Do Angels Have Wings?

Misunderstandings about angels abound in the world today. Popular entertainment determines what many people think about them, including their appearance. However, the Bible is the sole authority on angels, so it can enable people to separate fact from fiction. One question that many people wonder is whether or not angels have wings.

The Bible teaches that at least two types of angels have wings, the seraphim and the cherubim. Their wings are spiritual in nature. Angels don’t have wings when they assume human form. Also, a few verses describe angels as “flying.” Yet, no verse explicitly states that all angels have wings.

How can people separate fact from fiction when it comes to angels? What’s the difference between the Bible clearly stating a fact and readers who infer that something is true? How many wings do cherubim and seraphim have? What Bible writers describe angels in flight? Please keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and others.

Also, see Do Angels Have Free Will? to learn more.

angels wings
Do Bible readers infer that all angels have wings? See below

The Appearance of Angels: Separating Fact From Fiction

In most artistic depictions of angels, they have wings, from centuries-old paintings of biblical stories to modern-day Christmas decorations depicting chubby, caucasian, “cherub” babies.

Often the wings look like those of a bird. Some images even include feathers, as if God’s spiritual messengers needed to navigate air resistance when traveling or keep warm in cold temperatures or water.

The human imagination mustn’t trump biblical revelation regarding angels or any other topic. Artistic “license” isn’t a positive asset when interpreting Old and New Testament teaching and formulating doctrine. The best approach for Bible readers is to affirm what Scripture says, not guess what it doesn’t.

At least some angels have wings

The Bible never clearly states that all angels have wings. Some readers assume they do because particular angelic creatures have them. Studying angels in Scripture reveals that their appearances can vary.

Some passages mention angels with wings, human-like faces, and human-life hands. One writer reports that their wings (of those with them) make incredible sounds. Others don’t mention their sound at all.

Theologian Millard Erickson explains, “The cherubim and seraphim are represented as winged (Exod. 25:20; Isa. 6:2), as are the symbolic creatures of Ezekiel 1:6 (cf. Rev. 4:8). However, we have no assurance that what is true of cherubim and seraphim is true of angels in general.”

Erickson continues, arguing that the idea that all angels have wings is a deduction. “Since there is no explicit reference indicating that angels as a whole are winged, we must regard this as at best an inference, but not necessary inference, from the biblical passages that describe them as flying.” [1]

What does the Bible say about the wings of cherubim and seraphim? How do the description overlap, and how are they unique? What verses refer to angels flying? Continue reading to learn more.

Also, see Can Babies See Angels? to learn more.

angels in the Bible
How many wings do seraphim and cherubim have? See below

Seraphim and Cherubim Have Wings

The word “angel” often describes all their different types, including seraphim and cherubim. Some theologians speculate that Bible writers use various terms because not all angels had the primary role of being a “messenger,” which is what the word means.

Seraphim have wings

The Bible teaches that angels exist in different classifications that reflect their function and purpose. According to one expert on angels in the Bible, “Seraphim are angelic-type beings who perform a priestly-type service for God.” In this role, they showcase God’s holiness and ethical transcendence. [2]

In the prophet Isaiah’s vision of God, he sees seraphim above the heavenly throne. He writes, “Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew” (ESV). Later in the scene, one of the seraphim “flew” to Isaiah to consecrate him for ministry (Isa. 6:6).

In Isaiah’s description, the function of angels’ wings relates to God’s holiness and their movement. Four of the six wings covered parts of each angel, their faces and feet because God’s holiness was so radiant.

The purpose of the other two wings was for movement. The description doesn’t mean the angels had physical wings but narrates their ability to travel, such as from the altar to Isaiah or heaven to earth.

Cherubim have wings

Cherubim are another classification of angels in the Bible. Some scholars believe they represent the highest rank and order of God’s messengers.

Like seraphim are associated with certain roles in the Bible, cherubim also serve God in unique ways. Cherubim “are proclaimers and protectors of God’s glorious presence, His sovereignty, and His holiness.” [3]

In the prophet Ezekiel’s vision of God’s glory, he saw four creatures with human-like faces, and “each of them had four wings” (Ezek. 1:5, ESV). The cherubim had human hands under their wings.

The angels flew next to each other, with their wings touching for the purpose of flying in unison, following the Spirit of God (Ezek. 1:8-12).

With two wings, they covered themselves, and with the other two, they flew. “And their wings were spread out above. Each creature had two wings, each of which touched the wing of another, while two covered their bodies” (v. 11). Like in Isaiah’s description, this reflects them shielding themselves from the brightness of God’s holiness.

Unlike Isaiah, Ezekiel mentions the incredible sound that the wings made when they were in flight. “And when they went, I heard the sound of their wings like the sound of many waters, like the sound of the Almighty, a sound of tumult like the sound of an army. When they stood still, they let down their wings” Ezek. 1:24).

Moses also describes cherubim covering the Mercy Seat in the tabernacle. “The cherubim shall spread out their wings above, overshadowing the mercy seat with their wings, their faces one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubim be” (Exod. 25:20).

Also, see Are Angels Aliens? to learn more.

angel Gabriel
Did Gabriel fly? See below

Biblical Descriptions of Angels Flying

Two verses, one in the Old Testament and one in the New, describe Gabriel’s movement. Daniel 9:21 reports that he flew to the prophet. “While I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the first, came to me in swift flight at the time of the evening sacrifice” (Dan 9:21, ESV).

On another occasion, Gabriel says he was in the presence of God before he was sent to Zechariah, John the Baptist’s father. “And the angel answered him, ‘I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news'” (Luke 1:19). Some readers infer that Gabriel “flew” to Zechariah as he did to Daniel, but the text doesn’t clearly say that.

In Revelation 14:6, the writer, John, sees angels flying. He reports, “Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people.” The imagery of flying likely conveys the angel taking the gospel around the world to different people.

Also, see Do Jews Believe In Angels? to learn more.

[1] Christian Theology By Millard Erickson. p. 464-465.
[2] Angels: Elect & Evil by C. Fred Dickason. p. 68.
[3] Ibid. p. 66.

Daniel Isaiah Joseph

Daniel's seminary degree is in Exegetical Theology. He was a pastor for 10 years. As a professor, he has taught Bible and theology courses at two Christian universities. Please see his About page for details.

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