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The Malak Yahweh:

Jesus, the Divine Messenger of the Old Testament1

Part I

By Anthony Rogers


A diverse body of writings attests the belief among pre-Christian Jews that the Malak Yahweh, who features so prominently in the Old Testament, was a divine figure, properly denominated Yahweh, but nonetheless distinct from another called Yahweh.2 The earliest Christians,3 as well as many other Christian worthies throughout the centuries,4 have also viewed the Malak Yahweh as a distinct divine person within the Godhead, further explicating it as a Christophany, that is, an appearance of the pre-incarnate Logos or Word of God – the Lord Jesus Christ. The Scriptural basis for this view, beginning with the Old Testament and concluding with the New, is the subject of the following articles.

Theophanies in General

To begin with, the Bible clearly teaches not only the possibility but the willingness and reality of God’s condescending to reveal Himself to His creatures. Although God has surely revealed Himself in other ways, such as through the created order and the internal disposition of man (Psalm 19:1-7; Romans 1:18ff., 2:14-16), as well as in more special ways such as by the communications of created angels to the prophets (e.g. Daniel 8:1-27), and by means of inspiration, inclusive of dreams (e.g. Genesis 37:1-11), visions (e.g. Obadiah 1:1), and putting His words in a person’s mouth (e.g. 2 Samuel 23:2), none of this implies any lack of ability or volition on the part of God to do so in more direct and extraordinary ways, such as by means of an audible voice (e.g. 1 Kings 19:9-18), or through visible means like a smoking firepot (Genesis 15:1-21), a burning bush (Exodus 3:1-14), a pillar of fire and cloud (Exodus 13:21), the Shekinah glory in the Tabernacle (Exodus 40:34-38) and later in the Temple (2 Chronicles 5:11-14), and even human form, the latter of which is sometimes attended by an outward display of glory (Ezekiel 1:22-28) and at other times is very unassuming (Genesis 18), without any outward pomp or comeliness.

Divine manifestations and revelatory experiences of the latter sort are commonly called theophanies (i.e., appearances of God). One of the most important forms that theophanies take in the OT is that of the Malak Yahweh, commonly translated as “the Angel of the LORD” or “the Angel of Yahweh”. According to the Old Testament Scriptures, this figure is an appearance of Yahweh in human form.

The Meaning of the Word ‘Angel’

The way the word “angel” is commonly understood creates no little confusion when it comes to this subject. In common usage, the word has come to refer exclusively to created heavenly beings or spirits who inhabit heaven. For this reason it is important to point out that the word angel is not actually found in the Hebrew Old Testament and is not even a translation into English of any word found in the Bible. The word “angel” is simply a transliteration into English of the Greek word angelos (Gr. ἄγγελος), which is used in the Septuagint (LXX), i.e. the Greek translation of the Old Testament, and in the Greek New Testament.

The word that is used in the Hebrew text is malak (מַלְאָך). The lexical sources are unanimous that the Hebrew word malak, in its original signification and as it is used in the Bible, means “one sent; a messenger” (e.g. Gesenius; Brown, Driver and Briggs;5 et al.), as such it refers to the function rather than to the nature of an agent, and could just as well refer to one who is divine or human rather than just to a supernatural being as the word angel is normally understood. In other words, the nature of the agent is something that can’t be determined by the word alone and has to be determined by other factors. Accordingly, after discussing the etymology of the word, James Battenfield concludes: "The root idea of מַלְאָך [malak], then, is one sent, a messenger, or an envoy. Only in context does the term take on specificity."6

This is why the word malak is used for any messenger or message-bearer in the Hebrew Old Testament, whether the Angel of Yahweh, whom we will see exists in a class of His own, created angels, or human beings. In fact,

The Hebrew term מַלְאָך (mal’ak) is used some 214 times7 in the Old Testament. Nearly 50 percent of these occurrences clearly have reference in their context to human messengers who bore the messages of ordinary men such as Jacob (32:3) and of kings and military leaders (1 Sam. 19:11-21). Sometimes, even God’s prophets are termed His messengers (2 Chron. 36:15-16 cf. Jer. 25:3-7; 26:20-23; Hag. 1:13; Mal. 3:1a). The postcaptivity priests are also called God’s messengers in Malachi 2:7.

