Rebel was a student of the great composer Jean-Baptiste Lully. By 1699, Rebel had become first violinist of the Académie royale de musique (Royal Academy of Music) and at the Opéra. Rebel traveled to Spain in 1700. Upon his return to France in 1705, he was given a place in the prestigious ensemble known as the "Vingt-quatre Violons du Roy" ("Twenty-four Violins of the King"). Rebel served as court composer to Louis XIV and maitre de musique at the Académie, and directed the Concert spirituel.
Rebel was one of the first French musicians to compose sonatas in the Italian style. Many of his compositions are marked by striking originality that include complex counter-rhythms and audacious harmonies that were not fully appreciated by listeners of his time. His Les Caractères de la danse combined music with dance, and presented innovative metrical inventions. The work was popular and was performed in London in 1725 under the baton of George Frideric Handel. In honor of his teacher, Rebel composed Le Tombeau de M. Lully (literally, "The Tomb of Monsieur Lully"; figuratively, "A Tribute to Lully"). Some of Rebel's compositions are described as choreographed "symphonies." Among his boldest original compositions is Les Elémens ("The Elements") which describes the creation of the world.
His son Francois Rebel (1701-1775) also was a composer, noted violinist, and member of the "Vingt-quatre Violons du Roy." He co-wrote and co-directed operas with Francois Francoeur.