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Delve into the mystery of the “Angel of the Lord” as we explore 1 Corinthians 10:9. This article uncovers the biblical identity of this pivotal figure, bridging Old and New Testament insights for a comprehensive understanding. Join us in this scriptural journey, which is a bit lengthy. However, I suggest you read it through and not skim it.
1 Corinthians 10:9 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
9 Neither let us put the Lord to the test, as some of them tested him, and were destroyed by serpents.
1 Corinthians 10:9 Christian Standard Bible (CSB)
9 Let us not test Christ as some of them did and were destroyed by snakes.
TR NU—μηδὲ ἐκπειράζωμεν τὸν Χριστόν (“neither let us test the Christ”) support by P46 D F G Ψ 1739 Maj syr cop Irenaeus Origen according to the margin.
A variant and WH read μηδε εκπειραζωμεν τον κυριον (“neither let us test the Lord”) supported by א B C P 33 syr.
Another Variant is μηδε εκπειραζωμεν τον θεον (“neither let us test God” supported by A 81.
“Neither let us test the Christ” is the original wording according to the earliest MS (P46 [dating to 110-150 CE], as well as D F G Ψ 1739 Maj syr cop Irenaeus Origen. “Christ” is the most difficult reading, with the earliest support. Before the NA26 version, the Nestle-Aland text used the word “Lord.” But this was updated to “Christ” in N27 and N28. Many English translations from the 1900s used “Lord.” However, newer versions like NRSV, TNIV, NAB, NLT, HCSB, CSN, and NET now use “Christ.”
Bruce Metsger argues: “The difficulty of explaining how the ancient Israelites in the wilderness could have tempted Christ prompted some copyists to substitute either the ambiguous κύριον or the unobjectionable θεόν. Paul’s reference to Christ here is analogous to that in ver. 4.” – Bruce Manning Metzger, United Bible Societies, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, Second Edition a Companion Volume to the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament (4th Rev. Ed.) (London; New York: United Bible Societies, 1994), 494.
Philip W. Comfort argues: In a fuller context, the TR NU reading is rendered as: “neither let us test (or, tempt) the Christ as some of them tested [him] and were destroyed by serpents.” This reading has early and diverse support, and it is the reading more likely to have been changed. It is far more likely that “Christ” was changed to “Lord” (or, “God”) than vice versa. Given the context of 1 Cor 10, it was appropriate for Paul to speak of Christ being put to the test by the Israelites, for he had just previously mentioned that Christ was the spiritual rock that accompanied the Israelites in their wilderness wanderings (10:4). (Paul was probably aware of the OT calling God the “Rock” that accompanied the Jews in the wilderness. Indeed, in the Septuagint of Deut 32:4 and 15 the “Rock” is actually printed as θεος—that is, “the Rock” is another name for “God.” Paul saw Christ, as God, being that spiritual Rock.) Paul twice spoke of Christ with respect to his presence with the Israelites. But some scribes had a theological or exegetical problem with the reading “Christ”—for one of two reasons: (1) they disagreed with any notion of a preincarnate presence of Christ, or (2) they did not want it to be said that Christ was the judge responsible for sending serpents to destroy several thousand Israelites. Thus, scribes tried to neutralize the text by changing “Christ” to “Lord” or “God.” (A similar textual change occurred in Jude 4—see note.) The change to “Lord” occurred at least as early as the third century, per the testimony of the Letter of Hymenaeus (ca. 270). But the earliest extant manuscript, 𝔓46, and some early church fathers (Irenaeus, Origen) attest to the reading “Christ”—a reading which persisted in later manuscripts (hence, its inclusion in TR, followed by KJV and NKJV).—Philip W. Comfort, New Testament Text and Translation Commentary: Commentary on the Variant Readings of the Ancient New Testament Manuscripts and How They Relate to the Major English Translations (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2008), 507.
Edward D. Andrews argues: The original reading, according to the weightiest manuscripts (א B) is “the Lord,” as well as C P 33 syr. While the more difficult reading argument is sound enough, I would point out that I follow the Documentary Approach Method of New Testament textual criticism. This means that while I consider internal evidence, I lean more into the documents.
The Angel of the Lord
The ancient Israelites in the wilderness put “the Lord” to the test. “The Lord” here is of course is Jehovah, the Father. This will be explained below as to how this want actually Jehovah himself, but rather a representative standing in His place.
Jehovah God has no reason to come down from heaven itself in order to deliver messages to humans. In a very small sense, this would be like the President of the United States getting in Air Force One to go to some small town in the Midwest to deliver a message to one of his congressmen. It is almost nonsensical, and the press would make such a big deal if it ever happened. Now, imagine the Creator of everything going to visit a human personally. There are only three incidents when God’s voice was heard from heaven, all coming from the New Testament during the three and a half years of Jesus’ ministry. (Matthew 3:17; 17:5; John 12:28)
Who was making the personal visits for God to the earth from the time of Abraham forward? Jehovah God used his angels (messengers) as representatives of himself. Even when Moses received the Law, these angelic messengers transmitted it.
