According to popular culture, the defining characteristic of angels are wings. Without wings how would we distinguish an angel from a human? But does the Bible portray angels with wings?
Cherubim and Seraphim
The primary biblical support for angelic wings comes from creatures called cherubim and seraphim. Cherubs aren’t chubby babies with wings, instead they are “living creatures” with both animal and human features (Ezek. 1 & 10). They served as guardians blocking Adam and Eve’s return to the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:24). And the top of the ark of the covenant featured two golden cherubim facing each other with their wings outstreched (Ex. 37:7-9). Seraphim are only mentioned once in the Bible (Is. 6). And from that passage we learn that seraphim have six wings and declare God’s praises.
By categorizing angels with cherubim and seraphim many Bible interpreters conclude that angels also have wings. The Bible, however, doesn’t explicitly place angels in the same category with cherubim and seraphim.
Where are the Wings?
So here’s my argument for wingless angels:
- The Bible doesn’t depict or clearly state that angels have wings.*
- In the Bible, angels usually appear as men and men don’t have wings.
- While cherubim and seraphim are described as having wings, the Bible doesn’t categorize them as angels.
- Therefore, biblical angels don’t have wings.
*Some may take exception to statement #1 by invoking Dan. 9:21 and Rev. 14:6. In both places, angels fly. These verses, however, don’t state whether the flying angels have wings. And again, in many other places angels are described with human-like (wingless) characteristics.