The Bible describes angels as powerful spiritual beings whom God created to perform specific jobs both in heaven and on earth. And although the Bible often mentions a “host” of angels, it only names a few.
Gabriel is the most well-known named angel to appear in Scripture. Each time he is mentioned, we see him act as a messenger to impart wisdom or a special announcement from God. In the book of Daniel, Gabriel appeared to the prophet Daniel in order to explain some visions God gave Daniel about the end times (Daniel 8:15–27; 9:20–27). While Daniel still had trouble understanding the visions, Gabriel’s explanations, along with other biblical information about the end times, have allowed us to come to some conclusions about how the end times will play out.
Gabriel also appears in the New Testament. He appears to Zacharias in the temple to herald the news that Zacharias’s wife, Elizabeth, would give birth to John. Gabriel also approaches Mary with the announcement of the birth of Christ. Later, Joseph receives guidance in a couple visits from Gabriel. Because of the monumental importance of these history-shaping announcements, it seems likely that Gabriel is one of God’s chief messengers.
The second angel the Bible calls by name is Michael, who functions very differently from the angel Gabriel. Michael is an archangel, which means “chief angel”; this title indicates that Michael holds a high rank in heaven. Although it is not certain that Michael is the only archangel, the possibility exists, according to Jude 1:9, where Michael is referred to in definite terms as “the archangel Michael.” If other archangels exist, it is likely that Michael leads them.
When Michael appears in the Bible, it is usually in a battle of some type. He wars with the fallen angels (those who sinned against God and became demons) and Satan on behalf of God and His people. Michael appears several times in the book of Daniel as a warrior (see Daniel 10:21 and 12:1). In one instance, the angel Gabriel describes Michael as fighting against the demonic “prince of the Persian kingdom,” enabling Gabriel to reach Daniel and explain the visions to him (Daniel 10:13).
Michael is also seen in the book of Revelation, when he battles the great dragon—Satan—during the end times (Revelation 12:7–9). The fact that Michael is leading an army of angels against Satan himself testifies to Michael’s high rank and power.
If fallen angels are included in the list of angels who are named in the Bible, two more names should be mentioned: Lucifer/Satan and Apollyon/Abaddon. Lucifer rebelled against God and was thrown down from heaven along with the angels who followed him. Before his rebellion, Lucifer was a beautiful and powerful being; but he coveted equality with the Most High God and therefore became unholy and cursed (Isaiah 14:12–18; Luke 10:18). He is now known as Satan and is God’s chief enemy who seeks to deceive and destroy all of mankind (John 10:10). Apollyon/Abaddon is another fallen angel, mentioned in Revelation 9:11, and he leads an end-times demonic army.