Scripture says that when believers die, they will be “like angels”. What does that mean?
Does it mean, as some suppose, that we actually become angels? Or does it mean that in some way we become like angels?
To find the answer, let’s look first at how the Bible describes angels and human beings. What are the similarities? What are the differences?
Angels are spiritual beings created by God to work as His agents, messengers, and servants. They are sent to help those who inherit salvation. (Hebrews 1:7,14; Colossians 1:16; Mark 13:27; Psalm 103:20-21; Luke 1:18-20; Hebrews 1:14)
Described as “mighty”, angels are not limited by the physical world, and they never die. Neither do they marry. Scripture expressly forbids the worship of angels. ( Psalm 103:20; Acts 12:7-11; Luke 20:34-36; Matthew 22:30; Revelation 19:10)
Satan (the devil) was once an angel with great responsibility. He was called Lucifer, which means “light-bearer”. Scripture records that He desired to become like God and led a third of the angels in rebellion against God. (Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezekiel 28:12-19; Luke 10:18; Revelation 9:1, 12:3-4,7-9)
The Bible refers to “fallen angels”, “wicked spirits”, and “demons”. Satan and his ”angels” roam the earth, opposing and hindering the gospel and the work of God. (2 Peter 2:4; Matthew 12:43-45; Luke 8:2; Matthew 13:19; 1 Thessalonians 2:18)
What does the Bible say about human beings? Like angels, people were created by God and called to worship and serve Him (Genesis 1:26-27; Revelation 19:10).
Unlike angels, people were created in the image of God. Adam, the first man, was given authority to rule over the earth. Every individual has worth and a unique purpose. God loves every person and desires a personal relationship with each one. (Genesis 1:1, 26-27; Matthew 6:26, 10:29-31, 12:10-13; Jeremiah 1:4-5; 1 Corinthians 12; John 3:16-17; Luke 15:11-32; 2 Corinthians 5:17-20)
God’s heart is to restore the relationship that was lost when our first parents, Adam and Eve, chose to disobey their Creator. God sent His Son Jesus Christ to pay the price for our sins on the cross. This salvation – forgiveness of sins, restored relationship, and eternal life through accepting Christ – is offered to every person. (Genesis 3:1-24; Romans 3:10-12, 23; Romans 5:12-21, 6:23; Isaiah 59:2; John 3:16-17; Colossians 1:13-14,19-20)
People are different from angels in other significant ways. We are limited by the physical world and physically die. God ordained marriage for us, not just for companionship but for procreation, to re-populate the earth.
Let’s look now at Luke 20:34-36. This verse answers the question, “When we die, in what way will we be “like angels”?
The context: Jesus was being tested by some religious leaders who did not believe in the resurrection of the dead or in angels. They asked Jesus what would happen to a woman who had been married multiple times on earth. Whose wife would she be in the resurrection? Luke 20:34-36 is part of Jesus’ answer.
Luke 20:34-36 “Jesus said to them, ‘The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; for they cannot even die anymore, because they are like angels, and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.”
Matthew 22:30, a related verse, says simply, “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.”
When we die, we will not become angels. We will be like them in that we will live forever and have no need for marriage. There will be no exclusive or sexual relationships in heaven. Every person will enjoy perfect spiritual relationships with others.
What Do You Think?
The “good news of great joy” is that God has provided the way for us to receive forgiveness of sins, a personal relationship with Him, and entrance to Heaven. That way is by trusting in Christ as our Savior and Lord. If you do not have assurance that you will experience the joy of Heaven, read “How Can I Know God”.
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