Tag: Angel Gabriel

11 Fascinating Facts about the Angel Gabriel

11 Fascinating Facts about the Angel Gabriel

The angel Gabriel may be one of the most well-known characters in the traditional Christmas story, and aside from the Trinity members and the devil, he’s probably the most famous divine being in the Bible.

But how much do we really know about Gabriel? How much of what we “know” is based on the Bible, and how much is based on TV Christmas specials?

I thought it’d be fun to take a closer look at this character.

Heads up: A few years ago I wrote a list of facts about the angel Gabriel for Logos Bible Software. This was back when I worked at Logos. But I’ve made a few more observations since then. =)

1. Gabriel isn’t called an archangel in the Bible

Did you know that every month, 12,000 people Google “archangel Gabriel”?

What’s interesting about this is that the Protestant Bible never once calls Gabriel an archangel. The only named angel specifically called an archangel in the Bible is Michael (Jude 9).

So why does everyone think of Gabriel as an archangel?

Well, a long time ago someone wrote a piece of literature called the book of Enoch. This is, as far as we can tell, a work written between the Old and New Testaments. It was super influential—so influential that the book of Jude even quotes it (Jude 14–15)!

Now, you could make the argument that:

1. The book of Enoch says Gabriel and Michael were archangels.

2. Jude quotes the book of Enoch as legit prophecy, and calls Michael an archangel.

3. Therefore, Jude considered Gabriel an archangel too.

To which I say, “Yeah, good point.”

Archangelhood isn’t really a big deal in the grand scheme of Scripture, so it’s probably not a big deal if people call Gabriel an archangel or not. But hey, it’s good to know what the Bible says. 😉

2. Gabriel is one of two named (good) angels in the Protestant Bible

The Bible mentions many angels—sometimes seers see tens of thousands at a time. But for all the angels in the Bible, only two are explicitly named. Gabriel is the first. The other is Michael.

Granted, there are a few more divine creatures and critters with names in the Bible. But they’re not so clearly on God’s side.

Caveat: This only goes for the Protestant Bible. My Catholic and Orthodox friends can cite Raphael as another biblical angel (from the book of Tobit).

3. Gabriel first appears in Daniel’s vision

In the eighth chapter of Daniel, the prophet has a vision about a ram and a goat—and a lot of crazy stuff happening with their respective horns. I’ll let you check out the bizarre details yourself.

Suffice it to say Daniel has a hard time understanding this vision. So someone “who looked like a man” comes to explain it to him. This person’s name is Gabriel.

4. Gabriel stands in the presence of God

Gabriel’s second appearance in the Bible is in the book of Luke. He’s the one who announces to Zechariah the priest that he is going to have a son (John the Baptist).

Zechariah is confused by this—more on that later. He asks Gabriel how he can be sure that this is going to happen.

Gabriel responds with a mic drop (and I paraphrase): “I’m Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God and he sent me to tell you this good news.” (Lk1:19)

The Bible mentions some other divine beings who stand in the presence of God. For example, Isaiah sees seraphim, a group of six-winged beings flying around God’s throne in the temple (Is 6:1–2). Ezekiel sees cherubim, a group of four angels with four faces who transport God’s throne (Ezek 10:20). Even an agent called “the satan,” an angelic prosecutor, stands before God on a few occasions (Zec 3:1).

5. Gabriel only speaks to three Bible characters

Gabriel speaks with Daniel, the prophet and sage. God sends Gabriel to Daniel in response to Daniel’s prayers (and confusion about those visions).

Gabriel next speaks to Zechariah the priest, to tell him about the coming birth of John the Baptist.

The last person Gabriel speaks with is Mary, the mother of Jesus. He famously announces that even though she is a virgin, she will bear the Son of God.

6. Gabriel’s messages all point to the coming Messiah

Every time Gabriel shows up in Scripture, he makes some mention of Jesus.

The first time he speaks with Daniel, Gabriel explains that one of the horns in Daniel’s vision represents a “fierce-looking king” (Da 8:21–23). Gabriel tells Daniel that this king will destroy many, and take his stand against the Prince of princes (8:25).

Daniel is understandably vexed by this. Later, he prays to God for mercy. Once again, Gabriel is sent to Daniel. This time, Gabriel tells Daniel that the Messiah, the ruler, will be put to death (9:25–26).

Both of these messages point to a conflict between a coming “fierce-looking king” and Messiah—and for a time, it will look like the Messiah is the loser of this conflict.

