Pre-incarnate Appearances Of The Son Of God In The OT – Truth Or Myth? – The Angel of the Lord

Ever since the time of the early Christian apologist Justin (middle of the second century), it has been a popular trend among apologists, Bible commentators, pastors and teachers, to claim that Jesus, the son of God, can be seen to be actively at work in the pages of the Old Testament. This, of course, would be prior to his becoming a man in his birth from the virgin Mary, hence these instances are usually referred to as ‘pre-incarnate appearances of Christ’. This idea obviously grows out of the belief that Jesus existed prior to his birth in Bethlehem, either as God himself or as some kind of divine being. If one denies that Jesus the Messiah pre-existed his birth then he has no motivation to find in the OT, instances of  his ‘pre-incarnate appearances’. Trinitarians are more inclined than others to see these ‘pre-incarnate appearances’, and by pointing them out, hope to bolster the doctrines of the Trinity and Deity of Christ. But it must be pointed out that even if one could prove that Jesus did exist and appeared to men, prior to his proper incarnation, this would not ipso facto be proof of the Trinity or of the proper deity of Jesus. At best it would only prove that he existed in some form prior to his birth as man. The early Logos theorists, such as the Justin mentioned above, Arians, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, and others throughout Christian history, have believed that the son of God existed and made appearances to men prior to his becoming a man, but would not classify him as the true God himself, the Creator of the heavens and the earth.

There are a number of mysterious figures that appear in the OT which are claimed to be ‘pre-incarnate appearances of Christ’ (i.e. Christophanies). We will, in this study, examine the ones most commonly used by the promoters of this idea:

  1. The Angel of Yahweh
  2. The Word of Yahweh
  3. Miscellaneous (Melchizedek, Captain of the Armies of Yahweh, etc.)

The Angel Of The Lord

Much discussion has been had over this mysterious figure in the OT throughout the centuries, with most of the ‘orthodox’ considering his appearance a Christophany. Yet it must be stated categorically that there is no explicit or unambiguous statement in either the OT or the NT that equates the ‘Angel of the Lord’ with Jesus, the son of God. This indeed is astounding when one considers the nearly universal acceptance of this figure as Jesus himself. So how is this to be accounted for. One reason is that the identification of this angel with Jesus is very ancient, going back to the aforementioned Justin, in the middle of the second century (he was the first to assert this idea). Subsequent church fathers followed his lead in this and for many within orthodoxy today these early church fathers are sacrosanct, and their writings are, at least on a subconscious level, considered nearly inspired. For many in the orthodox camp the more ancient a belief the more reliable it is and so it should be unquestionably accepted as truth. This is what is known as tradition. But the fact that the NT is absolutely silent regarding this ‘angel of the Lord’ (well not completely, as we will see) and no where unequivocally teaches that Jesus was actively appearing to people in the OT (notwithstanding 1 Cor. 10:4 & 9 and Jude 5, which have textual problems and are ambiguous), should provide a caution, as we proceed, against the unquestioning acceptance of this tradition.

Because of the lack of explicit biblical statements on this topic one must find scriptural support by inference. This is usually done as follows:

  1. The angel of the Lord often appears as Yahweh himself, speaking in the first person. E.g. Genesis 16:10; Ex. 3:1-15; Judges 2:1-5.
  2. Yet the NT says that no one has ever seen God, which is assumed to mean the Father – 1 Tim. 6:16; 1 John 4:12
  3. So then the angel of the Lord must be appearances of God the Son.

Now there are some serious flaws in this line of reasoning, which we will examine shortly. But before we do I want to first look at the issue of whether or not each time the ‘angel of the Lord’ is mentioned it is actually referring to one and the same specific individual being. If it can be shown that this is not the case, then the proposition that ‘the angel of Yahweh’ is the pre-incarnate son of God is seriously weakened.

Arthrous or Anarthrous

The whole argument for the ‘angel of the Lord’ being a Christophany depends on the presupposition that this phrase is a designation belonging to the same  specific individual entity every time it appears. This presupposition depends largely on the inclusion of the definite article (i.e. the word ‘the‘) before the word angel. The inclusion of the definite article before a noun makes that noun arthrous, i.e. with the article. The absence of the definite article before a noun makes that noun anarthrous, i.e. without the article. An arthrous noun would be more specific – the angel, whereas an anarthrous noun would be more general – an angel. The problem is, that with some languages, such as ancient Hebrew, the definite article does not necessarily have to be explicit in the text, but is sometimes implied by the grammatical relationship of the words in a sentence. There was no indefinite article in either Hebrew or Greek, so a noun that is anarthrous in the text could be translated as either indefinite (a or an) or definite (the), by implication. Of course when the article is explicit in the text it must be translated as so. So, in the OT, in the Hebrew underlying the English phrase ‘the angel of Yahweh’, is the noun angel arthrous or anarthrous?

There is in Hebrew what is known as the construct state. This is when two nouns are joined together in a construct relationship. The first noun is the construct noun and the second is the absolute noun. This forms a genitive construction and so the word ‘of‘ is placed between the nouns. This is the precise construction we have in the phrase ‘the angel of Yahweh.’ In Hebrew we have malak YHWH which literally translated is angel YHWH. Because this is a genitive construction denoting possession we get angel of Yahweh. The rule is that the definiteness or indefiniteness of the construct noun, here angel, is determined by the definiteness or indefiniteness of the absolute noun, here Yahweh. Now because all proper nouns are definite, and Yahweh being a proper noun,  the correct grammatical translation would be ‘the angel of Yahweh.’ But this in no way means that a Hebrew reader would have understood every instance of the phrase to be referring to the same specific being, as if ‘the angel of Yahweh’ was a title designating one specific individual. That the definiteness of the word angel just does not have to mean this is easily proved. First of all, it is noted by Hebrew scholars that when the construct state includes a proper name (Yahweh) as the absolute, though technically the construct noun would be definite, in actual understanding it can be considered indefinite, depending on the context. This is because there is no way to write in Hebrew ‘an angel of Yahweh‘ since Yahweh is always definite and therefore the construct noun preceding it is always technically definite. But if the context requires it, then the grammatically correct definite noun should be understood as indefinite. In Exodus 10:9 we find the Hebrew phrase hag YHWH = feast YHWH = the feast of Yahweh. It is grammatically correct to translate feast as definite for the construction requires it, but it is not necessary to understand it as definite. In fact every English translation I checked renders this phrase as ‘a feast of the Lord.’ This is because the context clearly requires it be indefinite. Up to this point in the story in Exodus there has been no mention of any feast of Yahweh. If ‘the feast of Yahweh’ was referring to a specific feast, which one? Later in Exodus, Yahweh establishes seven feasts for Israel to keep, but up to this point no such feast has been mentioned; this is obviously a general feast, unconnected to the seven feasts established later. This is why English  translators are nearly unanimous in translating it as “a feast of the Lord.” Also the Jewish translators of the LXX (the Greek version of the OT) rendered feast as indefinite in this passage.

Now let’s look at another example. In Deut. 22:19 we have in Hebrew bethulah Yisrael = virgin Israel = the virgin of Israel. Are we to assume from this that there is one specific virgin in Israel who is designated as ‘the virgin of Israel.’ No, of course not. Once again, although virgin is technically definite because of the grammatical construction, it clearly should be understood as indefinite. In the context of the passage it refers to any virgin in Israel to whom the aforementioned circumstances apply. All English versions and the LXX render virgin as indefinite.

Now let’s look at examples where even though the English versions translate a construct noun as definite in a phrase, it cannot possibly be understood to be referring to one and the same individual person in every instance that phrase occurs. Take the Hebrew phrase ebed YHWH = servant YHWH = the servant of Yahweh. If what the proponents of ‘the angel of Yahweh’ being one specific individual person say is true, because of the definiteness of the word angel, then the same must apply here, for it is the exact same construction. But is this the case? Obviously not, for the OT tells us of various people who were so designated:

  • mosheh ebed YHWH = Moses the servant of Yahweh – Deut. 34:5
  • yehoshua ebed YHWH = Joshua the servant of Yahweh – Joshua 24:29
  • lebed Yahweh ledawid = of David the servant of Yahweh – Ps. 18:1

No one would conclude that Moses, Joshua and David were all the same individual person because they were each designated ‘the servant of Yahweh.’  We also see the paralell phrase used by Yahweh himself, “my servant.” Surely whoever Yahweh calls ‘my servant‘ must be ‘the servant of Yahweh.’ Yet the phrase ‘my servant’ is applied to:

  • Abraham – Gen 26:24
  • All Israelites – Lev. 25:42
  • Caleb – Numbers 14:24
  • The future Messiah – Is. 42:1
  • Zerubbabel – Haggai 2:23
  • all prophets – Ez. 38:17

It seems to me that one of the reasons that ‘the angel of Yahweh’ is taken as a single individual is because whenever there is an appearance of the angel of the Yahweh there is no proper name given to him, as in the case with ‘the servant of Yahweh.’ But it must be remembered that in all of Scripture only two names of angels are ever given, Michael and Gabriel, yet there is said to be myriads of angels. It just doesn’t seem to be the norm to give the names of God’s celestial messengers when they appear, probably because they are not coming in their own name but in the name of Yahweh. If it had been common practice for these divine messengers to give their names when appearing then we might not be having this discussion because we would have seen that more than one specific messenger was being designated by the phrase ‘the angel of Yahweh. But the lack of proper names for each messenger of Yahweh has aided in the misconception that ‘the angel of Yahweh’ is referring to a single individual messenger.

One last example is found in Judges 13:6 and 2 Chron. 25:7 where we find the phrase ish haelohim = man the god = the man of God. Because the word elohim  has the definite article prefixed, the construct noun should technically be rendered ‘the man’ i.e. it is grammatically correct to translate it so. Yet, once again all English versions and the LXX render the word man, in these passages, as indefinite. Why? Because the context demands it. In the context of Judges 13, Manoah’s wife tells him for the first time about a man of God that came to her. In most languages this would be expressed by an indefinite noun. If I approach someone to tell them about a speeding ticket I got last week I wouldn’t begin by saying, “I was stopped by the police officer last week for speeding,” but rather, “I was stopped by a police officer.” (By the way, I did not really get a ticket last week). In the context of the 2 Chron. passage, the man of God is being introduced into the story for the first time in verse 7, and so it is proper to understand the noun man as indefinite. Also, as with the phrase ‘the servant of Yahweh’, the definite phrase ‘the man of God’ is applied to multiple persons:

  • Moses – Deut. 33:1
  • Elisha – 2 Kings 4:7
  • Shemaiah – 1 Kings 12:22
  • David – 2 Chron. 8:14
  • Igdaliah – Jer. 35:4

So if the definite phrases ‘the servant of Yahweh‘ and ‘the man of God‘ need not be referring to one single individual then neither must the phrase ‘the angel of Yahweh‘, at least not based on the grammatical construction. If the definiteness of the ‘angel of Yahweh’ is to be maintained it must be solely on exegetical grounds.

Further evidence that the definite phrase, ‘the angel of Yahweh’ may be understood practically as indefinite is found in the LXX. As noted with the other definite phrases mentioned above, we find the same thing regarding this definite phrase – the Jewish translators of the LXX consistently render the phrase as indefinite (an angel of the Lord) at the first mention of ‘the angel of Yahweh’ in any given passage. Subsequent mentions are then rendered as definite (the angel of the Lord), referring back to the initial indefinite first mention. Here is an example from Judges 13. In the Hebrew text all occurrences of the phrase are grammatically definite based on the construction. But in the Greek version we find something different. Verse 3, and the 2nd mention in vv. 16 and 21, are rendered as indefinite by the translators, while the remaining occurrences  are clearly given the definite article. How does one who insists that the phrase be taken strictly as definite account for this? Did these Jewish scholars not know how to read their own scripture and translate it into another language? The fact that there is no way to write in Hebrew ‘an angel of Yahweh‘ does not mean that Hebrews reading the scriptures were not able to parse in their minds when a definite construction should be read as indefinite, and then translate that understanding into another language.

What I have just said about the LXX is also true of the 1985 translation of the Tanakh by The Jewish Publication Society. In almost every passage where ‘the angel of Yahweh’ appears, the first mention of the angel is indefinite, while any subsequent mentions within the same narrative are then definite, referring back to the angel first mentioned. This includes Gen. 16:7-12; 22:11-15; Ex. 3:2; Num. 22:22-35; Judges 2:1-4; 6:11-22; 13:3-21; Is. 37:36; Zech. 12:8. So we see that modern Jews, as well as ancient ones, understand the grammatically definite phrase ‘the angel of Yahweh’ as practically indefinite when the context demands it.

