My task in this article is to dispel the common myth that angels have wings and halos. This has come into popular belief through many paintings, drawings and depictions throughout the ages, not to speak of movies and other media.
However, what we need to do is look at the truth in the bible, not modern media.
One popular modern interpretation is shown in the image above, an “angel” not only with wings and glowing light, but as a woman. This is often the case in today’s images.
Angels in the Bible
When we go to the source of spiritual truth, the Word of God, we do read about orders of angelic beings, but not as depicted today. In particular we need to ask, if angels have wings.
We read of beings called seraphs and cherubs (in plural, seraphim and cherubim) as part of the heavenly host. As well as this we read of archangels, as well as angels (which means messengers).
The word ANGEL: The Greek word “angelos” simply means “a messenger” one who does God’s bidding, often on earth. The Hebrew word, mal’ak, means “messenger” from the Hebrew word “to carry”. An ARCH=angel is a HIGH angel, so we have to assume this means a ruler over the messenger angels.
We tend to call all heavenly beings “angels,” but a more accurate description would be “spirit beings.” John in his account in the book of Revelation (5:6-14) referred to what he saw in Heaven as “living creatures”. Heavenly beings include seraphs and cherubs, and these DO have wings.
Angels in Heaven
However, John also saw creatures called angels in Heaven. Did they have wings? How were they dressed? We are not told. In Revelation chapter 5 John said:
“Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they were saying: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”. All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying: “Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!”
“Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all God’s people, on the golden altar in front of the throne. The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of God’s people, went up before God from the angel’s hand.”
So in the heavenly places angels minister to God, and lead worship to God. However, those not seen in a vision are the angel/messengers which can manifest bodily and appear like a man on earth.
These are the ones interacting with people. They come to give a message or prophecy as recorded in the bible, and also to aid in God’s work on earth – sometimes amongst His people.
They do NOT have wings, nor do they appear in the sky or on earth as glowing white beings with flowing robes and wings. They come looking just like people do today, and are therefore overlooked as they do their divine work, which is why the bible says in Hebrews 13:1-2 “some have entertained angels unawares“.
Angels on Earth
When the Apostle Peter was released from his prison cell by an angel, [Acts 12:6-8] we are not told what this angel looked like, but we assume the appearance of two ordinary men walking the streets at night would have been less noticeable than a glowing white-robed figure with huge wings!!
Furthermore, when Rhoda the serving girl saw Peter at the gate, and told the people, they disbelieved her and said “It must be Peter’s angel.” [Acts 12:14-15]. They could not have mistaken Peter for an angel such as is depicted in modern images and videos!
Could it be (possibly from the appearance of angels amongst them, and reported by believers) they KNEW angels on earth appeared as normal-looking men. (Not women)
Helped by an Angel
Online you can read (and even see on Youtube) the help that angels provide. I admit many of these stories and videos are questionable, but some strike me as genuine, such as this story from a page about true encounters:
Pushed to Safety by an Angel
Back in 1980, Deb was a single mother with two infants living in San Bernardino County, California. One night, Deb was driving with her two babies in a car with an unreliable gas gauge.
“Halfway home, the car started to putter,” Deb remembers…, “my car died and there was absolutely nothing around except empty fields and distant lights at a truck stop about a quarter of a mile down the road.
“I put my head on the steering wheel while saying a short and panicky prayer,” she says. “I hadn’t even finished when I heard a few taps on my window.”
When she looked up, she saw a clean-cut young man standing there, who Deb estimated to be about 21 years old. He motioned for her to roll down her window. … He didn’t ask if she needed help. Instead, he told her to put the car in neutral and he would help her over that last, small hill toward a place where she could get gas.
“I thanked him and followed his instructions. The car started moving. I steered it toward the lights of the truck stop and turned around to yell ‘thank you’ again to him,” Deb says. “but the young man was nowhere in sight. This area was completely remote. There was absolutely nowhere he could have gone that quickly, even if there was somewhere to go. I don’t even know where he came from to begin with.”
Deb’s car continued to roll down the hill until it reached the truck stop. She was able to get the gas she needed, and the kids remained sound asleep.
