Bible Translation and Study 

Who is the Archangel Michael?

Some critics get very upset about Jehovah's Witnesses' teaching that the Archangel Michael and Jesus are the same person.   Is this idea supported in the Bible?

Michael is mentioned five times in the Bible. Here are the references. All scripture citations in this essay are from the King James Version.

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.

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 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.

Jude 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.

Revelation 12:7-9 - And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

One site, critical of Jehovah's Witnesses, says: "in all of these verses nothing remotely hints to Jesus being Michael".  Is that the case?

What can we learn from the above verses about Michael?

  • He is “one of the chief princes”. (Hebrew: sarim)

  • He helped an angel stand against the 'prince of the kingdom of Persia'.

  • He is referred to as “Michael your Prince” (the 'your' being plural in Hebrew)

  • He will be 'standing for the children of [Daniel's] people.

  • He will 'stand up' just before the greatest ever 'time of trouble'.

  • He is called 'the archangel'

  • He contended with the devil.

  • He did not dare bring about a 'railing accusation'.

  • He left it to God to rebuke the devil.

  • He has 'his angels'.

  • He battled against the devil.

  • He threw the devil and his angels out of heaven.


What other references are there to an archangel in the Bible?

 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: (This is the only other reference to an archangel in the Bible.)


 What Some Commentators Have Said

Many who criticise Jehovah's Witnesses for their views don't realise that  a number of Protestant sources agree with the Witness position.

John Calvin“As we stated yesterday, Michael may mean an angel; but I embrace the opinion of those who refer this to the person of Christ, because it suits the subject best to represent him as standing forward for the defense of his elect people.” - John Calvin. (See Calvin's writings online at

“Michael - Christ alone is the protector of his church, when all the princes of the earth desert or oppose it.” - John Wesley's commentary on Daniel 10:21. (See Wesley's writings online at

 “a) The angel here notes two things: first that the Church will be in great affliction and trouble at Christ's coming, and next that God will send his angel to deliver it, whom he here calls Michael, meaning Christ, who is proclaimed by the preaching of the Gospel.” - Geneva Bible Commentary. (See


Putting the Pieces together

  • Michael will 'stand up'.  Note that in verses 2, 3, 21 those standing up are said to be kings.  Likewise, Michael's 'standing up' in Daniel 12:1 is appropriate, because he, too, is a King.  Daniel 7:13, 14 foretell how the 'Son of Man' - Christ - would become a King.

  • When Michael 'stands up' a time of distress begins.  This time - mentioned in Daniel 12:1 is indisputably the 'great tribulation' referred to in Matthew 24:21.  The language used shows there can be only one such event.  Jesus told of this great tribulation in answer to the disciples' question: “What shall be the sign of thy [i.e. Jesus'] coming and the end of the world?” (Matthew 24:3).  This is a very strong indication that Michael is Jesus.  When Michael 'stands up', Christ 'comes', and then there is a 'great tribulation'.

  • Whose angels - Michael's or Christ's?
  • Revelation 12:7 refers to 'Michael and his angels.'  Similarly, “the Son of Man shall send forth his angels” (Matthew 13:41), the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels (Matthew 16:27); “he [the Son of Man] shall send his angels” (Matthew 24:31).  2 Thessalonians 1:7 tells us that: the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels.” The fact that this expression ('his angels') is used with regard to both Michael and Christ, strongly suggests that they are one and the same.

  • Michael is “the great Prince” (Daniel 12:1) or “your [Israel's] Prince” (Daniel 10:21); also “one of the chief princes” (Daniel 10:13).  The Hebrew term sar, prince, is used prophetically of the Messiah in Isaiah 9:6, 7. 

  • Michael is the Prince “which standeth for the children of [Daniel's] people”, i.e. Israel.  This identifies him with the “captain [Hebrew: sar] of the host of the LORD” who met Joshua (Joshua 5:14).  Jehovah's Witnesses and evangelical Bible commentators alike agree that this was the prehuman Word of God.

  • The fact that Michael is “one of the chief princes” (Daniel 10:13) does not rule out his being Christ in his prehuman existence.  It does not even preclude his being unique, as some critics claim!  Why should all princes have equal rank?  England's Prince Charles doesn't have the same rank as Prince Andrew or Edward!  'Princes' (plural) implies at least two.  Since God himself is called “the Prince of the host” and “the Prince of princes” (Daniel 8:11, 25),  there is no reason why the two “chief princes” should not be God and Christ.

  • The fact that Michael 'disputed about the body of Moses with the devil', presumably during the lifetime of Joshua, also strongly indicates that he was the 'captain of the host of the LORD' referred to in Joshua 5:14.

  • The fact that he did not dare 'bring against [the devil] a railing accusation' does not prove that Michael is not Christ.    True, Christ did rebuke the demons, but he certainly did not bring about 'railing accusations' against them.  The Greek κρισιν βλασφημιας (krisin blasphemias) has been rendered 'slanderous judgment' (Analytical-Literal Translation), 'abusive condemnation' (Amplified Bible), 'insulting words' (Good News Translation), 'slanderous accusation'  (New International Version). Michael refused to lower himself to the level of the opposers mentioned in Jude's letter, who did dare  to bring 'railing accusations' against those who deserved glory.    In fact, he would not even resort to abusive speech against the devil himself.  That is all.

  • The word 'archangel' means chief angel.  The word is only used in the singular in the Bible - in connection with Michael and with Christ.  This strongly suggests that they are the same person.

  • The fact that Strong's Dictionary calls Gabriel an 'archangel' is neither here nor there, because the Bible doesn't! 

