This is How Angels Really Look Like, According to the Bible

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Angels are a subject that has captured the human imagination for centuries. Whether it’s through art, literature, or even movies, we’ve all encountered various portrayals of these heavenly beings. But what do angels really look like, according to the Bible and the Catholic Church’s teachings? Let’s dig in.

What are Angels?

Before we delve into appearances, let’s start by understanding what angels are. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “angels are spiritual creatures who glorify God without ceasing and who serve his saving plans for other creatures” (CCC 350). So, in essence, angels are spiritual beings without physical bodies, created by God to serve Him and help us humans in various ways.

Biblical Descriptions of Angels

Old Testament Descriptions

When we turn to the Bible for descriptions of angels, it’s crucial to note that the accounts are often filled with poetic and symbolic language. One of the most detailed descriptions is found in the book of Ezekiel:

“In the midst of it was something like four living creatures. This was their appearance: they were of human form. Each had four faces, and each of them had four wings. Their legs were straight, and the soles of their feet were like the sole of a calf’s foot; and they sparkled like burnished bronze.” (Ezekiel 1:5-7, NRSV)

This is a far cry from the chubby cherubs or glowing human-like figures we often see in popular media.

New Testament Descriptions

In the New Testament, angels often appear in a form that humans can understand, like a man dressed in white robes. When the angel Gabriel appears to Mary, there is no specific description given of what he looks like (Luke 1:26-38). The focus is more on the message than the messenger.

Similarly, in the book of Revelation, angels are described in various ways, often as creatures that are hard to fathom. For example:

“Around the throne, and on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with a face like a human face, and the fourth living creature like a flying eagle.” (Revelation 4:6-7, NRSV)

Catholic Church’s View on the Appearance of Angels

While the Bible gives us vivid and often perplexing descriptions of angels, the Catholic Church teaches that these descriptions are not to be taken as literal physical characteristics because angels are purely spiritual beings without physical form. According to the Catechism:

“As purely spiritual creatures angels have intelligence and will: they are personal and immortal creatures, surpassing in perfection all visible creatures, as the splendor of their glory bears witness” (CCC 330).

Universal Teaching vs. Theological Opinion

It is the universal teaching of the Church, based on Scripture and Tradition, that angels are real, spiritual beings created by God. Their appearances in the Bible are symbolic and should not be interpreted as literal descriptions of what angels look like.

On the other hand, while some theologians have speculated on the nature and appearance of angels, these speculations are not considered universal teachings but rather theological opinions. For example, Thomas Aquinas, a Doctor of the Church, wrote extensively about angels in his work “Summa Theologica,” but his views, while respected, are not binding on all Catholics.

Angels in Popular Culture vs. Biblical and Church Teaching

Popular culture often portrays angels as either baby-faced cherubs with tiny wings or as glowing human-like figures. These portrayals, while endearing, are not consistent with Biblical or Church teachings.

The Bible depicts angels as awe-inspiring and often fearsome beings, which is perhaps why their first words when appearing to humans are often, “Do not be afraid” (Luke 1:30, NRSV).


The Bible offers various, often symbolic, descriptions of angels, ranging from humanoid figures with multiple faces and wings to creatures resembling lions and eagles. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, angels are purely spiritual beings without physical bodies (CCC 330). Thus, while the Biblical descriptions provide rich imagery meant to convey the grandeur and majesty of these heavenly beings, they shouldn’t be taken as literal physical descriptions.

Understanding angels according to Church teachings and Biblical accounts can deepen our appreciation for these magnificent creatures and their role in God’s plan. It’s not about knowing exactly what they look like but understanding their nature and purpose: to serve God and assist us on our journey toward Him.

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Note: While content aims to align with Catholic teachings, any inconsistencies or errors are unintended. For precise understanding, always refer to authoritative sources like the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Always double-check any quotes for word-for-word accuracy with the Bible or the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

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