There's a suggested duplicate to this question but that question deals with how the Jehovah's Witnesses explain the begotten divinity of Jesus while still maintaining that He is unequal to God. This question is directed toward the distinction between the Son and angels as portrayed in Hebrews chapter 1. I've included the entire chapter so that the context is plain in the reading (bold is added for focus):

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”? Or again, “I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son”? And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God's angels worship him.” Of the angels he says, “He makes his angels winds, and his ministers a flame of fire.” But of the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.” And, “You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands; they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment, like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will have no end.” And to which of the angels has he ever said, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”? Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation? Hebrews 1:1-14

Twice the question is raised "To which of the angels has God ever said...?" and sandwiched between these questions is a direct contrast between angels and the Son. The answer demanded by any plain reading within context for these questions is 'God has never said any such thing to any angel.'

In claiming that Jesus, the Son of God, is Michael the archangel Jehovah's Witnesses appear to be stating that God did, in fact, say such things to an angel. My question is, how do Jehovah's Witnesses explain this seemingly clear contradiction to the context?

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    @Kris No because this question has to do with Hebrews chapter 1and the JW notion that Jesus is Michael. Specifically the questions that contextually demand a negative response, furthering the distinction between angels and the Son, and between created and begotten. – Mike Borden Jun 7 '20 at 15:14
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    @Kris Hebrews seems to basically come right out and declare that God never said such things to an angel but only to the Son. JW seem to claim that an angel (Michael) is the son and therefore God did say such things to an angel. The possible duplicate you linked to does not solve this contradiction, in my mind. – Mike Borden Jun 7 '20 at 15:28
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    @MikeBorden JWs believe the answer to those questions is "none" because Jesus is in a different class than any other angel, he's God's Only Son. In the context, Jesus is being excluded from the angels. – 4castle Jun 8 '20 at 5:51
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    @4castle So... "To which of the 'other' angels did God ever say...?" That doesn't seem to come from the context. – Mike Borden Jun 8 '20 at 11:28
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    The context I'm speaking of is verse 4, "having become as much superior to angels." Here Jesus is stated to have been previously at par with the angels, but now he has been glorified above them. Therefore, he is excluded from the angels. – 4castle Jun 8 '20 at 11:58

Question: Based on Hebrews 1:5 and 13 you ask how Jehovah's Witnesses can say that Jesus is the archangel Michael. You also ask, what is the distinction between the Son of God and the angels?

In order to find an answer it is necessary to first understand what Jehovah’s Witnesses believe regarding the relationship between Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and the archangel Michael. Here is a brief overview, using only quotations from their own literature:

New Heavens and New Earth pages 30-31: "It proves Michael the archangel is none 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." [1]

Your Will be Done on Earth page 316: “Jesus is actually the incarnation of Michael the archangel and resumed the name when he ascended into heaven.” [2]

What Does the Bible Really Teach pages 218-219: "The Bible indicates that Michael is another name for Jesus Christ, before and after his life on earth... Since God's Word nowhere indicates that there are two armies of faithful angels in heaven - one headed by Michael and one headed by Jesus - it is logical to conclude that Michael is none other than Jesus Christ in his heavenly role." [3]

"Who, though, was the son whom God chose to be born as a perfect human creature? ...He has rightly been called Michael the Archangel. His life-force having been transferred to Mary's egg cell by Almighty God's power that overshadowed Mary meant that he, Michael, disappeared from heaven. By human birth from Mary, the Jewish virgin, he was to become a human soul." (God's "Eternal Purpose" Now Triumphing, 1974, pp 137-138)

What does the Society teach that this "life-force" is? "The word 'spirit' is translated from the Hebrew word ru'ach, meaning the life-force that animates all living creatures, human and animal. (Ecclesiastes 3:18-22) However, the important difference is that ru'ach is an impersonal force; it does not have a will of its own or retain the personality or any of the characteristics of the deceased individual." (Mankind's Search for God, 1990, pp 153-154)

In an attempt to find evidence to support the suggestion that Jesus is in a different class than any other angel, I went to the official Jehovah’s Witness web site and searched on angels:

Insight on the Scriptures, Volume 1, pages 106-108, Angel Order and Rank: “As with the visible creation, so also in the invisible realm there is order and rank among the angels. The foremost angel, both in power and authority, is Michael, the archangel.”

The article goes on to mention Seraphs: “Ranking very high among the angels in privileges and honor are the seraphs.” Cherubs also “hold a special position among the angels.” “Then there is the great body of angelic messengers who serve as a means of communication between God and man.” https://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1200000277?q=angel+order+rank&p=par

No mention of any other class of angel. Michael the archangel is the most powerful, then there are Seraphs and Cherubs and Gabriel is also mentioned in Scripture as a messenger. The demons are classified as fallen angels, angels who sinned. From here I searched on Son of God:

Insight on the Scriptures, Volume 2, pages 393-394: “Scriptural evidence indicates that the name Michael applied to God’s Son before he left heaven to become Jesus Christ and also after his return… [3] Michael is actually the Son of God.” [1]

