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Unraveling the Question: How Many Archangels are in the Bible?

The angelic realm is shrouded in mystery and can be perplexing to us humans.

We often lack the ability to see angels with our physical eyes, yet numerous biblical characters are said to have had visions of them in human form. One question that arises is “how many archangels are mentioned in the Bible?” Well, the Bible only names Gabriel, Michael and Raphael, while also allowing the possibility for thousands more archangels.

The Bible explicitly names only three members of the “archangel” class of angels: Michael (Rev. 12:7), Gabriel (Luke 1:19), and Raphael (Tob. 12:15). Nevertheless, in the book of Tobit, when Raphael reveals his identity, he states, “I am Raphael, one of the seven angels who stand and serve before the Glory of the Lord” (Tobit 12:15). This has led many to believe that there exist seven archangels.

The number seven also appears in the Book of Enoch, an ancient Jewish writing that is not recognized as canonical by either the Hebrew Scriptures or the Catholic Bible. Enoch lists seven archangels: Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, Raguel, Phanuel, and Sariel. The name Uriel also appears in 2 Esdras, another Jewish text that is not part of the official canon of scripture but is accepted by some Orthodox Churches. Uriel is even depicted in icons and stained-glass windows of Christian churches.

While some Christian denominations regard these names as “official,” the Catholic Church has explicitly cautioned against developing devotions to these extra-biblical archangels as it is considered spiritually perilous. The Church’s Directory on Popular Piety states, “The practice of assigning names to the Holy Angels should be discouraged, except in the cases of Gabriel, Raphael and Michael, whose names are contained in Holy Scripture.”

As Catholics, we can only be certain of the names of three of God’s angels. Any other name is suspect because it is not part of divine revelation. It remains uncertain whether the name Uriel is inspired by God, a human invention, or the name of a malevolent spirit. This does not imply that there are only three archangels. The Scriptures clearly suggest that there could be “thousands” of angels or a “multitude” of angels, as St. Luke mentions at the birth of Jesus (cf. Luke 2:13).

God’s creativity is not restricted to just three archangels, but we must exercise caution not to develop devotions to angels who are not validated by the Word of God. The Bible remains our authoritative list of archangels.

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Raphael Benedict

Raphael Benedict is a Catholic who wants nothing but to spread the catholic faith to reach the ends of the world. Make this possible by always sharing any article or prayers posted on your social media platforms. Remain blessed

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