Is Jesus Really Michael the Archangel?
By Eric Francke
The Watchtower assertion: Jesus was, in his pre-human existence, Michael the archangel. After his ascension into heaven, he again took up his name Michael. All following scripture citations are from the New World Translation, copyright 1961.
Biblical evidence offered:
1. The Book of Daniel references Michael as being a great prince who stands on behalf of Israel. (Dan. 10:13, 20, 21; 12:1). Jesus is also associated with defending Jerusalem at the battle of Har-Magedon (Rev. 11:15; 16:14-16). Therefore, Jesus is Michael.
2. Michael is believed to be the Angel of the Lord or archangel who accompanied the Israelites in the wilderness, and Christ himself is said to have been with the Israelites at that time. Since the term archangel is only used in the singular, in relation to Michael, (Jude 9) there can only be one chief of angels, which would be Michael/Jesus.
3. Jesus Second Coming is said to be with the commanding call of an archangels voice. (I Thess. 4:16-18). Therefore, Jesus is the archangel, who is Michael.
4. Jesus is depicted as leading the heavenly host at the end of the age (Rev. 19:11-16). Revelation also says that Michael and the angels battled the dragon. (Rev 12:7,10,12). Therefore Michael is Jesus.
Examination of the thesis:
First of all, it must be noted that there is no overt scripture that will support the thesis equating Michael with Jesus. It is ironic that the Watchtower is ever-critical of the teaching of the Trinity, on the grounds that if it were true it would clearly and consistently be presented in the Bible. (Should You Believe in the Trinity, pg. 5). Yet, although the Watchtower rejects the Deity of Christ on what they consider lack of overt biblical evidence, they have no qualms with manufacturing a new identity for Jesus out of whole cloth, which has not only no direct biblical support, but was unknown to the church from the apostolic period until the 19th century. The phrases it is only logical and it is only reasonable are used repetitively to try to support this novel teaching. Looking at the scriptures that they use in attempt to infer the connection between Michael and Jesus, we will see that the Bible actually establishes that they are most certainly not the same individual.
The Evidence Examined:
Point 1. Although Daniel calls Michael a great prince, that is not a title which is applicable to Jesus. Rather , Jesus is referred to in Revelations the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords (Revelations 19:16). There is a qualitative difference between a prince, and the King of Kings. This actually argues against the possibility of them being the same individual.
Point 2. Although, according to Paul, it is true that Jesus did spiritually accompany the Israelites in the wilderness (1 Cor.10:4), the text presented specifically says that Christ was the Rock-mass that followed. The texts that the Watchtower cites as being indicative of the presence of Michael in the wilderness (Exodus 23:20, 21, 23; 32:34; 33:2) in every instance speaks of the angel that went ahead of the Israelites. The angel went ahead, the rock-mass followed behind, so clearly the writers of sacred scripture were not trying to equate the angel with Christ.
Although it is a minor note, it should also be pointed out that the Watchtower assertion that there is only one archangel is without substantial support. Actually, since Michael, who is identified as an archangel in the New Testament is called a prince, in Daniel, then it infers right off that there are others of comparable rank.
Point 3. The faulty assumption has been made by the Watchtower that the with an archangels voice phrase (I Thess 4:16) is a description of Jesus voice at his second coming. That is not so. A simple examination of the description of Christs return in Rev 19:16,17 reveals that while the King of Kings is descending, John says I also saw an angel standing in the sun, and he cried out with a loud voice It is clear that at Christs return, there is an angel who is speaking with a loud voice, not Christ.
Point 4. The Watchtower makes the mistake of trying to equate the events of Revelation 12, which depict Michael leading his angels in battle against Satan, with Christs return in Revelation 19, leading the heavenly host. Even a cursory look at the text shows that they are addressing two separate events. (For example, in the Revelation 12 text Michael is leading his angels, the devil is thrown down to earth for an undisclosed amount of time. This event is NOT Christs Return to fight at Har-magedon). To make matters worse for the Watchtower, the same text addresses the male, who is to shepherd the nations with a rod of iron who is caught up to heaven just previous to the mentioning of Michael battling with Satan. Since the male-child who is to shepherd the nations is Christ, and Michael is seen in a different role in the same scene, that would clearly prove that Christ is not Michael.
How Else Is Jesus Different from an Angel?
