What Is an Archangel and What Is His Role in the End Times?

Statue of the archangel Michael

Only one angel is given the rank of an archangel in Scripture, and that is Michael. Some wonder if Gabriel is an archangel, but the Bible doesn’t give him the label.

Michael the archangel appears throughout the Old and New Testament. In Daniel, for example, he appears twice. Gabriel mentions Michael stepped into a spiritual fight against the Prince of Persia so Gabriel could deliver a message to the prophet (Daniel 10). In Daniel 12:1, Michael appears again, this time protecting the Israelites from spiritual attack. The next appearance of Michael is in Jude 1:9 where we see Michael contending with the devil over the body of Moses and he tells the devil, “The Lord rebuke you.”

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Angel statue looking out over the sky

What Are Angels?

Angels are part of the universe God created.  They exercise moral judgment. We see this because some of them sinned and fell from their positions (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6). They speak to people (Matthew 28:5; Acts 12:6-11) and sing praise to the Lord (Revelation 4:11; 5:11). We do not have any idea of how many angels God created. 

Man cannot usually see angels unless God gives us a special ability to see them (Numbers 22:31; 2 Kings:17; Luke 2:13). They are engaged in guarding and protecting man (Psalm 34:7; 91:11; Heb. 1:14) and joining with Christians in worship to God (Hebrews 12:22), but they are still invisible. From time to time, angels took on a bodily form to appear to various people in Scripture (Matthew 28:5; Hebrews 13:2).

The Word of God indicates there is a rank and order among the angels, writes Wayne Grudem. One angel, Michael, is called an archangel (Jude 9), a title that indicates rule or authority over other angles. He is called “one of the chief princes” in Daniel 10:13. In Revelation 12:7-8, Michael is the leader of the angelic army. 

Do Angels Have a Role in the End Times?

Revelation 12 presents a grand history of the church in the form of a vision of a woman, her son, and a great red dragon. The woman stands for the church, through which God brought his Son, the Savior, into the world. The dragon is the devil, who opposed the child's birth and persecuted the church after Christ has ascended in power. Verses 1–6 introduced the players in this holy war, showing how God overcame the devil through the birth and the saving ministry of Christ.

Starting in verse 7, the vision continues by showing the devil’s ongoing warfare against believers. Satan suffered a terrible defeat in the coming of Christ so that his activities are curtailed. Nonetheless, he continues to rage with the resources he has left in the spiritual warfare that marks this age between Christ's first and second comings.

The theme of this vision, starting in Revelation 12:7, is the defeat suffered by the devil because of the death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ. According to Revelation 12:7, not only does spiritual warfare take place on the earth between Christ and his people and Satan and his servants, but there is also warfare in the spiritual realm of angels.

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dragon in fire to signify 7-headed dragon in end times

What Is the Archangel Michael’s Role?

Michael is described in Daniel 10:13 as “one of the chief princes” of the angels. Daniel had prayed for God to forgive his people and restore them to Jerusalem. An angel was dispatched to tell Daniel that his prayer had been heard, but its passage was blocked by an evil angel. It was only when “Michael … came to help” that Daniel’s angel could get through (Dan. 10:13). On that occasion, it seems that Daniel’s persistence in prayer provided the spiritual resources for Michael’s victory (10:2–4).

The book of Daniel ends with a promise that during the trials of the church age “shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people” (12:1). Revelation 12:7–8 describes this long-foretold holy war: “Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back.”

To understand this passage, we must realize that this battle took place during the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, culminating with his ascension into heaven. Revelation 12:13 reports that after the dragon “had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child.” This means that the dragon was cast down just before the church age. Jesus’ victory on the cross, crowned with his ascension to heaven’s throne, defeated Satan and his army, after which “there was no longer any place for them in heaven[,] … and Satan … was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him” (Rev. 12:8–9).

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Half a beautiful tree and half of a wilted tree

How Is Satan Overthrown?

What does it mean for Satan to be “thrown down” out of heaven? Revelation 12:10 answers that “the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.” Christ has silenced Satan’s attempts to accuse Christians before God. 

The battle between Michael and Satan might be thought of as a legal contest in the courtroom of heaven. The heavenly voices rejoice that with Satan’s defeat, he “who accuses [believers] day and night before our God” has lost his court privileges (Rev. 12:10). This fits the picture in the Old Testament that we find in Job (1:6).

