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Do Angels Have Wings?

It is not uncommon to see pictures of angels in various pieces of artwork, especially in those pertaining to Christian literature. Most of the time, angels are depicted as beings that look like humans, but with wings (for example, cupid’s angel?). Hence, most people have the notion that angels have wings. However, according to the Bible, do angels really have wings?

1. Angels are spirit beings. Do spirits have wings?

"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" (Luke 24:39)

The word “angel” comes from the Greek word ἄγγελος (angelos), which literally means “messenger.” Angels are basically messengers sent by God to deliver messages to His people. According to Hebrews 1:13-14, angels are described as “ministering spirits.” Angels do not originate from the earth, but from Heaven. Since angels are spirit beings, they do not possess physical bodies. Furthermore, they do not share marriage relationships, like humans do (Matthew 22:30).

Since angels do not possess physical bodies, they do not have eyes, noses, and mouths like us. Jesus Himself had told His disciples that “a spirit hath not flesh and bones” (Luke 24:39). Physical objects can be sensed with the 5 senses (see, hear, smell, touch, taste). In contrast, spirits cannot be sensed with the 5 senses. If angels do not have physical bodies, then it is expected that they would not possess wings either.

2. Angels can appear in various forms. Have they appeared with wings before?

"And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments" (Luke 24:4)

Although angels are spirit beings, they can temporarily take on physical appearances. This is obviously for man’s benefit, so that they could see the angel when he was delivering God’s message. For example, an angel (or the Angel?) appeared to Moses in the burning bush (Exodus 3:2). On another occasion, an angel appeared to Balaam while he rode on a donkey. The angel was initially invisible to Balaam’s eye, but became visible later on (Numbers 22:22-31).

However, for the vast majority of the time, angels revealed themselves to man in human form. In fact, the Hebrews writer wrote that, in time past, some had “entertained angels unawares” (Hebrews 13:2). More specifically, Abraham and Lot had both shown hospitality to angels without even realizing it (Genesis 18-19). When the women visited the empty tomb, the angels appeared to them as men in shining garments (Matthew 24:4). When the apostles witnessed Jesus’ ascension, angels appeared to them as men in white apparel (Acts 1:10). In none of these encounters do we read about these angels appearing with wings.

3. Cherubim and Seraphim had wings. Are they angels?

The Bible reveals scant information about Cherubim and Seraphim. The Cherubim first appeared as protectors of the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:22-24). In the tabernacle, the mercy seat was built with two golden Cherubim on each end, both having large wings (Exodus 25:17-22). In Solomon’s temple, there were two large Cherubim built within the Most Holy Place, their wings stretching from wall to wall (1 Kings 6:21-35). In Ezekiel’s vision, the Cherubim had four wings each. The Seraphim appears only in Isaiah’s vision, each possessing six wings (Isaiah 6:1-7).

Despite the limited information, the above Scriptures do reveal that both the Cherubim and Seraphim had wings. This is perhaps the reason why angels are often depicted with wings. However, it should be noted that neither the Cherubim nor the Seraphim are called angels in Scripture. They appear to be heavenly beings like angels, and they are seen worshipping God, as angels do also. However, the function of angels is to deliver messages; that does not appear to be the function of the Cherubim and Seraphim. Hence, we probably should not mix them up.

4. Angels can fly. Does that mean they have wings?

There are just a few passages that depict angels in flight. In the vision presented to John, he saw three angels fly in the midst of heaven (Revelation 14:6-9). When the angel Gabriel appeared to Daniel, he was flying swiftly (Daniel 9:21). Hence, some have inferred that they must have wings.

However, in neither passage do we read about the angels possessing wings, though they could certainly fly. If Jesus could ascend into Heaven without wings (Acts 1:9-11), we can probably safely infer that angels can fly without needing wings too. Since the other passages concerning angels do not depict them having wings, it is therefore more probable that the above angels were flying without wings (pun not intended).


In summary, angels are spirit beings, hence they do not possess physical features. Nevertheless, they have in times past appeared to God’s people in various forms. For the vast majority of these appearances, they have revealed themselves to man in plain human form, perhaps in shining garments, but no wings.


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