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According to Emanuel Swedenborg, an 18th century scientist and Christian mystic who claimed to have seen into the spiritual world on a daily basis for the last 27 years of his life, angels are simply good people who have lived in the physical world previously. Angels are not a separate or superior race of beings.
Why then do people see angels with wings? Again looking to the writings of Swedenborg, we find that everything in the natural world corresponds to a spiritual reality. There are "appearances of truth". For example, it appears that the sun rises and sets and that the earth is motionless. This is an appearance of truth as we all know the truth that the earth is in rotation around the sun. In our daily speech we tolerate this appearance but in reality, we know the truth.
Wings, according to Swedenborg correspond to (symbolize) spiritual power, and he cites many Bible passages where this is indeed collaborated. And the light many have seen around angels and that many artists have portrayed as the halo, corresponds to spiritual enlightenment.
And the word angel means messenger. Now, isn't that a right and true definition of an angel? A messenger from God with power and spiritual enlightenment!
Swedenborg wrote a LOT about angels - what they do, where they live and all kinds of things! It is a blessing reading Swedenborg's writings. As he reminds us in his writings, the more we know about the Afterlife, the more that it affects our life here - and dramatically for the better. Knowing that we retain our identity - our uniqueness, our personality throughout eternity helps us to lead a more productive life here. To know that we retain our gender identification - and that there is marriage in Heaven for those who want it. And that free will, the gift from God to people, is also retained in the Afterlife. In short, there is nothing scary or fearful about the Afterlife. It is a continuation of this life - and our choices here do impact us over there.
Many people think that the Bible teaches that angels are a different race than people - but look at these passages: Revelation 22:8,9: "...I [John] fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me. But he said to me, "Do not do it! I am a fellow servant of yours and of your brothers the prophets and all who keep the words of this book; worship God." Another place, where people might get the idea angels are separate and higher than people is this verse (Psalm 8:5) from the King James version that was a mistranslation: "Thou has made him a little lower than the angels." The Hebrew word translated "angels" is Elohim, which means "God." We are all potential angels.
The spiritual world's life is based upon Love - Love to God and Love to our fellow person. If we incorporate these two Loves (the two great commandments as found both in the Old and New Testament), we open ourselves up to receive the blessings of God that He is continually pouring out on us. Yes, there are injustices in this world - but that's NOT because of God - that's because of people acting in selfishness without a thought or care to other individuals. Swedenborg wrote that he saw people of all religions in Heaven - and his writings cross over all religious lines and dogmas.
Jesus said "The kingdom of God is in the midst of you" (Luke 17:21). Each time that we act in Love toward our fellow person, we find ourselves in the kingdom of God. At that very moment, we in the physical world, are actually acting as an angel - for that is what angels do - they act with Love towards all.
Swedenborg's writings about the Afterlife are surprisingly rational, comforting and uplifting. He backs up his assertions with Scriptures - it may be different than we have ever been taught before, but once pointed out, you can clearly see his points. It reminds me of the two on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24-13-32) where the Lord instructs His two disciples - and opens their spiritual eyesight regarding Scripture. Swedenborg also wrote not to believe simply because he wrote these things, but to ponder and think about them. Blind faith, without questioning, is no faith at all. In order for faith to be real, it has to be questioned. According to Swedenborg, God loves our questions - for it shows an open heart and mind that is able to receive His answers. We will never have all the answers - so we must never give up trying to learn. If this type of spiritual growth is interesting to you, I suggest that you visit the Swedenborg Information page and review the links there.
If you would like to know more about angels, I recommend these links:
Angel and background courtesy
Thank you Anna!
Music: Angel Eyes by Jim Brickman