Answering Agency Objections
Answering Agency Objections

Answering Agency Objections

What about Jeramiah 1, Is this not a second divine being?

Some apologists want to read a second divine being into Jeremiah 1. However, when the word of the Lord comes to someone that is simply God sending his message to them or God revealing himself to them. It is the action of God – the LORD (YHWH) giving them this message. The idiom of the word of the LORD coming to someone is easily understood without the necessity of there being any additional divine being. In various the word of the LORD is sent to people.

In some cases the LORD produces a physical manifestation that interacts with people. This is the case in verse 9 the Lord puts out his hand and touches Jeremiah’s mouth. It is also not necessary that for God to manifest in some physical sense, it must be through a second divine being. Some like to presume the “Word of the Lord” is a divine being and that the same being is the one exhibiting a physical  manifestation in verse 9. However  verse 9 simply says the LORD put out his hand and touched my mouth (not the Word or the Word of the LORD). A simple way to take the passage is that God’s message comes to Jeramiah and then God is visibly and physically manifests to Jeramiah so that God touches him. It is straightforward to read this text as involving only one divine person, YHWH himself and that the word of the Lord is not an extra person. Accordingly the passage poses no difficulty from a Unitarian point of view. 

Jeremiah 1:1-14 (ESV), The LORD put out his hand and touched my mouth

1 The words of Jeremiah, the son of Hilkiah, one of the priests who were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, 2 to whom the word of the LORD came in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign. 3 It came also in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, and until the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah, the son of Josiah, king of Judah, until the captivity of Jerusalem in the fifth month.

4 Now the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” 6 Then I said, “Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.” 7 But the LORD said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. 8 Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the LORD.” 9 Then the LORD put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the LORD said to me, “Behold, I have put my words in your mouth. 10 See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.”

11 And the word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Jeremiah, what do you see?” And I said, “I see an almond branch.” 12 Then the LORD said to me, “You have seen well, for I am watching over my word to perform it.” 13 The word of the LORD came to me a second time, saying, “What do you see?” And I said, “I see a boiling pot, facing away from the north.” 14 Then the LORD said to me, “Out of the north disaster shall be let loose upon all the inhabitants of the land.

What about 1 Samuel 3:21, “the LORD revealed himself by the word of the LORD”? 

1 Samuel 3:21 is another passage that is brought up to claim that word of the LORD is a divine being. We should first note in verse 1 that the word of the Lord being rare is associated with there being no frequent vision and that the word of the LORD is not a person but some measure of God’s revelation that can be manifest by words or vision. In this story there is clearly only one divine character.

Trinitarians like to read two persons into verse 21 it says, the Lord revealed himself to Samuel by the word of the Lord. However, this is referring to the operation of God by which a prophet receives a divine revelation and vision. The activities of being a prophet and of receiving revelation from God are often described in idiomatic form as the “word” of God coming to them. 1 Corinthians 12:4-11  affirms this understanding that the word which comes to those ministers of God and that they may receive the “word of wisdom” or the “word of knowledge” which are ministrations of the one God. These diversities of ministrations are through the same Spirit (the one God and Father). 

1 Samuel 3:1-11 (ESV), The word of the LORD was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision

1 Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the LORD in the presence of Eli. And the word of the LORD was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision. 2 At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his own place. 3 The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was. 4 Then the LORD called Samuel, and he said, “Here I am!” 5 and ran to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call; lie down again.” So he went and lay down. 6 And the LORD called again, “Samuel!” and Samuel arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call, my son; lie down again.” 7 Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, and the word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him. 8 And the LORD called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli perceived that the LORD was calling the boy. 9 Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down, and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, LORD, for your servant hears.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. 10 And the LORD came and stood, calling as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant hears.” 11 Then the LORD said to Samuel, “Behold, I am about to do a thing in Israel at which the two ears of everyone who hears it will tingle.

1 Samuel 3:19-21 (ESV), The LORD revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the LORD

19 And Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. 20 And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established as a prophet of the LORD. 21 And the LORD appeared again at Shiloh, for the LORD revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the LORD.

1 Corinthians 12:4-11 (ASV), The word of wisdom; and to another the word of knowledge, according to the same Spirit

4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 And there are diversities of ministrations, and the same Lord. 6 And there are diversities of workings, but the same God, who worketh all things in all. 7 But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit to profit withal. 8 For to one is given through the Spirit the word of wisdom; and to another the word of knowledge, according to the same Spirit: 9 to another faith, in the same Spirit; and to another gifts of healings, in the one Spirit; 10 and to another workings of miracles; and to another prophecy; and to another discernings of spirits: to another divers kinds of tongues; and to another the interpretation of tongues: 11 but all these worketh the one and the same Spirit, dividing to each one severally even as he will.

