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What are Archangels?
(Part 2 of 4)

What are archangels? Actually, the Bible never uses the word archangels. It speaks of only one being of the rank of archangel. The plural term - archangels - is never used. References refer to "the" and never "an" or "one of" the archangels. There is no Biblical basis for supposing that there is more than one being of this rank. So if you see a reference such as "the archangel Gabriel" you know that it is not Biblical.

(The previous page - part 1 - in this series looked at the question "What are angels?" You might want to look at that for more background. We are working towards answering the question "Who is Michael the Archangel?")

The term archangel (from the Greek "archaggelos") is used in only two places in the Bible - 1 Thess 4:16 and Jude 9. The term archangel is a combination of arche (Strong's no. 757) and aggelos (Strong's no. 32) which means an angel. Arche means "to be chief, to lead, to rule". The Strong's Concordance definition for archeggelos is "archangel or head of the angels". Note Rev 12:7 "Michael and his angels." If they are his angels then he must be the head or "arche" of them. Arche appears twice in the New Testament, and is translated "rule over" (Mark 10:42) and "reign over" (Romans 15:12).

"But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them." (Mark 10:42)

"And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust." (Rom 15:12)

So, with a correct understanding of the underlying Greek, the question "What are archangels?" is like asking "Who is the heads of the angels?" and that doesn't make sense - there is only one head of the angels and they are His angels - He created them.

The term "arch" is related to the Greek word Archegos (Strong's no. 747) which is used four times in the New Testament, always in reference to Christ and is translated captain, author (as in source) or prince:

  1. "and killed the Prince of life whom God hath raised from the dead" (Acts 3:15)
  2. "Him hath God be a Prince and a Saviour" (Acts 5:31)
  3. "to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings" (Heb 2:10)
  4. "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith" (Heb 12:2)

Let's consider the two uses of the term archangel. The first is:

"Yet Michael the archangel..." (Jude 9)

More will be said about this verse on page 4 of this series of studies. For now, notice simply that Michael and the archangel are the same individual. Can you see that the question "what are archangels?" doesn't make sense when there only is one archangel? The second use is:

"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." (1 Thess 4:16)

When the Lord descends at his second coming it will be with a shout.

"Our God shall come and shall not keep silence." (Psa 50:3)"

It is the Lord who speaks when he comes "and the dead in Christ shall rise first." The Greek word translated "shout" means command. The purpose of this voice at his coming is as a command to the dead to rise to life. John 5:25,28,29. Only God can restore the dead to life:

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live." (John 5:25)

"Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth ..." (John 5:28-29)

"And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth." (John 11:43)

Now that we can answer the question "what are archangels?" biblically - and we know that there is only one archangel, lets consider the relation between Jesus and angels. (Part 3)


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