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What Angels Look Like
What do angels look like? A common belief is angels have wings, halos and white robes. Sometimes they are depicted to look like babies.
The Biblical description is more complex and interesting. First we need to realize there are different kinds of angels. Some are vastly different from what we imagine.
The first type is what one could call "regular angels" in that they have no classification or name. They have the appearance of men(Mark 16:5; Luke 24:4) but aren't described as having halos or wings. Their appearance is like lightning(Matt. 28:3) with clothes as white as snow(Matt. 28:3). In another passage their clothes are described as dazzling(Luke 24:4).
Cherubim are powerful types of angels. A dramatic vision of these angels comes from the prophet Ezekiel. Ezekiel describes each Cherub as having 4 faces and 4 wings(Eze. 1:5-6). One of their faces was a human, the second a lion, the third an ox and the fourth an eagle(Eze. 1:10). Their appearance was like burning coals of fire(Eze. 1:13). Cherubim are also described as having human hands(Eze. 10:8).
How big are Cherubim? The only clue is from the description of Cherubim statues in King Solomon's temple(1 Kings 6:23-28). In the temple, 2 cherubim were made of olive wood, each measuring 15 feet high and a wingspan of 15 feet. Whether the statues in Solomon's temple are to scale is uncertain.
Another astonishing feature of Cherubim are the wheels that accompany them(Eze. 1:15-21), called the "whirling wheels"(Eze. 10:13) . They are described as wheels within wheels. They had the appearance of sparkling beryl with the rims being covered with eyes. What do these wheels mean? The fact they are covered with eyes could symbolize God's omnipotence. The spirits of the Cherubim are in the wheels(Eze. 1:20-21) and allowed them to move in any direction without turning.
In the book of Revelation, the Apostle John sees 4 living creatures around the throne of God(Rev. 4:6-8). Could these living beings be Cherubim? John doesn't use the word Cherubim, and they also aren't described as having 4 faces. Instead, one had the face of a human, the second ox, the third a lion and the fourth an eagle. They are described as having 6 wings instead of 4 too. However, God is described as being enthroned upon Cherubim(Psa. 80:1; 99:1). Cherubim could have different classifications.
Another type of angel is the Seraph. Their name means the burning ones. Interestingly, the book of Isaiah is the only place they are mentioned.
They also aren't like the usual images of angels we see. They have 6 wings(Isa. 6:2) with 2 covering their feet, 2 covering their faces and they used the other 2 to fly. They also stood above God(Isa. 6:1-2)
Some say they are the same as Cherubim. However, there are differences. Seraphs cover their faces with wings while Cherubim give no indication they do. Seraphs also stood above God while the Cherubim are described as simply being around God.
Are intimidating rather than cute
Far from looking like babies, throughout the Bible angels have had a frightening effect on people who see them. People tremble when they see them(Luke 1:12, 29). In fact, angels usually say "do not fear" when they meet people(Matt. 28:5; Luke 1:13,30). Roman soldiers were scared of an angel at Jesus' grave(Matt. 28:4). The Romans shook and became like dead people, which is notable since Roman soldiers did not frighten easily. When an angel appeared to shepherds to tell them about the birth of Jesus, they were also fearful(Luke 2:8-9). Perhaps the fact we can't see angels is for the best.
Last updated 12/5/2015