I wanted to know what the Greek term was for Christ in the flesh as “The Angel of the Lord,” in the Old testament.
Some people call a pre-incarnate (pre-flesh) appearance of the Lord a “theophany,” which is “a visible manifestation of God” (Merriam Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary).
These appearances of Christ were not technically “in the flesh,” in the sense of human flesh. Luke 24:36-40 says, “And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for A SPIRIT HATH NOT FLESH AND BONES, AS YE SEE ME HAVE. And when he had thus spoken, he showed them his hands and his feet.” This was an appearance of the resurrected Christ. He was getting across the point to them that He now had a risen glorified body — not a “spirit body.”
Now we know that Jesus is not an angel, but is God. Notice the clear and distinct contrasts between Jesus and the angels in Hebrews 1:1-8. “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; BEING MADE SO MUCH BETTER THAN THE ANGELS, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. FOR UNTO WHICH OF THE ANGELS SAID HE AT ANY TIME, THOU ART MY SON, THIS DAY HAVE I BEGOTTEN THEE? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And LET ALL THE ANGELS OF GOD WORSHIP HIM. And of the angels he saith, WHO MAKETH HIS ANGELS SPIRITS, and his ministers a flame of fire. BUT UNTO THE SON HE SAITH, THY THRONE, O GOD, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.”
The question comes up, “Then why would the pre-incarnate Christ be called ‘The Angel of the Lord’ in the Old Testament?” Angels are “spirit beings.” Hebrews 1:13,14 says, “But to which of the ANGELS said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool? ARE THEY NOT ALL MINISTERING SPIRITS, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” As Jesus said in Luke 24, “a spirit hath not flesh and bones.” Angels are spirit beings, thus, they do not have bodies of flesh and bones like we have (human bodies). Angels appeared many times in the Old Testament, and looked like men, but they did not have actual physical bodies (human bodies of flesh) like us.
Genesis 18:1-8 says, “And THE LORD APPEARED UNTO HIM in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day; And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, THREE MEN STOOD BY HIM: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground, And said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant: Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree: And I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts; after that ye shall pass on: for therefore are ye come to your servant. And they said, So do, as thou hast said. And Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah, and said, Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes upon the hearth. And Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetched a calf tender and good, and gave it unto a young man; and he hasted to dress it. And HE TOOK BUTTER, MILK, AND THE CALF WHICH HE HAD DRESSED, AND SET IT BEFORE THEM; and he stood by them under the tree, AND THEY DID EAT.”
Notice there that the Lord and two angels looked like men to Abraham. Also, the Lord and the two angels ate of the food which Abraham prepared for them to eat. They did not have bodies of flesh and bone (human bodies), but they were able to eat with those bodies (obviously, a spirit can appear in the form of a body which can do many things that human bodies can do, and much more).
An example of the Angel of the Lord is when Abraham took Isaac up to the mountain as he was instructed. Genesis 22:11-18 says, “And THE ANGEL OF THE LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing THOU HAST NOT WITHHELD THY SON, THINE ONLY SON FROM ME. And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son. And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen. And THE ANGEL OF THE LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, And said, BY MYSELF HAVE I SWORN, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.”
The Angel of the Lord in this instance would have been the pre-incarnate Christ. This was no doubt the occasion to which Jesus later referred. John 8:56 says, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.”
Remember, Jesus is not an angel, but is God Almighty. He is referred to in the Old Testament, at times, as “the Angel of the Lord,” only because He was appearing in the form of a “Spirit-body,” like angels appeared. The term “angel” was only referring to His “form of appearance,” not to His Person, being God Almighty.