Q&A Forum: Mighty Angel (Rev 10:1)

Who is the mighty angel of Revelation 10:1?

In a Bible reading some years ago I heard a brother explain 2 Thessalonians 2:8 with this penetrating phrase: the “Lawless one” is literally “the one of lawlessness.” In that insightful spirit, one might answer this question by saying that the mighty angel is an angel that is mighty. This would be an accurate, but not especially helpful answer, and one might well imagine that it would leave the questioner unsatisfied. What is presumably in the questioner’s mind is the suggestion, which has been made by many, if not most commentators, that this angel is the Lord Jesus Himself. The language with which he is described and the authority that he wields have led many readers of this passage to conclude that it must be a Divine Person who is presented here. It must be acknowledged that some of the features outlined seem to echo things that are elsewhere linked with Christ: the rainbow upon his head evokes the rainbow-circled throne of chapter 4; the description of his face (“as it were the sun”) echoes the words of 1:16; and “his feet as pillars of fire” reminds us of the feet of Christ in 1:5. However, notwithstanding the undeniable majesty of this figure and these descriptive links, a careful consideration of the passage and its context makes this interpretation unlikely. It seems probable that this mighty angel is simply an angel that is mighty.

It is worth noting that this is the second of three references to a “mighty angel” in Revelation. In chapter 5, John “saw a strong (ischyros, the same word as 10:1) angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?” Later, in 18:21, John watched as a “mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all.” It is clear in both of these other passages that the mighty angel is distinct from Christ, Who appears on both these occasions as the Lamb. That being the case, there seems little exegetical warrant for viewing this angel any differently. In addition, we should note that 10:1 describes him as “another mighty angel.” Allos, the word translated “other” here, means “another of the same kind.” We might debate whether the comparison links all the way back to chapter 5, so that John is describing another mighty angel of the same sort, or to five angels of the immediately preceding chapter. In either case, we are led inescapably to the same conclusion – that this mighty angel is an angel, not Christ.