Archangel

Archangel

(ἀρχάγγελος, chief angel, 1Th 4:16; Jude 1:9). Those angels are so styled who occupy the highest rank in the celestial order or hierarchy, which consists, according to the apostles, of "thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers" (Eph 1:21; Col 1:16; 1Pe 3:22). Of these there are said to be seven, who stand immediately before the throne of God (Lu 1:19; Re 8:2), who have authority over other angels, and are the patrons of particular nations (Re 12:7; Da 10:18). In Mt 26:53; 2Th 1:7, hosts of angels are spoken of in the same manner as human armies. These the Almighty is said to employ in executing his commands, or in displaying his dignity and majesty, in the manner of human princes. These armies of angels are also represented as divided into orders and classes, having each its leader, and all these are subject to one chief, or: archangel. The names of two only are found in the Scripture — Michael, the patron of the Jewish nation (Da 10:13,21; Da 12:1; Jude 1:9; Re 12:7); and Gabriel (Da 8:16; Da 9:21; Lu 1:19,26). The apocryphal book of Tobit (3:17; 5:4) mentions one, Raphael; and 2 Esdras (4:34) another, Uriel; while the book of Enoch names the whole seven (20:1-7). SEE ANGEL.

The fathers are not agreed on the number and order of the celestial hierarchy. Dionysius the Areopagite admits but three hierarchies, and three orders of angels in each hierarchy. In the first are Seraphim, Cherubim, and thrones; in the second, dominions, mights, and powers; in the third, principalities, archangels, and angels. These titles of ranks are probably allusions to the customary order of the courts of the Assyrian, Chaldean, and Persian kings; hence Michael the archangel tells Daniel that he is one of the chief princes in the court of the Almighty. Extraordinary powers and functions were conferred on angels by the different Gnostic sects. They all held that angels were the fabricators or architects of the universe, and Cerinthus affirmed they were superior to Christ himself. These opinions were early entertained, and the Apostle Paul thought it necessary to warn the Colossians against such errors. "Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind" (Col 2:18). They also affirmed, according to Theodoret, that the law was given by angels, and that to one had access to God except through them. Hence we find on the Gnostic gems the names of numbers of their angels; on one are those of Michael, Gabriel, Uriel, Raphael, Ananael, Prosorael, and Chabsael. But the chief and most highly venerated was Michael, insomuch that oratories were erected in Asia Minor, where divine honors were paid to him. SEE MICHAEL.

Bible concordance for ARCHANGEL.

Definition of archangel

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

 
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