“I’ve always trusted in God to take care of us, but in relating that story many times to my children, who are now 30 and 32, they know for a fact that angels do exist and are sent to us if we just believe.”
My Own Experiences
I want now to share, respectfully and with all praise due to God, at least two instances that I know of where I have personally been helped by an angel, and was permitted by God to realise that fact. (Possibly – like many of us – I have been assisted unawares!).
When I was too young to know better, I accepted an invitation to fly to France to meet a friend there, even though I had no idea about travel and had never flown before. As I walked to the bus station I prayed God would protect me and would send his angels to watch over me.
I managed somehow to catch a bus, a train and then my flight to France, and return to the same airport a week later. Only then – at a small airport near London, hundreds of miles from home – did I wonder how I was going to get home.
To cut the story short, after a lot of wandering around the perimeter and tarmac of the airport, and the sickening realisation I was stuck without a clue as to how to get home, I stood forlorn considering my fate.
At that moment a tall good-looking man dressed as a pilot stood by me and asked what was the problem. I explained. He said, follow me onto this bus. (A small staff mini-bus full of officers and attendants in uniform drew up beside us just then) and the man and I got on, and stood at the front of the little vehicle.
Some of the passengers looked strangely at me, as if to say “what’s she doing on this staff bus?” but nobody challenged me.
We drew up outside an airport building, and the Pilot and I got off the bus. He then said to me, pointing to an open doorway, “Go and speak to the man inside that door and he will give you a ticket to get home.” Without hesitation, I did so – and now it astounds me that I didn’t question the unlikely nature of any of these events.
I told the man inside the doorway I needed to get to my home city. He nodded and handed me a bus ticket. He said, “that’s a ticket to get on the bus to take you to the train station, where you can catch a train home.” He indicated a bus, that was now parked just outside this same building, its door open waiting for passengers.
I walked to the bus, showed my free ticket, and indeed was taken to the correct train station to get the train back to my home city.
I did not question any of these events at the time. A staff bus, a Pilot that I never saw walk away, a free ticket, to a bus standing waiting….. and now I totally believe God sent an angel to help me.
Saved From a Car Accident
Later in life I know an angel helped us. We were driving home one evening after our church fellowship evening, when a car (being chased at speed by a cop car) shot out of a junction right in front of our car.
Miraculously, our car was able to skid to a stop just before there was a major collision, but there was some minor damage to the front of our car. (The speeding car and police did not stop). I just sat there saying, “Jesus! Jesus!” because I was in shock.
A woman who lived in the house where we had stopped came out and asked us inside her house for a cup of tea. We did so, sat down in her kitchen, and she asked us what drink we would like. When we told her she said “What about the other man?”. We said “What other man?” She replied, “The man in the back seat of your car, what would he like to drink?”.
As much as we insisted there were only two of us in the car, she would not take no for an answer, insisting she SAW the other man in the back seat. Finally, she went out to the car, parked on the road outside, to ask this “man” to come in and have a drink. Of course, she could not find him.
For a long while this mystified her, and she kept referring to him. I was in shock so I didn’t think to ask her what he looked like. But later on I knew that what she had seen was an angel, sent to keep us from a life-threatening accident. And now, of course, he was gone.
Other Heavenly Beings
Seraphim (plural); Seraph (singular)
Seraphim are described as having six wings, two covering the face, the other two for his feet, and the last for flight. [Isaiah 6:2] They seem to be mentioned as the highest order of angels alongside the archangels.
The word “seraphim” is the plural form of the Hebrew root word “saraph,” which means, “to burn.”
Ophanim (plural) AKA Thrones
Ophanim are described as arguably the strangest looking angels in Biblical stories. They are of similar hierarchy to the Seraphim, appearing as a series of interlocking golden wheels with eyes covering the exterior of the wheels Ezekiel 1:15–21.
The ophanim (in Hebrew ʿōp̄annīm, “wheels”; singular: ʿōp̄ān, “Ofan”), are also called galgalim (Hebrew: galgallīm, “spheres”, “wheels”, “whirlwinds”), and this refers to the wheels seen in Ezekiel’s vision of the chariot in Ezekiel 1:15–21.
