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Dear Gramps,
From Moroni’s angelic visit to Joseph Smith it becomes apparent that angels do not have wings. The same applies for when Heavenly Father, Himself, and His Only Begotten Son, even Jesus, the Christ, appeared to the boy prophet. Since this is the case (angels aren’t winged) then why is it that everyone, except the Mormons, who know the truth, thinks and teaches that angels have wings. And what are the winged creatures on the ark of the covenant carried by native Israel to the promised land? I know them as Cherubs (or Cherubim) sometimes known as Seraphim, and I am told it means angels. In fine, are angels winged creatures or not? And what are the winged creatures talked about in the Bible?
Ntando, from Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Dear Ntando,
Sectarian Christianity teaches that angels have wings because they were depicted with wings in the paintings of classical artists in medieval times in order to convey their superiority and majesty. Earlier Christian artists, including Michelangelo, depicted angels in human form, without wings. You mentioned the winged cherubim depicted on the ark of the covenant. No one knows exactly what the ark of the covenant looked like. Depictions of it showing the two cherubim (angels) with wings followed the traditions of the times in which the depictions were made. The concept of angels having wings undoubtedly was influenced by the passage in Revelations 4:8 describing four beasts, each with six wings, that attended the throne of God. These beasts, however, are not angels. They are actual beasts, as described in Doctrine & Covenants 77:3—

Q. Are the four beasts limited to individual beasts, or do they represent classes or orders?

A. They are limited to four individual beasts, which were shown to John, to represent the glory of the classes of beings in their destined order or sphere of creation, in the enjoyment of their eternal felicity.

You mention that cherubim and seraphim are synonymous expressions, but they represent two different concepts. Cherubim, translated from the Hebrew, kruwb, means angelic beings (see Isaiah 37:16). Whereas, Seraphim, translated from the Hebrew Saraph, means serpent, fiery serpent or poisonous serpent. Seraphim are represented in Isaiah 6:1-3 as standing above the temple in the year that king Uzziah died, praising God.

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