Angels & Archangels: The Ranks of God’s Holy Angels

Daniel 8:16; Daniel 9:21

And I heard a man’s voice between the banks of Ulai, which called, and said, Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision.

Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): When Daniel saw this angel Gabriel that appeared in a human form, and he knew this to be his name, by a man’s voice calling him by it; and now he knew him to be the same angel by his appearance and voice.

A. A. HODGE (1823-1886): Gabriel is distinguished as one that “stands in the presence of God” evidently in some preeminent sense, Luke 1:19―Is there any evidence that angels are of various orders and ranks?

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): It seems quite clear that there is a division both in status, and in the work. For instance, we read twice in the scripture of one who is described as the “archangel,” the chiefest of all, the supreme. He is only mentioned twice in the New Testament, you remember, but it’s important to notice it. In the first epistle to the Thessalonians, the fourth chapter, the sixteenth verse, we read this: “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): The archangel will discharge the office of a herald to summon the living and the dead to the tribunal of Christ. For though this will be common to all the angels, yet, as is customary among different ranks, He appoints one in the foremost place to take the lead of the others.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: The other reference [to an archangel] is in the ninth verse of the epistle of Jude, where we read that “Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.” I think that taking the two together, we are not only entitled to deduce, but we must come to the conclusion that the archangel therefore is the one who is also referred to as Michael.

A. A. HODGE: Do the Scriptures speak of more than one archangel?

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): Indeed there is no archangel mentioned [by name] in the whole Scripture but this one…There can be properly only one archangel, one chief or head of all the angelic host. Let it be observed that the word archangel is never found in the plural number in the sacred writings.

MATTHEW POOLE (1624-1679): Michael is called “one of the chief princes,” Daniel 10:13, which, though the word “archangel” be not found in the plural number in Scripture, it may well imply a plurality of them; for what is one of the chief princes among the angels, but an archangel?

JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): Whether there be one archangel only, or more, it is not possible for us to determine.

A. A. HODGE: In both instances the term “archangel” is used in the singular number, and preceded by the definite article―many suppose that the archangel is the Son of God. Others suppose that he is one of the highest class of creatures, since he is called “one of the chief princes,” and since divine attributes are never ascribed to him.

JOHN WESLEY: That Michael is a created angel appears from his not daring, in disputing with Satan, to bring a railing accusation; but only saying, “The Lord rebuke thee,” Jude 9. And this modesty is implied in his very name; for Michael signifies, “Who is like God?” which implies also his deep reverence toward God, and distance from all self-exaltation. Satan would be like God: the very name of Michael asks, “Who is like God?” Not Satan; not the highest archangel.

JOHN GILL: Michael the archangel is not a created angel, but an eternal one, the Lord Jesus Christ; as appears from his name Michael, which signifies, “who is as God”―and who is as God, or like unto him, but the Son of God, who is equal with God? And from his character as the archangel, or Prince of angels, for Christ is “the Head of all principality and power,” Colossians 2:10; and from what is elsewhere said of Michael, that he is the great Prince and on the side of the people of God, and to have angels under him, and at his command, Daniel 10:21.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: You’ll find a reference to him also in Daniel 12:1; Michael seems to have a special relationship to the children of Israel; he was the one who fought for them against the prince of Persia. The children of Israel seem to have been allotted to Michael as his special care, his special work; he looked after them, and does look after them, he is their protector; his peculiar function is to guard them.

A. A. HODGE: In Revelation 12:7, Michael is said to have fought with his angels against the dragon and his angels.

MATTHEW POOLE: Whether this “archangel” be not the same with Christ Himself, who is “the Head of all principality and power I leave it as doubtful.

JOHN CALVIN: By Michael many agree in understanding Christ as the Head of the Church. But if it seems better to understand Michael as the archangel, this sense will prove suitable, for under Christ as the Head, angels are the guardians of the Church. Whichever be the true meaning, God was the preserver of His Church by the hand of His only-begotten Son, and because the angels are under the government of Christ, He might entrust this duty to Michael.

ADAM CLARKE: But we know so little of the invisible world that we cannot safely affirm anything positively.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: And then you’ll remember the other angel that is mentioned by name is Gabriel, and we are told about Gabriel that he “stands in the presence of God.”

ADAM CLARKE: From the allusion we may conceive the angel Gabriel to be in a state of high favour and trust before God.

JOHN CALVIN: To “stand before God signifies to be ready to yield obedience.

JOHN GILL: Sometimes such are God’s messengers, sent by Him on errands to men, and are interpreters of things to them, as Gabriel was to Daniel.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: He “stands in the presence of God,” waiting, as it were, to be given a message. And he has been given messages. It was he, you remember, that was given the special message to tell Mary what was to happen to her, and how she was to become the mother to the Son of God.  And in the same way we are told that it was he who gave the message to Zacharias.

JOHN GILL: Gabriel, as seems manifest from Luke 1:19, is the same angel that had appeared to Daniel, about the time of the evening oblation, near five hundred years before, and gave him an account of the time of the Messiah’s coming. Now the angel, by making mention of his name, puts Zacharias in mind of the prophecy of Daniel concerning the coming of the Messiah.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Thus, you see, he has a special function with regard to the coming of the Lord into this world, and into this life. So thus there is some kind of order, some kind of division.


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