Is Jesus the Archangel Michael?

One of the distinctives of the Jehovah’s Witnesses is their belief that Jesus is not God but is rather the archangel Michael.  They derive this from the following passage.

“For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call and with the sound of God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16)

The thought is: how could Jesus come with the voice or call of the archangel if Jesus was not the archangel?  It could be questioned as to why Jesus’ identity is defined by the call of the archangel and not the trumpet of God.  But aside from that, for Jehovah’s Witnesses to get to this point, they have to make some questionable assumptions.

First of all, they assume that Michael is the only archangel and that uniqueness fits well with Jesus’ uniqueness.  It is true that Michael is the only angel described as an archangel in the Bible (of course Gabriel is the only other angel given a name so the competition is not that fierce).  But the Bible must be interpreted in its Jewish context.  In the Jewish world at the time, there were a number of archangels including Michael, Gabriel, Uriel, Raphael and others.  Should we take these Jewish apocalyptic ideas seriously if they are not directly from the Bible?  We should keep in mind that Jude was willing to quote from the Pseudepigrapha (1 Enoch and Assumption of Moses), including a tradition about Michael.

Even if Michael is the only archangel, there is still a problem: he is an angel.  This is a problem because of the following passage speaking of Jesus:

“He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.” (Hebrews 1:3-4)

The author of Hebrews then goes on to quote various passages of the Old Testament to demonstrate the difference between Jesus and the angels.  Jehovah’s Witnesses respond by saying that he is not an angel, he is an archangel, that is the head of the angels.  The Greek arche can mean “beginning, first, origin, ruling power, authority.”  Technically it can mean “head” but the emphasis is not on its distinctiveness from what it is ruling over.  For example, archipoimen means chief shepherd, but he is still a shepherd, he just happens to be the one in charge.  Also, we have archiereus, which is the high priest.  No one would argue that the high priest was not a priest but only a man in charge of the priests.  The high priest is a priest with certain responsibilities.  So with the archangel, Michael is still an angel, he just happens to be an angel with a very important role.  As long as we take the book of Hebrews seriously, it is impossible to accept Jesus as being the archangel Michael.

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13 thoughts on “Is Jesus the Archangel Michael?”

  1. Isn’t it stated somewhere that the names given for the angels are actually of Babylonian origin, incorporated in Judaism? I remeber something from a Rabbi Lakish (or maybe Lankish) from around 200 AD stating that the angels have no earthly names and the names now associated with them are of pagan origin. He especially mentions Uriel I think. Hmm maybe I should have researched a little before posting this 🙂

  2. That would be interesting to look into. I can’t imagine that they are completely pagan/Babylonian as they have the traditional Hebrew name for God ‘El’ in them. I realize that El itself has pagan origins but by the time the names of the angels are discussed, it was very solidly Hebrew. Only Michael and Gabriel are found in the Old Testament and then only in Daniel. It is reasonable to assume that angels true names are not in Hebrew but that they were called these names in the Bible because the Hebrew names describe their nature and role.

  3. 16. Because the Lord Himself shall come down from Heaven with a commanding shout of an archangel’s voice, and with God’s trumpet. And the dead in Christ will rise again first. Thessalonians 4:16 Greens Literal Translation

    Now lets see what Christ said when He was on Earth.

    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. John 5:25-29

  4. Thank you for your comment. I agree that we must focus on what the Bible says. Let us look closely at the 1 Thess 4:16 passage. Is it really saying that Jesus is doing all three of these things himself at the same time? Does this mean that Jesus is both an archangel and God? It may very well be that the cry of command is the voice of Jesus that initiates the resurrection. The voice of the archangel and the trump of God would then be an announcement from heaven that Jesus has returned. Check out Revelation 19:17 where it says that an angel speaks at the return of Jesus and this angel is not described as the archangel.

  5. is it because there are two commanding call that will be happened one for the 144,000 and one for the peopel who has earthly hope.

  6. I don’t think there are two commanding calls, and I don’t see any with reference to the 144,000. Any way, I do not see two groups, one with an earthly hope and the other with a heavenly hope. I take the 144,000 as a symbol of the church. The church’s ultimate destiny to inhabit the new earth. If, as Revelation states, God will come to earth to be with his people, there is no point of anyone having a heavenly hope as no one will be home.