One last point on why the definite phrase ‘the angel of Yahweh’ cannot be a designation for one single individual. There are actually two occurrences of this phrase where we are told exactly who is being referred to:

Haggai, the angel of Yahweh, spoke the message of Yahweh to the people …”
 Haggai 1:13

“The lips of a priest ought to preserve knowledge, and from his mouth men should seek instruction, because he is the angel of Yahweh of hosts.”
Malachi 2:7

In light of these two passages, it cannot be maintained that one single individual being is denoted by the definite phrase ‘the angel of Yahweh.’ The phrase is, in fact, a generic designation which applies to any and all of Yahweh’s agents, whether human or non-human.

 Faulty Reasoning

Having ruled out the necessity of seeing ‘the angel of Yahweh’ as a single individual being, this does not mean that at least some of the time, appearances of the angel of Yahweh could be pre-incarnate appearances of Christ. Let’s go back to the syllogism I noted earlier. First we will look at the second premise and how it relates to the conclusion. The premise is that the NT {1 Tim. 6:16; 1 Jn. 4:12} states that no one has ever seen God, meaning the Father, and so the conclusion is that if it can be shown that God did appear and was seen in the OT it must be someone other than the Father, but who is also God. My first objection to this is that it seems rather arbitrary on the part of Trinitarians to make ‘God’ in these passages to mean ‘the Father’ in the trinitarian sense i.e. one of the three persons of the Godhead. Why couldn’t it be referring to the Trinity? How do they come to the conclusion that it refers to the Father?  Simply by reading their presupposition into the text. It is true that the word God in these verses is referring to the Father, but in the biblical sense i.e. God and the Father are numerically identical, they are the same being. In fact the NT tells us explicitly that the Father alone is the God, i.e. the God of the OT whose name is Yahweh:

“Father … you, the only (one, single, alone, sole) true God.”     John 17:3

“Yet for us (i.e. Christians) there is one God, the Father …”      1 Cor. 8:6

“… one God and Father of all, the one over all …”                        Eph. 4:6

Not only this, but in all of Paul’s letters he often speaks of  “God the Father.” This is read by trinitarians as if Paul is making a metaphysical distinction between ‘God the Father,’ ‘God the Son’ and ‘God the Holy Spirit.’ But please note that Paul never once speaks of ‘God the Son’, since such a concept was still a couple of hundred years in the future from when Paul wrote his letters. What should be plain to any unbiased reader is that what Paul means by “God the Father” is “God, who is the Father.”

To read the word God in 1 Tim.6:16 and 1 Jn.4:12 as meaning ‘the first person in the Trinity’ is anachronistic, for the word God would not take on that meaning until the 4th century.

But let’s assume that the Trinity doctrine is true. Does it not teach that the Son is of equal substance and glory, co-eternal with the Father? Does it not say that the Son existed in the form of God prior to his incarnation, which presumably is the same form in which the Father exists? So by what kind of logic can it be said that the Father cannot be seen but the pre-incarnate Son can? What is it about the pre-incarnate Son, that differs from the Father, that enables him to be seen while the Father is unable to be seen? This distinction is never made, at least not that I have seen. This exposes the completely arbitrary nature of this premise — they are just making it up as they go.

Now let’s examine the first premise in the syllogism. It states that ‘the angel of Yahweh’ speaks in the first person and is spoken of as if he was Yahweh himself, and therefore it must be Yahweh himself (yet not Yahweh the Father, but Yahweh the Son). Now there are some scholars who see ‘the angel of Yahweh’ as a theophany rather than a christophany, i.e. that it is an appearance of Yahweh the Father himself. The explanation that I am about to present refutes the theophany concept as well as the christophany concept.

An Ambiguous Figure

Is there any other way to explain the fact that when the angel of Yahweh appears, he speaks in the first person, as if he was Yahweh himself, other than just concluding that he must be Yahweh in some sense? I think there is, but before I get to that let’s look at a few passages where the angel of Yahweh appears. There are things said in some passages which should caution us against being to quick to see a numerical identity of the angel with Yahweh.

It is true that ‘the angel of Yahweh’ speaks as if he is Yahweh. Here are some examples:

  • In Gen 16:6 Abram’s wife Sarai causes her maidservant Hagar, who is pregnant with Abram’s child, to flee into the desert. There  ‘the (LXX- an) angel of Yahweh’ appears to her, and in v.10 says, “I will so increase your descendants that they will become too numerous to count.” Surely it is not an angel who is making this promise but Yahweh himself. The angel seems to be Yahweh himself.
  • In Gen 22:11, as Abraham is about to slay Isaac and offer him as a burnt offering to Yahweh, ‘the (LXX –an) angel of Yahweh’ calls out to him and says, “Do not lay a hand on the boy, … now I know that you fear God because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” Was Abraham going to offer Isaac to the angel or to Yahweh. The angel seems to be Yahweh himself.
  • In Exodus 3:2 “the (LXX- an) angel of Yahweh appeared to him (Moses) in flames of fire from within a bush.”  Verse 4 then says, “When Yahweh saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush …” In v. 6 God says, “I am the God of your father Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” The rest of ch. 3 through ch. 4:17 is a conversation between Yahweh and Moses. So the one first identified as ‘the angel of Yahweh seems to be Yahweh himself.
  • Judges 2:1 says: “The (LXX-an) angel of Yahweh went up from Gilgal to Bokim and said, ‘I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land that I swore to give to your forefathers…'” Here the angel of Yahweh speaks as if he were Yahweh himself.
  • In Judges 6 ‘the (LXX-an) angel of Yahweh’ appears, as a man, to Gideon. After a brief conversation between the two we read at v.14, Yahweh turned to him and said, ‘Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midians hand. Am I not sending you.'” Once again, it seems as if the angel is Yahweh himself.

Now I could give more examples but this will suffice. So as you can see, the proponents of both the theophany and the christophany views do have a point. But is this phenomenon a sufficient reason to conclude either of these views. Let me point out, first of all, that this phenomenon concerning ‘the angel of Yahweh’ is not consistently seen in all occurrences of his appearance, and not even in the immediate context of the passages where this phenomenon is seen, as in some of the passages above. For example:

  • In the Gen. 16 passage the angel switches from speaking in the first person, as Yahweh, in v. 10, to speaking of Yahweh in the third person at v. 11.
  • In the Gen. 22 passage the angel goes from speaking as if he were Yahweh himself, in v. 12, to speaking on behalf of Yahweh at vv. 15-18.
  • In the Judges 6 passage there is a switching back and forth between the angel and Yahweh. In vv. 11-13 it’s ‘the angel of Yahweh’; then in vv.14-18 it’s simply Yahweh; then in vv. 20-22 it’s back to ‘the angel of Yahweh.’ If we were meant to understand the angel to be Yahweh himself by vv. 14-18, then why revert back to calling him ‘the angel of Yahweh’ in vv. 20-22?
  • In Judges 13 ‘the (LXX-an) angel of Yahweh’ appears as a man to Manoah’s wife. The angel never speaks in the first person as Yahweh, he only gives the woman a promise and instructions. Later he shows up again to Manoah and his wife, but they only think he is ‘a man of God.’ The angel speaks of Yahweh in the third person in v. 16. Throughout the whole account he is consistently called ‘the angel of Yahweh’ and never simply ‘Yahweh.’
  •  In 1 Chron. 21:11-27 ‘the (LXX-an) angel of  Yahweh’ is clearly, throughout the passage, distinct from Yahweh himself, as seen in vv. 14-15, 27.
  • In Numbers 22:21-35 ‘the angel of Yahweh’ seems to be distinct from Yahweh from vv. 22 and 31. Nothing in the passage would suggest the angel just is Yahweh.
  • In Zech. 1:11-13 ‘the angel of Yahweh’ is explicitly distinct from Yahweh for he addresses Yahweh at v.12 and is spoken to by Yahweh at v. 13.
  • In Zech. 3 ‘the (LXX-an) angel of Yahweh’ seems to be called Yahweh at v. 2, but immediately speaks of Yahweh in the third person. In vv. 6-10 the angel speaks on Yahweh’s behalf with the common prophetic announcement, “This is what Yahweh Almighty says.”

So what we see from this is that while sometimes ‘the angel of Yahweh’ speaks as Yahweh, in the first person, at other times, even within the same context, he speaks of Yahweh in the third person. Sometimes the angel is called Yahweh but is mostly called ‘the angel of Yahweh’ , and the text can switch between the two within a single pericope. As I noted earlier, these facts should caution us about being to quick to simply identify the ‘angel’ as numerically identical to Yahweh.

So, is there a way of understanding ‘the angel of Yahweh’ that would explain all of the data we find regarding this figure, and not just part of the data. Proponents of the  theophany view focus on the aspects of ‘the angel of Yahweh’ that seem to identify him as Yahweh, while ignoring the data that seems to make him distinct from Yahweh. The proponents of the christophany view acknowledge both aspects of this person, and think that this supports their trinitarian belief. They see the angel as Yahweh himself but somehow also distinct from Yahweh, hence two distinct persons who are both Yahweh.

The Missing Piece Of The Puzzle

One mistake that many people make when trying to interpret scripture is to not consider the cultural milieu in which the scriptures were written. In the culture of the Ancient Near East (ANE) the concept of agency would have been a common idea, but the concept has escaped most within Christendom for the past two thousand years. Scholarship in the area of ANE studies, in the 20th century, has helped to throw much needed light on this subject. Once this concept is understood and applied to the biblical text, much of what seemed confusing or contradictory in scripture suddenly becomes lucid. The ancient Hebrew people certainly understood this concept and it should not surprise us to find the language of agency permeating the pages of Scripture.

OT scholar, John Walton, in his commentary on Genesis in the Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary said this regarding this ancient concept and it’s relationship to the angel of Yahweh:

“In the ancient world direct communication between important parties was a rarity. Diplomatic and political exchange usually required the use of an intermediary, a function that our ambassadors exercise today. The messenger who served as the intermediary was a fully vested representative of the party he represented. He spoke for that party and with the authority of that party. He was accorded the same treatment as that party would enjoy were he there in person. While this was standard protocol, there was no confusion about the person’s identity.

This explains how the angel in this chapter [Gen. 16] can comfortably use the first person to convey what God will do (16:10). When official words are spoken by the representative, everyone understands that he is not speaking for himself, but is merely conveying the words, opinions, policies, and decisions of his liege. So in Ugaritic literature, when Baal sends messengers to Mot, the messengers use first person forms of speech. E.T. Mullen concludes that such usage ‘signify that the messengers not only are envoys of the god, but actually embody the power of their sender.'”

Aubrey R. Johnson, in The One and the Many In the Israelite Conception of God, expressed the concept of agency as follows:

“In Hebrew thought a patriarch’s personality extended through his entire household … in a specialized sense, when the patriarch, as lord of his household, deputized his trusted servant as his malak (his messenger or angel), the man was endowed with the authority and resources of his lord, to represent him fully and transact business in his name. In Semitic thought this messenger-representative was conceived of as being personally — and in his very words — the presence of the sender.”

Did you catch that? The duly appointed agent becomes, as it were, the person who sent him, the one whom he represents. However the agent is received and treated is in reality how the one who sent him is received and treated. This understanding is reflected even in the NT:

“When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me , but in the one who sent me. When he looks at me he sees the one who sent me.”                   John 12:44-45

“I tell you the truth, whoever hears my words and believes him who sent me…”                                                                                                                           John 5:24 

“He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives the one who sent me.”                                                                                                Matt. 10:40

“He who listens to you listens to me; he who rejects you rejects me; but he who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”                                               Luke 10:16

This is the language of agency, which every Jew hearing Jesus’ words would have understood. The above statements of Jesus were indeed axiomatic within the culture of ancient Israel and her surrounding neighbors. There are two incidents in the gospels which really drive home this point that the agent is regarded as the one who sends him — the story of the centurion seeking healing for his servant and the story of two disciples who wanted places of honor above the others in Jesus’ kingdom. The first incident is recorded in two Gospels, Matthew 8 and Luke 7. In Luke’s account, at verse 3, we are told that the centurion sends a delegation of Jewish elders to Jesus to ask him to come and heal his servant. But in Matthew’s account, at verses 5 & 6, we are told:

“When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. ‘Lord,’ he said, ‘my servant lies at home paralyzed and in much suffering.'”

Matthew says nothing about the delegation of Jewish elders whom the centurion sent to Jesus, but rather portrays the account as if the centurion himself had come to Jesus. Is this a contradiction? Whose version of this event is correct? Actually they both are. Because the Jewish elders had not gone to Jesus of their own initiative, but were enlisted by the centurion to ask the Lord on his behalf, they were acting as his agents, bringing the request to Jesus in the centurion’s stead. Therefore it is perfectly acceptable for Matthew, in his retelling of the story, to bypass the messengers and portray the centurion as personally asking Jesus for his help.

