The Angel of the Church.

It may not be out of place to offer a few remarks on the angel of the Church of Rev. 2 and 3, as it is evident that it will be impossible rightly to understand these chapters unless we know who the angel is or represents.

"The angel" is a designation constantly met with in the Scriptures, and has been generally, and we believe rightly, understood to signify a messenger or representative. No one questions when we read in Acts 8:26, "The angel of the Lord spake unto Philip," that we are to understand by this the Lord's representative speaking in His name. So also in 2 Cor. 12:7 "the messenger [angel] of Satan" is one sent from Satan, and acting on his behalf. With these Scriptures before us, who can doubt that the angel of the Church can only mean the mystical representative of the Church, not the representative of some one else sent to it? And that this is the only meaning to be assigned to the term is conclusively proved from Rev. 1, 2 and 3.

It is true that our translators, in the heading they have affixed to chap. 2, tell us that the angels are the ministers of the several churches; but we must ever bear in mind that the headings of the various chapters throughout the Bible are solely the work of man, and form no part of the infallible word of God. The apostle was directed (chap. 1:11) to write the things he saw in a book, and to send it to the seven churches in Asia. In verse 19 what he was to write was enlarged so as to include, not only the things he had seen, but also "the things that are, and the things that shall be after these." Before, however, he proceeds to open out the things "that shall be," he is directed to write to the angel of each of the seven churches the epistle bearing its name; and as each of these epistles is addressed to "the angel of the church," and each closes with the solemn exhortation to "hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches," it is clear that in the mind of the Spirit the angel stood for the Church, and that the message was addressed, not to the ministry, but to the Church at large. It should also be added that, while "the ministry" is but too generally regarded in Christendom as a body either apart from or else assuming to be the Church, so that we hear continually of "clergy and laity," such a division is unknown to the word of God, which teaches us that "God hath set some in the Church" (1 Cor. 12:28), not that He has constituted a class that is to be viewed as separate from it.

May the Lord give us the hearing ear, so that we may through grace profit by the solemn warnings and blessed encouragements addressed by the Spirit "unto the churches." F. S. M.