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According to some Watchtower literature, it is taught that Michael the Archangel is Jesus and that Jesus, after He ascended into heaven, resumed the name of Michael.

"It proves Michael the archangel is no other than the only begotten son of God, now Jesus Christ. The very name Michael means who is like God and indicates Jehovah God is without like or equal." (New Heavens and New Earth pg.30-31).

Jesus is actually the incarnation of Michael the Arch angel and resumed the name when he ascended into heaven ( ibid. pg.30 Your will be done on earth pg.316 )

Do Jehovah's Witnesses still believe this, and, if so, what is the biblical basis from which these teachings are derived?

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    Not trying to rock the boat, but my name is Michael and I have always thought that it meant "Who is like God?" with a question mark. Significant meaning difference.
    – user3961
    Feb 25, 2013 at 16:35
  • Yes, they still believe it. No, I'm not sure I can explain why. (I've forgotten a lot since leaving.)
    – TRiG
    Feb 25, 2013 at 19:08
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    מי is no different than the English "who." While it can function as an interrogative pronoun, it can just as often function as a relative pronoun. Meaning, the question mark isn't always necessary.
    – user900
    Feb 26, 2013 at 7:57
  • Related, from a different perspective: Who do mainline Protestants believe an "archangel" (such as Michael) to be?
    – Caleb
    Feb 26, 2013 at 11:21
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5 Answers 5

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Jehovah's Witnesses (JWs) take Daniel 10:13,21; 12:1 to equate Michael to Christ. They believe that since it refers to Michael as "one of the foremost princes", and,

"Michael will stand up, the great prince who is standing in behalf of the sons of your people."

They also interpret "stand up" to be mean "take control and reign as king." From their book Your Will Be Done On Earth,

"the Michael that stands up as the 'great prince' to fulfill Daniel 12:1 is the Lord Jesus Christ at God's right hand."

Additionally, they cite 1 Thessalonians 4:16,

"The Lord himself will descend from heaven with a commanding call, with an archangel's voice and with God's trumpet, and those who are dead in union with Christ will rise first."

They argue that it is the Lord Himself who issues forth the commanding call as the archangel, from Aid to Bible Understanding,

"Michael is the only one said to be the 'archangel', meaning 'chief angel' or 'principal angel'. The term occurs in the Bible only in the singular. This seems to imply that there is but one whom God has designated chief or head of the angelic host. At 1 Thessalonians 4:15 the voice of the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ is described as being that of an archangel, suggesting that he is, in fact, himself the archangel."

Because of this, they interpret Christ's identity, both pre-incarnation and post-incarnation, to be the archangel Michael.

Their book Reasoning From the Scriptures, under section 'Jesus Christ', and "Is Jesus Christ the same person as Michael the archangel?", cite the above as well, and also add:

"Revelation 12:7-12 says that Michael and his angels would war against Satan and hurl him and his wicked angels out of heaven in connection with the conferring of kingly authority on Christ. Jesus is latter depicted as leading the armies of heaven in war against the nations of the world. (Rev. 19:11-16) Is it not reasonable that Jesus would also be the one to take action against the one he described as "ruler of this world," Satan the Devil? (John 12:31) Daniel 12:1 associates the 'standing up of Michael' to act with authority with "a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time." That would certainly fit the experience of the nations when Christ as heavenly executioner takes action against them. So the evidence indicates that the Son of God was known as Michael before he came to earth and is known also by that name since his return to heaven where he resides as the glorified spirit Son of God."

This question from a Watchtower reader and the answer provides further explanation.

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From a strictly mainstream mentality (I am not Jehovah's Witness), I personally think that Michael and Jesus could be one and the same. I consider this on a few simple points.

First, God appears as an angel on several occasions. It was the Angel of the Lord who appeared to Moses in the burning bush and named himself I AM. Several people throughout the Old Testament encountered the Angel of the Lord, and realized after the fact that they had "seen God."