The remaining Old Testament usages of “messenger” are divided between references to the Messenger of Jehovah (approximately 33 percent) and references to finite, created messengers, commonly called angels (about 17 percent). Thus, only the context can clearly reveal whether the term messenger, or angel, refers to the office of the one who is sent (in which case it could be Christ) or to the nature of created angels as finite beings. The term may denote office, function, or responsibility, rather than the nature of the being ...8 (Emphasis original)

The same thing is true of classical Greek, where the word angelos is used, for example, of Hermes, the messenger god, as well as of angels and humans.

This is less the case in the New Testament (q.v. Thayer; Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich, Danker; et. al.), which uses the word “angel” at a time when the process of associating the word exclusively with created heavenly beings was already well underway, a process that began with (or at least is already seen in) the Septuagint, which occasionally uses another word presbus to translate the Hebrew malak when a human messenger is believed to be in view.9 As Balz and Schneider say, “In the great majority of occurrences ἄγγελος is used for the (heavenly) messenger of God, but can also designate a human messenger …”10 The rare exceptions in view here are Luke 7:24, 9:52, James 2:25, Matthew 11:10, and Mark 1:2 (the last two are quotations of the OT), all of which use the word angelos for human messengers.

This shows that the word does not tell us anything specifically about the nature of an “angel”, particularly in the inspired Hebrew Scriptures, and is something that has to be discerned from context and other relevant factors.

But even this may not say it all, for a strong case can be made, and has been by a number of scholars, that even the idea of “messenger” as it is commonly understood does not quite capture the full implications of the word as it is used for the Angel of the LORD, especially as the word is used for Him in the book of Genesis. So Juncker:

First, a fairly persuasive case can be made that the word מַלְאָך [malak] in the OT does not mean “angel” at all, at least not in the modern sense of a distinct, creaturely spirit. Instead, the word means only “presence” or “manifestation” with the ontological status of the one present contextually determined. But second, and more importantly, a variety of recent literary analyses of the OT have tended to confirm the view that the Angel of the LORD is YHWH or a narratologically sophisticated and theologically subtle way of speaking about him. Perhaps the most fascinating recent literary analysis involves a careful comparison of the Angel of the LORD texts in Genesis with “[t]he entirety of the narrative material of the Sumerian, Babylonian, Assyrian, Hittite, Ugaritic, and Egyptian literature.” The main conclusion of this analysis is noteworthy: when the angel in the Genesis narratives acts he performs the functions of the deity in the extra-biblical narratives rather than those of the messenger or agent of the deity; and when the angel in the Genesis narratives speaks he speaks as the deity in the extra-biblical narratives and not as the messenger or agent of the deity. The narratives in the ANE that most closely resemble those in Genesis are the epiphany narratives where the deity himself appears.

Juncker then goes on to quote Dorothy Irvin:

[W]hen the messenger of Yahweh or Elohim speaks, he is not understood to be acting as a messenger, even though he is called a messenger. On the basis of comparable narrative material, it can be said that no delivery of a message takes place. It can be concluded that the messenger of Yahweh or Elohim is not thought of in these Genesis stories as being, in fact, a messenger … [I]n the Genesis messenger stories the word “messenger” is used, but the concept of the being, brought out by what he does, is the concept of a god … The word mal’ak as used there is empty of content, other than the concept identical to the role played by the deity in similar extra-Biblical stories. Nothing of the belief in the angel as we know it from post-exilic thought, the angel functioning as intermediary, is found in our stories. (Italics and brackets as found in Juncker)11,12

In any event, neither the lexical meaning of the word nor the way it is used in the Scriptures rules out the application of the term to an appearance of God.

