Why do people writing Hollywood movies tend to pick on Gabriel? Have you noticed this? Take, for example, Constantine or The Prophecy; in both, he is portrayed as a kind of turncoat…often portrayed as an angel who doesn’t get along well with humans. I’ve actually seen people ask, “Did Gabriel really betray God?”
What we know for a fact about Gabriel is based in the Bible, there are other legends about him, including his inclusion in the apocryphal book of Enoch, but we’ll stick with the Bible. His name means, “warrior of God” or “man of God” (sometimes alternatively phrased “God is my Master).” His first appearance in scripture is in the book of Daniel.
Daniel 8:15 And it came to pass, when I, even I Daniel, had seen the vision, and sought for the meaning, then, behold, there stood before me as the appearance of a man. 16 And I heard a man’s voice between the banks of Ulai, which called, and said, Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision. 17 So he came near where I stood: and when he came, I was afraid, and fell upon my face: but he said unto me, Understand, O son of man: for at the time of the end shall be the vision. 18 Now as he was speaking with me, I was in a deep sleep on my face toward the ground: but he touched me, and set me upright. 19 And he said, Behold, I will make thee know what shall be in the last end of the indignation: for at the time appointed the end shall be. 20 The ram which thou sawest having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia. 21 And the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king. 22 Now that being broken, whereas four stood up for it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in his power. 23 And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up. 24 And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people. 25 And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand. 26 And the vision of the evening and the morning which was told is true: wherefore shut thou up the vision; for it shall be for many days.
Also in Daniel:
Daniel 9:20 And whiles I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the LORD my God for the holy mountain of my God; 21 Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation. 22 And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding.
He doesn’t show up by name again ’til the book of Luke.
Luke 1:18 And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years. 19 And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings. 20 And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.
Luke 1:26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, 27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. 29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. 30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. 31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. 32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: 33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
So, Gabriel aided Daniel in understanding and interpreting his vision. Also notice that Gabriel, as other angels, sets men on their feet when they tend to fall down in front of them; God alone is to be reverenced and worshiped. In Luke we see that Gabriel was given the honor of two very important announcements; one to Zacharias about John’s conception, and the other to Mary about Jesus’.
Gabriel appears to be connected with prophecy surrounding Jesus; the prophecies are connected to the coming Messiah in Daniel, and in Luke. He seems to deal with humans just fine, as long as they trust his word, which seems important to him, not because of who he is, but because he stands in the presence of God.
We always need to watch out for modern tales that may influence how we see certain Biblical concepts and characters. I’ve already touched upon Angels in general, and Satan as well. Gabriel seems to be chosen for plot lines because he is one of a very few angels mentioned by name…something tells me he would not like his name to be used in such a manner, look at what he did to Zacharias for not believing his words…