Moreover, when people die they don’t ascend as conscious disembodied souls to heaven to join the ranks of God’s spirit messengers. Rather, people who die are unconscious, having no awareness (Ecclesiastes 9:5 Ecclesiastes 9:5For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.
American King James Version×; Ecclesiastes 9:10 Ecclesiastes 9:10Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, where you go.
American King James Version×). The Bible compares death to sleep from which people will later awaken in a future resurrection (Daniel 12:2 Daniel 12:2And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
American King James Version×; 1 Corinthians 15:20 1 Corinthians 15:20But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept.
American King James Version×; 1 Thessalonians 4:14-16 1 Thessalonians 4:14-16 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain to the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
American King James Version×). (To learn more about this, download or request our free study guide What Happens After Death? )
And God created human beings with a higher purpose than that of the angels. People are made in the image and likeness of God, as children are in the image and likeness of their parents (Genesis 1:26 Genesis 1:26And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.
American King James Version×; Genesis 5:1-3 Genesis 5:1-3 1 This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him; 2 Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created. 3 And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, and after his image; and called his name Seth:
American King James Version×). People were thus made to become God’s divine family (see our free study guide Why Were You Born? to learn much more about this amazing destiny).
Regarding Jesus Christ it is stated: “For to which of the angels did He [God] ever say: ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You’?” (Hebrews 1:5 Hebrews 1:5For to which of the angels said he at any time, You are my Son, this day have I begotten you? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?
American King James Version×). And while Jesus was certainly the begotten Son of God in a unique sense, He nevertheless led the way for other human beings to become spiritually begotten sons of God as well—thus “bringing many sons to glory” (Hebrews 2:10 Hebrews 2:10For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
American King James Version×), Himself being “the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:29 Romans 8:29For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
American King James Version×).
Hebrews 2 states that God “has not put the world to come … in subjection to angels” (Hebrews 2:5 Hebrews 2:5For to the angels has he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak.
American King James Version×), but rather that man is to have this responsibility, with Jesus as a forerunner in this (Hebrews 2:6-9 Hebrews 2:6-9 6 But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that you are mindful of him? or the son of man that you visit him? 7 You made him a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor, and did set him over the works of your hands: 8 You have put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him. 9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.
American King James Version×). It’s further pointed out in these verses that man, with Jesus leading the way, was made “a little lower [or for a little while lower] than the angels” to then be crowned with glory and honor. The book of Revelation tells us that the saints, Christ’s followers of this age, will reign with Christ in the coming Kingdom of God as kings and priests (Revelation 2:21 Revelation 2:21And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.
American King James Version×; Revelation 5:10 Revelation 5:10And have made us to our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
American King James Version×; Revelation 20:4 Revelation 20:4And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark on their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
American King James Version×; Revelation 20:6 Revelation 20:6Blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection: on such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
American King James Version×). In 1 Corinthians 6:2-3 1 Corinthians 6:2-3 2 Do you not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? 3 Know you not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?
American King James Version×, the apostle Paul remarkably writes: “Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? … Do you not know that we shall judge angels?”
Yes, human beings who become God’s spiritual children and remain faithful will ultimately be exalted above the angels. In the meantime, we are told of the angels, “Are they not all ministering [serving] spirits sent forth to minister [serve] for those who will inherit salvation?” (Hebrews 1:14 Hebrews 1:14Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?
American King James Version×). We can perhaps think of it like the adult attendants of a royal child who is heir to the throne of a kingdom. These are above the child in many respects as the child is growing up, but one day that child will become the ruler of these attendants. So it is with God’s human children eventually being glorified and then ruling over the angels.
Even now, God has a special relationship with His human children that the angels do not directly share in—as God has given these people His Holy Spirit, His very essence, so that they have become “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4 2 Peter 1:4Whereby are given to us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
American King James Version×). And it is by the Holy Spirit that the deep things of God are revealed (1 Corinthians 2:9-12 1 Corinthians 2:9-12 9 But as it is written, Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him. 10 But God has revealed them to us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knows the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knows no man, but the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
American King James Version×).
Indeed, God has revealed aspects of His divine plan and purpose through His human children that angels had not yet been privy to. As Peter writes of Old Testament prophets under inspiration of the Holy Spirit: “It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel [or good news] to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things” (1 Peter 1:12 1 Peter 1:12To whom it was revealed, that not to themselves, but to us they did minister the things, which are now reported to you by them that have preached the gospel to you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.
American King James Version×, NIV). Thus, angels gain some understanding from what God reveals through His people.
Clearly, God intended human beings to ultimately be much more than angels!