Biblically Accurate Angels and the Memes That Define Them

In my hometown, there are a couple Mexican food restaurants to choose from — all of them pretty good — but at least in my household, if you say “let’s eat at Mexican,” we’re referring to one specific restaurant: El Caballo Blanco (translation: The White Horse). Not only do they have the best chicken dishes and chips and salsa in town, but their aesthetic is rich with cultural imagery ranging from huge paintings of villages to the visual focal point of their main dining area: a massive painting of an angelic warrior, featuring awesome armor, majestic wings, a sword, and cross staff.

It looks pretty fantastic, and as part of the restaurant’s visual appeal, I have no notes. However, there’s a meme going around that would call into question the angelic nature of this particular holy warrior. And perhaps rightly so?

Read more: Biblically Accurate Angels and the Memes That Define Them

This meme is called the “biblically-accurate angel,” and the website Know Your Meme has a great rundown of the meme’s history and many of the forms it has taken over the years. They point to a 2010 article on Cracked that includes the typical Western depiction of angels (such as El Caballo Blanco’s winged warrior) among other things which “you won’t believe aren’t in the Bible.” Know Your Meme then points to a March 2016 Tumblr post from a “reformed Presbyterian, Neo-Calvinist” going by the handle revelation19, who briefly answers the question of what “angels actually look like per the Bible.” Here are that images he uses to show what angels look like, according to various Bible passages.

I like what revelation19 wrote about these depictions:

…when the people writing Scripture tried to describe what they saw when they saw an angel… they run into the end of their imagination… they can never quite seem to fully explain it because they had trouble even comprehending what they say…


Awe. Sheer mind-blowing awe. Good stuff right there.

At the time of this writing, revelation19’s post has been liked or reblogged or otherwise interacted with on Tumblr 423 thousand times, including being reblogged by glittzysunflowermaze, upon which user cameoamalthea shared a humorous bit:

So demons are fallen angels but they don’t look scary because they’re fallen, that’s just what all angels look like…

Maybe that’s why so many Christians see visions of Saints or the Virgin Mary instead…like Jesus is all…no, no see being human made me realize sending Angels might not be the best idea. I don’t know if humans can handle this. So I’m gonna just send mom


“I’m gonna just send mom.” Classic.

Since the end of 2020, interest in “biblically accurate angels” has grown with popularization of memes about them. Here are some examples, mostly taken from the Know Your Meme page previously mentioned:

Anyone see the problem yet?

To help narrow it down, I will say that I don’t have any issue with the artistic interpretation of the creatures described in Ezekiel, Daniel, and Isaiah. Those prophets described some truly horrific, outlandishly creative beings.

No, that isn’t the issue.

The problem I have is that the memes all talk about “biblically accurate angels,” but if you were to pick up a Bible and search for the word “angel,” well, you would find many passages (194 verses each in the ESV and KJV, for example), none of which describing angels’ appearance as anything other than like unto man.

Never winged.

Never female.

Never multi-eyed or wheeled or any of those things described by the prophets.

You may be thinking, But the Bible does describe those creatures in the memes! I agree, it sure seems that they’re a good representation of what the prophets witnessed, but those creatures — seraphim and cherubim — are never called angels, at least not in the Bible.

Therein lies the crux of the matter. The memes claim “biblical accuracy,” and like so many memes on so many subjects, they have the appearance of truth but just miss the mark: Memes are, it seems, highly effective carriers of truthiness.

The angels are so indistinguishable from men that they could procreate with human women (Genesis 6:1–4) or interact with humans unknowingly (Hebrews 13:2).

I realize that this is less awe-inspiring than the “biblically accurate angels” of so many memes, and I fully realize that even Christian leaders and experts in biblical theology get their “angelology” wrong. The Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry lumps seraphim and cherubim into one bucked labeled “angels,” without any biblical reason to do so. Theologian Charles C. Ryrie makes the exact same error on pages 146–148 of his Basic Theology, a work I otherwise recommend as an accessible yet thorough course on biblical theology.

It doesn’t really hurt anything if you want to believe seraphim and cherubim are angels, but if your concern is truth — truth in believing the word of God, truth in communication, etc. — then ensuring even little details like these are correct can go a long way.

If you aren’t diligent, you’ll end up believing that Satan was once an angel named Lucifer (he wasn’t) who rebelled against God along with a bunch of other angels (they didn’t) who now roam the earth and Hell as demons (they don’t), that your loved ones becomes angels upon death (they don’t), or any number of other things.

All of that said, if aligning with the Bible isn’t your goal, then feel free to create whatever angelology you want to — have fun with it! But don’t go around calling something “biblically accurate” just because a meme told you it was so when you’ve not done the diligence yourself.

Whether you’re a believer or not, you would do well to hold to this advice: “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21).

(This post is a bit of fun — I fully realize that among the problems facing the world and the churches, labeling seraphim and cherubim as angels is certainly a minor one!)

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