An angel of Jehovah who speaks for Jehovah is often referred to as Jehovah. Many who believe the trinitarian philosophy have claimed that this is two different persons of the trinity: the Father and his Son. It is true that certain scriptures seem to imply that Jehovah was speaking directly to humans, but a comparison of scriptures shows that Jehovah was actually speaking through or by means of his angel(s). — Exodus 3:2-4 [see Acts 7:30,35; Galatians 3:19]; Genesis 16:7-11,13; 22:1,11,12,15-18.
We have to assume something in reference to the scriptures that speak of the “angel of Jehovah”, for the Bible gives no direct answer to this, except the statements in Acts 7:30,35 and Galatians 3:19. Trinitarians assume that Jehovah was an angel and yet that the angel was the angel — messenger “of” Jehovah, sent by Jehovah. Therefore they view the appearances of the angel of Jehovah as so-called theophanies. They seem to see no inconsistency in this whatsoever. Indeed, their reasoning is that Jehovah is the angel sent by Jehovah, claiming that Jehovah as the Son was sent by Jehovah as the Father. Yet the trinitarians seem to pride themselves that they are seeing things “spiritually” in this apparent contradiction.
There are trinitarians that claim that there is only one angel of Jehovah, whom they claim is the Son of God. We do not actually know that there is only one angel of Jehovah, as both the Hebrew and the Greek are indefinite, so that it could be rendered “an angel of Jehovah”. In Luke 1:11,19,26 an angel of Jehovah is identified as Gabriel. If there is only one “angel of Jehovah”, then the angel is thus identified as Gabriel, not Jesus.
As far as Jesus in the Old Testament, it very well could have been that the same chain of communication was employed in the Old Testament days as was employed in Revelation: From Jehovah to the Logos to the angel of Jehovah. (Revelation 1:1; Genesis 16:7-11; 22:11; 31:11; Exodus 3:2-5; 23:20-23; Judges 2:1-4; 6:11,12; 13:3) We can read that Jesus was there with his God and Father before the world of mankind was made, and that it was through the pre-human Jesus, spoken of as the Logos, that the world of mankind was made. — John 1:1,3,10; 17:5.
Although we do leave open the possibility that Jesus could have made appearances in the OT as an angel of Jehovah, the only angel actually identified by name as an angel of Jehovah is Gabriel. (Luke 1:11,19) Nevertheless, we are not given any hint in the scriptures that any of the scriptures that refer an “angel of Jehovah” has any reference to Jesus in his pre-human existence, although many Bible Students have stated that this angel was Jesus in his pre-human existence. Nevertheless, even if this angel was the prehuman Jesus, it does not follow that this means that Jesus is a supposed person of a triune God.
We have mentioned Galatians 3:19. In this scripture the apostle Paul speaks of “angels” [plural] used in the setting up the law. “Why, then, the law? on account of the transgressions it was added, till the seed might come to which the promise hath been made, having been set in order through messengers [angels] in the hand of a mediator.” (New American Standard) The word translated “ordain” (Strong’s 1299) in the KJV here means: “to arrange, appoint, ordain, prescribe, give order.” The mediator referred to is Moses, who thus received the law from God through the angels, who set these laws in order to Moses so that he could write them down.
We conclude that there were “angels” that spoke for and represented the Word of Jehovah, and thus quoted Jehovah in the first person as they spoke the words of Jehovah. Likewise, they were on occasion responded to by the term “Jehovah”, since Jehovah was speaking through them.
Another point is that many trinitarians will deny that Jesus was an angel before coming to the earth (in opposing the idea that Jesus is Michael the archangel), yet paradoxically want the angel of Jehovah spoken of here to be the prehuman Jesus. Nevertheless, there are some trinitarians who do believe that Jesus is the Michael the archangel, although these claim that Michael was uncreated.