“In his prehuman existence Jesus was called “the Word.” (Joh 1:1) He also had the personal name Michael. By retaining the name Jesus after his resurrection (Ac 9:5), “the Word” shows that he is identical with the Son of God on earth. [1] His resuming his heavenly name Michael and his title (or name) “The Word of God” (Re 19:13) ties him in with his prehuman existence. The very name Michael, asking as it does, “Who Is Like God?” points to the fact that Jehovah God is without like, or equal, and that Michael his archangel is his great Champion or Vindicator.” https://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1200003035?q=Michael+Son+God&p=par

Watchtower 1 April 2010: Is Jesus the Archangel Michael? Put simply, the answer is yes ... In view of the foregoing, what can we conclude? Jesus Christ is Michael the archangel. Both names—Michael (meaning “Who Is Like God?”) and Jesus (meaning “Jehovah Is Salvation”)—focus attention on his role as the leading advocate of God’s sovereignty. Philippians 2:9 states: “God exalted him [the glorified Jesus] to a superior position and kindly gave him the name that is above every other name.” So Michael the archangel is Jesus in his prehuman existence. After his resurrection and return to heaven, Jesus resumed his service as Michael, the chief angel, “to the glory of God the Father.”—Philippians 2:11. Source: https://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/2010250 [3]

This last quotation offers a clue as to how Jehovah’s Witnesses perceive the status of the glorified Jesus. As one Jehovah’s Witness put it, “Jesus is stated to have been previously at par with the angels, but now he has been glorified above them. Therefore, he is excluded from the angels.” I take that to suggest that since the glorified Jesus has now been exalted to a position higher than all the angels then the quotation from Psalm 2:7 isn’t referring to Jesus as an angel because the Son of God has been exalted and glorified and is higher than any of the angels.

The fatal flaw in this argument, however, is that quotes from two Jehovah’s Witness publications say Michael is the Son of God [1] and Jesus was the incarnation of Michael the archangel when he was born of Mary [2]. Since they believe that Jesus was known as Michael the archangel before and after he came to earth [3] then I can only assume that Jesus is still an archangel. Of course, there is an argument that because the pre-human Jesus was the only spirit creation of Jehovah God, then that makes him special, and different to all the other angels that were created by and through Jesus. Personally, I don’t go along with that sort of “reasoning” but there may be an article on the subject.

I’ve spent hours trawling through jw.org but can’t find anything that specifically addresses the issue raised by Hebrews 1:1-14. Perhaps a Jehovah’s Witness will be able to track one down. For the avoidance of doubt, I am not promoting the beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

  • I don’t fully understand what you are saying is a fatal flaw. – Kris Jun 9 '20 at 23:05
  • Well, from everything I've read, Jesus is still a created angel - albeit a powerful archangel. Hebrews chapter1 emphatically and unambiguously declares that God has never called any angel his Son (not son with a little 's' but his one and only Son). – Lesley Jun 10 '20 at 6:31
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    Kris, please post an answer to this question, showing us the official Jehovah's Witness position. Is Jesus the incarnation of Michael the Archangel? Is Michael the Archangel the one, the only Son of God? – Lesley Jun 10 '20 at 19:43

Do Jehovah’s Witnesses acknowledge that the answer to the question “to what angel has he said...” is none?

Yes contextually the answer is none.

The context is that of the most high God bestowing his highest favor upon a subservient Son. This highest favor is contrasted with all other heavenly spirit creatures who are said not to come close to the measure of favor and esteem given to the Son of the Most High God.

This reestablishes the Son as the preeminent, unique one of a kind entity in the hierarchy of heavenly creatures as he was for eons of time before he humbled himself and became a little lower than angels when he came to earth. Hebrews 2:9

But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. NIV

Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jehovah alone is the Almighty eternally existing God.

Does this mean that we think of His Son as just another angel? No.

We believe God’s only Son was created by Jehovah directly using no agent or instrumentality. That makes him truly unique since every other spirit creature was created through the Son who served as the agent or instrumentality by which Jehovah created all other things that exist in the heavens and on earth. Colossians 1:16

16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: KJV

We also teach that there is only one archangel. Arch angel meaning chief angel or messenger is an appropriate title for the Son of Jehovah who also is called Logos or Word.

An explanation of why we believe Michael is another name for the only begotten Son of God is found here.And this post covers the differences between the only begotten Son and other created spirit beings.

We do not see the verses in Hebrews as declaring that Jesus cannot be a created being. Rather as distinguishing between all heavenly spirit creatures and the preeminent one.

An illustration may be of a president of a country being compared to all other citizens. The president is the most powerful highest ranking individual in the country. Of no other citizen can this be said. However it is also true that the president is himself a citizen of the country.

  • Son? How? And then, also, what's the point of an "instrumentality"? – Walter S Jun 21 '20 at 6:46
  • @Kris doesn't this position require the implicit insertion of the word 'other' into the text in Hebrews? "To which of the 'other' angels has He said..." And doesn't this insertion actually alter the text so that the answer demanded isn't 'none' but really 'just the one'? Isn't the same implicit 'other' actually inserted (parenthetically) into Colossians 1:16 in the New World Translation, similarly altering that text as well? – Mike Borden Jun 22 '20 at 13:13
  • @MikeBorden not in the context of comparing the only archangel with all angels. Not in the context of comparing the only begotten Son with all angels. We are not locked into a belief that since Jesus is created he must be no different than any of the myriads of created spirit creatures that exist. He is unique and preeminent. christianity.stackexchange.com/a/75504/23657. – Kris Jun 22 '20 at 13:40

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