12th century icon of the Archangels Michael and Gabriel

This article is about the supernatural beings. For other uses, see Archangel (disambiguation).
Archangels (Lat. archangelus, pl. archangeli) are superior or higher-ranking angels.[1] Archangels are found in a number of religious traditions, including Islam, Judaism and Zoroastrianism. In Biblical Christianity, the only archangel ever clearly named as being of the order is Michael[2]; Gabriel, named in Luke, is typically considered to be an archangel; Raphael is mentioned in the Deuterocanonical book of Tobit, and Uriel is mentioned in the Pseudepigraphal Book of Enoch.
The word archangel derives from the Greek αρχάγγελος archangelos = αρχ- arch- ("first, primary, chief or highest") and άγγελος angelos ("messenger").
1 In Judaism
2 In Christianity
3 In Islam
4 Other traditions
5 References
6 Bibliography
7 See also
8 External links

[edit] In Judaism
There are no explicit references to archangels in the canonical texts of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament). Indeed even angels are uncommon except in later works like Daniel, though they are mentioned briefly in the stories of Jacob (who, according to several interpretations, wrestled with an angel) and Lot (who was warned by angels of the impending destruction of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah). The earliest references to archangels are in the literature of the intertestamental periods (e.g., 4 Esdras 4:36).
It is therefore widely speculated that Jewish interest in angels developed during the Babylonian captivity.[3] According to Rabbi Simeon ben Lakish of Tiberias (230270 AD), all the specific names for the angels were brought back by the Jews from Babylon.
Within the rabbinic tradition, the Kabbalah, and the Book of Enoch chapter 20, and the Life of Adam and Eve, the usual number of archangels given is at least seven, who are the focal angels. Three higher archangels are also commonly referenced: Michael, Raphael, and Gabriel. There is confusion about one of the following eight names, concerning which one listed is not truly an archangel. They are: Uriel, Sariel, Raguel, and Remiel (possibly the Ramiel of the Apocalypse of Baruch, said to preside over true visions), Zadkiel, Jophiel, Haniel and Chamuel.[4]
In addition, traditional homes often sang an ode to the angels before beginning Friday night (Shabbos) dinner. It is entitled Shalom Aleichem, meaning "peace unto them" (referring to the angels).

In Christianity

Gabriel, traditionally named as an archangel, delivering the Annunciation. Painting by El Greco (1575).
The New Testament rarely speaks of angels, and makes only two references to archangels: Michael in Jude 1.9 and I Thessalonians 4:16, where the "voice of an archangel" will be heard at the return of Christ.
In later Church tradition, however, there are three archangels: Michael, Gabriel, and usually Raphael; sometimes Uriel or Phanuel is given as a fourth.
Eastern Orthodox Tradition mentions "thousands of archangels"[5] but venerates only seven of them by name.[6] Uriel is included, and the other three are most often named Selaphiel, Jegudiel, and Barachiel (an eighth, Jeremiel, is sometimes included).[7] The Orthodox Church celebrates the Synaxis of the Archangel Michael and the Other Bodiless Powers on November 8 of the Eastern Orthodox liturgical calendar (for those churches which follow the Julian Calendar, November 8 falls on November 21 of the modern Gregorian Calendar). Other feast days of the Archangels include the Synaxis of the Archangel Gabriel on March 26 (April 8), and the Miracle of the Archangel Michael at Colossae on September 6 (September 19). In addition, every Monday throughout the year is dedicated to the Angels, with special mention being made in the church hymns of Michael and Gabriel. In Orthodox iconography, each angel has a symbolic representation:[7]
Michael in the Hebrew language means "Who is like unto God?" or "Who is equal to God?" St. Michael has been depicted from earliest Christian times as a commander, who holds in his right hand a spear with which he attacks Lucifer, Satan, and in his left hand a green palm branch. At the top of the spear there is a linen ribbon with a red cross. The Archangel Michael is especially considered to be the Guardian of the Orthodox Faith and a fighter against heresies.
Gabriel means "Man of God" or "Might of God". He is the herald of the mysteries of God, especially the Incarnation of God and all other mysteries related to it. He is depicted as follows: In his right hand, he holds a lantern with a lighted taper inside, and in his left hand, a mirror of green jasper. The mirror signifies the wisdom of God as a hidden mystery.
Raphael means "God's healing" or "God the Healer" (Tobit 3:17, 12:15). Raphael is depicted leading Tobit (who is carrying a fish caught in the Tigris) with his right hand, and holding a physician's alabaster jar in his left hand.
Uriel means "Fire of God", or "Light of God" (III Esdras 3:1, 5:20). He is depicted holding a sword against the Persians in his right hand, and a fiery flame in his left.
Salathiel means "Intercessor of God" (III Esdras 5:16). He is depicted with his face and eyes lowered, holding his hands on his bosom in prayer.
Jegudiel means "Glorifier of God". He is depicted bearing a golden wreath in his right hand and a triple-thonged whip in his left hand.
Barachiel means "Blessing of God". He is depicted holding a white rose in his hand against his breast.
Jeremiel means "God's exaltation". He is venerated as an inspirer and awakener of exalted thoughts that raise a person toward God (III Ezra 4:36).
Some Protestants view Michael as the sole archangel, as the only one explicitly described as such in the Protestant canon of the Bible.[8] (Jude 1:9) In their view, Gabriel is never called 'archangel' in the Gospels. According to Origen verse 1:9 of Jude is an insertion that led to the writing of The Assumption of Moses.

