Angels’ Names in the Bible
The names of individuals often reveal their character. Much of what we know about God is a result of his self-revelation through his names. God also gave names to his angels to reveal something about their character. Only three angels are named in Scripture but the Bible indicates the significance of those names in contrast with the name of Jesus (He shall save his people from their sins (Matt. 1:21.).”He (Jesus) hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they [angels]” (Heb. 1:4).
- Lucifer – “Bearer of light”
- Gabriel – “Man of God”
- Michael – “Who is like the Lord?”
Lucifer is thought to be the original name for the devil. This name reflects not the present character of Satan but his original created purpose and character. Lucifer originally possessed a high place in heaven (Isa. 14:12), perhaps the highest above all angels, but was cast down because of his desire to rise above God (Isa. 14:14).
His name means “bearer of light,” reflecting his purpose, to bear the light of God. By bearing light, angels are messengers of God. Hence, Lucifer should have been a “light bearer” to Jesus himself who is “the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (John 1:9).
Gabriel is the messenger angel of God. Gabriel is usually sent from God to man with a special message. The name Gabriel means “man of God”; his character trait is strength. Again, the name of Jesus surpasses the name of Gabriel. Whereas Gabriel is the “man of God,” Jesus is “God.”
Appearances of Gabriel
To Whom – Scripture Reference
- Daniel – Dan. 8:16; 9:21, 26
- Zacharias – Luke 1:11, 19
- Mary – Luke 1:26, 27
- Joseph – Matt. 1:20
- Joseph again – Matt. 2:13, 19
- Jesus in Gethsemane – Luke 22:43
- The apostles in prison – Acts 5:19
- Philip – Acts 8:26
- Peter – Acts 12:7
- Herod – Acts 12:23
- Paul – Acts 27:23
- John – Rev. 22:8
The third angel named in Scripture is the most powerful. Michael is usually related to Israel and the resurrection (Dan. 10:13; 12:1, 2; 1 Thess. 4:19). He is described as the archangel (Jude 9), meaning he is the highest in the order of angels. His name means “who is like the Lord?” The name Michael emphasizes his godly character. Once again this angelic name falls short of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Appearances of Michael
- To Whom – Scripture Reference
- Daniel – Dan. 10:13, 21; 12:1
- Satan on earth – Jude 9
- Satan in heaven – Rev. 12:7
Angel Types Without Specific Names
This special group of angels guard the holiness of God from the sinfulness of man. After Adam and Eve sinned, a cherub guarded the gate to Eden. Two likenesses of these angels were placed on the ark of the covenant in the tabernacle (Exod. 25:18-22), and later in the temple (1 Kings 6:23-29). These statues stood symbolically in protection of the presence of God.
Finally, John describes four angels (living creatures) that guarded the throne of God in heaven.
“And round about the throne, were four beasts [living creatures] full eyes before and behind. And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle. And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and nigh saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come” (Rev. 4:6-8).
Literally, the word “seraphim” means “burners.” Like the cherubim, they are concerned with the holiness of God (Isa. 6:3). Inasmuch as the seraph cleansed Isaiah with live coal from the altar (Isa. 6:6, 7), this order of angels relates to sacrifice and cleansing. In contrast, the cherubim deal with judgment.