What about Genesis 48:15-16, “G0d – the angel who has redeemed me from all harm”?

Some also like to claim that Genesis 48:15-16 makes a distinction from God and the angel being two persons yet both God. The passage is addressing God both in ontology identity and in the way he had manifested himself as an angel. God is called a messenger in this context because the Malach (messenger) of God can also just be a manifestation of God (not a separate being). Such a manifestation is visible or detectable thing such as an apparent human or other manifestation such as a burning bush or pillar of fire. God who is normally invisible can reveal himself in a visible way that can be interacted with. A biblical unitarian understands that sometimes an angel of God is a theophany of God rather than a separate person as in this context the angel is indistinguishable from the God of Jacob.

Genesis 48:15-16 (ESV), The God … the God … the angel who has redeemed me from all evil

15 And he blessed Joseph and said, “The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life long to this day, 16 the angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the boys; and in them let my name be carried on, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.”

Genesis 16:7-11 (ESV), And the angel of the LORD said to her… the LORD has listened to your affliction

 7 The angel of the LORD found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. 8 And he said, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” She said, “I am fleeing from my mistress Sarai.” 9 The angel of the LORD said to her, “Return to your mistress and submit to her.” 10 The angel of the LORD also said to her, “I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude.” 11 And the angel of the LORD said to her, “Behold, you are pregnant and shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, because the LORD has listened to your affliction.

What about Genesis 16:7-13?

In Genesis 16:7-13, the angel of the LORD speaks to Hagar as a representative of the LORD (YHWH). There are various clues that the angel of the LORD is speaking for the LORD (YHWH). We shouldn’t infer that just be cause the angle speaks as the LORD and is spoken to as the LORD that the angel is the LORD.

Genesis 16:7-13 (ESV), You are the God of seeing

 7 The angel of the LORD found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. 8 And he said, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” She said, “I am fleeing from my mistress Sarai.” 9 The angel of the LORD said to her, “Return to your mistress and submit to her.” 10 The angel of the LORD also said to her, “I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude.” 11 And the angel of the LORD said to her, “Behold, you are pregnant and shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, because the LORD has listened to your affliction. 12 He shall be a wild donkey of a man, his hand against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen.” 13 So she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.”

“I sill surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude” 

Here the angel of the LORD is speaking on behalf of the LORD (YHWH). Such a promise comes from the LORD but the messenger of the LORD can speak in the first person as if the LORD (YHWH) himself. 

“Because the LORD has listened to your affliction”

Here the angel of the LORD is referring to the LORD. He is not saying because “I” have listened to your affliction but is referring to the “LORD” if the angel of the LORD is himself the LORD he would only need to make reference to himself. 

She called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing” 

The LORD spoke to her through the angel of the LORD. According to the law of agency, the LORD speaks through his representatives and those who are being spoken to regard such an encounter with a messenger of God has being an encounter with God himself. God looked after her and ministered to her through an angel. Hagar gives the attribution to the LORD (not to the angel) when it says “So she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, “You are the God of seeing.” This is not what she called the angel that spoke to her. It is what she called the LORD who spoke to her through the angel. 

What about Exodus 23:20-23?

Some try to argue that because “my name is in him” in reference to the angel of God that this means this angel has the essence or nature of God. However, “name” most properly refers to authority. That is, the angel has the authority of God and may exhibit the powers associated with God while not necessary having the ontology,  essence or nature of God. Yet the agent of God carries the authority of God and is enabled to act, speak and act on behalf of God. Thus Exodus 23:20-23 verse has nothing inconsistent with the concept of agency. Numerous references speak of agents doing  things in the name of the LORD including Levite priests (Deut 18:5-8, Deut 22:5), prophets (Deut 18:22) as well as David (1 Sam 17:44-45, 2 Sam 6:18, Ps 118:10-13). The one who made haven and earth, and our help is in the name of the LORD (Ps 124:8) When it is said, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD!’ (Psalms 118:26-27), such an agent, although himself not the LORD God, is blessed with the authority and favor of God. This is true of Gods servants and especially Christ.

Exodus 23:20-23 (ESV), My name is in him

20 “Behold, I send an angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared. 21 Pay careful attention to him and obey his voice; do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgression, for my name is in him. 22 “But if you carefully obey his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries. 23 “When my angel goes before you and brings you to the Amorites and the Hittites and the Perizzites and the Canaanites, the Hivites and the Jebusites, and I blot them out. 