Definite or Indefinite?

When it comes to the Angel of Yahweh, the definite article sets Him off from other angels and also ties together the various episodes featuring someone called “the Angel of the Lord”, showing that the Angel is one and the same person in all of these divine-human encounters.

Some have argued that since there is no definite article in the Hebrew phrase Malak Yahweh, then it should be translated into English as “an Angel of the LORD”, but this is surely mistaken. In Hebrew, nouns and their modifiers are in agreement, such that if Yahweh is definite then Malak is definite as well. Since Yahweh is a proper noun – indeed, it is the distinctive name of the God of Israel – according to the rules of Hebrew grammar it is intrinsically and therefore always definite. In other words, the grammatical construction of Malak Yahweh in Hebrew, where the second noun, a proper noun, Yahweh, is definite, requires that the first noun, which is in the construct state, be understood in a definite way as well.13

In response to this, some have argued that the phrase then is determinate merely because this is required by the construction in Hebrew, such that the inspired authors could not have spoken of the Angel as “an” angel of Yahweh even if they wanted to. But this is also mistaken. In such a case, if the author wanted to render the phrase indefinite, all that he would need to do is include a lamed preposition between Malak and Yahweh. Theologian Gerhardus Vos14 speaks to this error:

“The objection, that before a proper noun the preceding noun standing in the construct state becomes inevitably determinate, in other words that it would be impossible to make ‘Angel of Jehovah’ undeterminate, even though it may have been intended so, does not hold good. The Hebrew has a way of saying ‘an Angel of Jehovah.’ All that is necessary is to insert the preposition ‘lamed’ between Angel and Jehovah: ‘an Angel to Jehovah.’”15

It is highly instructive therefore that the Hebrew Old Testament never employs such a construction: the phrase that is used is invariably Malak Yahweh.

The fact that this phrase refers to one and only one is underscored by the fact that the phrase is never used of angels in the plural; in all of the writings of the Old Testament, the Biblical authors never speak of malakim Yahweh, i.e. “angels of Yahweh”. It may be replied that they do, however, even if only on certain rare occasions, speak of “angels of God” (e.g. Genesis 28:12; 32:1; and 2 Chronicles 36:16), but in this case it needs only to be pointed out that once again a distinction is drawn between angels of God in general and the Angel of God in particular. Whereas the phrase Malak Yahweh does not permit using the definite article, for its definiteness is determined by the use of the proper name of God, Yahweh, the phrase Malak Elohim, which uses the more general term for deity, does permit such a construction, as in Genesis 31:11 (q.v. Exodus 14:19; Judges 6:20, 13:6, 9; 2 Samuel 14:17, 20, 19:28; and 2 Chronicles 36:16), but for all that it never uses the definite article when speaking of angels in the plural. It speaks of “the Angel of God” and “angels of God”, but never does it speak of “the angels of God”, thereby once again drawing a clear distinction between this Angel and all others.

One and the Same Angel

Even if the question of whether the phrase is definite or indefinite could not be settled on grammatical grounds alone, and from the above it can be seen that available evidence says that it can, it would still be possible to deduce that God was not dispatching many different angels on the occasions when the Bible uses the phrase Malak Yahweh, and that one specific and special Angel is in view throughout:

After God tested Abraham’s faith by commanding him to sacrifice Isaac, which Abraham promptly set out to obey, we are told that “the Angel of the LORD called to Abraham from heaven …” (Genesis 22:11) telling him not to harm Isaac, for Abraham’s faith had been proved; after Abraham sacrifices a ram in the place of his son, we are then told “The angel of the LORD called to Abraham from heaven a second time …” (Genesis 22:15), showing that it was the same Angel as at the first. Of course it might be argued that this is ambiguous, as it might just indicate that Abraham heard a second time from an angel and not that it was the same angel, or that it is of minimal significance since this doesn’t entail that the same Angel appeared to Hagar before him or that it was the same Angel who appeared later to Isaac, Jacob and others under the name “angel of Yahweh”, but even if this is granted no such ambiguity or insignificance attaches to the following.

