Fast Facts:
  • Role: Messengers, Protectors
  • Symbols: Wings, Halos, Feathers
  • Number: 7

Who Is An Archangel?

There are seven archangels, according to the Bible. But the history of angels goes back much farther. Almost every religion and ancient people had a version of angels that served as strong symbols of their beliefs. Archangels are still respected and worshipped and many believe they have been visited by these angels during times of need.

Purpose

When it comes to the Biblical archangels, they are all unique in their purposes.
Michael is a guardian angel while Gabriel is the ruler of Eden. Uriel rules everything surrounding Eden. Raphael represents the healing arts and Raguel handles judgements. Sariel punishes those who have committed crimes and Remiel is responsible for spreading the word of God.

Origins

All types of angels, including archangels, were created by God, according to the Bible. But because angels are a part of most culture’s history, there are other explanations of their origins. The main story of creation might have been sourced from earlier documents recorded by the Sumerian civilization. Located in southern Mesopotamia, their influence traveled to areas where other religions were said to originate, including Eastern Europe, India, and Egypt.

The seven archangels have been sourced from different texts. Some are mentioned in the Bible, while others are found in Jewish texts.

Legends and Stories

Archangels are mentioned several times throughout the Bible. Rather than go into brief detail on all of them, we’ll focus on two archangels, Gabriel and Rafael.

Gabriel

In the Jewish religion, Gabriel is identified as an archangel. The Bible doesn’t actually state Gabriel’s position but it is assumed that he has a high position and is most likely an archangel. This is because Michael, who is identified as an archangel in the Bible, is also described as a chief prince. Gabriel is also referred to as a chief prince, signaling that he is in the same ranks as Michael.

There are several recorded messages from Gabriel, all delivered to faithful servants of God. In the first, Gabriel approaches the prophet Daniel. He is sent to Daniel to show him the meaning of a vision involving the kings of Persia, Media, and Greece. Gabriel appears to Daniel a second time, this time giving him a prophecy about the coming of Christ.
There is another insight into Daniel’s life, which describes him seeking God’s understanding. An angel appears to Daniel, giving him the answers he was searching. The angel isn’t named in the passage but it is believed to have been Gabriel again because of his previous visits. If it was Gabriel, he explains that he was restrained from visiting the prophet earlier but that God heard his prayer from the start.
A spirit blocked Gabriel from visiting Daniel for three weeks. Another archangel, Michael, helped Gabriel overthrow the evil spirit. This passage tells us that archangels are constantly fighting evil spirits and demons that surround humans, protecting them from harm they might not realize is there.

Rafael

Rafael is not mentioned in Hebrew Scriptures. Instead, he is first mentioned in the Septuagint, in the Book of Tobias. In the story, he disguises himself as a human and becomes the traveling companion for a young man named Tobias. Without letting his true identity show, Rafael helps guide Tobias along his journey. He helps Tobias catch a fish for food and protects him from several threats.

When they reach their destination, Tobias ends up falling in love. But the woman is troubled by a demon. Raphael shows Tobias how to rid the woman of the evil spirit so that they can marry. When their journey comes to an end, Raphael heals Tobias’ blind father. This story is why Raphael is considered to be the archangel of healing, especially when it comes to travelers and fishermen.

Family

Archangels do not marry or have families. It has been assumed that fallen angels can have relations with mortals but angels who still abide by God’s laws do not. Angels are considered to be children of God though, just not in the paternal sense.

Appearance

It’s difficult to understand what angels look like because they aren’t physical. Instead, they are spirit beings. But they can resemble human form when determined necessary by God. There are several different ranks of angels, each with their own description. When it comes to archangels, there are some hints as to what Michael and Raphael look like. Michael has been described as short and stocky, yet fierce. He comes off as strong, like a warrior. Raphael is more elegant. He is described as tall and quiet. When appearing in the human form, both appear translucent.

Symbology

There are many symbols associated with archangels, mostly as a result of how culture pictures them. Wings and halos are strong symbols while feathers are considered to be a sign of an archangel’s presence.

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