There are a number of other texts that are problematic to the Watchtower thesis. For example, Jude 9 states that:
When Michael the archangel had a difference with the Devil and was disputing about Moses body, he did not dare to bring a judgment against him in abusive terms, but said May Jehovah rebuke you
Michael himself does not have the authority to rebuke the devil. However, Jesus himself on numerous occasions rebuked the devil. (Matthew 4:10; 16:23). Jesus has the authority in himself to rebuke Satan, unlike Michael the archangel. That is because Jesus is greater than the angels. As a matter of fact, there are several places in the Bible that are devoted to that one point. In Hebrews Chapter 1, nearly the entire chapter is devoted to the idea that Christ is significantly superior to the angels. Verses 4 through 6 says:
So he (Christ) has become better than the angels, to the extent that he has inherited a name more excellent than theirs. For example, to which of the angels did God ever say You are my son; today I have become your father And again: I myself will become his father and he himself will become my son? But when He again brings the first-born into the inhabited earth, He says And let all the angels of God worship him.
It is clear that Christ is not an angel. His is qualitatively superior to angels. Angels are actually commanded to worship him. (Gr. proskuneo; changed in later NWT versions to do obeisance) There is another startling fact which can be gleaned from this text. Verse 4 says that Christ has inherited a name more excellent than theirs (that is, the angels) . So the Name of Jesus is more excellent than that of any angel, to the point that the angels are to worship him. This is completely consistent with other passages in the Bible that affirm that the Name of Jesus is the superlative name of anything under heaven and earth. Philippians Chapter 2 verses 9 through 11 says:
For this very reason, also God exalted him to a superior position and kindly gave him the name that is above every other name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend of those in heaven, and those on the earth and those under the ground, and every tongue should acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.
So the name of Jesus is the greatest name one could have. To it every creature and angel must bow. That brings us to a disturbing aspect of the Watchtower teaching on this subject. The Watchtower publication Aid to Bible Understanding, on page 1152, says that Jesus is resuming his heavenly name Michael as well as the title Word of God. So, according to the Watchtower, Jesus, after having received the name above every name, has casually discarded it in favor of a return to the name Michael, the angel. Does that make any sense? Consider that carefully. The name of Jesus is the name above every other. We are told that there is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12), we are to preach in his name (Acts 9:27,28), the church baptized in his name (Acts 2;38). Paul invoked his name at the beginning and frequently the ending of his letters. With all that and more, by what authority or evidence are we to believe the name of Jesus has been supplanted by Michael? The answer is that there is no evidence for that whatsoever. It actually seems blasphemous to even consider. The fact of the matter is that the Watchtower itself cannot support the assertion that Jesus has resumed the name Michael. Rather, it is a outrageous teaching that they arrived at by deductive necessity. The Watchtower adopted the Michael=Jesus teaching from Charles Taze Russell, the essential founder of the Jehovahs Witnesses. When it came to explaining why Michael the archangel is mentioned in the scriptures regarding the end times, the only explanation that one could arrive at is that Jesus turned back into Michael. Thus, a small piece of bad theology for Russell has evolved into full-fledged heresy for the Watchtower.
Jesus in no way can be the archangel Michael. Every verse pertaining to the matter suggests that they are not the same. More over, it defies any explanation why Jesus would again be known as Michael after he had already inherited the name above all names. If, according to Watchtower teaching, Jesus had resumed using the name Michael, then perhaps we should be praying in Michaels name instead of Jesus name. The simple fact is, however, that they are not the same individual. Nowhere in scripture is it suggested that they are. Rather Jesus, as the Logos, or Word of God, is a unique person that was hidden in the Godhead until the fullness of time when he would be born in Israel. Isaiah 49:2 is a prophecy that may very well be applicable to Jesus. It says
He proceeded to make my mouth like a sharp sword. In the shadow of his hand he has hidden me. And he gradually made me like a polished arrow. He concealed me in his own quiver.
Notice that Jesus, in Revelations 19: 15 is described as having a sharp sword protruding from his mouth. The speaker of this text goes on to say that he was chosen to gather back Israel and to be a light for the nations (Isaiah 49:5,6). So, according to the Bible, Jesus pre-existed before his birth, but not as an angel, but concealed in the Godhead, so the whole plan of salvation would be hidden until the appointed time. Even the angels themselves were ignorant of exactly how Gods plan of redemption would work. (See also I Corinthians 2:7, 8 and I Peter 1;12). Thus, Jesus is most definitively not Michael, or any other angel. It is both a scriptural and logical impossibility. (EWF)