Hebrews 1:13-14 (ESV):

13 And to which of the angels has he ever said, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”? 14 Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?

Hebrews 13:2 (ESV):

2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

On the one hand, angels are described as spiritual beings. But on the other hand, we are told that people have sometimes encountered angels in everyday life and mistakenly taken them for normal humans of flesh and bones. Does this mean that angels can "materialize" as biological humans and be mistaken for normal people despite being spiritual beings? How should we understand the nature of angels?

5 Answers 5


I think this is being overthought. It is true that “angels” by that you mean heavenly beings, who have heavenly bodies are supernatural.

“There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another.” ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭15:40‬ ‭

Supernatural which means above the natural does not mean it is entirely non natural, just superior. So while the natural body is subject to the laws of nature, limiting them to certain natural laws, supernatural bodies are natural without the limitations of the natural, they can walk through walls, teleport, walk on water, be invisible to the naked eye, morph, just to name a few.

Therefore heavenly beings with heavenly bodies can choose to tone down their abilities and appear in every sense like a natural man. They don’t need to remove or take on a body in order to mingle within the population.

How many?

How many bodies are there in the universe?

“There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another.” ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭15:40‬ ‭

Just two according to Scripture. One is of the earth and natural, it has its own glory (glory being that which defines it) and what defines it is that it’s subject to the laws of nature which includes the fact that it dies

The other is the heavenly body which is supernatural and has its glory, it is immortal and not subject to the laws of nature but the laws of the supernatural or above the natural

I mention this to point out that Jesus after His resurrection did not have a third kind of body but a heavenly body, like all the heavenly beings. In essence He took on the body of “angels”.

And we see that He could morph

“Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord.” ‭‭John‬ ‭21:12‬ ‭

We see that He ate physical food

“They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them.” ‭‭Luke‬ ‭24:42-43‬ ‭

We know “angels” eat physical food. The children of Israel ate the food of “angels”

“Man ate of the bread of the angels; he sent them food in abundance.” ‭‭Psalm‬ ‭78:25‬ ‭

We know that in order for Jesus to have a supernatural body He didn’t exchange it, but put on or added to the natural human body immortality and the supernatural

“For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.” ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭15:53‬ ‭

We know that Jesus touched and could be touched after the resurrection and after He put on immortality, likewise we see “angels” touching humans

“And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his hands.” ‭‭Acts‬ ‭12:7‬ ‭

We can go even further. Angels have DNA

“and I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” ‭‭Genesis‬ ‭3:15‬ ‭

What more they can impregnate human women and have children with them. Meaning they have semen

“that the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.” ‭‭Genesis‬ ‭6:2‬ ‭

It is also interesting that their DNA retains some of the supernatural qualities (DNA which is highly sought after in today’s craze for immortality)

Their DNA is compatible to humans or at a minimum through the dark arts of Gnosticism the fallen sons of God were able to genetically modify and force compatibility of otherwise incompatible species.

There were giants (Nephilim) in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.” ‭‭Genesis‬ ‭6:4‬ ‭

These Nephilim survived the flood through Noah’s daughter in law’s child Canaan. The descendants of Canaan intentionally and actively sought out the Nephilim DNA which is why there were unusual humanoids on the earth not merely gigantic in size or having six digits.

“And he communed with them, saying, If it be your mind that I should bury my dead out of my sight; hear me, and intreat for me to Ephron the son of Zohar,” ‭‭Genesis‬ ‭23:8‬ ‭

Ephron meaning fawn-like or a satyr

“Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the son of a valiant man of Kabzeel, who had done many acts; he slew two lionlike men of Moab: also he went down and slew a lion in a pit in a snowy day.” ‭‭1 Chronicles‬ ‭11:22‬ ‭

And just to be clear that these were not lions, in the same verse he also killed a lion. The Moabites were avid seekers of this “alien” DNA that came from heaven

This DNA mixing continues even today

“And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed (DNA) of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay.” ‭‭Daniel‬ ‭2:43‬ ‭

So how is this verse to be understood then?

“Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” ‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭1:14‬ ‭

Given that humans are not their bodies or their bodies are not the sum total of who they are but inside every human is a spirit housed in a natural earthly body, so heavenly beings are ministering spirits housed in heavenly bodies and are not identified by their bodies but their person or their spirit.

  • 1
    The majority of this was just you explaining what supernatural means, which wasn't even a word used in the cited texts.
    – carsonfel
    Commented Apr 24, 2021 at 21:08
  • @carsonfel how’s that? Commented Apr 26, 2021 at 5:00
  • 2
    A much better answer, however, I will say that many (though not all) of the verses you used don't actually say the things you claim, and so I can only conclude that the meanings you ascribed to them are based on your own wisdom or tradition, which while well-constructed shouldn't be taken as scriptural truth.
    – carsonfel
    Commented Apr 26, 2021 at 13:10
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    There are several issues with how you used the verses: John 21:12... It does not say that Jesus morphed His appearance. Gen. 3:15; 6:2... Seed means children (I Chron. 16:13); the Devil's children are those who do not practice righteousness, whereas those who do are called the Sons of God (I John 3:10). Gen. 6:4... "Naphiliym" comes from "naaphal," which means, "he fell;" those who fell from the true religion (Gen. 6:5), who are no longer born of God, but born of the earth; translated "gigantes" in the LXX meaning "earth-born;" mistranslated "giants" in English.
    – carsonfel
    Commented Apr 26, 2021 at 17:41
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    It's unfortunate that you're resorting to mudslinging. Daniel Chapter 4 no longer relates to the interpretation Daniel made in Chapter 2. Elisha means "God is salvation," are we to assume that Elisha is the God of salvation? You're assuming that the disciples didn't recognize Jesus because of how he looked, it does not say that. What occurred on the mountain was a vision (Matt. 17:9). Also, the woman's Seed in Gen. 3:15 refers to Christ, and I made no mention of the Pharisees. I Chron. 11:2 is a typo of I Chron. 11:22 which you cited.
    – carsonfel
    Commented Apr 26, 2021 at 20:09

Hebrews 1:14 asks a rhetorical question:

[Heb 1:14 NASB20] 14 Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to [provide] service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?

I think the correct answer to that question is, "NO!"

This is an allusion to his "The Bible," which was a particular translation of the Tanach that he happened to be exposed to in his day.

In his "The Bible," it reads like this. Great so far.

But in the Masoretic text, it reads like this. Completely opposite.

Please see this related post of mine on Quora.

In addition, the word translated "spirits" is a pseudo-word. It did not exist when Genesis 1 was written and it didn't exist when Revelation was written. It didn't exist until there were English translations of "The Bible," which I think began, contrary to murderous threats AND actual murders, around 1600. They invented the word "Spirit" in order to deify the Holy Breath. For example, what is the "Spirit of life"? Well for Paul, that was what his Greek speaking audience would understand it to be; a reference to "The Breath of Life" of Genesis 2:7:

[Gen 2:7 NASB20] 7 Then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living person.

Now the word doesn't exactly mean "breath" because they didn't really understand "air." It was an invisible yet powerful force. It was as old as Horus, the Egyptian bird god, who was "mobile deity." He could fly. We see that same association in the Noah's ark story, where the dove brings back the olive branch, and in the account of Jesus' baptism:

[Jhn 1:32 NASB20] 32 And John testified, saying, "I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him.

But that should read: "I have seen the Breath descending" because "spirit" was not coined until around the 17th century, in England, using the Latin word for "breath," "spiritus."

So one can easily see how Paul, in this passage, intends that the word mistranslated by employing a bogus Trinitarian construction of "Spirit" should be understood as a reference to the "Breath of Life.":

[Rom 8:2 NASB20] 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.

