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Are cherubim angels? If so, do they have wings?

‘Angel’ is the translation of the Hebrew ‘malak’ and the Greek ‘aggolos’ (pronounced "angelos"), both of which mean ‘messenger’. Angels act as God’s messengers.

Cherubim (plural of cherub) is the transliteration of the Hebrew ‘cherub’ the meaning of which is unknown. Cherubim do not act as messengers. God’s angels always have the appearance of men (no wings) and the faithful are promised equality with them following the resurrection.

Luke 20:36 nor can they die anymore, for they are equal to the angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.

The appearance of the cherubim varies, but they usually have 2 or 4 wings. Cherubim were tasked to keep the way to the tree of life when Adam and Eve are expelled from the garden.

Genesis 3:24 So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.

We next meet them in the construction of the Ark of the Covenant.

Exodus 25:18 And you shall make two cherubim of gold; of hammered work you shall make them at the two ends of the mercy seat.

Exodus 25:20 And the cherubim shall stretch out their wings above, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and they shall face one another; the faces of the cherubim shall be toward the mercy seat.

Cherubim were depicted on the curtains and veil of the tabernacle.

Exodus 26:1 Moreover you shall make the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine woven linen and blue, purple, and scarlet thread; with artistic designs of cherubim you shall weave them.

Exodus 26:31 You shall make a veil woven of blue, purple, and scarlet thread, and fine woven linen. It shall be woven with an artistic design of cherubim.

God is said to dwell between the Cherubim on the mercy seat.

Exodus 25:22 And there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are on the ark of the Testimony, about everything which I will give you in commandment to the children of Israel.

1 Samuel 4:4 So the people sent to Shiloh, that they might bring from thence the ark of the covenant of the LORD of hosts, which dwelleth between the cherubims: and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God.

Solomon made two larger cherubim of olive wood for the most Holy Place of the Temple.

1 Kings 6:23 Inside the inner sanctuary he made two cherubim of olive wood, each ten cubits high.

1 Kings 6:27,28 Then he set the cherubim inside the inner room; and they stretched out the wings of the cherubim so that the wing of the one touched one wall, and the wing of the other cherub touched the other wall. And their wings touched each other in the middle of the room. 28 Also he overlaid the cherubim with gold.

Cherubim were depicted upon the veil, walls and doors of the Temple.

2 Chronicles 3:14 And he made the veil of blue, purple, crimson, and fine linen, and wove cherubim into it.

1 Kings 6:29 Then he carved all the walls of the temple all around, both the inner and outer sanctuaries, with carved figures of cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers.

1 Kings 6:32 The two doors were of olive wood; and he carved on them figures of cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers, and overlaid them with gold; and he spread gold on the cherubim and on the palm trees.

These cherubim have one face each – clearly from Moses’ to Solomon’s day they knew what cherubim looked like – knowledge which has since been lost.

Cherubim are described as a ‘chariot’.

1 Chronicles 28:18 And for the altar of incense refined gold by weight; and gold for the pattern of the chariot of the cherubims, that spread out their wings, and covered the ark of the covenant of the LORD.

Psalms 18:10 And He (God) rode upon a cherub, and flew; He flew upon the wings of the wind.

In Ezekiel’s visions we encounter cherubim (which he first describes as ‘living creatures’). Four of them, with four faces each (facing in different directions).

Ezekiel 1:5-10 Also from within it came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance: they had the likeness of a man. 6 Each one had four faces, and each one had four wings. 7 Their legs were straight, and the soles of their feet were like the soles of calves’ feet. They sparkled like the color of burnished bronze. 8 The hands of a man were under their wings on their four sides; and each of the four had faces and wings. 9 Their wings touched one another. The creatures did not turn when they went, but each one went straight forward. 10 As for the likeness of their faces, each had the face of a man; each of the four had the face of a lion on the right side, each of the four had the face of an ox on the left side, and each of the four had the face of an eagle.

He sees them again in chapter 10.

Ezekiel 10:14,15 Each one had four faces: the first face was the face of a cherub, the second face the face of a man, the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle. 15 And the cherubim were lifted up. This was the living creature I saw by the River Chebar.

Ezekiel 10:20-22 This is the living creature I saw under the God of Israel by the River Chebar, and I knew they were cherubim. 21 Each one had four faces and each one four wings, and the likeness of the hands of a man was under their wings. 22 And the likeness of their faces was the same as the faces which I had seen by the River Chebar, their appearance and their persons. They each went straight forward.

He sees them under (a representation of) the God of Israel indicating that they were acting as a chariot. We notice that he tells us that these were the same creatures that he saw in both visions, but there is a change in the description of one of the faces. The face described as an ox is now the face of cherub. From this it is reasonable to deduce that the actual face of a cherub was that of an ox. In chapter 11 he sees the cherubim transport the glory of God out of the Temple in Jerusalem (prior to its sacking by the Babylonians).

Ezekiel 10:22 So the cherubim lifted up their wings, with the wheels beside them, and the glory of the God of Israel was high above them. 23 And the glory of the LORD went up from the midst of the city and stood on the mountain, which is on the east side of the city.

Now although we don’t find it in the Bible the four camps of Israel about the Tabernacle each had a standard.


"Joseph Barclay, an Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem published his translation of the Talmud's primary text of the Mishna, it included a commentary on the Tabernacle stating, "Aben Ezra and Ramban, repeating the old tradition, say, there were figures on every standard. On the standard of Reuben was the picture of a man. On the standard of Judah the picture of a lion. On the standard of Ephraim the picture of an ox. And on the standard of Dan the picture of an eagle. So that they were like the Cherubim which the prophet Ezekiel saw."

If we suppose that these standards depict four of the characteristics of the glory of God which we see in his Son Jesus Christ then we have the following:

  • Lion – king – righteous judgment
  • Man – fellow feeling – compassion
  • Ox – servant – obedience
  • Eagle – long-sighted – spiritual discernment

These characteristics are to be emulated by the faithful of all ages. They are the characteristics of the glory of God. Those who manifest them are vehicles of the glory of God.

From the foregoing I conclude that the cherubim are not angels but rather symbolic creatures representing those who will receive the divine nature and by whom the earth will be filled with God’s glory.

Numbers 14:21 ...but truly, as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD

1 Corinthians 15:28 Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.

Revelation 21:3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.

I hope this helps,

God bless,