It is even directly stated:

I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the LORD, and the praises of the LORD, according to all that the LORD hath bestowed on us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which he hath bestowed on them according to his mercies, and according to the multitude of his lovingkindnesses. For he said, Surely they are my people, children that will not lie: so he was their Saviour. In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old. (Isa. 63:7-9)

These appearances of God in the form of the "Angel of the Lord" are known as Christophanies, believed to be previous appearances of Jesus Christ prior to his human manifestation.

This point here being that while the primary objection so many have in equating Michael and Jesus as one person is that it makes Jesus an angel, which doesn't sit well with some folks, God himself is represented as an angel in some cases.

The second point is the physical description.

Then I lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a certain man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz: His body also was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in colour to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude. (Dan. 10:5-6)

It's possible that this is not a description of Michael, but the context seems to suggest that it is. By comparison:

And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength. And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen. (Rev. 1:13-18)

If the passage in Daniel is a description of Michael, then it is awfully similar to the description of Jesus on the throne of heaven.

The last point is that both Jesus and Michael are described as leading the forces of heaven.

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (1 Thes. 4:16-17)

Compare this to:

And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (Mat. 24:30-31)

Either the archangel is leading, Jesus is leading, or the two are one and the same.

I could be wrong. Michael may very well be a separate entity. However, there are a lot of coincidences, and I'm not as hinky about recognizing Jesus as an angel as others are, given that God himself has appeared as an angel.

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To add a bit more to what was covered above-

1- Is there anyone who would better fit the description of "Chief messenger" than Jesus himself? Well, that's what the "archangel" is. The term means "Chief messenger."

2- Compare the name of Michael "who is like God" with John 1:1, and the word was with God (ho theos) and the word was theos (godlike).

3- Genesis 3:15 “15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your offspring and her offspring. He will crush your head, and you will strike him in the heel.”” (The seed of the woman will crush the serpent’s head, commonly understood that Jesus will be the one to defeat Satan)

Matthew 13:41 “The Son of man will send his angels…” Matthew 26:53 “Or do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father to supply me at this moment more than 12 legions of angels?” (Jesus is the commander of the army of angels)

Matthew 24: 30-31: 30 Then the sign of the Son of man will appear in heaven, and all the tribes of the earth will beat themselves in grief, and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he will send out his angels with a great trumpet sound, and they will gather his chosen ones together from the four winds, from one extremity of the heavens to their other extremity. (The Son of man will command the angels with a great trumpet.)

Matthew 24:15 ““Therefore, when you catch sight of the disgusting thing that causes desolation, as spoken about by Daniel the prophet, standing in a holy place (let the reader use discernment)” Daniel 10:21 “However, I will tell you the things recorded in the writings of truth. There is no one strongly supporting me in these things but Miʹcha•el, your prince.” (Michael is a heavenly prince)

Daniel 12:1-2 “During that time Miʹcha•el will stand up, the great prince who is standing in behalf of your people. And there will occur a time of distress such as has not occurred since there came to be a nation until that time. And during that time your people will escape, everyone who is found written down in the book. 2 And many of those asleep in the dust of the earth will wake up, some to everlasting life and others to reproach and to everlasting contempt. (Michael is the great prince standing on behalf to bring escape (salvation) for those written in the book, and raise the dead into everlasting life or reproach)

Joshua 5:13-15: 13 When Joshua was near Jerʹi•cho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua walked up to him and asked: “Are you on our side or on the side of our adversaries?” 14 To this he said: “No, but I have come as prince of Jehovah’s army.” With that Joshua fell with his face to the ground and prostrated himself and said to him: “What does my lord have to say to his servant?” 15 The prince of Jehovah’s army replied to Joshua: “Remove your sandals from your feet, because the place where you are standing is holy.” At once Joshua did so. (Michael is the heavenly prince, leader of Jehovah’s armies)

Revelation 12:7-10 7 And war broke out in heaven: Miʹcha•el and his angels battled with the dragon, and the dragon and its angels battled 8 but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them any longer in heaven. 9 So down the great dragon was hurled, the original serpent, the one called Devil and Satan, who is misleading the entire inhabited earth; he was hurled down to the earth, and his angels were hurled down with him. 10 I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come to pass the salvation and the power and the Kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ, because the accuser of our brothers has been hurled down, who accuses them day and night before our God! 11 And they conquered him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their witnessing, and they did not love their souls even in the face of death. (Michael leads the angels of heaven to conquer the dragon/serpent/devil/satan (establishing one being can have many titles) with the blood of the Lamb, which leads to a declaration of Salvation. Michael does battle, but it’s The Lamb/Jesus’s blood that brings Salvation, which Jesus is supposed to bring.