When Jacob – of whom we read many times that “the Angel of the LORD” appeared to him – prays in Genesis 48 that “God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has fed me all my life long to this day, the Angel who has redeemed me from all evil” will bless his descendants after him, it is clear that he thinks that one and the same Angel, the one before whom His Father’s Abraham and Isaac walked and by whom they were shepherded, was responsible for delivering him from all his afflictions (and also, given that this is a patriarchal benediction, that he confidently expects the Angel to play the same role in the lives of his descendants). Moreover, this was the very thing “the Angel of Yahweh” promised to Jacob at Bethel in Genesis 28: “Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Furthermore, when the Angel of Yahweh appears to Jacob in a dream in Padan-aram, He identifies Himself as the same one who appeared to him at Bethel (Genesis 31:11-13). Accordingly, every time we are told “the Angel of the LORD” appeared or spoke to Jacob or to his fathers before him, even though these encounters are separated by time and place, it was the self-same Angel. As well, this passage also leads us to expect future engagements of the Angel as the shepherd and redeemer of Jacob’s descendants. The passage is both retrospective and prospective in its deliverances about the Angel.

In the book of Exodus we read that the Angel of the LORD appeared to Moses in the burning bush, saying of the name Yahweh, “This is My name forever, and this is My memorial-name to all generations” (Exodus 3:1, 15); and in the book of the prophet Hosea we are told by way of a strong implication that the Angel who appeared to Moses is the same one who wrestled with Jacob before his encounter with Esau in Genesis 32, and who later appeared to Jacob after his return to Bethel from Paddan-aram as recorded in Genesis 35:9-15:

“In the womb he [i.e. Jacob] took his brother by the heel, and in his maturity he contended with God. Yes, he wrestled with the angel and prevailed; he wept and sought His favor. He found Him at Bethel and there He spoke with us, even the LORD, the God of hosts, the LORD is His memorial name.” (Hosea 12:4-5).

Since the Angel who appeared to Moses said, “[Yahweh] is My memorial-name to all generations”, and since Hosea says of the Angel, the one with whom Jacob wrestled and whose favor he sought, “Yahweh is His memorial name”, then the Angel who appeared to Moses can be none other than the Angel who appeared to Jacob (and the other patriarchs) before him.

Moreover, the Angel who appeared to Moses is the same name-bearing Angel who accompanied Israel in her wilderness wanderings and eventually brought her into the land of Canaan: “Behold, I send an Angel before you to keep you in the way and to bring you into the place which I have prepared. Beware of Him and obey His voice; do not provoke Him, for He will not pardon your transgressions; for My name is in Him” (Exodus 23:20ff.). [We are already led to expect this very thing in the story of the patriarchs, where God promises to bring the children of Israel up out of Egypt, and foreshadows it in the story of Jacob, who is redeemed by the Angel (more on this later).]

Since the Angel who appeared to Jacob is the same Angel who appeared to his fathers before him, and since the Angel who appeared to Moses is the same Angel who appeared to Jacob, and since the Angel who appeared to Moses is the same Angel who brought the children of Israel up out of Egypt, and who also accompanied them through the wilderness and led them into the land of Canaan, then the Angel of the patriarchs is the Angel of the Exodus and Conquest.

When the book of Judges later speaks of one called “the Angel of the LORD”, it records him saying: “I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land that I swore to give to your forefathers” (Judges 2:1), thus showing continuity of identity between the Angel of the Exodus-Wilderness-Conquest period and the Angel of the time of the Judges. [It is also of interest that the Angel in the book of Judges acts very much like the Angel who appeared to Jacob, for when Jacob asks the Angel for His name, He replies, “Why do you ask My name?” (Genesis 32:29), which is similar to the reply given to Manoah when he asks the same question: “Why do you ask My name? It is beyond understanding [Lit. “Wonderful”]” (Judges 13:18).]

