Seraphim Angels

The word Seraphim is the plural of the word Seraph. So when anyone speaks of Seraphim they are speaking of more than one Seraph angel.  In Hebrew, the word means “burning one” associating the Seraphim with flames or fire.

Seraphim Angles are mentioned by name only once in the Bible. They appear in a vision of the Prophet Isaiah described in the Book of Isaiah in the Old Testament.  Isaiah Chapter 6 verses 1 through 3 read:  “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were Seraphim, each with six wings, with two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another, holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty, the whole earth is full of his glory”.

Although they are not called Seraphim, the Book of Revelation Chapter Four verses 7 and 8 describe creatures that could only be Seraphim: “The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, and the fourth was like a flying eagle. Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night they never stop saying: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.”

Some biblical scholars think that the angel set to guard the entrance to the Garden of Eden is a Seraph named Uriel, whose name means “Fire of God” and this angel bears a fiery sword (Geneses chapter 3 verse 24).

The great Jewish philosopher Maimonides in his Mishneh Torah describes ten orders or ranks of angels with Seraphim being fifth.    However, according Saint Thomas Aquinas in his The Summa Theologica and in other works such as the Celestial Hierarchy regarding Christian Angelology, Seraphim Angels are at the top of the Angel hierarchy being closest to God Himself.

Although this is the only by name mention in the biblical canon, Seraphim are mentioned several times in the non-Canonical Book of Enoch. The apocryphal Book of Enoch names some Seraphim. Those named include Kemuel, Nathanael and Gabriel.

While almost all angels were created by God directly, at least one Seraph called Metatron was originally a very righteous man named Enoch who was transported to Heaven and made an angel.

Sources:

http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/areopagite_13_heavenly_hierarchy.htm

http://www.pantheon.org/

http://www.gutenberg.org/browse/authors/t#a7489/

http://www.scribd.com/doc/27122484/Moses-Maimonides-Mishneh-Torah-Introduction-and-Book-of-Knowledge

http://www.hiddenbible.com/enoch/online.html

Types of Angels

Some people might be surprised to know that only three kinds of angels are actually mentioned in the Bible. The first kind named is a Cherubim set to guard the Garden of Eden with a flaming sword in Genesis 3:24. The second kind mentioned are the Seraphim described in Isaiah 6:2 and Ezekiel 1:27. The last type of angel named in the Bible is the Archangel mentioned in First Thessalonians 4:16.

In Jewish Angelology as described by Maimonides in his Mishneh Torah there are ten orders of angels.

The first order are the Chayot Ha Kodesh: These are the angels closest to God.

The second rank are the Ophanim: These angels are the never sleeping guards that ward God’s throne and also drive His chariot.

The Third order are the Erelim: Their name means the Valiant Ones

The Forth rank are the Hashmallim: These angels are associated with the color gold.

The fifth order are the Seraphim: According to Isaiah these Angel: “each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.” (Isaiah 6:2) This order’s name means flaming or fiery.

The sixth order are the Malakhim: These are the messengers angels of God.

The seventh rank are the Elohim: Their name means “Godly Beings” and may represent God on earth directly.

The eighth order are the Bene Elohim or the “Sons of the Godly Beings”

The ninth order are the Cherubim: It is a Cherub that guards the Garden of Eden with a flaming sword.

The tenth rank of angels are the Ishim and are the Angels closest to man; their name means “man-like beings”.

The ranks of Angels differ in Christian Angelology from the Jewish rankings. According to The Celestial Hierarchy written by the Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, an anonymous theologian of the late 5th Century AD there are nine ranks or choirs of Angels, divided into three spheres with three ranks in each.

In the First Sphere the first rank are the Seraphim: This is the order closest to God and continual sing the Praises of the Lord. The next rank are the Cherubim: These are the guards of God, protecting his throne and the Garden of Eden. The last rank in the First Sphere are the Thrones: The Thrones are the Christian equivalent of the Jewish Ophanim Angels.

The Second Sphere contains the Dominions, Virtues and Powers. The Dominions job is to control the lower orders of Angels. The Virtues primarily tasked with maintaining cosmic order. The Powers are the Soldier Angels and work closely with the Principalities.

The third Sphere has the Principalities, the Archangels and the Angels. The Principalities main job is to guard people both as groups and individuals. Archangel’s name means “chief Angel” and are primarily concerned with worldly matters. The last rank are the Angels and are the messengers of God and are the ones that humans interact with the most.

Sources:

http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/areopagite_13_heavenly_hierarchy.htm

http://www.gutenberg.org/browse/authors/t#a7489/

http://www.scribd.com/doc/27122484/Moses-Maimonides-Mishneh-Torah-Introduction-and-Book-of-Knowledge

Did Jesus Drink Wine?

There are two times in the Bible when Jesus was involved with either wine or grape juice.

