Archangels
Michael, Gabriel, Lucifer. Angels are mentioned about 300 times in the Bible

AC asks: which were the first 3 angels? teaching and learning with my son
Question about A General Question: Miracles, the supernatural
Motivation - Curiosity: Sincere curiosity; Interest in religion: Interest in Christianity; Guidance: Not sure, confused; Encouraged: Faith, hope, love
Bible view - The Word of God - [question 21, Thursday, 04-Aug-2011]

Angels are a fascinating Bible topic. Many religions speak about angels, and the Bible mentions them about 300 times, so it is important for a serious Bible student to understand what it says, and what it does not say, about angels.

AC asked about the the first three angels. We take this to mean the most important three angels in the Bible. Although the Bible clearly states that there are more than 100 million angels (see Revelation 5:11), only three are called by name:

  • Michael, the archangel
  • Gabriel
  • Lucifer (Satan)

In response to AC's inquiry, therefore, we will briefly discuss angels in general and then the three named angels specifically.

Created Beings

Jesus Christ ... in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things have been created through Him and for Him.
- Colossians 1:14ff [NASB]

There is a marvelous section of the New Testament known as The Pre-eminent Christ. It appears in the first chapter of Paul's letter to the Colossians, and its first few verses appear in the box at the right. These verses tell about Jesus Christ who has: (1) provided forgiveness of sins, and (2) created all things. These verses also describe Christ's creation as: (1) heavens and earth, and (2) visible and invisible realms.

The simple graphic below portrays a symmetry in creation that comes from these verses in Colossians. The created universe has two distinct components: a natural, visible realm and a supernatural, invisible realm. Mankind lives in the natural realm, while angels live in the supernatural realm. Further, both mankind and the angels are subdivided into two major groups: (1) the holy, righteous group, and (2) the fallen, unrighteous group. We call the holy angels 'angels' and the fallen angels 'demons.'

Two realms: visible and invisible
The first part of Colossians describes a creation with both visible (natural) and invisible (supernatural) realms. These realms are populated with created beings, including fallen (sinful) and redeemed men, and fallen and holy angels.

References to angels are found throughout the Judeo-Christian Scriptures, both the Old Testament and New Testament. The world angel appears 32 times in the Torah alone. (The Torah is the first five books of the Bible.) One of the more dramatic passages about angels is Isaiah 6, which describes seraphim, a type of angel, arrayed around the Throne of God:

In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.
- Isaiah 6:1ff [KJV]

The scene is quite spectacular. The Bible is giving natural men a glimse into the supernatural world. If you read the entire passage in Isaiah 6, you will find how this glimse affected Isaiah himself. It affected him for the rest of his life.

To be fair, there a plenty of people who do not believe a supernatural realm actually exists. These people hold only to what they can decode using their natural senses of sight, touch, hearing, taste, and smell. They dismiss supernatural passages in the Bible as metaphors, colorful illustrations, or stories. The account of creation in Genesis, after all, seems to address only the natural universe. However, taken as a whole, the Bible consistently teaches about an invisible reality that exists and operates in close proximity to visible reality. It does not teach that the invisible realm is some far-off place, like 'Heaven and Hell' as they are often portrayed, disconnected, distant, inaccessible. The invisible realm described in the Bible is strongly, directly and continuously connected to the visible realm in which we live. Once in a while, the Bible reports, we get to experience life in the invisible realm. Once in a while we get to connect with angels who live in the invisible realm.

The prophet Elisha once prayed that a young man who was with him could see into the invisible realm. The account appears in 2 Kings 6:

And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha. [2 Kings 6:17]

The 'horses and chariots of fire' were not visible to the young man until God opened his eyes to the invisible world.

Angel Organization

Billy Graham once wrote a book titled Angels, God's Secret Agents. In the book Dr. Graham postulates an organizational hierachy of angels as reflected in the graphic below. Michael, Lucifer, and Gabriel are the three angels called out by name in the Old and New Testaments. Other angelic names, such as Raphael and Uriel, are mentioned in religious writings that are not part of Jewish and Protestant Scriptures, but are accepted by many Roman Catholics.

Angels were apparently created by God sometime before the physical universe was created. One angel, named Lucifer somehow developed a sin problem and was expelled from the presence of God and now roams this earth as Satan, or the devil. He and his fallen angels are still subject to God, and must obtain approval from God to carry out their evil practice. A good example of this is found in the first chapter of the book of Job.

Michael and Gabriel, then, are the two leading holy (sinless) angels serving God for the good of mankind. At their disposal are millions of rank-and-file angels which the Bible groups into two major categories, cherubim and seraphim.

Angel organization
One possible organization of angelic beings. The Scriptures are not very clear on this subject, but it names three specific angels as leaders, and millions of angels, both cherubim and seraphim, as God's secret agents.

Michael

But the prince of the kingdom of Persia was withstanding me for twenty-one days; then behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left there with the kings of Persia.
- Daniel 10:13 [KJV]

When used as a prefix, the term arch means primary, chief, or supreme, so the archangel ranks highest in God's heavenly host. Michael is identified by name only a few times in the Bible, and most of those identifications occur in the highly prophetic and symbolic books of Daniel and Revelation. The verse in the box at the left is one such verse in Daniel. It depicts two princes (angels) battling in the spiritual, unseen realm. Note, also, that Michael is identified as one of the archangels, opening the door to the popular interpretation that there are multiple archangels, not just one as we have postulated here.

For believers in Jesus Christ today, we long to hear the voice of the archangel promised to accompany the rapture of the Church described in the New Testament:

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God [1 Thessalonians 4:16(a), KJV]

Gabriel

And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.
- Luke 1:26ff [KJV]
Gabriel announces to Mary
Close-up of The Annunciation by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Gabriel's name appears in the Bible only in four places, the most famous of which is at The Annunciation when he came from the invisible realm to visit Mary, the Mother of Jesus, to tell her she was to bear the promised Messiah. Shortly thereafter the virgin conceived and gave birth to Jesus Christ, God incarnate (that is, God with a flesh-and-blood body):

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. [John 1:14, KJV]

Lucifer

How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
- Isaiah 14:12 [KJV]

While Michael and Gabriel are mentioned by name a few times in the Bible, Lucifer is mentioned only once, in the verse in the box at the left. But Lucifer's other names, such as Satan, the devil, Be-elzebul, the ruler of this world, and the prince of the power of the air, appear often. Literally translated the name Lucifer means bearer of light and is refered to as Day Star in a few New Testament books.

The verses which follow Isaiah 14:12 indicate that pride and rebellion appeared in Lucifer and also in many of the rank-and-file angels he was leading. God cast the entire company, Lucifer and his band, out of His presence and they now reside on earth. We know them as Satan and his demons.

How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, You who have weakened the nations! But you said in your heart, 'I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, And I will sit on the mount of assembly In the recesses of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.' Nevertheless you will be thrust down to Sheol, To the recesses of the pit. [Isaiah 14:12ff, NASB]

Even though evil angels are with us on earth, God promises that believers are equipped with much more power than that of Satan:

Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you (the Holy Spirit), than he that is in the world (the devil). [1 John 4:4, NASB, parenthetical added]

Sun, 21-Sep-2014 10:04:29 GMT, unknown: 283077 AB2PDh6RxqeOY
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