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The Angel Gabriel

by Rev. W. Cairns Henderson

In the Hebrew celestial hierarchy, Gabriel, whose name means "man of God" or "God hath shown Himself mighty," is one of the seven archangels. His function in Scripture is clearly that of a revealing messenger of God. To Daniel he explained a vision and a decree; to Zacharias he foretold the coming of a son and declared his name; and to Mary he announced the virgin birth of the Lord, the name by which He should be called, and the reason for this.

According to the Writings, however, Gabriel is not the name of an archangel, or of any person in heaven. Specifically it is the name of an angelic society, so called from its function: that of teaching from the Word that Jehovah came into the world, and that the Human which He took on there is the "Son of God" and therefore Divine. Thus Gabriel is the angelic society to which was entrusted the use of making all announcements in both worlds of the Lord's advent.

So the angel who appeared to Zacharias and to Mary was an emissary, and he gave the name of the Gabriel society for which he spoke. While there is no teaching to this effect, we may conjecture - having regard to this society's function - that the angel who proclaimed the Lord's birth to the shepherds was of the Gabriel society, and that the "multitude of the heavenly host" which suddenly appeared with him was the entire society. We may conjecture also that the star which led the Wise Men was that same society, but seen at a distance and therefore in that form.

However, the name, Gabriel, represents more generally all in heaven who are in wisdom concerning the Lord and worship Him; abstractly, those truths of the Word which evangelize concerning the Lord. So the angel Gabriel stands for that in man which announces the coming of the Lord to his mind, and for the use which is open to all who acknowledge the Lord in His Divine Human - the use of proclaiming His second advent.

 Editorial, New Church Life 1967;87:563

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