Who Is Michael the Archangel?
By Jason Wright
A unique doctrine of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (WBTS) concerns the nature and origin of Jesus Christ. The Society asserts that our Lord Jesus Christ in his heavenly capacity is actually the Archangel Michael, an all-powerful created being second only to the creator, Jehovah.
This article will examine the claim and explore the various scriptures, which may or may not confirm this belief. Our analysis will begin with an up to date quotation from “JW.org” which explains who they believe the Archangel Michael to be.
Oftentimes Watchtower publications employ words that appear to outsiders as innocuous but which convey to a Jehovah’s Witness a technically specific idea. One such term is the phrase “spirit creature” which is employed to describe super-human beings. In this article we will explore how this unique Watchtower phrase influences the Jehovah’s Witness’ understanding of Jesus’ nature and substance which in turn ontologically permits the interpretation that Jesus is the Archangel Michael.
Only after locating and comprehending the antecedent concepts at work in Watchtower theology will we be able to then go on and accurately critique their specific proof texts. In this article our main points of enquiry will be:
- The meaning and concept of “spirit creature”
- Jesus’ nature and substance as it relates to “spirit creature” and biblical revelation
- Watchtower proof texts used to support the notion that Michael is Jesus
Overall it will be argued that Jesus is not the Archangel Michael and in this respect the Watchtower Society is guilty of eisegesis.
The Archangel Michael
The official position of Jehovah’s Witnesses is as follows:
“THE spirit creature called Michael is not mentioned often in the Bible. However, when he is referred to, he is in action. In the book of Daniel, Michael is battling wicked angels; in the letter of Jude, he is disputing with Satan; and in Revelation, he is waging war with the Devil and his demons. By defending Jehovah’s rulership and fighting God’s enemies, Michael lives up to the meaning of his name—“Who Is Like God?” But who is Michael?
At times, individuals are known by more than one name. For example, the patriarch Jacob is also known as Israel, and the apostle Peter, as Simon. (Genesis 49:1, 2; Matthew 10:2) Likewise, the Bible indicates that Michael is another name for Jesus Christ, before and after his life on earth. Let us consider scriptural reasons for drawing that conclusion.
Archangel. God’s Word refers to Michael “the archangel.” (Jude 9) This term means “chief angel.” Notice that Michael is called the archangel. This suggests that there is only one such angel. In fact, the term “archangel” occurs in the Bible only in the singular, never in the plural. Moreover, Jesus is linked with the office of archangel. Regarding the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ, 1 Thessalonians 4:16 states: “The Lord himself will descend from heaven with a commanding call, with an archangel’s voice.” Thus the voice of Jesus is described as being that of an archangel. This scripture therefore suggests that Jesus himself is the archangel Michael.
Army Leader. The Bible states that “Michael and his angels battled with the dragon . . . and its angels.” (Revelation 12:7) Thus, Michael is the leader of an army of faithful angels. Revelation also describes Jesus as the leader of an army of faithful angels. (Revelation 19:14-16) And the apostle Paul specifically mentions “the Lord Jesus” and “his powerful angels.” (2 Thessalonians 1:7) So the Bible speaks of both Michael and “his angels” and Jesus and “his angels.” (Matthew 13:41; 16:27; 24:31; 1 Peter 3:22) 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.”
“Interestingly the title “Archangel” is used in the Bible with reference to only one person: Jesus Christ”
The explanation above begins by introducing Michael as a spirit creature. It is important at this juncture to take an excursus into what exactly the Watchtower Society is trying to convey by their employment of this term. Firstly, the term “spirit creature” is not a biblical one, yet Jehovah’s Witnesses employ it to describe all non-human entities. Therefore demons and angels are all classed as “spirit creatures”.
To add to the confusion “spirit creatures” are also defined as being “divine” or possessing “deity”. According to the WBTS such superlatives are not the sole prerogative of God but can be loosely applied to superhuman spirit creatures. Therefore to describe Jesus as “divine” translates in the mind of Jehovah’s Witnesses to mean “a god” among many “gods” but not “the God” – surely an example of henotheism?
A proof text used by the Watchtower Society to undergird this concept of god-like, superhuman “spirit creatures” is Psalm 104:4 The NWT translates the Hebrew:
“He makes his angels spirits,
His ministers a consuming fire.”
