ARCHANGEL
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The teaching that Jesus Christ is the archangel Michael is a doctrine shared by both the Seventh Day Adventists (roughly 16 million worldwide) and the Jehovah's Witnesses (roughly 7 million worldwide). According to the Watchtower Society, Jesus Christ is known as the archangel Michael during his Heavenly life (both before and after His Earthly mission) (Insight On the Scriptures, 1988, Vol.2, p.393).

According to the Watchtower Society's definition, the word “archangel” means “chief angel,” because the prefix arch means “chief” or “principal.” According to their definition, Jesus Christ is actually the highest ranking angel in among the ranks of the holy angels (Insight On the Scriptures, 1988, Vol.1, p.156, Vol. 2, p.393-394). In their teaching, Jesus Christ is a created being who has the distinction of being the first thing that God created (Insight On the Scriptures, 1988, Vol. 2, p.52).

The Watchtower Society claims there is plenty of Scriptural evidence to support the teaching that Jesus Christ is the archangel Michael. This article is going to take a look at these claimed pieces of evidence and see how well they stand up to Scripture:

AN ARCHANGEL'S VOICE

The Scripture at 1 Thessalonians 4:16 states:

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.”

The Watchtower Society teaches that this verse means Jesus is the archangel due to the fact that it says He will descend...with an archangel's voice. since he descends “with” an archangel's voice, they take this to mean that Jesus' voice is the archangel's voice. (Interestingly, though, they do not likewise assert that Jesus is also God even though He is also “with” God's trumpet in this verse). However, if you compare this passage to the more detailed description of this same event recorded at Revelation 19:14-20:5, it states that Jesus Christ, the “King of kings”, is the one descending, and that there was also an angel standing in the sun, and he cried out with a loud voice....” (vs. 16-17) clearly showing that it is a separate angel's voice calling out at this time, not the voice of Christ Himself. It is also notable that in most Bible translations, including the Watchtower Society's, the translation of this passage at 1 Thessalonians states that He descends with an archangel's voice,” not “the archangel's voice. In other words, this phrasing heavily implies the existence of more than one archangel, for if there were only one, the word should be “the,” instead of “an.” Since the Bible indicates that there are multiple archangels, (since Michael is spoken of as beingone of the foremost princes”Daniel 10:13), clearly, Michael is not in a class by himself – there is at least one more in his rank. In fact, because only Michael and Gabriel are the only two angels referred to by name in the Bible canon, many believe that Gabriel is also an archangel. Can there be more than one “chief” angel? Apparently so, according to what is indicated in the above Scriptures. Some theorize that, since there are multiple armies of angels in heaven (more on this later), then it is realistic to have multiple archangels, or chief angels, with each heading one of the angelic armies.

DISPUTE WITH THE DEVIL

The Scriptural passage at Jude 9 states:

But when Michael the archangel had a difference with the Devil and was disputing about Moses’ body, he did not dare to bring a judgment against him in abusive terms, but said: May Jehovah rebuke you.

Many notice that the Watchtower Society uses this Scripture as support for Jesus being Michael even though this verse in their version completely lacks mention of Jesus Christ as being Michael. However, for some reason they like to use it as evidence as seen in places such as The Watchtower, May 15, 2009, p.21, para.2; and The Watchtower, Feb. 15, 2008, p.13, para.6. On top of this, their translation of this verse is tampered with; the original Greek rendering of this verse uses the word kyrios,” which means “Lord,” whereas the Watchtower Society replaces the word for “Lord” with the name of “Jehovah,” who is the Father, instead. Since the original Greek for [God] the Father, theos does not appear in the original Greek manuscripts of this passage, the Watchtower Society's change in wording is an inaccurate substitution. Originally, this should be rendered as “Lord,” and should read “May the Lord [Jesus Christ] rebuke you.” The rendering of this verse in the Watchtower Society's publication The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures even agrees that the original word is Kyrios, so it is an interesting thing to see them translate it as [God] the Father, Jehovah.

Another problem is the fact that this Scriptural passage states that Michael...did not dare to bring a judgment against [Satan].” This should be clear evidence that Michael is not Jesus Christ because other Scriptures show that Jesus Christ is indeed daring enough to bring judgment against Satan, and did so even while He lived among us as a mortal human*. For example, in John 8:44 Jesus Christ boldly judged Satan to be a liar and a murderer, stating that there was no truth in him. Even the demons recognize that Jesus has the authority to judge them to the abyss (Luke 8:30-31). It is also notable that Jesus didn't hesitate to rebuke Satan to his face either, as shown at Matthew 4:10 and Matthew 16:23. Clearly, Jesus Christ had no trouble with judging and rebuking Satan, a stark contrast to the Archangel Michael. Furthermore, in contrast to Christ's judgment and rebuke, the holy angels – though more powerful than Satan – do not speak out against Satan (2 Peter 2:11). Since Jesus Christ is capable of speaking out against Satan and rebuking him, and the angels are not, then clearly He is not among any class of angel, including an archangel.

*Christ had to be mortal when He was human, otherwise He wouldn't have been able to die for us.

THE HEAVENLY ARMIES

One piece of evidence the Watchtower Society likes to produce is that the book of Revelation describes Michael as leading an army of angels (Revelation 12:7), and that Jesus Christ is also described as leading an army of angels (Revelation 19:14-16) They postulate that, since no place in the Bible indicates the existence of two separate armies of angels, then it's logical to deduce that Jesus Christ is Michael the Archangel (What Does the Bible Really Teach?, 2005, p. 218).