[2Co 3:6 NASB20] 6 who also made us adequate [as] servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

[Job 33:4 NASB20] 4 "The Spirit of God has made me, And the breath of the Almighty gives me life.

[Jhn 6:63 NASB20] 63 "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh provides no benefit; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit, and are life.

So now let's turn to the Hebrew of the verse that the author of "To the Hebrews" was appealing to prove his point about angels being breaths:

[Psa 104:4 NASB20] 4 He makes the winds His messengers, Flaming fire His ministers.

Uh-oh! His then extant Greek translation of our now extant version of the Tanach (and of those in the Dead Sea Scrolls) had an opposite reading!

If you, like saints of yore, are concerned with trying to determine how many angels would be able to dance on the point of a pin, you're out of luck. Corruption hath occurred. It is, in my always more humble than thou view, evident that there is a glitch in the Matrix and all bets are OFF! It simply isn't a usable text at this point. The teaching that the author of Hebrews is doing is not based on the extent text of Psalm 104 (103 in the Greek) from that period, so it is kinda sorta a fool's errand to attempt to extract any kind of guide to the realities of the unseen world. It is a faith killing example of the dead ends I encounter all the time in my pursuit of Truth (which I define as accuracy). One cannot arrive at a rational interpretation of that which is contradictory.

But enough about me... Who here has an explanation for why Hebrews flips around Psalm 104/103 DSS to make his argument that does not amount to an admission that the text is unreliable?

Having expressed cathartically my consternation with this passage, passionately, I am quick to admit that most of my days as an expositor flow rather well. I find consistent, workable and even amazing feats of intertextuality and even prophecy as I ponder these pages... but then there is this incredibly obvious, blunt, absurd inconsistently, right within the pages of almost all "The Bible"s, and my head and heart are driven slightly mad.

Who can set this right? Until we set this right, the original question is entirely "moo" (as Joey from Friends would say).

My thought is that if we just dumped the Hebrew altogether, a host of problems with the NT would go away. The NT and the OT would finally agree. But then I think, yes, but since Jerome, ALL of Christendom (except the Orthodox and the Ethiopians) have had a Hebrew Tanach. That is considered "The Bible." Yet it is hopelessly out of synch.

I know, I know, I tend to overthink stuff...


Before God created the universe, he first created a higher order of intelligent creatures that are stronger and more powerful than humans. The Bible calls these superior beings angels and spirits.

Angels are spiritual creatures that are higher than humans. Angels live in heaven which is a realm of existence higher than the physical universe. The Bible says that their number is vast, reaching into hundreds of millions or billions of angels. They have names and personalities and faithful angels refuse to be worshiped. Just as God's name is Jehovah; angels have names. Jehovah created the angels long before he created the universe. They are sometimes called "sons of the true God". (Job 38:7) Here are some incredible facts about angels:

Angels are spirits as such their invisible to humans but angels can take on a human form and at times they appeared in such manifestations in the past to care for God-given assignments on earth.

THEIR GENDER Angels have always materialized in male forms but there are no males or females among them; they don't marry or reproduce.

Angels are tremendously powerful in fact angels are far more powerful than humans. (2 Peter 2:9) Angels are so powerful they can destroy mankind out of existence; however, their power is limited.

Angels are extremely intelligent creatures. Angels have greater knowledge than man but it is limited; there are certain things they don't know.

Angels are heavenly beings far superior to humans. Heb. 1:9 states that man was made a "little lower than angels". This indicates that angels are far superior to mankind.

Angels are the highest order of creatures in the universe than humans but they are inferior to God and Christ. Even though angels have higher intelligence, powers, and abilities greater than those of humans, humans have the ability to procreate and produce their own kind something angels cannot do.


I confess I am not persuaded that a clear angel/human distinction is warranted by the Biblical texts. As noted by Gina here, the Hebrew “malak” and the Greek “aggelos” mean “messenger”, which can have a wide variety of applications. See also Jay Adam’s comments here regarding the influence of mythology on how some texts about angels may have been misread. Though I do not agree with him 100%, I believe his thoughts are well-written.

