Angels Michael versus Satan

The existence of angels and demons, archangels such as Michael and Satan, the prince of the powers of the air (Eph. 2: 2), is affirmed in most Christian traditions. But the meagre biblical statements have been substantially developed in the Coptic tradition.

Four archangels (Gabriel, Michael, Raphael and Suriel) are honoured and Michael receives particular attention as the angel who takes over the duties of the fallen Satan. The Book of the Investiture of St Michael survives in several Coptic versions and provides a script for the feast day of his investiture, 21 November. The twelfth of each month is another Feast of Michael.

Complementing this, the activity of the demons and Satan (or Sabataniel, Samael, Iblis) is recognized. Works such as the Sayings of the Desert Fathers (see Ward 1975) and the saints' lives of the Synaxarion portray the demons at work in the world to undermine the efforts of Christians. Athanasius' Life of Antony is the prototype and its point of view is still accepted; see the work of Matta El-Meskin on the letters of Antony for evidence (Matta El-Meskin 1993).

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