The Seraphim: Part 5: Do Angels Have Wings
Do Angels Have Wings?
Some of you may be thinking, “What difference does it make whether or not angels have wings? Why is this important?” My answer to these questions is that (1) Your belief in whether or not they have wings will determine how you understand certain portions of Scripture, and (2) If Jesus himself is the truth (which he is) then it is vital that we know truth in all aspects of our knowledge of God’s Word even something as seemingly unimportant as the question about angels and wings. Aspects of the Bible that we may think are unimportant may turn out to be very important.
Truth builds upon truth and falsity builds upon falsity. In other words, one truth leads to deeper understanding of another truth and they build upon each other to lead us into ever-increasing understandings of the nature of God and his infallible Word. In a similar manner, falsity builds upon falsity such that one lie leads to another lie and eventually can lead one into damnable heresies about God.
Truth is more valuable than gold, silver or precious stones. If we are willing to believe as truth something that has no substantiation in Scripture and which we have not thoroughly researched for ourselves, then we are in danger of being like those who are driven by the winds of every doctrine, double-minded and never coming to the knowledge of the truth.
With this in mind, let’s take a serious look at this question about whether or not angels have wings.
Nowhere in Scripture does it say that angels have wings. We have all seen artistic drawings, figurines and paintings of angels that depict them as having wings, but there are no scriptures to substantiate the supposition that angels actually have wings. The idea that angels have wings is derived from descriptions of the cherubim, seraphim and the four living creatures where they are described as having wings. However, the Bible does not say these beings are angels. People have assumed they were angels because they have wings, but Scripture does not indicate that.
Let’s look at the Hebrew language and see how the words cherubim, seraphim and four living creatures are actually defined:
Cherubim are defined as being “imaginary figures.”
Seraphim are defined as “fiery” or “symbolical creatures.”
The four living creatures are defined as being something “living” and “beasts,” in addition to “creatures,” but their actual definition does not indicate they are some kind of angel. The words living, beasts, and creatures, along with the number four, are all words having to do with earth.
In the light of these definitions, it is quite a stretch of mind to assume they are angels. This belief comes from circular reasoning that is faulty. The reasoning goes something like this: Angels have wings. The cherubim, seraphim and four living creatures have wings; therefore, cherubim, seraphim and the four living creatures are kinds of angels because they have wings. But this is not scripturally accurate. It is only based on the assumption that angels have wings, even though the Bible does not say that angels have wings. However, people believe angels have wings because the cherubim, seraphim and four living creatures have wings, but nowhere does the Scripture say that these beings are angels.
Another factor that causes people to believe these beings are angels is that they are depicted as being close to God in heaven, but scripturally it is redeemed human beings who are closest to God. We are his children, Jesus is our brother, our bridegroom, our friend. We are seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus because God has “raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph 2:6). Jesus Christ, God himself, lives within us in our heart. We have fellowship with him. According to Jesus’ prayer in John 17, we are one with Jesus and the Father.
…that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me (John 17:21).
If we want to take the description of the seraphim literally, then we would also need to take other passages about wings literally, and yet if we did we would have to say that God has wings because the Scripture says in many places that God has wings. However, everyone knows that these descriptions of God are only symbolic. Here are a few other things described as having wings in the Bible:
The wind has wings.
Birds have wings.
Riches have wings.
The women in Zechariah’s vision had wings.
The beasts in Daniel 7 had wings.
The cherubim had wings.
The four living creatures of Ezekiel had wings.
The four beasts (living creatures) in Revelation had wings.
Remember, nowhere in the Bible are the cherubim, the four living creatures, the seraphim or the four beasts said to be angels. People have only assumed so. According to my years of study and writing about these beings, the Holy Spirit has shown me they are all symbolic depictions of the most perfect beings in all of God’s creation in heaven or on earth—human beings in the end times who have come into the fullness of Christ, delivered of their sin nature, living in fully redeemed bodies and performing the same works Jesus did and even the greater works Jesus promised in John:
Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. John 14:12
There is one passage in Daniel that might lead people to believe that angels have wings, and that is because Gabriel, in some translations, is said to have flown to Daniel:
…while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, reached me about the time of the evening offering. (NKJV)
However, there are many other translations that do NOT say Gabriel flew. According to the Gesenius Hebrew Chaldea Lexicon to the Old Testament, the Hebrew word translated “flew” (ya’aph) is more correctly translated “weary.” Of the nine occurrences of ya’aph in the Bible, it is translated “weary” or “faint” every place but here.
In the phrase “flew swiftly,” the word for “swiftly” (ye’aph) occurs nowhere else in the Bible but here. According to Gesenius, it means “weariness, arising from swiftness of course.”
With these definitions from the Hebrew in mind, it can be seen that the following translations of this verse are more accurate than the KJV or NKJV.
As I was praying, Gabriel, whom I had seen in the earlier vision, came swiftly to me at the time of the evening sacrifice. (NLT)
While I was still speaking in prayer, then the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision previously, came to me in my extreme weariness about the time of the evening offering. (NAS)
While I was praying, Gabriel, the man I had seen in the first vision, reached me in my extreme weariness, about the time of the evening offering. (Christian Standard Bible)
While I was praying, Gabriel, the man I had seen in the first vision, came to me in my extreme weariness, about the time of the evening offering. (Holman Christian Standard Bible)
While I was still speaking, Gabriel the man of God whom I had seen in the previous vision, appeared to me about the time of the evening offering. (International Standard Bible)
Yes, while I was still praying, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen previously in a vision, was approaching me in my state of extreme weariness, around the time of the evening offering. (NET Bible)
While I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, came to me in my weariness about the time of the evening sacrifice. (New Heart English Bible)
Regarding Gabriel being an angel, I believe this verse confirms that (1) he is also a man, and (2) he does not have wings because he did not fly and nowhere do the Scriptures say he had wings.
In my next article, I will show more about the seraphim being human beings living on earth and in heaven at the same time in the end times. We will see specifically what their wings reveal about their character and their great ministries.