John 5:25: “I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live” (The dead rise at hearing the voice of the Son.)

1 Thessalonians 4:16: because the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a commanding call, with an archangel’s voice and with God’s trumpet, and those who are dead in union with Christ will rise first. (It’s not just that Jesus is described as having the voice of the archangel, but that hearing this voice is what wakes the dead)

As much as trinitarians like to point to particular translations of Hebrews 1:8, the next verse in the KJV says of Jesus "Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows."

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  • Do you have any quotes or references to official JW sources showing this is how they understand it? Please edit this question to add quotes or references.
    – curiousdannii
    Dec 13, 2018 at 7:22
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Who is the Archangel Michael?

Michael is mentioned five times in the Bible. Here are the references. All scripture citations in this essay are from the King James Version.

Daniel 10:13

But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia.

Daniel 10:21

But I will shew thee that which is noted in the scripture of truth: and there is none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your prince.

Daniel 12:1

And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.

Jude 9

Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.

Revelation 12:7-9

And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

What can we learn from the above verses about Michael?

  • He is “one of the chief princes”. (Hebrew: sarim)
  • He helped an angel stand against the 'prince of the kingdom of Persia'.
  • He is referred to as “Michael your Prince” (the 'your' being plural in Hebrew)
  • He will be ‘standing for the children of [Daniel's] people’.
  • He will ‘stand up’ just before the greatest ever 'time of trouble'.
  • He is called 'the archangel'
  • He contended with the devil.
  • He did not dare bring about a 'railing accusation'.
  • He left it to God to rebuke the devil.
  • He has 'his angels'.
  • He battled against the devil.
  • He threw the devil and his angels out of heaven.

What other references are there to an archangel in the Bible?

1 Thessalonians 4:16

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: (This is the only other reference to an archangel in the Bible.)

What Some Commentators Have Said

Many who criticize Jehovah's Witnesses for their views don't realize that several Protestant sources agree with the Witness position.

As we stated yesterday, Michael may mean an angel; but I embrace the opinion of those who refer this to the person of Christ, because it suits the subject best to represent him as standing forward for the defense of his elect people.” - John Calvin

Michael - Christ alone is the protector of his church, when all the princes of the earth desert or oppose it.” - John Wesley's commentary on Daniel 10:21

The angel here notes two things: first that the Church will be in great affliction and trouble at Christ's coming, and next that God will send his angel to deliver it, whom he here calls Michael, meaning Christ, who is proclaimed by the preaching of the Gospel.” - Geneva Bible Commentary.