As an angelic being, even the fallen Satan had the authority to come with other angels into God’s courtroom. God asked Satan whether he had encountered Job (Job 1:8). Satan responded by accusing Job, saying that he honored God only because the Lord had so richly blessed him. Satan’s accusation led to the terrible sufferings of Job and Job’s subsequent testimony of faith in the Lord.

Revelation 12 states that Satan is no longer able to make these accusations. In the holy war in heaven, “the great dragon was thrown down” (Rev. 12:9). John describes him as “that ancient serpent,” reminding us of how the devil led our race into sin and condemnation. He “is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world” (12:9). The word devil means “slanderer” or “accuser.” Satan means “adversary” of God’s people, and he works as a “deceiver” of the world in its unbelief. These names tell us how Satan wars against God and his people: he desires to deceive and specially to accuse us of sin in the courtroom of God.

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Sword in the mist

Michael as an Enforcer

The New Testament associates the casting down of Satan with the saving work of Christ. Luke 10:17 records the return of the seventy-two evangelists whom Jesus sent out. When they reported their success in preaching the gospel, Jesus cried, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven” (10:18). As Jesus saw it, the news of his redeeming work removed Satan from heaven.

In John 12:31, Jesus was speaking about his coming death on the cross. Jesus saw his work of redeeming us from sin as the end of Satan’s campaign of accusation and deceit. Now, having ascended to God’s throne in heaven, Jesus, by his presence, forever bars Satan from appearing to accuse us. James Hamilton writes, “Christ accomplished the victory, and apparently God sent Michael to enforce it.” Christ won the victory on earth, so “Michael and his angels” assailed Satan, defeated him, and cast him out from the courts of heaven” (Rev. 12:7–8).

In Revelation, 12:7, John says that he saw “war arose in heaven.” John does not see here the final ultimate age. John, instead, is giving a snapshot of historical theology. John sees a woman give birth to a son whose birth is anticipated by a dragon. The dragon attempts to kill the child who is caught up into heaven, while the woman spends a period of time in the wilderness. The image of the woman here is the church, and the son is the king. Satan, the enemy of God, tries to extinguish his life, but God protects him and exalts him. Even so, Satan turns his attack on the woman who gave birth to the child.  

John sees in his vision at this point a war in heaven where Michael, the archangel with his angels, fights against the dragon and his angels. In Daniel 10, the archangel is involved in the conflicts between Israel and the other nations as the background of this battle. The defeat of Satan in Revelation 12 is a recurring theme of Revelation.

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Cross with a red sash

The Power of the Lamb of God

Satan aims to overthrow and destroy the church. Even so, the blood of the Lamb of God Jesus prevails for the people of God. Satan accuses, but the case is closed and over before it begins because Christians are covered in the blood of their Advocate and High Priest Jesus (1 John 2:1). The blood of Christ that saves Christians is the blood that pleads them not guilty, that protects them, and enables God’s people to hold fast. Victory is the battle cry of Christians because the surety of their victory is bound up with the victory Christ has already won in His finished and sufficient work.

All the resources of the Lord God are utilized for the good of Christians and to the end of spreading the gospel. The earth helps the woman when the dragon attempts to kill her. No weapon formed against her will succeed (Isaiah 54:17) because the Lord is with her. The triumph described here runs throughout the book of Revelation. Since God is for us, and He keeps us secure (Romans 8:31), we should trust Him and worship Him alone who is worthy. 

Satan has been cast down from heaven by the victory of Christ. He can still breathe earthly affliction upon us, but he has no ability to accuse us before God or threaten our right to eternal life. What will God do where we live if we seize by faith the victory of Christ’s blood and fearlessly proclaim his gospel, without concern for suffering, loss, or even death? The answer, according to John’s vision, is that Satan will be cast down from his throne, and “the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ” will come, causing heaven itself and those who dwell in it to rejoice with great praise to God (Rev. 12:10, 12).

If we daily embrace the cross-bearing death of Jesus, giving our testimony to his salvation, we will conquer “by the blood of the Lamb” (12:11).

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Dave Jenkins is happily married to Sarah Jenkins. He is a writer, editor, and speaker living in beautiful Southern Oregon.

This article is part of our larger End Times Resource Library. Learn more about the rapture, the anti-christ, bible prophecy and the tribulation with articles that explain Biblical truths. You do not need to fear or worry about the future!

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