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Why Is Jesus Thought to Be the Archangel Michael?

Scripture plainly teaches that Jesus is not the archangel Michael. No verse in the Bible says or implies that Jesus is an archangel. Instead, the Bible teaches that Michael is an archangel, one of many, who was created and worships Jesus.

Contributing Writer
Feb 01, 2022
Why Is Jesus Thought to Be the Archangel Michael?

Because of Michael’s prominent position in the rank of angels, there are some cult and religious groups who teach that the archangel Michael is none other than Jesus Himself. By claiming that Christ is only an angel, Jehovah’s Witnesses seek to portray Jesus as a created being instead of Almighty God. Seventh-day Adventists also claim that Jesus is the archangel, Michael.

While the founders of the Adventists, such as Ellen White, denied the deity of Christ, most Adventists today do not deny the divinity of Christ. Nonetheless, the idea that Jesus is Michael is not a biblical concept.

Christians need to understand this issue and deal with it from a position based solidly on Scripture. We will inevitably meet someone who holds this view and need to be prepared to respond to them in love and truth (Ephesians 4:15). The identity of Christ is not a secondary issue but is the most important aspect of the Christian faith.

The Main Verse in Question

The main verse used to support the idea that Jesus is Michael, the archangel is 1 Thessalonians 4:16. Jehovah’s Witnesses have their own translation of the Bible, which is worded to support their beliefs and teachings.

In the New World Translation, they have rendered the verse to make it seem as if Jesus speaks with an archangel’s voice: “because 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” (1 Thessalonians 4:16).

The Seventh-day Adventists also created their own translation of the Bible, called The Clear Word Bible. Like the New World Translation, The Clear Word renders 1 Thessalonians 4:16 in a way that equates Christ with the archangel mentioned in the verse. This is then used as a prooftext to support the claim that Jesus is Michael.

Obviously, there are many problems with using this verse to support the idea that Jesus is an archangel. First, a translation that deliberately changes the words of Scripture to support a group’s teachings is not a legitimate translation of God’s Word.

Widely used and trusted translations, such as the NIV, ESV, NKJV, and NLT are the result of the vigorous study of individuals from diverse denominational backgrounds. Furthermore, translations such as the NIV and others seek to stay true to the original intent of the biblical languages of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek.

Also, 1 Thessalonians 4:16 distinguishes between the Lord Jesus and the archangel who announces His coming. As is stated in the verse, “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first” (NIV).

The loud command, the voice of the archangel, and the trumpet blast will all herald the coming of Christ. We should notice that 1 Thessalonians 4:16 does not even mention Michael. Hence, this verse does not equate Jesus with Michael.

Is Michael the Only Archangel?

Just because Michael is the only named archangel in the Bible does not mean that there are no other archangels (Jude 1:9). Both Jehovah’s Witnesses and Seventh-day Adventists should consider the words of Daniel 10:13: “Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me” (emphasis mine).

The claim that Michael is the only archangel, the “chief prince,” contradicts this verse since he is named as “one of the chief princes.”

There is a myriad of angels who serve God, but Scripture only specifically names Michael and Gabriel. We would not assume that the named angels are the only ones in existence since this would contradict other biblical passages (Revelation 5:11 and 7:11).

Likewise, we cannot claim that Michael is the only archangel just because he is the only one named as such in the Bible. Thus, to use the claim that Michael is the “chief prince” of angels as support for the view that he is Jesus is erroneous and based on the misinterpretation of Scripture.

Jesus Is Greater than All Angels

Oftentimes, when talking to individuals who hold the view that Jesus is an archangel, they will focus on certain verses while ignoring others. For instance, Jehovah’s Witnesses try to keep the discussion focused on 1 Thessalonians 4:16 or Jude 1:9, but they fail to consider other important passages. Many verses in the Bible refute the idea that Jesus is an archangel, a created being.

In the first chapter of Hebrews, the author of this epistle demonstrates from the Old Testament that Jesus is greater than angels. As is stated, in referring to Christ: “he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs” (Hebrews 1:4).