Deuteronomy 18:5-8 (ESV), Ministers in the name of the LORD (YHWH)

5 For the LORD your God has chosen him out of all your tribes to stand and minister in the name of the LORD, him and his sons for all time. 6 “And if a Levite comes from any of your towns out of all Israel, where he lives—and he may come when he desires—to the place that the LORD will choose, 7 and ministers in the name of the LORD his God, like all his fellow Levites who stand to minister there before the LORD, 8 then he may have equal portions to eat, besides what he receives from the sale of his patrimony.

Deuteronomy 18:22 (ESV), A prophet speaks in the name of the LORD (YHWH)

 22 when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.

Deuteronomy 21:5 (ESV), Your God has chosen them to minister and to bless in the name of the LORD (YHWH)

5 Then the priests, the sons of Levi, shall come forward, for the LORD your God has chosen them to minister to him and to bless in the name of the LORD, and by their word every dispute and every assault shall be settled.

1 Samuel 17:44-45 (ESV), I come to you in the name of the LORD (YHWH) of hosts

44 The Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the field.” 45 Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.

2 Samuel 6:18 (ESV), He blessed the people in the name of the LORD (YHWH)

18 And when David had finished offering the burnt offerings and the peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the LORD of hosts

Psalms 118:10-13 (ESV), In the name of the LORD (YHWH) I cut them off

10 All nations surrounded me; in the name of the LORD I cut them off! 11 They surrounded me, surrounded me on every side; in the name of the LORD I cut them off! 12 They surrounded me like bees; they went out like a fire among thorns; in the name of the LORD I cut them off! 13 I was pushed hard, so that I was falling,
but the LORD helped me.

Psalms 124:8 (ESV), Our help is in the name of the LORD (YHWH)

8 Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth.

Psalms 118:26-27 (ESV), Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD (YHWH)!

26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD! We bless you from the house of the LORD. 27 The LORD is God, and he has made his light to shine upon us. 

Luke 19:38 (ESV), Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord

38 saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

John 12:12-15 (ESV), Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel

12 The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 13 So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” 14 And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written, 15 “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!”

What about Zachariah 3:1-4? Agents of God in the presence of God

Zachariah 3:1-4, is another case of the angel of the LORD being regarded as speaking for the LORD. This is indicated by verse 2, “And the LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you.” Notice it says “the LORD rebuke you” rather than  “I rebuke you”  (speaking in the first person).

However, some claim that this pertains to a heavenly scene and thus the term angel of the LORD would pertain to the LORD himself. This is a simply a fallacious argument. A vision of a scene can be symbolic and doesn’t necessary pertain witnessing a real scene at an actual location. Even if this is a real scene in heaven there is no reason to presume that God would not delegate authority and use agents to speak and act for him.  There are numerous examples of agency within the presence of the LORD (YHWH).

In 1 Kings 22:19-23 a spirit comes before the LORD and volunteers to entice Ahab to his downfall by being a lying spirit in the mouth of his prophets. Yet it says in verse 23, “the LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these your prophets.” The act is attributed to the LORD (YHWH) although it was carried out by an agent of God. The same account is recorded in 2 Chronicles 18:18-21. 

Psalm 103:21,  is in important clue which says “Bless the  LORD, all you his hosts, you who serve him, doing his will.” God has servants  within his proximity. 

Hebrews 12:22-24, describes the scene in the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem in which God and Jesus are listed separately and distinguished wherein Jesus is referred to as “the mediator of a new covenant.” Indeed, Christ has entered into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf (Heb 9:24). There is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus who gave himself as a ransom for all (1 Tim 2:5-6).

Key points in 1 Corinthians 15:27-28 affirm this understanding of the concept of agency through Christ:

  1. In the end he will deliver the kingdom to God the Father.
  2. God has put all things in subjection under his feet.
  3. God, who put all things in subjection under Christ, is the one exception to being subjected to Jesus.
  4.  When all things are subjected to Jesus, than the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him.

Zechariah 3:1-4 (ESV), The high priest standing before the angel of the LORD

1 Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. 2 And the LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, O Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?” 3 Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. 4 And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.”

1 Kings 22:19-23 (ESV), The LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these your prophets

19 And Micaiah said, “Therefore hear the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing beside him on his right hand and on his left; 20 and the LORD said, ‘Who will entice Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?’ And one said one thing, and another said another. 21 Then a spirit came forward and stood before the LORD, saying, ‘I will entice him.’ 22 And the LORD said to him, ‘By what means?’ And he said, ‘I will go out, and will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ And he said, ‘You are to entice him, and you shall succeed; go out and do so.’ 23 Now therefore behold, the LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these your prophets; the LORD has declared disaster for you.”