Since the Angel of the patriarchs is the Angel of the Exodus, and since the Angel of the Exodus and Conquest is the Angel who appeared in the time of the Judges, then the same Angel is in view in all three periods – Patriarchal, Exodus-Wilderness-Conquest, and Judges.

Thus, even if the grammatical issue above could not be settled, copious evidence exists in Scripture that one agent in particular is in view in “the Angel of Yahweh” passages and that this one stands uniquely apart from all other angels and is intimately involved with the whole course of Old Testament history.

It is with good reason, then, that Jews and Christians as well as most scholars down to the present day, even those who do not otherwise agree on other points that swirl about this discussion, have viewed the various mentions of “the Angel of the LORD” to be references to the same Angel.

Other Names for the Angel

While “The Angel of the LORD” is by far the most common designation for Him, the Angel is referred to in other ways as well. He is called: “the Angel of God” (Judges 13:9); “the Angel of His Presence/Face” (Isaiah 63:9); “the Angel of Great Counsel” (Isaiah 9:6 (LXX)); “the Angel of the Covenant” (Malachi 3:1); “the Angel” (Genesis 48:15-16); “My Angel” (Exodus 23:23); “the Captain of the Lord’s Host” (Joshua 5); and “Wonderful” (Judges 13:18).

That these names all refer to the Angel of Yahweh can be seen from the following:

“The Angel of God” is used interchangeably with “the Angel of the LORD” in Judges 6:20 and 21 as well as in 13:9 and 13:13, which shows that the two titles are synonymous; “the Angel of His presence” is obviously derived from passages like Exodus 23:20-23 and 33:12-23;16 “the Angel of Great Counsel” is based on the observation that “wonderful, counselor” in the Hebrew text of Isaiah 9:6 is treated by some as one title (i.e. wonderful-counselor), and the word “wonderful” is only otherwise used of the Angel of Yahweh (Judges 13:18); “the Angel of the Covenant” is obviously the Angel of Yahweh since He is the one who sovereignly establishes the covenant and even refers to it as “My covenant” (Judges 2:1-3). That “the Angel” is a reference to “the Angel of Yahweh” follows from the observations already made above on Genesis 48 which speak of Him as the “God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked” and as the one who “redeemed me from all evil”. Finally, given the conspicuous parallels between Moses encounter with the Angel of Yahweh in the burning bush in Exodus 3 and Joshua’s encounter in Joshua 5, “the Captain of the LORD’s host” most naturally refers to the Angel of Yahweh.

Many of these names are quite significant in themselves, and the divine and messianic overtones are hard to miss (but more will be said about this later).

It will also be argued in the course of this series that God and Lord and above all God’s Covenant Name, Yahweh, are also among the Angel’s names (some glimpses of this have already been seen above but will be discussed at greater length in what is to come).

The Central Importance of the Angel

The central importance of this Angel is pointed up by the frequent mention made of Him in the Old Testament, particularly in the patriarchal period and in Israel’s early history: Genesis 16:7-14, 21:14-20, 22:1-18, 24, 28, 32, 48; Exodus 3, 13 (cf. 14:19), 23, 32; Numbers 20, 22; Judges 2:1-3 (cf. Exodus 34:10-14), 6, 13; 2 Samuel 14:15-20, 19:26-28, 24:15-17; 1 Kings 19; 2 Kings 1, 19; 1 Chronicles 21; 2 Chronicles 32; Isaiah 9 (LXX), 37, 63; Zechariah 1, 2, 3, 12; Hosea 12 (cf. Genesis 32); Malachi 3; and Psalms 34, 35. Strong reasons also exist for thinking the Angel of the Lord is the one in view in Genesis 18-19; Exodus 24; Joshua 5; Isaiah 6; Ezekiel 1; and in every other theophany in the Old Testament.