The writer of Hebrews (using the LXX) then quotes this psalm and highlights a secondary meaning in Hebrews 1:7; 14:
“Of the angels he says, “He makes his angels winds (pneuma), and his ministers a flame of fire…Are they not all ministering spirits (pneuma) sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?” (ESV)
Instead of being sovereign, the angels or ‘spirit creatures’ are called servants. By describing the angels as “winds” (spirits) the psalmist was drawing attention to their nature, invisibility, power, and role as servants of a higher power. As flames of fire they are God’s agents of judgment and illumination. Wind and fire were also symbols of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament. They were appropriate designations of both the Holy Spirit and angels because both served the Father in similar ways as His servants. Angels are thus ontologically spiritual substances and as such are created beings. If applying Watchtower logic it stands to reason that if the Archangel Michael is Jesus, then Jesus must be a “spirit creature”
Despite the Watchtowers conclusion, the writer of Hebrews wishes to convey the total opposite viz. Jesus is NOT a created angel. Consequently even though the angels are as swift as wind and as powerful as fire, they are nevertheless inferior to the Son.
“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.” Hebrews 1:5-6 (ESV)
If Jesus is a “spirit creature” how can he be worshipped? The scripture says ALL angels worship Jesus. If Jesus is an angel how can he worship himself? You see, Jesus not only stands at a higher position than the angels, he is ontologically different from the angels! In fact Jesus shares the same nature as the Father making him God of God. 
“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.” Hebrews 1:3a (ESV)
Do these pericopes describe Jesus as a “spirit creature” on the same level as angels? Of course not, Jesus is described as “the radiance of the Father’s glory.” The Greek word apaugasma, translated “radiance,” refers to what shines out from the source of light. How can a “spirit creature” radiate the glory of God or how can an angel no matter how superior “uphold the universe”?
Furthermore Jesus is described as the “exact imprint of his [father’s] nature. The Greek word charakter, translated “representation,” occurs only here in the New Testament. Greek writers used it to describe the emperor’s picture on Roman coins and the clear-cut impression made by a seal (a facsimile). It did not express a general likeness but an exact duplication of the original.”
“But of the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom…And, “You, Lord, (YHWH) laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands; but you are the same, and your years will have no end.” Hebrews 1:8, 10, 12b (ESV)
Herein the writer of Hebrews quotes Psalm 45:1-6 which is a reference to Yahweh (Jehovah). He then transfers the Psalmists attributes of Yahweh to Jesus, in so doing he acknowledges the Son to be Yahweh the creator of heaven and earth, the eternal God.
Moreover “worship” language is evidenced in Revelation 5:13-14 where the Lamb of God (Jesus) is worshiped by every creature in heaven and earth, under the earth and in the sea, including the four living creatures. Together they cry out:
“To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.”
Clearly Jesus cannot be the Archangel Michael, nor can he be a “spirit creature”, because all creation worships him who is in the bosom position with the Father. Therefor Jesus can be none other than God the Son (John 1:18).
Our conclusion is emphatic; Jesus is NOT a created “angel” or a “spirit creature”, rather Jesus is the incarnate and ascended Son of God as scripture affirms – he is God of God.
Watchtower Proof Texts
However, the Watchtower ignores the high Christology in the first chapter of Hebrews and the evidence in Revelation. Instead they reduce Jesus nature down to that of an angel; unworthy of worship. Linking Michael with Jesus they claim “Michael is another name for Jesus Christ, before and after his life on earth”. Let us examine the proof texts proposed.
“But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” Jude 1:9 (ESV)
Leaving out any theological bias, wherein does this verse identify Jesus as Michael? All we have is a statement that Michael is the archangel. No more, no less. Furthermore, Jude notes that Michael was unable to rebuke Satan. Following this reasoning if Jesus is the Archangel Michael he is actually unable to rebuke Satan. Yet we find Jesus doing exactly that; rebuking Satan!
