Who Is the Archangel Gabriel?

Q. What do we know about the Archangel Gabriel?

A. The Archangel Gabriel (the name in Hebrew means “God is my strength”) appears several times in Scripture. In the Old Testament, we find him in the Book of Daniel. Chapter 8 tells how he is sent by God to explain the meaning of the prophet Daniel’s vision of empires. In chapter 9, after the prophet prays for the nation of Israel, Gabriel is sent to Daniel to give him “wisdom and understanding” (verse 22). In chapter 10, a dazzling angelic messenger is not actually named; but in the context of the story, he is traditionally assumed to be Gabriel returning to speak to Daniel a third time.

In the New Testament, Gabriel appears by name in the Gospel of Luke twice. He foretells the birth of John the Baptist, Our Lord’s forerunner, to John’s father, Zechariah (1:11–20). Then he announces to Our Lady the conception and birth of Jesus (1:26–38).

In several other Gospel accounts of an angel’s appearance, many believe that the angel noted is also Gabriel, even though no name is given: A heavenly messenger instructs Joseph in a dream to take Mary as his wife (Matthew 1:20–25), and again, warns him of Herod’s plot to kill the Child (Mathew 2:13). An angel announces Christ’s birth to the shepherds (Luke 2:8–14), and an angel comes to Our Lord in the Garden of Gethsemane to strengthen Him (Luke 22:43).