Cheryl is a poet, freelance writer, former newspaper columnist, licensed/ordained minister, and founder of two outreach ministries.
What scripture says
Angels are created beings but thanks to the Christmas fantasy movie "It's A Wonderful Life" people believe a myth that the heavenly host must earn their wings by doing kindness for a human in need. Since this popular holiday movie was introduced in 1947 there have been numerous films and television programs that have taken on the theme of angels gaining their wings. There are also those who, when a loved one passes away they say they "got their wings" but there is no Biblical basis for this line of thinking. Popular culture says that Jacob wrestled with an angel but the Bible tells us in Genesis 32 that he wrestled with a man. In Mark 12:25 Jesus was told of a woman who was widowed 6 times and now married to a 7th husband. He was then asked which one would be her spouse in heaven. The Savior replied as follows: For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven. Most theologians agree that Christ was talking about people becoming spiritual beings and was not saying that humans gained wings. This is left up to interpretation and people are going to believe what they choose so let's look at more clear scripture.
Angels have been created
(Psalms 148:1-6 tells us the following:
148 Praise ye the Lord. Praise ye the Lord from the heavens: praise him in the heights.
2 Praise ye him, all his angels: praise ye him, all his hosts.
3 Praise ye him, sun and moon: praise him, all ye stars of light.
4 Praise him, ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters that be above the heavens.
5 Let them praise the name of the Lord: for he commanded, and they were created.
6 He hath also established them forever and ever: he hath made a decree which shall not pass.
Please take note of verses 2 and 5. Angels were created just like the sun, moon, and stars. Any beings who have wings did not do anything special in order to earn them.
In Ezekiel chapter 1 the prophet talks about beings in the likeness of a man and he never refers to them as angels, as some people have done.
5 Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man.
6 And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings. As you read the entire chapter you will find that he never describes the beings in his vision as angels.
Consider next Colossians 1:16: "Praise ye Him, all His angels: praise ye Him, all His hosts ... for He spoke and they were made. He commanded and they were created." Whatever form an angelic being is in, he was made that way. Yes, I said "he" because in the Bible when people encountered His messengers they always said that they saw a large man. Please search the scriptures for yourself and you will find that although cherubim and seraphim are described as having wings, no angel is described as having wings. This is why it's disappointing when those who read the word go along with pop culture.
In man's own image
Over time, man has made the Lord's created beings into his own image. Angels have been depicted as fat children, and sexy women wearing lingerie. We call children little angels when they do something that is considered as being good but the Bible does not back this up. Angels are majestic beings who do battle with demonic forces. This indicates they are strong and powerful and not sweet kind children. A Google search will pull up millions of incorrect images that devalue His handiwork. I recall a story I read in a Guidepost magazine back in the 1980's. A man shared his story of how he was about to be robbed but the assailant ran away. Later the would-be crook said that he fled because of the close to 9 feet tall "man" he saw standing behind his victim. There have been similar stories told over the decades. These beings are always tall and always male. In regard to people gaining wings, just consider all the stories of individuals who say they had a visitation from a deceased loved one, or even those who say they have encountered spirits of the dead. There has not been one case where any of these human "ghosts" have been described as having wings. There is also Mark 16:5 which indicates that the angel in the tomb looked like a man and wings were not mentioned. And entering into the sepulcher, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted.
Jesus is the example
Regarding people who "gain wings," we need to look no further than our Savior for answers. During the transfiguration of Christ on the mountain (Matthew 17:1-8) the disciples see Moses and Elijah who have long been dead. There is no mention of their having wings. In Luke 24 two men in shining garments asked the women "Why seek ye the living among the dead"? and wings were not mentioned. Let's consider this again. The angels were described as men and radiating the glory of the Lord but wings were not mentioned. You will see many images of angels with wings at the tomb and even female angels but this is not what scripture says. After the resurrection, on the road to Emaus (Luke 24) two disciples are walking in a road with a man whom they do not recognize to be Christ. This text lets us know that Jesus looked like a human and there was no mention of His having wings. Why then, would the Father give something to us mere humans that even His very own Son, the jewel and treasure of heaven does not possess?
© 2020 Cheryl E Preston
Cheryl E Preston (author) from Roanoke on December 28, 2020:
Yes I agree with you Peggy.
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on December 27, 2020:
I think that many of these movies are simply made as fiction, and many of the angels portrayed in paintings are meant as artistic expressions. I remember reading that story you cited from Guidepost.
Cheryl E Preston (author) from Roanoke on December 27, 2020:
Yes so true.
Ann Carr from SW England on December 27, 2020:
You put forward an interesting point. I'd never even considered it! I suppose man's fiction is just entertainment rather than considering the details of the Bible.
Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on December 27, 2020:
You are quite right in what you say, Cheryl. We must listen to the Bible.
Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on December 27, 2020:
You make a good point with this article, Cheryl. We can't pay too much attention to fiction, and we need to learn what the Bible says.