Although the Angel of Yahweh appears less frequently as the Old Testament winds to a close, He never completely withdraws until the inter-testamental period, the same time period when the Glory (i.e. the Shekinah) and the Spirit of prophecy are said to have departed from Israel.

“Unspecified” Theophanies

In some cases where a theophany occurs no mention is made of the Angel of the LORD; however, as seen in passages like Joshua 5 which link the “Captain of the LORD’s host” to the Angel of Yahweh who appeared to Moses, this does not mean that these theophanies are not the Angel of Yahweh. Moreover, in a number of these cases we are told elsewhere (or later by a prophet) that it was the Angel. For example, Genesis 28:10-22 says Yahweh appeared to Jacob in a dream, and later in Genesis 31:11-13 we are told the one who appeared to him in his dream was “the Angel of God”; Genesis 32:24-30 tells us that God appeared to Jacob in the form of a man, and speaking of this event some time later the prophet Hosea, in chapter 12:4-5 of his prophecy, tells us it was “the Angel”. The same thing is also seen in reverse in 1 Chronicles 21:14-20, which says that David saw the Angel of Yahweh who told him to erect an altar, and 2 Chronicles 3:1-2 which tells us that it was Yahweh who appeared to David on that occasion.

This creates a precedent for viewing other theophanies, which only mention that Yahweh or God appeared, to be in fact appearances of the Angel of Yahweh. This would include passages like: Genesis 15 where the Word of Yahweh appears to Abraham; Genesis 18-19 where Yahweh appears to Abraham with two angels; Exodus 24 where Moses and the elders of Israel see God; Isaiah 6 where Isaiah sees a vision of Yahweh upon His throne; and Ezekiel 1 where the prophet Ezekiel has a vision of the Lord.


At this point we can arrive at the following conclusions about the Angel of Yahweh:

1. The word Malak does not rule out His deity, for the word could just as well refer to a divine messenger as it can to one of the heavenly host (or even to a human messenger).

2. The phrase “the Angel of Yahweh” refers to a distinct and specific being and not to angels in general. The Angel of Yahweh exists in a class all of His own, i.e. He is unique.

3. The Angel of Yahweh spans the entire Old Testament period as seen in His appearances to Hagar, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Balaam, Joshua, Gideon, Manoah, Elijah, David and Zechariah.

4. The Angel of Yahweh is the central figure of the Old Testament, not only because He is frequently mentioned, but because of the role He plays in the lives of the patriarchs and the nation of Israel.

5. The Angel of Yahweh has many exalted titles, such as “the Angel of His presence”, “the Angel of Great Counsel”, “the Angel of the Covenant”, and “Wonderful”.

6. The Angel of Yahweh on various occasions, only a modicum of which have been explicitly referred to up to this point, refers to Himself or is referred to by others as God.

7. The Angel is likely the one in view every time a theophany occurs.

These observations enable us to rule out that the Angel is either an impersonal emanation from/of God or merely a human messenger, and strongly incline away from taking Him to be a creature-angel (particularly if the divine titles already mentioned are given their full due). As a permanent, standing figure that spans the ages, He cannot be an emanation of God, for “no permanent character belongs to such”,17 and for this reason also He cannot be a mere human being, for He does not appear to be subject to the power of death.

As the central figure of the Old Testament, the one who shepherded and redeemed the patriarchs as well as the entire Jewish nation at the time of their deliverance from Egypt and translation into the promise land and beyond, it would be altogether unexpected if it turned out that the Malak Yahweh was just a very special creature-angel and not God. On such a supposition not only would it mean that a creature-angel in the Old Testament occupies center stage; it would mean that God is upstaged by a creature-angel.

