Gnostic Doctrine

Monday, 27 August 2018

The Comforter: An Angel?

The Comforter: An Angel?




The point has been made by several expositors that as Israel were led by a special Angel through the wilderness, whom Isaiah 63 associates with God's Holy Spirit, so the new Israel were led by a Holy Spirit Angel, the Comforter, who was sent to the church by Jesus after His assuming of all power over the Angels on His ascension. A summary of the reasons for thinking this is now attempted:


- Is. 63:7-11 describes the Angel that guided Israel through the wilderness as the "Holy Spirit"- which is the Comforter.

- The Comforter was sent in God and Christ's Name (Jn. 14:26)- the Angel was sent in God's Name (Ex. 23:21)

- The Comforter would teach (Jn. 14:26), guide (16:13), be a judge (16:8) and prophesy (16:13); the Angel guided Israel through the wilderness, taught them God's ways, judged Egypt and the Canaanites, gave prophecies, and represented God to Israel as the Comforter represented Jesus to His people. As the church began a new Exodus and was constituted God's Kingdom in prospect as Israel were at Sinai, it was fitting that it should also have an Angel leading them, representing God to them.

- The Comforter would "shew you things to come" (Jn. 16:13)- fulfilled by the Angel giving the Revelation to John.

- The Angel testified to the churches (Rev. 22:16)- "the Comforter. . shall testify of Me" (Jn. 15:26).

- The references in Acts to the Holy Spirit as a person are now easier to understand - e. g. "The Holy Spirit said, Separate Me Barnabas. . " (Acts 13:2). Similarly the frequent occurrences of the ideas of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit together fall into place if the Holy Spirit has some degree of reference to a personal being in the form of an Angel. The error of the doctrine of the trinity is not in identifying the three common forms of God manifestation (i. e. through God Himself, Jesus and the Holy Spirit Angel), but in the blasphemous inter-relationships between them which it proposes. This idea is worth applying to our understanding of the baptismal formula.

- The work of the Comforter Angel may have been confined to the first century, in the same way as the Angel was particularly evident to the ecclesia in the wilderness during the initial Exodus period. Thus the words 'Angel' and 'Spirit' are obviously interchangeable in the book of Acts (e. g. 8:26,29; 10:3,19,20).

- In the same way as the angel of Israel dwelt in the temple after delivering them, so perhaps it is through Christ's Comforter Angel that He dwells in the spiritual temple of the New Israel.

- The Angel in Revelation "like the son of man" (i. e. representing Him but not Him personally) was this same Comforter Angel representing Jesus (Rev. 1:11 cp. 22:13,8,16). He carried the titles of Jesus, who carried the titles of God- e. g. "Alpha and Omega".

- We have seen that our prayers are presented to God through Christ by an Angel (Rev. 8:4) and that God answers prayer through commanding His Angels (Num. 20:16; Dan. 9:20,21). This perhaps allows us to interpret the 'Spirit' of Rom. 8:26,27 as having some reference to Jesus manifested in the Comforter Angel; whilst remembering that Jesus is ultimately the only mediator (1 Tim. 2:5) it may be that the mechanical presentation of the incense of our prayers to Him is done by the Comforter Angel.

- The Comforter is called “the spirit of truth” (Jn. 14:17; 15:26; 16:13). In the Qumran Dead Sea Scrolls literature, this phrase describes an Angelic Spirit who is the leader of the “good forces” and ‘in whom’ the righteous walk [Testament of Judah 20, 1-5]. The Aramaic translation of Job, and the targums on it, uses the term prqlyt to describe the Angelic spokesman [the malak melis] who makes a testimony in Heaven in Job’s defence (Job 16:19; 19:25-27; 33:23).

- Otto Betz, Der Paraklet (AGJU, 1963), brings out many connections between the Comforter and the Angel ‘Michael the Spirit of truth’ in contemporary Jewish writings.

- When we read of the “spirit of the Lord” snatching away Philip, it seems logical to interpret this as the same Angel already mentioned earlier in the chapter (Acts 8:26,29,39). But this Angel is defined as the Lord’s Angel- and the Lord in Acts is nearly always the Lord Jesus. Clearly we are led to understand the Lord Jesus as being associated with a specific Angel.


"He, the Spirit (Angel) of truth. . . will guide you into all truth; for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come" (John 16:13). As the present writer understands it, the work of the Holy Spirit Comforter was initially achieved through the miraculous gifts, and now through the spiritual strength we receive from the written word. Thus nearly all the statements made about the Comforter are also made concerning the written word (e. g. Jn. 15:26; 16:13 cp. 17:17; 16:8 cp. 2 Tim. 3:16; 4:2; Titus 1:9; 16:8 cp. 12:40). The Angels being closely associated with inspiration, notably of the Revelation, the Comforter Angel now largely achieves His aims through the written word He has inspired. "Things to come" were shown us by the Comforter Angel inspiring Revelation, the ultimate prophecy of the future. The Comforter was to make known everything that was told Him. It therefore follows that even the mighty Comforter Angel only has the same words of prophecy to study regarding the future unfolding of God's purpose as we have. Therefore they with us earnestly look into these things, and search "what manner of time" must elapse before the final fulfilment of God's word.

Article taken and adapted from Angels by Duncan Heaster (Christadelphian)

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