How Do Angels Look Like According To The Bible – ‘Tis the season when winged humanoids land everywhere from shop windows to Christmas tree tops to lingerie runways. But it wasn’t always like that.

Angels, at least the Christian version, have not always been flying people in transparent robes. And their various forms — from disembodied minds to feathered guardians — reflect the twists and turns of thousands of years of religious thought, according to a forthcoming book.

How Do Angels Look Like According To The Bible

How Do Angels Look Like According To The Bible

“There’s a lot of interesting theology about angels, and we’ve kind of lost track of it,” said John Cavadini, head of theology at the University of Notre Dame.

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“We tend to think of angels as things you’d find on a Hallmark card,” Cavadini added. “But many people, especially in antiquity, were very interested in them” – in how they might look, how they might organize themselves, how they might behave.

In the Bible, angels served as God’s messengers – angelos means “messenger” in Greek. In addition, the scriptures leave a lot of room for interpretation.

“There’s not a lot of detail, and that’s what’s fascinating,” said Ellen Muehlberger, a professor of Middle Eastern studies at the University of Michigan.

In the early days of Christianity, some believers considered Jesus Christ himself one of many angels, said Muehlberger, who is working on a book about the changing theology of angels in ancient times.

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“We only know about it thanks to later fourth-century authors who wrote negative descriptions of this belief” to disprove it, she said.

Jesus officially lost his role as an angel when the Roman Emperor Constantine I convened the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. There, the bishops were tasked with transforming the still different and sometimes conflicting conceptions of God, Christ, and Christianity into a single, unified theology.

“The Council of Nicaea defined Christ as fully divine, as of the same substance as God,” Muehlberger said.

How Do Angels Look Like According To The Bible

“Christians who worked to interpret the Council’s decrees over the next few decades took it to mean that Christ was not an angel. Angels were something else entirely.”

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In the early centuries of the church, perceptions of angels could be as varied as descriptions of Christ himself—or Judas, for that matter.

The fourth-century Christian monk and ascetic known as Evagrius, for example, developed a theory that explained the human essence in three parts.

“One part is driven by appetite and makes us hungry or sleepy or want to have sex,” Muehlberger explained. “That’s the lowest part.

“Then there’s the rational part,” she said. “And that is the part, according to Evagrius, which is most similar to God and the angels.”

What Biblical Angels Actually Look Like

Evagrius “thought that something like anger is like a demon that has come and attacked you. And if you cannot resist these attacks yourself, a perfectly reasonable angel standing by you can help you.”

In early Christian monasteries, for example, many ascetics assumed that really good students would get some kind of divine guide or coach to help them.

“Those monks said, Hey, not everyone has a guardian angel — that’s a sign of moral success,” Muehlberger said, citing monastic letters from the period explaining the need for monastics to nurture their own angels.

How Do Angels Look Like According To The Bible

In Egypt, some bishops suggested that some monks living in the desert – who renounced the pleasures of the body and family – could themselves be angels on Earth.

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The Egyptian monks immediately rejected this, saying in the Muehlbergers’ words, “We act like animals, not angels.”

In the end, this populist attitude won out: I’m not an angel, and neither are you, but they’re watching over us all.

Just as believers began to vaguely agree on what angels are, scholars began to debate how heavenly messengers are organized.

The Bible sheds little light on angelic society, but writers have been happy to fill in the blanks, including an unknown author of a book around A.D. 500 On the heavenly hierarchy.

So What Do Angels Look Like According To The Bible?

Incorporating some earlier ideas, the book ranks angelic beings in nine ranks. From the lowest to the highest: angels, archangels, principalities, powers, virtues, dominions, thrones, cherubim and seraphim.

“It was not official church teaching,” said Michael Root, a theologian at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

Notre Dame’s Cavadini added, “I think what added to the beauty of the universe was that all these different levels of being were incredibly diverse yet completely interdependent, and that all this multiplicity produced harmony instead of dissidence.”

How Do Angels Look Like According To The Bible

Of course, not all angels are angels, according to some Christian traditions. It is said that Satan himself was once an angel named Lucifer.

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The fact that angels can fall from grace is an important point, Catholic University’s Root said — it implies that they have free will.

“You even had some theologians in the Middle Ages and the early modern period who thought there was a hostile angel, a fallen angel, assigned to each person as well as a guardian angel — although that was never the official opinion,” Root said.

As early as the second and third centuries, Christian scholars such as Origen of Alexandria saw important roles for fallen angels, Notre Dame’s Cavadini said.

“For Origen and many church fathers, the angels participated in governing the universe according to God’s will,” Cavadini said.

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“It also meant that the fallen angels were to participate in the betterment of the universe, and you had to take them very seriously, because they were still participating – but in a negative way.”

Although modern Americans may spend less time thinking about the shapes and ways of angels than the ancients, Americans tend to believe that heavenly messengers are among us, and actively so.

About 55 percent of Americans think they have been protected by their guardian angels at some point in their lives, according to a 2008 Baylor University poll conducted by the Gallup organization.

How Do Angels Look Like According To The Bible

“I looked at more than 1,100 stories that we collected from people about their experiences with their guardian angels,” said Baylor sociologist Carson Mencken.

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“People talk about near misses like car accidents, especially accidents where someone else is killed. Others have been assaulted or survived near-drowning or had combat-related near-death experiences,” Mencken said. (See “Near Death Experiences Explained?”)

“Based on our study, many people who survive those close calls attribute their survival to their guardian angels,” he said.

In most of these cases, he added, angels are not seen, but only felt. And yet, for many Christians, their heavenly guardians are as real as those on their Christmas trees.

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We are a community of Christians who all unite under the same principle, that Jesus is Lord. Among us are pastors, preachers, scientists and everyday Christians.

Please note that we may receive commissions when you click on our links and make a purchase. However, this does not affect our reviews and comparisons. We do our best to keep things fair and balanced, to help you make the best choice for you. Angels, as spiritual beings, can take different forms. As we see in the scriptures, they can sometimes appear as humans. But since the Scriptures also offer some bizarre images for these beings, we cannot know for sure what one looks like.

“Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.”

As I looked at the living creatures, behold, a wheel on the earth beside every living creature with its four faces. The appearance of the wheel i

What Do Biblically Accurate Angels Really Look Like?

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