Jesus never made any claims to be Jehovah. He claimed Jehovah as his God and Father, the one who sent him, anointed him, and gave him his authority. The holy spirit reveals through the scriptures that Jehovah (Yahweh) is the only true God, the God and Father of the Lord Jesus. Jehovah (Yahweh) is the God and Father of the Lord Jesus. Jesus has one who is the Supreme Being over him; Jesus is not his Supreme Being whom he worships, prays to, and who sent him, and whose will he carried out in willful obedience. — Deuteronomy 18:15-19; Matthew 4:4 (Deuteronomy 8:3; Luke 4:4); Matthew 4:7 (Deuteronomy 6:16); Matthew 4:10 (Exodus 20:3-5; 34:14; Deuteronomy 6:13,14; 10:20; Luke 4:8); Matthew 22:29-40; Matthew 26:42; Matthew 27:46; Mark 10:6 (Genesis 1:27; Genesis 2:7,20-23); Mark 14:36; 15:34; Luke 22:42; John 4:3; 5:30; 6:38; 17:1,3; 20:17; Romans 15:6; 2 Corinthians 1:3; 11:31; Ephesians 1:3,17; Hebrews 1:9; 10:7; 1 Peter 1:3; Revelation 2:7; 3:2,12.
The holy spirit reveals through the scriptures that Jesus was sent by Jehovah, speaks for Jehovah, represents Jehovah. Jesus is not Jehovah whom he represents and speaks for. — Deuteronomy 18:15-19; Matthew 23:39; Mark 11:9,10; Luke 13:35; John 3:2,17,32-35; 4:34; 5:19,30,36,43; 6:57; 7:16,28; 8:26,28,38; 10:25; 12:49,50; 14:10; 15:15; 17:8,26; 20:17; Acts 2:22,34-36; Romans 15:6; 2 Corinthians 1:3; 8:6; 11:31; Colossians 1:3,15; 2:9-12; Hebrews 1:1-3; Revelation 1:1.
With the above in mind, let us examine the scriptures where it is claimed that Jesus appeared as as the angel of Jehovah, and as supposedly as “Jehovah”, in the Old Testament.
7 The angel of Yahweh found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur. 8 He said, “Hagar, Sarai’s handmaid, where did you come from? Where are you going?” She said, “I am fleeing from the face of my mistress Sarai.” 9 The angel of Yahweh said to her, “Return to your mistress, and submit yourself under her hands.” 10 The angel of Yahweh said to her, “I will greatly multiply your seed, that they will not be numbered for multitude.” 11 The angel of Yahweh said to her, “Behold, you are with child, and will bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, because Yahweh has heard your affliction. 12 He will be like a wild donkey among men. His hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him. He will live opposite all of his brothers.” 13 She called the name of Yahweh who spoke to her, “You are a God who sees,” for she said, “Have I even stayed alive after seeing him?” 14 Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi. Behold, it is between Kadesh and Bered.
The first time that the expression, “angel of Jehovah”, appears in the Bible is in Genesis 16:7. Indeed, it is the first mention of an “angel” at all in the Bible. The angel speaks to Hagar, who was fleeing from the harsh treatment of Sarai, Abraham’s wife. (Genesis 16:6) It is claimed that in these verses, Hagar calls the “angel of Jehovah” by the name “Jehovah”, and that therefore the “angel of Jehovah” is the same being as Jehovah. (Genesis 16:13) At most this would only indicate this and nothing more, since there is nothing here that links this “angel of Jehovah” to a supposed second person of the trinity.
Without interjecting trinitarian philosophy, however, one would conclude that the “angel of Jehovah” is not Jehovah of whom the angel is. In other words, the expression itself tells us that the “angel” or “messenger of Jehovah” is not Jehovah, for Jehovah is the one that sent the messenger, and that thus the messenger speaks the words of Jehovah. Thus logically, we should conclude that the author of Genesis 16:13 actually refers to Jehovah, who was the one who spoke by means of his angel, and not to the angel, the messenger, himself, who was sent by Jehovah. (A similar example is where angels are referred to as men.) Additionally, the author could have been expressing the matter as it appeared to Hagar, who might have thought that the angel of Jehovah was Jehovah himself.