Continue with Part II.



1 Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture citations are from the New American Standard Version.

2 Aside from the fact that the Targums, such as the Targum of Pseudo Johnathan, Onkelos, and Fragments of the Jerusalem Targum, mention the Angel of Yahweh, and even identify Him as the Word (Hebrew, dabar; Aramaic, memra; Gr. logos) of Yahweh, and that the Septuagint, although to a much lesser degree, provides some interesting evidence of His divinity and distinct identity as well, as in its rendition of passages like Isaiah 9:6, mention can be made here of the testimonies that abound in 1 Enoch. After the coming of Christ, when apostate Israel rejected Jesus as “the Messenger (Heb. Malak; מַלְאָך) of the Covenant” (Malachi 3:1), all talk of the Memra or Word of the LORD, the predominant way the targumim referred to the Angel of Yahweh, and which was the way the apostle John spoke of Jesus in his Gospel, providing thereby a most potent link between Jesus and passages about the Angel of the LORD in the Hebrew text, was expunged from certain rabbinic teachings. For example, the Memra/Word of the Targums is nowhere to be found in the Babylonian and Palestinian Talmud (though the Talmud, in the nature of a hostile witness, does provide some relevant indirect evidence in its discussions of “heresies” pertaining to Metatron), which often reflect, among other things, the polemical interests of post-Christian and anti-Messianic Jews. For more on this issue as it pertains to the Talmud (and other early Jewish writings), consult the now standard work by Alan F. Segal, Two Powers in Heaven: Early Rabbinic Reports about Christianity and Gnosticism (Leiden: E. J. Brill., 1977), p. 313

3 Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, 58, 59, 60, 61, 76, 86, 116, 126, 127, 128; Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 3.6.1-5, Fragments, 53; Tertullian, Against Praxeas, 16, De Carne, 14, Against Marcion 2.27, 3.9; Novatian, On the Trinity, 18, 19, 31; Apostolic Constitutions, 5.3.20; Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, 1.7; Eusebius, The Proof of the Gospel, 1.5, 4.10, 5.10, Church History, 1.2.7-8, Preparation for the Gospel, VII. 5, 14-15; Origen, Contra Celsus, 5.53, 8.27; Methodious, Symposium, 3.4; Melito, New Fragments, 15; Ambrose, Exposition of the Christian Faith, 1.13.83; Athanasius, Against the Arians, 3.25.12-14; Gregory of Nyssa, Against Eunomius, 11.3. (For an excellent discussion of the views of Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Theophilus and Tertullian, see the following: Günther Juncker, “Christ as Angel: the Reclamation of a Primitive Title”, which originally appeared in the Trinity Journal 15:2 [Fall 1994], p. 221-250; for additional discussion of patristic teaching on this subject, see Joel Ira Hoffstutler's dissertation, He Who Dwelt in the Bush: A Biblical and Historical Theology of the Angel of the Lord [Bob Jones University, 2007], p. 17-44.)

4 Martin Luther, John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, John Gill, Matthew Henry, Matthew Poole, Adam Clarke, E. H. Hengstenberg, Pye Smith, A. H. Strong, John Wesley, Keil, Delitzsch, F. F. Bruce, and Walter Kaiser are only a small number of well-known individuals from the Reformation to more modern times who taught/teach this view.

5 BDB even includes a section on “the theophanic angel” when providing the meaning of the term. Francis Brown, S. R. Driver and Charles A. Briggs, A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament with an Appendix Containing the Biblical Aramaic (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1979), p. 521

6 James Battenfield, An Exegetical Study of the [Malak Yahweh] In the Old Testament (Postgraduate Seminar: Old Testament Theology, Grace Theological Seminary, 1971), p. 3

7 Due to a variant, other sources give 213 occurrences.

8 James Borland, Christ in the Old Testament: Old Testament Appearances of Christ in Human Form (Great Britain: Christian Focus Publications, 1999), p. 36-37

