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?
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.
- "The Big Book of Angels" by the Editors of Beliefnet. Leaders from all the major world religions write about angels from their perspective in this unique book. You will find it interesting to compare the ideas of other religions with your own beliefs.
- "A Rustle of Angels" by Marilynn Carlson Webber and William D. Webber. My wife and I compiled this book which is filled with hundreds of actual angel experiences. The stories raise almost every question about angels and has more theology about angels than most theology textbooks, but the text is a fun and easy-to-read style. In 2005, the book won the Print Media Award from the Excellence in Media Foundation and was also nominated for the Gold Medallion Award.
- "The Angels and Us" by Mortimer J. Adler. This is a classic. The first edition came out in 1982 and it is still in print. Dr. Adler was president of the University of Chicago and became widely known as the editor of "Great Books of the Western World." You will enjoy this highly readable book, which may tell you more than you ever wanted to know about angels, by a true scholar and noted philosopher.
- "Celebration of Angels" by Timothy Jones. Timothy Jones has collected the best accounts of people who have had experiences with angels. He uses his skills as a professional writer and researcher to present clearly the teachings of the Scripture and the Christian church in a compelling way.
- "Where Angels Walk" by Joan Wester Anderson. Read this book and you will understand why it was on the New York Times best-seller list for over a year. You will never go wrong with any book on angels by Joan. "Where Angels Walk" is filled with factual accounts of angels in our world; the book will fill readers with a sense of awe and peace.