(I must preface this by saying, just because a psalm is poetic, it does not therefore take away from the fact that it is also making a truth statement, and accurate. Jesus quoted psalm 82 about the gods and said it was written in the Law John 10:34 and the educated class did not turn around and counter saying that’s conjecture and hyperbole)

“he makes his messengers winds, his ministers a flaming fire.” ‭‭Psalm‬ ‭104:4‬ ‭

The order of the words, the syntax indicates in my mind that messengers are precursors or procede their future state as “winds”

ο ποιων τους  αγγελους αυτου πνευματα και τους λειτουργους αυτου πυρος φλογα (LXX)

The English ESV translates the Hebrew as being winds, the Greek LXX as pneuma or spirit and even when this passage is quoted in the NT some English translation switch from winds to spirits

“Of the angels he says, “He makes his angels winds(spirits), and his ministers a flame of fire.”” ‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭1:7‬ ‭

Whether they are winds or spirits is not the question. The question is whether the aggelos/angel(s) are already spirits (non-physical) or whether they can be made into spirits, take the form of spirits? And by extension were NOT in their initial state spirits, meaning they were physical, even if it’s a superior form of physicality which we would refer to as supernatural.

One verse that might indicate all angels are spirits and which would have to be asked as a separate question on its own, as to the syntax of the verse is

“Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?” ‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭1:14‬ ‭

Are all angels ministering spirits... sent out? Or are only the ministering spirits sent out? Do all angels serve those who are to inherit salvation? It seems unlikely that all angels have this one purpose in common

Bible says earthly bodies differ from heavenly bodies but the heavenly bodies are bodies nonetheless.

“There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies” ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭15:40‬ ‭

Also spiritual does not equal spirit. A spiritual body is not a spirit, it can take on spirit qualities but it’s not limited to these

The children of Israel all are manna and that was physical food from a physical heaven but it’s referred to as spiritual food even though it has physical properties.

“and all ate the same spiritual food,” ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭10:3‬

Back to the original question

Does this passage in psalm 104:4 indicate that God makes messengers out of winds/spirits or winds/spirits out of messengers? Consider also the second part of the verse seems to read plainly in English that the ministers (plural) become a flaming fire (singular).

  • Demons are angels gone bad - they inhabit or possess a person and can be cast out - doesn't this show what they are? They are called wicked spirits - For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
    – Steve
    Commented Sep 22, 2020 at 3:19
  • Demons are not angels. That’s your assumption @user48152 Commented Sep 22, 2020 at 3:25
  • 1
    @NihilSineDeo "just because a psalm is poetic, it does not therefore take away from the fact that it is also making a truth statement, and accurate" AMEN!!! Paul included the Psalms in his defence that the Gospel included the Gentiles (Rom 15:9-10) immediately after saying: "whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning". Peter quotes Psalms to justify replacing Judas and to prove Jesus is the Lord Messiah (Acts 2). And Mark 12:36, Act 1:16, Heb 3:7&4:7) says that a certian Psalm is the words of the Holy Ghost ... "All scripture is ...profitable for doctrine" Commented Sep 22, 2020 at 7:32
  • (+1) I like this Question...It is unusual for me to see people recognise the Spiritual Realm as a super complex and interesting space and that the Bible actually gives us alot to go on. It is also clear that it exposes some common assumptions rooted in tradition and first-held beliefs rather than exegesis. I think Angels are spirits based solely on the Scriptures you already referenced, without flesh and bone which could explain why they do not marry nor are given in marraige. I therefor do not think Gen 6 is the fall of Angelic beings but that sons of God are beings with celestial bodies. Commented Sep 22, 2020 at 7:41
  • @PieterRousseau if you consider 1Cor15:54 that the earthly body takes on like a garment immortality and is not replaced then spiritual doesn’t mean immaterial it means supernatural, or above the natural. Jesus like the angel helping Peter escape walked through walls but also physically could touch and be touched. Hence angels are not immaterial but supermaterial beings. Why therefore Gen 6 in light of Gen3:15 angels with seed/DNA copulated with human women. To not be given in marriage is different to cannot copulate. Angels have no female equivalent like Adam was given. Commented Sep 22, 2020 at 10:45

4 Answers 4


Let’s take a step back, and look at the ‘bigger picture’. And also put this whole ‘spirit soul body’ into perspective. All ‘beings’ are spiritual beings’. God is sprit, Man is spirit, Angels are spirits. All have a ‘soul’, which ‘expresses’ who they are, and all have ‘free’ will. ( can choose).

Man was ‘created’ for the earth, which is a ‘physical realm’, so man needed a physical [earthly] body, made of ‘dust’. (Aphar). Angels are created for the spiritual realm to serve, so have spiritual bodies.