The second incident is recorded in Matt.20:20-21 and Mark 10:35-37. In Matthew’s account the mother of James and John, the son’s of Zebedee, came to Jesus to request of him that her two sons might be given the special places of honor at Jesus’ right and left hand in his kingdom. Yet in Mark’s account the mother is not mentioned, but only that “James and John, the son’s of Zebedee, came to him.” We see again that the request can be portrayed as being made personally by the two brothers because they, no doubt, enlisted the aid of their mother to speak to Jesus on their behalf, i.e. the request was really coming from them, not from their mother.

So how does the concept of agency enable us to make sense  of the information we have in Scripture concerning ‘the angel of Yahweh’ ? I believe it has explanatory value for the passages where ‘the angel of Yahweh’ speaks as Yahweh in the first person and where the text seems to call him Yahweh. We can understand the angel as being an extension of Yahweh’s person and as such his words and actions are attibuted to Yahweh, the one who sent him and on whose behalf he speaks and acts. To receive the angel favorably is to receive Yahweh favorably; to receive the angel’s message is to receive Yahweh’s word. Of course, it also explains why on some occasions ‘the angel of Yahweh’ is clearly distinct from Yahweh and may speak of Yahweh in the third person and may even use the prophetic formula “thus says Yahweh.”

I will not go through each passage where ‘the angel of Yahweh’ appears, but I encourage each reader to apply this concept of agency to each of the passages where the phrase occurs and see if it does not help to clarify what is going on in the text.

Objections To The Agency View

But what about the fact that some who saw ‘the angel of Yahweh’ believed they had seen Yahweh and were fearful for their lives. This is not really as weighty as it may seem at first. First, we should not assume that the patriarchs and the early Israelites, during the time of the judges, would have had a comprehensive understanding of what was going on in these appearances. They surely would have understood the concept of agency which was part of their culture, and that an agent was in a sense the personal presence of the one who sent him. They seem to have had the notion that if one were to see God they would die, but where they attained that idea from is unknown. It is not hard to imagine that such experiences would have been very traumatic for them and a cause of confusion. It’s not as though they had some definitive revelation from God to tell them how to decipher these experiences. Caught up in the ecstasy of the moment, they may have uttered things which evidence their confusion and ignorance.

But what did they actually see? It seems that in most cases ‘the angel of Yahweh’ (or angels in general) appeared to them as a man; this is either explicitly stated in the text or is a reasonable inference {see Gen. 16:7-14; 18:2; 32:24-30; Joshua 5:13-14; Judges 6:11-22; 13:2-23}. We know that in the case of Jacob wrestling with the man in Genesis 32, that although at the end of the encounter he declared, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared,” in actuality he only saw an angel, according to the inspired interpretation of the prophet Hosea, in 12:3-4. Now, if in this case, we know that the appearance of an angel was taken to be a “face to face” encounter with God, by the one to whom he appeared, and that Jacob’s seeing God was in some other sense than literally, then can we not conjecture the same in the other instances where men declared to have seen God after seeing ‘the angel of Yahweh’. That Jacob’s expression that he saw God “face to face” does not have to be understood literally can be seen from other incidents where this expression is used. In Deut. 5:4 Moses tells the whole Israelite community, “Yahweh spoke to you face to face out of the fire on the mountain.” He was, of course, referring to the incident recorded in Ex. 20. But the Israelites never literally saw God , they saw only fire and smoke on the mountain and heard an audible voice speak the 10 commandments. The fire was a representative form by which God appeared to them. In  Ex. 33:7-11 we are told of how Moses would meet with God at the tent of meeting and receive instructions from him. Again, Moses did not see God literally, but saw only a representative form in which God appeared i.e. the cloud. This was characterized as a “face to face” encounter with God, yet what was seen was only something that represented God. In the same way, the man (or angel) who wrestled with Jacob was simply a representation of God, so that when Jacob contended with the angel, he was, in effect, struggling with God; when he prevailed over the angel he thus prevailed with God {Hosea 12:3-4}.

In Gen. 16:7-14 we read of Hagar’s encounter with the angel of Yahweh (LXX – an angel). It is often claimed by defenders of the theophany/christophany view, based on v. 13, that Hagar believed that she had seen God, and that this is supposed to confirm that view. Now it could be that Hagar, out of ignorance, really did believe that the angel was God himself, after all what would this Egyptian maidservant know about the workings of Yahweh and his agents. But I think a more reasonable approach is to assume that she perceived this personage to be a messenger of the God of Abraham, whether she thought him to be a divine messenger or just a man, and to understand her statement, “I have seen the one who sees me,” in a figurative rather than a literal sense. The emphasis of the whole pericope is that God saw Hagar in her mistreatment and distress and gave her comfort and a promise. That God saw Hagar is stated three times in vv. 13-14 and is the main point of the story. The word ‘see’ (Heb. raah) has a figurative connotation of coming to know by experience, as in the sentence, “He has seen much grief in his life.” It can also denote to learn or find out about something, as in the sentence, “Will she ever see the error of her ways.” It is therefore plausible to take Hagar’s statement as a play on words and to understand it in this sense: “I have come to know Him who sees me.” Also, we can understand the statement in v. 13 that “Yahweh spoke to her” as a concomitant of agency i.e. what the angel said to her was what Yahweh was saying to her.

Another incident in which it is claimed that one who encountered the angel of Yahweh actually encountered Yahweh himself (or the second Yahweh) is found in Judges 13. Manoah and his wife encounter someone who they believe is a man of God but whom the text calls the (LXX -an) angel of Yahweh. Throughout the whole encounter they perceive this personage as simply a man. Not until the angel ascends in the flames of Manoah’s sacrifice in v. 20, does he realize they are dealing with a divine messenger of God, and in v. 22 he exclaims, “We are doomed to die, for we have seen God!” Does this demand that we understand the angel to be Yahweh himself? I don’t think we need to jump to that conclusion. This incident took place at a period in Israel’s history when “they forsook Yahweh, the God of their fathers . . . they followed and worshipped the various gods of the people around them.” It is conceivable that Manoah’s understanding of this encounter was influenced by the current beliefs of the peoples around them. In that culture, at that time, according to Ugaritic literature, all heavenly messengers sent by the gods, such as Baal, were themselves gods, albeit lesser gods, and Manoah’s statement may simply reflect that belief. With this in mind, and the fact that the word ‘God’ in the Hebrew is anarthrous, the statement could be read as “We have seen a god,” thus betraying Manoah’s belief that Yahweh’s messengers were also gods, just as Baal’s were. The fact that Manoah thought that he and his wife would die upon realizing that this personage was a messenger-god rather than a human prophet, may also reflect what we find in the literature of the surrounding peoples of that time. It was primarily to other gods that these messenger-gods were sent, not to humans, and if a god did send a messenger-god to a human this would typically be understood to be for a destructive purpose. This passage, understood in this way, fits perfectly with the agency view.

Another objection to the view that ‘the angel of Yahweh’ is simply an agent of Yahweh, is the assertion that he receives worship from those who encounter him. Exodus 3:5, Joshua 5:15 and Judges 6:17-22 are offered as proof of this, but when each passage is examined carefully it does not appear that the angel is being worshipped i.e., as God, at all. In the Exodus passage (as well as in the Joshua passage) the angel of Yahweh, speaking as Yahweh, tells Moses to remove his sandals because the place where he was standing was holy ground. The same thing occurs with Joshua when he encounters the captain of Yahweh’s host. Why is Moses told to do this if ‘the angel of Yahweh’ is simply an agent of God and not God himself? First, it is not clear that the removing of his sandals amounts to an act of worship. Perhaps we can understand it to be an act of recognition that God’s presence being there makes the place holy. We can understand that Yahweh’s agent here carries with him the personal presence of Yahweh i.e. the agent in some way embodies the presence of the one who sent him. My question is this: If this is the proper response to a theophany or christophany, why are these the only two times someone is told to do this when ‘the angel of Yahweh’ is encountered? Perhaps there is something unique about these encounters that we do not fully understand. Beside that, in neither case does the person receiving the encounter spontaneously remove his sandals, as one might expect of an act of worship, but has to be told to do so, which to my mind weakens the case for this being an act of worship. Therefore, I think it is going too far to call this an act of worship.

In the Judges passage, the first issue we must deal with is this: Who did Gideon think he was interacting with? The proponents of the theophany and christophany views  must believe that the ancients would have known that ‘the angel of Yahweh’ was actually Yahweh himself i.e. that it was common knowledge that if one saw the angel of Yahweh he was literally seeing Yahweh himself. Now in vv.18-19 Gideon prepares an offering and presents it to the angel. Was he offering this to one who he believed was God? This is extremely  unlikely since he doesn’t even come to realize it is ‘the angel of Yahweh’ until after the offering is consumed by the fire that came out of the rock and the angel disappeared suddenly (vv. 20-22). When the angel first comes on the scene he sits under an oak tree and starts a conversation with Gideon (vv.11-12). Who does Gideon think this is? We can assume the angel looked like an ordinary man, for Gideon doesn’t seem startled or afraid. When this man starts speaking in the first person for Yahweh (vv.14 &16), who does Gideon think this man is then? Most likely he thinks the man is a prophet of Yahweh who has come to him with a message from Yahweh. Following the accepted norms of that culture he receives Yahweh’s messenger as Yahweh himself, yet not thinking he is literally Yahweh. But according to v.17, he’s not completely sure this is a prophet sent by Yahweh, and he wants a sign that Yahweh is indeed speaking to him, through this messenger. Gideon then expresses his intention to prepare and present an offering, which he does (vv.18-19). The point is, that if he believed this was a prophet of Yahweh then he was not making the offering to him but to Yahweh, and hence this was not an act of worship done to the ‘angel of Yahweh’. It is most likely that he was presenting the offering to the prophet so that the prophet could offer it to Yahweh on his behalf, like the priests. In Lev. 2:8 we read:

Bring the grain offering made of these things to Yahweh and present it to the priest, who shall take it to the altar.”

One more point about Gideon’s encounter. In vv. 22-23 Gideon fears death upon the realization that this messenger was divine rather than human. This can be explained in the same way as we saw with Manoah, based on the understanding at that time, that the purpose of a visitation by a divine messenger was not  beneficial but deleterious.

It should also be noted that in Judges 13:16 ‘the angel of Yahweh’ tells Manoah, “If you prepare a burnt offering you must offer it to Yahweh.” It certainly appears that the angel is careful to make sure that Manoah understands that he is not to worship him but Yahweh.

After examining the relevant passages I can confidently affirm that there is no passage where an act of worship is given to the ‘angel of Yahweh’ as if he just was God.

Further Considerations

As I noted earlier, the NT is completely silent regarding any connection of Jesus with ‘the angel of Yahweh’ in the OT. This is hard to conceive if the authors of the NT really understood ‘the angel of Yahweh’ to be the son of God, especially since this has been a constant assertion by Christian apologists, pastors, expositors, etc. from the middle of the second century down to our very day. Not only that, but in the one and only place in the NT where an OT appearance of ‘the angel of Yahweh’ is recounted, no connection is made to Jesus. In fact, in this passage, some light is thrown on this subject as to how Christians in the first century perceived this OT figure. In Acts 7 we have Stephen’s speech before the Sanhedrin, where he recounts the history of Israel from Abraham’s day to their own day. In vv. 30-38 he relates the story of Moses and the burning bush. How many times in the past 1900 yrs. has the opportunity not been missed by Christian teachers, to identify ‘the angel of Yahweh’ in Exodus 3 with the pre-incarnate Son of God. Yet Stephen is completely silent in this regard. In fact, Stephen does not even refer to the figure who appeared in the flames as ‘the angel of the Lord’ but only as ‘an angel’. This coincides with what we saw above, where in almost every case of the first mention of ‘the angel of Yahweh’ in an OT passage, in the Hebrew text the phrase is technically, grammatically definite, but in the LXX is translated as indefinite. But if it was just common knowledge among the first Christians in Judea that Jesus had appeared on earth many times in past generations, as ‘the angel of Yahweh’, and that it was in fact the son of God who appeared to Moses in the flames within the bush, then why does Stephen, in recounting that event, simply refer to this figure as “an angel“? Why does he fail to tell his hearers this all important revelation? This is similar to the prophet Hosea’s brief account of Jacob wrestling with God. The story in Gen. 32:22-32 tells of Jacob’s encounter with a man with whom he wrestles all night. Now the text does not refer to this man as ‘the angel of Yahweh’ but this does not stop zealous trinitarians from asserting that he was Jesus. Others see the man as a theophany. But in Hosea 12:3-4 the prophet simply calls the man “an angel” (neither the Hebrew or Greek texts have the definite article). For those who believe the Scriptures to be God-breathed, we have two inspired commentaries, one by Stephen and one by Hosea, which refer to a supposed christophany or theophany as simply one of Yahweh’s malakim.

