The Archangels

Michael defeating Satan ~ Saint-Michel, Paris, by Birgit Whelan 2

Scripture reveals a hierarchy in heaven. There are not only angels, but also archangels, cherubim and seraphim. There are principalities, powers and dominions. Jesus even spoke of “legions of angels” Matthew 26:53 which gives us some idea that angels are grouped in an organised kind of way.  Over angels are the archangels. While Scripture only mentions two archangels by name – Michael and Gabriel, the Jewish Rabbinical tradition also mentions Raphael and Uriel which I’ve also included here.

There is something that interested me about each of the names which is that each ends with the syllable el which means God, so each of the archangels refer to or point to God in some way in their name. Each also has a particular role in God’s Kingdom:

Michael – His name means ‘Who is like God.’ Michael appears in Daniel, Jude and Revelation. He is a warrior angel, the mighty commander of those angels who do warfare for God against evil. The ultimate example is where Michael fights against Satan in the great battle in Revelation 12, and Satan is cast out of heaven. The photo above is a stunning sculpture depicting this from a visit to St Michel in Paris.

Gabriel – His name means ‘Strength of God.’ Gabriel “stands in the presence of God” Luke 1:19 and has a major role in both Testaments. Gabriel is an angel of annunciation – he appears as God’s trusted and chief messenger, conveying God’s purposes to His people. It was Gabriel who appeared to Mary and announced that she was highly favoured and blessed among women, and that she would be Jesus’ mother in Luke 1.

Raphael – His name means ‘Healing of God.’ Raphael does not actually appear in the Bible but rather in the ancient Jewish texts. Here, Raphael appears as an angel of mercy and is attributed with a role of ministering God’s healing to those who are sick or suffering. Raphael is thought by some to have been one of the three who visited Abraham after his circumcision In Genesis 18. Also, some people evidently think it was Raphael who was the angel at the pool of Bethesda in John 5, stirring up the water so that people could be healed.

Uriel – His name means ‘Fire of God’ or ‘God is Light.’ Uriel, like Raphael, does not appear Scripturally and is identified only on the basis of Jewish Rabbinical tradition. There is also a beautiful stained glass depiction of him at Canterbury Cathedral, where he holds a fiery sphere seemingly symbolising his name. Some Christians believe that one of the cherubim that God placed at the east of the garden of Eden when Adam and Eve were driven out, was Uriel – ‘So He drove out the man and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life’ Genesis 3:24.

While studying for this topic, the role of the seraphim of the heavenly hierarchy also really impacted me. The seraphim are mentioned only once in Scripture, in Isaiah 6. The account describes them as worshipping God continuously, calling out to each other in antiphonal praise, and attesting to God’s holiness, majesty and glory, saying: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory’ Isaiah 6:3.  

Tomorrow’s post will cover the angels that rebelled against God ~ Fallen Angels.

© Article and Photo by Birgit Whelan Copyright 2014


~ by Birgit on June 6, 2014.

4 Responses to “The Archangels”

  1. really love studying any and all things about Heaven!!! Neat to find others who do too! I just posted today on the Kingdom of Heaven! Have a great day! God Bless!

  2. Thanks for your interest and lovely reply, Karen. Looking forward to seeing your posts too. Take care, God bless.

  3. […] The Archangels […]

  4. Thanks!


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