Who is the Mighty Angel in Revelation 10?

Colossus_of_RhodesJohn does not identify this angel, although some speculate it is Gabriel primarily because the name Gabriel means “mighty one.” It is not necessary to make the connection to Gabriel, although there are certainly other parallels here to Daniel. Gabriel is mentioned twice in Daniel, both times he is delivering a message to Daniel from God, and twice in Luke where he is the angelic messenger who tells Mary that she is pregnant.

The physical description of this angel borrows from the imagery of a theophany. While this angel is not to be equated with God (or Christ), it is a messenger that has been in the very presence of God and the message that he brings is of primary importance.

  • “Robed in a cloud.” A cloud is often associated with the presence of God. It is used as an image in Revelation as a description of heaven (11:12) and the place where “something like a son of man” sits before he comes as judge, a reference to Jesus Christ (14:14-16).
  • “With a rainbow above his head.” Rainbows are also associated with the glory of God, although the two places in scripture where a rainbow is associated with God it is a description of his throne or location (Ezek 1:28, Rev 4:3).
  • “His face was like the sun.” Christ was described as having a face shining like the sun in Rev 1:16, but this description is more like Daniel 10:6, where an angelic being is described similar to this one, as well as in passages when someone has been in the “presence of God.”
  • “His legs were like fiery pillars.” This is literally “feet.” Most modern translations translate this as legs, since it is odd to describe feet as pillars. This may be an allusion to the two pillars that led Israel in the wilderness (Exod 13:21), but a better solution is seeing this as another allusion to angelic beings, as in Ezekiel 1:7.

The angel stands with one foot on land and one foot on the sea. This is important because the beasts in chapter 13 come from both the land and the sea – God is demonstrating his sovereignty over both. This also corresponds to the Colossus-of-Rhodes-footoath he makes in verse 6, swearing by both the land and the sea. Because of this, David Aune argues the angel is an allusion to the Colossus of Rhodes (Revelation, 2:556-557).

The Colossus was a 105 foot tall bronze statue that was built about 280 B. C. It was placed in a promontory overlooking the harbor at Rhodes, and was known as one of the “seven wonders” of the ancient world. The statue was of Helios, a sun-god that was worshiped primarily in Rhodes. The image of a halo/rainbow and fire do evoke the memory of this well-known statue. It is possible that the statue had this right handed lifted towards heaven, as the angel in this passage does.

The Colossus was destroyed by an earthquake in 224 B. C. It broke off at the knees, and although it was looted for bronze, pieces were still visible during the first century. The fact that the Colossus was destroyed some 275 years prior to the writing of Revelation creates a problem for Aune’s argument the great wonder of the world influenced this description.

Nevertheless, the angel evokes memories of both Old Testament theophanies and an important Greco-Roman cultural icon. Perhaps this is why John describes this as he does so that the important message he will deliver resonates with both Jewish and Greek readers.

22 thoughts on “Who is the Mighty Angel in Revelation 10?

  1. The first couple of sentences in the article describe the possibility of the angel being Gabriel as Gabriel means “mighty one”. This is what I believe to be the most accurate description. The article describes the angel as “standing with one foot on land and one foot on the sea. This is important because the beasts in chapter 13 come from both the land and the sea – God is demonstrating his sovereignty over both”. There is no other angel that I can think of besides the arch angel Michael that is qualified to carry out such an important role as God’s sovereignty is being addressed”. The article also mentioned the importance of Gabriel and how God has used him in important events of the past. “Gabriel is mentioned twice in Daniel, both times he is delivering a message to Daniel from God, and twice in Luke where he is the angelic messenger who tells Mary that she is pregnant”.

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  2. I think it would be very on the nose to suggest Gabriel due to the fact that the vagueness of the angel’s description in Revelation matches the meaning of Gabriel’s name. I, however, could also raise the idea that it might be Azrael.

    If we take a look at the association of God being referenced as a cloud, or therefore being such a presence in symbolism by the angel, Azrael is translated from Hebrew as “Angel of God”, or “help from God”. This sort of makes sense with them being known as the angel of Death, however I could challenge that in this scriptural context, that the divine message the Mighty Angel is bringing could be of importance that Azrael might attend to. There is little scripture to support Azrael being in this position, and Gabriel translating as the angel’s name certainly steals the show, but I think in prophetic context of the End Times Azrael’s place as the Help of God and also the Angel of Death might be quite appropriate when delivering a strong message.