One argument put forward by proponents of the christophany view as further proof of that position, is that once the Son of God is incarnated as Jesus of Nazareth, ‘the angel of Yahweh’ disappears from history, never to be seen again. This is supposed to be positive evidence that this figure was indeed the pre-incarnate Son of God. But do they not see that this is begging the question? First of all, if the assertion were true that ‘the angel of Yahweh’ disappears in the NT, this is only proof that he was the Son of God if you already presuppose he was. That is not a positive proof, but only a circular argument. But the fact is, that the assertion that ‘the angel of Yahweh’ disappears when the NT begins, is easily proven to be invalid. As noted in the examples given earlier, the Hebrew phrase malak YHWH = messenger (angel) Yahweh must be grammatically and technically translated as definite, hence the angel of Yahweh. But as I stated earlier, this definite construction can be, on a practical level, understood as indefinite. This is because there is no way to write in Hebrew ‘an angel of Yahweh’. Since Yahweh (the absolute noun in the construct state) is definite, by virtue of being a proper noun, so malak (the construct noun) must of necessity also be definite. We saw however, that when the Jewish translators of the LXX translated this phrase, when it occurs as a first mention of this figure in any given context, they always render it with an anarthrous noun i.e. as indefinite. This means that these Jewish scribes understood, that this definite phrase should be rendered practically as indefinite when the context demands it.

Now let’s carry this knowledge over into the NT. The only reason you do not see the phrase ‘the angel of the Lord’ in the NT is because it is written in Greek, instead of Hebrew. The definite phrase only occurs once, in Matt. 1:24, and this is definite because it refers back to the angel mentioned in v.20. The indefinite phrase ‘an angel of the Lord’ occurs 10 times, in the following passages: Matt. 1:20; 2:13, 19; 28:2; Luke 1:11; 2:9; Acts 5:19; 8:26; 12:7, 23. My contention is that, if the NT would have been written in Hebrew, each of these occurrences would have been in the construct state and would therefore have been grammatically definite. Hence ‘the angel of Yahweh’ would be seen to still be making an appearance in the NT, even after the supposed incarnation. The absence of ‘the angel of the Lord’ in the NT is not proof that when he appeared in the OT he must have been the pre-incarnate Son of God, but rather that the OT phrase was understood by Jews to be practically indefinite.


So let’s recap what we have learned regarding the proposition that ‘the angel of Yahweh’ in the OT is a christophany.

  1. We learned that the belief that ‘the angel of Yahweh’ is a designation for one specific individual cannot be maintained on grammatical grounds. Although the phrase is technically definite it can be understood on a practical level as indefinite. This is confirmed by other Hebrew phrases of the same construction and by the LXX. This greatly weakens the case for the christophany view.
  2. The biblical data concerning the angel of Yahweh shows an inconsistency in his speech and identification i.e. sometimes he is identified and speaks as Yahweh and other times he is clearly distinct from Yahweh.
  3. The concept of agency is adequate to explain the different ways that the angel of Yahweh presents himself and speaks.
  4. The lack of mention of OT christophanies by the NT authors is not what would be expected if this assertion were true.
  5. Various peripheral points made by proponents of the christophany view, in order to support the view, do not hold up under scrutiny.

In part 2 we will examine the claim that ‘the word of Yahweh’ in the OT is a pre-incarnate appearance of the son of God.


Author: Troy Salinger

I am 60 yrs. old. I live with my wife of 37 yrs. in Picayune MS. I have been a believer in the Lord Jesus since August of 1981. I have no formal theological education, but have been an ardent student of Scripture for 41 yrs. I am a biblical Unitarian i.e. I believe the Father is the only true God (John 17:3) and Jesus is His human Son, the Messiah.

12 thoughts on “Pre-incarnate Appearances Of The Son Of God In The OT – Truth Or Myth? – The Angel of the Lord”

  1. Excellent. It is amazing that as a Trinitarian for decades, who taught Bible to college students, I didn’t really know what the idea of agency was. There is a proverb in Hebrew: “the one sent is equal to his sender”. Not in a metaphysical or identical way, but in designated authority and granted legal status.


    ARAMAIC TARGUM (circa. 100 B.C.-1000 C.E.): “…BEHOLD, [23(C).] I WILL SEND AN ANGEL BEFORE THEE, TO KEEP THEE IN THE WAY, and to bring thee in to the place of My habitation which I have prepared. Be circumspect before Him, and obey His word, and BE NOT REBELLIOUS AGAINST HIS WORDS; FOR HE WILL NOT FORGIVE YOUR SINS, BECAUSE HIS WORD IS IN MY NAME. For if thou wilt indeed hearken to His word, and do all that I speak by Him, I will be the enemy of thy enemy, and will trouble them who trouble thee. FOR MY ANGEL SHALL GO BEFORE THEE, and bring thee to the Amoraee, and Pherizaee, and Kenaanaee, Hivaee, and Jebusaee; and I will destroy them. […] [24(A).] AND – ( MICHAEL ), – ( THE PRINCE OF WISDOM ), – SAID TO MOSHEH ON THE SEVENTH DAY OF THE MONTH, Come up before the Lord, thou and Aharon, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and worship at a distance. And Mosheh alone shall approach before the Lord; but they shall not draw nigh, nor may the people come up with him…” – (Pgs. 515-527, Exodus Chapter 23(C)-24(A), Section XVIII, Mishpatim, TARGUM PSEUDO-JONATHAN, PENTATEUCHAL TARGUMIM “The Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan Ben Uzziel On the Pentateuch With The Fragments of the Jerusalem Targum From the Chaldee,” by J. W. Etheridge, M.A. First Published 1862.)

    ARAMAIC TARGUM (circa. 100 B.C.-1000 C.E.): “…MICHAEL, THE PRINCE OF WISDOM, SAID TO MOSES ON THE SEVENTH DAY OF THE MONTH…” – (Page 231, Chapter 24, “Targum Neofiti 1, Exodus” Translated by Martin McNamara, Michael Maher, Liturgical Press, from the University of Michigan 1994.)

    GILL’S EXPOSITION OF THE ENTIRE BIBLE: “…And he said unto Moses,” Who said? No doubt a divine Person, and yet what this Person said is: “come up unto the Lord,” meaning either to himself, or one divine Person called to Moses to come up to another: according to the Targum of Jonathan, it was Michael, the prince of wisdom; not a created angel, but the eternal Word, Wisdom, and Son of God; who said this on the seventh day of the month, which was the day after the giving of the law, or ten commands; though Jarchi says this paragraph was before the ten commands, and was said on the fourth of Sivan; but the Targumist seems most correct…” – (Gill, John. “Commentary on Exodus 24:1”. “The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible”.)

    “…No one — has seen God — at any time…” – John 1:18 NASB

    GREEK TEXT: “…τίς δὲ ἐστιν Μιχαἠ ἀλλ’ ἢ ὁ ἄγγελος ὁ τῷ λαῷ παραδεδομένος, ὡς λέγει τῷ Μωὐσῃ. Οὐ μὴ πορευθῶ μεθ’ ὑμῶν ἐν τῃ ὁδῷ διὰ τὸ τὸν λαὸν σκληροτράχηλον εἶναι, ἀλλ’ ἢ ὁ ἄγγελος μου πορεύσειται μεθ’ ὑμῶν…” – (Book 4, Chapter 40:4-5, “COMMENTARY ON DANIEL,” Greek text of Marcel Richard’s GCS series Kommentar zu Daniel 2010.)

    HIPPOLYTUS OF ROME (circa. 170-236 C.E.): “…WHO IS MICHAEL BUT THE ANGEL ASSIGNED TO THE PEOPLE? As (God) says to Moses. “I will not go with you in the way, because the people are stiff-necked; but MY ANGEL SHALL GO WITH YOU…” – (Fragment 13, [Book 4, Chapter 40:4-5,] “SCHOLIA ON DANIEL,” [Or “COMMENTARY ON DANIEL,”] Translated by S.D.F. Salmond. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 5. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1886.)
    [FOOTNOTE]: Compare, Exodus 14:19; 23:20, 3; 32:34; 1 Corinthians 10:4.

    HIPPOLYTUS OF ROME (circa. 170-236 C.E.): “…BUT [40.4.] WHO IS MICHAEL, BUT THE ANGEL WHO IS GRANTED TO THE PEOPLE, as he says to Moses, “I will not go with you on the way because the people are stiff necked, BUT MY ANGEL WILL GO WITH YOU”?[4] [40.5.] This one stood against Moses in the encampment when he carried the uncircumcised boy[5] to Egypt. For it was not possible for Moses to be the elder and mediator of the law, who also announced the covenant of the fathers, and also to lead the uncircumcised boy, so that he may not be considered by the people as a false prophet and a deceiver…” – (Book 4, Chapter 40:4-5, “COMMENTARY ON DANIEL,” Quoted in “Hippolytus of Rome: Commentary on Daniel,” T.C. Schmidt 1st Edition, Translated from the Greek text of Marcel Richard’s GCS series Kommentar zu Daniel 2010.)
    [FOOTNOTE 4]: Exodus 33:3
    [FOOTNOTE 4]: Exodus 4:24-25

    Click to access Hippolytus%20Commentary%20on%20Daniel%20by%20TC%20Schmidt.pdf

    HIPPOLYTUS OF ROME (circa. 170-236 C.E.): “…BUT WHO IS MICHAEL? NONE OTHER THAN THAT ANGEL, THE ( ONE ) WHO WAS GIVEN TO THE PEOPLE, even as He says to Moses: “I [personally], will certainly not journey along with you in the way, through the fact of this peoples hard-heartedness, BUT [INSTEAD] MY PERSONAL{*} ANGEL WILL JOURNEY IN COMPANY WITH YOU…” – (Book 4, Chapter 40:4-5, “COMMENTARY ON DANIEL,” Translated by Matt13weedhacker 13/2/2011, Re-Revised 25/10/2012)
    [FOOTNOTE *]: Gk., ( ὁ ἄγγελος μου ) Literally: “…the Angel of me…”
    [FOOTNOTE *]: Gk., ( παραδεδομένος ) part sg perf mp masc nom “…give, hand over to another, transmit, grant, bestow, permitt…”


    ARAMAIC TARGUM (circa. 100 B.C.-1000 C.E.): “…And Jakob remained alone; and A MAN WRESTLED WITH HIM till the morning ascended. And he saw that he prevailed not with him, and he touched the hollow{2} of his thigh, and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was dislocated{3} in wrestling with him. And he said, Let me go;{4} for the morning ascendeth. And he said, I will not let Thee go, unless Thou bless me. And He said to him, What is thy name? And he said, Jakob. And He said, Thy name shall be no longer Jakob, but Israel; for a prince art thou before the Lord, and with men, and thou hast prevailed. And Jakob asked Him, and said, Show me now Thy Name! And He said, Why dost thou ask My Name? And He blessed him there. AND JAKOB CALLED THE NAME OF THE PLACE PENIEL: BECAUSE I HAVE SEEN THE ANGEL OF THE LORD FACE TO FACE, AND MY SOUL HATH BEEN SAVED! And the sun arose upon him as he passed over Penuel, and he went lame upon his thigh. Therefore the sons of Israel do not eat the sinew which shrank, which is upon the hollow of the thigh, unto this day, because He touched the hollow of Jakob’s thigh in the sinew that shrank…” – (Genesis 32:24-30; Ch. 32-36, SECTION VIII. VAYISHLACH. Targum Onkelos on Pgs. 108-119 “The Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan Ben Uzziel, On the Pentateuch With The Fragments of the Jerusalem Targum From the Chaldee,” by J. W. Etheridge, M.A., First Published 1862.)
    [FOOTNOTE 2]: Or, “the palm.”
    [FOOTNOTE 3]: Or, “moved.”
    [FOOTNOTE 4]: “Send me away.”

