White: Human and Angelic Servants

Ellen White describes the service-ministry of Dorcas/Tabitha and of angels in The Acts of the Apostles (chapter 14, “A Seeker for Truth” and chapter 15, “Delivered from Prison,” respectively).

Dorcas or Tabitha

At Joppa, which was near Lydda, there lived a woman named Dorcas, whose good deeds had made her greatly beloved. She was a worthy disciple of Jesus, and her life was filled with acts of kindness. She knew who needed comfortable clothing and who needed sympathy, and she freely ministered to the poor and the sorrowful. Her skillful fingers were more active than her tongue. (p. 131)

Commenting on Dorcas’s death and resurrection, White says:

Dorcas had been of great service to the church, and God saw fit to bring her back from the land of the enemy, that her skill and energy might still be a blessing to others, and also that by this manifestation of His power the cause of Christ might be strengthened. (p. 132)


White’s comments on angels are situated in the context of Peter’s deliverance from prison as described in Acts 12:1-23.

The experience of Philip, directed by an angel from heaven to go to the place where he met one seeking for truth; of Cornelius, visited by an angel with a message from God; of Peter, in prison and condemned to death, led by an angel forth to safety–all show the closeness of the connection between heaven and earth.

To the worker for God the record of these angel visits should bring strength and courage. Today, as verily as in the days of the apostles, heavenly messengers are passing through the length and breadth of the land, seeking to comfort the sorrowing, to protect the impenitent, to win the hearts of men to Christ. We cannot see them personally; nevertheless they are with us, guiding, directing, protecting.

Heaven is brought near to earth by that mystic ladder, the base of which is firmly planted on the earth, while the topmost round reaches the throne of the Infinite. Angels are constantly ascending and descending this ladder of shining brightness, bearing the prayers of the needy and distressed to the Father above, and bringing blessing and hope, courage and help, to the children of men. (pp. 152-153)

It is the work of the angels to come close to the tried, the suffering, the tempted. They labor untiringly in behalf of those for whom Christ died. (pp. 153-154)

We need to understand better than we do the mission of the angels. It would be well to remember that every true child of God has the co-operation of heavenly beings. Invisible armies of light and power attend the meek and lowly ones who believe and claim the promises of God. Cherubim and seraphim, and angels that excel in strength, stand at God’s right hand, “all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation.” Hebrews 1:14. (p. 154)

Reflection Questions

  1. To what degree does my life bless others? In what ways do I minister to “the poor and the sorrowful”?
  2. Am I mindful of the help God sends through the agency of angels? Would I courageously take more initiatives that may seem risky if I fully believed that the Holy Spirit and heavenly angels were at my side to help me?
  3. Why do you think Ellen White said we need to understand the role and ministry of angels better? What would this change?
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