But, both man and angel do have ‘bodies’, bodies suited for each respective environment. A ‘body’ is simply a ‘house’ for ‘man’ or ‘angel’ to ‘live’ in. Man was created [spirit] in Genesis chapter one, and God formed a body for man in Genesis chapter two. To do anything on this earth - you need a body.

The ‘spirit’ has/is your ‘life’, so .... In Hebraic terms, it’s described as ‘breath’, ‘wind’, ‘essence’, ‘heart’. (Ruach, nephesh.). A spirit is eternal, but as we hopefully explained, to be able to ‘operate’ in a realm, it needs a body suitable for that realm.

Now, angels can manifest (be seen) on earth when man uses (or God opens) mans ‘spirit’ eyes, as with Elijah ‘seeing’ the angelic host/armies, and God then opening his servants spiritual eyes. (2 Kings 6).

So now you can apply this ‘bigger picture’ to your specific examples and view them with this understanding.

  • Aren’t you assuming heaven is not a physical place? What do you base that on? Commented Aug 22, 2020 at 23:45
  • 1
    Yes, I am saying heaven isn’t ‘physical’. But accept there are different views. Your own understanding of this depends on who you ‘think’ you are. If you ‘think’ you are your ‘body’, ( human) you won’t easily agree. Man is tripartite. ( 1 Thessalonians 5:23). God is spirit. It’s mans spirit that ‘died’ via the fall, and is recreated (made new) when ‘reborn’. The spiritual ‘world’ is more ‘real’ than the physical - but it can’t be ‘touched’ via our physical senses. Therefore neither can it be easily understood with natural reasoning. (1 Cor 2:14).
    – Dave
    Commented Aug 23, 2020 at 0:30
  • Does not the Bible teach that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth and that the earth was empty and the waters unseparated? The Spirit of God was over the waters that the heavens were made of. When the waters were separated the second heaven got some of the water which was held up by the firmament. That’s physical water and a physical firmament. From where the idea that the firmament and the waters above cannot be touched by humans? That’s an assumption which favors current non-Biblical cosmology. Are you saying the Bible doesn’t know what it’s talking about by NASA does? Commented Aug 23, 2020 at 1:08
  • Ahh yes, thanks - you bring up an important point. When I said that ‘heaven’ was not ‘physical, I was referring to the ‘3rd’ heaven (as per the Apostle Paul’s description.), or the ‘highest heaven’, where God/angels reside. The 2nd heaven (universe/space) and the heaven around/surrounding the earth do contain physical elements. Apologies, you were right for pulling me up on this. But, even with this omission - I still hold with my answer ‘as is’.
    – Dave
    Commented Aug 23, 2020 at 2:27
  • Biblical Cosmology doesn’t have space, it has a firmament and waters where the local sun moon and stars are. internetmonk.com/wp-content/uploads/genesis_cosmology.jpg and the third heaven is included in the initial waters of the heavens or the mayim of the shemayim Commented Aug 23, 2020 at 2:30

The Hebrew word "ruwach" (רוּחֹות) can be translated as "wind", "breath", "mind", or "spirit" (H7307 - ruwach - Strong's Hebrew Lexicon (KJV)), so there really isn't any significant difference in the original word, it's simply a matter of how the translators decided to render it into English.

Similarly, the Hebrew word "mal'ak" (מַלְאָךְ) can be translated as "messenger", "representative", or "angel" (H4397 - mal'ak - Strong's Hebrew Lexicon (KJV)).

Angels were created before the world was created (Job 38:7) as spirit beings. Some later rebelled and became known as demons.

But not all uses of the word "angel" in English translations are necessarily referring to spirit beings. Many of those "messengers" exhibited no supernatural powers, and could easily have been ordinary men used by God to deliver a message. Whether flesh or spirit, they are named according to their purpose, not their composition.

As for Psalms 104:4, remember that this is poetry, a picture painted in words, not necessarily to be taken literally. God's messengers have appeared as fire though: e.g. Exodus 3:3 "And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire".

It's best not to read too much into the meaning of any individual passage.

  • Nothing existed before Creation except God. The foundations of the earth were not set prior to day one. And on day one God created both the heavens and the earth. On that point not only do I disagree but you have no Scriptural backing Job doesn’t read what you’ve assumed. Commented Oct 22, 2020 at 19:53
  • @NihilSineDeo, "Creation" was too strong a word, and I've now corrected it. Thanks. I didn't mean to imply that angels had always existed, only that they had been created before the Earth. Commented Oct 22, 2020 at 20:07
  • Still no evidence that anything existed prior to day one, the day earth and heavens were created. Commented Oct 22, 2020 at 22:56
  • @RayButterworth As a point of order you said, "God's messengers have appeared as fire though: e.g. Exodus 3:3 "And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire". Exodus 3:2, "And the angel of the Lord appeared to him/Moses IN A BLAZING FIRE FROM THE MIDST OF A BUSH." Exodus 3:4, "When the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, GOD called to him from the midst of the bush, and said, "Moses, Moses etc. Technically speaking the angel of the Lord is not the fire itself as you stated.
    – Mr. Bond
    Commented Oct 22, 2020 at 23:04
  • Let me put it differently. If the heavens were created on day one at the beginning and according to you the heavenly hosts preexisted the heavens, where did they inhabit? Evidently given they heavenly bodies 1Cor15:44 they require a medium/place to exist and only God is outside the heavens “Spirit hovered above the waters” (waters which made up the heavens). Once again you have no proof that the heavenly hosts preexisted the earth and the heavens. Everything was made after day one Commented Oct 22, 2020 at 23:11

