Michael the archangel is featured in the Bible as the chief angel; the leader of all of heaven’s angels. He is also revealed to be the leader of God’s people – both before Christ and after. He is portrayed in the Bible as the savior of Christians during the tribulation and the vanquisher of Satan, the serpent. In short, Michael is shown to possess all authority in heaven and on earth – the same as Jesus Christ.
We are first introduced to Michael in the 10th chapter of Daniel, when an unnamed angel appeared to the prophet and explained to him that the prince of Persia had waylaid him for 21 days, saying further to Daniel: “And, look! Michael, one of the foremost princes, came to help me; and I, for my part, remained there beside the kings of Persia.”
Obviously the prince of Persia is not in reference to any human prince. No human, no matter how strong, could possibly resist a powerful angel. The prince of Persia is undoubtedly a demonic prince. Down further in the last verse of the 10th chapter, the angel revealed to Daniel that Michael was “the prince of you people.” Just as the Persians had a demon prince acting under Satan’s authority, Jehovah’s people – even while in captivity in Babylon and then in Persia – had a righteous prince ruling over them, a prince ruling in behalf of Jehovah.
Michael was evidently the angel who represented Jehovah on Mount Sinai when Moses received the Ten Commandments. That is because, although the original account states that Jehovah came down upon the mountain, centuries later the apostolic writings reveal that the Law was actually transmitted through angels. Michael’s leadership of Israel is also evident in what is stated in the letter of Jude: “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.’”
The next reference to Michael is at Daniel 12:1:2, which reads: “And during that time Michael will stand up, the great prince who is standing in behalf of the sons of your people. And there will certainly occur a time of distress such as has not been made to occur since there came to be a nation until that time. And during that time your people will escape, every one who is found written down in the book. And there will be many of those asleep in the ground of dust who will wake up, these to indefinitely lasting life and those to reproaches and to indefinitely lasting abhorrence.”
Here Michael is described not merely as “one of the foremost princes,” but as “the great prince.” And again, the angel states that Michael is ruling over God’s people. However, there is a distinction. He is said to rule over the “sons of you people”— not, “you people.” That is because the angel was foretelling the future, whereas in the 10th chapter the angel was relating what was then taking place. But “the sons of you people” is not in reference to the Jews. How to we know? Because Daniel 12:1-2 is foretelling events that will transpire during the time of the end. In fact, the time of distress mentioned by the angel is described in the exact same terms that Jesus later used when foretelling that the chosen ones would be saved out of a great tribulation, such as had never occurred before on earth, nor will ever occur again.
Furthermore, Jehovah’s Witnesses are well aware of the fact that the real sons of Abraham, “the sons of you people,” are not natural born Jews. They are Christians with the faith of Abraham, whom Paul stated was the father of all those who have faith. So, while Michael formerly was the heavenly leader of the Jewish nation, the Scriptures reveal that Michael is also the leader of Jehovah’s people at the outbreak of the great tribulation. His standing in their behalf can mean nothing else but that the great prince will assert his power and authority as the ruler and protector of Christians.
Of course, true Christians do not acknowledge any heavenly prince or lord as their leader except the Lord, Jesus Christ.
Not coincidently, the Messiah is also declared to be the “Prince of princes” – similar to Michael’s designation as one of the foremost princes and the great prince.
Students of Daniel’s prophecy ought to take note of the overall theme of the book – that being, the advent of the kingdom of God. In the seventh chapter of Daniel the kingdom is given to the Son of man, who then slays the beastly kingdom. “Son of man” is the title given to Christ. In the eighth chapter the kingdom is given to the “Prince of the army” and the “Prince of princes,” who breaks the audacious king fierce in countenance. And in the 12th chapter Michael the great prince stands up with ruling authority and conquers the king of the north.
One common objection Trinitarians often put forward is that Michael could not be Jesus because of what is stated in the letter to the Hebrews, which says: “For example, to which one of the angels did he ever say: ‘You are my son; I, today, I have become your father’? And again: ‘I myself shall become his father, and he himself will become my son’? But when he again brings his Firstborn into the inhabited earth, he says: ‘And let all God’s angels do obeisance to him.’”
Their reasoning is: Since God did not declare any of the angels to be his special son, and Michael the archangel is obviously an angel, then Jesus could not be Michael.
This reasoning is badly flawed and reflects an ignorance of the most basic truths of the Bible; namely, that when Jehovah declared Jesus to be his son it was on the occasion of his being baptized in the Jordan River by John the Baptizer. That is when Jesus was anointed by holy spirit and born again. And being an ancestor of the Hebrew linage of kings stemming from David, Jesus also inherited the legal right to become the king of Israel. So, the answer to Paul’s question, to which one of the angels did God ever say, “You are my son”? The answer is none. Jehovah did not say that to any angel. He said it to a man. Jehovah said it to Jesus. When Jesus was on earth he did not simultaneously live in heaven. Paul explained to the Philippians that Christ forsook his heavenly nature and emptied himself and became a man. After his resurrection and ascension back to heaven Jesus was exalted and given all authority over God’s angels. The apostle Peter explained: “He is at God’s right hand, for he went his way to heaven; and angels and authorities and powers were made subject to him.”
Angels were not always subject to Jesus. They became such after his ascension. This gives rise to the question: How many commanders do the angels have? The question is asked in view of the fact that the 12th chapter of Revelation refers to Michael and his angels doing battle with the Devil and his angels. And since Jesus is the seed of the woman foretold in prophecy to be the one who will bruise the head of the serpent, why is Jesus absent from the vision of Revelation that portrays the beginning of the war against the serpent and his seed. Has Michael usurped Jesus as the ruler of the angels? Obviously not.
Another objection occasionally encountered from the Jesus-is-God crowd, is that Jesus could not be Michael because, as cited already, Michael did not have authority to rebuke Satan when a dispute arose over the disposition of Moses’ corpse – whereas, Jesus does have authority to rebuke the Devil. Obviously, though, Michael will have authority over Satan when the battle of heaven is fought. This reflects the fact that prior to his coming to the earth Jesus did not have all authority. That is why also, during the days of Daniel, Michael was simply one of the foremost princes. But after Christ triumphantly returned to heaven, victorious over the ruler of the world who tempted him in every way, now Michael is the great prince, commanding all of God’s angels and having full authority to banish Satan from the heavenly realm and crush him.
Also Revelation 20:1-2 reveals that an angel from heaven will ultimately bind Satan and hurl him into the abyss. It is inconceivable that anyone other than Christ will cast Satan down and lock him up and ultimately destroy him, since Satan was personally responsible for Christ’s suffering and death.
Finally, just as Daniel 12:1-2 places the awakening of those asleep in the dust of the ground in the immediate context of Michael standing up, so too, Paul relates at 1 Thessalonians 4:15-16 that Jesus will possess the commanding voice of an archangel when he wakes the dead.
By a careful examination of the Scriptures it should be apparent to honest-reasoning students that Jesus Christ, the Prince of princes, and Michael the archangel, the great prince, are one and the same.