Angelic Council (Ангелскй Собор). Orthodox icon of the seven archangels. From left to right: Jegudiel, Gabriel, Selaphiel, Michael, Uriel, Raphael, Barachiel. Beneath the mandorla of Christ Emmanuel are representations of Cherubim (blue) and Seraphim (red).
The edition of the Bible used by Protestants, which excludes the Apocrypha (Deuterocanonical books), never mentions a "Raphael" and he is therefore not recognized by many of them. Raphael, however, is mentioned in the Book of Tobit, one of the deuterocanonical books. In the story, Raphael comes to the aid of Tobit, healing him of blindness, and his son Tobias, driving away a demon that would have killed him. Raphael also plays an important role in the Book of Enoch.
Jehovah's Witnesses believe that Michael is one of the names Jesus has in heaven.[9] In this view, Michael is the first and greatest of all God's creatures, the chief messenger of Jehovah that takes the lead in vindicating God's name, fighting the forces of Satan and protecting God's people on earth. (Revelation 12:7; 19:14,16• Daniel 12:1) This belief is held because of the prominence Michael has among the heavenly sons of God in the Bible, the similarity of Michael’s and Jesus’ mission and the connection of Jesus with the archangelic office in the biblical book 1 Thessalonians 4:16, where it says regarding Jesus: "Because the Lord himself will descend from Heaven with a commanding call, with an archangel's voice." The letter of JUDE verse 9, begins: "But when Michael THE Archangel." By using the word's "The Archangel" Jude would seem to be stating there is only one. Going back to 1 Thessalonians 4:16, The letter states: " With an Archangel's voice." This leads Jehovah's witnesses to the conclusion that Michael and Jesus are one and the same. In fact, the term "archangel" occurs in the bible only in the singular, never in the plural.[10][11]
A similar opinion is held by certain Protestants, such as Seventh-day Adventists,[12] the Baptist evangelist Charles Spurgeon[13] and the Presbyterian Commentary author Matthew Henry,[14] who believe that the Archangel Michael is not an angel but is instead , the divine Son of God. In this view "archangel" means "head of the angels" rather than "head angel," and is a title similar to "Prince or Leader of the host." (Daniel 8:11) While not all Baptists hold to this view, Seventh-day Adventists generally do. It is also written in the bible that a very powerful archangel named Lucifer was the only archangel turned evil, he was cast from the heavens above to the ground below for trying to overthrow god and to take control of the the kingdom of heaven, god cast him out and told him to never return, he was then given a new name, god thought he no longer deserved the name of a former archangel, he was no longer known as Lucifer the archangel, but as Satan the devil and the ruler of hell.

