Popular culture often provides images of angels as people with wings, halos, robes, and harps. They are seen flying to the rescue of humans in crisis and singing praises to God. What does the Bible say about the appearance of angels?
When angels are revealed to humans, their appearances vary. On some occasions, angels appear as normal males in a human body. This occurred with Abraham and Sarah in Genesis 18. Hebrews 13:2 makes reference to entertaining angels without knowing it.
Other angelic appearances reveal a startling being. Angels are found saying, "Do not be afraid," to calm those to whom they appeared (Luke 1:11-13). In Luke 2 the shepherds saw angels singing to announce the birth of Jesus and were afraid. The appearance of angels at the tomb of Jesus caused Roman soldiers to become like dead men (Matthew 28:4).
On some occasions, angels are mentioned as having wings. This is true of the images of the cherub Moses was commanded to have made upon the ark of the covenant (Exodus 25:20) as well as the seraphim in Isaiah 6 and the creatures who appeared to Ezekiel.
One of the most detailed descriptions of what angels look like is given by Daniel in Daniel 10:5-6: "I lifted up my eyes and looked, and behold, a man clothed in linen, with a belt of fine gold from Uphaz around his waist. His body was like beryl, his face like the appearance of lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and the sound of his words like the sound of a multitude."
Joseph, husband of Mary the mother of Jesus, experienced three dreams that included an angel of the Lord who provided important information regarding Jesus, Mary, and their safety as a family. No description is given, but Joseph clearly regarded the visitor as an angel (Matthew 1—2).
In general, however, angels do not have an essential physical form; they are spirits as described in Hebrews 1:14: "Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?" Angels could clearly communicate in the language of those they served as they shared spoken messages in many situations. They even sang in Luke 2:13-14 to the shepherds.
Further, while we are not told exactly when angels were created, it is clear it took place before the creation of the Earth. Job 38:4-7 states their creation was prior to the creation of the Earth. The angels were created by Jesus Christ (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16).
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