    I suppose we won’t know until those times, but I doubt it will matter in the moment…

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  3. One could say that the angel found in Revelation 10 is Gabriel, however, I find this a bit of a stretch, trying to find something in the scriptures that is not really there. I do not think the connections for this angle being Jesus, God the Father, or the Holy Spirit are valid either. These descriptions of the angel that we find in the chapter, such as, “his face was like the sun” (Revelation 1:16) or “his legs were like fiery pillars” (Revelation), are not unique to descriptions of angles within the Bible. Ezekiel describes the “four living creatures” that he sees around the throne of God, as glowing like burning metal in their torsos (Ezek 1:13), as you stated in your article. However, these angels that Ezekiel describes are not accredited to being Gabriel or Jesus, just because they are glowing like Jesus glows. These angles found in Ezekiel also have unique traits, such as, four faces (Ezek 1:10) and four wings (Ezek 1:8). This shows us that angles can have unique traits to fit their unique roles. What is the angel whose job is to hold the word of the LORD supposed to look like? I am not surprised that he is massive and has flaming pillars for legs. Therefore, this angel is nothing more than what he is described as, a unique angel with unique features to match his role.
    Furthermore, as far as “the rainbow above his head” could this simply just be an extension of light coming from the throne of God.

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  4. Wow, figuring out how this angel might be such a hard thing to try to pin point and identify. At first, Gabriel was the first angel that I thought of as he of course was the one who appeared to Mary to Luke 1:26-56 to tell her that she is to bear the Son of the Most High. It is interesting that in the book of Daniel, the angel is mentioned multiple times (Daniel 8:15, Daniel, 9:20). Gabriel has played a role in the Old Testament and the gospels so of course it is worth recognizing as potentially being the mighty angel in Revelation 10. However looking at the importance of this role in Revelation 10, I’m going to have to agree with the other Troy as the angel Michael comes to mind as the like mentioned in the article “rainbow above his head” is associated with the glory of God and the archangel Michael has to be near the throne in heaven. Not to mention, it is in Revelation 12 where the archangel Michael leads victory over Satan. I can’t say for certain Revelation 10 is speaking of Michael, but the angel in Revelation 10 sounds greatly like a victorious and strong angel that I believe is comparable to Michael.

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  5. It’s amazing how details are spoken about this mighty angel in Revelation 10. I had to read it few times just so I can begin breaking down each detail of the angel from the points mentioned in the blog. the first point gives the detail of this mighty angel coming down wrapped in a cloud, with a rainbow over his head, this reminds me of what God promised in Genesis 9:13 of placing a sign of his covenant him and the earth. What if this sign of the mighty angel may be another display of God’s covenant kept since the beginning until that day, confirming his power and faithfulness to both the earth and seas? The next point seeing the rainbow over his head, I took this word and broke it into two, “rain,” and “bow.” I tried to see what the bow could stand for in the Bible and I came across Genesis 9 again as like of the rainbow, the bow symbolizes an arc between one side connected to the other side. also, can translate to peace, strength, power, movement, etc. Maybe this mighty angel how’s God’s power and peace in the position he is in. The next point of his face shining like the sun, ESVB footnotes says it is “like the Son of Man,” close but not close to it. I thought this was interesting, may be that of a reflection, this angel is not on his own will but follow the orders of the Son of Man. Finally, his legs like a pillar of fire, pillar has a significant definition to which it may be interpret as strongholds, stability, perhaps with the fire it has the presence of God. In our armor of God one of the pieces is the shoes of the gospel of peace, if the pillars are connected to the feet, it may be of the presence of God in the gospel spreading both land and water in such a force of strength and stability. This chapter is interesting to me and just how many combinations are there to try to make sense in describing this image?

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  6. An author wants to write clearly to his/her entire audience. When doing so, the author must word what is written about and describe what is written about in such a way that all, or at least most, of his/her readers understand it. When an author is writing a children’s book he writes and describes things in ways that children understand. When South African historians are writing they might use illustrations that only South Africans understand. This is what I believe John is doing in Revelation. Specifically speaking about Revelation 10, the way the angel is described is clearly written to both Jew and Greek. By 90 A.D. Gentiles had been integrated with Jews in the Christian community for some time now. At least 20 years. With this in mind, John knows he must write to an audience of both Jews and Gentiles. This could be why John writes about the angel in these very specific ways. “Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven, wrapped in a cloud, with a rainbow over his head, and his face was like the sun, and his legs like pillars of fire” (Rev 10:1). As you stated above, all of these descriptions can resemble stories of the Old Testament such as Daniel 10:6 and Ezekiel 1:7. The image of the right hand lifted to heaven could have been alluding to a famous monument in the Greco-Roman world (Rev 10:5). The description that John makes is clearly a mighty one for sure. “[He] is describing the angel he encounters in the very likeness of God” (Reading Revelation, 98). Much of what John describes is very similar to visions of God, Christ, or the throne; however, this angel is not God nor Christ so even though we do not know who the angel is we know that he is extremely important and maybe even powerful.

