Everyone knows that angels have wings, usually carry harps, and that each of us has our own personal guardian angel, right? We all have some preconceptions about angels from movies, television shows, and other media, but you might be surprised to know that a lot of those notions aren’t based on anything from the Bible. If you read Luke 1:26–38 and imagine the angel Gabriel standing before Mary with neatly folded white wings, you’re not getting that picture from anything the Bible itself says.
What the Bible really says about angels is overlooked or filtered through popular myths. This book was written to help change that. It’s a book about the loyal members of God’s heavenly host, and while most people associate them with the word “angel,” that’s just one of many terms the Bible uses for supernatural beings.
In The Unseen Realm, Michael Heiser opened the eyes of thousands to seeing the Bible through the supernatural worldview of the ancient world it was written in. In his latest book, Angels, Dr. Heiser reveals what the Bible really says about God’s supernatural servants. Heiser focuses on loyal, holy heavenly beings because the Bible has a lot more to say about them than most people suspect. Most people presume all there is to know about angels is what has been passed on in Christian tradition, but in reality, that tradition is quite incomplete and often inaccurate.
Angels is not guided by traditions, stories, speculations, or myths about angels. Heiser’s study is grounded in the terms the Bible itself uses to describe members of God’s heavenly host; he examines the terms in their biblical context while drawing on insights from the wider context of the ancient Near Eastern world. The Bible’s view on heavenly beings begins with Old Testament terms but then moves into literature from the Second Temple period—Jewish writings from around the fifth century BC to the first century AD. This literature from the time between the Old Testament and the New Testament influenced the New Testament writers in significant ways. With that important background established, the book focuses on what the New Testament tells us about God’s holy ones. Finally, the book reflects on common misconceptions about angels and addresses why the topic is still important and relevant for Christians today.
We live in a materialistic world. If you can’t touch it or see it, it doesn’t exist. The Bible opens our eyes to the supernatural realm of spiritual beings, and Michael Heiser helps us navigate the biblical teaching on angels. He does so with great insight and care as he explores the Old and New Testament teaching on this important topic. I recommend this book to all who want to broaden their understanding of the world to include the world as it really is.
—Tremper Longman III, Robert H. Gundry Professor of Biblical Studies, Westmont College
Michael Heiser shows how important it is to understand this world and appreciate how its contribution helps to make sense of Scripture.
—Darrell L. Bock, Executive Director for Cultural Engagement, Howard G. Hendricks Center for Christian Leadership and Cultural Engagement, Senior Research Professor of New Testament Studies
Reading Heiser’s work has a way of exposing just how much we have unconsciously rewritten the Bible to fit our modern sensibilities, and how we’ve muddled the Biblical storyline by underestimating the themes explored in his books.
—Tim Mackie, co-creator of The Bible Project
“Neither is ever qualified with the term malʾāk, and so it is incorrect to think of cherubim and seraphim as angels.74” (Page 26)
“To be blunt, Jesus is more than a cosmic life coach, and the God of the Bible had more in mind than a list of basic spiritual coping skills when he inspired its writers.” (Page xiv)
“Why should we care about angels? Because knowledge of God’s heavenly host helps us think more clearly about our status, our purpose, and our destiny. That’s why.” (Page xix)
“How should we then live?,’ ‘How do we image God?,’ and ‘How should we see and treat each other?’ We image God by doing what he would do, when he would do it, and with the motivation he would have for doing it. Yes, we are lesser than God and will fail. But God forgives—another lesson on what imaging means. We image God when we imitate God, acting on his behalf.” (Page xvi)
“Their service to God can be expressed in three broad categories: participation in God’s heavenly council, obedience to God’s decisions, and praise of the Most High.” (Page 32)
Michael S. Heiser is the academic editor for Logos Bible Software, Bible Study Magazine, and Faithlife Study Bible. He is the coeditor of Old Testament Greek Pseudepigrapha with Morphology and Semitic Inscriptions: Analyzed Texts and English Translations; he is also the Hebrew instructor for Learn to Use Hebrew for Logos Bible Software. He is the author of several books, including the best-selling The Unseen Realm. He earned his PhD in Hebrew Bible and Semitic languages and holds and MA in ancient history and Hebrew studies. In addition, he was named the 2007 Pacific Northwest Regional Scholar by the Society of Biblical Literature.