Wise Men HeaderThe Theories.

By Rev. Phil Greetham. © Copyright 1996. This Version, 2012.

The Angel Theory
The Magi saw a bright light in the sky and they thought it was a star. In fact it was an angel. Later on as they journeyed to Bethlehem from Jerusalem they saw that light again. This time however, the angel moving towards Bethlehem, eventually stopping over the house that Jesus and his family were living. The Angel had appeared to them just as it had when Jesus was born and had guided them to the exact place where the child was.
This has an advantage that it doesn't require astronomical data. The supposed angel could appear and move at any point in the sky. The Nativity account is of course full of angel events. Mary was visited by an angel who told her she was going to have a baby.
Luke 1:28
The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you."(NIV)

An angel instructed Joseph to take Mary as his wife and also explained the origin of the child.
Matthew 1:20
But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream (NIV)

An angel warned him later to flee to Egypt just before Herod sent in his troops to kill the baby boys in Bethlehem.
Matthew 2:13
When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream.(NIV)

Also of course, there is the account of the angel visiting shepherds out in their fields, telling them of Christ's birth.
Luke 2:9
An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.(NIV)

There is a connection between angels and stars in the book of Job.
Job 38:7
while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy? (NIV)

The book of Revelation also shows that stars are symbolic of angels
Revelation 1:20b
The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lamp stands are the seven churches.(NIV)

The word 'Angel' actually means 'messenger' - It is true that in its own way the star in this event is a kind of messenger.
If it was an Angel it is very likely that the Magi, who were interested in stars rather than angels, might have interpreted the appearance of an angel in the sky as the manifestation of a new star.
One problem is that in Matthew's gospel both stars and angels are mentioned, indicating that the star and the angel are considered to be separate phenomena. Star and angels are both mentioned but they are never used interchangeably and they are never paralleled in their function. Angels appear to people in reality and in dreams. The angels warn and instruct people but the appearance of the star is in itself a specific sign regarding the birth of Christ.
As for the poetic link between stars and angels as found in the book of Revelation, this book is very different from Matthew's Gospel in its style. Matthew's Gospel seems to be describing events - not telling a parable or being poetic. Besides the word 'angel' means 'messenger' and it is uncertain in the book of Revelation if at this point 'supernatural' messengers are meant.
All the descriptions of the star relate to 'star motions'; i.e 'its rising'. Therefore if it was an angel the wisemen didn't realize it and neither did Matthew. All this is a compelling argument but only in the sense that it 'could' be true, and it requires little evidence. However, it is bad logic to assume that just because something 'could' be explained in a certain way that it 'is' true.
The Bible does not reveal to us that is was an Angel.
Timing - N/A.
Repeatability - N/A.
Direction - N/A
Theology - No difficulties
Historic/Scientific credibility - N/A
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