Angels Wearing White

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(This is an excerpt from the book Angels: Agents of Light, Love, and Power by Donald W. Parry.)

Joseph Smith once related that “a man came to me in Kirtland, and told me he had seen an angel, and described his dress [clothing]. I told him he had seen no angel, and that there was no dress [of that nature] in heaven.” Owing to his considerable experience with angels, the Prophet, of course, knew about their clothing. In fact, dozens of accounts in scripture and elsewhere refer to the form of dress for the Lord’s angels. From these various accounts, it is evident that some angels wear white apparel.

On Sunday morning, the day of Jesus Christ’s resurrection, a number of mortals witnessed angels keeping watch at Christ’s tomb. All four Gospel writers write concerning the angels’ white or shining apparel. Matthew writes, “The two angels of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. And their countenance was like lightning, and their raiment white as snow” (JST, Matthew 28:2–3).

Mark tells of Mary Magdalene, Salome, and Mary the mother of James visiting the tomb, “And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment” (Mark 16:5). Luke declares that Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and other women “found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments” (Luke 24:2–4). And John informs us that Mary Magdalene wept outside of the tomb, and “as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre, and seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain” (John 20:11–12).

Two angels were present at Jesus’s ascension into heaven from the Mount of Olives when “a cloud received him out” of the view of the mortals who remained on the mount. These angels were dressed in “white apparel” (Acts 1:9–10).

Moroni wore brilliant white clothing when he appeared to the young prophet. Joseph Smith described the angel’s clothing: “He had on a loose robe of most exquisite whiteness. It was a whiteness beyond anything earthly I had ever seen; nor do I believe that any earthly thing could be made to appear so exceedingly white and brilliant” (Joseph Smith–History 1:31). Another text, revealed to the Prophet in April 1830, provides additional details of a holy angel’s garments, which “were pure and white above all other whiteness” (D&C 20:6). Two additional examples also come from the scriptures.

The seven angels who will come out of the temple in heaven “having the seven plagues” will be “clothed in pure and white linen, and having their breasts girded with golden girdles” (Revelation 15:6). In his vision of John the apostle, Nephi stated, “I looked and beheld a man, and he was dressed in a white robe” (1 Nephi 14:19).

Why do angels often wear white? White signifies purity, glory, and power. Brigham Young spoke of the white clothing of angels: “This company before me tonight does not begin to be adorned inside or out as they should be in order to meet with the angels in heaven who are adorned in purity, power, and glory, clothed with clean white linen.”

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