When did human souls get confused with angels?

As I understand basic theology, angels were created long before humans. They are a seperate class of being.The soul of a deceased goes to his or her destination in Heaven (if appropriate).

In many,many representations in movies, television, cartoons and comics, the souls are shown as essentially BECOMING angels. They manifest wings and halo, angelic attributes. They also are shown appearing to the living in this guise to offer advice or parting words.

 Was there a point where this became accepted theology? Is it canon today? Or have the media just gotten muddled and confused once again?

my wag is it’s just the media’s and public’s confusion. Maybe some other religon has people becoming angles after death

My understanding is that both angels and humans have spirits, or have a spiritual core, infinite and resplendent.

Humans, however, exist also in time and space and have emotional and material bodies.

They are like archangels who have descended into the worlds of time and space and materiality. As they purify themselves, they may assist the Lord in many ways.

This is the inner meaning of the prodigal son story.
The child who stays with the father is the archangel,
the child who leaves and then returns to a joyful and celebratory greeting is the archangel who has descended into human form.

Best wishes,

Could be an extrapolation from Lk 20:36, where Jesus is answering the question about the woman with seven husbands, and whose wife she’ll be after the resurrection:

“(35)But those who are considered worthy of taking part in that age and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, (36) and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels.”

Maybe “they are LIKE the angels [in this one particular way]” evolved into “they BECOME angels”.

Just a guess.

We were always taught (by our Assemblies of God background) that human beings are presently a little lower than the angels in the heavenly hierarchy, but will be above them when we come into the kingdom. Angels are thus essentially servants, or to go back to the Greek, “Messengers”. Mind you, there are a lot of confusing factors, not least the spread of New Age theology, which is a smokescreen like no other anti-Christian smokescreen I’ve ever heard of. Also we’d do well to note that in Acts when the apostle is supernaturally released from prison and returns to the house of friends, they deny his reality, saying that “it must be his ANGEL”. I take this to mean that ‘angel’ could also be a kind of generic term for any kind of spirit being.

Note well: every time an angel appears to someone in the Bible, it’s with the command to “fear not”. This is because their appearance is so terrible and awe-inspiring that most folk in the Bible try to worship them before they are restrained. MY point is that angels are not to be screwed around with, much like anything else in the spiritual realm. Find something solid you can trust - Jesus is the obvious - and stick to it.

Kind of right, as far as concerns various traditions. Angels, BTW, if Aquinas is right, also exist in time and space but their sense of dimensionality is different from that of humans.

Um, no… not if you’re referring to the Anggeloi from the Judeo-Christian Bible, as interpreted by most mainstream denominations and schools. What you are describing are New Age “Angels”

The usual mainstream standard is:
Angel = 1 kind of creature.
Human = 1 other, distinct kind of creature.

And at least among the majority of Christianity:
Angels: Created all at once by God “in the Beginning…”
Human Immortal Soul: Created individually and infused onto each person at either conception or first breath.

And “archangel” is a higher-ranking angel.

THAT would be amazing news to millions of Christians of all denominations who since the late 1st. Century AD have been pretty clear in that the parable is about a sinner who repents and returns to the fold of righteousness.


Another possible confusing factor is that angels are all considered saints. According to the Catholic Church, a saint is any person (note that I didn’t say human) who’s in Heaven, so Michael and company qualify. However, the popular conception is that a saint is a really good human being, so folks assume that St. Michael the Archangel was a human being who died and went to Heaven.

Ok, first off no traditional Christian faith that I’m aware of accepts that angels are the souls of the deceased or vice versa. The Catholic Church has stated before that angels are eternal beings, created by God on the first day, so if you’re looking for canon there it is.

Most of the confusion surrounding angels and the dead comes from the Middle Ages, a time when public interest in angels was skyrocketing and people were dying in droves between the Plagues and other facts of Middle Age life. I couldn’t give you an exact “Joe Smith said this” definition of it, but the general sense of things was: people were dying by the cartload, angels were named as Saints (as Chronos pointed out), dead humans were named as Saints, angels live in Heaven, good dead people go to Heaven, people wanted some solace of their dead loved ones watching over them, a few Biblical stories have a dead person watching over someone else, guardian angels watch over people… etc into one big mess until the whole notion that dead people = angels emerged. Keeping in mind that the average person in the Middle Ages knew as much about Catholicism as they picked up from looking at the stained glass windows while listening to the Latin mass.

Anyway, the Church was never too pleased with this whole outlook and has said that it ain’t so in the past. These days, the Church seems to try to downplay the entire notion of angels at all given the New Age angel attention (and the Church doesn’t like facets of the faith that take the spotlight off Jesus – they’ve gone against Mary worship in the past as well).

(None of this is meant to insult the Catholic Church, just make the point that they are aware of the dead=angels idea and have spoken against it)

Before someone else adds it, there are two cases of a mortal being made an angel, though they exist in extra-Biblical Jewish lore, not the Bible (or Old Testament on its own for that matter).

One would be Enoch, the other would be Elijah (Elias). At any rate, both are said in the Bible to have been taken up physically by God, so that they never ‘died’ in a normal sense. The Bible leaves it at that, but Jewish pseudipigrapha states that Enoch became the angel Metatron and Elijah became the angel Sandalphon. Typical descriptions of the two have them as the ruler of angels, standing 500 feet tall and made of bronze and other odd descriptions that make them sound more like an angelic Paul Bunyan than something you’d see in a painting by Michelangelo.