Putting the Pieces together

  1. Michael will 'stand up'. Note that in verses 2, 3, 21 those standing up are said to be kings. Likewise, Michael's 'standing up' in Daniel 12:1 is appropriate, because he, too, is a King. Daniel 7:13, 14 foretell how the 'Son of Man' - Christ - would become a King.
  2. When Michael 'stands up' a time of distress begins. This time - mentioned in Daniel 12:1 is indisputably the 'great tribulation' referred to in Matthew 24:21. The language used shows there can be only one such event. Jesus told of this great tribulation in answer to the disciples' question: “What shall be the sign of thy [i.e. Jesus'] coming and the end of the world?” (Matthew 24:3). This is a very strong indication that Michael is Jesus. When Michael 'stands up', Christ 'comes', and then there is a 'great tribulation'.
  3. Revelation 12:7 refers to 'Michael and his angels.' Similarly, “the Son of Man shall send forth his angels” (Matthew 13:41), the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels (Matthew 16:27); “he [the Son of Man] shall send his angels” (Matthew 24:31). 2 Thessalonians 1:7 tells us that: "the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels." The fact that this expression ('his angels') is used concerning both Michael and Christ, strongly suggests that they are the same.
  4. Michael is “the great Prince” (Daniel 12:1) or “your [Israel's] Prince” (Daniel 10:21); also “one of the chief princes” (Daniel 10:13). The Hebrew term sar, prince, is used prophetically of the Messiah in Isaiah 9:6, 7.
  5. Michael is the Prince “which standeth for the children of [Daniel's] people”, i.e. Israel. This identifies him with the “captain [Hebrew: sar] of the host of the LORD” who met Joshua (Joshua 5:14). Jehovah's Witnesses and evangelical Bible commentators alike agree that this was the prehuman Word of God.
  6. The fact that Michael is “one of the chief princes” (Daniel 10:13) does not rule out his being Christ in his prehuman existence. It does not even preclude his being unique, as some critics claim! Why should all princes have equal rank? England's Prince William doesn't have the same rank as Prince Andrew or Edward! 'Princes' (plural) implies at least two. Since God himself is called “the Prince of the host” and “the Prince of princes” (Daniel 8:11, 25), there is no reason why the two “chief princes” should not be God and Christ.
  7. The fact that Michael 'disputed about the body of Moses with the devil', presumably during the lifetime of Joshua, also strongly indicates that he was the 'captain of the host of the LORD' referred to in Joshua 5:14.
  8. The fact that he did not dare 'bring against [the devil] a railing accusation' does not prove that Michael is not Christ. True, Christ did rebuke the demons, but he certainly did not bring about 'railing accusations' against them. The Greek κρισιν βλασφημιας (krisin blasphemias) has been rendered 'slanderous judgment' (Analytical-Literal Translation), 'abusive condemnation' (Amplified Bible), 'insulting words' (Good News Translation), 'slanderous accusation' (New International Version). Michael refused to lower himself to the level of the opposers mentioned in Jude's letter, who did dare to bring 'railing accusations' against those who deserved glory. In fact, he would not even resort to abusive speech against the devil himself. That is all.
  9. The same words "The LORD rebuke thee" (Jude 9) are used by "the Angel of the Lord" in Zechariah 3:1,2. The "Angel of the Lord" is perceived by many Trinitarians to be pre-incarnate Jesus here, and the LORD being referred to is none other than YHWH. Hence it cannot be said that "the LORD" in Jude 9 refers to the Lord Jesus (Jude 4), but the Archangel Michael refers to YHWH rebuking Satan. Comparing Zecheriah 3:1,2 and Jude 9, again indicates that Jesus and the Archangel Michael are the same person.
  10. The word 'archangel' means chief angel. The word is only used in the singular in the Bible - in connection with Michael and with Christ. This strongly suggests that they are the same person.
  11. The fact that Strong's Dictionary calls Gabriel an 'archangel' is neither here nor there, because the Bible doesn't!
  12. The fact that Daniel 10:13 in An American Translation and Moffat's translation uses the expression 'one of the archangels' is likewise irrelevant, because the Hebrew does not say 'archangels,' but rather 'chief [or first] princes'.
  13. Jesus will “descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel” (1 Thessalonians 4:16). As Hal Flemings commented: “If Jesus is not the archangel in this event and he is superior to the archangel, then why would he perform this act as though he was someone of lower rank? Wouldn't he be using an archangel's voice because he is an archangel?”
  14. It is straining the sense of 1 Thessalonians 4:16 to say that he is just accompanied by an archangel, who calls out. When we say: “He ran in with a shout,” we understand that it is the same person who is running and shouting! If you say: “He walked in with a trumpet blast,” on the other hand, you are not implying that it is he who was blowing the trumpet (although he might be). The two cases are clearly different.
  15. A reasonably close parallel to 'εν φωνη αρχαγγελου, en phone archangelou' (with an/the archangel's voice) in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 is at 2 Peter 2:16: “the dumb ass speaking with man's voice”. Here we have 'εν φωνη, en phone' (with the/a voice) together with a genitive. The donkey was speaking with a man's voice - but it was the donkey that was speaking, not a man nearby. Likewise, in all other cases where 'en phone' is used in the NT, the voice in question always belongs to the subject of the sentence, not some unspecified third person. - See Revelation 5:2; 14:7, 9; 18:1.
  16. When the archangel's voice is heard, “the dead in Christ shall rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:16). But John 5:28, 29 tells us: “all that are in the graves shall hear his [Christ's, not just any angel's] voice and shall come forth.” Both verses use the Greek word φωνη phone - once for the archangel's voice, once for the Son of Man's voice, following which the resurrection takes place. One voice, not two, is heard. Logically, then, we must conclude that there is one voice because there is one person.
  17. When Revelation 12 says that Michael and his angels fought with the devil and his angels, throwing them out of heaven, this is a clear reference to the resurrected and exalted Jesus Christ. It is Christ, not just an angel, who destroys him that had the power of death, that is, the devil. (Hebrews 2:14) According to Matthew Henry's commentary on Revelation 12: “The parties - Michael and his angels on one side, and the dragon and his angels on the other: Christ, the great Angel of the covenant, and his faithful followers; and Satan and all his instruments.”
  18. Isaiah 9:6 refers to Christ as 'Wonderful, Counselor'. Interestingly, the Greek Septuagint refers to Christ as 'μεγαλης βουλης αγγελος, megales boules aggelos' - 'Messenger (or Angel) of Great Counsel.'
  19. The demons know who is going to throw them into the abyss. They said: “What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?” (Matthew 8:29) “And they besought him that he would not command them to go out into the deep [Greek: αβυσσος, abyssos].” In Revelation 20:1-3, John tells us: “And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit [Greek: αβυσσος, abyssos]”. Thus, we see that the Bible implies that Christ is the angel of the abyss.
  20. The objection that Christ can not be called an angel, because Hebrews 1:4 says that he was “made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they” is unfounded. Note that Christ inherited, obtained the name, not that he always had it. When Hebrews chapter 1 refers to the angels, it means the angels in general. It does not necessarily have to imply that Christ can't be called an angel. When Luke 21:29 refers to “the fig tree and all the trees”, it doesn't mean that the fig tree isn't a tree too. Likewise, when the Bible refers to Christ and the angels, it doesn't have to imply that he's not an angel. Clearly, although Jesus is called an angel in the Bible, he is far from being like the other angels. The Watchtower commented: “The basic meaning of “angel” (Hebrew, mal·'akh´; Greek, ag´ge·los) is “messenger.” As the “Word” (Greek, lo´gos), Jesus is God's messenger par excellence.” (15/12/1984, page 29.)