We know that Hagar did not actually see Jehovah himself, although she evidently thought she had seen Jehovah. No human can see Jehovah and yet live. The World English Bible translation, and some others, makes it appear that Hagar thought she had actually seen Jehovah himself, and have made it appear that Hagar was glad that she was still alive, even after having seeing God Almighty. The King James Verion translates the related words like this: “Thou God seest (Strong’s #7210, yar] me: for she said, Have I also here looked [Strong’s #7200, har] after him that seeth [Strong’s #7210] me?” This could be read as an acknowledgement by Hagar that although Jehovah had looked after her, and had seen her plight and also seen the future of her descendants, that she had failed in looking after Jehovah. “She rebukes her own dullness and acknowledges God’s graces, who was present with her everywhere.”*
Beza, Theodore. “Commentary on Genesis 16”. “The 1599 Geneva Study Bible”.
Genesis 18:1,22; 19:1,17,22,23 are some scriptures that are often presented to supposedly show that the three angels who visited Abraham were in fact the three persons of the alleged trinity of persons in one God. Of course, not one of these scriptures ever speak of these three angels, also referred to as “men”, as three persons of Jehovah, thus such a thought has to be read into what is said. We have discussed these scriptures more fully in the section entitled, “Abraham and the Three Angels”, and so will not go into more detail in this study.
Genesis 21:17 And God heard the voice of the lad. And the Angel of God called to Hagar from the heavens, and said to her, What [aileth] thee, Hagar? Fear not; for God hath heard the voice of the lad there, where he is.
Genesis 21:18 Arise, take the lad, and hold him in thy hand; for I will make of him a great nation.
Genesis 21:19 And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went and filled the flask with water, and gave the lad drink.
Genesis 21:20 And God was with the lad, and he grew; and he dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer. — Darby Translation.
Here many trinitarians call upon the spirit of human imagination so as to assume that the angel (messenger) of God is God Himself; they would further imagine and assume that the angel is their alleged second person of God, and that “God” in the expression “angel of God” is their alleged person of God. Thus, by reason of their imagination, they would assume that Jesus is the angel of God, and that Jesus is also God. While we highly doubt that the angel of God is Jesus, even if it was, all the rest of the assumptions would not follow.
We should note that we believe that the most direct way to view this is that in Genesis 21:17, when the angel speaks to Hagar, he first speaks his own words, but in Genesis 22:18, he related the words of God of whom he is a messenger. An angel of God often relays the words of God in the first person; the fact that an angel of God does this does not mean that the angel is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, nor does it give any reason to imagine and assume any of these angels are persons of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Genesis 22:11 The angel of Yahweh called to him out of the sky, and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” He said, “Here I am.”
Genesis 22:12 He said, “Don’t lay your hand on the boy, neither do anything to him. For now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.”
Genesis 22:13 Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and saw that behind him was a ram caught in the thicket by his horns. Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering instead of his son.
Genesis 22:14 Abraham called the name of that place Yahweh-jireh. As it is said to this day, “In Yahweh’s mountain it will be provided.”
Some have claimed that since Abraham called the place “Jehovah-jireh” [Jehovah provides], and since it was allegedly the angel that actually provided that ram, that this means that Abraham was actually attributing the name “Jehovah” to the angel of Jehovah, and further that this angel of Jehovah was actually a person of Jehovah, that is, the Lord Jesus in his prehuman existence. This really reads a lot into the verse that just isn’t there. Whether Jehovah directly provided the ram, or whether Jehovah used the angel to provide the ram, this still does not mean that the angel [messenger] of Jehovah was actually Jehovah, as Jehovah often takes the credit for the work done by those whom he sends. (Exodus 3:10,12; 12:17; 18:10; Numbers 16:28; Judges 2:6,18; 3:9,10; 6:34; 11:29; 13:24,25; 14:6,19; 15:14,18; 16:20,28-30, 2 Kings 4:27; Isaiah 43:11, 45:1-6; etc.) As stated earlier in this section, an angel of Jehovah in the Old Testament could have been Jesus, but more than likely it was Gabriel, even as in Luke 1:11,19.
Another claim some make concerning these verses is that Abraham offered the ram up to the angel as a burnt offering, thus proving that the angel of Jehovah was actually Jehovah himself, or as trinitarians claim, a “person” of Jehovah, that is Jesus in his prehuman existence. Again, nothing is said about the ram being offered to the angel, although, acting as Jehovah’s representative, it would have been proper for the angel to receive the offering on behalf of Jehovah. This still would not make the angel of Jehovah into Jehovah himself.
