Who is Michael the Archangel?
by Edwin M. Cotto
Adventism’s claim that Jesus is Michael the Archangel is false because it cannot be proven by scripture.
THE SHORT ANSWER
The name Michael, like the name Emmanuel, is simply another name for Jesus. An examination of the 5 references to Michael reveals this fact. Jude 1:9 directly calls him the “archangel” and Paul identifies Jesus as the archangel whose voice resurrects the dead (1 Thessalonians 4:16). We know for sure it’s Jesus’ voice, and not that he is using another Being’s voice, because he said that all who are in the grave will hear “his voice…” (John 5:25, 28-29). Additionally, a striking parallel between Jude 1:9 and Zechariah 3:2 reveals that it is “the LORD” who actually rebukes Satan. Moreover, while Daniel 10:13 says that Michael is “one of the chief princes,” yet Daniel 12:1 makes it clear he is the greatest among all princes. Daniel 10:21 and Revelation 12:7 point unequivocally to Jesus because these texts say that Michael is the leader of both the heavenly and earthly hosts, which we know are characteristics that combined belong to Jesus alone (compare with Matthew 13:41, Revelation 19:11-14 and 1 Corinthians 11:3). Putting all this together we see that it is Jesus, not an angel, who resurrects the dead, Jesus, not an angel, who commands and leads the angels, and Jesus, not an angel, who is the ultimate leader of God’s people.
Additionally, throughout the Old Testament we constantly find the appearance of an “Angel of the Lord/Captain of the Lord’s host” who manifestly turns out to be God (see Genesis 16:7-10, 13, 22:15-16, 31:11-13, 32:24-30, Joshua 5:13-15, Judges 13:21-22, Exodus 3:3-6, Daniel 3:24-25, 28 and Malachi 3:1). After seeing the Angel many of these prophets claimed to have seen God himself. Since “no man has seen God” (John 1:18, 1 John 4:12) and since each context identifies this Angel as either God, son of God or a special messenger, evidently the “angel” that appeared to them was none other than Jesus Christ himself. This doesn’t mean that Jesus is a created angelic being, but that Jesus is God’s special messenger, which is what the word “angel” means.
The most common objections to this have not been able to refute it. Critics appeal to Daniel 10:13 because it says that Michael is “one of the chief princes” but as we learned, he is the greatest of all princes. It’s only fitting that it would say “one of” because the context itself mentions two other princes (verses 13, 20). Jude 1:9 is also appealed to because it says that Michael “dared not bring against him a railing accusation” but “railing accusation” means to slander, so we expect Jesus not to act like a devil anyway. Finally, critics often accuse us of saying that Jesus is a created angelic being, but this shows a serious lack of understanding of what Adventism actually teaches regarding the full and eternal divinity of Jesus. It is not Michael a created being, but Jesus, manifested as “Michael,” who resurrects the dead, commands the hosts of heaven and leads God’s people by his divine authority.
THE LONG ANSWER
Identifying Michael as the tangible manifestation of Jesus is similar to what is known as a Christophany, and the whole idea is not unique to Adventism.1 The name “Michael” appears only 15 times in the Bible. Since ten of them are, for the most part, people listed in genealogies, it should be fairly easy to identify who he really is with the remaining five references. Those references are: Daniel 10:13, 21, 12:1, Jude 1:9, Revelation 12:7. Let’s examine each of them one by one:
Jude 1:9: “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.”
This text identifies Michael as the “archangel.” The only other place in the Bible that uses this term is 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.”
Here we read that Jesus has the “voice of the archangel.” He is not borrowing the voice of another being. No, it is literally his voice, because it is at the sound of his voice that the dead are raised from their graves. Compare this with the following texts:
“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. … Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, 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.” (John 5:25, 28-29)
In no uncertain terms, we see here that Jesus is that archangel whose voice raises the dead. It’s noteworthy that the dispute is over the body of Moses, who later we see resurrected (Matthew 17:3). The fact that Jesus, and not Satan, has the power to resurrect, this grants us more evidence as to who Michael actually is and why Satan tried to resist him.
Additionally, there is a striking parallel between Jude 1:9 and Zechariah 3:2: “And the LORD said unto Satan, The LORD rebuke thee, O Satan; even the LORD that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?” The rebuking is, in fact, done by “the LORD.