“You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” John 8:44 (ESV)
In relation to “rebuking Satan” a pericope you may wish to discuss with Jehovah’s Witnesses is Zechariah 3:1b-2. It reads:
“And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before The angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him…And the LORD (YHWH) said unto Satan, The LORD (YHWH) rebuke thee, O Satan; even the LORD (YHWH) that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee”. (KJV)
Notice that here there are two Yahweh’s speaking. Either we have a schizophrenic god, two gods (which would be polytheism) or we have here the embryonic revelation of a triune being, viz. the Angel of the Lord (Jesus) in conversation with his Father. We call this a Christophany. How then does the Watchtower escape the inevitable implications? Simple; they add to the original pericope.
“And he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of Jehovah, and Satan was standing at his right hand to resist him. Then the angel of Jehovah said to Satan: “May Jehovah rebuke you, O Satan, yes, may Jehovah, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! (NWT)
Notice the title “LORD” which refers to Yahweh/Jehovah is expanded to include the alien words “the angel of” (the LORD). Sadly your average Jehovah’s Witness will be unaware of such textual manipulation. The result is to hide the mind-blowing pre-incarnate (Christophany) of Jesus as LORD, a truth, which would instantly debunk the notion that Jesus is a spirit creature and in turn forestall the theory: “Michael is Jesus”.
Our next WT proof text is 1 Thessalonians 4:16. The society asserts “the term “archangel” occurs in the Bible only in the singular, never in the plural. Moreover, Jesus is linked with the office of archangel.”
“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.” (NWT)
“For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.” (ESV)
What does this pericope state?
- The Lord (Jesus) descends from heaven
- With the cry of command
- The voice of an archangel
- With the sound of the trumpet of God
Watchtower logic goes something like this: Jude 1:9 identifies Michael as the Archangel. Therefore any biblical reference to archangel must refer to Michael. Jesus is said to descend from heaven with the voice of an archangel. Therefore, Jesus must be the archangel Michael.
Not only is this circular reasoning it is blatant eisegesis. “Just because an archangel’s voice accompanies Jesus’ return does mean that He, Himself, is the archangel; especially when He is never designated as such in all of Scripture. Furthermore, we would not argue that Jesus is God’s trumpet any more than we would argue that He is the archangel mentioned here.”  Clearly if the Watchtower understood Jesus true nature such linkage would be impossible.
The Watchtowers final argument is yet another logical fallacy. They reason that Michael has angels under his authority (Revelation 12:7); likewise Jesus has angels under his authority (Revelation 19:14-16; 2 Thessalonians 1:7). Both Jesus and Michael are leaders of heavenly armies and the Bible does not talk of two armies only one. “It is logical to conclude that Michael is none other than Jesus Christ in his heavenly role.” Is it? Let us examine this reasoning more carefully.
There is no confusion between Michael and his angels and Jesus and His angles. Michael the archangel (Jude 9) is the leader of God’s angelic army. He is Israel’s special patron (Dan. 10:13, 21; 12:1). He evidently holds a high rank among the un-fallen angels, such as Satan does among the fallen. John saw him engaged in battle with Satan and his angels, the demons. Michael battled with Satan in the past (Jude 9), and will do so in the future (Revelation 12:7-9).
Jesus and his angels relates to events concerning Jesus’ second advent to earth, the millennial kingdom, and final consummation (Matthew 13:41; 16:27; 24:31). An angelic army led by Jesus would naturally include Michael the Archangel who is subservient to his LORD and God Jesus. It’s a bit like a king giving orders to his generals. The generals are given the power to control armies but are ultimately answerable to their sovereign king, who could assume direct control over his armies at any time (1 Peter 3:22; Matthew 28:18)
Unfortunately the Watchtower Society appears oblivious to these facts. Their interpretive error really boils down to poor methodology and theological bias. Devoid of any rules of interpretation the Society is at liberty to cobble together scriptures in order to make bold unqualified assertions. To show the folly of trying to link out of context phrases let us examine Daniel 10:13 which reads:
“The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days, but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I was left there with the kings of Persia” (ESV).
Notice that Michael is called one of many chief princes. Where else does the Bible refer to others of this rank? Well, Gog of Magog (aka Satan) is called a “chief Prince” (Ezekiel 38:2-3; 39:1) and let us not forget “Abijah the son of Maacah” who is also described as a “chief Prince” (2 Chronicles 11:22). Furthermore, Jesus is called the “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). Following Watchtower logic, we may ask the question; could all these princes be the same prince? In fact, could these various Princes actually be Jesus in different guises? After all, Jesus is called a prince.
