Irisnever really did get much of one, but Hermes did. Likewise, in the earliest writings the angels are a pretty uniform bunch. As time went by, you got specific names and deeds, something the Christians built up a lot – Michael, Raphael, Gabriel, and so on.

As I recall, some of those non-canonical works had quite a bit of traction back in the day (Enoch is quoted in the NT book of James) and so there may have been “traditional” carry-over among the early Christians not actually written into today’s official scripture.

For an insightful and brilliantly written essay on angels, see: http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2059/whats-the-deal-with-angels

And I bet the author is good-looking, too.

I’ve always thought of them as the divine equivalent of force mediating particles.