Question: "Are angels male or female?"

There is no doubt that every reference to angels in Scripture refers to them in the masculine gender. The Greek word for “angel” in the New Testament, angelos, is in the masculine form. In fact, the feminine form of angelos does not exist. There are three genders in grammar—masculine (he, him, his), feminine (she, her, hers), and neuter (it, its). Angels are never referred to in any gender other than masculine. In the many appearances of angels in the Bible, never is an angel referred to as “she” or “it.” Furthermore, when angels did appear, they always appeared dressed as human males (Genesis 18:2, 16; Ezekiel 9:2). No angel ever appeared in Scripture dressed as a female.

The only named angels in the Bible—Michael, Gabriel, Lucifer—had male names and all were referred to in the masculine. Revelation 12:7 – “…Michael and his angels.”; Luke 1:29 – “Mary was greatly troubled at his (Gabriel’s) words.”; Isaiah 14:12 – “Oh, Lucifer, son of the morning.” Other references to angels are always in the masculine gender. In Judges 6:21, the angel held the staff in his hand. Zechariah asked an angel a question and reports that he answered (Zechariah 1:19). The angels in Revelation are all spoken of as “he” and “his” (Revelation 7:1; 10:1, 5; 14:19; 16:2, 4, 17; 19:17; 20:1).

Some people point to Zechariah 5:9 as an example of female angels. That verse says, “Then I looked up—and there before me were two women, with the wind in their wings! They had wings like those of a stork, and they lifted up the basket between heaven and earth.” The problem is that the “women” in this prophetic vision are not called angels. They are called nashiym (“women”), as is the woman in the basket representing wickedness in verses 7 and 8. By contrast, the angel that Zechariah was speaking to is called a malak, a completely different word meaning “angel” or “messenger.” The fact that the women have wings in Zechariah’s vision might suggest angels to our minds, but we must be careful about going beyond what the text actually says. A vision does not necessarily depict actual beings or objects—consider the huge flying scroll Zechariah sees earlier in the same chapter (Zechariah 5:1–2).

The confusion about genderless angels comes from a misreading of Matthew 22:30, which states that there will be no marriage in heaven because we “will be like the angels in heaven.” The statement that there will be no marriage has led some to believe that angels are “sexless” or genderless because (the thinking goes) the purpose of gender is procreation and, if there is to be no marriage and no procreation, there is no need for gender. But this is a leap that cannot be proven from the text. The fact that there is no marriage does not necessarily mean there is no gender. The many references to angels as males contradict the idea of genderless angels. But we must not confuse gender with sexuality. Clearly, there is no sexual activity in heaven, which we can safely derive from the statement about no marriage. But we can’t make the same leap from “no marriage” to “no gender.”

Gender, then, is not to be understood strictly in terms of sexuality. Rather, the use of the masculine gender pronouns throughout Scripture is more a reference to authority than to sex. God always refers to Himself in the masculine. The blurring of the distinction between male and female can lead to heresies such as “mother/father God” and the Holy Spirit as an “it,” ignoring the references to Him in Scripture (John 14:17; 15:16; 16:8, 13-14). The Holy Spirit is never described as an “it” or an inanimate force. God’s perfect plan for the order and structure of authority, both in the church and the home, imbues men with authority to rule in love and righteousness, just as God rules. It would simply be inappropriate to refer to heavenly beings as anything other than masculine because of the authority God has granted to them to wield His power (2 Kings 19:35), carry His messages (Luke 2:10), and represent Him on earth.

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