Who is Michael the Archangel?

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There has been much talk among the critics about the Adventist understanding of the identity of Michael the Archangel. The majority of our critics believe that Adventists think of Jesus as a mere angel, and therefore lump us into the same category as the Jehovah’s Witnesses who hold to this belief. But is this so? Do Adventists believe that Jesus is an angel, and not, as most of Christendom believes… God himself?

Of course we believe Jesus is God, but no matter how many times we tell them this, they will still accuse us of the opposite. Let us therefore lay the fundamental reasons on our beliefs in Michael and let the reader decide who this person is. We will begin the first sections of this essay with questions for our critics, the first being…

Who is this Angel?

Notice the following passages from scripture:

Judges 13:21-22
(21) But the angel of the LORD did no more appear to Manoah and to his wife. Then Manoah knew that he was an angel of the LORD.

An angel appeared to Manoah and his wife, claiming that their son will grow up to be a Nazarite, one who will “deliver Israel out of the hands of the Philistines” –verse 5. Shocked at the realization that this messenger was more then angel, he announced:

(22) And Manoah said unto his wife, We shall surely die, because we have seen God.

This angel, according to Samson’s Father, was God himself. He should have noticed this by the angel’s use of the divine phrase “I AM” in verse 11, but nevertheless, after many miraculous signs and wonders, he learned who this angel really was. How can an angel be called “God” in scripture? And if this angel truly is God, it can not be the Father, for “no man has seen God at any time” (John 1:18). Who then was this angel?

Let’s keep going. Note this next verse:

Exodus 3:2-4
(2) And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.(3) And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.

We all know the story. Who spoke to Moses out of this flaming bush?

(4) And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.

Notice that verse 2 says that the “angel of the Lord” appeared unto Moses in a flame of fire… “out of the midst of the bush.” These same words are found in verse 4, only this time the angel is described as “God.” Remember the divine phrase “I AM” as spoken by the angel in Judges 13:11? Well, here it is again, spoken by this angel in verse 14! Note once again how God in this case was “seen.” The Father, as we have learned, has never been seen. So, who is this angel?

Let’s do one more, although there is plenty where these came from.

Genesis 31:10-12
(10) And it came to pass at the time that the cattle conceived, that I lifted up mine eyes, and saw in a dream, and, behold, the rams which leaped upon the cattle were ringstraked, speckled, and grisled.
(11) And the angel of God spake unto me in a dream, saying, Jacob: And I said, Here am I.
(12) And he said, Lift up now thine eyes, and see, all the rams which leap upon the cattle are ringstraked, speckled, and grisled: for I have seen all that Laban doeth unto thee.

Okay, we read of yet another case where “the angel of God” appears. Now read the next verse:

(13) I am the God of Bethel, where thou anointedst the pillar, and where thou vowedst a vow unto me: now arise, get thee out from this land, and return unto the land of thy kindred.

Wow! Pretty bold of an angel to make such a claim eh? What actually took place in Bethel? Take a look:

Genesis 28:16-19
(16) And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not.
(17) And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.
(18) And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it.
(19) And he called the name of that place Bethel: but the name of that city was called Luz at the first.

Jacob realized that God was actually there with him, and this same God appeared to him as “the angel of God” later in Genesis 31:10. Who is this angel that keeps appearing throughout the scriptures, making these bold claims about himself? Could he be… Jesus Christ?

Let’s consider some more facts…

What does the name
Michael actually mean?

The name Michael is of Hebrew origin, and is a word compiled of three separate hebrew words. These are:

(1) miy
This word is an interrogative pronoun of persons, according to Strong’s, and literally means “Who?”

(2) kiy
This is a conjunction, connecting miy with el.

(3) el
This word is normally translated “God” and refers most often to the God of heaven.

The name therefore literally means, as Strong’s puts it: Who (is) like God?

Interesting. Note also that the majority of times that this figure named Michael appears in scripture, he is found in some type of conflict with the Devil or his human followers, who represent the devil. This thought, along with the meaning of this name, brings to mind what the enemy desires for himself:

Isaiah 14:12-14
(12) How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
(13) For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
(14) I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.

The Devil desires to be like God, yet whenever he encounters Michael, he is confronted with the question “Who is like God?” As if to say that he, Michael, is the one that is like God, and not the devil.

