One Archangel, Two Archangels
So just how many archangels are there? Plus, five highly recommended books on angels.
How many archangels are there and what are their functions?
How many archangels are there? It all depends on who's counting. The mainstream Protestant view has deemed certain angels archangels based on verses in the Bible. Michael is the only angel identified as an archangel because the Bible refers to him as an archangel twice. In 1 Thessalonians 4:16, the verses state that Jesus will return for his church "with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God." Even though the name of the archangel is not mentioned in 1 Thessalonians, Jude 9 makes reference to "Michael the archangel." Even Billy Graham wrote in his book "Angels: God’s Secret Agents," "He [Michael] must stand alone, because the Bible never speaks of archangels, only the archangel." Because the Bible only names Michael as an archangel, all Christendom agrees he is one.
But don’t some Christians believe there are three?
The Roman Catholic Church uses a slightly larger compilation of the Hebrew scriptures than Protestant churches. The Catholic Bible includes Apocrypha (books typically not included in the New Testament canon) such as the Book of Tobit. In the Apocrypha, Gabriel and Raphael are designated archangels. In addition to Michael, then, the Roman Catholic church believes there are three archangels.
Is Uriel a fourth archangel?
Uriel is sometimes called an archangel because the Apocryphal book 2 Esdras refers to him as the archangel of salvation. But 2 Esdras was dropped from the Catholic canon, and since 745 AD the Catholic Church has not officially recognized him as an archangel. But, the Coptic Church still includes the books of Esdras in their Bible and Uriel’s feast day is celebrated by the Coptic Church on July 28.
Was there a fifth archangel?
Most scholars would agree that there is Biblical ground for believing that Lucifer was an archangel before his fall, equal or perhaps superior, to Michael. But, even though the Bible refers to Lucifer as having been an angel, there are no verses that directly name him as an archangel.
Could there be more archangels?
Yes, it’s possible. Revelation 8:2 reads: "And I saw the seven angels who stand before God; and to them were given seven trumpets." Some identify the seven angels as archangels. In the Book of Tobit, Raphael identifies himself saying, “I am Raphael, one of the seven angels who stand and enter before the glory of God.” Could this mean the seven angels in Revelation chapter are archangels? If you believe in the Apocrypha, then yes.
Could there be thousands or even millions
According to Catholic tradition, there is a hierarchy of angels that divides the heavenly hosts into nine divisions, or choirs, of angels. Archangels form the eighth choir are chief angels whose responsibilities include looking after the affairs of humankind. They also act as guardian angels to world leaders and command the armies of the heavenly hosts. Archangels are also the holy messengers of God and bring God’s messages to humans.
So all in all, how many archangels are there?
Only God knows....
The idea that four archangels each represent a cardinal point is not a part of mainstream Christianity; there are no Bible verses to offer evidence. The association of the archangels with the four directions—as well as with the four elements of earth, air, fire, and water—is a belief that comes from the Kabbalah, a religion that is thousands of years old and is the basis of Jewish mysticism. In addition to assigning angels to the four cardinal points, Kabbalah also assigns angels to represent the seven classical planets (Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Venus, Mercury, Sol (the sun), and Luna (the moon)), and the twelve zodiacal constellations. Today, these ideas are also part of the beliefs of some New Age groups and other traditions.