  • The fact that Daniel 10:13 in An American Translation and Moffat's translation uses the expression 'one of the archangels' is likewise irrelevant, because the Hebrew does not say 'archangels,' but rather 'chief [or first] princes'. 

  • Jesus will “descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel” (1 Thessalonians 4:16).    As Hal Flemings commented: “If Jesus is not the archangel in this event and he is superior to the archangel, then why would he perform this act as though he was someone of lower rank? Wouldn't he be using an archangel's voice because he is an archangel?”

  • It is really straining the sense of 1 Thessalonians 4:16 to say that he is just accompanied by an archangel, who calls out.  When we say: “He ran in with a shout,” we understand that it is the same person who is running and shouting!  If you say: “He walked in with a trumpet blast,” on the other hand, you are not implying that it is he who was blowing the trumpet (although he might be).  The two cases are clearly different.
    According to 1 Thessalonians 4:16, the dead are raised  when they hear the archangel's voice.  But John 5:28 states that the voice they hear is Christ's!

  • A reasonably close parallel to 'εν φωνη αρχαγγελου, en phone archangelou' (with an/the archangel's voice) in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 is at 2 Peter 2:16: “the dumb ass speaking with man's voice”. Here we have 'εν φωνη, en phone' (with the/a voice) together with a genitive.  The donkey was speaking with a man's voice - but it was the donkey that was speaking, not a man nearby.  Likewise, in all other cases where 'en phone' is used in the NT, the voice in question always belongs to the subject of the sentence, not some unspecified third person. - See Revelation 5:2; 14:7, 9; 18:1.

  • When the archangel's voice is heard, “the dead in Christ shall rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:16).  But John 5:28, 29 tells us: “all that are in the graves shall hear his [Christ's, not just any angel's] voice and shall come forth.”  Both verses use the Greek word φωνη phone - once for the archangel's voice, once for the Son of Man's voice, following which the resurrection takes place.  One voice, not two, is heard.  Logically, then, we must conclude that there is one voice because there is one person.

  • When Revelation 12 says that Michael and his angels fought with the devil and his angels,Matthew Henry throwing them out of heaven, this is a clear reference to Jesus Christ.  It is Christ, not just an angel, who destroys him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.  (Hebrews 2:14)  According to Matthew Henry's commentary: “The parties-Michael and his angels on one side, and the dragon and his angels on the other: Christ, the great Angel of the covenant, and his faithful followers; and Satan and all his instruments.”

  • Isaiah 9:6 refers to Christ as 'Wonderful, Counselor'.  Interestingly, the Greek Septuagint refers to Christ as 'μεγαλης βουλης αγγελος, megales boules aggelos' - 'Messenger (or Angel) of Great Counsel.'

  • The demons know who is going to abyss them. They said: “What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?” (Matthew 8:29) “And they besought him that he would not command them to go out into the deep [Greek: αβυσσος, abyssos].”  In Revelation 20:1-3, John tells us: “And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit [Greek: αβυσσος, abyssos]”.  Thus, we see that the Bible implies that Christ the angel of the abyss. 

  • The objection that Christ can not be called an angel, because Hebrews 1:4 says that he was “made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they” is unfounded.  Note that he inherited, obtained the name, not that he always had it.  When Hebrews chapter 1 refers to the angels, it means the angels in general.  It does not necessarily have to imply that Christ can't be called an angel.  When Luke 21:29 refers to “the fig tree and all the trees”, it doesn't mean that the fig tree isn't a tree too.  Likewise, when the Bible refers to Christ and the angels, it doesn't have to imply that he's not an angel.

  • Clearly, although Jesus is called an angel in the Bible, he is far from being like the other angels.  The Watchtower commented:  “The basic meaning of “angel” (Hebrew, mal·'akh´; Greek, ag´ge·los) is “messenger.” As the “Word” (Greek, lo´gos), Jesus is God's messenger par excellence.” (15/12/1984, page 29.)


Early Watchtowers and Michael

Some will point out that, at first, the doctrinal journal of Jehovah's Witnesses, The Watchtower (at the time called Zion's Watch Tower), did not teach that Michael was Jesus: the first issue of July 1879 reprint page (RP) 9 and the November 1879 issue RP48 distinguished between Jesus and Michael on the basis of Hebrews 1:6. Curiously enough, both articles were written by J. H. Paton, who in 1881 became a skeptic and split off, and indicate a controversy on the matter of identifying Michael with Christ or not. While he was still a contributor though, the November 1880 article RP152-3 did make a connection with Michael and Christ. Then after Paton left, the June 1883 issue RP490, in the article “The Arch-Angel,” clearly identified Michael as Christ:

While we are not directly told who is Jehovah's chief-messenger, except that his name was called Michael, the thought suggests itself, Can it be that he who was called Michael—Jehovah's chief-messenger—was none other than our Lord in his pre-human condition? ... Jesus and the arch-angel are identical. ... We reason that this Great Prince—Michael—Jehovah's chief-messenger, is none other than the Lord of glory.
Some critics find it odd that the first issues of The Watchtower did not recognize that Michael is the same person as Christ. Well, when a deeper study of the scriptures shows that we are mistaken, what should we do?  What Jehovah's Witnesses did about 123 years ago is what their critics should do now:  admit and correct their mistaken understanding. (While a separate interpretation of the Michael in Revelation 12 was first published in the December 1879 issue RP55, this was corrected in the first article of the historic March 1, 1925 issue.)



The evidence is overwhelming.  Far from there being “nothing [that] remotely hints to Jesus being Michael,” the above comparisons make it abundantly clear that they are one and the same.

Updated: November, 21 2006. Minor edits: January 29, February 28, 2007

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