Some early Christians believed some pretty weird things.
The First Epistle of Clement gives us an example. It was written around the same time as Revelation and was widely received in the early church, even being included in some early Bibles (Codex Alexandrius) and listed as a book of the Bible in an early canon list (Canon 85, in the Apostolic Canons).
In this epistle the author articulates that he believes the magical Phoenix to be a real bird.
“Let us consider that wonderful sign which takes place in Eastern lands, that is, in Arabia and the countries round about. There is a certain bird which is called a phoenix. This is the only one of its kind, and lives five hundred years. And when the time of its dissolution draws near that it must die, it builds itself a nest of frankincense, and myrrh, and other spices, into which, when the time is fulfilled, it enters and dies. But as the flesh decays a certain kind of worm is produced, which, being nourished by the juices of the dead bird, brings forth feathers. Then, when it has acquired strength, it takes up that nest in which are the bones of its parent” (1)
One example of how superstitious previous generations were can be seen by the reasons for which they killed people.
Historians estimate that between the 14th and 17th centuries 50,000 to 600,000 Europeans were killed because of accusations of witchcraft. (In contrast, the death toll for the 9/11 bombings, which caused a whole nation to awaken for war, was under 3,000). (1, 2)
Often these “witches” were accused merely because they were strange people, had heretical views, or unusual birthmarks and then eagerly burned/drowned by the local Christian community.
Some of the African converts to Christianity, whom you may see on television during a large evangelistic crusade go back to their local towns and practice very dangerous version of Christianity.
According to numerous human rights agencies, there have been tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of children who were abused, tortured, or killed, by a strange kind of Pentecostal/Charismatic “Christians” for the accusations of witchcraft.
For example, “the officials in one northern Angolan town identified 432 street children who had been abandoned or abused after being called witches. A report last year by the government’s National Institute for the Child and the United Nations Children’s Fund described the number of children said to be witches as “massive.”(1, 2, 3, 4, 5
The perpetrators of this abuse, who consider themselves Christians, pastors, prophets often mix in Old Testament theology, which commands the murder of witches (Exodus 22:18), with local African superstition. The moral of the story is that certain kinds of theology can be very dangerous.
As an illustration of the potent superstitious thinking prevalent for most of human history, consider that just a century or two ago, many people held a genuine belief in fairies. To put it more correctly, nasty little fairies who could attack your home or kill your cattle.
In fact, as many as 95% of people in Scotland believed in fairies even up to the 19th century! (According to an article in The Scotsman by Dr Lizanne Henderson, a lecturer of history at the University of Glasgow)
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the author who invented the Sherlock Holmes stories once wrote an article about fairies, in which he expressed sincere belief in them, and for evidence used the attached photo of the “Cottingley Fairies.” (The series of photos had been faked, but kept circulating as evidence of fairies for quite some time.)
Even C.S. Lewis, the famed Christian apologist once wrote about hearing of a cottage that was feared because it was purportedly possessed by fairies.
Why do angels have swords, which are ancient human weapons, designed for hacking at human flesh?
Consider that the Hebrew Bible was written during the “sword era.” For thousands of years of human history, men fought with blunt clubs and stone axes, then when the Mesopotamian civilizations discovered copper-working, swords were invented, and the Bible was written in that sword culture. Thereafter humans invented various forms of weaponry, and will surely continue to invent more. Yet, none of the weapons before/after the writing of the bible are carried by angels.
Why do spiritual beings need human weapons for cutting physical flesh, if they have immense supernatural powers and can wipe out human armies with a blink?
If it’s all about symbology, would a modern angel carry an assault rifle?