Question: "What do angels look like?"

Angels are spirit beings (Hebrews 1:14), so they do not have any essential physical form. But angels do have the ability to take on human form. When angels appeared to humans in the Bible, they resembled normal males. In Genesis 18:1-19, God and two angels appeared as men and actually ate a meal with Abraham. Angels appear as men many times throughout the Bible (Joshua 5:13-14; Mark 16:5), although they never appear in the likeness of women.

At other times, angels appeared not as humans, but as something other-worldly. At times, their appearance was terrifying to those who encountered them. Often the first words from these angels were “do not be afraid,” because extreme fear was such a common reaction. Zacharias in Luke 1:12 was speechless before the angel who visited him, as were the keepers of Jesus’ tomb, who became as dead men when they saw the angel of the Lord (Matthew 28:4). The shepherds in the fields in Luke 2 were “sore afraid” when the angel of the Lord appeared and the glory of the Lord shone around them. To others, however, angelic appearances did not produce terror. Mary’s encounter with the angel who announced the birth of Jesus produced confusion at the pronouncement, but did not seem to produce the same fear experienced by Zacharias.

As for physical characteristics, angels are often described as winged. The cherubim on the ark of the covenant have wings that cover the mercy seat (Exodus 25:20). Isaiah also saw winged seraphim in his vision of the throne of heaven, each one having six wings (Isaiah 6:2). Ezekiel, too, saw visions of winged angels. Isaiah 6:1-2 depicts angels having human features—voices, faces and feet. Angel voices are heard singing and praising God in several other passages. One of the most complete descriptions of an angel is in Daniel 10:5-6: “I looked up and there before me was a man dressed in linen, with a belt of the finest gold around his waist. 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.” The angel guarding Jesus’ tomb was similarly described: “His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow” (Matthew 28:3).

Whatever appearance angels take on, there is reason to believe they are incredibly beautiful. First, Ezekiel tells us that Lucifer’s beauty was such that it caused his heart to be “lifted up” in pride. In addition, it stands to reason that angels have extraordinary beauty because they are continually in the presence of Almighty God, whose glory is reflected upon all that is around Him.