Are angels male or female?
Question: "Are angels male or female?"
Answer: There is no doubt that 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).
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 fact 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. Angels do not marry, but we can’t make the leap from “no marriage” to “no gender.”
Gender in language, then, is not to be understood strictly in terms of sexuality. Rather, the masculine gender pronouns applied to spirit beings throughout Scripture are more a reference to authority than to sex. God always refers to Himself in the masculine. The Holy Spirit is never described as an “it.” God is personal and authoritative—thus, the personal pronouns in the masculine gender. 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.
Recommended Resource: Angels: Elect & Evil by C. Fred Dickason
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