What does “archangel” mean? According to Strong’s, it means “chief angel.” Thayer’s Greek Definition says it means, “Chief of the angels.” So Michael is the chief angel, or chief of all the angels of God.

The Hebrew equivalent of “chief” is the Hebrew word sar which can be translated either chief, prince, ruler, or captain. Notice this verse:

Daniel 12:1-2
(1) And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people…

Note carefully that the word translated “prince” here is this word “sar.” This same word is translated “captain” in verse 14 of Joshua chapter 5:

Joshua 5:13-15
(13) And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries?
(14) And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the LORD am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant?
(15) And the captain of the LORD’S host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so.

This figure that appeared to Joshua must be the same one that appears in Daniel 12, for both hold to the same title of “sar” or “chief, head.” More proof is found in Revelation 12:7, where Michael is said to be the leader (and his angels) of the angels (hosts). The figure here in Joshua 5:14 is also the chief or leader of “the hosts of the Lord.”

Moreover, since this figure is the “chief” of the hosts, or angels, of the Lord, it must also be the same “archangel” of Jude 1:9 because archangel means, as we have seen… “chief of the angels.” Couple that with the fact that Christ himself comes with the “voice of the archangel” in 1 Thessalonians 4:16, making him the figure that appeared unto Joshua in chapter 5 verse 14. And we are not surprised at this, for the Angel in Joshua 5:14 spoke the same words that the “Angel of the Lord” told Moses in Exodus 3:5 whom he also worshiped, those words being:

“Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy.”

Who then might this Michael the chief of Angels be other then Jesus Christ himself? Let us examine some of the verses just presented more closely for the purpose of providing for our critics even…

More Proof that this Michael
is the Lord Jesus Christ.

Read Daniel 12 one more time:

Daniel 12:1-2
(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.
(2) And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

Note that it is only after Michael stands up that those who sleep in the grave “shall awake.” Now read what Jesus said of himself:

John 5:25-29
(25) Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.
(26) For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself;
(27) And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.
(28) Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,
(29) And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.

The parallel between verse 29 and Daniel 12:2 is clearly seen. At the appearance and sound of both Michael and Jesus Christ the dead will rise from the grave. Who then is the one who will raise the dead? Michael or Jesus? Paul has the answer:

1 Thessalonians 4:16
(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

Michael, who is really Jesus Christ, is the one with whose voice “of the archangel” raises the dead… “some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt!”

It is clearly seen who the “Angel of the Lord” is which appeared to patriarchs and prophets of the Old Testament. It was always Jesus Christ himself, declaring himself to be the chief of the angels of the Lord. But when found contending with Satan, he appears as “Michael,” asking him “Who is the like?” reminding him that Jesus is the one who is like God the Father, disappointing him of his desire to “be like the most High.” There is no other explanation our critics can provide for the fact that the “angel of the Lord” receives worship which is due only to God almighty then that this angel is none other then our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who is “God blessed forever” –Romans 9:5.

Your Thought Questions Answered

Question 1: Aren’t you saying that Jesus is a created being, like the Jehovah’s Witnesses say, when you call Jesus an angel?

Answer: No! Jesus is not a created being. Rather he is the God who created all other beings, “whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him” –Colossians 1:16.

Jesus is not called an angel, but rather the “chief of the angels.” And if such a title as angel is given him, it is only because the word “angel” means “messenger,” and Jesus is indeed the chief messenger of God.

Question 2: Can you prove to me that Jesus is God?

Answer: There are numerous passages in scripture to prove the divinity of Christ, showing that he is truly God, but because of space we will show three verses we believe make this point crystal clear:

1 John 5:20
(20) And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.

Who is that “true” but Jesus Christ himself, the only “true God and eternal life.” Eternal life was a phrase John has applied to Jesus since the very beginning of his letter (see chapter 1:2), which he heard Jesus apply to himself (John 14:6).

Acts 20:28
(28) Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.

Although this verse has been grossly altered in the JW’s New World Translation, it reads just like the King James Version in the original Greek (using a Strong’s). It shows beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was God himself who purchased the church “with his own blood.” And who else shed his blood on the cross of Calvary but Jesus Christ himself?

