Who Is the Archangel Michael?
JEHOVAH’S witnesses hold that the archangel Michael is Jesus Christ, and they not at all alone or unique in doing so. Hengstenberg, one of the foremost German Bible scholars of the nineteenth century, argues at great length to that effect in his Christology and Commentary on the Apocalypse. A strong case for this position is also made in the Imperial Bible Dictionary, edited by the British Bible scholar Fairbairn. And Clarke, in his Commentary, holds that, at least at times, Michael refers to Jesus Christ.
As for the Scriptural testimony, in the first place note the very meaning of the name “Michael,” namely, “Who is like God?” There is no one else to whom that name could so fittingly apply as to Jesus, either before he came to earth or since his ascension. He alone is described as “the image of God,” “the reflection of his glory and the exact representation of his very being,” and as “the image of the invisible God.”—2 Cor. 4:4; Heb. 1:3; Col. 1:15.
Further, note his title “archangel.” This term occurs only twice in the Scriptures (AV), at 1 Thessalonians 4:16 and Jude 9. The prefix “arch” means “chief, principal, great.” Certainly both before his coming to earth as a man and since his return to heaven he is the chief or principal one of all God’s spirit creatures or angels. Trinitarians may consider this a downgrading of the “Second Person of the Trinity,” but if we accept the Scriptural testimony that Jesus was “the beginning of the creation by God,” and “the firstborn of all creation,” we will have no diffidence about applying to him the term archangel.—Rev. 3:19; Col. 1:15.
There he is shown to be a mighty angel rescuing from the clutches of one of Satan’s demon princes an angel of Jehovah God who had been sent to Daniel with a message of comfort. There Michael is also referred to as Daniel’s prince, even as at Daniel 12:1 (RS) he is spoken of as “the great prince who has charge of your people.” This is in keeping with Exodus 32:34 and similar scriptures that tell of God as appointing his angel to lead Israel. This being so makes clear why “Michael the archangel had a difference with the Devil and was disputing about Moses’ body.” The full force of Jude’s condemnation of rebellious ones, incidentally, becomes apparent when we note that not even Jesus Christ, the highest of all God’s creatures, dared render abusive judgment upon the Devil but said: “May Jehovah rebuke you.”—Jude 9; Zech. 3:2.
And finally we have Revelation 12:7, 8, where we read: “And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels battled with the dragon, and the dragon and its angels battled but it did not prevail.” The context tells of the birth of God’s kingdom, whose king is Jesus Christ, and identifies the dragon as Satan the Devil. Surely Jesus as King would be the one to take action upon the birth of God’s kingdom even as David took action against his enemies upon his becoming king. Did not Jesus state, upon his resurrection, that all power had been given him in heaven and on earth? Does not Psalm 110:1, 2 command him to rule in the midst of his enemies? And does not the apostle Paul show, at Hebrews 2:14, that it is Jesus who will destroy the Devil, thereby identifying him as the angel of Revelation 20:1 that will bind Satan?
All relevant Scriptural testimony unites to prove that Michael is none other than Jesus Christ, both before he became a man, as at Daniel 10:13, 21 and Jude 9, and after his ascension into heaven, as at Daniel 12:1 and Revelation 12:7.