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. 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.” (Daniel 12:1-2)
This next text transitions well with the three we just examined because here we also find the resurrection of the dead taking place at the appearance of the archangel. Angels do not have the power to resurrect the dead. That is a prerogative of deity. It is not Michael, as a created angelic being, raising the dead… it is Jesus, manifested as “Michael,” who resurrects the dead.
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.”
This text calls Michael “one of the chief princes.” Contextually there are two other princes mentioned, the Prince of Persia (verse 13) and the Prince of Grecia (verse 20). Princes are above other people so it follows that these princes are “chief” among their people. Obviously, when the passage says one of it is referring to the princes that the passage is talking about.
Young’s Literal Translation offers an alternative reading, “and lo, Michael, first of the chief heads…” Both first or one of are appropriate translations because Daniel 12:1 says that Michael is the “great” prince. Thus, though there are two other princes, Michael is the first and greatest of them all.2
Revelation 12:7: “And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels.”
This text identifies Michael as the commander of angels (“his angels”). This interpretation works very well with the actual meaning of the word “archangel.”3 The greek word ἀρχάγγελος literally means, “chief of the angels.” Thus Michael is the leader of all the heavenly angels.
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 10:21).
Probably the most significant detail about this verse is that it identifies Michael as the leader of God’s people as well. This is deduced from the fact that it says “your prince” in contrast to the other two princes which belong to Persia and Greece.
What we have gathered so far is strong evidence for Christophany when it comes to the appearance of Michael:
A) Jesus, not an angel, is the one who resurrects the dead:
“Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.” (John 11:25)
B) Jesus, not an angel, is the one who commands and leads the angels:
“The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity.” (Matthew 13:41)
“And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True… And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.” (Revelation 19:11-14)
C) And Jesus, not an angel, is the leader of God’s people:
“But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.” (1 Corinthians 11:3)
Putting all this together we are presented with two options: either there are two Beings in heaven, each performing the same roles, or one being. Either both Jesus and Michael resurrect the dead, commands the angels and leads God’s people, or Jesus as Michael resurrects the dead, commands the angels and leads God’s people. In light of the evidence presented I think any reasonable Bible student well understands that only Jesus has the power to perform all three of these tasks.
THE ANGEL OF THE LORD
Throughout the Old Testament we constantly find the appearance of an “angel of the Lord/captain of the hosts” who manifestly turns out to be God. Here are those verses:
“And the angel of the LORD found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur. And he said, Hagar, Sarai’s maid, whence camest thou? and whither wilt thou go? And she said, I flee from the face of my mistress Sarai. And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands. And the angel of the LORD said unto her, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude… And she called the name of the LORD that spake unto her, Thou God seest me: for she said, Have I also here looked after him that seeth me?” (Genesis 16:7-10, 13)
“And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son.” (Gen 22:15-16)
“And the angel of God spake unto me in a dream, saying, Jacob: And I said, Here am I. 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. 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.” (Genesis 31:11-13)
“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. And Manoah said unto his wife, We shall surely die, because we have seen God.” (Judges 13:21-22)
In these first four examples we find an angel who is identified as “the God who sees,” “the Lord,” the “God of Bethel,” and the God that appears to Manoah and his wife. Since God is appearing to these individuals as the “angel of the Lord” it is evident that the use of the word “angel” does not always mean it is a created, angelic being. Not every time, at least.4
Let’s examine some other examples:
“And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him. And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me. And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob. And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed. And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there. And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.” (Genesis 32:24-30)
Jacob identifies this mysterious man as God, and the prophet Hosea refers to him as an “angel” (Hosea 12:2-4). Since “no man hath seen the Father” (John 1:18, 1 John 4:12) and yet Jacob, along with Manoah and his wife, saw God “face to face,” it is evident that this divine angel was none other than Jesus himself.