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  7. The angel mentioned here in Revelation chapter 10 could simply be one of God’s many angels, since the angel is unnamed, or a more well-known angel such as Gabriel, etc. However, the idea or opinion held that the angel was in actuality Christ Himself is not a well-supported one for a number of different reasons. Firstly, In Revelation 1:1, it states that Christ “made it known (to John) by sending His angel to His servant John, who bore witness to the word of God”… If the angel was indeed Christ Himself, there would be no need for Christ to “send” Himself . One of the attributes the angel bears is that of having a rainbow surrounding him, a direct reference to Revelation chapter 4. Here, John’s description of amazing and different colors surrounding the throne in heaven is a means by which God’s glory and awesomeness is conveyed through a human/earthly phenomenon, i.e., a rainbow (ESV, p.2469, footnote 4:3). A much more likely possibly is that the angel was a theophany of some type, similar to other theophanies that appear elsewhere in scripture, such as in Genesis chapter 28 in Jacob’s dream, Exodus 24 with Moses and the 70 elders, and so on. The angel is most likely not a reference to the colossus of Rhodes either. The Rhodes statue was representing and evoking the image of a pagan God, and John most likely would not have used it since the stature was associated with pagan image. If however it was, it is more likely associated with the stature to big readers a sense of the immenseness and size of the angel, or something to compare it to in earthly terms. Just as John used an earthly image of the rainbow to compare the colors of the throne in heaven to, he may have been using the stature here for a simiar purpose.

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    • I agree with you. I think that this unnamed angel could be Gabriel, but it could also be just another angel of the many angels that God has. In Revelation 1:1, it states that Christ “made it known (to John) by sending His angel to His servant John, who bore witness to the word of God”… If the angel was indeed Christ Himself, there would be no need for Christ to “send” Himself. I really like this point. I also believe that if that angel was Christ himself, then there is no need to “send” himself. With this in mind, I believe that he sent another of his angels. However, there might be others who might think that since the angel has some of the attributes of God, they might believe that the angel is Christ Himself, but then it would not make sense that he would “send” himself. Regardless, I believe that the fact that He sent an angel and the angel looked amazing and powerful shows that God himself is extremely powerful.

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  8. Here in Revelation 10 we see another description of a character whose identity is not confirmed. We don’t know for sure who or what this mighty angel is other than the physical description we get. It seems a bit confusing to me that this mighty angel has traits similar to those I would associate with Jesus or God, such as a face like the sun, a rainbow around the head, and coming with a cloud, but we don’t think this is supposed to be a theophany or Christophany. If this is not God or Jesus, then these details would lead me to believe that he (or his message) is at least of great importance. Reading Revelation (98) points out that John’s description of this mighty angel is similar to another description of a “human-like figure” in Ezekiel 1. I think this could be another example of John knowing his audience and referencing the OT to draw from imagery and themes that his readers are familiar with. The similarities with Ezekiel continue with the image of John eating the scroll, just as Ezekiel did (Goodrich 99). After eating the scroll, John has received this word and now must prophesy to the world.

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  9. Who is the mighty angel in revelation 10
    there are two schools of thought when it comes to who the might angle is. First is the unconscious bias. When you get a description as this “angle” got, you have to assume that this could only be Jesus. Robbed in a cloud, which can refer to heaven, a rainbow around his head which is talking about glory, face like the son, legs like a fiery pillar. That description is worthy of Jesus. Imagine being just a man and seeing Jesus in a vision. That would be very difficult.
    The second idea is that this is Gabriel. The beginning of this blog post where PLong talked about how Gabriel had already appeared many times in the old and new testament. For example, he appeared to Daniel, and then to Mary when she was pregnant. The cool thing about this is that the name Gabriel literly means the “mighty one”. That seems to be an obvious sign of who this might be.
    The rest of the blog post kind of lost me, but I feel I got a good idea of who the mighty angle might be. I am leaning towards that John was having a hard time describing the glory of what he saw in a vision, and he tried his best to explain it.

