Gabriel is one of only three high-ranking angels named in the entire Bible. What does the Bible say about the archangel Gabriel’s job as a messenger?
There is a vast population of holy angels in God’s spirit realm (Revelation 5:11; Hebrews 12:22; Luke 2:13).
Yet only three high-ranking angels are named in the Bible:
First, what are angels? In Greek, the word for angel is aggelos (pronounced ang-el-os). Its meanings include “a messenger, envoy, one who is sent, a messenger from God” (Strong’s Lexicon). Angels are spirit beings God created to accomplish certain aspects of His will in the spirit and physical world.
The Bible shows us that the three high-ranking angels were given especially great responsibilities.
Lucifer was formerly a “covering cherub” (Ezekiel 28:14, 16), a title that indicates he had great responsibility at God’s throne. However, Lucifer sinned and is now a fallen angel called Satan (Revelation 12:9). To learn more about Satan’s origin and tactics, read “Satan: A Profile.”
- Archangel Michael
Michael is called “one of the chief princes,” “your prince” and “great prince” (Daniel 10:13, 21; 12:1). His role includes standing as a watchman (or guardian) over God’s people. Michael is the only angel clearly called an archangel (Jude 9). The word archangel in Greek is archaggelos. It means “archangel,” or “chief of the angels” (Strong’s Lexicon). Please see our article “Archangel Michael” to learn more about the important role of this angel.
- Archangel Gabriel
The third high-ranking angel is Gabriel, the subject of this article. What does the name Gabriel mean? Gabriel is a personal name, meaning “strong man of God” (Holman Bible Dictionary, “Gabriel”).
How do we know Gabriel is an important angel?
Even though Jewish tradition (including the noncanonical book of Enoch) identifies Gabriel as one of the archangels, the Bible does not directly state that Gabriel is an archangel. Yet Gabriel clearly has a high position among the angels since his name (along with Lucifer’s and Michael’s) is mentioned in God’s Word.
The Bible’s reference to Michael as “one of the chief princes” also implies that there are others of his exalted rank among those who are also called “princes” (Daniel 10:13).
Though the Bible doesn’t directly call Gabriel an archangel, because he’s mentioned by name along with these other two powerful angelic beings and because we know that Michael isn’t the only “chief prince,” it seems very likely that Gabriel is also a “chief prince” or an “archangel.”
What is Gabriel’s job?
The Bible shows that Gabriel’s primary responsibility is to serve as a spiritual messenger. He seems to be specifically tasked with delivering messages from God to human beings.
The Bible shows that Gabriel’s primary responsibility is to serve as a spiritual messenger. He seems to be specifically tasked with delivering messages from God to human beings.Gabriel is identified by name as delivering important prophetic messages to faithful servants of God in four different accounts in Holy Scripture. Based on the Bible’s description of Gabriel delivering messages on behalf of God, he has been called the messenger angel.
Let’s look at the messages God tasked Gabriel to deliver.
Gabriel’s messages to Daniel
The first mention of Gabriel is in an appearance to the prophet Daniel (Daniel 8:16). Here Gabriel was sent to show Daniel the meaning of a vision he had received regarding the kings of Media, Persia and Greece (Daniel 8:15-26).
Then Gabriel appeared to him a second time (Daniel 9:21) to deliver a prophecy regarding the time Jesus Christ would appear and fulfill His ministry (verses 25-27). For further study of this subject, please see our article “70 Weeks of Daniel: What Does the Prophecy Mean?”
In an insightful glimpse into the spirit world, we find Daniel praying and humbling himself for 21 days, seeking God’s understanding of a previous vision that had left him greatly distressed (Daniel 10:2-3, 12, 16). An angel then appeared to Daniel to bring him the understanding he had asked for (verse 12). Although we aren’t told this angel’s name, it may have been Gabriel since Gabriel had come to Daniel previously. This angel explained to Daniel that he had been restrained from coming earlier, but that Daniel’s prayer had been heard from the start (verses 13-14).
A contentious evil spirit being called “the prince of the kingdom of Persia” (a demon) was strong enough to block this angel from coming to Daniel (verse 13). The angel had been delayed for those three weeks until the archangel Michael could come to his aid and help free him from the restraint of this demonic “prince.”
