An Archangel is an angel of high rank. The English word Archangel is derived from a Greek word that literally means ‘chief angel’. The word Archangel itself is usually associated with the Abrahamic religions, but beings that are very similar to Archangels are found in a number of religious traditions.
Archangels are referred to as extensions of God and are often ranked as being the second-highest spiritual beings. It is the role of these high-ranking angels to not only watch over humanity but also over other angels and the very fabric of the Universe.
The idea of the Seven Archangels is most explicitly stated in the deuterocanonical Book of Tobit when Archangel Raphael reveals himself, declaring: “I am Raphael, one of the seven angels who stand in the glorious presence of the Lord, ready to serve him.” (Tobit 12:15). The Book of Tobit, also known as the Book of Tobias or the Book of Tobi, is a 3rd or early 2nd century BC Jewish work describing how God tests the faithful, responds to prayers, and protects the covenant community (i.e., the children of God).
There are Seven Archangels in the ancient history of the Judeo-Christian Bible. The Book of Enoch also mentions Seven holy angels who watch over and take care of humans.
The four most common Archangels mentioned in various religious texts are Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, and Uriel. The remaining three vary depending on the text or church.
Pseudo-Dionysius, a Greek Christian theologian and philosopher refer to Chamuel (Camael), Jophiel, and Zadkiel as the remaining three of the Seven Archangels.
In the Ethiopian Orthodox tradition, the remaining three are Sarathiel, Ananiel, and Zadkiel.
The Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox churches mention Selaphiel, Jegudiel, and Raguel as the remaining three.
The Book of Enoch mentions Saragael, Remiel, and Raguel.
The Four Most Common Archangels in Judeo-Christianity
1. Michael – in the Hebrew language means Who is like God. Michael has been depicted from earliest Christian times as a commander, who holds in his right hand a spear/sword with which he attacks the Dragon (Lucifer/Satan) whom he tramples under his feet. He is commonly depicted as a warrior or leader who is in charge of leading God’s army into battle. The battle between the fallen angel Lucifer and the Archangel Michael is depicted in the book of revelations:
“Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they were defeated and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.” (Revelation 12:7-9).
Archangel Michael is the angel who triumphs over the forces of hell and humanity’s battles with personal demons. He is also depicted carrying a scale that refers to his role as the angel that guides the souls of the deceased to the afterlife and weighs their souls. In general, he is portrayed as humanity’s defender against evil.
2. Gabriel – means God is my strength or Might of God. He is perhaps the most widely known of all the Archangels and is the holy messenger of God. He is mentioned in the Bible as the angel that appeared to Prophet Daniel in order to help him interpret the message contained in his vision about the coming of Yeshua Hamasciach (Jesus Christ the Messiah). He appears again to Zachariah to inform him of the coming birth of John the Baptist. Finally, and perhaps most famously, Gabriel appears to the Virgin Mary to tell her about the Lord’s plan for the birth of Yeshua the Messiah.
Enoch mentions Gabriel as the angel given the task of destroying the Nephilim (children of the fallen angels) during the time of Noah.
Angels, in general, are gender-neutral however Archangel Gabriel is sometimes described as a man having feminine characteristics which sometimes makes it hard to tell his gender. He is often depicted carrying a spear or a scroll. The Prophet Daniel described his encounter with Archangel Gabriel as terrifying.
3. Raphael – means It is God who heals or God Heals. He is considered the Archangel of Healing and the patron saint of those on Earth who heal the sick (i.e doctors, nurses, and healthcare workers). Raphael is mentioned in the book of Tobit as the angel that healed Tobit of his blindness.
Enoch describes Raphael as the Angel set over all the disease and wounds of men. Enoch also mentions him as the angel given the task of binding and imprisoning the fallen angels during the time of Noah.
God is often referred to in Christianity as Jehovah Rapha (God our healer).
4. Uriel – means God is my light or Light of God. He is often depicted holding a sword in his right hand, and a flame in his left. He is also known as a master of knowledge and the Archangel of wisdom and is depicted carrying a large book. In the Anglican tradition, he is regarded as the keeper of beauty and light.
Enoch mentions Uriel as one of the holy angels, who watches over the world and over Tartarus. In Greek mythology, Tartarus is the deep abyss that is used as a dungeon of torment and suffering for the wicked and as a prison for the Titans. Tartarus is the place where, according to Plato, souls are judged after death and where the wicked receive divine punishment.
Great reseach and writeup as usual.
This is a great write up. I did a research on this topic, a few years back.
Great. Looking forward to a part 2