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Question

Are angels male or female?

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Answer


The question of whether angels are male or female is likely moot. Angels are spirit beings (Hebrews 1:14), and therefore assigning them a gender is pointless. The most we can say is that Scripture depicts angels as if they were male.


Every reference to angels in Scripture is in the masculine gender. The Greek word for “angel” in the New Testament, angelos, is in the masculine form. In fact, a 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 appeared, they were always dressed as human males (Genesis 18:2, 16; Ezekiel 9:2). No angel ever appears in Scripture dressed as a female.

The only named angels in the Bible—Michael and Gabriel—are referred to in the masculine. “Michael and his angels” (Revelation 12:7); “Mary was greatly troubled at his [Gabriel’s] words” (Luke 1:29). Other references to angels are always in the masculine gender. In Judges 6:21, the angel holds a staff in “his” hand. Zechariah asks an angel a question and reports that “he” answered (Zechariah 1:19). The angels in Revelation are all spoken of as “he” and their possessions as “his” (Revelation 10:1, 5; 14:19; 16:2, 4, 17; 19:17; 20:1). The devil, whom we assume is a fallen angel, is also referred to in masculine terms: he is a “father” in John 8:44.

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).

In Matthew 22:30 Jesus says that there will be no marriage in heaven because we “will be like the angels in heaven.” This verse states that angels do not marry, but it stops short of commenting on their “gender.” Nothing in Jesus’ statement can be taken to imply that angels are masculine, feminine, or neuter.

God is spirit (John 4:4) and does not have a “gender” any more than the angels do. At the same time, God almost always refers to Himself in masculine terms. The exceptions are in certain metaphors and in a couple of constructions in which the Holy Spirit is referred to with a neuter intensive pronoun, in grammatical agreement with the neuter noun pneuma (“spirit”). In like manner, Scripture refers to angels, which are spirit beings, using masculine terminology.

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This page last updated: June 16, 2021