  7. I believe there are two commanding calls that will happen first is for the 144,000 who will rule as king s in heaven together with Jesus and the second one is the resurrection of the people who will have chance to live on 1000 years and after that the gift of acquiring the eternal life. See my blogs under Future Rulers of The World – Who Are They? at http://www.fromthesunrising.wordpress.com and also other articles there. 1 Thessalonians 4:16 says the people who are in union with Christ will “RISE FIRST”. Why there is a word rise first?Revelation 20:4 And I saw thrones, and there were those who sat down on them, and power of judging was given them. Yes, I saw the souls of those executed with the ax for the witness they bore to Jesus and for speaking about God, and those who had worshiped neither the wild beast nor its image and who had not received the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand. And they came to life and ruled as kings with the Christ for a thousand years. 5 (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. 6 Happy and holy is anyone having part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no authority, but they will be priests of God and of the Christ, and will rule as kings with him for the thousand years. This means the first resurrection is for the heavenly rulers.

  8. You have to read the entire passage in 1 Thessalonians 4. Paul is dealing with an issue where some Christians are afraid that those followers of Jesus who have died before he returns will have missed out on what God has for them. Paul reassures them that is not the case. When Jesus returns, the dead in Christ will rise first and then those Christians who are still alive will meet with the Lord. It has nothing to do with two groups ruling in two different places. It is literally a matter of life and death.

    Also, there are not two kingdoms, one in heaven and one on earth. There are those who are in heaven now, but the ultimate destiny of every believer is to be resurrected and to live on the new earth. Read Revelation 21 and see that even God comes to dwell on earth.

  9. Yeah, I know there is only kingdom. I haven’t eddited it yet. But there are really people that will go in heaven and other are on this earth. 1 Corinthians 15:35,40.It says there that the BEAUTY OF HEAVENLY BODIES IS DIFFERENT FROM THE BEAUTY OF EARTHLY BODIES.Why is that?It is because there are two kinds of body that the people will acquire. There are heavenly hope and earthly hope. The little flock and the great crowd. It cannot be all will be on earth. There are 144,000 chosen people that will rule as kings together with Jesus. I guess you must read the supporting verses of my article regarding 144,000. I thought the Jehovah’s Witnesses is the only church who believe on life and death. You also believe on that.That’s good. With regards to God that will dwelt on earth, I dont think so he will literally dwell on earth. His kingdom is in heaven.That is not be understood literally. Even before, he said that he is in his people.Would it mean he is on earth.Not really. Even today, we can say that God is in his people.If not, the word of God wouldnt be possible to acquire by other people.Spirits and flesh cannot be together. They have their own place to be.

  10. If you will insist of your thought, it will violate the fact that there is 1000 years first before the people will acquire the eternal life. See my blog under The Dead People That Will Be Judged. You will see that after the resurrection it is not time yet that they will acquire the gift of eternal life. They must prove it first to Jehovah that they are deserving one.That is why in Revelation it says that those who belong to first resurrection are lucky because the death will not rule over them but rather they will become kings on heaven together with Jesus for 1000 years. Who will they rule?Of course the people on earth that will be resurrected. One proof of those who have heavenly hope is this. Not all can be like this. 1 Corinthian 6:2, 3. Romans 16:20. Only those who belong to 144,000 have the right to fulfill this duty and not all the people that will resurrected. I hope you got it.Thanks.

  11. I really do not think that you are taking the statement in Revelation about God coming to earth very seriously. It seems to be quite literal and not just an image or the way we speak of God’s presence today. Read the passage over a couple times and pray about it. Remember, what is important is not what a religious organization (including my own) says but what the Bible says.

    Regarding the resurrections, 1 Thess. does not speak of two resurrections. It says the dead in Christ are raised (this seems to be the first resurrection of Revelation) and then those Christians who are alive at Jesus’ coming will be brought to him. The second resurrection of Revelation seems to be the resurrection of unbelievers that happens much later as you state.

  12. “He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word. “When he had made purification for sins”, (SO THAT IS AFTER HE DIED ON THE CROSS) he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having BECOME as much superior to angels as the name he has INHERITED is more excellent than theirs.” (Hebrews 1:3-4).
    praise god because the scripture you used to prove your point as been used to CORRECT your thoughts.
    thruth be told-

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