Fast-forward to the New Testament. Gabriel tells Zechariah that he will have a baby boy in his old age. And this isn’t just any son: this is the one who will “go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah […] to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Lk 1:17). The “Lord” here is Jesus.

And then of course, there’s the announcement of Jesus’ birth to the virgin Mary.

7. Gabriel looks like a (really scary-looking) man

When Daniel first describes Gabriel, he says that the angel looks like a man (Da 8:15). In fact, when Gabriel shows up afterward in chapter 9, Daniel doesn’t describe Gabriel as an angel—instead he calls Gabriel “the man I had seen in the earlier vision” (9:21).

But he doesn’t seem to just come off as your average dude. When Gabriel shows up, his appearance frightens people.

For example, when Gabriel first approaches Daniel, the seer is terrified (8:17). Zechariah is likewise “startled and gripped with fear” (Lk 1:12).

Now, to be fair, Gabriel did show up unannounced in what was supposed to be an empty temple. So I can imagine that Zechariah may have been less spooked by Gabriel’s looks than he was by Gabriel’s sudden appearance.

Oh, and while we’re talking about Gabriel’s appearance …

8. There’s no record of Gabriel having wings

Just thought I’d throw this one in for fun. While the Bible tells us that Gabriel came to Daniel “in swift flight,” it never mentions wings (Da 9:21).

But we can probably cut da Vinci a break: the Bible doesn’t say that he doesn’thave wings either. 😉

9. Gabriel sensed Mary’s belief (despite her question)

Gabriel delivers two messages in the book of Luke: one to Zechariah and the other to Mary. Both concern miraculous births.

An interesting thing that Luke tells us is that Gabriel can tell whether or not the people he’s talking to believe his message.

For example, Zechariah asks Gabriel, “How can I be sure you’re telling me the truth? I mean, Elizabeth and I are pretty old.” And Gabriel replies, “Look, I’m Gabriel. God sent this message, and since you didn’t believe me, you can stay mute for the next nine months.” (Lk 1:18–20 … paraphrasing, obviously.)

But later on Mary asks Gabriel the same kind of question: “How can I have a son? I’m a virgin!” But Mary gets an explanation, and no silencing effect.

10. Gabriel comes in response to prayers

The Bible preserves four conversations between Gabriel and people: two with Daniel, one with Zechariah, and one with Mary. Half of these conversations begin with God sending Gabriel in response to a prayer.

In Daniel chapter 9, Daniel makes a long, heartfelt prayer to God on behalf of Jerusalem, the temple, and the people of Israel. This is a prayer confessing that Israel has sinned and does not deserve God’s favor—yet Daniel throws himself on God’s mercy to ask for his favor anyway.

As soon as Daniel begins praying, Gabriel is sent to Daniel (Da 9:23).

And when Gabriel appears to Zechariah, he opens by saying that God has heard his prayer for a son (Lk 1:13).

11. Gabriel names the two greatest humans to ever live

When it comes to baby-naming, Gabriel gets the highest honor.

When Gabriel tells Mary that she will bear a son, he tells her that his name is to be Jesus (Lk 1:31). Being that Jesus is the Son of God, the Messiah, and the exact representation of God’s nature (Heb 1:3), it’s safe to say he’s the greatest human to walk the earth.

But that’s not the only baby Gabriel names!

When Gabriel startles Zechariah in the temple, he tells the priest to name his son John (Lk 1:13). In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus states that among the sons of women, nobody is greater than John the Baptist—although the very least in the kingdom of God would be greater than John (Mt 11:11).

Facts about the Angel of Good tidings- Archangel Gabriel

Facts about the Angel of Good tidings- Archangel Gabriel

Image of St. Gabriel, the Archangel

Facts

Feast day: September 29
Patron of messengers, telecommunication workers, postal workers

St. Gabriel is an angel who serves as a messenger for God to certain people. He is one of the three archangels. Gabriel is mentioned in both the Old and the New Testaments of the Bible. First, in the Old Testament, Gabriel appears to the prophet Daniel to explain his visions. Gabriel is described as, “one who looked like man,” as he interprets Daniel’s visions. He speaks to Daniel while he is sleeping. After Gabriel’s first visit, Daniel becomes tired and sick for days. Gabriel later visits Daniel again providing him with more insight and understanding in an answered prayer.

In the New Testament, Gabriel, described as “an angel of the Lord,” first appears to Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist. He tells him, “Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth.” Luke 1:13.

After Elizabeth conceived and was six months pregnant, Gabriel appears again. The Book of Luke states he was sent from God to Nazareth to visit the virgin married to a man named Joseph. Gabriel said to Mary, “Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.” Luke 1:28.

“Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.
31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.
32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: 
33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” Luke 1:30-33

Gabriel told Mary she would conceive from The Holy Ghost and the baby will be the Son of God.

After the Annunciation of Mary, Gabriel is not spoken of again.

Gabriel’s attributes are the Archangel; he is clothed in blue or white; and is seen carrying a lily, a trumpet, a shining lantern, a branch from Paradise, a scroll or a scepter. In art, Gabriel is most commonly represented in the scene of the Annunciation. In art, Gabriel is often represented in the scene of the Annunciation.

He is occasionally cited as the one who blows God’s trumpet to indicate the Lord’s return to Earth. However, the person designated with this task varies; different passages cite different people. The earliest known identification of Gabriel as the trumpet holder comes in 1455 represented in Byzantine art.

Gabriel is recognized as the patron saint of messengers, telecommunication workers, and postal workers. His feast day is celebrated on September 29, along with St. Michael and St. Raphael.

“Angel Gabriel’s Gracious Greeting” (Luke 1:26-38)

“Angel Gabriel’s Gracious Greeting” (Luke 1:26-38)

Angel Gabriel’s – Good news Angel

Every year on the Fourth Sunday in Advent, the Holy Gospel is a reading about Mary. Last year it was the message to Joseph that Mary would bear a son. Next year it will be Mary’s visitation to Elizabeth. This year it is the Annunciation to Mary that she will conceive in her womb and bear a son. So each year on this Sunday there’s something about Mary becoming the mother of our Lord, which is most fitting on the Sunday closest to Christmas.

As I say, our text today is the Annunciation, the announcement by the angel Gabriel to the virgin Mary. Gabriel comes to Mary and says to her, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But then Mary’s reaction is a bit puzzling. It says, “She was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be.” Well, that’s our question, too. What sort of greeting is this? And what sort of meaning does it have for us? That’s what we’ll find out now, as we consider “Gabriel’s Gracious Greeting.”

Let’s begin by considering Gabriel’s opening words: “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” “Greetings.” Sounds like an obvious thing to start with. And this could be heard as just an ordinary greeting, much like we would say, “Hello.” But interestingly, the Greek word “Greetings” is related to the word for “Rejoice.” And that just fits. Think of the Gradual for Advent that we sang: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion.” And Mary is the embodiment of that “daughter of Zion.” For in her will be fulfilled the reason for the rejoicing: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion. Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem. Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation.” Greetings, Mary! Rejoice, Mary! Israel’s king is coming, very soon, and you will be the one to bring him into the world!

“Greetings,” Gabriel says, “Greetings, O favored one.” The term “favored” means favored by God, graced by him, shown his unmerited grace and favor. And that was true for every Israelite maiden, just as it’s true for every one of us. But for Mary it was a special grace and favor shown to her, only to her. For Mary would have the unique privilege, the highest honor, of bearing Israel’s Messiah. Mary was, as we sang in the hymn, the “most highly favored lady.”

Gabriel continues: “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” “The Lord is with you!” The angel tells Mary that the Lord’s presence is with her, and will be with her, in a special way. Gabriel will explain that in a moment, when he says, “You will conceive in your womb,” and then proceeds to tell her just who this son she will be bearing is. “The Lord is with you!” Just as the Lord God was present in the tabernacle and the temple, now Mary’s womb will be the tabernacle and the ark of the covenant where the Lord’s presence will be located. She will be the vessel bearing the holy Son of God! Gabriel will tell Mary about this child in a moment, but for now, in his initial greeting, he simply says, “The Lord is with you.”

“Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” So now we’re beginning to see what sort of greeting this is. But at this point Mary doesn’t know what we know. All she knows is that this angel has shown up and is speaking to her! No wonder it says, “But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be.” Mary may have been highly favored, but she was also greatly troubled and highly perplexed!

The angel recognizes this, so he reassures her: “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.” “Do not be afraid,” or “Fear not.” How often do we see this in the Bible! It seems that whenever a human being encounters an angel, the common reaction is almost always one of fear. But then the angel will typically say, “Fear not,” “Do not be afraid.” You see, when mere mortals encounter angels, the natural reaction is to be overwhelmed by the power and majesty of these heavenly beings. So it is here with Mary. The appearance of the angel and his singling her out for a special announcement caused her to be greatly troubled. And the angel has to tell her, “Do not be afraid.”

