Jacob wrestled with God Was that just an angel of God and not God Himself?
How could Jacob wrestle with an angel if they don’t have physical bodies?

Jesus is God but he also took on a human body.

A big difference here: the angel did not incarnate, he took human appearence.

St. Gregory the Wonderworker is an important early theologian and Church Father. He thought it was an angel because Hosea 12:4 says, “Yes, he wrestled with the angel and won. He wept and pleaded for a blessing from him.” But he also acknowledged that a lot of theologians in his day thought it was a mystical appearance of God the Son in the form of an angel. I guess that leaves both options open, which means you are free to believe whichever option you think has better evidence: Jacob either wrestled with an angel whom God allowed to manipulate matter so as to appear to have a body, or Jacob wrestled with God in the form of an angel.

At least, that’s how I see it.

Obviously the angel was solid enough to wrestle with!!

Genesis 32 actually says several times that it was a man.

And Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and Jacob’s thigh was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. (Genesis 32:24-25)

The man goes on to rename Jacob who is thereafter known as Israel. It occurs to me all the times God renamed people in the Bible. dmar198 correctly points out however that the Prophet Hosea says it was an angel.

Whomever it was, the encounter was certainly divine. Jacob had earlier seen the angels ascending and descending on the ladder and proclaimed, “God is in this place!” Encounters with God and his messengers was something Jacob clearly experienced as an individual. The nation of Israel who bore Jacob’s new name would continue to experience divine encounters and wrestle with God over many things.


If it had been God, Jacob wouldn’t have lasted an instant.

How could Jacob wrestle with an angel if they don’t have physical bodies?

You are correct that angels (and demons) are non-corporeal and cannot interact with the physical world. But it is possible by a miracle of God. If this was an angel (and the jury is still out on that question) then it was given physical form through a divine miracle.

There is, however, no doubt about the angelic nature of the creature who came to Tobit (the angel is identified by name as Raphael). Tobit and the angel spent many days together, but Tobit never realized it was an angel until Raphael revealed his identity at the end of the book. This is clearly an example of an angel, by the power of God, being given corporeal form.

Demons are able to interact with the physical world. For example St John Vianney was bothered as

At midnight three violent knocks against the door of the presbytery generally warned the Cure d’Ars of the presence of his enemy; these knocks were followed by others more or less heavy, according as his sleep was more or less profound. After having diverted himself by making a frightful uproar on the staircase, the demon entered the room, seized the curtains of the bed, shook them so furiously that the poor inmate never could understand why they were not torn to atoms. Sometimes the malignant spirit knocked like some one who was demanding admittance, and the next moment, without the door being opened, he was in the room, moving about the chairs, deranging the furniture, rummaging everywhere, calling the Cure with a mocking voice, ‘Vianney, Vianney!’ and adding to his name the most outrageous qualifications and menaces. ‘Eater of truffles, we shall have you, we shall have you! We hold you, we hold you!’


so I would assume angels could effect physical objects also.

Qoutes from CCC?

Well this is how I have always seen it.
Angels, God, dead people, and demons all have a “new” body… it is a body that is for lack of better words upgraded. It can be invisible… solid, translucent, or not soil at all and look more like phantom. After Jesus resurrected the disciples thought he was a ghost however… they were able to touch him… you can’t touch a ghost. He was also able to walk through walls. I like to think of it as the true body.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit