Do we have guardian angels?

Question: "Do we have guardian angels?"

Matthew 18:10 states, "See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven." In the context, "these little ones" could either apply to those who believe in Him (v. 6) or it could refer to little children (vv. 3-5). This is the key passage when the discussion of guardian angels comes up. There is no doubt that good angels help protect (Daniel 6:20-23; 2 Kings 6:13-17), reveal information (Acts 7:52-53; Luke 1:11-20), guide (Matthew 1:20-21; Acts 8:26), provide for (Genesis 21:17-20; 1 Kings 19:5-7), and minister to believers in general (Hebrews 1:14). There are many more instances of these angelic activities in Scripture.

The question that arises is whether each person—or each believer—has an angel assigned to him/her. In the Old Testament, the nation of Israel had the archangel (Michael) assigned to it (Daniel 10:21; 12:1), but nowhere in Scripture does it state that an angel was "assigned" to an individual (they were sometimes sent to individuals, but no mention of "permanent" assignment is given). One commentator states that the Jews had fully developed the belief in guardian angels during the time between the Old and New Testament periods. Some early church fathers believed that each person had not only a good angel assigned to him/her, but also a demon. The belief in guardian angels has been around for a long time, but there is no scriptural basis for it.

To return to Matthew 18:10, the word their is a collective pronoun in the Greek and refers to the fact that believers are served by angels in general. These angels are pictured “always” watching the face of God so as to hear His command to them to help a believer when needed. If one is to take from the Matthew passage that guardian angels are referred to, it would seem that these angels are not on active duty, but rather "always see the face of" the Father in heaven. The active duty or oversight seems, then, to come more from God than the angels, which makes perfect sense because God alone is omniscient. He sees every believer at every moment, and He alone knows when one of us needs the intervention of an angel. Because they are continually seeing His face, the angels are at His disposal to help one of His “little ones.”

In Western society today, it is "in" to believe in angels. We have movies that focus on angels; we have TV series which portray angels as being assigned to help humans. Scripture makes it clear that although angels possess superhuman power and knowledge, they are created beings just as we are and are "nothing" compared to God. As such, they are not to be worshipped (Exodus 20:1-6; Colossians 2:18). Rather, worship is to be reserved for the Triune God alone. Unfortunately, while the shows about angels give lip service to God, the Son of God is rarely mentioned (if at all). And God says in John 5:23 that if one does not honor the Son, he does not honor the Father who sent Him.

It cannot be emphatically answered from Scripture whether each believer has a guardian angel assigned to him/her. But as stated earlier, God does use them in ministering to us. It is scriptural to say that He uses them as He uses us; i.e., He in no way needs us or them to accomplish His purposes but chooses to use us and them nevertheless (Job 4:18; Job 15:15). In the end, whether we have an angel assigned to protect us or not, we have a greater assurance that God gives: if we are His children through faith in Christ, He works all things together for good (Romans 8:28-30), and Jesus Christ will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5-6). If we have an omniscient, omnipotent, all-loving God with us, does it really matter whether or not there is a finite angel alongside us?

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Do we have guardian angels?