Coming from the Greek meaning “chief angel,” these angels seem to be at the top of the angelic hierarchy in terms of power. Created by God, these types of angels have a number of purposes they fill, lining the Old and New Testament of Scripture.
Who are the archangels we encounter in Scripture and outside of it? What purposes do they serve? What are some other angels in the hierarchy below them? This article will explore all of these questions.
Archangels in the Bible
The Bible only attributes the rank of archangel to one angel: Michael. Although some wonder if we have a second angel, Gabriel, from the Bible, Scripture never labels him as an archangel.
We encounter Michael a number of times in the Old and New Testament. He makes an appearance twice in the book of Daniel. Gabriel mentions Michael stepped into a spiritual fight against the Prince of Persia so Gabriel could deliver a message to the prophet (Daniel 10). Michael appears again in Daniel 12:1, indicating he protected the Israelite nation from spiritual attacks.
He makes a personal appearance in Jude 1:9 when in a dispute with the devil, where Satan attempts to get him to blaspheme God as they argue about the body of Moses. He rebukes Satan.
Archangels in Other Ancient Texts
We need to make a certain distinction before we dive into this section.
Jude 1:9 seems to indicate only one archangel exists, but Daniel 10:13 labels Michael as “one of the chief princes.” For now, we can assume only one archangel exists to the best of our knowledge. Nevertheless, this section will explore other ancient texts and names they have ascribed to archangels.
Readers, keep in mind this article is concluding Scripture as the 66 books in the Protestant Bible. Those from a Catholic background may consider books listing these angels as canon.
- Raphael: A passage in Tobit 12:15-22 indicates seven archangels exist, including Raphael, who appears to Tobit and Tobias and encourages them to sing praises to God.
- Gabriel: As mentioned above, Scripture does not give him the label of archangel, but we can mention he makes an appearance to Daniel and to Mary the Mother of Jesus, each time proclaiming news that will affect the future of the Israelite nation.
- Jophiel: From Jewish and Kabalistic lore, she is linked often with beauty and positivity. No Scripture or extracanonical text seems to mention her by name.
- Ariel/Uriel: Although some people have attributed Uriel to several events that happen in the Bible (the angel who guarded the Garden of Eden, the angel who slew the Assyrian army, etc.), an extra-canonical book known as 2 Esdras mentions him (2 Esdras 4:1-8). Uriel presents three impossible riddles to show us how humans cannot fathom the ways of God.
- Azrael: Many have labeled Azrael as the Angel of Death in the tenth plague in Egypt, although Scripture never mentions an explicit name of that angel.
- Chamuel: Again, never mentioned by name in any text, Chamuel is associated with bringing peace.
Purpose of Archangels
Although not explicitly mentioned, archangels have a number of duties. As indicated in their name, they lead the other ranks of angels. It appears they engage in spiritual combat, as Scripture indicates Michael is known to do so.
If Gabriel falls under the label of an archangel, they also deliver God’s messages to His people.
Other Types of Angels
In addition to archangels, Scripture mentions a few other types:
Cherubim: Angels associated with holiness and guarding against sin. Cherubim were placed at the entrance of the Garden of Eden after man sinned and on the Ark of the Covenant (Exodus 25:18).
Seraphim: Six-winged angels who sing God’s praises without ceasing (Isaiah 6:2-7).
- Principalities and Powers: Other ranks of angels, whether fallen or not fallen, mentioned in Scripture (Colossians 1:16).
Significance of Archangels
A spiritual war rages all around us, be we can rest assured God has placed angels throughout the world to protect us against spiritual harm. We can learn from the example of archangels to trust in God (Michael refuses to blaspheme him), and that even beings of great power fall under God’s dominion.
Often people try to say Satan is God’s rival, but they often forget Satan has limited power, and God is omnipotent. A better matching would be Satan and Michael. Rest assured, God has no match. Man stands just a little lower than the angels, even powerful ones like Michael (Psalm 8:5).
Hope Bolinger is a literary agent at C.Y.L.E. and a graduate of Taylor University's professional writing program. More than 350 of her works have been featured in various publications ranging from Writer's Digest to Keys for Kids. She has worked for various publishing companies, magazines, newspapers, and literary agencies and has edited the work of authors such as Jerry B. Jenkins and Michelle Medlock Adams. Her column "Hope's Hacks," tips and tricks to avoid writer's block, reaches 5,000+ readers weekly and is featured monthly on Cyle Young's blog. Her modern-day Daniel, “Blaze,” (Illuminate YA) released June 2019 and the sequel “Den” releases a year from now. Find out more about her here.
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