Friday, February 14, 2014

Do Angels have wings?

Recently I was posed a questions about if angels have wings and what the Bible has to say about it and if they don’t have wings why are they always depicted as having them in art and culture?

So i am going to try and answer from purely a biblical perspective but I also need to contextualize my answer with some outside references such as Thomas Aquinas for additional context.

So the meat of the question is do angels have wing?

The short answer is yes and no.  In scripture there are nine choirs (or levels) of angels mentioned.  The problem is that the Bible itself leaves out detailed descriptions of the angels themselves in many cases. 

 It would be nice if the Bible provided detailed description of all of the characters but we know that the Bible is a book about salvation history rather than a modern day documentary with vivid details for every event.  

 Arguments for wings…

The idea that angels have wings is scriptural

When instructing the construction of the Ark of the covenant God makes explicit reference to Cherubim with wings:

The cherubim shall have their wings spread upward, covering the mercy seat with their wings and facing one another; the faces of the cherubim are to be turned toward the mercy seat.(Ex 25:20)  

As well as in Ezekiel when he encounters Cherubim

The cherubim appeared to have the form of a man's hand under their wings.(Ez 10:8)

Isaiah’s vision of the kingdom includes Seraphim with wings

Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. (Isaiah 6:2)

Thomas Aquinas places Seraphim and Cherubim at the top of the angel hierarchy. 

So we can see evidence in the Bible of certain angels with wings.

Arguments against wings…

the book of Hebrews express that Angels are spiritual beings

Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?(Heb 1:14)

Many of the arguments against wings also come from logical deductions.  The people of Sodom and Gomorrah mistake the angels that come to help Lot for men.(Gn 19:5)  A being with wings would not be mistaken for a man.  

Also recall when Jesus rose from the dead the in the end of Mark a “Entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting at the right, wearing a white robe; and they were amazed.”(Mk 16:5)  Possibly having wings could have caused amazement but there is not elaborations on the description of the young man.  


So according to the Bible some angels have wings and some are not mentioned as such and are confused with men.  Traditionally angels are thought to be spiritual beings that are servants of God and subject to him.  We could go on more about characteristics of Angels but that would be another whole post.   

But one this is clear that they work for God

“But Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing judgment, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.” (Jude 1:9)

And they help mankind and we should pray for their intercession for us to God.

    St. Michael the Archangel,
    defend us in battle.
    Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
    May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
    and do thou,
    O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
    by the power of God,
    thrust into hell Satan,
    and all the evil spirits,
    who prowl about the world
    seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

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