“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. And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. 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. And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.” (Exodus 3:3-6)
Here, the angel identifies himself as “God.” In verse 14 God tells Moses that he is the great “I AM.” This is absolute proof that it was Jesus, the “angel of the Lord” that appeared to Moses, because Jesus said, “Before Abraham was, I am. (John 8:58). Moreover, these verses simultaneously prove that Jesus is not a created angelic being, because “I AM” implies a self-existent, eternal being. We reject the Jehovah’s Witness viewpoint that Jesus is a created being. To Seventh-day Adventists, Jesus is deity, and has always existed. The “angel of the Lord” is simply the tangible pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus in certain instances of the Old Testament.
“Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up in haste, [and] spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king. He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God… Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God.” (Daniel 3:24-25, 28)
Here we have a direct reference to Jesus, the “Son of God.” The King, for a brief moment under direct inspiration of God,5 recognizes the parallel between Jesus and God’s “angel.”
“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? 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? 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. (Joshua 5:13-15)
This “captain of the host of the Lord”6 accepted Joshua’s worship. If this were a mere man or angel of God, he would have put a stop to it immediately (compare with Acts 14:11-15, Rev. 22:8-9). Moreover Joshua was commanded to remove his shoes because he was standing on holy ground. No mere man or angel can make the ground holy. Recall that it was God’s presence that made the ground holy at the scene of the burning bush, where Moses was also told to remove his shoes (Exodus 3:5). Thus the one who appeared to Joshua as the leader of God’s host was God himself, or Jesus, since no man has ever seen the Father.
Moreover there is a connection between this Being and Michael. Note that it says he is the “captain of the host of the Lord.” What does archangel mean again? That’s right, it means “chief of the angels.” Now unless there are two Beings that lead God’s heavenly army (which we do not have scriptural proof for) we are forced to conclude that it was none other than Jesus who appeared to Joshua as Michael, the “captain of the host of the Lord.”
“Behold, I will send my messenger (malak), and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger (malak) of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.” (Malachi 3:1)
In Hebrew, the word “angel” is malak and it simply means “messenger, representative.”7 The term does not always refer to angelic beings. It can also refer to humans as well.8 Now according to Matthew 11:7, 10, the first messenger is John the Baptist. Since it was the office of John to prepare the way before Jesus (see John 1:30) it follows that the second messenger in Malachi 3:1, is Jesus. Thus we have Jesus being referred to as a malak, or angel.
The evidence is strong in all of these texts that the appearance of this angel is in fact the appearance of the preincarnate Jesus. He is that archangel, or chief/leader of the angels, or “angel of the Lord” whose voice raises the dead, commands the angels and leads God’s people. He is that “angel of the host” and the “messenger of the covenant” as well. No other Being falls into these categories except Jesus Christ himself. Michael is simply his alternative name.
WHAT DOES THE NAME MEAN?
The meaning of the name “Michael” may present more evidence as to his identify. I present it here for your consideration.
The name Michael in Hebrew is מִיכָאֵל. Broken apart, we have מִי (pronounced miy) meaning “who,” followed by the conjunction כִּי, and then אֵל (pronounced el) meaning “god.” The Hebrew word מִי is interrogative, so the placement of a question mark is appropriate. Thus the name is quite literally a question, “Who is like God?” It’s Greek equivilant Μιχαήλ apparently means the same thing.9Some scholars may interpret the term without the question, in which case it would simply mean “who is like God.”
Names in the bible have significance. Apart from Michael, there is only one other person who said something similar, and it was Lucifer, “I will be like the most high” (Isaiah 14:12-13, 14). Interestingly, a battle ensues between Michael and Satan in Revelation 12. So the one who thinks he is like God, confronts the one whose name means “Who is like God?” Now if the name is a question, the named one is pointing to himself in answer to that question, because we learned above that Michael is always a manifestation of Jesus under this name. If it is not a question, the answer is the same. Only Jesus is Michael, “who is like God.”
WHY USE THE NAME MICHAEL?