    ARAMAIC TARGUM (circa. 100 B.C.-1000 C.E.): “…And Jakob remained alone beyond the Jubeka; and AN ANGEL CONTENDED WITH HIM IN THE LIKENESS OF A MAN. And he said, Hast thou not promised to give the tenth of all that is thine? And, behold, thou hast ten sons and one daughter: nevertheless thou hast not tithed them. Immediately he set apart the four firstborn of the four mothers, and there remained eight. And he began to number from Shimeon, and Levi came up for the tenth. MICHAEL ANSWERED AND SAID, Lord of the world is Thy lot. And on account of these things HE (MICHAEL) REMAINED FROM GOD at the torrent till the column of the morning was ascending. And he saw that he had not power to hurt him, and he touched the hollow of his thigh, and the hollow of Jakob’s thigh was distorted in his contending with him. And he said, Let me go, for the column of the morning ascendeth; and the hour cometh WHEN THE ANGELS ON HIGH OFFER PRAISE TO THE LORD OF THE WORLD: AND I AM ONE OF THE ANGELS OF PRAISE, but from the day that the world was created my time to praise hath not come until now. And he said, I will not let thee go, until thou bless me. [[JERUSALEM: “…And the hollow of Jakob’s thigh was displaced in contending with him. And he said, Send me away, for the column of the dawn ariseth, and, behold, THE HOUR COMETH FOR THE ANGELS TO PRAISE. And he said, I will not release thee until thou bless me…”]] And he said, What is thy name? He answered, Jakob. And he said, Thy name shall be no more called Jakob but Israel, because thou art magnified WITH THE ANGELS OF THE LORD AND WITH THE MIGHTY, AND THOU HAST PREVAILED WITH THEM. And Jakob asked and said, Show me now thy name. And he said, Why dost thou ask for my name? And he blessed Jakob there. AND JAKOB CALLED THE NAME OF THE PLACE PENIEL; FOR HE SAID, I HAVE SEEN THE ANGELS OF THE LORD FACE TO FACE, AND MY SOUL IS SAVED. And the sun rose upon him before his time, (the sun) which on his account had set before his time, on his going out from Beersheba, as he crossed over Peniel. And he began to journey, and was lame upon his thigh. Therefore the sons of Israel eat not the sinew which shrank, which is in the hollow of the thigh of cattle and of wild animals, until this day; because THE ANGEL touched and laid hold of the hollow of the right thigh of Jakob, in the place of the sinew which shrank…” – (Genesis 32:24-30; SECTION VIII. Vayishlach, Targum of Palestine/Targum Pseudo-Jonathan, on Pgs. 270-285 “The Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan Ben Uzziel, On the Pentateuch With The Fragments of the Jerusalem Targum From the Chaldee,” by J. W. Etheridge, M.A., First Published 1862.)

    “…No one — has seen God — at any time…” – John 1:18 NASB

    GREEK TEXT: “…Ταῦτα [196.] τοῦ θεοῦ κρίναντος περὶ τῶν Σοδομιτῶν Ἅβραμος θεασάμενος τρεῖς ἀγγέλους, ἐκαθέζετο δὲ πρὸς τῇ δρυῒ τῇ Μαμβρῆ παρὰ τῇ θύρᾳ τῆς αὑτοῦ αὐλῆς, καὶ νομίσας εἶναι ξένους ἀναστὰς ἠσπάσατό τε καὶ παρ᾽ αὐτῷ καταχθέντας παρεκάλει ξενίας μεταλαβεῖν. [197.] ἐπινευσάντων δὲ ἄρτους τε προσέταξεν εὐθὺς ἐκ σεμιδάλεως γενέσθαι, καὶ μόσχον θύσας καὶ ὀπτήσας ἐκόμισεν αὐτοῖς ὑπὸ τῇ δρυῒ κατακειμένοις: οἱ δὲ δόξαν αὐτῷ παρέσχον ἐσθιόντων, ἔτι δὲ καὶ περὶ τῆς γυναικὸς ἐπυνθάνοντο, ποῖ ποτ᾽ εἴη Σάρρα. τοῦ δ᾽ εἰπόντος ἔνδον εἶναι, ἥξειν ἔφασαν εἰς τὸ μέλλον καὶ εὑρήσειν αὐτὴν ἤδη μητέρα γεγενημένην. [198.] τῆς δὲ γυναικὸς ἐπὶ τούτῳ μειδιασάσης καὶ ἀδύνατον εἶναι τὴν τεκνοποιίαν εἰπούσης αὐτῆς μὲν ἐνενήκοντα ἔτη ἐχούσης τοῦ δ᾽ ἀνδρὸς ἑκατόν, οὐκέτι κατέσχον λανθάνοντες ἀλλ᾽ ἐμήνυσαν ἑαυτοὺς ὄντας ἀγγέλους τοῦ θεοῦ, καὶ ὅτι πεμφθείη μὲν ὁ εἷς σημανῶν περὶ τοῦ παιδός, οἱ δύο δὲ Σοδομίτας καταστρεψόμενοι…” – (Book 1, Chapter 11, Verse 2, [1.11.2 = Whiston 1.196-198 = Brill] “Antiquities of the Jews,” “Flavius Josephus: Translation and Commentary,” by Louis H. Feldman, 12 vols., ed. Steve Mason, at “The Brill Josephus Project”: 2000.)

    TITUS FLAVIUS JOSEPHUS (circa. 37-100 C.E.): “…When God had thus resolved concerning the Sodomites, Abraham, as he sat by the oak of Mambre, at the door of his tent, saw [Gk., ( τρεῖς ἀγγέλους )] THREE ANGELS; and thinking them to be strangers, he rose up, and saluted them, and desired they would accept of an entertainment, and abide with him; to which, when they agreed, he ordered cakes of meal to be made presently; and when he had slain a calf, he roasted it, and brought it to them, as they sat under the oak. Now they made a show of eating; and besides, they asked him about his wife Sarah, where she was; and when he said she was within, they said they would come again hereafter, and find her become a mother. Upon which the woman laughed, and said that it was impossible she should bear children, since she was ninety years of age, and her husband was a hundred. Then they concealed themselves no longer, but declared that [Gk., ( ὄντας ἀγγέλους τοῦ θεοῦ )] THEY WERE ANGELS OF GOD; and that one of them was sent to inform them about the child, and two of the overthrow of Sodom…” – (1.11.2, [1.196-198 = Brill] “Antiquities of the Jews,” in “The Genuine Works of Flavius Josephus, the Jewish Historian,” Translated By William Whiston 1737.)

    TITUS FLAVIUS JOSEPHUS (circa. 37-100 C.E.): “…After [196.] God had issued this judgment concerning the Sodomites, Habramos, noticing [Gk., ( τρεῖς ἀγγέλους )] THREE ANGELS {608} and he was sitting near the oak of Mambre before the door of his courtyard{609} and thinking that they were strangers, stood up and welcomed them and leading them within his home invited them to enjoy his hospitality.{610} [197.] And when they agreed, he ordered loaves of bread to be made immediately from finest wheaten flour, and, sacrificing a calf and cooking it,{611} he brought it to them as they were lying down under the oak.{612} And they presented to him the appearance of eating.{613} Moreover, they inquired about his wife as to where Sarra was. And when he said that she was within, they said that they would come in the future and would find that she had already become a mother.{614} [198.] But when his wife smiled{615} at this and said that child-bearing was impossible,{616} since she was 90 years old and since her husband was 100, they no longer disguised themselves but revealed that [Gk., ( ὄντας ἀγγέλους τοῦ θεοῦ )] THEY WERE MESSENGERS OF GOD and that one of them had been sent to make a disclosure concerning the child, and the other two to destroy the Sodomites.{617}…” – (1.196-198, [1.11.2 = Whiston] “Antiquities of the Jews,” “Flavius Josephus: Translation and Commentary,” by Louis H. Feldman, 12 vols., ed. Steve Mason, at “The Brill Josephus Project”: 2000.)
    [FOOTNOTE 608]: According to rabbinic tradition ( Baba Meẓi.a 86b, Midrash Gen. Rabbah 50.2, Jerusalem Targum on Gen. 18:2), the angels were Raphael, Michael, Gabriel, the first charged to heal the wound of Abraham after his circumcision (or to rescue Lot), the second to tell Sarai that she was to bear a son, and the third to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah.
    [FOOTNOTE 609]: Abram cannot be associated with homey details that lack nobility. Hence, when Abraham entertains the three angels here, he is seated not in the tent door (Gen. 18:1) but before the door of his courtyard ( αὐλῆς), in a Greek type of house (so Thackeray, ad loc.). For similar reasons Josephus omits the detail about Abraham’s inviting them to wash their feet (Gen. 18:4).
    [FOOTNOTE 610]: There is a serious problem in the biblical text (Gen. 18:1-3) in that it starts out by stating that God appeared to Abraham at Mamre but then goes on to say that when he lifted up his eyes he saw three men standing near him, whom he then proceeds to address as “My Lord.” Josephus resolves this problem by totally omitting God’s visit to Abraham. Philo ( De Abramo 25.132) explains that Abraham discourses with the visitors as though they were one rather than three. Secondly, Josephus does not speak of the three visitors as men or God but rather as angels ( Ant. 1.196) whom Abraham takes for strangers. He further clarifies the matter by having the angels ( Ant. 1.198) finally reveal themselves as messengers of God. Josephus here emphasizes Abraham’s hospitality by stating that he took them for mere strangers. Philo ( Quaestiones in Genesin 4.10) also stresses Abraham’s hospitality in noting that even though he had many slaves he insisted on personally preparing the meal for his guests. For midrashic parallels on the elaboration of Abraham’s hospitality see Ginzberg (1925:5:235, n. 140, and 5:248, n. 223).
    [FOOTNOTE 611]: Josephus enhances Abraham’s hospitality by having Abram himself sacrifice and cook the calf, whereas in Gen. 18:7 he gives it to his servant to prepare it.
    [FOOTNOTE 612]: Gen. 18:8 states that Abraham offered the visitors curds and milk together with the calf that he had prepared. Josephus omits the curds and milk perhaps because he found it difficult to believe that Abraham, who, though he lived before the revelation of the Torah, was said (Mishnah Qiddushin 4:14, Yoma 28b) to observe the Torah, could have served his visitors meat and dairy together, since this is prohibited (Exod. 23:19, 34:26, Deut. 14:21; cf. Ḥullin 105a).
    [FOOTNOTE 613]: Whereas Gen. 18:8 says plainly that the angels visiting Abraham ate the food that he offered them, Josephus avoids this anthropomorphism by declaring that the angels merely gave him to believe that they ate. So also Philo, De Abramo 23.118. In Testament of Abram 4 the angel Michael hesitates to eat, and his food is eaten by a devouring spirit. Similarly, Targum Pseudo-Jonathan and Targum Neofiti on Gen. 18:8, Baba Meẓia 86b, Midrash Gen. Rabbah 48.14, Midrash Eccl. Rabbah 3.14. But there is another rabbinic tradition ( Seder Eliyahu Rabbah 13 [ed. Friedmann, p. 59], Midrash Psalms 8.2) that God opened the mouths of the angels and that the angels did, in fact, eat as a reward for the preparations that Abraham had made in their behalf.
    [FOOTNOTE 614]: Whereas in Gen. 18:9 the angels are speaking to Abraham, in 18:10 the text reads “And he said,” implying that it is either one of the angels or God Himself who is speaking. According to the latter passage, the speaker promises that he will return and that Sarah will have a son when the season comes around. The rabbis heighten the miracle by having one of the angels visiting Abram draw a line on the wall and declare that Isaac will be born when the sun returns to this line (see Sandmel [1956:67, n. 290]). But here in Josephus it is the angels rather than God who make this declaration, and they leave the time of their return indefinite (so also Targum Pseudo-Jonathan on Gen. 18:10), stating merely that they would return some day in the future ( εἰ ς τὸ μέλλον) to find that Sarah had given birth to a son. When the birth occurs ( Ant. 1.214), Josephus says merely that it occurred during the following year.
    [FOOTNOTE 615]: Inasmuch as Sarah is so closely identified with Abram, the fact that Sarah shows lack of faith in laughing (Gen. 18:12) when the angels predict that she will give birth to a son and the further fact that she then lies (Gen. 18:15) in denying that she has laughed are a definite blot on the character of Abraham and Sarah. It is seemingly a further defect in her character when she explains (Gen. 18:12) that not only is she old but that her husband is also, the latter remark being superfluous and perhaps an insult to Abraham. To compound the problem, the Bible (Gen. 18:13) has a scene in that God confronts Abraham and, in apparent indignation, asks why Sarai laughed and then, reporting the words of Sarah, omits her motivating statement that her husband was old. Josephus here resolves these problems by omitting the role of God altogether and by having the discussion take place between only the angels and Abraham and Sarah, by having Sarah smile rather than laugh, by omitting the scene in that Sarah denies that she had laughed, and by not having God confront Abraham at all with Sarah’s lie, thus omitting God’s seeming dissimulation in reporting Sarah’s words.
    [FOOTNOTE 616]: The Hebrew text (Gen. 18:12) reads: “After I have grown old, shall I have pleasure?” The LXX reads: “The thing has not as yet happened to me even until now.” Josephus would appear to be following the sense of the Hebrew text.
    [FOOTNOTE 617]: The concept that one angel cannot fulfill two missions is found in rabbinic literature ( Midrash Gen. Rabbah 50.2, Targum Pseudo-Jonathan on Gen. 18:3, Pirqe de-Rabbi Eliezer 25). Philo ( De Abramo 28.142) also notes that of the three visitors only two went on to Sodom; he then (28.143) asserts that the third was, in his opinion, “the truly Existent, who held it fitting that He should be present to give good gifts by His own agency, but should leave the execution of the opposite of good entirely in the hands of His potencies acting as His ministers.”