Psalms 103:20-21 (ESV) Bless the LORD, all his hosts, his ministers, who do his will

20 Bless the LORD, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word21 Bless the LORD, all his hosts, his ministers, who do his will!

Hebrews 12:22-24 (ESV), And to God… and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant

22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23 and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

Hebrews 9:24 (ESV), Christ has entered into the presence of God on our behalf

24 For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.

1 Timothy 2:5-6 (ESV), there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus

5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.

1 Corinthians 15:24-28 (ESV), He is excepted who put all things in subjection under him

24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. 28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.

What about Zachariah 3:4? I have taken your iniquity away from you

Some claim that because the angel of the LORD is saying “I have taken your iniquity away from you” that the angel is the LORD because only the LORD God can forgive sins. However, the angel of the LORD is speaking for the LORD as is evident by  Zec 3:6-9,  which says, “And the angel of the LORD solemnly assured Joshua,  “Thus says the LORD of hosts: If you will walk in my ways and keep my charge, then you shall rule my house and have charge of my courts … declares the LORD of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of this land in a single day.” Clearly the angel of LORD is being distinguished here from the LORD yet is speaking for the LORD. 

The presumption that only God can forgive sins is a fallacy. For example in Isaiah 6:5-7, sins being atoned for and guilt being taken away are a result of the action of a seraphim.

Although the authority to forgive sins may come from God, those who are given the authority or the ability are able to do so. The assessment of the scribes in Mark 2:7  saying “who can forgive sings but God alone.” was incorrect. Jesus corrected them saying, “the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” In doing so he identified himself not as God but the Son of Man. Yet we know that he has been given all authority by God. (Matt 11:27, Luke 10:22, John 3:35, John 13:3). Jesus also suggests that it is an easer thing to say ‘Your sins are forgiven’ than to say , ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’. The authority to give eternal life is the ultimate power that Jesus has been given and we know from John 5:25-26 that this authority was given to him by God because Jesus is the Son of Man (the Messiah). Through one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous (Rom 5:19). 

John 20:21 is key to confirming that being able to forgive sins is a derived authority. The Disciples of Jesus were also  given power to forgive sins when Jesus said, “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you” and “if you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them.”

Zechariah 3:1-9 (ESV), I have taken your iniquity away from you

1 Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. 2 And the LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, O Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?” 3 Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. 4 And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.”  5 And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the LORD was standing by.
6 And the angel of the LORD solemnly assured Joshua, 7Thus says the LORD of hosts: If you will walk in my ways and keep my charge, then you shall rule my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you the right of access among those who are standing here. 8 Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, you and your friends who sit before you, for they are men who are a sign: behold, I will bring my servant the Branch. 9 For behold, on the stone that I have set before Joshua, on a single stone with seven eyes, I will engrave its inscription, declares the LORD of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of this land in a single day.

Isaiah 6:5-7 (ESV), Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for

And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” 6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”

Mark 2:5-11 (ESV), The Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins

5 And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 6 Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, 7 “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8 And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— 11 “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.”

John 5:25-27 (ESV), The Father – has granted the Son also to have life in himself

25 “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27 And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man.

Romans 5:19 (ESV), By the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous

19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.

John 20:21-23 (ESV), If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them

21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

What about Judges 13:21-23? 

Judges 13:21-23 confirms that the angel of the LORD isn’t literally the LORD God. This is because Manona and his wife didn’t die. If it was literally the LORD (YHWH) that they saw then they would have surely died (Ex 33:20), He is the only Sovereign, whom no one has ever seen or can see (1 Tim 6:16). The word for God in Judges 13:21-23 is from the Hebrew elohim which means mighty one and can be also be applied to angels. Although they saw a mighty one (an angel of the LORD) they did not die because they did not see the LORD himself.

Judges 13:21-23 (ESV), We shall surely die for we have seen God

21 The angel of the LORD appeared no more to Manoah and to his wife. Then Manoah knew that he was the angel of the LORD. 22 And Manoah said to his wife, “We shall surely die, for we have seen God.” 23 But his wife said to him, “If the LORD had meant to kill us, he would not have accepted a burnt offering and a grain offering at our hands, or shown us all these things, or now announced to us such things as these.”

Exodus 33:17-20 (ESV), You cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live

17 And the LORD said to Moses, “This very thing that you have spoken I will do, for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.” 18 Moses said, “Please show me your glory.” 19 And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The LORD.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. 20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.

1 Timothy 6:16 (ESV), Whom no one has ever  seen or can see

16 who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.