Conclusion

The evidence is overwhelming. Far from there being “nothing that remotely hints to Jesus being Michael,” the above comparisons make it abundantly clear that they are one and the same.


The source of the explanation above can be found at Who is the Archangel Michael? (slightly reformated by me). I have added numbering to the above arguments to make it easier to discuss them individually.

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From the verse in the Book of Daniel that states that the arch-angel Michael rises up for Daniel's people who are interpreted to mean the saints. The fact that Michael is in the middle of an ancient prophecy detailing the resurrection of the dead, judgment and joy in heaven or torment in hell is what built this doctrine that Jesus Christ is the arch-angel Michael. Jesus is central to the resurrection of the dead as his voice is the one that the dead listen to and come back to life as is Michael in the Book of Daniel.

Daniel 12:1

“At that time Michael shall stand up, The great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; And there shall be a time of trouble, Such as never was since there was a nation, Even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, Every one who is found written in the book. 2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, Some to everlasting life, Some to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 Those who are wise shall shine Like the brightness of the firmament, And those who turn many to righteousness Like the stars forever and ever Daniel 12:1-3

Why would Michael who is different from Jesus be central to an end time prophecy detailing the resurrection of the dead? Jesus is the first born son to have died and came back to life. What role is Michael playing here? Unless he were Jesus himself.

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