    Gk., ( τρεῖς ἀγγέλους )

    Gk., ( ὄντας ἀγγέλους τοῦ θεοῦ )

    “…No one — has seen God — at any time…” – John 1:18 NASB



    GREEK TEXT: “…Διὰ τοῦτο γὰρ καὶ ὁ Ἀπόστολος ἡμῖν ἔλεγε περιτομὴν τοῦ Χριστοῦ, οὐκ ἐν τῇ ἀπεκδύσει τῆς σαρκὸς ἡμῶν. [JOSHUA 5:14 LXX]: Ἐγὼ ἀρχιστράτηγος τῆς δυνάμεως Κυρίου, νῦν παραγέγονα. Μεμνῆσθαι δεῖ ὅτι ἡνίκα ἐμοσχοποίη σαν ὁ Θεὸς τῷ Μωϋσεῖ φησιν, ὅτι «Ἀνάγαγε τὸν λαὸν τοῦτον, οὐ γὰρ μὴ συναναβῶ διὰ τὸ τὸν λαὸν σκληρο τράχηλον εἶναι. [EXODUS 32:34 LXX]: Καὶ ἰδοὺ ἀποστελῶ τὸν ἄγγελόν μου πρὸ προσώπου σου. Πρόσεχε οὖν σεαυτῷ, καὶ μὴ ἀπείθει.» Ὁ δὲ Μωϋσῆς πρὸς αὐτόν φησιν· «Εἰ μὴ συνανέρχῃ ἡμῖν, μή με ἀναγάγῃς ἐντεῦθεν.» Καὶ τοῦτο εἰπὼν ἔπεισε· καὶ ἦν μετὰ τοῦ λαοῦ, ἕως τῆς τελευτῆς Μωϋσῆ. Μετὰ δὲ τὴν τούτου ἀποβίωσιν, φαίνεται μὲν καὶ διαλέγεται τῷ τοῦ Ναυῆ Ἰησοῦ. Μετὰ γοῦν τὴν ἐπιστασίαν τοῦ λαοῦ εἰς τὸν μαθητὴν Μωϋσέως λοιπὸν παραδίδωσιν αὐτὸν [DANIEL 10 LXX]: τῷ ἀρχιστρατήγῳ τῷ Μιχαήλ. Οὗτος ἦν ἄρχων τοῦ λαοῦ, ὡς ἐν τῷ Δανιὴλ φαίνεται λέγων ἕτερος ἄγγελος. [JOSHUA 6:9 LXX]: Πορευόμενοι καὶ σαλπίζοντες. Αὐταὶ αἱ σάλπιγγες, σύμβολόν εἰσι τῶν ἐν τῇ ἐσχάτῃ ἡμέρᾳ. [1 THESSALONIANS 4:16] «Αὐτὸς γὰρ, φησὶν, ὁ Κύριος ἐν κελεύσματι, ἐν φωνῇ ἀρχαγγέλου, καὶ ἐν σάλπιγγι Θεοῦ καταβήσεται ἀπ’ [12.824] οὐρανοῦ.»…” – (Sections 12.821-12.824; Selecta in Jesum Nave ΩΡΙΓΕΝΟΥΣ ΕΙΣ ΙΗΣΟΥΝ ΝΑΥΗ ΕΚΛΟΓΑΙ. MPG.)

    ORIGEN OF ALEXANDRIA (circa 185-253 C.E.): “…For this is also said through the Apostle: [COLOSSIANS 2:11]: “The circumcision from Christ does not consist in the putting off of the flesh on my part.” [JOSHUA 5:14 LXX]: “I AM CHIEF GENERAL OF THE POWER[S] OF [THE] LORD – HAVE NOW COME TO [YOUR] AID!” For you must remember that when [they] made a golden calf, your God said to Moses: [EXODUS 33 LXX]: “Lead this people up-out-of [Egypt], for I shall not ascent to accompany [you], through this people being so stiff necked [and] obstinate! FOR BEHOLD! I SHALL SEND ON A MISSION THEE ANGEL OF MINE{*} BEFORE YOUR FACE. Therefore attentively devote [yourself] to ( him ), [because of] Me, and may [you] not disobey ([him]).” But Moses said toward ( him ): “If it is not you [who] comes out with us, then neither shall you lead me out [either].” And, having said this of him, he was persuaded. Thus it was, that ( he ) accompanied the people, until Moses passed away. But after this ones passing away, ( he ) appeared to Joshua [the son of] Nun, who conversed with [him]. After this, for a certainty, [Latin supplies: “God”] gAVE OVER [TO] HIM, THE DISCIPLE OF MOSES, [AND] THEREAFTER, THE PEOPLE, INTO THE CARE AND DOMINION OF THIS CHEIF GENERAL, MICHAEL. [DANIEL 10 LXX]: THIS ( ONE ) WAS PRINCE OF THE PEOPLE, as was said by a different Angel that appeared in the [book] of Daniel. [JOSHUA 6:9 LXX]: “As they walked playing their trumpets.” These themselves, their trumpets sounding [for war], being a portent of things in the last days: [1st THESSALONIANS 4:16]: “Himself” As, it says: “The Lord with a generals battle call, with [the] voice of [the] Arch-Angel, and with [the] trumpet of God, will descend from [12.824] heaven…” – (Sections 12.821-12.824; Selecta in Jesum Nave ΩΡΙΓΕΝΟΥΣ ΕΙΣ ΙΗΣΟΥΝ ΝΑΥΗ ΕΚΛΟΓΑΙ, MPG, Translated by Matt13weedhacker 28/11/2011-Revised 3/12/11.)
    [FOOTNOTE *]: Gk., ( τὸν ἄγγελόν μου ) literally: “…thee Angel of Me…” or “…My Personal Angel…”
    [FOOTNOTE ^]: Gk., ( ἐπιστασίαν ) or “…authority, dominion over…”
    [FOOTNOTE]: Compare Hippolytus, “Commentary on Daniel” Book 4, Chapter 40:4-5 Gk., ( τίς δὲ ἐστιν Μιχαἠ ) = Gk., ( ὁ ἄγγελος […] ὁ ἄγγελος μου )

    LATIN TEXT: “…Ideo enim Apostolus quoque circumcisionem vocat Christi non in exspoliatione carnis nostrae. [JOSHUA 5:14]: “Ego sum Princeps militiae virtutis Domini : nune adveni.” Meminisse oportet, quando conflaverunt vitulum, tunc Deum Moysi dicere: [EXODUS 32:34]: “Deduc populum istum, non enim simul ascendam, quia populus dura cervice est. Et ecce mittam Angelum meum ante faciem tuam. Attende ergo tibi nec esto inobediens. Cui Moyses respondet: Si non ipse simul veneris, ne me educas hinc.” Quibus dictis ei persuasit, et cum populo suit nsque ad obitum Moysis, quo mortuo apparet Jesu filio Nave, et cum eo colloquitur. Postquam ergo populus in Moysis discipulum oculos defixos habuit, tradidit illum Deus Principi militiae suae, Michaeli. [DANIEL 10]: Ilic erat Princeps populi, ut in Daniele videtur dicere alter angelus. “Ambutantes et clangentes.” Hae tubae symbolum sunt eorum quae in novissima die contingent : [1st THESSALONIANS 4:16] “Ipse,” enim inquit, “Dominus in jussu, in voce Archangeli et in tuba Dei descendet de caelo…” – (Pages 822-823, SELECTA IN JESUM NAVE, ORIGENIS, MPG.)

    ORIGEN OF ALEXANDRIA (circa 185-253 C.E.): “…Therefore, as the Apostle also calls [it]: “circumcision from of the Christ is not the putting off of our flesh.” [JOSHUA 5:14]: “I AM CHEIF-PRINCE OF THE MILITARY POWER[S] OF THE LORD : HAVE NOW COME!” It is necessary to remember, when they forged [out of gold] that calf, God then said to Moses: [EXODUS 32:34]: “Lead this people! For I shall not go up at the same time, as this people is stiff knecked. And, behold! I WILL SEND MY PERSONAL ANGEL, BEFORE THY FACE. YOU SHOULD ATTEND TO [HIS WORDS] AND NOT BE DISOBEDIENT.” To which Moses replies: “If You do not come at the same time, neither bring me out from here.” With these words, he was persuasive. And he was with the people until the death of Moses. After this one’s death, he appeared to Jesus the son of Nun, and coverses with him. Once the people had their eye’s re-focused on Moses disciple, GOD DELIVERED HIM UP TO [Ltn., ( Principi militiae suae, Michaeli. )] THE CHEIF-PRINCE OF HIS MILITARY FORCES, MICHAEL. [DANIEL 10]: At once he is the Prince of the people, as another Angel that appeared says in the [book of] Daniel. “Marching and sounding trumpets.” These are a symbol of their trumpet [call] which will happen in the last days: [1st THESSALONIANS 4:16]: “For, Himself,” he says: “The Lord, by [his] order, with the voice of the Arch-Angel and the trumpet of God, shall descend from heaven…” – (PAGES 822-823, SELECTIONS IN JESUS THE SON OF NAVE, ORIGEN MPG, Translated by Matt13weedhacker 28/11/2011-Revised 3/12/11.)

    Compare Joshua 5:14:

    Old Itala/Vetus Latina/Pre-Vulgate OT:
    “…Ille autem dixit : Ego sum ( Dux ) virtutis Domini, nunc adveni…”

    Matt13weedhacker Vetus Latina translation:
    “…And he said: I am the Duke{*} of the power of the Lord, now come…”
    [FOOTNOTE *]: Or “…Leader…”

    “…Qui respondit : Nequaquam : Sed sum ( Princeps ) exercitus Domini, & nunc venio…”

    Matt13weedhacker Vulgate translation:
    “…he answered: No: but I am the First-Prince of army of the Lord, and now I come…”

    Compare also 1st Thessalonians 4:16:

    Latin: Biblia Sacra Vulgata
    “…quoniam ipse Dominus in iussu et in voce archangeli et in tuba Dei descendet de caelo et mortui qui in Christo sunt resurgent primi…”

    Nova [New or Revised] Vulgata
    “…quoniam ipse Dominus in iussu, in voce archangeli et in tuba Dei descendet de caelo, et mortui, qui in Christo sunt, resurgent primi…”

    Ltn., ( PRINCEPS ), cĭpis, adj. and
    I. subst. comm. [primus-capio], first in time or order (syn. Primus). […] first, in front, in advance, […] B. The first, chief, the most eminent, distinguished, or noble (syn. primores):
    II. As subst.: princeps , cĭpis, m., the first man, first person: “princeps senatŭs,” the first senator on the censor’s list, the first member of the Senate, […] B. Esp., the first, chief, principal, most distinguished person: […] —In the time of the emperors this was also a title of honor given to the prince, the heir to the empire, Tac. A. 1, 3: “sacerdotum,” the high-priest, Vulg. Act. 4, 6. — C. A chief, head, author, originator, leader, contriver, etc.: […]
    D. A chief, superior, director (ante- and post-class.): […] E. A prince, i. e. a ruler, sovereign, emperor (poet. and post-Aug.): F. In milit[ary] lang[uage]: […] 2. A centurion or captain of the principes: princeps prior, the first captain of the principes, Caes. B. C. 3, 64 fin.: “princeps tertiae legionis,” Liv. 25, 14; cf. id. 42, 34.— 3. The office of centurion of the principes, the centurionship or captaincy of the principes: mihi primus princeps prioris centuriae est adsignatus, the first captaincy of the principes, Liv. 42, 34, 8.—Comp.: “omnium priorum principum principiorem, si dici fas est,” Cassiod. Hist. Eccl. 1, 1.
    A Latin Dictionary. Founded on Andrews’ edition of Freund’s Latin dictionary. revised, enlarged, and in great part rewritten by. Charlton T. Lewis, Ph.D. and. Charles Short, LL.D. Oxford. Clarendon Press. 1879.

