Spurgeon’s Angelology: A Speculative Thought

Christians should have a healthy fascination with angels. These disembodied, spiritual beings are remarkable. They have extraordinary power and amazing intelligence. They are so radiant with the glory of God that godly men foolishly feel the need to bow down and worship them (Rev. 22:8-9). They appear all throughout the Bible, especially at major redemptive events. You will find them in the Garden of Eden, with the Patriarchs, with Moses, Joshua, and David, at Mount Sinai, all throughout the earthly ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ, in the Acts of the Apostles, and at the consummation of all things.

Spurgeon Speculated

However, within the Bible, we are not told all that we would like to know about angels. This has caused many people, even faithful students of the Bible, to speculate. And as I have read through some of Spurgeon’s sermons, it has become clear that Spurgeon was not immune to such speculation. My aim in this blog is to inform you of a particular speculative belief Spurgeon held regarding the ministry of angels. By the end of this blog, I think you will find Spurgeon’s thought fascinating and speculative, but not absurd and preposterous.

Angels Guard God’s Elect

In agreement with the Bible, Spurgeon believes that angels are “ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation” (Heb. 1:14). Angels rejoice over sinners that repent (Luke 15:7, 10). They “love us and bear us up in their hands lest we dash our feet against the stones.”[1] Spurgeon teaches that every Christian has a guardian angel “who flies about him, and holds the shield of God over his brow, keeps his foot lest he should dash it against a stone, guards him, controls him, manages him, injects thoughts into his mind, restrains his evil desires, and is the minister and servant of the Holy Ghost to keep him from sin, and lead him to righteousness.”[2] (Yes, there is some speculation in this quote as well, but our purpose is to talk about something else.)

Believers do not merely have a guardian angel, though. Spurgeon maintains that Christians have a company of angels always at their side. Indeed, if the Lord enabled us to peer into the invisible, spiritual realm where angels exist, we would see glorious cherubim walking before us.[3] From the time of our birth to the time of our death, God commissions his angels to serve and protect us.

This, however, leaves us with a question: How do angels serve us after we die? What do angels do when our spirits depart from our bodies? Sure, angels play an instrumental role at the second coming when they will separate the righteous from the unrighteous (Mt. 13:49). But what do angels do while we are absent from our bodies and spiritually present with the Lord? Do angels cease serving us until the resurrection of the just? Though most of us have not considered these questions, Spurgeon certainly did. And because Spurgeon gave thought to these questions, it led him to speculate.

Spurgeon’s Speculation: Angels Guard the Bones of the Saints

There is an ambiguous verse in the book of Jude that says, “But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you’” (Jude 9). Spurgeon is not sure what this verse ultimately means. He does, however, notice the obvious; that the archangel Michael contended with the devil over the dead body of Moses. From this, he speculates that angels watch over the dead bodies of all the saints:

Now, this refers to the great doctrine of angels watching over the bones of the saints. Certainly, it tells us that the body of Moses was watched over by a great archangel; the devil thought to disturb that body, but Michael contended with him about it. . . From this we learn that an angel watches over every tomb.[4]

 . . . if believers die as poor as Lazarus, and as sick and as despised as he, angels shall convey their souls into the bosom of their Lord, and their bodies, too, shall be watched by guardian spirits, as surely as Michael kept the body of Moses and contended for it with the foe. Angels are both the servitors of living saints and the custodians of their dust.[5]

God has set his angels to watch over them, as he set Michael to watch over the body of Moses. . .[6]

Why Did Spurgeon Believe This?

I do not know all that went through Spurgeon’s mind as he thought through this, but from what I do know, it seems like the importance of the physical body inclined him to embrace the idea that angels guard the bones of God’s elect:

Now would there be a contention about that body if it had been of no value? Would Michael contend for that which was only to be the food of worms? Would he wrestle with the enemy for that which was to be scattered to the four winds of heaven, never to be united again into a new and goodlier fabric? No; assuredly not.[7]

There are cherubs with outstretched wings over the head of the grave-stones of all the righteous. . . in some nook o’ergrown by nettles, there an angel standeth night and day to watch each bone and guard each atom, that at the resurrection those bodies, with more glory than they had on earth, may start up to dwell for ever with the Lord.[8]

God has set his angels to watch over them, as he set Michael to watch over the body of Moses. . .Remember, then, and doubt not that the very body in which you sinned shall be the very body in which you shall suffer in hell; and the body in which you believe in Christ, and in which you yield yourselves to God, shall be the very body in which you shall walk the golden streets, and in which you shall praise the name of God for ever and ever.[9]

Unlike many Christians today, Spurgeon has a healthy view of the human body. He is fully aware that, even after death, God is not done with our bodies. When Christians are spiritually present with the Lord, God is not done redeeming them. “When our Lord Jesus died he did not redeem one half of man,” Spurgeon says, “but the whole man, and he means not to leave any part of the purchased possession in the enemy’s hands.”[10] In other words, Christ did not merely purchase the redemption of our spirits, he purchased the redemption of both our spirits and our bodies. Christ did not rise out of the grave so that our physical bodies would remain in their graves. No. He rose out the grave to guarantee that our physical bodies will one day rise as well. God fully intends to finish our salvation process by reuniting our spirits with glorious resurrection bodies. It seems like these—the value of human body, God’s intention to raise it from the dead, and the full redemption of man—are the impetus behind Spurgeon’s belief that angels are guardians and protectors of our bones.

