In the 1946 classic movie “It’s A Wonderful Life,” George Bailey gets in deep financial trouble and desperately seeks God’s help. As George contemplates suicide on a snowy bridge, God sends an angel named Clarence to his rescue. Through a series of events, Clarence convinces George he really has a wonderful life, and it would be a shame to throw it all away over losing $10,000 ($150K today). Clarence, of course, is a fictional and comical angel, but there are real angels on standby ready to assist us in a crisis.

Angels are mentioned over 500 times in the Bible if you include fallen ones. They are invisible to us but they are absolutely real. When you consider all the mythical creatures people believe in (aliens, unicorns, werewolves, vampires, mermaids, dragons, fairies, sasquatch, etc.), we can confidently believe in angels with a solid, biblical basis.

What are Angels? Hebrews 1:14 answers, “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” Angels are supernatural, celestial beings who do God’s bidding in the universe. Angels are superior to humans in ability (Heb. 2:6-8), but are inferior to believers in rank. Angels are servants of God; we (the blood-washed, born-again, redeemed) are sons and daughters of God. Angels cannot call God “Father” or sing the song of the redeemed like us (Rev. 5:9-10).

Why aren’t there more angel appearances? While there is plenty of angelic activity, and I know people who’ve had credible encounters with them, sightings may be rare because believers have the Holy Spirit as our constant companion. In Bible times, God gave more visible confirmations of His presence because they didn’t have the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit like we enjoy today (Jn. 14:16-18, Rom. 8:14-16). Plus, angels are magnificent creatures and, if people could see them, they would probably try to worship them. True angels will not accept worship but will deflect it to their Creator (Col. 2:18, Rev. 19:10; 22:8-9).

Do all angels have wings? There are different classifications of angels. Cherub or Cherubim are mentioned 95 times in Scripture and are described as having two wings like the golden cherubim figurines on the Ark of the Covenant (1 Kgs. 8:7). Seraphim, only mentioned twice in the Bible (Is. 6:2, 6), have six wings. The Bible doesn’t specify if all other kinds of angels have wings. Besides, wings aren’t essential to travel in the spirit realm. After His resurrection, Jesus walked through walls and appeared and vanished at will. Furthermore, both Enoch and Philip were transported supernaturally without wings (Heb. 11:5, Ac. 8:39-40).

What do angels look like? We don’t know exactly since most people have never seen them, but they can assume different forms (Heb. 13:2, 2 Cor. 11:14). No pictures or paintings can accurately portray them. The best we can do is an artist’s imagination based on biblical descriptions. Angels probably don’t look like chubby, naked babies who sit on clouds and strum harps as they’re often depicted in art. When angels appeared in the Bible, the first thing they usually said was “fear not!” So, they must be impressive, intimidating, awe-inspiring creatures. They mostly appeared in bright, white light or radiant glory (Lk. 2:9-10; 24:4, Ac. 12:7).

Are angels male or female? Neither, they are probably non-sexual beings without reproductive organs. Often, in art, angels are depicted as women with long hair, breasts, and other feminine features. However, most angels seen in the Bible looked like men. Plus, the main named angels have male names like Michael and Gabriel. Jesus implied that angels are genderless—“For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven” (Mt. 22:30). Nothing in Scripture indicates that they can multiply. Rather, they seem to be a fixed number. They are eternal spirit beings which never die, so there is no need to reproduce (Lk. 20:34-36).

Do believers become angels when they die? Often, when a Christian dies, people will say something like, “So and so finally got their wings” or “God needed another angel, so He took them home.” While that is a sweet sentiment, nothing in Scripture supports this idea. Plus, that would be a demotion instead of a promotion for a child of God.

How many angels exist? Revelation 5:11 gives a number—“Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands.” If taken literally, ten thousand times ten thousand equals one hundred million, plus it multiplies exponentially with the phrase “and thousands of thousands.” So, there could be millions, billions, or trillions of angels. No wonder Elisha said to his servant, “Fear not, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” (See 2 Kgs. 6:14-17.) If Satan indeed took one-third of the angels when he fell, then that leaves two-thirds on our side. That’s a good ratio in our favor of two angels for every demon spirit (Rev. 12:3-4, 9).