    Ltn., ( PRĪNCEPS ), cipis, adj.
    primus+CAP-, first in order, foremost : se principes ex omnibus bellum facturos pollicentur, Cs.: in fugā postremus, in periculo princeps: princeps Horatius ibat, in front , L.: principes pecuniae pollicendae fuerunt, took the lead in : princeps in haec verba iurat, Cs.: ut principes talem nuntium attulisse viderentur, might be the first , Cs.: matri Qui dederit princeps oscula, O.: Princeps ante omnīs agebat Agmen, first of all , V.: qualitatum aliae sunt principes, original : addere principi Limo particulam, H.— The first, chief, most eminent, most noble : longe omnium gravitate princeps Plato: terrarum populus, L.— Prov.: Principibus placuisse viris non ultima laus est, H.—As subst m., the first man, first person : senatūs, first on the roll , S.: principes sententiarum consulares, who were first asked for their opinion , L.— The first, chief, leader, foremost man : in re p. principes esse: iuventutis, one of the noblest of the Roman knights : trecenti principes iuventutis Romanae, i. e. patrician youths , L.: (pueri) aequalium principes, first among their fellows. —A chief, head, author, founder, originator, leader, contriver : Zeno eorum (Stoicorum): Argonautarum, i. e. Jason : principes inferendi belli, Cs.: sententiae in senatu: eius consili principes, Cs.: equitum, at the head of , Iu.: familiae suae, founder , L.— A prince, ruler, sovereign, emperor : hic ames dici pater atque princeps, H.: principis uxor, Iu.—In the army, plur., orig., the foremost line ; hence, the heavy-armed, second line of soldiers ; cf. totidem princeps habebat Corpora (poet. for principes), O.— A company of the principes : primi principis signum, of the first company of the heavyarmed , L.: octavum principem duxit, was centurion of the eighth maniple.—A centurion of the principes : princeps prior, first captain of the principes , Cs.: tertiae legionis, L.— The office of centurion of the principes, captaincy of the principes : mihi primus princeps prioris centuriae est adsignatus, i. e. centurion of the first century of the first maniple , L.
    Lewis, Charlton, T. An Elementary Latin Dictionary. New York, Cincinnati, and Chicago. American Book Company. 1890.

    DUX , dŭcis, com. duco,
    I. a leader, conductor, guide (for syn. cf.: imperator, ductor, tyrannus, rex, princeps, praetor, auctor).
    I. In gen.: “illis non ducem locorum, non exploratorem fuisse,” Liv. 9, 5, 7; cf. “itineris,” Curt. 5, 4: “itinerum,” Caes. B. G. 6, 17, 1: “regendae civitatis (with auctor publici consilii),” Cic. de Or. 3, 17, 63: “dux isti quondam et magister ad despoliandum Dianae templum fuit,” Cic. Verr. 2, 3, 21: “nil desperandum Teucro duce et auspice Teucro,” Hor. C. 1, 7, 27: “tu dux et comes es,” Ov. Tr. 4, 10, 119; id. P. 4, 12, 23 et saep. —In the fem., Cic. Fin. 1, 21, 71; id. Lael. 5, 19; id. Div. 2, 40; id. Tusc. 1, 12, 27; Verg. A. 1, 364; Ov. M. 3, 12; 14, 121 et saep.—
    II. In partic., in milit. lang., a leader, commander, general-in-chief.
    A. Prop., Caes. B. G. 1, 13, 2; 2, 23, 4 (with qui summam imperii tenebat); 3, 18, 7; “3, 23, 3 et saep.—Prov.: ducis in consilio posita est virtus militum,” Pub. Syr. 136 (Rib.). Also a lieutenant-general, general of division (cf. duco, I. B. 5. b., and imperator), as opp. to the imperator, Caes. B. G. 3, 21, 1; Cic. Off. 3, 26, 99; id. Fl. 12, 27; Tac. H. 3, 37 al.—
    B. Transf. beyond the milit. sphere, a leader, chief, head: “dux regit examen,” Hor. Ep. 1, 9, 23; cf. “gregis, i. e. aries,” Ov. M. 5, 327; 7, 311; so, “pecoris,” Tib. 2, 1, 58; “but dux gregis = pastor,” id. 1, 10, 10: “armenti, i. e. taurus,” Ov. M. 8, 884; “of the head of a sect of philosophers,” Lucr. 1, 638; cf. Quint. 5, 13, 59; Hor. Ep. 1, 1, 13.
    A Latin Dictionary. Founded on Andrews’ edition of Freund’s Latin dictionary. revised, enlarged, and in great part rewritten by. Charlton T. Lewis, Ph.D. and. Charles Short, LL.D. Oxford. Clarendon Press. 1879.

    DUX ducis, m and f
    DVC-, a leader, conductor, guide : itineris periculique, S.: locorum, L.: iis ducibus, qui, etc., guided by , Cs.: Teucro duce, H.: Hac (bove) duce carpe vias, O.—Of troops, a commander, general – in – chief : Helvetiorum, Cs.: hostium, S.— A lieutenant-general, general of division (opp. imperator), Cs. — In gen., a commander, ruler, leader, chief, head, author, ringleader, adviser, promoter : ad despoliandum Diane templum: me uno togato duce: optimae sententiae: femina facti, V.: dux regit examen, H.: armenti (i. e. taurus), O.: Te duce, while you are lord , H.—Fig., a guide, master, adviser, counsellor : natura bene vivendi: Sine duce ullo pervenire ad hanc improbitatem: quo me duce tuter (i. e. magister), H.
    Lewis, Charlton, T. An Elementary Latin Dictionary. New York, Cincinnati, and Chicago. American Book Company. 1890.

    VIRTUTIS = noun sg masc gen B. Transf., of animals, and of inanimate or abstract things, goodness, worth, value, power, strength, etc. B. Moral perfection, virtuousness, virtue.
    H.—Goodness, moral perfection, high character, virtue: C. Military talents, courage, valor, bravery, gallantry, fortitude (syn. fortitudo)

    EXERCITUS = part sg perf pass masc nom

    EXERCĬTUS , ūs
    I. gen. sing. exerciti, Naev. ap. Charis. p. 103 P.; Att. Trag. Fragm. 150, 311 (Rib. p. 155, 177); Varr. ap. Non. 485, 16 sq. EXERCITVIS, acc. to Non. ib. 11, without example. EXERCITVVS, Inscr. Orell. 4922.—Dat.: “exercitu,” Caes. B. C. 3, 96; Liv. 9, 5; 9, 41; 22, 1 al.), m. exerceo. *
    I. Lit., exercise: “pro exercitu gymnastico et palaestrico, etc.,” Plaut. Rud. 2, 1, 7.—
    B. Transf., concr., in milit. lang., an exercised, disciplined body of men, an army (syn.: “agmen, acies, phalanx, caterva, manus, legiones): exercitum non unam cohortem neque unam alam dicimus, sed numeros multos militum. Nam exercitui praeesse dicimus eum, qui legionem vel legiones administrat,” Dig. 3, 2, 2: horrescit telis exercitus asper utrimque, Enn. ap. Macr. S. 6, 4 (Ann. v. 385, ed. Vahl.); Enn. Ann. 14, 13: “exercitum comparare,” Cic. Phil. 4, 3, 6: “abire in exercitum,” Plaut. Am. prol. 102; 125: “venire ab exercitu,” id. ib. 140: “adesse ad exercitum,” id. ib. 1, 3, 6: “e castris educere exercitum,” id. ib. 1, 1, 61 (cf.: “ex oppido legiones educere,” id. ib. v. 63); cf.: “exercitum conscribere, comparare,” id. ib. 5, 13, 36: “parare,” Sall. C. 29, 3: “scribere,” Liv. 2, 43, 5: “conficere,” Cic. Phil. 5, 16, 43; id. de Imp. Pomp. 21, 61: “facere,” id. Phil. 5, 8, 23: “conflare,” id. ib. 4, 6, 15: “contrahere,” Caes. B. G. 1, 34, 3: “cogere,” id. ib. 3, 17, 2; Sall. J. 10, 4: “ducere,” Cic. Mur. 9, 20: “ductare,” Sall. C. 11, 5; 17, 7: “transducere,” Caes. B. G. 1, 13, 1 et saep.—As a land army, in opposition to a naval army or fleet: “eodem tempore et exercitus ostendebatur et classis intrabat portum,” Liv. 26, 42, 2. As infantry, in opposition to cavalry: “(Caesar) exercitum equitatumque castris continuit,” Caes. B. G. 2, 11, 2; 7, 61, 2; 1, 48, 4; Liv. 30, 36, 8; 40, 52, 6; cf. Drak. id. 28, 1, 5.—
    2. Transf.
    (a). The assembly of the people in the Centuria Comitiata, as being a military organization, Varr. L. L. 6, 9, § 88; cf. Gell. 15, 27 fin.; Plaut. Capt. 1, 2, 50; 52.—
    (b). Poet., in gen., a multitude, host, swarm, flock: “corvorum,” Verg. G. 1, 382; id. A. 5, 824; Sil. 11, 413.—
    (g). A troop, body of attendants, etc.: “huic illut dolet, quia remissus est edundi exercitus,” Plaut. Capt. 1, 2, 50: “remissum imperare exercitum,” id. ib. v. 52.—*
    II. (Acc. to exerceo, II. C.) Trouble, affliction: “Noli, obsecro, lacrimis tuis mihi exercitum imperare,” Plaut. Cist. 1, 1, 60.
    A Latin Dictionary. Founded on Andrews’ edition of Freund’s Latin dictionary. revised, enlarged, and in great part rewritten by. Charlton T. Lewis, Ph.D. and. Charles Short, LL.D. Oxford. Clarendon Press. 1879.

    EXERCITUS ūs (dat. ū, Cs., L.; gen plur. tūm, L.)
    exerceo, a disciplined body of men, army : terrestris, L.: tiro, L.: pedester, N.: exercitum dimittere, T.: comparare: parare, S.: scribere, L.: contrahere, Cs.: ducere: cum exercitu venit: exercitum equitatumque castris continuit, infantry , Cs.: exercitūs conveniunt, S.— A multitude, host, swarm, flock : corvorum, V.
    Lewis, Charlton, T. An Elementary Latin Dictionary. New York, Cincinnati, and Chicago. American Book Company. 1890.

    MILITIAE = “…military body or service…”

    GREEK TEXT: “…κατὰ [146(b).] τὸν πρωτόγονον αὐτοῦ λόγον, τὸν ἀγγέλων πρεσβύτατον, ὡς ἂν ἀρχάγγελον, πολυώνυμον ὑπάρχοντα· καὶ γὰρ ἀρχὴ καὶ ὄνομα θεοῦ καὶ λόγος καὶ ὁ κατ’ εἰκόνα ἄνθρωπος καὶ ὁ ὁρῶν, Ἰσραήλ, προσαγορεύεται…” – (Chapter 27:146(b), ΠΕΡΙ ΣΥΓΧΥΣΕΩΣ ΔΙΑΛΕΚΤΩΝ, MPG.)

    PHILO JUDAEUS (circa. 20 B.C.E to 50 C.E.): “…according to HIS FIRST-BORN WORD, THE ELDEST OF HIS ANGELS, AS THE GREAT ARCH-ANGEL OF MANY NAMES; for he is called, the Authority, and the name of god, and the Word, and Man according to God’s image, and He who sees Israel…” – (p. 247, The Works of Philo, “On the Confusion of Tongues,” translated by C.D. Yonge)

    PHILO JUDAEUS (circa. 20 B.C.E to 50 C.E.): “…in relation to (God’s) First-born and eldest Messenger [Gk., ( angelos )], the Word: that is the multi-named Archangel (who was) at the beginning. For he is also called “the Beginning” and THE “NAME OF GOD” and the “Word” and the “Man after his Image” and “Israel the Seer…” – (Philo, Confusion 145-146 (Perspective on the World of Jesus with new translations from primary texts 1999-2008 by Mahlon H. Smith)

    PHILO JUDAEUS (circa. 20 B.C.E to 50 C.E.): “…according to [THE] FIRST ONE TO BE BORN, HIS LOGOS, THE OLDEST OF THE ANGELS, CERTAINLY AS [THE] ARCH-ANGEL HAVING MULTIPLE NAMES, WHO CAME INTO EXISTENCE FROM UNDER A BEGINNING. For he is also named: “Beginning” and “Name of God” and “Logos” and “Man according to His image” and “The Seer”, “Israel”…” – (Philo Judaeus, Latin Tittle: “De Confusione Linguarum” Greek Tittle: ΠΕΡΙ ΣΥΓΧΥΣΕΩΣ ΔΙΑΛΕΚΤΩΝ or “Concerning [the] Confusion of Dialects” Translated by Matt13weedhacker 4/7/11-Revised 12/09/11)

    Also compare:

    PHILO JUDAEUS (circa. 20 B.C.E to 50 C.E.): “…And the Father who created the universe has given to HIS ARCHANGELIC AND MOST ANCIENT WORD [Logos] a pre-eminent gift, to stand on the confines of both, and separated that which had been created from the Creator. And this same Word [Logos] is continually a suppliant to the immortal God on behalf of the mortal race, which is exposed to affliction and misery; and IS ALSO THE AMBASSADOR, SENT BY THE RULER OF ALL, to the subject race…” – (p. 293, The Works of Philo, “Who Is the Heir of Divine Things,” translated by C.D. Yonge)

    PHILO JUDAEUS (circa. 20 B.C.E to 50 C.E.): “…For as those who are not able to look upon the sun itself, look upon the reflected rays of the sun as the sun itself, and upon the halo around the moon as if it were the moon itself; SO ALSO DO THOSE WHO ARE UNABLE TO BEAR THE SIGHT OF GOD, LOOK UPON HIS IMAGE, HIS ANGEL WORD [Logos], AS HIMSELF…” – (p. 386, The Works of Philo, “On Dreams, I,” translated by C.D. Yonge)

    PHILO JUDAEUS (circa. 20 B.C.E to 50 C.E.): “…For God, like a shepherd and a king, governs (as if they were a flock of sheep) the earth, and the water, and the air, and the fire, and all the plants, and living creatures that are in them, whether mortal or divine . . . APPOINTING AS THEIR IMMEDIATE SUPERINTENDENT, HIS OWN RIGHT REASON [Logos], HIS FIRSTBORN SON, WHO IS TO RECEIVE THE CHARGE OF THIS SACRED COMPANY, AS THE LIEUTENANT OF THE GREAT KING; FOR IT IS SAID SOMEWHERE, “BEHOLD, I AM HE! I WILL SEND MY MESSENGER [ANGEL] BEFORE THY FACE, WHO SHALL KEEP THEE IN THE ROAD [Exo. 23:20]…” – (p. 178, The Works of Philo, “On Husbandry,” translated by C.D. Yonge)


    Although this early Jewish-Christian sect of the Ebonites (circa. early 1st-2nd C.E.) was considered heretical, and their teachings on certain aspects have certainly deviated from pure Christian doctrine, what they said about Christ as an Angel is corroborative evidence of the antiquity of this tradition and teaching going back to the Earliest Christians and to the Jews themselves, as confirmed by writings among the DSS or Dead Sea Scrolls and Philo Judaeus.

