Who Are the Seven Angels in Revelation 8:2?

After the seventh seal is opened, John sees “the seven angels who stand before God.” “Standing before” someone is an idiomatic expression for serving, so this could be translated as “served” the Lord. According to Jewish tradition the angels must be standing because they did not have knees. This is based on Ezekiel 1:7 (cherubim with straight legs).

Who these seven angels? Revelation 9 does not identify them. Are these the “the seven archangels who occupy a very particular role in the angelic hierarchy,” as David Aune suggests? (2:509). On the other hand, Beale finds it “tempting to identify them with the seven guardian angels of the seven churches” (Beale 454). John may have intended these seven angels standing before God to be the seven spirits which were before the throne of God in Revelation 1:4 and 4:5.

Other Second Temple Period literature refer to seven archangels, Michael and Gabriel being among them. For example, in Tobit 12:15, the angel Raphael says, “I am Raphael, one of the seven holy angels who present the prayers of the saints and enter into the presence of the glory of the Holy One” (RSV).

The tradition of seven archangels is present in the apocryphal book of Tobit. In Testament of Levi 8 Levi sees seven men clothed in white who prepare him to be a priest.

In 1 Enoch 20, the Greek text has seven angels: Uriel, Raphael, Raguel, Michael, Sariel, Gabriel, and Remeiel (missing in the Ethiopic text, see OTP 1:23–24).

  • Suruʾel, one of the holy angels—for (he is) of eternity and of trembling.
  • Raphael, one of the holy angels, for (he is) of the spirits of man.
  • Raguel, one of the holy angels who take vengeance for the world and for the luminaries.
  • Michael, one of the holy angels, for (he is) obedient in his benevolence over the people and the nations.
  • Saraqaʾel, one of the holy angels who are (set) over the spirits of mankind who sin in the spirit. 7
  • Gabriel, one of the holy angels who oversee the garden of Eden, and the serpents, and the cherubim.

3 Enoch 17 says “There are seven great, beautiful, wonderful, and honored princes who are in charge of the seven heavens. They are, Michael, Gabriel, Šatqiʾel, Šaḥaqiʾel, Baradiʾel, Baraqiʾel, and Sidriʾel.:

However, in Revelation 9 the angels are not named nor are them described as special in any way except they are given the honor of announcing the judgements by blowing on trumpets. There is another series of angels in Revelation 15-16 as the final seven bowl judgements are poured out on the earth.

6 thoughts on “Who Are the Seven Angels in Revelation 8:2?

  1. It is interesting that John does not name the seven angels. It would seem like if these were Gabriel, Micheal,Raphael or the others named above then John would have named them. If these seven are specifically named in other texts then you would think theses names would have been known to John. The other argument could be John omitted the names to maintain the cryptic way Revelation was written. It would seem that most likely if you just read Revelation and take it for what it is that the seven angels are the angels of the seven churches that John writes the letters to. This could be the angels reporting to God the status of the churches and if they made the changes they were called to make.

    Like

  2. My guess has always been that it’s referring to the seven chief-messengers in Enoch (as you listed). But there are some that think it may be referring to Isaiah 11:2. It is interesting that Origen, who personally used the book of Enoch, may also believe that.

    Origen: Origenes: First Principles
    A similar method must be followed in treating of the (heavenly) messengers; nor
    are we to suppose that it is the result of accident that a particular office is
    assigned to a particular messenger: as to Raphael, e.g., the work of curing and
    healing; to Gabriel, the conduct of wars; to Michael, the duty of attending to the
    prayers and supplications of mortals.

    Enoch 17(20):5
    Michael, one of the holy messengers, the one who has been appointed over the
    good-things of the people.

    And Enoch 40:9:
    The first, who is merciful and long-suffering, is Michael. And the second, who is
    set over every sickness and every wound of the sons of the humans, is Raphael.
    And the third, who is set over every power, is Gabriel.

    Like

  3. Yeah, you would definitely think John would at least name the angels but I guess not. Of course it’s not inspired but 1 Enoch 20 makes mention of Uriel, Raphael, Raguel, Michael, Sariel, Gabriel, and Remeiel which definitely makes things pretty straight forward. This may seem like a naïve response, but there could be the chance that John saw the angels but didn’t know their names. The alternative as Jason said being “The other argument could be John omitted the names to maintain the cryptic way Revelation was written” (Rysdyk). This could also me true considering the seven angels could be symbolizing the seven churches.

    Like

    • But the seven messengers (angels) at the start of Revelation are human individuals who are over each assembly, not some sort of spiritual being. I wish translations would stop transliterating this Greek word altogether, and write it how any Greek reader would understand — “messenger” which can be used for humans or spiritual beings. Because each discourse is spoken to a messenger, in the singular (only the very end is spoken to the entire group), who is supposed to do something about the assembly he is over. Unless you are suggesting some sort of parallel between the seven human messengers over the assemblies and the seven spiritual messengers? Do you think that was intentional? I mean, there were many other assemblies throughout the world, each with a human messenger over them, which wouldn’t have been any different I would think. Yet Enoch makes it clear that there are only seven chief-messengers before God.

      Like

  4. It is difficult to say if there is any special significance to these seven angels other than their specific duty of making these announcements for God. If anything, they are in fact most likely the seven spirits that are referenced in Revelation 1:4 and Revelation 4:5. While it is purely speculation as to whether or not these angels or spirits have knees, if they did not it would be not overly surprising. In Revelation 4:5 it states that the seven are like “burning torches of fire” before the throne of God. IF there are always present and ready before the Lord in this way, there would be no need for them to have knees understandably. Because such a large number of individuals are destroyed in this chapter of Revelation, namely a third of mankind, perhaps these seven spirits do indeed represent the cities mentioned in the previous chapters. It could be a warning to large groups here on earth to repent and seek the face of God before the end days are here and it is too late at that point to do so.

    Like

  5. Although these angels are mentioned quite in different places in the Book of Revelation and Enoch, that does mean they must represent something very significant. God might just be using them as a vessel to finish his plans. Whether or not
    “John may have intended these seven angels standing before God to be the seven spirits which were before the throne of God in Revelation 1:4 and 4:5,” one thing that is clear is that these seven angels are always ready to carry on the will of God as we see it in revelation 6 all the way through to 8. It is hard to understand them really, but I can’t wait to get to heaven and found out who these amazing creatures are.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.