The movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” is often broadcasted on television and shown in households around the world to celebrate the holiday season. One of the most famous scenes in the movie features little Zuzu Bailey telling George Bailey: “Look, Daddy. Teacher says, every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings”. George Bailey replies, “That’s right, that’s right”. This quote encapsulates and reinforces the common perception that ordinary angels possess wings.
However, the common perception that ordinary angels have wings originated long before “It’s a Wonderful Life” was filmed. Apocalyptic artwork depicted ordinary angels with wings many centuries ago. For instance, this circa 1000 A.D. German art piece depicts seven angels readying to begin blowing the seven trumpets alluded to in the Book of Revelation and an angel readying to pour a censer.
Most people believe that an ordinary angel possess wings, but is this belief biblical? If not, what might be a ramification(s) of such a misconception? I’ll attempt to provide answers/resources to help address these issues in this article.
The Bible records that seraphims and cherubims possess wings.
“(2) Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. (3) And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.” (Isaiah 6:2-3)
“Then did the cherubims lift up their wings, and the wheels beside them; and the glory of the God of Israel was over them above.” (Ezekiel 11:22)
While these two entities are heavenly spiritual beings, they seem to be somewhat distinct from the ordinary angels that we think about (after all, the Bible gives them a name other than “angel”). Genesis 19 implied that the angels who visited Lot resembled ordinary men and made no reference that they possessed the wings that people normally perceive ordinary angels as possessing:
“(1) And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground; (2) And he said, Behold now, my lords, turn in, I pray you, into your servant’s house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet, and ye shall rise up early, and go on your ways. And they said, Nay; but we will abide in the street all night. (3) And he pressed upon them greatly; and they turned in unto him, and entered into his house; and he made them a feast, and did bake unleavened bread, and they did eat. (4) But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter: (5) And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them.” (Genesis 19:1-5)
The popular Christian questions and answers website Got Questions has an article that further examines the issue Link. Their article states that some angels have wings because they assume that seraphims and cherubims are high-level angels. However, they acknowledge that the Bible “rarely describes angels as having wings”. Similarly, another popular Christian questions and answers website, Christian Answers.Net notes in bold that “most references to angels in the Bible say nothing about wings” (the only potential references are again related to seraphims and cherubims): Link
- Whether to accept or deny the possibility that an angel could possess wings probably comes down to whether you believe that cherubims and seraphims are angels. Many writers assume that these spiritual beings are high-level angels while others view them as spiritual beings distinct from angels. Even if one assumes that cherubims and seraphims are high-level angels it is difficult to provide evidence that ordinary angels (like the kind in Genesis 19) possess wings. Personally, I do not believe ordinary angels possess wings due to what seems to be a lack of biblical evidence that angels have wings outside the verses concerning cherubims and seraphims (I am not denying the possibility that cherubims and seraphims could be high-level angels here nor am I saying that they are), but if anyone can show evidence to the contrary feel free to share it.
The misconception that ordinary angels have wings may not seem like something that important until you consider the possibility that fallen angels could appear in the form of an angel with wings to deceive people into believing that they are communicating with a good angel. Is this misconception something that fallen angels would look to exploit for their own advantage?
I believe the answer is “yes” because the use of wings enables a fallen angel to better deceive a person into believing that they are dealing with a heavenly angel. Remember that the Bible says that Satan’s ministers can present themselves to people as ministers of righteousness:
“(13) For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. (14) And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. (15) Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.” (2 Corinthians 11:13-15)
I’ll close this article with a semi-related story about this topic… Many years ago an extremely intelligent orange/brown cat would occasionally sleep in the patio of my parent’s backyard. One day the cat decided to sleep next to some “angel” garden statues. I noticed the cat and quickly took a picture of it sleeping. The photo not only shows the cat sleeping, but the angel statues that my parents own. Unsurprisingly, each angel statue depicts the angel having wings.
A year or two later a large, white Persian cat visited my parents’ backyard to explore. The cat “apparently” did not hold the belief that ordinary angels had wings as it proceeded to knock down and break pieces of the angel statues that my parents owned. My mother complained that the cat was trying to break her angel statues but I personally had no problem with it since I figured at the time that these statues were not depicting biblical angels…
If you would like to learn about the difference between fallen angels and demons, click this link for my article on the topic: The Difference Between Fallen Angels and Demons
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