One of the Dead Sea scrolls (4Q405) construes them as angels; late sections of the Book of Enoch (61:10, 71:7) portray them as a class of celestial beings who guard the throne of God and are sometimes known therefore as “thrones”.
Cherubim (plural); Cherub (singular)
Cherubim are on the second highest order of the hierarchy of angels – just below Seraphim. They seem to have very important roles. (Exodus 25:20).
They are described as having two sets of wings, so four in total and four faces in the likeness of men, one of them is an ox, one is a lion, one is an eagle, and finally a man (Ezekiel 10:14).
The “four living creatures” of Revelation 4:6 are similar to those described in Ezekiel, with supplementary information from Isaiah.
John describes them as “Full of eyes before and behind, they are in the midst of the throne, and round about it. One resembles a lion, the other a calf, and the third a man, and the fourth a flying eagle. Each of the creatures has six wings. They have no rest day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come.”
The only Archangel mentioned as such in the bible is Michael the Archangel. Mention of his appearances are vague, but it’s likely he was like most angels, with some semblance of the human form. Michael has been shown to be a warrior against evil. (Revelation 12:7-8, Jude 1:9.)
Were there originally three high angels (arch-angels), three being a divine number? We know of two high angels by name – Michael, who fights against evil, and Gabriel who is a special messenger, although we know so little about them that we can assume they both do more than we see in the bible.
Michael: From the Hebrew name (Mikha’el) meaning “who is like God?“. This is a rhetorical question, implying no person is like God.
In the Book of Daniel he is named as a protector of Israel.
In the Book of Revelation he is portrayed as the leader of heaven’s armies in the war against Satan.
Gabriel: From the Hebrew name (Gavri’el) meaning “God is my strong man“, derived from (gever) meaning “strong man, hero” and (‘el) meaning “God”.
In the Old Testament he is sent to interpret the visions of the prophet Daniel, while in the New Testament he serves as the announcer of the births of John to Zechariah and Jesus to Mary.
But (and we do not know this, but it can be pieced together through various scriptures) that the fallen spiritual power now called Lucifer (light-bringer/false wisdom) was once the third archangel who defected from the purity of heaven, taking “a third of the angels” with him – which would make sense if he was one of three.
Revelation 12:4 says a third of the stars were cast out with him (Satan/Lucifer), then the conclusion is that the stars refer to fallen angels. This however can be disputed.
This conjectured third archangel is then is called Satan, which means adversary:
The Hebrew word satan means “an adversary, one who resists” It is translated as “Satan” eighteen times in the Old Testament, fourteen of those occurrences being in Job 1-2, the others in 1 Chronicles 21:1 and Zechariah 3:1-2.
There is some dispute as to whether it should be taken as a proper name or a title. In Job and Zechariah the definite article precedes the noun (lit., “the satan” or “the accuser”). In the New Testament he is called “the accuser of the brethren” [Revelation 12:10]
These titles however do not give us his name, the name by which he was known before he fell. If we are to go by his later titles, and consider his role in the Garden of Eden (false wisdom) and his title, Lucifer, referring to a false “light” which can also mean wisdom, we might agree with apocryphal accounts of an archangel called Uriel.
“Uriel is an angel of wisdom. Christian artists have depicted him carrying a book or a papyrus scroll that represents wisdom. Uriel in Hebrew means ‘God is my Light’.” Source: https://yen.com.gh/117240-names-angels-bible.html
The Deception on Purpose
You may wonder why new-agers, spiritually-active people of all types, and the world in general as well as some Christians now see angels as powerful glowing white-robed beings with wings.
The “angels” that are reputed to appear alongside the apostles of the NAR are this type of spirit, obviously NOT a genuine messenger from God, but a deception.
On this page, for example (just chosen at random from many similar ones) we see the whole “glowing light/wings” thing amplified as well as encouraging personal encounters.
Could it not be that Satan is preparing the world to accept these spirit beings as benign, godly, helpful beings who will ultimately appear across the earth to heal, beautify and restore the environment, as well as “activating” spiritual powers in those who submit to their ministry, believing them to be from God?
It benefits only Satan to present such spirit beings to mankind, fooling them to see the movies, images and media of today as being the genuine appearance of heavenly angels.
That is why we need to go right back to the bible to see the truth!!