QUESTION: In our Sunday service it sometimes says, “Therefore with angels and archangels.” I can only find one archangel in the Bible (Michael). Are there other archangels?
ANSWER: St. Paul wrote: For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first (1 Thessalonians 4:16).
The Book of Jude states: Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” (Jude 9).
You are correct. Although there is a multitude of angels in the Bible—“Myriads and myriads” (Revelation 5:11)—Michael is the only angel that the canonical Bible calls the Archangel.
The Archangel is the chief or first Angel. He rules over the other angels. It would make sense that there is only one.
Yet, the Jewish religion has several; and, remember, the apostles were raised in the religion of the rabbis. Other ancient Jewish books spoke of more than one archangel. The apocryphal book Tobit lists Gabriel and Raphael as archangels.
The Roman Catholic Bible includes Tobit, calling it “deuterocanonical.” Deuterocanonical books are books not in our Hebrew Bible. Roman Catholics consider them to be canonical. Dr. Luther included them in his translation, but more as an appendix. We do not consider them to be on the same level as the sixty-six canonical books. They are not a part of the inspired and inerrant word of God. Nonetheless, they are useful for devotional reading.
Another Jewish book, Enoch, is labeled “pseudepigrapha,” meaning that the named author did not write it. This book calls archangels “Watchers.” Up to seven of them are listed in chapter 20. The Book of Revelation provides an interesting parallel: When He opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets (Revelation 8:1–2). And yet this canonical book does not call these seven angels archangels.
When we gather for worship and receive the Holy Supper, heaven and earth come together. As God’s Word is taught and His Sacraments are administered, God comes to be with us in a very special way. We gather before His throne and join the multitude of heavenly host praising His holy name. This adds joy and comfort to our worship. We know angels join us in our praise as we approach the holy God to receive His holy meal.
Angels went with Jesus throughout His life in this world. Gabriel announced His birth, and shepherds heard the sound of angel voices inviting them to see the newborn King. Angels were with Jesus as He endured the temptation of Satan in the wilderness. The eternal God became human to rescue us all from our temptations and sins. The sky turned black the day He died. Heaven couldn’t look at what He had to suffer to pay for our sins. The angels were present on Easter. They triumphantly proclaimed Christ’s resurrection, our justification, and the eternal life we have by faith.
We join the angels in worship around Jesus’ throne, even while we continue our walk to the promised glory. We sing the angel hymn of Isaiah’s vision of heaven from chapter 6, verses 1–3, as we prepare for His holy meal: “Therefore with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven, we laud and magnify Your glorious name, evermore praising You and saying: Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Sabaoth; Heav’n and earth are full of Your glory” (ELH, pg. 51–52).
Rev. Charles Keeler
Resurrection Lutheran Church
Winter Haven, FL