The first passage in the OP indicates that angels of God are servants of God sent to do His work--this is exactly what the Greek word means. So grammatically, in a given setting anybody can be an "angel" of God if God sent them; though in this case the passage appears to be using a more restrictive sense of the word.

The second passage in the OP acknowledges angels appearing as humans. In fact, I suggest that every time in the Bible the appearance of an angel is described, the description fits a human just fine (Unless we count the talking beasts as angels--such as in Ezekiel or Revelation). (Note that wings have often been described as a symbol representing the ability to move).

While not probative on their own, I suggest these passages support the idea that angels are humans.

This certainly does not mean angels cannot be heavenly or glorious--I believe they regularly are both--rather I believe that humans can be sent from the presence of God to minister to those on earth (e.g. Matthew 17:3).

In hope of conveying my thoughts respectfully, I also do not see reason to believe that the Bible teaches that non-human celestial beings interbred with humans--I believe this is a pagan idea that has been read into Jewish texts.

I understand "the sons of God" (or "children of God" as we would put it today) to always mean one of two things:

  • God's children created in His image (see Genesis 1:26-27)
  • Those who have been born again through Christ (see John 1:12)

Since "angels" are not explicitly defined in the Bible, this is an interpretation. But I believe it is an Occam's razor interpretation--I won't posit the existence of more entities than necessary, concluding that "angels" are always/nearly always humans, and "sons of God" are humans in both the Old & New Testaments.

The subject and focus of God's communications in scripture are His interactions and covenants with--and His redemption of--human beings. I believe the messengers He sends (including the glorious ones) to His children are usually others of His children (humans who are at a variety of points in their own eternal progression). Some see glory as the absence of humanity; I see glory as the fulfilment of humanity.

  • What is your take on Daniel 10? 15 When he had spoken to me according to these words, I turned my face toward the ground and was mute. 16 And behold, one in the likeness of the children of man touched my lips. Then I opened my mouth and spoke. I said to him who stood before me, “O my lord, by reason of the vision pains have come upon me, and I retain no strength. 17 How can my lord's servant talk with my lord? For now no strength remains in me, and no breath is left in me.”
    – user38524
    Commented Apr 27, 2021 at 6:14
  • 18 Again one having the appearance of a man touched me and strengthened me. 19 And he said, “O man greatly loved, fear not, peace be with you; be strong and of good courage.” And as he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.” 20 Then he said, “Do you know why I have come to you? But now I will return to fight against the prince of Persia; and when I go out, behold, the prince of Greece will come. 21 But I will tell you what is inscribed in the book of truth: there is none who contends by my side against these except Michael, your prince
    – user38524
    Commented Apr 27, 2021 at 6:15
  • More food for thought: Who is the man in Daniel's vision in Daniel 10?
    – user38524
    Commented Apr 27, 2021 at 6:54
  • @SpiritRealmInvestigator I don't claim 100% certainty (could say that about a lot in Daniel), but I am of the opinion that Daniel sees the pre-mortal Christ, and later two angels. They are in the likeness of the children of men (because they are human), but Daniel points out that they are not exactly like ordinary men, because they are not mortal. I would interpret the latter 2 to be ministering human spirits. Commented Apr 28, 2021 at 1:24
  • @SpiritRealmInvestigator I agree with much of Anne's argument in your more recent question--I found it very well-done. But I differ in the inference drawn at the end. Specifically, "[they] appeared in some outward respects to be human" (because they are human); "appearing to be more than a merely mortal man" (because they are not mortal). If Daniel didn't distinguish that there was something different about them vs. ordinary men you pass on the street, the passage would be even more confusing. So my read is he's indicating they look angelic & human, because they are angelic & human. Commented Apr 28, 2021 at 1:26

The Nature of Angels?

