Do Angels Have Wings?

Image courtesy of Michal Marcol /

When you think of angels, it is very likely that the image in your mind is similar to the picture above.  But do angels really have wings?

While several prophetic visions in the Bible describe some heavenly creatures as having wings, any time an angel appears to a human, the angel is not described as having wings.

In the book of Joshua, an angel appears to Joshua just before the battle of Jericho:

"Now it came about when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing opposite him with his sword drawn in his hand, and Joshua went to him and said to him, 'Are you for us or for our adversaries?' He said, 'No; rather I indeed come now as captain of the host of the Lord.'  And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and bowed down, and said to him, 'What has my lord to say to his servant?'  The captain of the Lord's host said to Joshua, 'Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.'  And Joshua did so."   Joshua 5:13-15 (NASB)

It seems to me that if the angel looked how we imagine an angel to look like, Joshua wouldn't have asked him what side he was on.  Rather, he was approached by a stranger, a normal-looking man, and he needed to know if they were coming from Jericho as a spy or to being a sneak attack.

On the other hand, Daniel gave this description of an angel that he saw.

"I lifted my eyes and looked, and behold, there was a certain man dressed in linen, whose waist was girded with a belt of pure gold of Uphaz.  His body also was like beryl, his face had the appearance of lightning, his eyes were like flaming torches, his arms and feet like the gleam of polished bronze, and the sound of his words like the sound of a tumult."  Daniel 10:5-6 (NASB).

This angel certainly looks different from Joshua's angel, but again, we don't have any wings.  This angel is beautifully dressed.  He looks otherworldly, and maybe even dangerous, nothing like the pretty, relatively harmless-looking angels we have in our minds.

Does it really matter what we think angels look like?  Very few people in the Bible had encounters with angels, so it is unlikely we will ever see one this side of heaven.  In spite of that, we should keep in mind that form follows function.  Angels aren't meant to stand around looking peaceful and pretty.  Angels are the messengers and warriors of God.  If we think of angels as soft and gentle, we are missing the mark.  More often, angels are startling and intimidating.  They are good, but they are not soft.

It may be difficult to think of angels as not having wings and looking more like warriors than the sweet, gentle beings we are used to seeing.  These images have been ingrained in us through movies, books, and other aspects of our culture.  I don't think it necessarily hurts if someone has an inaccurate image of an angel in his or her mind, but seeing God's angels as mighty warriors is more encouraging to me than imagining fluffy white wings and a white robe.

What thoughts do you have about what angels look like?  Where do you think those ideas come from?

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2 Responses to Do Angels Have Wings?

  1. Great thoughts Kirra (so good to hear from you again)! I vaguely
    remember that this was going to be a series of posts. Is that true or is
    it my imagination? Either way, this post should help others come to a
    better understanding of angels from a biblical perspective. Thanks again
    for your words and I am happy to be reading your words of wisdom again!


  2. Thanks Donna! This is part of a series. I have one more coming, which is going to be a bit touchier of a subject.

    I'm not sure if the series will continue after that one. There's so much to know about angels, but most of it I don't know. LOL


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