Category: Archangels


The angel Gabriel is a messenger who was entrusted to deliver several important messages on God’s behalf. Gabriel appears to at least three people in the Bible: first to the prophet Daniel (Daniel 8:16); next to the priest Zechariah to foretell and announce the miraculous birth of John the Baptist (Luke 1:19); and finally to the virgin Mary to tell her that she would conceive and bear a son (Luke 1:26–38). Gabriel’s name means “God is great,” and, as the angel of the annunciation, he is the one who revealed that the Savior was to be called “Jesus” (Luke 1:31).

The first time we see Gabriel, he appears to Daniel after the prophet had a vision. Gabriel’s role is to explain the vision to Daniel (Daniel 8:16). Gabriel’s appearance was that of a man (Daniel 8:15; 9:27). When Gabriel visited Daniel a second time, he came to him “in swift flight at the time of the evening sacrifice” (Daniel 9:21). Gabriel’s “flight” might suggest wings, but wings are not mentioned. It is also clear that Gabriel’s appearance was rather terrifying, as Daniel fell on his face at the sight of him (Daniel 8:17) and was sick for days after his experience with the angel and the vision (Daniel 8:27).

In Daniel 10 we see another interaction between the prophet and “one in the likeness of the children of men”; however, no name is given to this messenger. The angel says he has come to help Daniel understand his vision, so it is very possible that this passage is also referring to the angel Gabriel. From the language in the passage, it is also possible that there are actually two angels with Daniel—one speaking to him and another strengthening him so that he can respond (Daniel 10:16, 18). The angel also refers to a battle occurring in the spiritual realms. This angel, who we can reasonably assume is Gabriel, and the angel Michael were apparently engaged in battle with a series of demonic kings and princes, including those called the king of Persia (verse 13) and the prince of Greece (verse 20).

Gabriel says that he was sent from heaven in specific answer to Daniel’s prayer. Gabriel had left to bring the answer as soon as Daniel started praying (Daniel 10:12). But Gabriel ran into trouble on the way: “The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days” and actually kept him from coming to Daniel as quickly as he might have otherwise. Here we have a glimpse into the spiritual world and the battles taking place behind the scenes. The holy angels such as Gabriel are performing God’s will, but they are resisted by other spiritual beings who only want wickedness in the world.

Gabriel’s message to the priest Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, was delivered in the temple as Zechariah was ministering before the Lord. Gabriel appeared to the right of the altar of incense (Luke 1:11), a symbol of prayer, and told Zechariah that his prayers had been heard (verse 13). Zechariah’s barren wife, Elizabeth, was going to conceive and bear a son; this miraculous child was to be named John, and he would fulfill the prophecy of the coming of Elijah (verse 17; cf. Malachi 4:5). Gabriel’s message was met with disbelief, so Gabriel struck the doubting priest dumb until the day of the child’s circumcision (Luke 1:20, 59–64).

Gabriel’s appearance to Mary was to announce the virgin birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. The mother of the Messiah was assured of her favor with God (Luke 1:30) and told that her Son would fulfill the Davidic Covenant: “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end” (verses 32–33). In response to Mary’s question about how this was to happen, since she was a virgin, the angel Gabriel said the conception would be the result of the Holy Spirit’s work in her, and therefore “the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God” (verse 35).

In all three appearances, Gabriel was met with fear, and he had to begin his conversations with words of comfort and cheer for Daniel, Zechariah, and Mary. It is possible that Gabriel was also the angel that appeared to Joseph in Matthew 1:20, but this is not certain, since that angel is unnamed in Scripture. What we do know is that Gabriel is one of God’s good and holy angels. He has a favored position as an angel who “stands in the presence of God” (Luke 1:19), and he was selected to deliver important messages of God’s particular love and favor to individuals chosen to be part of God’s plan.

