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MESSENGER (מַלְאָכְ, H4855, messenger, angel; ἄγγελος, G34, commonly angel in the NT; ἀπόστολος, G693, apostle). A bearer of news, as to Job of the Sabean raid (1:14) or to David of Absalom’s rebellion (2 Sam 15:13).

A bringer of requests, as from Moses to the king of Edom (Num 20:14) or to Sihon (Num 21:21; Deut 2:26) to go through their country, or from David whose men asked toll from Nabal for protection (1 Sam 25:14).

The messengers might be spies, as in Jericho (Josh 6:17, 25; cf. 2:1; James 2:25), or they might summon, as Michaiah to the kings (1 Kings 22:13; 2 Chron 18:12), or men of war from several tribes to help Gideon (Judg 6:35).

Messengers also might be deputies, as from Elisha to Naaman (2 Kings 5:10) or from Ahab to kill Elisha (6:32).

They might even be envoys, as from David to announce to the men of Jabesh-Gilead his kingship (2 Sam 2:5), or to threaten Eiljah (1 Kings 19:2), or to Tiglath-pileser to ask help of the Assyrian monarch (2 Kings 16:7) or to So of Egypt from Hoshea (2 Kings 17:4). Such envoys were important (cf. Nah 2:13), and a good one was refreshing (Prov 25:13; cf. 13:17).

A messenger of God might be a teaching priest (Mal 2:7). He is synonymous with a prophet in the summary of the divine appeal (2 Chron 6:15, 16), as was John the Baptist (Mal 3:1 quoted in Matt 11:10), though Christ is the messenger of the covenant (Mal 3:1). See Apostle.

In the NT, a messenger might be an appointee of the churches, as in the collection for the Jerusalem saints (2 Cor 8:23) or a church gift to the apostle (Phil 4:18).

Rarely is messenger used metaphorically: “A king’s wrath is a messenger of death” (Prov 16:14), and Paul’s ailment was a “messenger of Satan” (2 Cor 12:7).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)