This Psalm is about the greatness of God: "Bless the Lord, O my soul: O Lord my God, thou art exceedingly great. Thou hast put on majesty and beauty" (v. 1).

So when we read that God's messengers, his ministers, were made 'a flame,' or 'spirit,' (both synonymous here, since spirit also means breath or wind, and since both represent the least solid-seeming parts of physical reality) we see how lofty and far above the material realm of limitations He is, which is the intention of the Pslamist.

osheh here is a participle meaning, "[the one] making" i.e. "who made." Not the one turning into, or fashioning into something else.

  • All angels are spirit beings (spirits, winds, flaming fire etc.) but not all angels are messengers. Some have other duties to God, and still others are fallen (Satan, demons). God is simply saying that He made them spirits, or spirit beings (same thing) from the beginning of their existence. They didn't start out as human beings, or any other kind of physical beings.
    – moron
    Commented Oct 16, 2021 at 7:05

What are Angels?

Regarding the spiritual attributes of "malaki" (מלאכי) known in the Greek Septuagint as "angeloi" (ἄγγελοι), we are told in [Mark 1:13] that Angels 'were ministering' (διηκόνουν) to Jesus which relates ministering "angeloi" to Tehillim (Psalms) 104:4.

Tehillim / Psalms 104:4 [MT]

"He makes winds His messengers, burning fire - His ministers." (עֹשֶׂ֣ה מַלְאָכָ֣יו רוּח֑וֹת מְ֜שָֽׁרֲתָ֗יו אֵ֣שׁ לֹהֵֽט)

In reference to Psalm 104:4, the Gospel account of Mark 1:13 means Jesus was being ministered to by "fire" (אֵ֣שׁ).

Perhaps Jesus studied Torah by "fireside" in the wilderness, or literally fire ministered God's Word to Jesus in the wilderness similar to the burning bush account in Exodus 3:2.

Shemot / Exodus 3:2 [MT]

"An angel of YHVH appeared to him in a flame of fire from within the thorn bush" (וַיֵּרָ֠א מַלְאַ֨ךְ יְהֹוָ֥ה אֵלָ֛יו בְּלַבַּת־אֵ֖שׁ מִתּ֣וֹךְ הַסְּנֶ֑ה)

As a source of Light, Fire (אֵ֣שׁ) allows us to see more clearly when studying Torah - like an Angel guarding God's Word from darkness. As a Flame is blown by the “wind” of our breath, Angels are led by and reveal God’s Breath - the Ruach Elohim (ר֣וּחַ אֱלֹהִ֔ים) [Genesis 1:2] translated as “Spirit of God”. * Thus “Angels” / "angeloi" (ἄγγελοι) are lights or flames revealing God’s presence & decrees.

Are Angels equal to Humans?

In regards to Tehillim / Psalms 8, King David declares Angels are not Humans but that a Man (אֱ֖נוֹשׁ) & Ben-Adam (בֶן־אָ֜דָ֗ם) are < less than Elohim (אֱלֹהִ֑ים).

Tehillim / Psalms 8:5 [MT]

"what is man that You should remember him, and the son of man that You should be mindful of him?" (מָֽה־אֱ֖נוֹשׁ כִּֽי־תִזְכְּרֶ֑נּוּ וּבֶן־אָ֜דָ֗ם כִּ֣י תִפְקְדֶֽנּוּ)

Tehillim / Psalms 8:6 [MT]

"Yet You have made him slightly less than [the] angels, and You have crowned him with glory and majesty." (וַתְּחַסְּרֵ֣הוּ מְ֖עַט מֵֽאֱלֹהִ֑ים וְכָב֖וֹד וְהָדָ֣ר תְּעַטְּרֵֽהוּ)

To King David - Angels are one with God (אֱלֹהִ֑ים) meaning they know, understand, obey, and serve Him.

In the Gospel of John - Chapter 4 : verse 24, we learn :

"God is a Spirit and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth."

If God is Spirit [John 4:24] and Angels are one with God [Psalms 8:6], then Angels are spirits serving as extensions of Elohim (אֱלֹהִ֑ים).

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