Hebrews 1:6-8
(6) And again, when he bringeth in the first begotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.
(7) And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire.
(8) But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.

Not only does God command all his angels to worship Jesus (verse 6), he himself calls his Son “God” in verse 8. How much clearer can you get!

Note: For a study on Christ’s divinity, click here.

Question 3: Can you explain Hebrews 1:13-14 and Hebrews 2:16 which seem to say that Jesus is not an Angel?

Answer: Simple, Jesus is not a created Angel. He is God himself, and member of the heavenly Godhead, who bears a message much like angels bear messages. In both Hebrew and Greek the word Angel means “messenger.” In a messianic prophecy speaking about Jesus we read that he is the “messenger” of the covenant. Notice:

Malachi 3:1
(1) Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.

Note that “the Lord,” even the “messenger of the covenant” shall suddenly come to his temple. It was Jesus who came to the temple (John 1:10-11, 14, 2:14-21). The word translated “messenger” here is mainly translated “angel” elsewhere in the scriptures. Yet this does not mean that Jesus is an angel, but that as an angel, he came with a message.

Question 4: If Jesus is Michael the chief prince, why in Daniel 10:13 does it read that Michael is rather “one of” the chief princes?

Answer: Regarding Daniel 10:13, in context of the book Daniel, there are a few princes Daniel mentions, namely, “Prince of Persia” “Prince of host” “Prince of princes” “Messiah the Prince” and “Michael your prince.” In context, when he says “one of” he is speaking about one of the ones he previously mentioned in the same book.

In the bible as a whole, Jesus is not the only prince. David is called prince (Ezekiel 34:24) and so is Jacob (Genesis 32:28).

The answer to the question is answered in the context of Daniel. However, going back to what the Hebrew word “sar” means we can learn some more. It is translated “prince” in Daniel 10:13, but according to Strong’s Hebrew Definitions, it can also mean “head, ruler, chief, master, governor.” Do you think that these are titles that can also be applied to God the Father, and to the Holy Spirit?

1 John 5:7
(7) For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.

There are three that bear record in heaven. The bible may not refer to the Holy Spirit, or God the father, as “prince,” but any one of them can bear the title of “chief, master, ruler or head.” No wonder the bible speaks of a God-head (Acts 17:27)! Jesus, or Michael, is “one of” the chiefs or head of the heavenly trio.

Question 5: Michael contends with Satan in Jude 1:9, and the passages reads that Michael “durst (dared) not bring against him any railing accusation.” If Michael is really Jesus, how is it that Jesus dares not do anything against Satan? Doesn’t this mean that Jesus is afraid of him?

Answer: Let us examine this passage a bit closer:

Jude 1:9
(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.

Carefully consider the words “railing accusation.” The word translated “railing” is the Greek “blasphemia” from which we get our English word “blasphemy” from. This same word is listed among other sins which Paul urges the Ephesians to “put away from among you” –Ephesians 4:31. Are you sure Jesus would not dare sin against the enemy? He dared not sin while on earth. In fact, Jesus never sinned (1 John 3:5). If Jesus dared to sin, even in this form, he would belong to the devil (1 John 3:8). Therefore yes, he dared not sin even in this case, for he is holy and sinless in every way. This however does not mean that Michael is subject to, or somehow afraid of Satan, for it is Michael himself who fights against Satan (Revelation 12:7-8) and prevails.

Got more questions? Send them to us!

-For further study, see:

An honest look into the Trinity DoctrineDid Jesus have a beginning? Is he divine?
Are there three that bear record in heaven?


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About The Author

Edwin Cotto

With over 13 years of experience in apologetics, evangelism and youth directing, Edwin has worked with various ministries both in English and Spanish. Having had the opportunity to travel to various states in the USA, and also to Venezuela and Mexico, he has enjoyed the privilege of conducting evangelistic meetings and apologetics seminars. His education includes training in the Medical Field, Adult Education at Valencia College, Biblical Hebrew with the Israel Institute of Biblical Studies, and Evangelism with Amazing Facts Center of Evangelism. He is furthering his academic studies in theology while also working as a bible worker for the Florida Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. Ordained as an elder, Edwin's passion for ministry begins first at home with his wife and kids.

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