What Are Angels Made Of?

Scripture and poetry point to the nature of angels

The silhouette of an angel
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Angels seem so ethereal and mysterious compared to flesh-and-blood human beings. Unlike people, angels don’t have physical bodies, so they can appear in a variety of ways. Angels can temporarily show up in the form of a person if a mission they’re working on requires doing so. At other times, angels may appear as exotic creatures with wings, as beings of light, or in some other form.

That’s all possible because angels are purely spiritual beings who aren’t bound by Earth’s physical laws. Despite the many ways they can appear, however, angels are still created beings that have an essence. So what are angels made of?

What Are Angels Made Of?

Each angel whom God has made is a unique being, says Saint Thomas Aquinas in his book "Summa Theologica:" "Since angels have in them no matter or bodiliness at all, for they are pure spirits, they are not individuated. This means that each angel is the only one of its kind. It means that each angel is a species or essential kind of substantial being. Hence each angel is essentially different from every other angel."

The Bible calls angels "ministering spirits" in Hebrews 1:14, and believers say that God has made each angel in the way that would best empower that angel to serve the people whom God loves.

Divine Love

Most importantly, believers say, faithful angels are filled with divine love. "Love is the most basic law of the universe…" writes Eileen Elias Freeman in her book "Touched by Angels." "God is love, and any real angelic encounter will be filled with love, because angels, since they come from God, are filled with love, too."

Angels’ love compels them to honor God and serve people. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that angels express that great love by caring for each person throughout his or her life on Earth: "From infancy to death human life is surrounded by their watchful care and intercession." The poet Lord Byron wrote about how angels express God’s love for us: "Yes, love indeed is light from heaven; A spark of that immortal fire with angels shared, by God given to lift from earth our low desire."

Intellect of Angels

When God made angels, he gave them impressive intellectual capabilities. The Torah and the Bible mention in 2 Samuel 14:20 that God has given angels the knowledge about "all things that are on the earth." God has also created angels with the power to see the future. In Daniel 10:14 of the Torah and the Bible, an angel tells the prophet Daniel: "Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come."

Angels’ intellect doesn’t depend on any kind of physical matter, like human brains. "In man, because the body is substantially united with the spiritual soul, intellectual activities (understanding and willing) presuppose the body and its senses. But an intellect in itself, or as such, requires nothing bodily for its activity. The angels are pure spirits without a body, and their intellectual operations of understanding and willing depend in no way at all upon material substance," writes Saint Thomas Aquinas in Summa Theologica.

Strength of Angels

Even though angels don’t have physical bodies, they can nevertheless exert great physical strength to perform their missions. The Torah and the Bible both say in Psalm 103:20: "Bless the LORD, you his angels, mighty in strength, who perform his word, obeying the voice of his word!".

Angels who assume human bodies to perform missions on Earth aren’t limited by human strength but can exercise their great angelic strength while they’re using human bodies, writes Saint Thomas Aquinas in "Summa Theologica:" "When an angel in human form walks and talks, he exercises angelic power and uses the bodily organs as instruments."


Angels are often lit from within when they appear on Earth, and many people believe that angels are either made out of light or work within it when they visit Earth. The Bible uses the phrase "angel of light" in 2 Corinthians 11:4. Muslim tradition declares that God made angels out of light; the Sahih Muslim Hadith quotes the prophet Muhammad as saying: "The Angels were born out of light…". New Age believers say that angels work within different electromagnetic energy frequencies that correspond to seven different light color rays.

Incorporated in Fire

Angels may also incorporate themselves in fire. In Judges 13:9-20 of the Torah and the Bible, an angel visits Manoah and his wife to give them some information about their future son Samson. The couple wants to thank the angel by giving him some food, but the angel encourages them to prepare a burnt offering to express their thanks to God, instead. Verse 20 records how the angel used fire to make his dramatic exit: "As the flame blazed up from the altar toward heaven, the angel of the LORD ascended in the flame. Seeing this, Manoah and his wife fell with their faces to the ground."

Angels Are Incorruptible

God has made angels in such a way that they retain the essence that God originally intended for them, Saint Thomas Aquinas declares in "Summa Theologica:" "The angels are incorruptible substances. This means that they cannot die, decay, break up, or be substantially changed. For the root of corruptibility in a substance is matter, and in the angels there is no matter."

So whatever angels may be made of, they’re made to last forever!

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Your Citation
Hopler, Whitney. "What Are Angels Made Of?" Learn Religions, Aug. 25, 2020, learnreligions.com/what-are-angels-made-of-123836. Hopler, Whitney. (2020, August 25). What Are Angels Made Of? Retrieved from https://www.learnreligions.com/what-are-angels-made-of-123836 Hopler, Whitney. "What Are Angels Made Of?" Learn Religions. https://www.learnreligions.com/what-are-angels-made-of-123836 (accessed March 25, 2023).