Are angels made in the image of God? Some answer negatively on the basis of the fact that Scripture affirms this of human beings (cf. Gen. 1:26-27) but nowhere explicitly says the same of angels. But to conclude from this fact that angels must not be made in God’s image is a case of the ad ignorantium fallacy (appealing to ignorance). In fact, there are many good reasons to believe that angelic beings are divine image bearers:
- The Essence of Divine Imaging—What does it mean to bear the divine image? Presumably this has to do with certain essential “soulish” capacities that a being has in common with the Deity. Three such characteristics come to mind: (a) cognitive capacity—the ability to use reason, form beliefs, perceive things, etc.; (b) conative capacity—the ability to make choices or act intentionally; and (c) moral capacity—being such that one’s choices are susceptible to ethical evaluation (praise and blame) and having duties or obligations. Do angels have such capacities? According to the biblical accounts, angels clearly have cognitive, conative, and moral capacities just as humans do. It would appear, then, that they bear the image of God.
- “A Little Lower than the Angels”—It is said about Jesus that God “made him a little lower than the angels” (Ps. 8:5 and Heb. 2:7). Presumably this refers to the fact that in sending his Son to Earth in human form he was in this way making him “lower than the angels.” But if humans bear God’s image and angels don’t, then surely humans would not properly be considered “lower” than angels. It seems, then, that angels also must be divine image bearers.
- The Glory of Angels—It is clear from many biblical passages that angels are immensely glorious beings, so much so that even righteous people are tempted to worship them (cf. Rev. 19:10). Moreover, angelic beings such as the archangel Gabriel, are given significant cosmic responsibilities. The notion that such beings do not also bear the image of God seems incongruent with these facts.
- Angelic Impersonations of Humans—In some biblical narratives angels appear in human form (e.g., Gen. 18-19, Gen. 32:22-32, Heb. 13:2, etc.) in order to perform certain tasks. And down through history there have been thousands of reports by Christians of encounters with angels in human guise. The fact that such impersonations occur also seems incongruent with the denial that angels are divine image bearers.