The meaning of the name may help us answer this question. Names in the Bible often represent the special characteristic of the person which many times we see connected to an event. Though we don’t always have a clear explanation as to why a particular person may have a specific name, the principle is brought out in 1 Samuel 25:25, where Nabal’s name is the target of Abigail’s explanation that he is a fool: “For as his name is, so is he; Nabal is his name, and folly is with him.” Likewise we see the name of Jacob changed to Israel based on his conversion from being a supplanter to being a prevailer, respectively.10 God’s special characteristics are also seen when we look at his various names. Jehovah (or YHWH) is his proper name, and it means “to be, to exist, to become” revealing that God is self-existent and disclosing. Here are a few examples of other names attributed to God which also provide for us important details about his character and activities in the lives of his people:
|Jehovah-Jireh – Genesis 22:14 – means “The Lord Provides”|
|Jehovah-Nissi – Exodus 17:15 – means “The Lord is my Banner, Miracle”|
|Jehovah-Tsidkenu – Jeremiah 23:6 – means “The Lord Our Righteousness”|
|El Shaddai – Genesis 17:1 – means “Lord God Almighty”|
|Jehovah-Mekoddishkem – Exodus 31:13 – means “The Lord Who Sanctifies You”|
|Jehovah-Shalom – Judges 6:24 – means “The Lord is Peace”|
We shouldn’t find it strange that Jesus would have other names. After all, isn’t he called “Emmanuel,” which means “God with us” (see Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:23)? Isn’t he also prophetically called “David” (compare Jeremiah 30:9, Ezekiel 34:23 with ) We learned that Michael means “Who is like God?” and it seems like every time he appears he is always defending God’s people. Since names usually reveal an individual’s character then it’s plausible that Jesus uses Michael because it, like Emmanuel, reveals who he really is: The Divine Son of God who Protects his People.
FIVE OBJECTIONS CONSIDERED
Now that we have identified who Michael is, I will proceed with responding to certain objections raised by critics.
Objection #1: Two different Hebrew words are used: I once encountered the semantic argument that the Hebrew word used in Daniel 10:13 is different from the one in Daniel 9:25, which is a reference to the Messiah. The argument goes like this: Though both texts say “prince” yet both words are from two different Hebrew words. The one in Daniel 10:13 is שַׂר which is transliterated sar, while the one in Daniel 9:25 is נָגִיד which is transliterated nagiyd. This difference, supposedly, proves that Michael cannot possibly be Jesus.
But imagine if I referred to Michael as a person in one sentence, and then I refer to Michael as an individual in the next sentence, and then say that these two terms prove Michael is not the same person. You would tell me that I am being nonsensical, wouldn’t you? Evidently, both words can be used and it does not necessarily prove there are two different people. It is the same with the sar and nagiyd. While both are not exactly the same, they are similar and can be used to refer to the same person.
Additionally, the word sar is also used to describe Jesus. Note the following texts:
“Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince (sar) of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down… And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince (sar) of princes (sar); but he shall be broken without hand.” (Daniel 8:11, 25)
It’s generally understood that the “prince of the host” (compare Joshua 5:13-15) and the “prince of princes” is Jesus. Jesus is often addressed as a prince in the bible,11 and Isaiah 9:6 specifically calls Jesus the “prince (sar) of peace.” Since both these terms are used to describe Jesus, than I do not see why this should cause a problem with identifying the appearance of Michael in Daniel 10:13 as a Christophany.
Objection #2: Jesus is not a prince among other princes: This argument relies on the words “one of” in Daniel 10:13. The claim is that Jesus has no equals so Jesus cannot be Michael because Michael is just one chief prince among other chief princes.
We first have to determine why the texts reads like this. A few pages ago we noted that there are two other princes in this context, the prince of Persia, and the prince of Grecia (verses 13 and 20), making it fitting for the text to say “one of.” In fact, there are several princes referenced in the entire book of Daniel:
|The word “prince” appears 16 times: 1:7 (sar), 8 (sar), 9 (sar), 10 (sar), 11 (sar), 18 (sar), 8:11 (sar), 25 (sar), 9:25 (nagiyd), 26 (nagiyd), 10:13 (sar), 10:20 (sar), 10:21 (sar), 11:18 (qatsiyn), 22 (nagiyd), 12:1 (sar).|
|The word “princes” appears 18 times: 1:3 (partam), 3:2 (achashdarpan), 3:3 (achashdarpan), 3:27 (achashdarpan), 5:2 (rabrĕban), 3 (rabrĕban), 6:1 (‘achashdarpan), 2 (‘achashdarpan), 3 (‘achashdarpan), 4 (‘achashdarpan), 6 (‘achashdarpan), 7 (‘achashdarpan), 8:25 (sar), 9:6 (sar), 8 (sar), 10:13 (sar), 11:5 (sar), 8 (nĕciyk – “molten god, drink offering, duke).|
That’s 34 princes in total, several of these are sar. Now it is my conviction that Daniel 10:13 says “one of” because of the two princes mentioned in its context, but it seems like every sar mentioned in Daniel is also some kind of leader or chief. If this is so, then actually Daniel was aware of many more sars than just these three, which would make the explanatory phrase “one of” all the more necessary.
