Archangels are superior or higher-ranking angels. Archangels are found in a number of religious traditions, including Islam, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism. The only archangel ever clearly named as being of the order in the Bible is Michael. Gabriel, named in Luke, is considered to be an archangel, as are Raphael (mentioned in the Book of Tobit) and Uriel (mentioned in the Book of Enoch). The archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael are venerated in the Roman Catholic Church with a feast on 29 September.
The word archangel derives from the Greek αρχάγγελος archangelos.
It is therefore widely speculated that Jewish interest in angels developed during the Babylonian captivity. According to Rabbi Simeon ben Lakish of Tiberias (230–270 AD), all the specific names for the angels were brought back by the Jews from Babylon.
Within the rabbinic tradition, the Kabbalah, and the Book of Enoch chapter 20, and the Life of Adam and Eve, the usual number of archangels given is at least seven, who are the focal angels. Three higher archangels are also commonly referenced: Michael, Raphael, and Gabriel. There is confusion about one of the following eight names, concerning which one listed is not truly an archangel. They are: Uriel, Sariel, Raguel, and Remiel (possibly the Ramiel of the Apocalypse of Baruch, said to preside over true visions), Zadkiel, Jophiel, Haniel and Chamuel.
In addition, traditional homes often sang an ode to the angels before beginning Friday night (Shabbos) dinner. It is entitled Shalom Aleichem, meaning "peace unto you" (referring to the angels).
The New Testament speaks frequently of angels (for example, angels giving messages to Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds; angels ministering to Christ after his temptation in the wilderness, an angel visiting Christ in his agony, angels at the tomb of the risen Christ, the angels who liberate the Apostles Peter and Paul from prison), but makes only two references to "archangels": Michael in Jude 1.9 and I Thessalonians 4:16, where the "voice of an archangel" will be heard at the return of Christ.
Eastern Orthodox Tradition mentions "thousands of archangels but venerates only seven of them by name. Uriel is included, and the other three are most often named Selaphiel, Jegudiel, and Barachiel (an eighth, Jeremiel, is sometimes included). The Orthodox Church celebrates the Synaxis of the Archangel Michael and the Other Bodiless Powers on November 8 of the Eastern Orthodox liturgical calendar (for those churches which follow the Julian Calendar, November 8 falls on November 21 of the modern Gregorian Calendar). Other feast days of the Archangels include the Synaxis of the Archangel Gabriel on March 26 (April 8), and the Miracle of the Archangel Michael at Colossae on September 6 (September 19). In addition, every Monday throughout the year is dedicated to the Angels, with special mention being made in the church hymns of Michael and Gabriel. In Orthodox iconography, each angel has a symbolic representation:
Some Protestants view Michael as the sole archangel, as the only one explicitly described as such in the Protestant canon of the Bible. In their view, Gabriel is never called 'archangel' in the Gospels. According to Origen verse 1:9 of Jude is an insertion that led to the writing of The Assumption of Moses.
The edition of the Bible used by Protestants, which excludes the Apocrypha, never mentions a "Raphael" and he is therefore not recognized by many of them. Raphael, however, is mentioned in the Book of Tobit, one of the deuterocanonical books. In the story, Raphael comes to the aid of Tobit, healing him of blindness, and his son Tobias, driving away a demon that would have killed him. Raphael also plays an important role in the Book of Enoch.
Jehovah's Witnesses believe that Michael is one of the names Jesus has in heaven. In this view, Michael is the first and greatest of all God's creatures, the chief messenger of Jehovah that takes the lead in vindicating God's sovereignty, sanctifying God's name, fighting the forces of Satan and protecting God's people on earth. (Revelation 12:7; 19:14,16• Daniel 12:1) This belief is held because of the prominence Michael has among the heavenly sons of God in the Bible, the similarity of Michael’s and Jesus’ mission and the connection of Jesus with the archangelic office in 1 Thessalonians 4:16, where it is said: "Because the Lord himself will descend from Heaven with a commanding call, with an archangel's voice." Taking also into account that the Bible refers to one archangel only using a definite article (Jude 9), Jehovah's witnesses have concluded that Michael and Jesus are one and the same..
A similar opinion is held by certain Protestants, such as Seventh-day Adventists, the Baptist evangelist Charles Spurgeon and the Presbyterian Commentary author Matthew Henry, who believe that the Archangel Michael is not an angel but is instead, the divine Son of God. In this view "archangel" means "head of the angels" rather than "head angel," and is a title similar to "Prince or Leader of the host." (Daniel 8:11) While not all Baptists hold to this view, Seventh-day Adventists generally do.
In Islam, the named archangels include:
• Gabriel (or Jibraaiyl or Jibril or Jibrail in Arabic). Gabriel is the Archangel responsible for revealing the Qur'an to Muhammad. Gabriel is known as the angel who communicates with the Prophets. He is mentioned specifically by name and as the Holy Spirit in the Qur'an.
• Michael (Mikail or Mikaaiyl in Arabic). Michael is often depicted as the Archangel of mercy who is responsible for bringing rain and thunder to Earth.
• Raphael (Israfil or Israafiyl). According to the Hadith, Israfil is the Angel responsible for signaling the coming of Judgment Day by blowing a horn and sending out a Blast of Truth. It translates in Hebrew as Raphael. • Azrael (Izra'il). Azrael is the Angel of Death who is responsible for parting the spirit of the human from the body at the time of departure from this earthly realm. The Qur'an never uses this name, referring instead to Malaikat al-Maut (which translates directly as Angels of Death; not one angel). Since it is not mentioned either in the Qur'an nor Hadith, it is not part of the religion. The spirit is removed from the body from the same point it entered, via the Latifa located between the eyebrows, known as the Khafi, or the Hidden.
In anthroposophy, based on teachings by Rudolf Steiner, there are many spirits belonging to the hierarchical level of archangel. In general, their task is to inspire and guard large groups of human beings, such as whole nations, peoples or ethnic groups. This reflects their rank above the angels who deal with individuals (the guardian angel) or smaller groups. The main seven archangels with the names given by Saint Gregory are Anael, Gabriel , Michael, Oriphiel, Raphael, Samael and Zachariel have a special assignment to act as a global Zeitgeist ('time spirit'), each for periods of about 380 years. Since 1879, Michael is our leading time spirit. Four important archangels also display periodic spiritual activity over the seasons: spring = Raphael, summer = Uriel, autumn = Michael and winter = Gabriel. In anthroposophy, archangels may be good or evil; in particular, some of their rank are collaborators of Ahriman, whose purpose is to alienate humanity from the spiritual world and promote materialism and heartless technical control.
In the lesser banishing ritual of the pentagram, the invocation includes the words "Before me Raphael; Behind me Gabriel; On my right hand Michael; On my left hand Auriel [i.e., Uriel]..."
In the noncanonical 1 Enoch, Saraqael is described as one of the angels that watches over "the spirits that sin in the spirit". (20:7, 8)