I trust you can discern my irony. My point here is to underscore the pure folly of linking phrases and words together in order to support a preconceived idea. You simply cannot cherry pick scripture in this way without first considering the contextual, historical, and grammatical situation. Clearly there are various descriptions of “chief princes” and not all are the same person. Similarly, because Michael is given authority over other angels it does not follow that he is Jesus.
Additionally, Daniel (Chapter 10) presents a terrifying vision of a great angel in verses 5-6. Whatever his true identity what is clear is this one was great. Verse 13 tells us that Michael comes to help this great one. Why is this so important? The one that Michael helps is by very definition greater and more resplendent than Michael himself; there is someone greater than Michael in God’s Kingdom; he is not the one great archangel as the Watchtower assumes.
Furthermore, unlike Michael who is only one of the “chief princes”, Jesus’ New Testament title proclaims that Jesus is “King of Kings and Lord of Lords” (Revelation 17:14; 19:16). Where does this phrase come from? None other than Yahweh himself:
“For Jehovah your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords.” Deuteronomy 10:17 (NWT)
“Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his loyal love endures forever.” Psalm 136:3 (NWT)
The Apostle Paul declares to Timothy:
“He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords.” 1 Timothy 6:15 (ESV)
The Apostle John declares:
“They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful…On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.” Revelation 17:14; 19:16 (ESV)
Clearly Jesus is not a created angel (spirit creature) called Michael, he is in fact none other than the creator God – the Word who became flesh – Very God of very God, the King of Kings, Lord over all (John 1:1; Colossians 2:9).
The WBTS has created a false dichotomy. They begin with the preconceived idea that Jesus is a created “spirit creature”. They ignore all contrary evidence and insist that Jesus is simply God the Father’s agent. From this position of denial it is almost natural to locate verses of scripture which further veil Jesus’ true identity.
As an organization claiming to interpret scripture accurately and objectively, nothing could be further from the truth. The evidence above proves the Watchtower Society is intellectually dishonest. The Society has no methodology to safeguard against error. Instead anonymous individuals arbitrarily take isolated, unrelated pericope, and force them to say something the original authors never intended. Translational corruption is the order of the day, no text is sacred, but the word of God suffers violence at the hands of Watchtower interpreters as they seek to maintain their peculiar theological ideas.
Who is Michael the Archangel? – He is Michael the Archangel! – Nothing more and nothing less. The meaning of his name poses a poignant question; “Who is like God”? Certainly not Michael, he is a “ministering servant” of Jesus Christ, and with all the other angels of heaven, Michael “worships Jesus” as God (Hebrews 1:5-7).
Who is Jesus? He is very God of very God. He is the “exact imprint” of his Father. He proceeds from God and possesses the same nature as God. Hence he is called the Son of God. Jesus titles are drawn from Yahweh himself because Jesus is the Great I AM (John 8:24) the Word of God come in the flesh (John 1:1; 14; 18).
Dear reader, it is imperative that you understand that the authentic Jesus of Scripture is YOUR God and YOUR Savior. He loves YOU. He came to earth to die for YOUR sin. Jesus has paid the price of YOUR debt. He offers YOU eternal life, not through serving the Watchtower Society but through faith in him.
“Whoever believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:15-16 (ESV)
No catches, no hidden agenda; rather pure, unadulterated, unconditional love for YOU – A gracious merciful Savior who is calling YOU this day – be reconciled to God.
If you are a Jehovah’s Witness or former Witness I urge you to lay aside your Watchtower Bible and publications. Lay aside your preconceived ideas. Lay aside your religious hatred. Get yourself a good modern Bible translation, or several, and start reading the pure unadulterated word of God. Start in the Gospel of Matthew and ask Jehovah to reveal to you the real Jesus. You will not be disappointed.
May the LORD shine his face upon you and bring you peace.
 Seventh Day Adventists believe the title Michael applies to Jesus in his pre-incarnate role. Depending on the branch of Adventism some deny Jesus is God. See: http://www.sdanet.org/atissue/books/qod/q08.htm Interestingly some Christians, including John Calvin and Matthew Henry, have linked Jesus and Michael. (See their commentaries on Daniel 12:1–4). However, unlike the Jehovah’s Witnesses, neither believed Jesus to be a created being. Rather, Calvin & Henry believed that Michael was another name for the Angel of the Lord.
https://answersingenesis.org/jesus-christ/incarnation/theophanies-in-the-old-testament/ Such conclusions are possible explanations but I personally feel uncomfortable with assigning Jesus the name Michael for reasons that I hope this article will make clear.
