By Dr. Sandra Hamer Smith, Crosswalk.com
Angels are mysterious enough, but archangels seem even stranger. The Bible talks about angels appearing at the most surprising moments. They may bring judgment. They may may bring news of great joy. Whatever angels bring, they surprise people and show God is doing things we didn't realize in the supernatural realm. Archangels take it a whole new level, because the Bible only really mentions two of them. If we don't know much about angels, we really don't know much about archangels. But what the Bible tells us does give us some important lessons.
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Where Does the Bible Mention Archangels?
1 Thessalonians 4:16 reads, “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first.” In Daniel 10:13, the Bible mentions the archangel Michael who came to assist an angel delayed by a principality (“the prince of Persia”). The angel was delayed for three weeks while battling the demon.
Jude 1:9 gives another reference to the archangel Michael. The author describes Michael contending with the devil for the body of Moses, telling the devil, “The Lord rebuke thee.” According to Biblical scholars, there was a dispute about who had jurisdiction to claim Moses’ body (The KJV Study Bible). It is worth noting that in this passage, Michael did not act under his own authority but left it to God to rebuke the devil.
From these passages, we can tell that Michael has a high rank as an angel. In the Bible, there is no mention of another archangel by this term. Not to say there are no other archangels. We know there are at least seven (this number is established in Revelation 8:2). Scholars mentioned in the KJV Study Bible suggest that these seven angels stand before God and are responsible for carrying out justice in the world.
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What Do Archangels Look Like?
I have always heard that angels are extremely large beings. Who knows, archangels could be even bigger. In Daniel, we get a glimpse of what an archangel may look like. The archangel could be Gabriel since he is mentioned by name in Daniel 8:16 and Daniel 9:21-22.
The description of the angel is in Daniel 10:5-6. Daniel lifted his eyes and saw “a man clothed in linen whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz.” The angel’s body “was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in color to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude.”
Their appearance will scare you. Daniel 8:17 says when Gabriel came unto Daniel, Daniel was afraid and fell on his face. My pastor, G.E. Patterson, once taught that seeing angels today would mean judgment. If we also have guardian angels, seeing an angel could also mean healing or an answer to prayer. Gabriel was giving Daniel an answer to prayer, yet he was frightening. So, whether they deliver good or bad news, angels can be intimidating.
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What Do Archangels Do?
Archangels have specific purposes and a higher rank.
Archangels can be chief messengers of God, as in the case of Gabriel. Gabriel announced the birth of John the Baptist to Zacharias in Luke 1:11-20. Zacharias can’t quite believe the news that he and his wife, Elisabeth, shall have a son. They are both older, and this is a hard pill to swallow. Zacharias wants to know how he will know this will come to pass. God’s messenger tells Zacharias, “I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee and to shew thee these glad tidings” (Luke 1:19). Since Zacharias still acts stunned, Gabriel tells Zacharias that he shall be dumb and not able to speak until these things come to pass.
Gabriel also announces Jesus’ birth to Mary (Luke 1:26-28). Once Mary clarified what type of salutation was being presented to her and Gabriel explained everything, she was very receptive.
Archangels can also be warriors, as seen in the aforementioned passage about Michael fighting the devil. They were pivotal in kicking Satan, who is an angel but now an angel of darkness, out of heaven. Archangels are sprinkled with purpose during the end of days.
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Who Are Some Famous Archangels?
Gabriel is a famous archangel because he is mentioned in the Bible and because society remembers his name. Any angels mentioned by name can be considered famous. If you were to take a poll and ask people to mention the names of angels. Most would probably say “Gabriel or Michael.” It is in their memory bank because popular culture put it there.
Most people are familiar with the story of baby Jesus and how the angel Gabriel announced his birth to the young virgin Mary. You can read about his mission in Luke 1:26: “in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth” (KJV).
Michael is an equally famous archangel who seems to work in the area of spiritual warfare. Michael was the archangel who assisted Gabriel in Daniel 10:13. Gabriel was delivering an answer to Daniel, and the prince of Persia was a hindrance for 21 days, but Michael assisted in that fight.
The Daniel 10:13 passage is significant because it affirms God is answering our prayers. Sometimes, the demonic realm seeks to delay or cancel answers that God is sending to us. You have to stay prayed up. Have you ever noticed that sometimes things are just popping off? You are indeed close to some answered prayers. No one will resist you if you are not a threat to the kingdom’s business and advancement.
We also read about Michael and his angels fighting against the devil and his angels. The devil and his angels were kicked out of heaven. This is found in Revelation 12:7.
Outside the canonical 66 books of the Bible, there are several angels mentioned by name in the deuterocanonical books included in the Bible used by Catholics and Orthodox Christians. The book of Enoch (written before the New Testament period) mentions an archangel named Raphael alongside Michael and five other archangels. The book of Tobit also mentions Raphael.
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Do Archangels Have A Role in the End Times?
Archangels also play a role in the End Times. Some theologians believe the reference to the angels of the seven churches refers to archangels. Here God is sending messages to these churches. Angels are messengers of God. These messages to the seven churches occur in Revelation 1-3. In Revelation, angels are significant in playing out the visions of what will occur during the end of days. They are significant in sounding trumpets (Revelation 8:2). These angels are more than likely archangels because their roles are significant.
In Revelation 7, we read about angels who will enact judgment on the earth during the last days. In verse eleven, we read about angels around the throne of God. Those are archangels. Gabriel quickly reminds Zacharias that he is before the throne of God.
Throughout Revelation, we see angels at work. An angel has the key to the bottomless pit listed in Revelation 9:2. From the bottomless pit comes a deadly locust that will sting people left behind on the earth unless they have the seal of God on their forehead. The angel of the bottomless pit is Abaddon or Apollyon in the Greek language ( Revelation 9:10). He is referred to as the king over the bottomless pit. In Revelation 16:1, we see angels pouring out vials of the wrath of God upon the earth. So, many angels execute judgment for the Lord during the last days.
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