Back to Gabriel’s words, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” What sort of greeting is this? At this point we should mention the sort of greeting many people have been led to think this is. Our Roman Catholic friends think it tells us something about Mary herself. The Latin translation, if you insert the name Maria, begins with the words, “Ave, Maria, gratia plena.” The Latin, in turn, is traditionally translated as “Hail, Mary, full of grace.” You may recognize those words as part of the Roman Catholic Rosary: “Hail, Mary, full of grace,” etc.

The problem here is that Rome makes too much of this greeting to Mary. For one thing, the word, “Hail,” is taken as some sort of veneration that we render to Mary, instead of being understood as simply the angel’s greeting to her. For another thing, the Rosary is used as an invocation of Mary, asking her to “pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.” That goes beyond what Scripture tells us to do. The invocation of the saints, and of Mary in particular–as though Mary has any special merit to add to our prayers–is nowhere taught in Scripture. Christ is our mediator with the Father, through whom our prayers gain access. It is the merits of Christ alone, interceding for us in heaven–this is all we need to gain God’s favor.

And that leads to another problem with the wrong understanding of “Hail, Mary, full of grace.” It is how the phrase, “full of grace,” is perceived. How exactly was Mary “full of grace”? Was it that she was and is full of grace to bestow, that she herself is a source of grace? No. Mary, in herself, is not a bestower of grace. Rather, she was the recipient of grace–God’s grace, bestowed upon her as a free gift. As someone once put it, “Mary is a vessel to receive, not a fountain to dispense.” Mary was a poor sinful being, just like you and me in that respect, wholly dependent upon God’s free grace and favor. To be sure, she is the most blessed of women, and all generations shall call her blessed. We honor Mary very highly in the Lutheran church. But her blessedness is pure grace and gift on God’s part, nothing intrinsic in Mary.

Well, actually, there is something about Mary. It’s that child she is conceiving and will bear. So in that sense you could say that Mary is “full of grace.” Because she’s full of Jesus! She is carrying God’s grace in her womb, in the person of that little baby! This is Mary’s Savior and our Savior she will bear! So let’s talk about that child, shall we? That’s who Gabriel wants to talk about. Listen to all the wonderful things he says about the baby she will bear, a son named Jesus: “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

This is the fulfillment of the promise made to King David centuries earlier, that through one of David’s descendants God’s everlasting kingdom would come. The throne of this Son of David would be established forever. The child to be born–the child that Gabriel tells Mary she will bear–this Jesus will be the great Davidic Messiah, who will usher in the kingdom of heaven, an eternal kingdom of blessing and peace.

That is who this Jesus is. That’s who Jesus is for you, dear ones! He is your king, your Savior, who blesses you with God’s gift of eternal life. Mary’s boy-child, Jesus Christ–he has done that for you, on the cross and at the empty tomb. He is doing that for you now, through his blessed gospel, the Word and Sacrament by which you believe in him and have your sins forgiven. And Mary’s son, the Messiah, will do that for you at the Last Day, when he returns and welcomes you into his everlasting kingdom.

“Behold, Mary, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son.” Well, one little problem, Mary thinks: “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” Gabriel answers her: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy–the Son of God.”

Here we come to the mystery of the Incarnation, and so here we must bow in humility and reverence. “Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary and was made man.” Only the God-man Savior, God in the flesh, could deliver us from our sins and win salvation for us. In order to be our substitute, to suffer death as the punishment for our sins, Jesus had to be true man. But for his death to be of such infinite value and worth as to cover the sins of the whole world, this same Jesus also had to be true God. True God and true man, one Christ–this is Jesus, our Lord and Savior.

Jesus, the Son of God born of Mary, Jesus the crucified and risen one, who will return one day as King of kings and Lord of lords–he is the only Savior there is or ever has been or ever will be. No one else, and nothing else, can save you. Not the merits of Mary or the saints. Not your own merits or worthiness. And not any slackness or softness in God’s justice, either. No, God’s just judgment on sinners was poured out on Christ on the cross, and those were your sins he died for. Your one and only hope for eternal life is in Jesus Christ alone.

And the good news is, you have it! You do have that sure hope! You do have that Savior! Yes, Mary–and Marianne and Michelle and Michael: This child announced by the angel, conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary–this Jesus Christ is your Lord, who has redeemed you, a lost and condemned person, purchased and won you from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil. Now you belong to him, and by God’s grace you will live under him in his kingdom, in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness.

When Christ returns, dear Christian, he will welcome you into his eternal kingdom. And what sort of greeting will that be! Fantastic! Wonderful! In fact, it might even be the same as Gabriel’s gracious greeting to Mary, for there could be nothing better than that: “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”