 Eisegesis means reading into a text an idea that is alien to the original author. In order to avoid eisegesis Protestant scholars have – for centuries – adopted a method of interpretation known as the historical-critical method. This method gives consideration to the original historical setting of the author and audience (Sitz-im-Leben) as well as grammatical context. I will employ this method to exegete the pericope under consideration.
 This argument is a red herring. Just because biblical characters had more than one name is not evidence for Jesus being Michael. However, it does set the reader up to accept the assertion.
 Revelation its Grand Climax at Hand, WBTS New York 1988, p. 181.
 In the book of Ezekiel (1:19-21; 10:17) the prophet had a vision of a chariot-like structure apparently controlled by “living creatures” and able to move in all directions.
“Wherever the spirit wanted to go, they went, and the wheels rose along with them, for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels…for the spirit (ruach) of the living creatures was in the wheels.” vv. 20-21b (ESV)
Notice “the creatures and the wheels always moved or rested together regardless of the direction in which they moved because the Spirit controlled them.” The creatures were controlled by God’s spirit.
Similar “living creatures” are spoken of throughout the apocalypse (Revelation 4:6; 5:11; 19:14); these too are apparently controlled by the Holy Spirit “with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth” (Revelation 5:6). Clearly the living creatures are spirit led but they should not be categorized as spirit creatures. Such a term – unless qualified – misleads the reader.
 Henotheism (Greek ἑνας θεός henas theos “one god”) is the belief in and worship of a single god while accepting the existence or possible existence of other deities that may also be served. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henotheism
 The genre of literature is poetic. To understand the verse in context we must look at the surrounding verses, viz. vv. 1-4. Herein the “writer pictured God creating the heavens. Splendor and majesty clothe God in the sense that they manifest Him as clothing makes a statement about the person who wears it. Light is good because it brings life and blessing. God created the sky as a tent above man’s head. The writer pictured God building a loft for Himself beyond the water above, namely, above the clouds. Riding on the clouds and wind symbolize God’s majestic authority.” This poetic language continues into v. 4 wherein Angels are said to “do His bidding as wind and fire carry out the will of God on earth”.
 Dr. Thomas L. Constable, Notes on Hebrews 2012 Edition p. 15
 There is a danger here of confusing “spiritual substance”, which is a biblically accurate definition, to describe a body fit for heavenly life with the watchtowers “spirit creature” which encompasses ideas alien to that of a “spiritual body” i.e. deity, divinity, and “god-like”.
 The antecedent error of the Watchtower Society is their insistence that only God the Father is Jehovah. In turn all other heavenly beings, other than the Father, must out of semantic necessity be lesser-created beings, including Jesus.
 The phrase “God of God” means that a person came from a person (like an offspring from a parent) and therefore is of the same nature. It is analogous to the phrase “Human of Human,” That is, a human offspring of a human parent. Jesus is by nature God as he comes from God and shares the Father’s nature.
 Dr. Thomas L. Constable, Notes on Hebrews 2012 Edition p. 9
 This Greek word προσεκύνησαν indicates not only a body position but also an attitude and activity of reverence or honor. See definition in: Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: Based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition.). New York: United Bible Societies.
 Notice the NWT identifies only a trumpet and fails to note that the Greek word σάλπιγγι carries the sense of trumpet sound. Ibid.
 There is no safeguard to this conclusion, as they already believe Jesus to be a created “spirit creature”.
 Many commentators believe this refers to Jesus return with both the saints (glorified Christians) as well as angelic forces. “Angels will accompany Jesus Christ at His second coming (Matt. 13:41; 16:27; 24:30-31; Mark 8:38; Luke 9:26; 2 Thess. 1:7), but it seems unlikely that they are the ones on horses. Rather these seem to be human beings (cf. 17:14; 21:2-7; Zech. 14:5). Their dress connects them with the Lamb’s bride (v. 8)” (Notes on Revelation 2012 Edition Dr. Thomas L. Constable, p. 175)