Galatians 3:19 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
19 Why, then, the Law? It was added because of transgressions, until the seed should arrive to whom the promise had been made; and it was transmitted through angels by the hand of a mediator.
Moses even spoke to an angel that came in the place of God. This angel was God’s spokesperson, and he spoke to Moses as if it were Jehovah God himself speaking, because in a representative way it was.
Acts 7:38 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
38 This is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the angel who spoke to him at Mount Sinai, and with our fathers; and he received living sayings to give to us.
This holds true of the angel that visited Moses at the thorn bush as well, he was the mouthpiece of Jehovah God, speaking as though he were him. Exodus 3:2 tells us, “And the angel of Jehovah appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush.” However, when we look to verse 4 we get, “And when Jehovah saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the midst of the bush.” Then, in verse 6 this angelic representative says, “I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” Thus, when Moses was speaking with an angelic representative of God, he addressed him as though he were Jehovah God himself, and the angel would speak as such too.—Exodus 4:10.
We find a similar experience in Judges chapter 6, verses 11-22, of Gideon speaking with an angelic representative as though the angel were God himself. In verse 22, Gideon even says:
Judges 6:22 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
22 And Gideon realized that he was the angel of Jehovah; and Gideon said, “Alas, O, my lord Jehovah! For now I have seen the angel of Jehovah face to face.”
Who Is Michael the Archangel?
Who is the Archangel?
“Archangel” is derived from the Greek term “archangelos.” Among the spiritual beings referred to in the Bible, only Michael bears the title of “archangel.” Some scholars have conjectured the possibility of other archangels existing, but the term’s prefix, “arch,” translates to “chief” or “principal,” suggesting the uniqueness and singularity of the title. There’s only one archangel: the principal angel. While the angel Gabriel is a powerful figure in Scripture, at no point is he addressed as an archangel. If there were a multitude of archangels, the term “arch” (meaning “chief” or “principal”) would be misleading. Significantly, the term “archangel” always appears in the singular throughout the Scriptures, never in plural form. This emphasizes Michael’s unique status as the sole archangel. Positioned as the highest-ranking angel, similar to the foremost general in a military hierarchy, Michael operates directly under God’s command, leading other angels, including Gabriel, according to God’s divine plan and purposes.
Michael’s Name and Roles
Michael’s name poses a rhetorical question: “Who is like God?” This archangel is prominently mentioned in several significant biblical events. He contended with Satan over Moses’ body as detailed in Jude 9. Michael, along with Gabriel, vigilantly protected the Israelites, often confronting demonic forces that sought their harm (Daniel 10:13, 21). Michael played a pivotal role in banishing Satan and his demons from heaven (Revelation 12:7-9). He will also play a crucial role during the end times, vanquishing earthly rulers and their armies during Armageddon. Additionally, Michael will have the distinct honor of consigning Satan, God’s primary adversary, to the abyss. – Revelation 18:1-2; 19:11-21.
The Defender of God’s Sovereignty
Across the Scriptures, Michael’s presence is consistently associated with intense, decisive actions. He is frequently depicted in confrontations with wicked angels in the Book of Daniel. The Epistle of Jude recounts his dispute with Satan. The Book of Revelation narrates his celestial battle against the Devil and his legion of demons. Michael, as the chief messenger, staunchly upholds God’s sovereignty, epitomizing the essence of his name: “Who Is like God?”
Just as the supreme officer in an army remains undefeated regardless of the adversary’s strength, Michael’s might remains unparalleled. As described in Revelation, a monumental celestial battle ensues between Michael, leading God’s faithful angels, and the dragon. Notably, Michael isn’t a standalone entity but commands an entire legion of God’s loyal angels, including Gabriel. Furthermore, Michael operates under the direct leadership of Jesus Christ. – Matthew 13:41; 16:27; 24:31; 2 Thessalonians 1:7; 1 Peter 3:22; Revelation 19:14-16.
Michael’s Historical Protection
Historically, Michael was perceived as the guardian angel of Israel, as highlighted by scholars such as Walvoord and Anders. However, this relationship took a turn as expressed in Jesus’ words, denoting the shift of God’s favor from Israel to the “Israel of God,” i.e., Christianity (Matthew 21:45, 23:37-39; Galatians 6:15-16). This means that while Michael might have served as the protector for ancient Israel, his role now pivots towards defending true Christianity, the new “Israel of God.” He isn’t a guardian for individual Christians but leads a celestial army to defend them against malevolent forces.
Who Is the Angel of the Lord?
