Angels vs. Archangels: What is the real difference?

Years ago, while in theology school, I learned much about the different types of angels in heaven. While I had an idea of the angels, I was fascinated by the archangels and their unique roles. I’ve realized several people do not know the difference between these types of angels. This came up recently when one member of our Bible Study group asked why Michael is referred to as an Archangel while most of the others are called angels. So, let’s look at the real difference between angels vs. Archangels.

Bible scholars have suggested that the real difference between angels and archangels is the hierarchy they fall under. The archangels have been suggested to be the chief angels, implying that they have greater authority than regular angels, hence assuming a higher hierarchical order than normal angels.

So, join me to the end as I explore more about this topic. I will explain the definition of angels and archangels, their differences and similarities, among other exciting topics.

Angels and Archangels

Angels can be described as spiritual beings which God created to worship him and protect the righteous ones, as recorded in Hebrews 1:7. On the other hand. Archangels can be described as a particular group of angels, also known as chief angels, whose primary purpose is to act as messengers of God, as suggested in Luke 1:26.

Archangels can also be described as angels who deal with spiritual warfare, as suggested in Daniel 10. From the definition above, archangels have higher authority over regular angels.

Differences between angels and archangels



Messengers of God imply that they are in lower hierarchical order and take on regular roles.

Chief messenger of God, meaning that they get to deliver special/divine messages of God (assume a higher hierarchical order)

Acts like protectors of human beings.

Do not assume the role of protecting human beings.

Their numbers are unknown, implying that there are many numbers.

Are believed to be fewer in numbers.

Are never mentioned by names in the Bible.

It is believed all archangels have a name. For example, archangels Michael and Gabriel.

Similarities between angels and archangels

Angels vs. Archangels
Angels and archangels similarities. Image source: Pixabay

They were both created by God

Both the angels and the archangels are created beings who God created. Psalms 148:2-5 suggests that all angels were created by God, by his command. In Nehemiah 9:6,

Ezra reveals that the Lord created heaven and all their hosts, which includes every type of angel.

They are all messengers of God

Both the angels and archangels act as messengers of God. In Acts 12:7, an angel of the Lord appears to Peter while in prison and rescues him. The angel in this scripture is not specified, but religious scholars assume it was a regular angel sent by God.

Matthew 1:20 also records an angel who is suggested to be the archangel Gabriel appearing to Joseph in a dream. In this scripture, archangel Gabriel delivers a special message from God to Joseph that his wife-to-be Mary will conceive a son, Jesus Christ, through the holy spirit.

They both exist in a hierarchical structure

While the Bible does not give us an exclusive hierarchy in which the angels of the Lord assume, bible scholars have agreed that different angels of God exist in different orders. The highest in the hierarchy are speculated to be Seraphim, Cherubim, and Thrones. The middle or the second in the hierarchy are presumed to be the Dominions, the Virtues, and the Powers. Those who are the third or last group in the hierarchy are the Principalities, the Archangels, and the angels. With this, it is safe to suggest that both angels and archangels fall under the same ranking, although the archangels assume a higher position.

They are all above human beings

Both angels and archangels were created with power above normal human beings. Just like Adam was created and was given command over every animal, all the angels were created and given authority over us. The author of Hebrews 2:7 suggests that man was created lower than the angels, although he was crowned with honor and glory. Angels and archangels are both creatures that are above any human being.

They both possess’ supernatural abilities

Both the angels and the archangels possess supernatural powers or abilities. For example, both of these angels have the power to manifest or appear to people in physical forms. They also have the power to perform miracles and the authority to intervene in human affairs.

They are both dependent creatures

Although the angels and the archangels have a divine nature and possess unique abilities, they are still dependable creatures who cannot exist without God. These angels were created by God, meaning they need their creator to exist. They cannot take an independent existence as only God can.

Their main dwelling is in heaven

As we all know, heaven belongs to God, who sits with his son Jesus Christ as we wait for the second coming. However, other creatures dwell in heaven with God and Jesus: the angels, the archangels, and the rest of the angels. Although they may take a physical form to deliver a message from God on earth, they usually return to heaven, where they belong.

Are all archangels angels?

Angels vs. Archangels
Archangels angels. Image source: Pixabay

Bible Scholars suggest that all archangels are angels because they have a spiritual nature, were created by God, and carry out tasks assigned to them just like all angels. The only difference is that archangels assume the role of the ‘chief angels,’ insinuating that they may possess a higher leadership than the angels.

The archangels are majorly associated with the second coming of Jesus Christ, as suggested in 1 Thessalonians 4:16. The scripture suggests that during the second coming of Christ, Lord himself will come down from heaven with a command followed by a voice of an archangel and with the trumpet call of God.

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