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The Blood of Jesus Shed for Angels?

It might appear self-evident that the Scriptures do not teach that Christ died for angels; after all, Hebrews 2:16 explicitly declares that Jesus took upon Himself flesh and blood so that He might help the “seed of Abraham,” and not angels: “For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham.” But it is possible to look at the subject in another light. Hebrews 2:16 clearly has respect to fallen angels and fallen men. The nuance is significant. The writer does not say that Christ helps men rather than angels. What he does say is that Christ gives aid to the elect of the fallen race of Adam. They, and they alone, are designated the seed of Abraham. It is equally clear that no fallen angel can be considered elect in any soteriological sense. But there is a group of angels called elect in the Scriptures. In 1 Timothy 5:21 the apostle Paul calls the unfallen angels the elect angels: “In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels…”

Men differ from angels in that men are constitutionally a representative race–standing and falling with their federal (representative) head. Angels, by way of contrast, stand and fall on their own. They do not reproduce, and therefore know nothing of a representative head in respect to their original condition. The elect angels were that portion of the angelic host that God chose not to fall. The fact that they did not have a representative head in their original condition does not mean that they do not stand in a position by which a representative figure would secure for them their eternal election. James Henley Thornwell, writing on Christ’s temptation in the wilderness, made the observation that the elect angels did in fact need His representation to secure their own election:

Christ is here to be considered in His public character as the representative of men and unfallen angels. His mission upon earth was to redeem the seed of Abraham and confirm the angels that had kept their first estate. His work was much more extensive than that of Adam. The benefits of Adam’s obedience we have no reason to believe would have transcended his own race; those of Christ’s were to extend to principalities and powers, to angels and archangels, cherubim and seraphim. The great problem was to be solved whether, on the principle of probationary government, an end could be put to sin.1

In similar manner, John Eadie–in his commentary on Colossians 1:20–set forth the following insights to the idea of cosmic reconciliation:

Supposing that by “things in heaven” we understand angels and all other holy intelligences, in what sense can it be said that they need or receive reconciliation?…When they found out the ineffable stores of the Divine benignity towards men–in the mission and death of Jesus, in the untold abundance and fullness of blessings conferred upon him, in a vast salvation secured at a vast expanse, and in a happy alliance concluded between them and the ransomed church–did they not share in the same reconciliation and feel themselves drawn nearer a God of grace, whom they can now love with a higher thrill and praise with a more rapturous hallelujah?

In being re-uinited with man they feel themselves brought closer to God, and though they sing of a salvation which they did not require, still they experience the Savior’s tenderness, and are charmed with the reign of His crowned humanity. The gloom that sin had thrown over them is dispelled; and creation as one united whole rejoices in the presence of God. The one Reconciler is the head of these vast domains, and in Him meet and merge the discordant elements which sin has introduced. The breach is healed. Gabriel embraces Adam, and both enjoy a vicinity to God, which but for the reconciliation of the cross would never have been vouchsafed to either. The humanity of Jesus bringing all creatures around it, unites them to God in a bond which never before existed–a bond which has its origin in the mystery of redemption.2

  1. James Henley Thornwell The Collected Writings of James Henley Thornwell vol. 2 (Richmond: Presbyterian Committee of Publications, 1871) p. 295 2. John Eadie A Commentary on the Greek Text of the Epistle to the Colossians (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1884) p. 73-74

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