Are Jesus and the archangel Michael the same being?
Written by Milton J. Orgeron
One of the most fascinating disputes about the Bible is whether Jesus and the archangel Michael are the same being. In this series I will examine the case for and against the premise, give my opinion, and challenge you to think through the issue and come to your own conclusion. Many others have examined this issue before, and it is a belief of Jehovah’s Witnesses and Seventh-Day Adventists among other groups and individual Christians and Bible scholars. I used websites presenting each side as a basis for the outlines for and against the premise, and links to them will be included at the end of each presentation.
There is almost as little written about Michael in the Bible as about Melchizedek, and as much room for logical inferences and speculation about either person. In fact, Michael (as an angel rather than several humans named Michael) is referred to by name in only five verses in three books in the Bible: Daniel 10:13, 10:21, 12:1; Jude 1:9; and Revelation 12:7. Therefore, much of the case for either position must be made by inference from these passages in context and from other passages. All Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Let’s begin!
The Case For Michael Being Jesus
These points will be examined:
- Meaning of the name Michael
- People and angels being called by more than one name
- Chief prince of the Jewish people
- Gabriel calls Jesus “Messiah the Prince” in Daniel Chapter 9
- Leads “his angels” in war against “the dragon” and his angels
- Called an “archangel”, ruling over angels
- Christ’s second coming is “with the voice of the archangel”
The name Michael means “Who is like God?” Several people in the Old Testament had the name Michael without any hint that their name meant they were divine in the least. But when an angel, even an archangel (the only named angel called an archangel) has that name, it may suggest a rhetorical question, the answer being, “you who are named Michael are like God.”
Why would Jesus have more than one name? Some prominent people and one angel in the Bible started out with one name and adopted or were given another name to mark a major change in their life. Jacob was named Israel after he wrestled with, of all persons, likely the angel of the LORD, the pre-incarnate Jesus. The apostle Peter was given that name by Jesus, marking that his faith had made or would make him more like solid rock than his moody, shifting, impulsive nature indicated by his given name of Simon bar Jonah. Saul of Tarsus took the name Paul some time after receiving his apostolic commission from Jesus on the road to Damascus. Saul meant “great one”, while Paul meant “little”, marking the humility that came to Paul after walking away from his status as a Pharisee among the Jews to follow Jesus. And the angel created as the most beautiful and powerful of angels, named “morning star”, mis-translated “Lucifer” (“light-bearer”, see Isaiah 14), is later called Satan, meaning “adversary”, and called the serpent in Eden and the dragon that tried to devour the Christ-child and persecute the church in Revelation after his rebellion against God and fall from heaven.
In Scripture the word “prince” often refers to an angelic being, this usage being made clear from the context. Who would be more fitting as the chief prince of Israel than the Messiah? The angel Gabriel refers to “Messiah the Prince” (Daniel 9:25), and it seems likely that Gabriel is the one who refers to “Michael your prince” (Daniel 10:21), and “Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people” (Daniel 12:1). It is not stated explicitly that Messiah and Michael are the same prince, but it might be reasonable to infer that they are. Jesus is not regarded as a created angel by Christians (other than Jehovah’s Witnesses), but most believe that “the angel of the LORD” who appears a few times in the Old Testament is the pre-incarnate Christ, being a unique uncreated angel in His spiritual aspect.
In Revelation 12:7-9 Michael and “his angels” war against the dragon and his angels and defeat them. The dragon is clearly identified as “the great dragon…, the serpent of old that is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world.” Who could call the faithful angels “his angels” more than Jesus, the angel of the LORD, the commander-in-chief of the angelic hosts of heaven?
Scripture never refers to “archangels” in the plural form, or to “an archangel” as one of many or even only a few, but only to “the archangel” as singular and unique, though not as a proper name as “Archangel”. Only Michael and Christ are connected with “the archangel” in Scripture. Jude refers to “Michael the archangel” (Jude 1:9). In 1 Thessalonians 4:16 “…the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.” Christians call Jesus “Lord”, and He promised to return and raise the dead, so it seems reasonable to infer that “the Lord” who shouts with the voice of (the) archangel is Michael the archangel and also Jesus the Lord.
Although several angels in Revelation are referred to as “strong angels”, one seems unique, not “a strong angel” as the others, but “another strong angel”, and described in a similar way as the ascended and glorified Jesus in Revelation 1:12-18. This, “another strong angel” in Revelation 10:1-6, comes with the Shekinah glory cloud, the rainbow (as around God’s heavenly throne) is upon his head, his face shines as the sun and his feet as pillars of fire, glory given to no other angel in Scripture. He rules over land and sea, placing his feet upon them, and cries out with a loud voice as when a lion (of the tribe of Judah) roars, perhaps much like the voice of the archangel in the 1 Thessalonians reference. He lifts up his right hand to heaven and swears by the One who lives forever and ever. No angel swears an oath in Scripture, and Jesus told His disciples not to swear by anything, but it would be fitting for God the Son to swear by God the Father, much as the LORD swore by Himself to Abraham that He would fulfill all His promises (Genesis 22:15-18; Hebrews 6:13). So this strong angel, who so resembles the glorified Christ and who cries out with a loud voice like a lion or an archangel, could reasonably be inferred to be Michael the archangel.
Are you convinced yet? Hang on, the other side’s case will be presented in Part Two tomorrow!