Does Hebrews 1:14 refer to the ministry of angels to us or to those who will be saved in the Tribulation?
“Those about to become heirs of salvation.” We find “salvation” a number of times in Hebrews, but notice that in two of these, “salvation” is used in a future sense as something that is anticipated and yet to be received, but also true of those who are saved presently. In this passage, the writer is indicating that those to whom angels presently minister will inherit salvation. In Hebrews 9:28, we read of Christ, Who shall appear “the second time without sin unto salvation,” which clearly refers to our longed-for deliverance. In both cases, the reference is to the believers in this present dispensation who are presently enjoying salvation from their sins, its condemnation and power. But they will enjoy salvation in its eschatological sense, the fulness of salvation, when they will be saved from the presence of sin. The apostle Paul also speaks of salvation as something presently enjoyed, but also as something to be attained and yet received (i.e., in Rom. 5:9, 10; 13:11, 1Thes 5:9.) Peter uses the word in a similar sense in 1 Peter 1:5, as does John in Revelation 12:10. Note also that “shall be heirs” or better, “shall inherit” is not in the future tense, but is in the present active, so that it is not specifically referring to a future event, but to what is enjoyed presently, then fully.
Some look at angelic ministry as a service that only pertained to Israel in the Old Testament, or to those in the Great Tribulation period, and which is not needed now, in view of the present work of our exalted High Priest, Who ministers for us at God’s right hand. However, there are many references to their ministry to Christians, such as that of an angel to Peter in prison (Acts 12:7, lit: an “angel of the Lord”) who came to bring about his release. Again, in Acts 8:26, it was “an angel” (Darby and other translations, no article) that directed Philip to the eunuch. It was an angel of God who spoke to Paul on the storm-tossed ship in Acts 27:23 to bring him encouragement. One can hardly dispute the present ministry of angels to believers, and Hebrews 1:14 is emphasizing that they are “deacons” ministering to those who will inherit salvation.
That ministry may actually begin prior to salvation, if we recognize their involvement to direct and work in one’s life under God’s direction. It was an angel of God in Acts 10 who told Cornelius to send for Peter from Joppa. We cannot limit their ministry, for they serve as deacons to fulfill a work as God directs.
There is no need to apply this passage to those in the Tribulation. However, those in that period will also be objects of their ministry, and how much they will need it during that time of extreme persecution and suffering! Angels do not participate in salvation, but believers in any dispensation are being served by these faithful messengers of God’s bidding.