This Biblical word study covers the good guys - angels.

Angels –

Gabriel and Michael

Daniel 8:1, 15-22, 27; 9:1-5, 20-23, Gabriel
Daniel 10:1, 10:7—11:2, Gabriel and Michael
Daniel 11:40—12:4, Gabriel and Michael
Revelation 12:1-17, Michael (aka The Archangel)
Luke 1:5-38, Gabriel

More on Angels

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Painting of the Archangel Michael defeating Satan, by Guido Reni. Click to enlarge. See below for provenance.
Daniel 8:1, 15-22, 27; 9:1-5, 20-23, Gabriel (9/9/13)

A couple of months ago we finished a long study on demons and the Devil. In a spirit of fairness (pun), we’re now going to spend a few months studying the opposition: angels. I’ve never had a course in angelology (a real subject) so we’ll be learning together.

Quick! Tell me the names of all the angels named in the Bible! Did you include the well-known Raphael and Uriel? Not there. Only two angels are named in the standard Jewish and Christian canons: Gabriel and Michael*. (Several others are named in the book of Enoch, which is accepted as canonical by a small percentage of Jews and Christians. We'll look at it toward the end of this study.)

Notice that the names of nearly all Biblical and non-canonical angels end in –el, which is Hebrew for God. This is not a coincidence. Gabriel means God’s mighty one. Michael means Who is like God? Many of us have occupational names (e.g., Hunter, one who hunts), and so do most angels. Angels just happen to work for God.

I noticed something else that I very much doubt is a coincidence: except for one passage in Luke, which we will read Friday, Gabriel and Michael appear only in the apocalyptic books of Daniel and Revelation. Angel means messenger in both Hebrew and Greek. Apocalyptic writing is the symbolic and confusing record of a vision, and there’s always an interpreter of the vision. God sent his messenger Gabriel to be his interpreter to his servant Daniel. Every time we see Gabriel in the Bible, he appears to be acting as one of God’s chief messengers.

* Not Michael Landon.

Daniel 10:1, 10:7—11:2, Gabriel and Michael (9/10/13)

Several things strike me when I read passages about angels. One is that angels are always saying “Fear not!,” or as the ISV puts is, “Don’t be afraid.” Now, a lot of ordinary people say “Fear not!” in the Bible; however, they usually say it when there’s something in the situation to be worried about. Angels tend to say it when they first show up, which leads me to believe that some angels are scary, or at least formidable, in appearance.

A second striking feature about angels is that many of them look “like a human being”; see verses 16-18. In today’s reading, Gabriel is described both as someone who looks like a human being and as someone who is so intimidating that Daniel can barely breathe in his presence. Gabriel first mentions the angel Michael in this passage. There’s another Michael – a human being – who is mentioned in the genealogies in Chronicles, but that is a different guy.

Daniel 11:40—12:4, Gabriel and Michael (9/11/13)

The first mention we had of the angel Michael was from Gabriel, in Daniel 10:13, which we read yesterday. Michael is “one of the chief angels” and “the great prince.” In fact we will see later that he is “the” archangel, not merely “an” archangel. Michael is also a person of valor, who stands against the opponents of God. We will see tomorrow that he appears to be the commander of God’s armies.

Remember that this part of the book of Daniel is apocalyptic – it talks about God’s actions at the end of time. In Daniel, Gabriel is telling Daniel about the great final battle that Michael will lead. Tomorrow, we’ll see the battle described again in Revelation, the primary apocalyptic book in the New Testament.

Revelation 12:1-17, Michael (9/12/13)

Yesterday and the day before in the book of Daniel, Gabriel told Daniel that Michael would lead a great battle against God’s opponents at the end of time. The book of Revelation returns to this theme.

Remember that apocalyptic writing is symbolic. The original readers knew all the symbols, but that was a long time ago, and now we aren’t sure about what all the symbols mean. The woman may represent the nation of Israel, which literally gave birth to the child who was the Messiah, or she may represent the church, which prays for the second coming of the Messiah. Or both. We know for sure that the dragon represents the Devil, because verses 8-9 say so. Every once in a while, apocalyptic writing says something clearly, but you shouldn’t count on having the symbols explained. You also shouldn’t argue about it. Nobody knows, so your fellow-Christians are entitled to their opinions, even when they disagree with you.

Anyway, Michael and his angels fight the dragon and hurl it down to the earth. A valiant warrior angel!

Luke 1:5-38, Gabriel (9/13/13)

Gabriel, as we have seen earlier this week, appears to be chief among the angels who serve as God’s messengers. When God wants his most important messages delivered, he taps Gabriel for the job. When Gabriel tells Zechariah that he and his elderly wife are about to become parents, Zechariah is skeptical. Apparently Gabriel has some latitude in how he carries out his mission, because Zechariah becomes mute as a sign that he should have had more respect for the angel. Gabriel is much gentler with the young woman who is to bear the Christ child.

More on Angels
Gabriel and Michael
Cherubim and Seraphim
Armies of Angels and the LORD of Hosts
Angels say “Fear Not!”
Guardian and Ministering Angels
Angel of the Lord - "The" or "An"?
Angels not in the Bible
Final Tidbits about Angels

Copyright 2013 by Regina L. Hunter. All rights reserved. This page has been prepared for the web site by RPB.

The painting of the Archangel Michael defeating Satan, by Guido Reni, about 1636, is located in Santa Maria della Concezione church, Rome. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Opinions expressed on this page are solely those of the author, Regina Hunter, and may or may not be shared by the sponsors or the Bible-study participants.  Thanks to the Holy Spirit for any useful ideas presented here, and thanks to all the readers for their support and enthusiasm.  All errors are, of course, the sole responsibility of the author.

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