Speculative but Not Preposterous

I mentioned at the beginning of this blog that you would find Spurgeon’s thought fascinating and speculative, but not absurd and preposterous. As for what has been said so far, you probably only think Spurgeon’s thought—angels watching over the bones of the saints—is fascinating and speculative. So let me try to convince you that this is not as absurd as it seems.

First, if the consummation of our redemption is the resurrection of our bodies, then even after we die, we are still not done being saved. Even though we will be spiritually present with the Lord of glory, we will still be waiting for the culmination of our salvation—the moment where our spirits are reunited with imperishable resurrection bodies that are raised up in glory, honor, and power. Therefore, even after we die, we are waiting for another phase of our redemption, a phase of redemption that is very much tied to a physical body on this earth were Satan and his demons continue to prowl around.

Second, until Satan and his demons are finally “thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur” where “they will be tormented day and night forever and ever,” they remain actively opposed to all that God is doing (Rev. 20:10). This is especially true when it comes to all that God is doing in the lives of His people. So, if God the Father has ordained that the consummation of our redemption is the resurrection of our bodies rather than our physical deaths, what leads us to believe that Satan and his minions will cease actively opposing us after we die? The devil, our accuser, may still believe that he can make accusations against us. He may argue that our physical bodies are his rightful possession because we’ve sinned in a myriad of ways. In other words, since God is not done saving us until the day He resurrects our physical bodies from the dead, Satan and his subordinates may see each day as a legitimate opportunity to try and thwart God’s ultimate plan and purpose for our physical bodies.

Third, it is evident from the Bible that angels are “ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation” (Hebrews 1:14). As I have already mentioned, we ultimately come into full possession of our salvation inheritance on the day the Lord Jesus Christ resurrects our physical bodies from the grave. Why should it be considered implausible that God would assign angelic beings to guard our dead, physical bodies until Christ returns to give us our full inheritance?

And finally, you have the account from Jude: “But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you’” (Jude 9). This verse is difficult to understand, but Spurgeon’s observation is legitimate; the devil certainly takes an interest in the dead body of Moses and disputes with the archangel Michael about it. This is either a one-off event where an angelic being guards the dead body of one of God’s servants, or it is an event in redemptive history that gives us an idea of angelic activity at all our graves.

I do not think any of these reasons provide an airtight argument for angels watching over the bones of the saints. I just think these reasons make Spurgeon’s speculation a little more reasonable and plausible. To put it another way, I do not think Spurgeon is completely bonkers.

What Do I Think?

I have no idea. I love Spurgeon’s emphasis on the ministry of angels, the importance of our physical bodies, and Christ’s intent to redeem the whole man. Nevertheless, I need Spurgeon to give me more Bible verses. As a rule of thumb, I think it is wise to memorize two of the best Bible verses that substantiate each biblical doctrine you affirm. When it comes to angels watching over the bones of the saints, it seems like Spurgeon only had one ambiguous verse. It will take more than that to convince me. Let me reiterate, though, I do not think Spurgeon’s speculative thought is preposterous. He may be right.


[1] C.H. Spurgeon, “Another and a Nobler Exhibition,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, vol. 8 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1862), 263.

[2] C.H. Spurgeon, “God’s Providence,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, vol. 54 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1908), 495-496.

[3] C.H. Spurgeon, “The Kingly Priesthood of the Saints,” in The New Park Street Sermons, vol. 1 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1855), 72-73.

[4] C. H. Spurgeon, “The Resurrection of the Dead,” in The New Park Street Pulpit Sermons, vol. 2 (London: Passmore & Albaster, 1856), 100.

[5] C. H. Spurgeon, “The Lord is Risen Indeed,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, vol. 19 ((London: Passmore & Albaster, 1873), 207.

[6] C. H. Spurgeon, “Resurgam,” in The New Park Street Pulpit Sermons, vol. 6 (London: Passmore & Albaster, 1860), 159-160.

[7] C. H. Spurgeon, “The Resurrection of the Dead,” in The New Park Street Pulpit Sermons, vol. 2 (London: Passmore & Albaster, 1856), 100.

[8] Ibid.

[9] C. H. Spurgeon, “Resurgam,” in The New Park Street Pulpit Sermons, vol. 6 (London: Passmore & Albaster, 1860), 159-160.

[10] C. H. Spurgeon, “The Believer in the Body and out of the Body,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, vol. 22 (London, Passmore & Alabaster, 1876), 392.

One thought on “Spurgeon’s Angelology: A Speculative Thought

  1. C.H. May be right! Since there are “many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands,” Rev. 5:11

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