9 According to Karen H. Jobes and Moises Silva: “… the noun ἄγγελος in Classical Greek meant “messenger” in a fairly general sense. When the LXX translators used it to represent Hebrew מַלְאָך, which often specifically designated a (superhuman) messenger sent by God, a new acceptation or definition was created. The use of this specialized Greek term in the NT doubtlessly reflects the strong influence of the LXX.” Invitation to the Septuagint (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2000), p. 199

10 Horst Balz and Gerhard Schneider, ed., Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament, Vol. 1 (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1990), entry: ἄγγελος.

11 Günther Juncker, Jesus and the Angel of the LORD: An Old Testament Paradigm for New Testament Christology (Deerfield, Illionois: A Dissertation, submitted to the faculty in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Theological Studies New Testament Concentration at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, 2001) p. 52-53. In a footnote, Juncker also adds the following: “These conclusions have been independently confirmed by S. A. Meier who, unlike Irvin, did not restrict himself to narratives: ‘It must be understood that the angel of YHWH in these perplexing Biblical narratives does not behave like any other messenger known in the divine or human realm. Although the term ‘messenger’ is present, the narrative itself omits the indispensable features of messenger activity and presents instead the activities which one associates with Yahweh or the other gods of the ancient near east’ (S. A. Meier, “Angel,” in DDD, 88 [art. =81-90]; cf. idem, The Messenger in the Ancient Semitic World [HSM 45; Atlanta” Scholars, 1988]).”

12 In light of the above conclusions of scholars like Irvin, Meier and Juncker, it is interesting to observe the words of German Biblical scholar Johann David Michaelis, a justly esteemed teacher of Hebrew and other Semitic languages in his day, who wrote the following over a century before their findings: “… the inquiry may perhaps arise whether I now believe, as I did twenty years ago, when I wrote my annotations on the Book of Exodus, that the Angel of the Lord, who calls himself to Moses, Jehovah the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, and who brought Israel out of Egypt, was the Second Person in the Godhead. My answer is, I can scarcely conceive how the matter can be explained otherwise, unless by assuming that the phrase Angel of Jehovah is equivalent to a manifestation [or appearance] of Jehovah; but such an assumption has not yet been established by philological evidence. See my Suppl. ad Lexica Hebr. p. 1255.” (As cited in John Pye Smith, D.D., F.R.S., The Scripture Testimony to the Messiah: An Inquiry With a View to a Satisfactory Determination of the Doctrine Taught in the Holy Scriptures Concerning the Person of Christ [Edinburgh: William Oliphant and Company, 1859], Vol. 1, p. 299, fn222.) (Bold mine)

13 John M. Baze, Jr., “The Angel of the Lord in the Old Testament – Part I”, Conservative Theological Journal 3 (Dec., 1997), p. 272: “This construct relationship would substantiate that the only possible literal translation of ma’lak YHWH is ‘the Angel of the Lord’ while eliminating the indefinite translation, ‘an angel of the Lord.’” For further discussion of this, see: here.

14 Gerhardus Vos, Ph.D., D.D., was Professor Emeritus of Biblical Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary. In addition to his other academic accomplishments, Vos held a doctorate in Arabic studies from Strassburg University. His dissertation advisor was the well known Theodor Noldeke.

15 Vos, Biblical Theology: Old and New Testaments (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1948), p. 86

16 “It is clear that God is promising to lead Israel and to go with him; the angel of Exodus 32:34 is called in 33:14f. God’s ‘presence,’ lit. His face. The two terms are combined in Isaiah 63:9 as ‘the angel of His presence,’ i.e., the angel who not only stands in God’s presence but in whom God is seen.” Merrill C. Tenny, Gen. Ed., Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, Vol. 5, Q-Z (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Regency Reference Library, 1976). Entry: theophany.

17 Hengstenberg, ibid., vol. 1, p. 125

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