Bear in mind that wine in the ancient world was a very different thing than wine today. Also, remember water was not readily accessible to drink in the desert of ancient Israel. Plus, the water that was on hand was often contaminated with waste and swarming with germs, so often fruit juices and wines were consumed as a safe alternative to drinking the dangerous water. Further, wine could be fermented to a variety of alcohol contents from 3 percent to as high as 20 percent alcohol content. Low alcohol wines were often the everyday drink of the common people and were considered a vital food, since these wines still had the same nutrition as the unfermented fruit juice and could be stored for a long time. Further, high alcohol wines were habitually mixed with water, sometimes as much as a 50/50 blend, to make the water drinkable by killing some of the microorganisms. Also wine was often seen as a medication, such as when Paul advised Timothy to: “Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses” (1Timothy 5 23).

The first occasion was Jesus is said to have dealt with wine was his first miracle at the wedding at Cana. This is where Jesus turned the water into wine. This story is told in the Gospel of John Chapter 2 1:10. The word used in the original Greek is oinos and means specifically wine, in fact, it is an unambiguous term meaning fermented fruit juices and can mean nothing else. Although the story in John does tell us that Jesus turned the water into wine, the story makes no mention of him then drinking any.

Some religious scholars think that the miracle of turning water into wine is a direct challenge by Christians to the very popular pagan cult of Dionysus, the Greek god of wine. In short, the story is saying that the Christian Messiah is just as good as the pagan gods; after all look what he can do with wine.

The second time Jesus had anything to do with either wine or grape juice was recorded in the three synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. The story is told in Matthew Chapter 26, Mark Chapter 14 and Luke Chapter 22, this is the story of the Last Supper, where Jesus instituted Holy Communion. In this story related in the three gospels, Jesus calls the drink: “fruit of the vine” or gennema ampelos, in the Greek. But again Jesus did not drink from the cup; in fact all the Gospels specifically state he wouldn’t drink again until the Kingdom of God had came.

While he might not have consumed any himself, it seems safe to say that Jesus didn’t object to drinking wine. But it is also clear that Jesus, as a devout Jew, would have strenuously objected to drunkenness, such as is mentioned in Proverbs 23:20.

The First Sin Mentioned in the Bible

The first mention of sin, as a word or concept, in the Bible is Genesis 4:6 and 7: “Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast?  If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.”  After this Cain invited his brother Abel into the field and kills him. Which while it might not be the first sin is the first murder.

However, in Paul’s “Letter to the Romans”, Paul expresses a different view of the first sin. Romans Chapter 5 verse 12 states “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.”  This is clearly the start of the doctrine of “original sin”. But all this does is raise two questions: who was “the one man” through which sin entered the world? And what was the sin?

In First Corinthians Paul seems to answer the first question in chapter 15 verse 22: “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.”  But he doesn’t go on to answer the second question.

A look at Genesis will seem to give the obvious answer to this second question:

Genesis 3:14-19 states: The Lord God said to the serpent, Because you have done this, cursed are you among all animals and among all wild creatures; upon your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.” To the woman he said, I will greatly increase your pangs in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” And to the man he said, Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree about which I commanded you, You shall not eat of it, cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

But looking closely never is the word “sin” used in this quote; the word curse is but not sin. But clearly the Genesis writer is saying that Adam and Eve were in the wrong for disobeying God by eating the forbidden fruit and were being punished, but somehow coyly avoids the actual word “sin.”

The Concept of Adiaphora

The word adiaphora (plural: adiaphoron) is from the Greek and means “indifferent.”  Originally developed as a concept by the Cynics and Stotics and means those things that are neither mala inse (eveil in themselves) nor are they buno in se (good in themselves).  In modern Christian theology it has developed into the concept referring to those things in which no binding moral guidance has been given.

However, better or worse choices might still be made in matters that are adisphora. For example, the Apostle Paul said in 1 Cor. 7:35: “I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order. . .” In short, Paul is not issuing a hard and fast moral ruling, but is rather suggesting a better course of action; one that will cause less disruption to the community.

For later Cynics and Stoics, matters of adiaphoron relate more to the base or animal natures of humans and less to human spiritual needs. For example what one eats to stay alive and healthy is generally a matter of spiritual indifference. However, it might be morally a better choice to eat lightly, to not be gluttonous, to not drink too much and to perhaps avoid meat.  For the early Christians, Paul discussed this in Romans 14:2: “One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables.”  The meat eater is not committing a sin, or a decided moral wrong, but rather has made a choice. The choice is neither a right nor wrong one; it is merely one that they have made for themselves and it might not be a good choice for anyone else.

What does the concept of adiaphora mean for such decisions and for the moral world in which these choices are made? It does not mean indifference in the sense that the choices make no difference, but rather that there is no morally absolute principle behind any particular choice.

Without direct moral instruction on any given point, the human must rely on their own spiritual and moral guidance. That is to say, they must depend on their “conscience”, on their own reasoning, knowledge and wisdom. Also they may rely on the generally accepted rules of their community for guidance in such matters as well.

Therefore matters that are adiaphoron are matters that the social contract; the society as a whole must deal with and provide direction and are also matters of personal conscience as well.