Now we have to determine the apparent implication that this somehow means Jesus is the same as others. Though this may seem like the case, Daniel 12:1 settled the matter when it referred to Michael as the “great prince.” For example, you might have two managers in one office. One of them is a “great” manager, the other one not so great. In a company you can have all kinds of leaders, the CEO, the COO, supervisors, general managers, lead techs, etc. All are equal in the leadership sense, while some hold greater positions than others. This fits well with Young’s Literal Translation of the text which reads “first of the chief heads.” The point is that if Jesus is Michael a prince, Jesus is still greater than those other princes.12 I see no issues here. 13
Objection #3: Jesus would not be afraid of Satan: Because Jude 1:9 says that Michael “dared not bring against him a reviling accusation” it is supposed that this cannot be Jesus because Jesus is not afraid of Satan. But if Michael is not Jesus, doesn’t this imply that Michael is afraid of Satan? It seems to me like this argument is not very reasonable.
Actually, the text does say that Michael rebuked Satan, so no one is afraid of him. What he did not do was bring against him a “railing accusation.” Since this phrase quite literally means to slander,14 I expect Jesus not to act like a devil.15
Objection #4: Jesus was not speaking of himself in the third person: Another objection with regards to Jude 1:9 is that the title “Lord” refers to Jesus, and so Michael could not be Jesus because Jesus is not speaking of himself in the third person.
The argument fails to consider that the “Lord” in Jude 1:9 can be the Father, in which case he would not be referring to himself in the third person. Jesus himself addresses the Father as “Lord” several times. Two examples are Matthew 4:10 and Matthew 11:25.
Argument #5: Jesus is God, not an angel: To advance this objection critics will appeal to texts such as Hebrews 1:5-8 which make it clear that Jesus is not an angel. But these texts are speaking of angels as created beings, and of course, we do not believe that Jesus is a created being. The failure of this argument is to truly understand what Adventists actually believe. Unlike other religions, we do not believe that Jesus is Michael a created angelic being, but that Michael is simply another name for Jesus. To suggest that Michael the Archangel could be a portrayal of Jesus is not the same as saying Jesus Christ is a created angel named Michael. To be clear, Jesus is truly God, but often manifests himself under other names and titles such as Emmanual, David, the Captain of the Lord’s hosts, the Angel of the Lord and Michael the Archangel, none of which needs take away from his divinity.
Our study has revealed a couple of important facts about Michael the Archangel that I’d like to close by summarizing.
First, all five appearances of Michael in the bible reveals that he is much more than an angel. In Jude 1:9 there is a dispute that takes place between Michael and Satan over the body of Moses, who we know was resurrected to life (Matthew 17:3). 1 Thessalonians 4:16 and John 5:25, 28-29 reveal that Jesus is that archangel who raises the dead. Daniel 12:1 further connects Michael with Jesus when at the appearance of this archangel we again see a resurrection takes place.16 Moreover, Daniel 10:13 and 12:1 reveal that Michael is the first and greatest of all chief princes, while Daniel 10:21 and Revelation 12:7 reveals that Michael leads the angels and God’s people. Since we well know that it is Christ, and not an angel. who is the greatest of all princes, and that it is Christ, not an angel, who is the commander of both the heavenly and earthly hosts, the conclusion is that Michael is simply manifestations of Jesus under another name.
Second, the many appearances of the “angel of the Lord” in the Old Testament prove that Jesus is that angel. Each appearance is identified as God or “the Lord,” and in a few of them the prophets actually see him. Since no man has yet seen God (John 1:18, 1 John 4:12), the evidence suggests that this particular angel was Jesus Christ himself.