In Islam

Muhammad's Call to Prophecy and the First Revelation through the Archangel Jibril; leaf from a copy of the Majmac al-tawarikh (Compendium of Histories), ca. 1425; Timurid. Herat, Afghanistan (The Metropolitan Museum of Art).
In Islam,[15] the named archangels include Michael or Mikail (archangel of sustenance), Gabriel or Jibril (archangel of revelation; who brought the Qur'an to Muhammad), and the Angel of Death- a common name for the angel is Azra-eel, also the "Angel of Death" or 'Malak al-Maut' as mentioned in the Qur'an, Israfel or Israfil (archangel who is to blow the horn on Judgment Day), Maalik (Keeper of Hell), Munkar and Nakir (Angels of Interrogation that will question deceased souls on their life before their death) and Radwan (Keeper of Heaven). There's another pair of angels Muslims generally know as Kiraaman-Katibeen - those who listen to and note down your activities which is mentioned in the quran

Other traditions
Occultists sometimes associate archangels in Kabbalistic fashion with various seasons or elements, or even colors. In some Kabbalah-based systems of ceremonial magic, all four of the main archangels (Michael, Gabriel, Raphael and Uriel) are invoked as guarding the four quarters, or directions, and their corresponding colors are associated with magical properties.[16]
In anthroposophy, based on teachings by Rudolf Steiner, there are many spirits belonging to the hierarchical level of archangel. In general, their task is to inspire and guard large groups of human beings, such as whole nations, peoples or ethnic groups. This reflects their rank above the angels who deal with individuals (the guardian angel) or smaller groups.[17] The main seven archangels with the names given by Saint Gregory are Anael, Gabriel , Michael, Oriphiel, Raphael, Samael and Zachariel have a special assignment to act as a global Zeitgeist ('time spirit'), each for periods of about 380 years. Since 1879, Michael is our leading time spirit. Four important archangels also display periodic spiritual activity over the seasons: spring = Raphael, summer = Uriel, autumn = Michael and winter = Gabriel. In anthroposophy, archangels may be good or evil; in particular, some of their rank are collaborators of Ahriman, whose purpose is to alienate humanity from the spiritual world and promote materialism and heartless technical control.
In the lesser banishing ritual of the pentagram,[18] the invocation includes the words "Before me Raphael; Behind me Gabriel; On my right hand Michael; On my left hand Auriel [i.e., Uriel]..."
In art, archangels are sometimes depicted with larger wings and many eyes. Some of the more commonly represented archangels are Gabriel, Michael, Raphael, Metatron, Uriel, and Satanel.[19]
In the noncanonical 1 Enoch, Saraqael is described as one of the angels that watches over "the spirits that sin in the spirit". (20:7, 8)

[edit] References
^ Archangel at WordNet 2.0. as retrieved from
^ The Bible, Jude 1:9
^ Judaism at HighBeam Encyclopedia, Section: The Postexilic Period
^ Metzger & Coogan (1993) Oxford Companion to the Bible, p54.
^ Anaphora, Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom
^ The World of The Angels Holy Transfiguration Russian Orthodox Church, Baltimore MD
^ a b Nicholai Velimirovic, November 8 Prologe From Ochrid
^ Graham, Billy (1975), Angels: God's Secret Agents, ISBN 0849950740
^ Watchtower Official Website, "The Truth About Angels"
^ What Does The Bible Really Teach? Chapter 9 Paragraph 4 under the heading A WAR IN HEAVEN, also see appendix of same publication, pages218-219. Published by Jehovah's Witnesses 2005
^ Questions on Doctrine: Christ, and Michael the Archangel
^ Morning and Evening: Daily Readings, Morning October 3rd retrieved from Christian Classics Ethereal Library
^ Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary at, commentary on Daniel 12
^ Arab World Ministries, "What Muslims Believe"
^ The Pagan's Path, Metaphysics 101: The Archangels
^ "The Mission of Rudolf Steiner," Dr. Ernst Katz, retrieved from The Rudolph Steiner archive
^ "On the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram" from The Internet Book of Shadows at
^ Angels in Art on HumanitiesWeb

[edit] Bibliography
Metzeger, Bruce M. (ed); , Michael D. Coogan (ed) (1993). The Oxford Companion to the Bible. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-504645-5.