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Michael the archangel is described in the Bible, in the books of Daniel, Jude, and Revelation, as a warrior angel who engages in spiritual combat. The word archangel means “angel of the highest rank.” Most angels in the Bible are portrayed as messengers, but Michael is described in all three books as contending, fighting, or standing against evil spirits and principalities (Daniel 10:13; 10:21; Jude 1:9; Revelation 12:7). We do not have a full picture of any angel, and only two are named in the Bible (Gabriel is the other). Scripture only gives us hints of their movements during human events, but it is safe to say that Michael the archangel is a powerful being.

Despite his great power, Michael is still in total submission to the Lord. His dependence on the Lord’s power is seen in Jude 1:9. The righteous angels have a rank and are submissive to authority, and for this reason they are used as a picture of a wife’s submission to her husband (1 Corinthians 11:10). Taking into consideration the strength of Michael the archangel, his submission to God is all the more beautiful. If the submission of angels is an argument for woman’s submission, we can see that submission is never meant to take away a woman’s strength or purpose or value.

The prophet Daniel is told that Michael the archangel is “the great prince who protects your people” (Daniel 12:1). Daniel’s people are the Jews, and the fact that Michael “protects” them suggests that God has set various holy angels over various countries or people groups. The demons seem to have a similar hierarchy (see Daniel 10:20). The fact that Michael is a “great prince” indicates that he has authority in the spiritual realm. There are others—Daniel 10:13 says that Michael is “one of the chief princes.”

Michael the archangel has, it seems, a prominent role in the events of the end times. Daniel was told by the angel of the Lord that, during the time of the end, Michael will “arise” and there would be a time of unsurpassed trouble—a reference to the Great Tribulation (Daniel 12:1). Israel is guaranteed protection during this time, which will be followed by a great resurrection of the dead—some to everlasting life and others to everlasting shame (Daniel 12:2). The rapture of the church will be accompanied by “the voice of the archangel” (1 Thessalonians 4:16); this could be a reference to Michael, but Scripture does not specifically name him here.

The last mention of Michael the archangel appears in Revelation 12:7. During the tribulation, “war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back.” Michael and the forces of heaven defeat the dragon (Satan), and the devil is hurled to the earth. There, enraged, Satan “went off to wage war against . . . those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus” (Revelation 12:17).

There is a spiritual war being fought over the hearts and souls of mankind. Michael the archangel is a strong angelic prince who protects Israel and submissively serves God by doing battle against Satan. The devil can do his worst, but “he [is] not strong enough” to conquer heaven’s forces (Revelation 12:8).

Jesus is not Michael the archangel. The Bible nowhere identifies Jesus as Michael (or any other angel, for that matter). Hebrews 1:5-8 draws a clear distinction between Jesus and the angels, “For to which of the angels did God ever say, ‘You are my Son; today I have become your Father’? Or again, ‘I will be His Father, and He will be my Son’? And again, when God brings His firstborn into the world, He says, ‘Let all God’s angels worship Him.’ In speaking of the angels He says, ‘He makes his angels winds, his servants flames of fire.’ But about the Son He says, ‘Your throne, O God, will last forever and ever, and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom.’” The hierarchy of heavenly beings is made clear in this passage—angels worship Jesus who, as God, is alone worthy of worship. No angel is ever worshipped in Scripture; therefore, Jesus (worthy of worship) cannot be Michael or any other angel (not worthy of worship). The angels are called sons of God (Genesis 6:2-4; Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7), but Jesus is THE Son of God (Hebrews 1:8; Matthew 4:3-6).

Michael the archangel is perhaps the highest of all the angels. Michael is the only angel in the Bible who is designated “the archangel” (Jude verse 9). Michael the archangel, though, is only an angel. He is not God. The clear distinction in the power and authority of Michael and Jesus can be seen in comparing Matthew 4:10 where Jesus rebukes Satan, and Jude verse 9, where Michael the archangel “dared not bring a judgment of blasphemy” against Satan and calls on the Lord to rebuke him. Jesus is God incarnate (John 1:1, 14). Michael the archangel is a powerful angel, but still only an angel.