From the passages you have cited, I suspect that angels can assume a quasi-human form for our sakes. I use the phrase "quasi-human" because although angels appear fully human, they obviously are not since the spirit realm is superior to our world of flesh in every respect. Consider the following:

2 Kings 6:17+: "And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw that the hills were full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. As the Arameans came down against him, Elisha prayed to the LORD, 'Please strike these people with blindness.' So He struck them with blindness, according to the word of Elisha."

This is similar to what we read much earlier in Genesis:

Genesis 19:11: "[The angels sent to protect Lot] struck the men [of Sodom] who were at the doorway of the house with blindness, both small and great, so that they wearied themselves trying to find the doorway."

It appears that angels are given certain authority over nature, and that they can spiritually surround us as demonstrated by Elisha's prayer. I suggest that the biggest difference is that the spiritual realm is timeless (eternal) and is thus far beyond our existence in a carnal world of finite time. I posted this elsewhere to (attempt to) demonstrate the contrast between our world and that of the next, as we each make our journey out of time:

enter image description here

In the above illustration, where there is no time (by definition, eternity is timeless) we don’t wait for anything. It is essentially instantaneous, and this is precisely what Paul tells us:

1 Corinthians 15:51-52a: "Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye..."

Consider what Peter writes (in reference to Psalm 90):

2 Peter 3:8: “But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day.”

Peter is attempting to describe to us an eternal realm where time no longer elapses as we now experience it. Suppose we think about it this way. For the sake of argument, let’s assume that 1 day in heaven is equal to 1,000 years based literally on Peter’s Second Letter (2 Pet. 3:8). If that were actually true, then the following must also be true:

1 heavenly minute = 2/3 Earth years;    1 heavenly hour = 42 Earth years;
1 heavenly day    = 1,000 Earth years;  1 heavenly week = 7,000 Earth years.

In this hypothetical scenario, Abraham, who died roughly 4,000 years ago will have experienced less than a week in heaven and while those who died almost 50 years ago “wait” only 1 hour has elapsed in heaven.

But here is the point: We know that 1,000 years is merely symbolic of timelessness –- the absence of time. Therefore, the amount of “time” that anyone has been in the Presence of God is merely an instant relative to our finite, material world. The moment that any saint reaches their final destination in eternity (from their own perspective) happens to be the very moment that everyone else arrives as well because time as we now comprehend it no longer exists, no longer elapses.

I do not pretend to know how cause-and-effect transpires in paradise. But the saved will all understand once they arrive. I sincerely hope this is not too confusing for anyone; I gave it my best shot. Experience tells me that many will have great difficulty with this concept. Nonetheless, it is based on reason, logic, and Scripture.

  • I would agree with your post except the timeless idea. They are finite beings for they were all created after the Creation of Heaven and Earth on Day 1 of Creation. They could not exist prior for there was no heaven for them to exist in. Commented Apr 22, 2021 at 21:20
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    @Nihil Sine Deo Curious - over a couple of things. Are angels ‘spirits’? And secondly, if angels are ‘finite’, how do they ‘die’?
    – Dave
    Commented Apr 23, 2021 at 20:31
  • As in someone has a beginning they are finite in that sense, they have a finite starting point. If they continue on forever afterwards then they are not finite moving forward. And the rebellious sons of God die because God took away their eternality Ps82, causing them to die like men, which implies they did not die prior. Are “angels” spirits? Too long to answer. But we know they have heavenly bodies. Commented Apr 23, 2021 at 20:35
  • @Nihil Sine Deo - These are interesting points. All but God was created: angels, Satan, and our world with us in it. We have been given "a beginning" through our physical form, just as the angels must have been given something analogous. Once we make our journey out of time as I've tried to depict, we have become immortal, timeless beings as well. I don't know how that works; perhaps no human mind really can understand it.
    – Xeno
    Commented Apr 23, 2021 at 21:27
  • We will never be unbound by time @Xeno that’s just a theoretical construct timelessness Commented Apr 23, 2021 at 21:28

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