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    • Jon Michael,
      I really appreciated how you divided the different ideas about who this angel was into two groups. I can definitely see how the language used to describe this being could be seen as a reference to Jesus. The words that are used here seem to really point to that conclusion. However, I would add that it is not absolutely clear that this is in fact Jesus here. I think that you make some very good points showing how this could be Jesus but we cannot know for sure.
      Also, as for the argument that this mighty angel is the angel Gabriel, there is also language here that points to how this could be Gabriel. As you rightly pointed out, the phrase “mighty one” used here is used to describe the angel Gabriel in other places of the Bible. So in conclusion I would say that we may have our speculations as to who this being is, but the more important thing is for us to understand the message that this being brings to us. Great post man!

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  10. The fact that John never names this angel may come with good reason. While we may think that it is harmless to know that name of this heavenly being, its identity appears to be unimportant and perhaps John never even knew. However, it doesn’t mean that this angel is a topic that should not be discussed. The idea that the angel may be Gabriel is not a far fetched one. It would make sense that the meaning of Gabriel’s name and the title of this angel would make any reader consider him as a good contender for this being’s identity. This angel is obviously quite magnificent as it is described in Revelation 1-4 to be clothed in the clouds, a rainbow on its head, and fire for feet. It seems that this angel is of a higher rank as we know there are some angels like Michael and Gabriel who have the title of Archangel. In in the Jewish work “The Book of Jubilees”, there are also different rankings of angels as “the creation of the heavenly host, including no less than nineteen different classes of angels” (Goodrich, 95). If it is indeed the case that there are multiple classes of angels and that this mighty angle seems to be described in more grand detail that other in scripture have been, than it is a decent case that the mighty angel is in fact the archangel Gabriel. However, this has not been and can not be, officially confirmed. The important thing is that this angel is pointing all the power and glory back to God. While the angel may be a fantastic being to behold, it is only a tiny reflection of God’s glory.

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  11. The idea of the “mighty angel” is one that can be quite complex. There are really only two options in my mind for this instance in Revelation 10: either this mighty angel is Gabriel, or it is a theophany. The main reason that people think that the angel is really Gabriel is because of the meaning of the name Gabriel: “Mighty one” or “strong one” (P. Long class notes 224).
    In my personal opinion, there tends to me much more of an evidence for the angel being a theophany–Christ himself. The evidence drawn from Scripture is the following:
    The Son of Man is described as “coming on the clouds” (Revelation 1:7). In this verse in Revelation 10, the angel is described as descending from the heavens and being wrapped in a cloud (Revelation 10:1).
    God the Father is described as being surrounded by a rainbow (Revelation 4:3), much like the angel described in Revelation 10:1.
    The Son of Man’s face is also described in a way that parallels the angel in Revelation 10: They are described as having a “face [that] was like the sun” (Revelation 10:1, Matthew 17:2).
    “His legs are like pillars of fire” (10:1) is another scripture that parallels God; as found in the Old Testament, this idea “reflects the glory of God’s presence in the wilderness” (ESVSB 2477).
    His voice, “like a lion roaring” (10:2) could reflect the idea of the “Lion of Judah” (ESVSB 2477).
    What you had to say about the statue the Colossus is very interesting. Perhaps John was given that vision so it could relate to the people of that time (as you stated). I think Aune’s argument is somewhat convincing; although it does draw questions. I appreciate what you said about the vision being relatable for both “Jewish and Greek readers” (P. Long).
    It could be very easy to conclude that this “mighty angel” is a theophany, but it could also just be one of the “higher-ranking” angels who appears to be like God since he has been in His presence.

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  12. P. Long’s blog post on the mighty angel described in Revelation 10 is insightful and detailed focused, furthering my knowledge on angel descriptions, symbolism, and meaning within both the Old and New Testaments. I personally never realized or was educated to know that in reference to “his legs were like pillars” the actual translation should state feet, though I understand P. Long’s explanation behind said translation error.

    I enjoy and greatly appreciate P. Long’s closing comments that John (inspired by God) is most likely using metaphor and symbolism that both Jew and Gentile would understand. It further glorifies God to see His intention in pursuing all humanity and not merely a portion of humanity.

