Guido Reni [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Guido Reni [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The identity of “Michael the archangel” in the Bible has caused some controversy amongst Bible students of all denominations. Some say that it is actually Jesus before He was born as a baby on earth. Others say that it is just an Archangel with no connection to Jesus at all — an archangel — and therefore couldn’t be the Son of God.

So who is Michael? Is He just an angel?

According to Strong’s Concordance, the term “arch-angel” means

G743 ἀρχάγγελος archaggelos (ar-khang’-el-os) n.

  1. a chief angel   [from G757 and G32]

KJV: archangel

Root(s): G757, G32

 

G757 ἄρχω archo (ar’-kho) v.

  1. to be first (in political rank or power) [a primary verb]

KJV: reign (rule) over

 

G32 ἄγγελος aggelos (ang’-el-os) n.

  1. a messenger
  2. (especially) an “angel” of God
  3. (of evil, Satan) a demon
  4. (by implication) a person carrying forth a message from God, i.e. a servant (a disciple, pastor, elder, prophet, etc.)
  5. (also, by implication) a thing or event carrying forth a message from God, i.e. a hardship (pestilence, wind, etc.), or an animal (donkey, locusts, etc.)) [from aggello “to bring tidings” (possibly derived from G71)]

KJV: angel, messenger

So according to Strong’s, the word “angel” means “messenger” and can be a person of a certain office or job description – a messenger – such as a disciple, pastor, elder or prophet. Therefore the word “archangel” would mean the chief messenger – rather than just the word describing a “being”.  The word “angel”  is used frequently in Scripture. Sometimes, men are called angels in the Bible (1 Samuel 29:9; Galatians 4:14). Sometimes angels are called men (Genesis 32:24). And in other places, God Himself is identified as an angel!

Angel of the Lord
There are several stories with individuals such as Abraham, Hagar, Moses, Joshua Jacob, Gideon, Manoah and Daniel who interacted with “the angel of the Lord”. Jesus.  Of the 214 uses of the Hebrew term used for “angel,” about one-third of them refer to what is labeled by theologians as a “Christophany,” a temporary appearance of Christ in the Old Testament. This “Angel of the LORD” was a title that stood for His office, but it did not describe His nature. . . It is certain, however, that this special angel of the Lord is divine in all these stories. Look at the evidence in each particular story and make your conclusion after looking at the facts. Before we dive into the subject one disclaimer needs to be mentioned. There are some Christians  who  teach that Jesus, before His earthly incarnation, was really just a mighty angel that had a quarrel with His wayward fellow angel Lucifer.This then leads to the conclusion that Jesus is a created being. But such teachings are unbiblical  Jesus is, and always has been, God’s eternal Son and indeed God Himself. Any comparison made to Jesus as an angel in this study is simply in the search to find out who the mysterious character Michael is. The  Quest lies to find the answers in God’s word and see who Michael is indeed!

Abraham
God appeared personally to Abraham in Genesis 18 in the form of a human along with two other angels (Gen 19 :1) The story that is interesting for our discussion is the story of Isaac and Abraham. God told Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac on mount Moriah. And just before he could consummate the act, the angel of the Lord appeared to him.

“And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, ‘Abraham, Abraham:’ and he said, ‘Here am I.’ And he said, ‘Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me'” (Genesis 22:11, 12).

A bit further we find an exchange between “the angel of the Lord” and the Lord”.  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: That in blessing I will bless thee, … because thou hast obeyed my voice'” (Genesis 22:15-18). You find this experience of Abraham also in Acts 3:25.In this verse, the angel of the Lord says “by myself”… says the “Lord” – calling Himself the Lord.

Hagar
Hagar is another example where we can clearly see a pattern of identity of the same personality as in the story of Abraham.

“And the angel of the Lord found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness” (Genesis 16:7). The angel told Hagar to go back and submit to Sarah and promised that her son, Ishmael, would be the father of a great nation. When the “angel” disappeared, Hagar “called the name of the Lord that spake unto her, Thou God seest me” (verse 13).

There is no doubt that Hagar recognized that the “angel of the Lord” who had spoken to her was really God.

Jacob
Jacob son of Isaac and grandson of Abraham had a similar experience with the angel of the Lord in his journey with God. Jacob had a dream in which God confirmed the covenant of Abraham to him. To commemorate that solemn moment, Jacob set up the stone he had been using for a pillow and anointed it with oil to solemnize his vow. Then he named the place Beth-el, or house of God, since God had appeared to him there.

Several years later, Jacob was traveling again, this time back home, not a poor fugitive, but a wealthy man. God appeared to him to remind Jacob who had really brought him success. Here’s how Jacob recounted the story: “And the angel of God spake unto me in a dream, saying, Jacob: And I said, Here am I” (Genesis 31:11). In verse 13, this “angel of God” identifies Himself: “I am the God of Beth-el, where thou anointedst the pillar, and where thou vowedst a vow unto me.”

