Do Angels Fallen or otherwise have wings?

Angels

Yes and No

Some angels such as cherubim and seraphim have wings, but normal angels do not. So why do we think they do? They best answer to this was given in the 4th century by John Chrysostom one of the earliest church fathers.

He wrote, “They manifest a nature’s sublimity. That is why Gabriel is represented with wings. Not that angels have wings, but that you may know that they leave the heights and the most elevated dwelling to approach human nature. Accordingly, the wings attributed to these powers have no other meaning than to indicate the sublimity of their nature”.

The earliest known Christian image of an angel is in the Catacomb of Priscilla. It dates to the third century, and its depiction of angels is without wings. In that same period, representations of angels on sarcophagi, lamps and reliquaries also show them without wings.

Cherubim and seraphim have wings in the Bible, but no other angels are mentioned as having wings. The prophet Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1:5) describes cherubim as a tetrad of living creatures, each having four faces: of a man, a lion, an ox, and an eagle. They are said to have the stature and hands of a man, feet of a calf, and four wings each. Two of the wings extended upward, meeting above and sustaining the throne of God; while the other two stretched downward and covered the creatures themselves. Having four faces on four side of their heads and being arranged in a square, they can travel in any direction without having to turn. They appear in the Bible (the book of Ezekiel) as bearing the throne and chariot of God and in Genesis were they are placed at the gates of the Garden to prevent humans from re-entering the Garden of Eden and baring the way of the Tree of Life.  They also formed the top of the Ark of the Covenant were they formed the mercy seat. In the Bible (II Samuel 22:11; Psalms 18:11) God is described as riding on a cherub.

Prior to his rebellion, Satan was a cherub (Ezekiel 28:12-15). The tabernacle and temple along with their articles contained many representations of cherubim (Exodus 25:17-22; 26:1, 31; 36:8; 1 Kings 6:23-35; 7:29-36; 8:6-7; 1 Chronicles 28:18; 2 Chronicles 3:7-14; 2 Chronicles 3:10-13; 5:7-8; Hebrews 9:5). The imagery of Revelation 4:6-9 also seems to be describing cherubim.

In Moses’ Tabernacle and Solomon’s Temple, cherubim are sculptured, engraved, and embroidered figures used in the furniture and ornamentation:

  • Placed on the lid of the Ark, i.e. the Mercy Seat (Exodus 25:18-21)
  • Embroidered on the inner coverings of the Tabernacle of Moses in the wilderness (Exodus 26:1)
  • Embroidered on the veil separating the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place (Exodus 26:31; II Chronicles 3:14)
  • Placed in the Most Holy Place of the Temple (I Kings 6:23-28; II Chronicles 3:10-13)
  • Engraved on the walls of the Temple (I Kings 6:29; II Chronicles 3:7)
  • Engraved on the doors of the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place (I Kings 6:32,35)
  • Engraved on the bronze carts that carried the basins (I Kings 7:29)

Seraphim (burning ones) are types of celestial beings mentioned in the Book of Isaiah as fiery six-winged beings which praise God while encircling His throne.

Like the cherubim, the seraphim are the attendants of God’s throne; they are also winged creatures: with twain they cover their faces, and with twain they cover their feet, and with twain they fly. Like the Levites in the sanctuary below, they sing a hymn. “Holy, holy, holy, is YHWH of hosts: the whole earth is full of His glory (Is. 6:1-2). This is referred to as the Trisagion song.  Isaiah said, “I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and His train filled the sanctuary”. “Seraphim” also appear in the 2nd century B.C. Book of Enoch where they are mentioned in conjunction with the cherubim as the heavenly creatures standing nearest to the throne of God. In Christian angelic hierarchy, seraphim are listed as the highest order of angels.

 

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