The Bible tells us of angels named Michael and Gabriel. Does that mean that angels are male? Do they have gender, or are they genderless? Jesus said angels in heaven do not marry. Let’s explore these questions and more.
Upon hearing the names of the two most-mentioned angels in the Bible, the angels Michael and Gabriel, you might assume that angels are male. But not so fast.
First of all, the Bible makes it clear that angels are spiritual beings.
“Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?”
– Hebrews 1:14
However, when they come to earth, they can take on human form. And when they do so, this is where we get the idea that angels might be male because of these four things:
1. In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word used for angel is malak, a singular, masculine noun. Our modern-day English word angel comes from the Greek word angelos, also a masculine noun
2. When angels made an appearance in the Bible to humans, they always appeared as men, not women or children.
3. Many times in the Bible in both the Old and New Testaments, angels are simply referred to as an/the “angel of the Lord.” However, when names referred to them, they were always given masculine names such as Gabriel and Michael.
4. The Old Testament phrase “the sons of God” always refers to angels, not humans. Humans are the sons of Adam.
A vision an angel gives in Zechariah 5:5-11 is often misinterpreted as showing a pair of winged, female angels. But the Scripture never refers to women as being angels. According to scholarly commentary at Bible hub the two women represent two nations joining Nebuchadnezzar’s armies.
Speaking of wings, the Bible doesn’t refer to angels as being winged creatures. They never reveal themselves to humans in that form. These are artist interpretations that became part of a culture inconsistent with the Bible.
Even though the Bible uses masculine forms to refer to angels, it does not necessarily mean that angels are male.
“For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.”
– Mark 12:25
In this passage, Jesus is speaking about the resurrection and pointing out that there is no death in heaven, and neither is there any marriage.
But the implication here goes further. Marriages are on account of producing children. Jesus is telling us here that angels do not reproduce. We know from other Scripture that the number of angels were created in their entirety before God created humans.
In his comprehensive book on angels, entitled “Angels: What the Bible Really Says About God’s Heavenly Host,” biblical scholar Michael S. Heiser says the following:
“The assumption presupposes the idea that angels have a ginger,” Heiser writes. “They do not – indeed, they cannot be gendered, since they are spirit beings and gender is a biological attribute.”
“When angels assume visible form or flesh to interact with human beings, Scripture always has made them male,” Heiser continues. “The flesh they assume is gendered because it is flash, not because that corporeality is an intrinsic part of angelic nature.”