"Are not all angels spirits in the divine service, sent to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?" (NRSV)
"Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?" (NIV)
"Isn't it obvious that all angels are sent to help out with those lined up to receive salvation?" (The Message)
During a recent study on the book of Hebrews, this verse brought up many questions and sparked curious conversations. Basically, the questions boil down to this: we do not know what angels do.
What do we know: Angels are created being like us, but possibly even more transient in nature. (Psalm 104:4, Hebrews 1:7) They are guardians for us (Ps. 91:11) and they have tasks that come from God and are working on our behalf (Heb. 1:14).
Angels do not achieve salvation or fight the forces that oppose God (that's the work of the Son). Angels are not our Advocate nor do they stir up in us the gift of faith (that's the work of the Holy Spirit). They do not create (the work of the one God through all parts of the Trinity).
Yet, from Hebrews, we do learn that angels are among us- doing God-given tasks for us. (Because we are the ones set to inherit salvation.) Hebrews argues carefully and strenuously against equating angels or their work with the work of God. However, it consoles us with the idea that God's love even sends workers, whose purpose and tasks we do not fully understand, to minister to us.
Sometimes we glimpse them or in hindsight, we think we understand their work, but angels remain part of the mystery of God. However, God's grace is never mysterious and it's evident here by the promise of the working angels.