That being said, it seems that the Watchtower Society has forgotten their own Bible version clearly states there are many legions of angels (Matthew 26:53, Revelation 9:16) and that a plurality of angelic armies exists in Heaven (Revelation 19:14-15). They have also forgotten that their own literature also supports the concept of multiple armies in Heaven (underline ours):

Heavenly armies, in the sense of well-organized multitudes, refer not only to the physical stars but more frequently to the mighty hosts of angelic spirit creatures under the supreme command of Jehovah God (Insight on the Scriptures, 1988, Vol.1, p.176)

The use of the plural form in “Jehovah of armies” is appropriate, inasmuch as the angelic forces are described not only in divisions of cherubs, seraphs, and angels but also as forming organized groups (Insight on the Scriptures, 1988, Vol.2, p.21)

As you read the book, you will find the expression “Jehovah of armies” 14 times. Haggai’s forceful messages stimulated the people to resume their temple building. Are you not similarly invigorated by knowing that Jehovah has unlimited power as Sovereign Ruler and that he commands vast armies of spirit creatures? (Live With Jehovah's Day In Mind, 2006, p.26, para.19)

It makes no sense for them to claim that the Bible doesn't indicate the presence of more than one heavenly army when they simultaneously speak of these armies in the plural. Either there is more than one heavenly army, or there is not. You can't have it both ways.

WORSHIP vs. OBEISANCE

First things first: According to the Watchtower Society, worship is defined as The rendering of reverent honour or homage,” and obeisance is defined as The act of bowing, kneeling, prostrating the body, or making some other gesture to betoken submission; or simply the paying of respect.” (Insight On The Scriptures, 1988, Vol.2 p.1210, p. 523 respectively). In other words, obeisance is the simple act of bowing to someone as a display of respect, whereas worship goes much deeper than that. In other words, you give obeisance to a king, but you worship God.

In the original Bible manuscripts, the word for worship in the New Testament was the Greek word proskuneo,” defined in Strong's Greek Lexicon as follows:

Word #4352. proskuneo pros-koo-neh'-o from 4314 and a probable derivative of 2965 (meaning to kiss, like a dog licking his master's hand); to fawn or crouch to, i.e. (literally or figuratively) prostrate oneself in homage (do reverence to, adore):--worship.

In the original Bible manuscripts, a word for obeisance in the New Testament is non-existent; the word only exists in the Old Testament and is translated from the Hebrew word shachah. Therefore, any translation that uses the word “obeisance” in the Greek portion (New Testament) of the Bible is downplaying the actual act of worship.

The Watchtower Society teaches that Jesus Christ is not God and thus is not deserving of worship, He is only worthy of obeisance (Awake! February 2006, p.29; Awake!, April 8, 2000, p.26-27). This, in spite of the fact that in their 1961 edition of the New World Translation, they actually rendered the verse at Hebrews 1:6 as (underline ours):

But when he again brings his First-born into the inhabited Earth, he says: "And let all God's angels worship him."

However, in the revised edition of the New World Translation in 1984, they changed the wording as follows (underline ours):

But when he again brings his First-born into the inhabited Earth, he says: "And let all God's angels do obeisance to him."

Although the Watchtower Society changed the wording in this Scripture, the original Greek word that was used, proskuneo,” had not changed. If the original Greek rendering had meant to convey the simple paying of respect, i.e. “obeisance,” it would not have used the word proskuneo, instead it would have used the word entrepo* (Strong's number 1788). Ergo, the original rendering of the verse shows that Christ was worshipped.

*Entrepo: ...from 1722 and the base of 5157; to invert, i.e. (figuratively and reflexively) in a good sense, to respect; or in a bad one, to confound:--regard, (give) reference, shame.

Since Scripture states that angels do not accept acts of worship (Revelation 19:10, 22:8-9), how could these angels be worshiping Jesus if he were actually in amongst the rank of angels as the Watchtower Society claims? Being the "chief angel" or Archangel does not change one's status of being an angel, therefore this doesn't make a lot of sense.

It is further notable that Scripture states all things are subjected under Christ's feet (1 Corinthians 15:23-27; Hebrews 2:8), including all things in Heaven and on Earth (Matthew 28:18; Ephesians 1:22-23; Philippians 2:10) (with the exception of God [the Father] – 1 Corinthians 15:25). AND the Earth was not put under the subjection of angels (Hebrews 1:13 with Hebrews 2:5). This directly means that Jesus Christ cannot be of the angelic race, else he wouldn't have the Earth put under his rulership.

THE UNKNOWN NAME

One last thing to point out is this: According to Revelation 19:11-12, during Christ's second coming He returns with a name written that no one knows but he himself.” However, the Watchtower Society claims to know that He will return under the name of “Michael” (What Does the Bible Really Teach?, 2005, p.218, para.3; The Watchtower, November 1, 1993, p. 23, para. 23). Since Scripture states that no one will know the name, the Watchtower Society cannot be correct in stating that He will return carrying the name “Michael” upon His return.

Clearly, Scripture shows that Jesus Christ cannot be Michael the Archangel; to continue to believe such teaching only reveals one preference to believe fallible men over the truth of the Bible.