More Than One Archangel? – Who is “The Angel of the Lord”?

It’s time to revise many apocryphal “Christmas cards” (sic)!   According to Holy Scripture, there are not several archangels all of whom are creatures – but only one Archangel alias Leader of the created angels.   And that Archangel is the uncreated God the Son Himself.

‘The Angel of the Lord’ is the pre-incarnate Second Person of the Trinity.   This is the Christ-exalting doctrine of the infallible Word of God.   See Genesis 18:2 to 19:27 & 32:24-30; Exodus 3:2-14; 13:21f; 19:3 to 20:19; Joshua 5:13-15f; Isaiah 63:8-13f; Daniel 3:25; 7:13f; 12:1f; Zachariah. 3:1; Malachi 3:1 & 4:2 cf. Acts 7:30-33 & First Corinthians 10:1-4 & Galatians 3:19.  

It seems the Ante-Nicene Fathers agree.   Thus the Latin Church’s Irenaeus observes in Against Heresies IV:10:1 regarding Moses that  “the Son of God is implanted everywhere throughout his writings – at one time, indeed, speaking with Abraham when about to eat with him; at another time…bringing down judgment upon the Sodomites [Genesis 18:2-33 & 19:1-27]; and again when He becomes visible and directs Jacob on his journey [Genesis 31:11 & 32:24-30], and speaks with Moses from the bush [Exodus 3:2-4].”   Also Tertullian in his Against Marcion (III:9:1) says that “Christ…did Himself…in…the flesh appear to Abraham [Genesis 18:2 to 19:27].”

Also the Greek Father Eusebius in his Church History I:2:1-13 remarked: “In Christ, there is a twofold nature….   Who, beside the Father, could clearly understand the Light Who was before the world – the intellectual and essential Wisdom Who existed before the ages; the living Word Who was in the beginning with the Father; and Who was God?….  

“The Lord God…appeared as a common man to Abraham while he was sitting at the oak of Mamre [Genesis 18:1f].   And he, immediately falling down, although he saw a man with his eyes, nevertheless worshipped Him as God and sacrificed to Him as Lord and confessed that he was not ignorant of His identity when he uttered the words: ‘Lord, the Judge of all the earth, will You not execute righteous judgment?’ [Genesis 18:25]….

“Moses most clearly proclaims him…Lord…when he says: ‘The Lord rained upon Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord’ [Genesis 19:24].   The divine Scripture also calls Him ‘God’ – when He appeared again to Jacob in the form of a man….   Therefore also Jacob called the name of that place ‘Vision of God’ – saying: ‘For I have seen God face to face’ [Genesis 32:28-30]….

“You will perceive also…that this was None Other than He Who talked with Moses…and said to him: ‘I am the God of your fathers!’ [Exodus 3:2-6]….   Also Joshua the successor of Moses calls Him, as Leader of the heavenly angels and…rule over all, ‘Captain of the host of the Lord’ – although he did not see Him otherwise than again in the form and appearance of a man [Joshua 5:13-15].” Also see, to the same effect, the A.D. 165 Justin Martyr’s Dialogue with Trypho (62).  

Even after the A.D. 325 Council of Nicaea, at least for a while Augustine too seems to have held this view.   Also the A.D. 450 Church Father Theodoret of Cyrrhus agreed with it.   Theodoret's words (in Exodum 3) are: “The whole passage shows that it was God Who appeared to him [Moses].

But he called Him an ‘angel’ [alias a ‘messenger’] in order to let us know that it was not God the Father Whom he saw – for whose ‘angel’ could the Father be? – but the Only-begotten Son, the Angel of great Counsel” alias Christ as the ‘Angel’ or Messenger of the Covenant in Malachi 3:2.

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