Who is the only designated archangel? The term “archangel” is only found twice in Scripture (1 Th. 4:16, Ju. 1:9). Michael, mentioned five times (Dan. 10:13, 21; 12:1, Ju. 1:9, Rev. 12:7), is the only designated archangel. Church tradition assumes that Michael, Gabriel, and Lucifer were the three archangels who each commanded one-third of the angels. That is possible but not provable. Michael is a mighty warrior and a captain over an angelic army which wages spiritual warfare (Dan. 10:13, 20-21, Rev. 12:7-9). Gabriel is a messenger who appeared to Daniel, Zacharias, and Mary bearing good news (Dan. 8:16; 9:21, Lk. 1:19, 26). Many preachers and Gospel songs speculate that Gabriel will blow the trumpet at the rapture but the Bible doesn’t specifically say so (1 Th. 4:16).

Are there “Guardian Angels”? Are specific angels assigned to specific people to watch over and protect them from danger? Jesus said, “Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, that in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven” (Mt. 18:10). Notice He used the possessive pronoun “their” angels. When Peter escaped from prison and went to a house where a prayer vigil was held, they thought it was “his angel” (Ac. 12:12-15). Plus, we have this powerful promise in Psalm 91:11-12—“For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.”

Who is The Angel of the Lord? This unique Angel has God-like qualities so many scholars believe He was/is the pre-incarnate Christ. The Angel of the Lord appeared to Moses in the burning bush and said, “I am the God of your father . . . I AM WHO I AM” (see Ex. 3:2-15). The Angel of the Lord slew 185,000 Assyrian soldiers in one night who were attacking Israel (2 Kgs. 19:35). The good news is that same, omnipresent Angel is with us too—“The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them” (Ps. 34:7).

What specifically do angels do? Author Mike Shreve says, “Angels are messengers, ministers, worshippers, warriors, watchers, protectors, assistants, and administrators of God’s Kingdom in heaven and on earth.” There is a wide variety of tasks angels perform:

  • Angels minister to God in worship day and night around the throne—Rev. 5:11-12.
  • Angels minister to saints in times of trial—1 Kgs. 19:5-8, Dan. 6:22, Ac. 5:17-25; 12:7-10; 27:22-25.
  • Angels give messages, direction, and warnings—Gen. 19:15-17, Dan. 8:16; 9:21, Mt. 1:20; 2:13, Lk. 1:11-13, 26-37.
  • Angels escort the spirits of dead saints to heaven—Lk. 16:22.
  • Angels rejoice over lost souls that are saved—Lk. 15:10.
  • Angels will gather souls for the final harvest—Mt. 13:37-42.
  • Angels execute the judgments of God—Rev 8:2-6, 16:1-21.
  • Angels guard gates—Gen. 3:24, Rev. 21:12.
  • Angels wage spiritual warfare against demonic forces—Dan. 10:10-21, Ju. 1:9, Rev. 12:7-9.
  • Angels watch over churches—Rev. 1:16, 20; 2:1, 8, 12, 18; 3:1, 7, 14.
  • Angels bring answers to prayer—Dan. 10:10-21.
  • Angels are curious and seek to know about the plan of God—Mt. 24:36, 1 Pt. 1:10, 12.
  • One angel will bind Satan in the abyss for 1,000 years—Rev. 20:1-3.
    The good news is we are surrounded by a myriad of angels. One of God’s many names is “Jehovah/Yahweh Sabaoth” or “The Lord of hosts,” which means “the God of armies of angels which are poised and ready for battle.” As the worship song says, “It might look like I’m surrounded but I’m surrounded by You!” Take courage, friend, “God’s angel sets up a circle of protection around us while we pray” (Ps. 34:7, MSG). There’s more for us than there are against us! Hallelujah! We’re on the winning side!