Wednesday, September 10, 2008
The worship of Angels - Col. 2.18
Colossians 2.18 reads: "Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you." (TNIV).
What is the worship of angels? It could be the worship or veneration of the angels themselves and perhaps indicative of an angel cult in Phrygia. But some (following F.O. Francis) have argued that it is a subjective genitive denoting the angelic worship of heaven that persons attain a vision of through asceticism and fasting and this comports with the emphasis at Qumran on the angelic worship of heaven (e.g. 4Q405). But Clinton Arnold (Syncretism, 91-92) objects that we have no evidence of threskeia used as a subjective genitive in reference to divine beings. It is used with a subj. gen. when people doing the worshipping are named, e.g. the Jews in 4 Macc. 5.7 and Jos. Ant. 12.5.4. Yet the phrase is governed by a single preposition (en) and ‘angels’ is related to both 'worship' and 'humility' which requires a subjective genitive. It is the self-humbling and worship of the angels that is insisted upon. What is more, the perfect form of horao seems to indicate visionary experiences as the context for the discussion. At the same time, Loren Stuckenbruck (Angel Veneration) is probably correct that we do not have to choose absolutely between an objective and subjective meaning. The reason why someone wants to see the angels worship God is because someone believes that there is something very special about the angels themselves!