After Jacob wrestled with a heavenly being (Gen 32: 22-32) He was given a new name and he was blessed by that heavenly being. Jacob named the place Peniel, “For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved. Later in his life just before his death. Jacob had summoned all his children and he uses the terms “angel” and “God” interchangeably. “God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God which fed me all my life long unto this day, The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads” (Genesis 48:15, 16).

It seems to become clear that there is neither a redeemer nor savior but God.  In Isaiah it says: “I, even I, am the LORD, And besides Me there is no savior; Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer. Once again we see that the angel  who redeemed Jacob is another name for our Redeemer, Jesus!

Moses
The story of Moses continues on the same trend as the previous examples. When Moses spent his time as a shepherd for Jethro, Moses saw a burning bush that was not consumed.

“And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush” (Exodus 3:2).

Verse 4 identifies this angel: “God called unto him out of the midst of the bush.” And in verse 6 He identifies Himself again. “I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” The angel of the Lord identifies Himself as God!

Stephen agrees with the Exodus account in his last message to the nation of Israel. “And when forty years were expired, there appeared to him in the wilderness of mount Sinai an angel of the Lord in a flame of fire in a bush. When Moses saw it, he wondered at the sight: and as he drew near to behold it, the voice of the Lord came unto him, Saying, I am the God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (Acts 7:30-32).

When asked what His name is, the God of the patriarchs of the Old Testament replies “I AM”. Now look again in the New Testament-

Saying, “I am” the God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Then Moses trembled, and durst not behold.(John 8:57 )Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?

Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, “I am”. (John 8:58 )

Jesus Christ had just identified Himself as the One who is the God of the Old Testament patriarchs, who was present in the burning bush speaking to Moses. Jesus’ answer shows that He is the “I am” that met Moses at the burning bush.

Israel
The Journey of Israel through the desert is another instance. The children of Israel were led through the wilderness by God. Look at this account of God’s guidance described in Exodus: “And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night” (Exodus 13:21). Moses later describes this being that led them this way: “And the angel of God, which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them” (Exodus 14:19). We find again, “the angel of God” is identified as God.

Time of the Judges
There is more such instances. For example the story of Gideon or the parents of Samson. But let’s focus on Joshua who had an appearance with a captain of the host of the Lord: “when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing opposite him with his sword drawn in his hand, and Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us or for our adversaries?” And he said, “No, rather I indeed come now as captain of the host of the LORD.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and bowed down, and said to him, “What has my lord to say to his servant?” And the captain of the LORD’s host said to Joshua, “Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so (Joshua 5:13-15).

Notice that Joshua worshipped the captain of the Host. If this were a mere angel, then the angel would have protested Joshua worshipping him, just as the angel protested John the Revelator worshipping him (Rev 22:8-9). So Joshua met with God (Jesus Christ) the captain of the Host. That is why he stood on holy ground and was asked to remove his shoes (just like Moses was asked in Exodus 3:5 and Acts 7:33). Therefore, in Rev 12:7 you have Satan and his angels, and Jesus (Michael, the captain of the Host) and His angels – this was the war that began in heaven and continues today. And what does the name Michael mean? It means “who (is) like God?” A very good question indeed – who is like Jesus?

As this study shows, according to scriptures, Jesus is the angel of the LORD, the angel of God, the angel of the covenant, the Archangel Michael, who appeared time and again in the Old Testament to speak directly to His people. Michael is just another title for the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who is God in the flesh, the principle messenger of the gospel (archangel) to humanity, but He is not a created being.

Daniel
An interesting occurrence happened also in the life of Daniel. When the three Hebrew boys were cast into the fiery furnace for not bowing down to the golden statue, not three but four figures were seen in the furnace:

Dan 3:25 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.

Now most Christians would agree that this was indeed Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who walked with them in the furnace, in a pre-incarnation appearance. Yet, verse 28, interestingly enough, describes the fourth figure as an angel: “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 3:28)

Narrow down the Facts
We can clearly see that “angel of the Lord” is frequently identified as God Himself. But the Bible states, “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him”  (John 1:18). John 6:46 also tells us, “Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father.” Obviously, since no man has seen God the Father, all of these Old Testament sightings of God as the “angel of the Lord” must have been Jesus, God the Son, veiling His glory so they could endure His presence without being consumed. One of the most famous messianic prophecies is found in Malachi 3:1: “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.”

The messenger of the covenant spoken of here in Malachi is clearly a reference to the advent of Jesus Christ. The word translated as messenger (mal’ak) is the same exact word used in the previous Old Testament passages translated as angel of the Lord. So this would also be a proper translation: “Behold, I will send my angel, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the angel of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts. What could be clearer?