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  13. Many people have speculated as to who they think the mighty angel is in Revelation chapter ten. It seems that the majority of people believe that this mighty angel is in fact the angel Gabriel who is the one who delivered the news of the baby Jesus to the virgin Mary. Some of the language that is used to describe this angel is very similar to the language that is used in reference to Gabriel. I personally believe that this angel is in fact the angel Gabriel due to the way he is described here and in other parts of the Bible.
    Something that I found very interesting from this portion of the article is how whoever this angel was it has been in the holy presence of God. And while I don’t fully understand all that it entails there is definitely something serious and special about creatures who have been in the presence of the Almighty. “While this angel is not to be equated with God (or Christ), it is a messenger that has been in the very presence of God” (Who is the Mighty Angel, p.2). Furthermore, I think it is really important to point out how because this angel had been in the presence of God that whatever message it carried was indeed an important one.

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  14. In Revelation 10, there was an angel who was holding a little scroll. John called him “mighty” and that could be because he had a lot of strength, power, or authority possibly. One mighty angel that many people think about is Gabriel, but John does not give this angel a name so no one has no clue who it is. The imagery of the angel is very descriptive and hard to grasp because he is robed in a cloud which makes it sound like he is wearing a robe that is a cloud. He has a rainbow over his head (10:1) which the rainbow is a sign of God’s covenant to Abraham.The angel had one foot on earth and one foot in the sea which could mean that God rules over the land and the sea. The mighty angel gave John the little scroll and told him “‘Take it and eat it. It will turn your stomach sour, but in your mouth it will be as sweet as honey’” (10:9). This could mean that the word is in John now and God has given him the words to prophesize the word of God. The angel has a big role in here because he gave John the little scroll and stood on earth and in the sea. But who is the mighty angel? It is possible that it could be Gabriel, but we will never know.

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  15. It is not unthinkable that this angel be Gabriel. Is it possible that it could be another angel that is not named? There are at least four times that Gabriel is mentioned explicitly in Scripture, as you mentioned. In both Luke and Daniel, he is mentioned by name. He introduces himself as Gabriel or the author does. Why then in Revelation 10 are we left to wonder if this is Gabriel or is it that the identity of the angel is not that significant? Gabriel doesn’t seem to be ashamed in other parts of scripture that he is in fact a mighty angel of the Lord, so why now? Why the bashfulness or the anonymity? Could it be possible then that this isn’t Gabriel? Potentially if it is Gabriel or if they are named, it may distract from the fact that this creature is sent by God. He is majestic and is described as such. The cloud, the rainbow, the legs like pillars of fire and his face like the sun, these are all bold descriptors. Gabriel is not described as such in the rest of scripture, but I think it would be wholly possible that it didn’t matter quite as much in those instances as the news he was telling was a bit more dramatic than his looks. If this is not Gabriel then are there other options for this angel’s identity?

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  16. From reading Revelation Chapter 10 it is very unclear on who that angel could be. At the beginning of this post, it is said that this could possibly be Gabriel but there is no concrete evidence supporting that statement. In chapter 10, it is said very vague of who the angel was beginning with “Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from the heaven, wrapped in a cloud, with a rainbow over his head, and his face was like the sin and his legs like pillars of fire.” (Revelation 10:1) From this statement, some people could possibly believe that it could be Jesus himself from how it was described and what this angel did. As I said in many other blog post, I am a newer Christian so this is my first time reading through the whole book of Revelation and I am unsure of who this angel could be.

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  17. Revelation provides a number of exciting and elaborate mental images which really, to be quite honest, mess with my mind. We’ve seen the beasts, swords coming out of mouths, and thrones. Now, in Revelation 10 we get this super cool description of a mighty angel. It is said to have a robe made out of clouds, a rainbow over its head, a face like the sun, and legs like fire. The first three descriptors listed make it seem like the angel is some giant environmental entity. I pictured it as something that is there but not quite there if that makes any sense. It seems a little abstract and hard to put your finger on when trying to equate it with normal mankind. The fourth descriptor further confuses me when trying to think of things literally. I like that you have provided a little insight into a possible meaning for the description of the angel. I especially like that you went into depth on the fact that one of the feet was on land and the other was on sea. I think it is a pretty cool symbolism to show that God is demonstrating his power and sovereignty over all of creation.

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  18. I agree with the description of the angel and how it’s appearance gives way to the fact that this angel had been in the presence of God; His glory and His throne. Obviously, this was not an ordinary angel as the description of “Mighty” is used which alludes to the fact that this angel had a certain ranking that was above the rest of the angels (possibly. At first it would seem easy to assume that this angel is none other than Christ himself; however the fact that the angel swears by “the one who created the heavens and everything in it, the sea and everything it and the earth and everything in it,” should lead us to John 1 , the Word-Logos created all things and not one thing was created that He did not make. So, I think this description of the mighty angel is not the description of Jesus but more the mighty angel of the Lord which could be Gabriel.

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