Finally, the various objections raised have not debunked these facts. Different usages of Hebrew words have not refute the doctrine, neither does the words “one of” in Daniel 10:13, since the very contexts helps us see why these words are present. The objection against Jude 1:9 fails as well, first because no holy Being would ever rebuke Satan in a sinful manner, and second because “Lord” in this text can and reasonably does refer to the Father, therefore Jesus is not speaking of himself in the third person.17 Lastly, the accusation against Seventh-day Adventists that we believe Jesus is a created angelic being simply shows a lack of truly understanding our position on this topic. Fundamental Belief #4 of our church clearly outlines that we believe Jesus was “Forever truly God.”18
The idea that the various appearances of Michael was actually Jesus should bring comfort to believers. Every time he shows up he is defending the church by fighting against the enemy of souls. Jesus, “who is like God,” shows us by his alternate name that it is no mere angel or man, but God himself, fighting for us.
1. Commenting on Daniel 12:1, Matthew Henry said, “Christ is that great prince, for he is the prince of the kings of the earth, Rev. 1:5. And, if he stand up for his church, who can be against it? But this is not all: At that time (that is, soon after) Michael shall stand up for the working out of our eternal salvation; the Son of God shall be incarnate, shall be manifested to destroy the works of the devil. Christ stood for the children of our people when he was made sin and a curse for them, stood in their stead as a sacrifice, bore the cure for them, to bear it from them. He stands for them in the intercession he ever lives to make within the veil, stands up for them, and stands their friend. And after the destruction of antichrist, of whom Antiochus was a type, Christ shall stand at the latter day upon the earth, shall appear for the complete redemption of all his.”
John Calvin, in his Commentaries on Daniel 7-12, expressed the possibility of Michael representing Jesus: “He adds next, Behold! Michael, one of the chief leaders or princes, came to strengthen me. Some think the word Michael represents Christ, and I do not object to this opinion. Clearly enough, if all angels keep watch over the faithful and elect, still Christ holds the first rank among them, because he is their head, and uses their ministry and assistance to defend all his people. But as this is not generally admitted, I leave it in doubt for the present, and shall say more on the subject in the twelfth chapter…” “By Michael many agree in understanding Christ as the head of the Church. But if it seems better to understand Michael as the archangel, this sense will prove suitable, for under Christ as the head, angels are the guardians of the Church. Whichever be the true meaning, God was the preserver of his Church by the hand of his only-begotten Son, and because the angels are under the government of Christ, he might entrust this duty to Michael.” Modern scholars also see the appearances of the “angel of the Lord” in the Old Testament as the pre-incarnate appearances of Jesus. In his 2007 book “What Does the Bible Say About…?” Dr. Ron Rhodes says, “I believe that theophanies in the Old Testament were actually preincarnate appearances of Christ. The principal theophany of the Old Testament is the Angel of the Lord (or, more literally, Angel of Yahweh).” (ibid, p. 125).
2. I will add that it seems like every time the Hebrew word sar appears in Daniel, it seems to be some kind of leadership or chief role. If this is so, then actually Daniel was aware of many more sars than just these three, which would make the explanatory phrase “one of” all the more necessary (for more on this, see Objection #2). There are other princes in the scriptures as well of which Daniel was most likely aware of. Joshua 5:14-15 describes a heavenly sar which Joshua worshiped. Daniel may or may not be aware of the fact that this sar is probably the Messiah as well. Other princes include Abraham (Genesis 23:6) and David (Ezekiel 34:24). Though the last two use a different Hebrew word, נָשִׂיא, it nevertheless holds the same basic meanings of prince, chief, ruler.
3. See Strong’s number G743.
4. Gabriel is also an angel of God but is never referred to by the title “angel of the Lord” or “captain of the Lord’s host.”
5. Some may have issue here because it was a pagan King who made these statements. However this does not change truth. Truth is true no matter who it comes from. King Solomon gathered various truths from what has now been identified as pagan authors whereby he was able to gather his words of wisdom into a book (Eccl. 12:9-11). We would not discard his teachings because of his sources. Balaam, though a prophet of God, decided to betray his cause for greed, and in this state of mind desired to curse the people. But God inspired him nonetheless, and he had to bless them (see Numbers 24). Similarly, Paul said that “no man” can confess that Jesus is Lord “except by the Holy Ghost” (1 Cor. 12:3). We must ever keep in mind that “all good gift and every perfect gift if from above” no matter who it may come through.
