Luke 15:10 10
“Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repents.”
The misquote: “The angels rejoice in heaven over one sinner who repents”….Again sadly I have misquoted this verse many times in the past. Just regurgitating what was being spoon fed from the pulpit. It really does get embarrassing after a while when you start to dig a little into what you have been taught, at least it does for me. It’s clear that this verse makes a distinction that “there is joy in the PRESENCE of the angels of God”… it is not the angels who are rejoicing. In context the entire chapter deals with one lost sheep, coin, son that was found, as in repentant and redeemed. Those who are rejoicing are friends, neighbors etc. Verse 7 mentions this rejoicing in heaven also. All the parables used in chapter 15 speak of inviting others to rejoice over that which was lost and then found. The word presence translates “ in the face of (literally or figuratively): – before, in the presence (sight) of, to.” which means the angels are watching the joy but are not participating in it. So what’s the big deal? Other than great annoyance at the continual misquote of this verse, there may actually not be much. However, aren’t all scriptures to be quoted correctly? What do we actual know about angels when it comes to them rejoicing or not over one sinner who repents? We do know that they don’t understand salvation. There is no redemptive plan for them at least in the scriptures. They do however desire to look into it.
1 Peter 1:12
“Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.”
So it’s obvious that angels have emotions, in that they desire to look into the salvation plan but they don’t understand it. So for the fallen angels there is no redemption, no salvation plan, nor for the angels that have not fallen or left their first estate. Now upon doing a little research I have found several Bible translations that actually misquote this verse saying that the angels indeed celebrate and are joyful, which leaves no room for recovering the true meaning of the verse. Now we start to see a more serious side to what appears to be a somewhat harmless misquote.
New Life Version (NLV) Copyright © 1969 by Christian Literature International “ I tell you, it is the same way among the angels of God. If one sinner is sorry for his sins and turns from them, the angels are very happy.”
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE) “In just the same way, I tell you, there will be rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
Names of God Bible (NOG) “So I can guarantee that God’s angels are happy about one person who turns to God and changes the way he thinks and acts.”
The Message (MSG) “Count on it—that’s the kind of party God’s angels throw every time one lost soul turns to God.”
In context, the ones rejoicing is the individual who had lost then found what was lost (God) and the “friends of God.” Who then are the friends of God?
Exodus 11:33 Moses
James 2:23 Isaiah 41:8 Abraham
John 15:13-14 Luke 12:4 Jesus’ Disciples
John 3:29 Friend of the Bridegroom (John the Baptist)
I believe it would be safe to say those rejoicing is God with His saints and we see the Angels gazing upon such a spectacle as something remarkable. It could be argued that as the Angels gaze upon this remarkable sight that they too ‘could’ be rejoicing, however, this is not conclusive. This however is more of a misnomer to say they are.