For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee. Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me. (Acts 27:23-25)
Some people claim that the ministry of angels on earth ceased after the coming of the Holy Spirit, an event which is recorded in Acts 2. The book of Acts refutes this. The Holy Spirit is not a substitute for angels. For a detailed study of His ministry, see The Ministry Of The Holy Spirit available free at http://www.harvestime.org
This chapter summarizes the ministry of angels during the time of the early church as recorded in the book of Acts.
-An angel delivered the disciples from prison.
And Believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.)
Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them. There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one. Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect of the Sadducees,) and were filled with indignation, And laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison. But the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said, Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life. And when they heard that, they entered into the temple early in the morning, and taught. But the high priest came, and they that were with him, and called the council together, and all the senate of the children of Israel and sent to the prison to have them brought. But when the officers came, and found them not in the prison, they returned, and told, Saying, The prison truly found we shut with all safety, and the keepers standing without before the doors: but when we had opened, we found no man within.Now when the high priest and the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these things, they doubted of them whereunto this would grow. Then came one and told them, saying, Behold, the men whom ye put in prison are standing in the temple, and teaching the people. (Acts 5:14-25)
The angel delivered the disciples from prison and gave them a new mandate for ministry: “Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life.”The disciples obeyed, were subsequently called before the council and the high priest, and gave a powerful witness to the Gospel.
-Angels were mentioned by Stephen.
In his last message prior to his martyrdom, Stephen recounts the appearance of the angel to Moses:
And when forty years were expired, there appeared to him in the wilderness of mount Sina an angel of the Lord in a flame of fire in a bush. When Moses saw it, he wondered at the sight: and as he drew near to behold it, the voice of the Lord came unto him, Saying, I am the God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Then Moses trembled, and durst not behold. Then said the Lord to him, Put off thy shoes from thy feet: for the place where thou standest is holy ground. I have seen, I have seen the affliction of my people which is in Egypt, and I have heard their groaning, and am come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send thee into Egypt. This Moses whom they refused, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge? the same did God send to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the angel which appeared to him in the bush. (Acts 7:30-35)
In Acts 7:38 and 53, Stephen also notes that angels had a role in delivering the Law of Moses.
-An angel directed Philip’s evangelistic ministry.
And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet. Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. (Acts 8:26-29)
The angel directed Philip to go into the desert, then the Holy Spirit told him to join himself to the Ethiopian. This reveals how angels and the Holy Spirit function together in accomplishing God’s purposes. As a result of this encounter, the seeking Ethiopian was saved and baptized in water. It is believed that he is responsible to taking the Gospel to the continent of Africa upon his return home.
-An angel directed Cornelius to send for Peter.
There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway. He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius. And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God. And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter: He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do. And when the angel which spake unto Cornelius was departed, he called two of his household servants, and a devout soldier of them that waited on him continually; And when he had declared all these things unto them, he sent them to Joppa. (Acts 10:1-8)
(Also recounted in Acts 11).
Cornelius was a productive man, a good man, a religious man, and a generous man–but he did not know the Lord as Savior. You may be a good, productive, religious and generous person and even live a moral life, but you still need salvation through Jesus!
While Cornelius was talking with the angel and dispatching his servants, Peter had a vision preparing him to go to minister to these Gentiles. Note that in Peter’s messageto the household of Cornelius there was no call for response, no soft music, no strong appeal–none of the things we sometimes think necessary in order for people to respond to the Gospel. The Word of God was sufficient. The entire household was saved, baptized in water, and filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:9-48). When you are God-directed, Spirit-empowered, and have the assistance of angels, you do not have to strive to “make things happen” in ministry. Whenever you have a “divine appointment” like this one, it very well may have been orchestrated by angels even though you were unaware of their activity.
-An angel delivered Peter from prison.
Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church.And he killed James the brother of John with the sword. And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.) And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people. Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him. And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison. And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands. And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me. And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that
it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision. When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him. And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews. And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying. And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a damsel came to hearken, named Rhoda. And when she knew Peter’s voice, she opened not the gate for gladness, but ran in, and told how Peter stood before the gate. And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel (thinking he was dead and it was his spirit). But Peter continued knocking: and when they had opened the door, and saw him, they were astonished. But he, beckoning unto them with the hand to hold their peace, declared unto them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, Go shew these things unto James, and to the brethren. And he departed, and went into another place.(Acts 12:1-17)
James died in prison. Peter was delivered. What made the difference? James’ ministry was concluded. Peter’s was just beginning. This incident also confirms the power of prayer to God which results in the release of ministering angels.
-An angel brought judgment on wicked Herod.
And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them. And the people gave a shout, saying, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man.And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost. (Acts 12:21-23)
This angel was used to bring judgment. As you will learn on Chapter Ten, angels will play a major role in the execution of God’s judgmentin the end-times (Revelation).
-An angel encouraged Paul during the storm.
The Apostle Paul was on a ship being tossed around in the sea by a ferocious storm. Despite the crew’s best attempts, it seemed as if the vessel was doomed…
…But after long abstinence Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss.And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man’s life among you, but of the ship. For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee. Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me. (Acts 27:21-25)
Paul was encouraged by an angel, shared that encouragement with others, and every person on board the ship was saved.
THE BOOK OF ACTS CONTINUES
The Acts of the Holy Spirit through the disciples did not cease with the final pages of the book of Acts. The Trinity of God continues to work in and through Believers. And part of that miraculous work is the ministry of angels to and through His people.