Q: I have a question about the belief some have that each Christian has a personal guardian angel that watches over and protects us through life. Is this belief true?
A. The Bible doesn’t say for sure that there is a single personal angel assigned to each believer. It would be interesting to know how this concept developed over the centuries. Thomas Aquinas was an influential Catholic priest and philosopher in medieval times who taught this belief, and the belief is indeed often associated with Roman Catholicism. His thinking, which may have largely come from a theologian named Honorius of Autun, gave the idea that everyone received his or her angel guardian at conception “even before the graces of baptism!” Aquinas also maintained that a person’s angel was not someone else’s before birth, though possibly the angel would be reassigned if its first human was condemned to Hell. He believed, too, that the guardian angel would be with the assigned person in Heaven for eternity but that the angel would leave a person who went to Hell and that, instead, the person would receive a demon that “will torment you forever.” Aquinas also said that every angel has a name and that there is an angel for everyone because there are more angels than human beings.
Aside from speculations such as these, proponents of the view cite what they consider a couple of supportive Scripture passages. One is Matthew 18:10, which reads, “Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven.” Several observations weaken the argument, however. First, the angels are in Heaven with God. Second, the context refers to children, so if there is such a thing as a guardian angel, the reality might be limited to them. Third, the passage conveys the idea that angels are there in general, not specifically assigned to each individual.
Another passage is Acts 12:3–19, the account of an angel rescuing Peter from prison. Some take this to mean that the angel was Peter’s personal guardian angel. However, this does not have to be the case.
If believers do not have a personal guardian angel, we certainly do not need to despair. The Bible makes it clear in many places that numerous angels are ready to protect and aid Christians in many ways. Their work on behalf of believers is generally unseen, nevertheless real. We can take comfort in such passages as Psalm 91:11: “For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.” This verse does not mean that the believer will never experience trouble, but it does show that God will, through His angels, keep believers from anything that is not His will. Believers would not last long in this world of sin without divine protection.
Do you have feedback or a Bible question to submit? Send your Bible questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or mail to Norman A. Olson in care of the Baptist Bulletin, 1300 N. Meacham Rd., Schaumburg, IL 60173-4806.