    Here is what Epiphanius had to say on what they taught in this regard:

    GREEK TEXT: “…καὶ [16.] τούτου ἕνεκα Ἰησοῦν γεγεννημένον ἐκ σπέρματος ἀνδρὸς λέγουσι καὶ ἐπιλεχθέντα καὶ οὕτω κατὰ ἐκλογὴν υἱὸν θεοῦ κληθέντα ἀπὸ τοῦ ἄνωθεν εἰς αὐτὸν ἥκοντος Χριστοῦ ἐν εἴδει περιστερᾶς. οὐ φάσκουσι δὲ ἐκ θεοῦ πατρὸς αὐτὸν γεγεννῆσθαι, ἀλλὰ κεκτίσθαι ὡς ἕνα τῶν ἀρχαγγέλων [καὶ ἔτι περισσοτέρως], αὐτὸν δὲ κυριεύειν καὶ ἀγγέλων καὶ πάντων τῶν ὑπὸ τοῦ παντοκράτορος πεποιημένων…” – (Panarion 30.16, 4-5; Κατὰ Ἐβιωναίων, τῆς δὲ ἀκολουθίας. MPG.)

    EPIPHANIUS OF SALAMIS (circa. 310-403 C.E.): “…And on this account they say that Jesus was begotten of the seed of a man, and was chosen; and so by the choice of God he was called the Son of God from the Christ that came into him from above in the likeness of a dove. And they deny that he was begotten of God the Father, but say that he was created as one of the archangels, yet greater, and that he is Lord of the angels and of all things made by the Almighty…” – (Pages 8-10, Panarion 30.16,4-5; Montague Rhode James in The Apocryphal New Testament, Oxford: Clarendon Press 1924)

    EPIPHANIUS OF SALAMIS (circa. 310-403 C.E.): “…They say that Christ was not begotten of God the Father, but created as one of the archangels … that he rules over the angels and all the creatures of the Almighty…” – (Panarion 30.16,4-5; The Nazarenes of Mount Carmel Copyright © 1999-2006.)

    My own translation:

    EPIPHANIUS OF SALAMIS (circa. 310-403 C.E.): “…Wherefore on this account they also say, Jesus birth originated [only] out of [the] seed of a man and was called a son of God according to selection from above of the Christ that entered into him in the visible form of a dove. It is frequently alleged [that] he was not born of God [the] Father, but rather he was created as one of the Arch-Angels, yet extra-ordinary, [and that] he is Lord of all Angels and everything else that has been made by the ALL-MIGHTY…” – (Panarion 30.16,4-5; By Matt13weedhacker ( 26/6/09 ) Revised 27/6/09)


    EPIPHANIUS OF SALAMIS (circa. 310-403 C.E.): “… “…Wherefore on this account they also say, Jesus birth originated [only] out of [the] seed of a man and was called a son of God according to selection from above of the Christ that entered into him in the visible form of a dove. It is frequently alleged [that] he was not born of God [the] Father, but rather he was created as one of the Arch-Angels, yet greater than everything else that has been made by the ALL-MIGHTY [and that] he is holding Lordship over all Angels…” – (Panarion 30.16,4-5; By Matt13weedhacker Re-Revised 27/10/11)
    [FOOTNOTE]: κυριεύειν = verb present infinitive active attic epic contr


    GREEK TEXT: “…κατὰ [146(b).] τὸν πρωτόγονον αὐτοῦ λόγον, τὸν ἀγγέλων πρεσβύτατον, ὡς ἂν ἀρχάγγελον, πολυώνυμον ὑπάρχοντα· καὶ γὰρ ἀρχὴ καὶ ὄνομα θεοῦ καὶ λόγος καὶ ὁ κατ’ εἰκόνα ἄνθρωπος καὶ ὁ ὁρῶν, Ἰσραήλ, προσαγορεύεται…” – (Chapter 27:146(b), ΠΕΡΙ ΣΥΓΧΥΣΕΩΣ ΔΙΑΛΕΚΤΩΝ, MPG.)


    Compare Hippolytus passage about “…WHO IS MICHAEL?…” with what Clement of Alexandria said about the Jesus:

    GREEK TEXT: “…Ἐνταῦθα [1.] διδάσκαλός ἐστι παιδαγωγίας· καὶ γὰρ ἦν ὡς ἀληθῶς διὰ μὲν Μωσέως παιδαγωγὸς ὁ κύριος τοῦ λαοῦ τοῦ παλαιοῦ, δι’ αὑτοῦ δὲ τοῦ νέου καθηγεμὼν λαοῦ, πρόσωπον πρὸς πρόσωπον. Ἰδού, γάρ φησι τῷ Μωσεῖ, ὁ ἄγγελός μου προπορεύεταί σου, τὴν εὐαγγέλιον καὶ ἡγεμόνιον ἐπιστήσας τοῦ λόγου [2.] δύναμιν…” – (The Instructor, Book I, chapter VII, MPG [,2])

    CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA (circa. 153 to 217 C.E.): “…Here He is the teacher of the art of instruction. For it was really the Lord that was the instructor of the ancient people by Moses; but He is the instructor of the new people by Himself, face to face. “For behold,” He says to Moses, “MY ANGEL SHALL GO BEFORE THEE,” representing the evangelical and commanding power of the Word, but guarding the Lord’s prerogative. “In the day on which I will visit them,[1155]…” — (The Instructor, Book I, chapter VII (7); ANF Roberts & Donaldson, Vol. II, p. 224.)
    [FOOTNOTE 1155]: Ex. xxxii. 33, 34.

    I disagree with the translation of Gk., ( τὴν εὐαγγέλιον καὶ ἡγεμόνιον ἐπιστήσας τοῦ λόγου δύναμιν ): “…representing the evangelical and commanding power of the Word…”

    I think it is better translated:

    CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA (circa. 153 to 217 C.E.): “…In this place here He is [the] Teacher of the instruction. For it was in truth, even the Lord, through Moses, the Instructor, even a new leader, but through the intermediate agency of him, face to face. For “Behold!” as it says to Moses: “MY ( PERSONAL ) ANGEL[*] WILL JOURNEY BEFORE YOU,” establishing the good news and leadership of the powerful Logos…” – (The Instructor, Book I, chapter VII; translated by Matt13weedhacker 29/08/2011 revised 2/09/11)
    [FOOTNOTE *]: Gk., ( ὁ ἄγγελος μου ) Literally: “…the Angel of me…”
    [FOOTNOTE]: Gk., ( ἐπιστήσας ) “…to set up…” or “…establish…”
    [FOOTNOTE]: Gk., ( ἡγεμόνιον ) “…to guide…” or “…to lead…”

    And a little bit further on in the same passage:

    GREEK TEXT: “…Τὸ μὲν οὖν πρότερον τῷ πρεσβυτέρῳ λαῷ πρεσβυτέρα διαθήκη ἦν καὶ νόμος ἐπαιδαγώγει τὸν λαὸν μετὰ φόβου καὶ λόγος ἄγγελος ἦν, καινῷ δὲ καὶ νέῳ λαῷ καινὴ καὶ νέα διαθήκη δεδώρηται καὶ ὁ λόγος γεγέννηται καὶ ὁ φόβος εἰς ἀγάπην μετατέτραπται καὶ ὁ μυστικὸς ἐκεῖνος ἄγγελος Ἰησοῦς τίκτεται…” – (The Instructor, Book I, chapter VII, MPG [,2])

    CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA (circa. 153 to 217 C.E.): “…Formerly the older people [the Israelites] had an old covenant, and the law disciplined the people with fear, and THE WORD WAS AN ANGEL; but the fresh and new people [the Christians] has also been given a new covenant, and the Word has appeared, and fear turned into love, and THAT MYSTIC ANGEL IS BORN—JESUS…” — (The Instructor, Book I, chapter VII (7); ANF Roberts & Donaldson, Vol. II, p. 224.)

    CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA (circa. 153 to 217 C.E.): “…Certainly in former times there was existing for the older people an older covenant and law to educate the people along with fear, AND [THE] LOGOS WAS AN ANGEL,[#] but to a new people of a new kind, a [correspondingly] new covenant of a new kind was given, and the Logos came to be born, and the fear was turned into love, AND THIS MYSTICAL PERSON, AN ANGEL, JESUS, IS BORN[*]…” – (The Instructor, Book I, chapter VII; translated by Matt13weedhacker 13/2/2011)
    [FOOTNOTE #]: Gk., ( καὶ λόγος ἄγγελος ἦν ) Lit., “…and Logos an Angel was…”
    [FOOTNOTE *]: Gk., ( καὶ ὁ μυστικὸς ἐκεῖνος ἄγγελος Ἰησοῦς τίκτεται )


    J. N. D. KELLY: “…In a number of passages we read of an angel who is superior to the six angels forming God’s inner council, and who is regularly described as ‘most venerable’, ‘holy’, and ‘glorious’. This angel is given the name of Michael, and the conclusion is difficult to escape that Hermas saw in him the Son of God and equated him with the archangel Michael…” – (Early Christian Doctrines, by J. N. D. Kelly, Second Edition, 1960, pages 94-5.)

    EDMUND J. FORTMAN: “…If we read Hermas to find out who or what was the Son of God, the situation is equally baffling. In one section he says that the Son of God `is the law of God, given to the whole world,’ and that `the great and glorious angel Michael … inspires the law in the hearts of believers’ (Sim.8.3)…” – (Pages 40,41; Subheading: Hermas. From a now out of print book on “THE TRINITY”.)


  4. TH,
    I am assuming you read the article, but you did not address anything in the article. What you presented is a historical survey of the speculative opinions of men, both Jewish and Christian commentators. With regard to this historical material we have only two options – either these men received this information by direct revelation from God, which I don’t think any of them claimed, or they were simply making it up as what they thought to be reasonable inferences. You must realize that to say that an unnamed angel in a text of scripture is Michael or any other specific angel can only be a statement of divine revelation or of speculation. I, for one, do not see any reason to regard these men to have been divinely inspired or to have received some special revelation whereby they could have known something that the Hebrew text was silent about, so I regard their statements as pure speculation, and feel no compulsion to accept them as authoritative. Jewish rabbis and Christian commentators have said many things over the centuries. Are we obligated to accept it all as absolute truth? I gather that you are a Jehovah’s Witness, seeing that you are intent on equating Michael with the pre-incarnate son of God. So of course you will be inclined to accept the opinions of men throughout history that affirm your belief. I am not bound by some decreed dogma so I am free to reject these opinions as speculative and in many cases just plain ridiculous.


  5. TH,
    By the way, in my third article in the series, titled Pre-Incarnate Appearances Of The Son Of God In The OT – Truth Or Myth? – Miscellaneous Manifestations, I do speculate that the Captain of Yahweh’s host in Joshua 5 may be Michael and give my reasons why. But I do not see any reason to speculate that this is the pre-incarnate son of God.


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