In the book of Daniel, we are introduced to the angels, Michael and Gabriel and events in the spirit world. The New Testament also mentions these great angels and the mighty struggle between good and evil in the angelic realm.
The name Michael means “Who Is Like God” and Michael, the archangel (Jude 1:9) is referred to in Daniel 10:13 as “one of the chief princes”—that is, one of the leading rulers in the angelic realm.
The term archangel means chief angel or chief messenger. The angel Gabriel may also be an archangel or chief prince, and the same appears to be the case for Lucifer, before he rebelled against God and became Satan, as he was one of the covering cherubim at the throne of God (Ezekiel 28:14).
Michael is described to Daniel as, “the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people”—the Jewish people and, more broadly, all of Israel (Daniel 12:1). (Read our free study guide The United States and Britain in Bible Prophecy for details as to who are the modern descendants of the ancient tribes of Israel.) In crises affecting the Church, which is spiritual Israel (see Galatians 6:16; Romans 2:28-29; Ephesians 2:19) Michael is likewise involved.
In Daniel 10 we are told an angelic messenger sent to Daniel was held up by demonic resistance, during which the archangel Michael intervened to set things straight: “But the prince of the kingdom of Persia [an evil demon] withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia [other demon rulers]” (Daniel 10:13). Clearly Michael is a very powerful angelic being who is able to withstand such evil forces!
Daniel is also told Michael will intervene just before Christ returns: “At that time Michael shall stand up, the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation... And...your people shall be delivered, everyone who is found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt” (Daniel 12:1-2).
Gabriel, whose name means “Strong Man of God” is presented in Scripture as a spokesman and messenger for God. He is possibly an archangel, or cherub, although the Bible does not directly state this. There is no specific reference to him fighting as we see with Michael—unless he was the angel who needed Michael’s help against the demon rulers of Persia (though this is not clear).
The first reference to Gabriel occurs in Daniel 8:15-16: “Then... suddenly there stood before me one having the appearance of a man. And I heard a man’s voice... who called, and said, ‘Gabriel, make this man understand the vision.’”
In the next chapter, Daniel mentions Gabriel again: “Now while I was … presenting my supplication before the Lord my God...the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, reached me about the time of the evening offering” (Daniel 9:20-21).
We also later see Gabriel as the spokesman for God announcing the births of John the Baptist and Jesus Christ (Luke 1:11-15, 19-20). Some six months later this same angel appeared to Mary announcing she had been chosen to be the mother of the promised Messiah: (Luke 1:26-33,38). Gabriel was also possibly the angel who announced the birth of Jesus to the shepherds in Luke 2:9-15.
Bible Study Guide - Angels: God's Messengers and Spirit Army