What Is the Ministering of Angels?

When John the Baptist appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, he told them that the Aaronic Priesthood held “the keys of the ministering of angels” (Joseph Smith—History 1:69). What does that mean?

In the Book of Mormon, there are many references to the ministering of angels. Nephi and his brother Jacob both tell us that angels ministered to them (2 Nephi 4:24, Jacob 7:5). Amaleki, the last author on the Small Plates of Nephi, urges us to “believe in prophesying, and in revelations, and in the ministering of angels” (Omni 1:25). Years later, another prophet named Nephi had so much faith that “angels did minister unto him daily” (3 Nephi 7:18). On two occasions during the Savior’s visit to the American continent, angels descended from heaven and ministered to the people (3 Nephi 17:24, 3 Nephi 19:14).

Mormon later preaches a sermon in which he explains that God sent angels to teach people about Jesus Christ. The words of those angels sparked faith (Moroni 7:22, 25). Then he emphasized that what was true then is still true today. Miracles have not ceased, and “neither have angels ceased to minister unto the children of men” (Moroni 7:29).

I wrote yesterday that ministering is serving others eagerly and actively. Most frequently in the Book of Mormon, the word “minister” refers specifically to teaching, but it can refer to any kind of service.

President Dallin H. Oaks has clarified that angels can minister to us even if we don’t see them:

The scriptures recite numerous instances where an angel appeared personally…. When I was young, I thought such personal appearances were the only meaning of the ministering of angels….
But the ministering of angels can also be unseen. Angelic messages can be delivered by a voice or merely by thoughts or feelings communicated to the mind (“The Aaronic Priesthood and the Sacrament,” General Conference, October 1998).

And Elder Jeffrey R. Holland has listed some of the ways angels minister to us:

Usually such beings are not seen. Sometimes they are. But seen or unseen they are always near. Sometimes their assignments are very grand and have significance for the whole world. Sometimes the messages are more private. Occasionally the angelic purpose is to warn. But most often it is to comfort, to provide some form of merciful attention, guidance in difficult times (“The Ministry of Angels,” General Conference, October 2008).

Today, I will remember that God continues to send angels to minister to us. Even if we can’t see them, they are nearby, providing guidance, encouragement, and support. I will be grateful for the assistance I receive from these unseen ministers.

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