The Bible’s Viewpoint
Who Is Michael the Archangel?
ACCORDING to the Bible, there are millions of angelic creatures inhabiting the spirit realm. (Daniel 7:9, 10; Revelation 5:11) From beginning to end, the Scriptures make hundreds of references to the angels that remain loyal to God. Yet, only two of these spirit creatures are mentioned by name. One is the angel Gabriel, who personally delivered messages from God to three different individuals over a period of some 600 years. (Daniel 9:20-22; Luke 1:8-19, 26-28) The other angel mentioned by name in the Bible is Michael.
Michael is clearly an outstanding angel. For example, in the book of Daniel, Michael is described as fighting wicked demons in behalf of Jehovah’s people. (Daniel 10:13; 12:1) In the inspired letter of Jude, Michael confronts Satan in a dispute over Moses’ body. (Jude 9) The book of Revelation shows that Michael wars with Satan and his demons and hurls them out of heaven. (Revelation 12:7-9) No other angel is portrayed as having such great power and authority over God’s enemies. It is no wonder, then, that the Bible appropriately refers to Michael as “the archangel,” the prefix “arch” meaning “chief,” or “principal.”
The Controversy Over Michael’s Identity
Christendom’s religions, as well as Judaism and Islam, have conflicting ideas on the subject of angels. Some explanations are vague. For instance, The Anchor Bible Dictionary states: “There may be a single superior angel and/or a small group of archangels (usually four or seven).” According to The Imperial Bible-Dictionary, Michael is the “name of a superhuman being, in regard to whom there have in general been two rival opinions, either that he is the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, or that he is one of the so-called seven archangels.”
In Jewish tradition these seven archangels are Gabriel, Jeremiel, Michael, Raguel, Raphael, Sariel, and Uriel. On the other hand, Islam believes in four archangels, namely, Jibril, Mikal, Izrail, and Israfil. Catholicism also believes in four archangels: Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, and Uriel. What does the Bible say? Are there several archangels?
The Bible’s Answer
Aside from Michael, no archangel is mentioned in the Bible, nor do the Scriptures use the term “archangel” in the plural. The Bible describes Michael as the archangel, implying that he alone bears that designation. Hence, it is reasonable to conclude that Jehovah God has delegated to one, and only one, of his heavenly creatures full authority over all other angels.
Aside from the Creator himself, only one faithful person is spoken of as having angels under subjection—namely, Jesus Christ. (Matthew 13:41; 16:27; 24:31) The apostle Paul made specific mention of “the Lord Jesus” and “his powerful angels.” (2 Thessalonians 1:7) And Peter described the resurrected Jesus by saying: “He is at God’s right hand, for he went his way to heaven; and angels and authorities and powers were made subject to him.”—1 Peter 3:22.
While there is no statement in the Bible that categorically identifies Michael the archangel as Jesus, there is one scripture that links Jesus with the office of archangel. In his letter to the Thessalonians, the apostle Paul prophesied: “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.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16) In this scripture Jesus is described as having assumed his power as God’s Messianic King. Yet, he speaks with “an archangel’s voice.” Note, too, that he has the power to raise the dead.
While on earth as a human, Jesus performed several resurrections. In doing so, he used his voice to utter commanding calls. For example, when resurrecting the dead son of a widow in the city of Nain, he said: “Young man, I say to you, Get up!” (Luke 7:14, 15) Later, just before resurrecting his friend Lazarus, Jesus “cried out with a loud voice: ‘Lazarus, come on out!’” (John 11:43) But on these occasions, Jesus’ voice was the voice of a perfect man.
After his own resurrection, Jesus was raised to a “superior position” in heaven as a spirit creature. (Philippians 2:9) No longer a human, he has the voice of an archangel. So when God’s trumpet sounded the call for “those who are dead in union with Christ” to be raised to heaven, Jesus issued “a commanding call,” this time “with an archangel’s voice.” It is reasonable to conclude that only an archangel would call “with an archangel’s voice.”
Yes, there are other angelic creatures of high rank, such as seraphs and cherubs. (Genesis 3:24; Isaiah 6:2) Yet, the Scriptures point to the resurrected Jesus Christ as the chief of all angels—Michael the archangel.