Jesus could not be an angel since He is superior to them all. Angels are clearly distinguished from Him since all angels (including Michael) worship Christ (Hebrews 1:6). Why do they worship Him? Because He is God (Hebrews 1:9-12).

As the Creator of all things, Jesus stands above all creation. As is written in John 1:3, “Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made” (John 1:3). Since Jesus created everything, this would mean that He created Michael the archangel as well (Colossians 1:16).

While Michael is a named angel in Scripture and has a significant role as the protector of Israel, he is still a mere created angel. In contrast, Jesus is the eternal Lord God Almighty who has always existed (John 1:1; 8:24, 58; Romans 10:9; Philippians 2:6-8; Titus 2:13; Revelation 1:7-8).

The Authority of Jesus Vs. Michael’s Position

Jehovah’s Witnesses claim that Michael’s elevated position as a “chief prince” identifies him as Jesus (Daniel 10:13; 12:1). Likewise, Seventh-day Adventists claim that Michael’s prominence supports their belief that Michael is the pre-incarnate Christ.

However, neither of these claims align with Scripture. Jesus has authority over all creation, but Michael has no authority on his own.

For example, Michael does not attempt to condemn Satan by his own authority. Instead, the archangel said, “The Lord rebuke you” (Jude 1:9). Angels do not attempt to judge demons or the devil on their own (2 Peter 2:11). Therefore, Michael did not judge Satan on his own but submitted to God’s authority.

Jesus, however, continually displayed His authority over Satan and demons. Throughout the gospels, He directly spoke against Satan and demons, driving them out and commanding them to be silent (Matthew 4:1-11; 8:16; Mark 3:11-12; Luke 4:33-35).

Furthermore, through His death and resurrection, Jesus defeated Satan (Hebrews 2:14). Christ is the victor over all the powers of darkness (Colossians 2:15). Unlike the archangel Michael, Jesus has innate authority since He is God.

Christ alone has authority over the waves, the universe, demons, and death. Jesus is the resurrection and life, the holder of the keys of death (John 11:25; Revelation 1:18). Michael cannot resurrect anyone and does nothing by his own will.

The name of Jesus is above every other name (Philippians 2:9). Michael’s name is not since he submits to the Lord Jesus. One day, all creation (including Michael) will bow before Jesus and confess that He is Lord (Philippians 2:10).

Jesus Is Not the Archangel Michael

Scripture plainly teaches that Jesus is not the archangel Michael. No verse in the Bible says or implies that Jesus is an archangel. Instead, the Bible teaches that Michael is an archangel, one of many, who was created and worships Jesus. Michael is not the pre-incarnate Christ.

Jehovah’s Witnesses and Seventh-day Adventists need to derive the identity of Jesus from the Bible, not the teachings of men. By claiming that Jesus is Michael, they are undermining the divinity of Jesus and His position as God the Son.

We need to help them see the truth about Jesus, which is an important part of the gospel message. An archangel did not die on the cross to save humankind. Jesus, perfectly man and fully God, died to save us from the penalty of our sins (John 1:14; 1 Peter 2:24).

We need to accurately tell the world who Jesus is and what He did if we wish to reach people for Christ.

For further reading:

Who Is the Archangel Michael? 

Does the Name ‘Jesus’ Actually Mean, ‘Hail, Zeus’?

Who Is Jesus Christ?

What Are All the Names of Angels in the Bible?

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Sophia Bricker is a freelance writer who enjoys researching and writing articles on biblical and theological topics. In addition to contributing articles about biblical questions as a contract writer, she has also written for Unlocked devotional. She holds a BA in Ministry, a MA in Ministry, and is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing to develop her writing craft. As someone who is passionate about the Bible and faith in Jesus, her mission is to help others learn about Christ and glorify Him in her writing. When she isn’t busy studying or writing, Sophia enjoys spending time with family, reading, drawing, and gardening. 

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