An Overview of Angelic References in Scripture
When we delve into the pages of the Bible, a notable figure that often surfaces is the “Angel of the Lord.” Numerous references from Genesis to Acts indicate the significant appearances and interactions of this angelic entity with humans. Several scriptures, such as Gen. 16:7, Ex. 3:2, Judges 6:11, 2 Sam. 24:16, and many others, attest to this being’s prominent involvement in various biblical narratives.
Hierarchy Among the Angels
Among the heavenly hosts, Michael the archangel stands out as the pinnacle of angelic might and majesty. His frequent mention in the Scriptures, including in Daniel, Jude, and Revelation, underscores his unmatched rank and role among all heavenly beings. Michael is often referred to as “the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people,” suggesting his pivotal role in safeguarding God’s chosen people and leading them, as inferred from passages like Exodus 23:20-23.
Other distinguished angels include the seraphs, as described in Isaiah 6:2, 6. The cherubs, mentioned around 90 times in Scripture, also hold a significant rank among angelic beings, as evident from their descriptions and the tasks assigned to them in passages like Genesis 3:24 and Ezekiel 10:1-22.
There is also a broader angelic body, which serves multifaceted roles. These angels act as communicators between God and humanity, guardians, protectors, executors of divine judgments, and bearers of salvation messages. Their actions span the range from shielding God’s chosen to bringing forth God’s wrath upon the wicked, as demonstrated in narratives like Genesis 19:1-26 and Matthew 24:29-31.
It’s essential to address some prevalent misconceptions about the “Angel of the Lord.” Some, like William Smith in his “Bible Dictionary,” contend that “the angel of the Lord” is a pre-incarnate manifestation of God or even Christ’s visible form before his earthly incarnation. This perspective, however, isn’t congruent with a careful reading of Scripture.
Another point of contention arises when Taylor associates the “Angel of the Lord” with Gabriel or even suggests an alignment with the Holy Spirit, as inferred from Acts 8:26, 29. This position isn’t tenable. Gabriel, while undeniably a high-ranking angel with a close association with God, is distinct from the “Angel of the Lord.” Moreover, equating this angel with the pre-incarnate Jesus doesn’t hold water. The “Angel of the Lord,” though powerful and authoritative, remains a creation and, therefore, subservient to Jesus.
In conclusion, while the “Angel of the Lord” has immense authority and is influential in the biblical narrative, it is essential to discern and differentiate this entity from God, Jesus Christ, and other significant angelic figures. Proper understanding aids in preventing theological inaccuracies and fosters a richer appreciation of the intricate tapestry of celestial beings depicted in Scripture. It is the angel of the Lord that was leading the Israelites through the wilderness.
The term malʾāk Jehovah, translated as “the Angel of Jehovah” (מַלְאַךְ יהוה) in the Updated American Standard Version, appears sixty-seven times in the Old Testament. Exodus 3:2 is its only occurrence in Exodus, though it was already well-known in Genesis 16, the story of Hagar, and Genesis 22, the story of Abraham’s close sacrifice of Isaac.
Exodus 3:2 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
2 The angel of Jehovah appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed
Exodus 14:19 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
19 Then the angel of God who was going before the army of Israel moved and went behind them, and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them,
Exodus 23:20-23 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
20 “Look, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you on the way and to bring you into the place that I have prepared. 21 Take heed before him, and listen to his voice, do not rebel against him; for he will not pardon your transgression, for my name is in him. 22 “But if you shall indeed listen to his voice, and do all that I say; then, I will be an enemy to your enemies, and an adversary to your adversaries.
In this passage from the book of Exodus, God speaks to the Israelites about sending an angel ahead of them to protect and guide them on their journey to the place He has prepared for them. The angel carries God’s authority and should be respected and obeyed. If the Israelites rebel against this angel, their transgressions will not be pardoned. However, if they listen to and obey the angel’s voice, God promises to be an enemy to their enemies and an adversary to their adversaries. This passage suggests that the mentioned angel would lead the Israelites into the promised land, had the power to forgive or not forgive sins, delivered teachings and commands that must be followed, bore the representation of God’s name, and acted as the judge and destroyer of Israel’s enemies.
The Angel with God’s Authority: Michael’s Unique Role in Scripture
In the vast tapestry of God’s revelation to mankind, few figures emerge with as much authority and power as Michael, often identified as the archangel. His role, especially concerning the nation of Israel and subsequently, true Christianity, paints a picture of a divine messenger uniquely endowed with authority directly from Jehovah.
Michael: A Reflection of God’s Name and Authority
Exodus 23:20-23 provides an intriguing description of an angel with a special commission. This angel, with the authority to pardon transgression, is not just any celestial being but one with Jehovah’s name “within him.” This suggests a deeper connection, an intimate association with God’s purpose and authority. Michael, whose very name poses the question “Who is like God?”, emerges as a prime candidate for this role.
