We have learned that the Abyss is a place of incarceration for both spirits and angels. This place is a subterranean prison which is also named Tartarus and the bottomless pit. So what is the difference between angels and spirits? Most folks think of spirits as invisible, ethereal entities that haunt houses or possess demented humans. But what relation do spirits have with angels? Hebrews 1:13,14
“But to which of the angels said he at any time, sit on my right hand until I make your enemies thy footstool? Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?”
This is referring to what we call guardian angels who minister to those of us who are saved Christians. But it also tells us that angels are spirits. In vs. 7 of this same chapter we read, “Who maketh his angels spirits and his ministers a flame of fire.” Twice in the same chapter we are told that angels are spirits.
Another clear example of this truth is given in the book of Acts chapter 8. This is the record of Philip who was told by and angel to go and speak to a eunuch who was high up in the government of Candace, queen of Ethiopia. After teaching this man the truth regarding the resurrection, the eunuch asks to be baptized and says that he believes that Jesus is the Son of God. Here are a few clips from the story:
26 “And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip saying…”
29 “And the Spirit said unto Philip, go near…”
39“And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip that the eunuch saw him no more…But Philip was found at Azotus.”
It was “the angel of the Lord” who was sent on a special mission to Philip. Immediately afterward the same being is called a spirit – “the spirit said unto Philip,” while in verse 39 the same angelic messenger is called “the spirit of the Lord” (i.e. the spirit sent by the Lord), who finished his mission by catching Philip away to Azotus. Thus we speak of someone being “spirited away.”
This proves that angels are spirits. But what of their appearance? What do they look like? Are they little naked cherubim with bows and arrows? Or glorious beings with long blond hair and huge wings? Well for a start, angel is a misleading word. It comes from the Greek, aggelos and a better translation would be messenger or agent. The same goes for the Hebrew word, malak, which is also translated angel. These beings are often sent to deliver news.
“And it came to pass while he (Zacharias) executed the priest’s office … there appeared unto him a messenger (aggelos) of Yaweh standing at the right side of the altar.
And the messenger said unto him, “I am Gabriel that stands in the presence of Yaweh, and I am sent to speak unto you and to show you these glad things.”
This same Gabriel is the one sent to Daniel some 500 years before this and was the one who dictated the Book of Daniel. Here Daniel relates his meeting with Gabriel;
“Yea, while I was speaking in prayer even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in a vision…touched me about the time of the evening oblation” (Dan 9:21-22).
This informs us that Gabriel is a man. Many times in the new Testament we have these messengers appearing to people and they are always called men. For instance, when the women went to dress the body of Jesus in the tomb, they were met there by two men in shining clothes who asked them, “Why seek ye the living among the dead?” And later on, just as he ascended into Heaven, it says;
“And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, two men stood by them in white apparel…” (Acts 1:10).
There are lots more examples of these men, who are messengers, appearing throughout the New Testament. We are even advised to be gracious to strangers as “some have entertained angels thereby.” In other words, people have met and interacted with men and were unaware that these men were angelic beings.
So these beings who we call angels are both spirit in nature and are like men in appearance.. Nowhere are we told male angels have wings. But their nature is spirit just as out nature is flesh and blood. Because they are spirit, they exist in the plane of the supernatural and can accomplish things that are beyond us as we are mere human and are constrained to the sphere of the natural.
So what we can conclude is that spirits are angels and that they look like men. So when we are told that there are spirits held in gloomy dungeons in Tartarus otherwise known as the Abyss or the bottomless pit, we can say with a surety that these are angels and that they look like men.
And no wonder. For several times in the first chapters of Genesis, speaking of the creation of Adam it says:
“Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. In the image of God, made he man… So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him…” (Genesis 1:27).
At one point Jesus states, “He who has seen me has seen the Father.” In other words, He looks like his Father. Even though God is Spirit, apparently He has an image and it is that of a man. In Revelation it speaks of the Lamb sitting on the right hand of the Throne of God and this throne is surrounded by 24 other thrones occupied by 24 elders. So when it says, “Let us make man in our image,” perhaps these are the personages it is referring to.
I know some will say that God is Spirit, and that he hath no form or comeliness. But we have deduced that angels are spirits and that they look like men and are indeed called men many times. So we can say with a certainty that angels are men. Not human as we are. But men nevertheless but of a spirit nature.
For any who wishes to argue that we humans do not look like our Creator, there are several verses in the New Testament that states that we do. I will present just one here:
“For a man ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God” (1 Corinthians 11:7).
So who are these men that inhabit the bottomless pit? When it prophesies that the “Beast which you saw once was, now is not, and will come up out of the Abyss and go to his destruction,” who is this Beast? When it refers to this being as a beast, I do not believe that this term provides us with a clue to his identity. I reckon “beast” is a figure of speech in the same was as Lamb of God or the Lion of the tribe of Judah are figures referring to the person of Jesus.
He is neither a lamb nor a lion. But these are characteristics of His personality insofar as He is as meek as a lamb but can also be as strong and brave as a lion when the need arises. By the same token, twice in Revelation it speaks of “ the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil and Satan.”
The terms dragon and serpent are figures of speech to describe the arch enemy of God. A serpent is a cunning, sly, often poisonous creature that is as cold as ice that can sneak up on you without a sound and strike with deathly results (have you ever looked into the eyes of a snake?). And a dragon is a fierce monster that devours all that it encounters.
Again these are descriptions of the evil personified in the Devil as opposed to those of the Messiah. So when it talks of the Beast from the Abyss, this word is describing the personality of the being. He is a wild beast.
Revelation 9 provides us with the emergence of this being and gives us another important clue as to his bearing:
“And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth, and to him was given the key to the bottomless pit. And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit.”
We will pick this up in the next segment.
Patrick Heron is bestselling author of Apocalypse Soon and The Nephilim and the Pyramid of the Apocalypse.