After delivering the message to Daniel, the angel explained he must return again to fight with “the prince of Persia” and that “the prince of Greece” would follow (verse 20).
This account helps us understand that there are ongoing, invisible battles occurring in the spirit realm. There are rulers of darkness—Satan and his demons—who are constantly attempting to thwart God’s plan of salvation for humans (Ephesians 2:1-3; 6:11-13; Revelation 12:7). Satan is called the “god of this age” (2 Corinthians 4:4), and he has demonic spirits assigned to influence specific nations.
God, who is all-powerful, intervenes with the assistance of His angels as He deems necessary to further His plan (Psalm 34:7; Romans 8:37-39; Hebrews 1:13-14).
To learn more about the prophetic messages given to Daniel, read our resource “Understanding the Book of Daniel.”
Gabriel’s message to Zacharias
Approximately 500 years after Daniel’s time, God sent Gabriel to tell the priest Zacharias the joyful news that he and his wife Elizabeth would become parents.
Here are the words Gabriel spoke to him: “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth” (Luke 1:13-14).
Even though “Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well advanced in years,” Gabriel brought the news of this wonderful miracle that would soon occur (verses 7, 19).
Gabriel further explained that their son John would be given a very special role to “turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. He will also go before Him [Christ, the Messiah] in the spirt and power of Elijah … to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (verses 16-17).
The time was very near for the coming of the Messiah (Luke 2:25; 7:18-19). Now the angelic messenger Gabriel, who had delivered a prophecy of Christ’s coming to Daniel, had come to announce its fulfillment!
Zacharias and Elizabeth’s son would become known as “John the Baptist” and would prepare the way for Jesus Christ, the prophesied Messiah.
Realizing that he and his wife had not been able to have children and were now too old to conceive naturally, Zacharias asked how this could be possible. The angel answered, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and was sent to speak to you and bring you these glad tidings” (Luke 1:19). Interestingly, this shows that Gabriel holds a position of high honor—he “stands in the presence of God.” (This is another clue that Gabriel is one of the “chief princes” or “archangels.”) This is the third explicit account of Gabriel delivering a message.
Gabriel’s message to Mary
Gabriel told Mary (who was betrothed to be married, but still a virgin) that she, too, would miraculously conceive and give birth to One who would be called Jesus, the Son of the Highest.Six months after Elizabeth conceived, God sent Gabriel to deliver a message to her younger relative Mary, who was dwelling in Nazareth of Galilee (Luke 1:26-27). This is the fourth account identifying Gabriel as an angel delivering a message on God’s behalf.
Gabriel told Mary (who was betrothed to be married, but still a virgin) that she, too, would miraculously conceive and give birth to One who would be called Jesus, the Son of the Highest.
Gabriel’s message to Mary was: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God” (verses 35-36).
Gabriel in the book of Revelation?
Since Gabriel is the only messenger angel named in the Bible, it is possible that he was the angel Christ used to send the words of the book of Revelation to the apostle John.
We are told that “He [Christ] sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John” (Revelation 1:1). It’s very possible “His angel” refers to the archangel Gabriel.
Regardless of the identity of the angel in the book of Revelation, an important concept for us to understand is that God’s overall purpose for humanity will be fulfilled. As God said through the prophet Isaiah, “The LORD of hosts has sworn, saying, ‘Surely, as I have thought, so it shall come to pass, and as I have purposed, so it shall stand’” (Isaiah 14:24).
Gabriel and the other righteous angels serve as “ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation” (Hebrews 1:14). These angels assist God the Father and Jesus Christ in Their plan to bring “many sons to glory” (Hebrews 2:10).
As intriguing as the subject of angels is, we must always remember that they are not to be worshipped. John tried to worship an angel who was revealing to him the vision recorded in the book of Revelation. The angel responded, “See that you do not do that! … Worship God” (Revelation 19:10).
Will you follow this angel’s advice? Will you be among those who worship God and receive salvation when Christ returns?
To learn what is expected of those who will be granted eternal life, we encourage you to read our free booklet Change Your Life!