For he that receives my servants receives me (T&C 82:17). The word “servants” in this context means “angels.” Angel is derived from the Greek word ággelos [ἄγγελος] which means “messenger.” The messenger must bring a message from the Lord. It does not matter if the messenger is mortal.1 The word describes a category of messenger that includes not only pre-mortal and post-mortal spirits, but also living men. When anyone, man or angel, is entrusted with a message from God, the message is God’s. God makes no distinction between the messenger and Himself.2And now I have spoken the words which the Lord God hath commanded me (Mosiah 1:18). The angel added nothing. He hid nothing. He delivered what the Lord told him to deliver. These are not merely the words of an angel. Because the angel certifies they originated from God, they are the words of God (see T&C 54:7).3 Joseph explained that all angels either have or do belong to this earth: But there are no angels who minister to this earth but those who do belong or have belonged to it.4 Their status as angel comes from the fact they have met with God, received their assignment and authority from Him, and deliver only the message He instructs should be delivered. They are in His service, and the message is confined to what He has told them to do.5 Angels minister to mankind and confer power, light, and truth. They prepare one to receive the Lord.6 “Neither have angels ceased to minister unto the children of men. For behold, they are subject unto him, to minister according to the word of his command, shewing themselves unto them of strong faith and a firm mind in every form of godliness. And the office of their ministry is to call men unto repentance, and to fulfill and to do the work of the covenants of the Father which he hath made unto the children of men, to prepare the way among the children of men by declaring the word of Christ unto the chosen vessels of the Lord, that they may bear testimony of him; and by so doing, the Lord God prepareth the way that the residue of men may have faith in Christ, that the holy ghost may have place in their hearts, according to the power thereof; and after this manner bringeth to pass the Father the covenants which he hath made unto the children of men.” (Moroni 7:6; emphasis added) Angels minister to “chosen vessels” or mortal messengers, as the Three Nephites did with Mormon and Moroni (see Mormon 4:2). Then these vessels testify and bear testimony so that the way is prepared that the residue of men may have faith in Christ. These three visited with Mormon, but the people to whom Mormon ministered didn’t see them. They ministered to Moroni, and those to whom Moroni ministered didn’t see them. The chosen vessels also become as ministering angels. Many people have received ministering angels. Men, women, and children have, can, and do receive angelic ministers. Angels minister to those with faith, then they are supposed to preach salvation to others. Appearances of angels, like the post-resurrection ministry of Christ, happen with the faithful. Christ appeared as a resurrected minister only to the faithful in Jerusalem. Likewise, He showed Himself to “the more righteous” who had been spared among the Nephites.7
1 Preserving the Restoration, 161.
2 “Mosiah 3:23,” June 12, 2012, blog post.
3 “Mosiah 3:23,” June 12, 2012, blog post.
4 D&C 130:5. Section 130 of the LDS Doctrine and Covenants first appeared as canon in the 1876 edition prepared by Orson Pratt under the direction of Brigham Young. Its inclusion here is for reference. For original sources see JSP, Journals Vol. 2:323–326, (Dec. 1841 – April 1843), 2 April 1843. Willard Richards didn’t accompany Joseph Smith on his four-day trip to Ramus, IL, and reconstructed the Joseph Smith Journal entry from the Journal of William Clayton. See JSP, Journals Vol. 2:403–405, Appendix 2, 1–4 April 1843. WJS, 169, 267n3; 171, 268n15.
5 Passing the Heavenly Gift, 331n419.
6 “Follow-up Question,” Jan. 3, 2012, blog post.
7 “The Holy Order,” Oct. 29, 2017, 16, paper.