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What Do Angels Look Like?

This is a really good question with quite a few answers! It all depends on what you mean by angel!

The Bible describes what some angels look like but certainly not all of them.

Much more detail is given to certain types of angels than others.

In the Bible, angels and angelic/heavenly beings appear to be a-sexual, meaning that they don't belong to either the male or female gender. However, through the site I refer to angels in the masculine as it's easier in English to do so!

Below is a table showing the basic descriptions given of angels in the Bible. It's followed by more detailed descriptions of different angels and angelic beings.

Type / Name Appearance Number Role
'Ordinary' Angels Handsome young men;
NO wings!
Thousands + Messengers,
Jail breakers, rescuers, etc.
Archangel(s) / Michael Handsome young men;
NO wings!
Probably 1 or possibly 7 To protect the Jewish nation;
Herald the 2nd coming
Gabriel Handsome young man;
NO wings!
Only him God's special messenger
'Ones of Love'
'Fiery Ones'
6 wings
2 covering face; 2 covering feet; 2 for flying
More than 1, possibly 4? Being around God's throne to sing His glory
Cherubim 4 wings, covered with eyes all around More than 1; Possibly 4? To guard God's domain
The Four Living Creatures 6 wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings 4 Being around God's throne to sing His glory
The Devil
Unknown Only him  
Fallen Angels/
Evil Spirits/
Unknown Thousands?  

Download a summary of what Angels are all about according to the Bible
(pdf 85kb)

'Ordinary' Angels

I've called these angels 'ordinary', but of course they are far from this! I've used the word ordinary to mean 'other angels in the Bible that aren't specifically named'.

In most angelic appearances in the Bible, no physical description is given, just that an angel appeared or came or that someone 'looked like an angel'. People don't seem to have had any trouble recognising that the visitors they saw were angels, so there must be something very special about them that is unmistakable 1.

1 Jacob also went on his way, and the angels of God met him.
2 When Jacob saw them, he said, "This is the camp of God!" So he named that place Mahanaim [which means two camps].
Genesis 32:1-2

Then the woman went to her husband and told him, "A man of God came to me. He looked like an angel of God, very awesome. I didn't ask him where he came from, and he didn't tell me his name.".
Judges 13:6

Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, "Weren't there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?" They replied, "Certainly, O king."
He said, "Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods."
Daniel 3:24-25

4 On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was standing on the bank of the great river, the Tigris,
5 I looked up and there before me was a man dressed in linen, with a belt of the finest gold around his waist.
6 His body was like chrysolite, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and his voice like the sound of a multitude.
Daniel 10:4-6

Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven. He was robed in a cloud, with a rainbow above his head; his face was like the sun, and his legs were like fiery pillars.
Revelation 10:1

However, most angels that are described in the Bible are normally described as tall young men with shining faces and wearing white simple robes. Also there is no mention of any wings 2.

2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.
3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow.
4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
5 The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.
6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.
7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: 'He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.' Now I have told you."
Matthew 28:2-7

1 When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus' body.
2 Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb
3 and they asked each other, "Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?"
4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away.
5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.
6 "Don't be alarmed," he said. "You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him.
7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter, 'He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.'"
Mark 16:1-7

1 On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb.
2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb,
3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.
4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them.
5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, "Why do you look for the living among the dead?
6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee:
7 'The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.'"
8 Then they remembered his words.
Luke 24:1-8

These descriptions all come from the time when Jesus was raised from the dead. If you'd like to know more about event, please go the 'He's Alive!' page on whyeaster?com, a sister site to whyangels?com.

This description also seems to fit what we know about the two angels that are specifically named in the Bible: Michael and Gabriel.

It might be that we're not told that much about what angels look like as we might be so much in awe that we would start to worship them, something which we should not do 3.

They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator--who is forever praised.
Romans 1:25

And we could also be tricked into worshipping the Devil (Satan) and his angels as they can make themselves look wonderful 4.

12 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: (Talking of the Devil when God originally made him and before he rebelled and was thrown into Hell) "'You were the model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.
13 You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you: ruby, topaz and emerald, chrysolite, onyx and jasper, sapphire, turquoise and beryl. Your settings and mountings were made of gold; on the day you were created they were prepared.
Ezekiel 28:12-13

13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ.
14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.
15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.
2 Corinthians 11:13-15

In none of these quotes are angels described as having wings! Although certain types of angelic beings do have wings (the Seraphim, Cherubim and the Four Creatures, see below for more information), 'Ordinary Angels' are never described 'with wings' in the Bible. The idea that all angels have wings might well have come from legends and folklore in the middle east, where many of the religions (ancient and modern) have spirits and winged creatures.

In fact, once in the Bible, we are told that angels used a stairway (or ladder) to travel between heaven and earth 5.

10 Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Haran.
11 When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep.
12 He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.
13 There above it stood the LORD, and he said: "I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying.
14 Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring.
15 I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you."
Genesis 28:10-15

So all of this suggests that a good description of an 'Ordinary Angel' would be:

A tall young man with a shining/glowing face (and possibly golden hair)] wearing a simple white robe and who doesn't have wings! And it would be something that we certainly wouldn't mistake for anything else.

This description also fits many 'angel sightings' seen all over the world. To find out more about these sighting, please have a look on the Further Reading page, for some good books and sites on the subject.

Other Angels and Angelic/Heavenly Beings

Other types of angels and angelic/heavenly beings are described in the Bible.
These are: