Question: Do angels really exist and, if so, do people ‘earn their wings’ to become angels when they die?
Classic Hollywood films such as “Topper” and “It’s A Wonderful Life” have solidified the already popular idea that people who died could “earn their wings” and become angels.
The truth is that angels represent a specific order of the created universe, just as is true of humans, reptiles and birds. People don’t become angels when they die any more than dogs become fish.
In Matthew 1:18-21, an ”angel of the Lord” appeared to Joseph in a dream and passed on to him very specific instructions concerning the birth of Jesus to Joseph’s wife-to-be, the virgin Mary. Then, in Luke 1:8-20, “an angel of the Lord” appears to the priest Zechariah—who was very much awake, introduces himself as Gabriel, and informs him that he and his wife are about to become the parents of John the Baptist.
What kind of beings are these angels who can appear to human beings either in dreams or in visible, audible form?
We know from Job 38:4-7 that all the angels already existed before day three of creation (Gen. 1:9-13) because God formed the continent(s) on that day “… while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?” (Job 38:7)
Angels are spirit beings:
Heb. 1:14 Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?
Their natural habitat is the spiritual dimension the Bible calls call “heaven”:
Ps. 148:2 Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his heavenly hosts (i.e., armies).
There are different orders or kinds of angels, each with distinctive features and purposes. Some of these distinctions seem to be a matter of assigned positions or roles, while others seem to be different in their very make-up.
The two highest orders of angels seem to be the cherubim and the seraphim. It was the cherubim that God placed outside the Garden of Eden to prevent Adam and Eve and their descendants from gaining access to the Tree of Life (Gen. 3:24). This same order of angelic beings holds positions of honor and glory at each side of the Throne of God (Ps. 99:1; Is. 37:16). Among the cherubim at the beginning was Lucifer, who later rebelled against God and was stripped of his beauty and power and cast down to earth as Satan (Ezek. 28:14-16).
Another order of angels is called the “seraphim,” which is at least one category of angels described as having wings:
Is. 6:2 Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying.
Is. 6:6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar.
There are even angels who appear gigantic in form (Rev. 10:1-9) and angels who appear in inanimate form:
Heb. 1:7 In speaking of the angels he says, “He makes his angels spirits, and his servants flames of fire.
Angels—the original citizens of heaven!