So now, what of Michael the archangel? Is it so difficult to believe that He may actually be Jesus Christ? Let’s look at each instance he is mentioned in the Bible and see. Only five verses in the Bible mention Michael. They are:

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.

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.

Revelation 12:7: And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,

Only two verses actually mention the word “archangel”.

ARCHANGEL / MICHAEL TEXT #1

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. (1 Thess 4:16 )

Who raises the dead with His voice? Not a created angel, indeed not even a created archangel. The shout is given with the voice of the “archangel”, the LORD Jesus Christ Himself:

For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.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 5:26-28)

It is the voice of Jesus Christ (the Son of man) that raises the dead. Just as 1 Thess 4:16 says, the Lord Jesus shall descend from heaven and shout with the voice of the Archangel, because He is the Archangel. With that shout, the righteous dead will be raised from their graves!

ARCHANGEL / MICHAEL TEXT #2

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. (Jude 1:9)

This verse is a virtual duplicate of another Old Testament event-

And he showed 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 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? (Zech 3:1,2)

In both Jude 9 and Zech 3:1-2 it is Jesus, the “angel of the LORD” who is also “Michael the archangel”, contending with Satan for both Moses and Joshua.

In Jude 1:9, Michael the archangel disputed with the devil over Moses’ body and we know that He succeeded in raising him because Moses appeared later to Jesus when He was here on earth in the Mount of Transfiguration. (Matt 17:3)

ARCHANGEL / MICHAEL TEXT #3

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 10:13)

The prince of the kingdom of Persia is a reference to Satan, and Michael refers again to Jesus. It is the created angel Gabriel that is speaking with Daniel (See Dan 8:16, 9:21). Daniel 10:13 is probably the most difficult verse regarding Michael: “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.” It appears at first glance that Michael is only “one of” the chief princes.

This is an unfortunate translation in the King James. The word “one” comes from the Hebrew word “echad,” which is also frequently translated as “first,” as in the president’s wife being called “first lady.” (See Genesis 1:5; 8:13.)

This changes the whole meaning of the verse to Michael being first of, greatest or highest of, to the chief of princes—again a reference to Jesus. The prince of the kingdom of Persia who withstood the angel was no doubt the devil who frequently appears working in the shadow of earthly monarchs such as the king of Babylon, the king of Tyre, and the Roman power (Isaiah 14:4, Ezekiel 28:2, Revelation 12:4). And remember that Jesus calls Satan “the prince of this world” (John 12:31).

ARCHANGEL / MICHAEL TEXT #4

But I will show 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. (Dan 10:21 )

In Daniel 10:13 we see an interesting scenario where Daniel is praying to God asking Him to send an angel to explain a vision that he’d had earlier but could not understand. We read in that chapter that Gabriel was dispatched to answer Daniel’s request but couldn’t get through to him for 21 days because the prince of Persia withstood him. In other words, the angel met with resistance from the prince of Persia who tried to prevent him from reaching Daniel with the message concerning the vision. In verse 13, we learn that Michael goes to Gabriel reach Daniel. The implication is that Michael came to provide reinforcements to Gabriel since the prince of Persia was preventing him from reaching Daniel for 21 days.

Gabriel says that only he and Michael know certain truths which Gabriel will reveal to Daniel. Who could this Michael be but Jesus, God Himself, giving Gabriel the truths to reveal to Daniel. Notice here that the angel refers to Michael as your Prince. Who was Daniel’s prince? In the previous chapter, we see the answer. In Daniel 9:25, Daniel’s Messiah is called the prince, which is another clear indication of Michael’s identity! So Gabriel is saying that Michael the archangel is Jesus, who knows all the truth of Scripture.

ARCHANGEL / MICHAEL TEXT #5

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.Dan 12:1,2

Michael standing up is a reference to the second coming of Jesus at the end of time when He delivers His people, those listed in the Lamb’s book of life, to include resurrecting those that sleep in the dust to everlasting life.Some might propose that, in these three preceding texts from Daniel, the description of Michael as a mere prince is inappropriate for Jesus, so it must be speaking of a created angel. Note the following verses:

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. (Is 9:6)

Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. (Daniel 9:25)

But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses. (Acts 3:14,15)

The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. (Acts 5:30,31)

And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood. (Rev 1:5 )

Conclusion
We have come to the end of our study and are seeing clearly now that Michael is none other than Jesus Christ. In various times He has appeared as companion or as the angel of the Lord and has been by the side of His dear beloved people. Veiling His divinity and appearing in the form of a humble angel. Nevertheless His identity is clear as ever before. He is the Son of God the One who intercedes for the saints; He judges His people and He will stand up from His throne and come again to redeem His people for He has promised to come again and to bring the reward with Him.