Does Saint Raphael Appear in the New Testament? Yes, He Has a Cameo Appearance

Since Protestants don’t have the book of Tobit in their Bibles, if you mention Saint Raphael to them, they’ll likely think that you are referring to the Renaissance painter Raphael, or perhaps that Ninja Turtle of the same name.

Saint Raphael of the Catholic Church

Our Protestant friends know about Saint Michael and Saint Gabriel. Both archangels appear by name in the Old Testament and the New Testament. The third member of the angelic triumvirate (or perhaps trium-archangelate) is Saint Raphael who appears only the Deuterocanonical book of Tobit.

Former Catholic priest Father Martin Luther blotted out the book of Tobit from the canonical table of contents and so Protestants don’t have this book or the six Deuterocanonical Bible books removed by Luther.

Saint Raphael in the Old Testament

In the divinely inspired book of Tobit, the archangel Raphael first disguised in human form as the travel companion of Tobit’s son, Tobias. While in human disguise, Saint Raphael calls himself calling himself “Azarias.” Saint Raphael protects Tobias and even binds the demon Asmodeus in the desert of Egypt. At the end of the story, “Azarias” reveals himself as “Raphael one of the seven, who stand before the Lord” (Tobit 12:15). It’s a great story. By the way, the name Raphael in Hebrew means “God heals,” and so Saint Raphael is associated with physical and spiritual healing.

Saint Raphael in the New Testament

Even advanced students of Sacred Scripture may be surprised to learn that Raphael makes a cameo appearance in the New Testament, as well. Tradition identifies the “healing angel” in John 5 to be Saint Raphael. This is manifest when we see that the Gospel lesson for Saint Raphael’s feast day (in the old calendar Oct 24) is this story from John 5:

an angel of the Lord descended at certain times into the pond; and the water was moved. And he that went down first into the pond after the motion of the water was made whole of whatsoever infirmity he lay under” (Jn 5:1-4)

Is this a slam dunk infallible case? No, but it’s the strong tradition of the Catholic Church that the anonymous angel that stirred the waters for healing was none other than the biblical archangel Raphael from Tobit. After all, Raphael doesn’t like to reveal his name or identity…

Godspeed,
Taylor

Please pass this on to someone who might find it interesting.

PS: Thomas Aquinas only mention Raphael three times in his entire corpus of works. Here are the citations:

  • Super Sent., lib. 2 d. 10 q. 1 a. 4
  • Summa Theologiae I, q. 112 a. 3
  • Super Psalmo 21, n. 27.

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  • Christian

    Where in the tradition of the Church may I find reference to Raphael being the angel in Jn 5?

  • Bobby Hesley

    Great article Taylor! How about this connection: The Book of Tobit (in ibid 12:15) Raphael identifies himself as “one of the seven who stand before the Lord.”

    Revelation 8:2 also refers to the seven angels who stand before the Lord, Raphael being one of them, although Rev doesn’t explicity name the angels, we know from the book of Tobit that one of them was named Raphael!

    • ChristopherWrinn

      In both cases, the author, John, would have grown up with Tobit as scripture. John is also partial to implicit imagery rather than explicit naming. Both verses most definitely imply Raphael’s presence.

  • Riki

    RAPHAEL ; אלוהים הוא הרופא שלי = ROPHE : Hebrew for doctor EL : God thus : God is my doctor or God is my Healer. River (Riki as my husband calls me)

  • Raffy (Rafael)

    Thank you Dr. Taylor. I appreciate my name even more!

  • JustJohn

    There were too many implications as to what might have been. I am thinking we should rely on more solid evidence.

    And where can I look this up in Church tradition as to Raphael and John 5?

  • bdlaacmm

    The angel Raphael also appears (though not by name) in the Letter to the Hebrews: “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” A clear reference to the Book of Tobit.

  • Victor

    “Let go “I” got this!”

    “I” like “IT”

    God Blessed you Mary

  • Allen Landes

    A great novel on the book of Tobit is called “Tobit’s dog” by Michael N Richard printed by Ignatius Press.

  • Mz kat

    I am listening to you. I have read Tobit. It did seem like a work of religious fiction to me. I wish you would give credit to the artists whose work you publish on your blog. I have marked this post as “unread” so I may go back and read more carefully. I have to cook dinner now. I would also like to read your book about St. George.

  • moshe kapunka

    Angel raphael never had sexual intercourse with a female human being as other angels have had