In the Hebrew scriptures, the name or shem of an individual encapsulated their nature, character, and essence. Thus, to say that Jehovah’s name was “within” this angel is to highlight the unique and unparalleled authority he held. Michael’s authority was not independent but derived directly from Jehovah. He bore the weight of this name, acting as Jehovah’s instrument in many decisive moments in Israel’s history.
A Warrior for God’s Sovereignty
Scripture consistently presents Michael as the frontline warrior in God’s cosmic battles. Whether confronting wicked angels in Daniel, disputing with Satan in Jude, or leading the heavenly armies in Revelation, Michael’s role is clear: to defend and uphold God’s sovereignty.
Operating under the leadership of Jesus Christ, Michael isn’t just a warrior but a commander, leading a host of angels in the cosmic struggle against evil. He is not just an actor on the celestial stage but a leader, orchestrating God’s purpose in the face of opposition.
Guardian of God’s People
Historical interpretation, as observed by scholars like Walvoord and Anders, suggests Michael’s role as the protector of Israel. But as the biblical narrative unfolds, especially in the words of Jesus, there’s a shift. While ancient Israel had been the apple of God’s eye, due to their repeated rejections of His prophets and eventually His Son, Jehovah’s focus transitions to a new entity: the “Israel of God” or true Christianity. This doesn’t diminish Michael’s role but redirects it. While once he may have been the guardian of a nation, he now stands as the defender of a faith.
In conclusion, the assertion that Michael was the angel mentioned in Exodus 23 finds substantial support in the broader biblical narrative. Michael, in his unique role as the defender of God’s people and upholder of His name, emerges as a central figure in the celestial framework, reflecting Jehovah’s authority and purpose.
Exodus 33:2 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
2 I will send an angel before you, and I will drive out the Canaanites, the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites.
Exodus 32:30-35 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
30 On the next day Moses said to the people, “You yourselves have committed a great sin; and now I am going up to Jehovah, perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.” 31 Then Moses returned to Jehovah, and said, “Alas, this people has committed a great sin, and they made a god of gold for themselves. 32 But now, if you will forgive their sin; but if not, please blot me out of your book that you have written.” 33 And Jehovah said to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book. 34 And now go, lead the people to the place of which I have spoken to you: look, my angel shall go before you. Nevertheless, in the day when I visit, I will visit their sin upon them.” 35 And Jehovah sent a plague on the people, because they made the calf, the one that Aaron made.
1 Corinthians 10:9: A Textual Consideration
At the heart of the discussion is the reading of 1 Corinthians 10:9. There is a textual variance between manuscripts that read “the Lord” (κύριον) and those that read “Christ” (Χριστόν). The most significant early manuscripts, notably א (Codex Sinaiticus) and B (Codex Vaticanus), along with other important witnesses such as C, P, 33, and the Syriac translation, support the reading “the Lord.”
Textual criticism often invokes the principle lectio difficilior potior or “the more difficult reading is to be preferred.” This principle is based on the assumption that scribes were more likely to simplify or harmonize challenging readings than to introduce them. Hence, if “Christ” were the original reading, it would be puzzling for scribes to alter it to the more ambiguous “the Lord.” Nevertheless, while this argument has merit, my approach, which I identify as the “Documentary Approach Method,” gives the witness of the manuscripts themselves extra weight.
The Documentary Approach Method
This approach suggests that while internal evidence (like the more difficult reading principle) is useful, the primary emphasis should be on the documentary evidence. In essence, this means giving weight to the manuscripts that contain the readings. This makes sense, especially in light of the vast number of New Testament manuscripts we possess. These documents, with their varied readings, are crucial in reconstructing the original text of the New Testament. Prioritizing them ensures a more grounded, historically rooted approach to textual criticism.
Michael in Exodus 23: Linking Old Testament and New Testament Imagery
Turning to Exodus 23, the identity of the angel bearing God’s name has been the subject of much discussion. While the text doesn’t explicitly identify this angel, the broader biblical narrative and intertextual hints suggest that this could be Michael, the archangel. This connection becomes more pronounced when considering Michael’s recurrent role as a defender of God’s people in books like Daniel, Jude, and Revelation.
In this light, identifying the angel in Exodus 23 as Michael strengthens the link between the Old Testament narrative and the New Testament textual consideration. If Michael, bearing the authority and name of God, is the focus in Exodus, then the use of “the Lord” in 1 Corinthians 10:9 could very well be an echo of this Old Testament imagery, emphasizing the continuity of God’s protective care across the ages.
The textual variance in 1 Corinthians 10:9, while seemingly minor, opens a gateway into the rich intertextual tapestry of Scripture. By adopting the Documentary Approach Method and aligning the narrative with the figure of Michael, one can appreciate the intricate ways in which the New Testament writers engaged with their Old Testament heritage, weaving a continuous narrative of God’s redemptive work throughout history.