6. That is, the Lord’s heavenly army (Psalm 148:2).
7. See Strong’s H4397 at the following link: https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H4397&t=KJV. Interestingly, the word “theophanic” is used at this link, which according to the dictionary means “the appearance of God that, though visible, is not necessarily material.” The word is used because it is generally recognized by scholars that malak is used various times to describe the appearance of God. Refer back to my 7 examples for the evidence.
8. See: 2 Samuel 3:14, Ezekiel 23:16, Haggai 1:13.
9. I received this information from both Strong’s Hebrew Lexicon and Thayer’s Greek Lexicon using the online source blueletterbible.org.
10. See Genesis 32:28. Each name is closely connected to an event that transpired in his life, even though Jacob was given to him at birth. The name Jacob fits him well for seeking to supplant, or replace his brother Esau with himself in an effort to steal his birthright. But the name Israel is given to him after his night of wrestling with the mysterious divine Being while begging for a blessing.
11. See Acts 3:15, 5:31, Revelation 1:5.
12. It shouldn’t be strange, by the way, to say that Jesus is a prince among other princes. Wasn’t he a human among other humans? We read that “in all things He had to be made like His brethren” (Hebrews 2:14-17, NKJV) And yet, just as it does not take away from his divinity to say that he was a human among humans, so also it does not take away from his divinity to say that he was a prince among other princes. Afterall, isn’t he called the “prince of princes”? (Daniel 8:25).
13. The alternative view is that Michael is simply one archangel among other archangels. Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon does say that Michael was one of the “seven archangels” but Gesenius then put a question mark in parenthesis right next to his comment. The reason is quite obviously because the whole idea is not found in the bible. Thayer’s Greek Lexicon has this interesting commentary when defining the word archangel, “For the Jews after the exile distinguished several orders of angels, and some (as the author of the Book of Enoch, 9:1ff; cf. Dillmann at the passage, p. 97f) reckoned four angels (answering to the four sides of the throne of God) of the highest rank; but others, and apparently the majority (Tobit 12:15, where cf. Fritzsche; Revelation 8:2), reckoned seven (after the pattern of the seven Amshaspands, the highest spirits in the religion of Zoroaster).” Without having to debate the legitimacy of the book of Enoch, the idea of multiple archangels is derived from Pagan/Jewish sources outside of the Bible. The two times that the word “archangel” appears, they always include the definite article, “the voice of the archangel” “Michael the archangel.” There aren’t many archangels. There is only one.
14. The word “railing” is translated from the greek βλασφημία which is translated 16 times in the New Testament as “blasphemy.” In Ephesians 4:31 it is translated as “evil speaking” and Paul lists it among other sins which he warns must be “put away.” According to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, the word universally means to “slander, detraction, speech injurious to another’s good name,” the category of which Jude 1:9 falls into. Specifically, in the context of offending God, it means: “impious and reproachful speech injurious to the divine majesty.” βλασφημία comes from βλάσφημος which holds nearly the same meaning. It is found in 2 Peter 2:9-11 as a sin committed by evil people contrasted with how holy beings act.
15. Recall the parallel with Zechariah 3:2 and the fact that it is “the LORD” that does the rebuking.
16. Some Adventist theologians identify the resurrection of Daniel 12:1 as what is known as a “special resurrection” which takes place just moments prior to the second coming of Christ. It’s purpose is to fulfill Jesus’ words that Caiaphas and those who pierced him would see him coming in the clouds (compare Matthew 26:65 with Revelation 1:7). However I am not trying to identify which resurrection Daniel 12:1 speaks of. I am simply saying that resurrections takes place only at the command and appearances of Jesus and not a mere angel.
17. Even though speaking in the third person would not create a problem either since Jesus often spoke in the third person throughout the New Testament. See for example Matthew 24:30 and Mark 14:61-62.
18. Find the list of the 27 Fundamental Beliefs at www.adventist.org.