15 The angel of Yahweh called to Abraham a second time out of the sky, 16 and said, “I have sworn by myself, says Yahweh, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 that in blessing I will bless you, and in multiplying I will multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens, and as the sand which is on the seashore. Your seed will possess the gate of his enemies. 18 In your seed will all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.”
Here the angel of Yahweh quotes Yahweh, thus this should show that the angel of Yahweh is not Yahweh, and with injecting trinitarian thought into what is said, this would be logical conclusion.
Another episode that many refer to is in Genesis 31:11,13; 32:1,24,28,30. It is claimed that the angel with whom Jacob wrestled was in reality Jesus, and in turn, it is claimed from this that Jesus is God Almighty. At most one could read into the verses that the angel is God, or a god. There are no scriptures that link the angel with Jesus, although it is possible that it could have been.
Some point to Numbers 12:8, which reads: “with him will I speak mouth to mouth, even manifestly, and not in dark speeches; and the form of Yahweh shall he see: why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant, against Moses?” It is claimed that this is proof positive that the “angel of Jehovah” is Jehovah. We need to point out that this “proof positive” is based upon the assumption that the “angel of Jehovah” is actually Jesus. Also it based on the assumption that “face to face” is to be taken literally, and Moses actually looked upon the face of Jehovah, the Almighty Most Powerful Supreme Being of the Universe. We find this idea to be absurd, especially in view of the fact that Jehovah directly told Moses: “You cannot see my face, for man may not see me and live.” — Exodus 33:20
However, we can let scripture interpret scripture here and come to a conclusion. Let us look at Exodus 33:11: “Yahweh spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.” Here we learn what this term “face to face” is meant to convey: “as a man speaks to his friend.” Matthew Henry* states concerning Exodus 33:20: “God talked with Moses (v. 9), spoke to him face to face, as a man speaks to his friend (v. 11), which intimates that God revealed himself to Moses, not only with greater clearness and evidence of divine light than to any other of the prophets, but also with greater expressions of particular kindness and grace. He spoke, not as a prince to a subject, but as a man to his friend, whom he loves, and with whom he takes sweet counsel.”
*Henry, Matthew. “Commentary on Exodus 33”.
“Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible”.
Additionally, we can see that this is also confirmed by the statement in Geneva Study Bible notes for Exodus 33:11. There we find:
|33:11 And the LORD spake unto Mosesd face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend. And he turned again into the camp: but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the tabernacle.|
(d) Most clearly and familiarly of all others, (Numbers 12:7,8; Deuteronomy 34:10)
Thus we find nothing in Numbers 12:8 that would show that Jesus is Jehovah.
It is claimed by some that to call the angel of Jehovah by the name “Jehovah”, and to bow down to this angel as though he was Jehovah, is a “clear” violation of the second commandment. If bowing down to angel is to be considered to be a clear violation of the second commandment, then we must assume that many who bowed downed to kings, elders, judges, etc., all through the Old Testatment were breaking the second commandment. Of course, this is ridiculous. (See our document: The Worship Due to Jesus) It is true that if one should actually give to the angel the exclusive worship that only belongs to the Most High, that this would be setting such an one up in the station of Jehovah himself, and thus would be a violation of the second commandment.
What we never find any of the scriptures related to any “angel of Jehovah”, or anywhere else in the Bible, is that thought that Jesus is Jehovah, or that Jehovah is more than one person. Such ideas have to be imagined beyond what is actually written, and assumptions have to be formulated, added to, and read into, the scriptures so as to make the scriptures conform to what is being imagined.
Related RL Studies
Genesis 19:24 – Jehovah Rained Fire From Jehovah
Genesis 48:16 – The Angel Who Redeemed Jacob
Genesis 19:24 – Yahweh Rained Fire From Yahweh – Jesus and His God
John 1:1-3 – The Logos was Theos
Jacob’s Prevailing Prayer
The Tetragrammaton in Genesis
Isaiah 63:9,10 – The Messenger of His Presence
Zechariah 3:2 – Does Yahweh Ask Yahweh to Rebuke Satan?