Michael is mentioned three times in the book of Daniel — at Daniel 10:13, 10:21 and 12:1 — once as a “great prince who stands up for the children of your people.”
Questions arise about the true identity of the biblical Michael the archangel. Bible commentator Matthew Henry asserts that Michael is simply another name for Jesus Himself. Can we know for sure? The answer is found in the scriptures.
Doing an honest Bible study, one is led to the inescapable conclusion that Michael is none other than Jesus, the Creator, God the Son!
In the Greek New Testament, the word “angel” means “messenger”, and “arch” means “chief, greatest or highest”. So “archangel” simply means “highest or greatest messenger”. The Hebrew name Michael means “who is like God?”.
Satan wanted to “be like the Most High.” (Isaiah 14:14) In Revelation 12:7, Satan is opposed by Michael and his angels, and is cast out of heaven.
“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.” (Daniel 10:13)
It appears at first glance that Michael is only one of the chief princes. This is an unfortunate translation in the King James Version. The word “one” comes from the Hebrew word “echad” which also means “first”.
If we take the term “Michael the archangel” and examine the word “archangel”, we see another interesting match. The only other passage in the Bible that uses the word “archangel” is 1 Thessalonians 4:16. But look at its context: “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.”
It is the voice of the archangel that raises the dead in Christ, and the Lord Himself who shouts it. This indicates that they are one and the same. Jesus is the one who shouts with the voice of the archangel, or “greatest messenger”, to raise the dead!
Obviously, angels don’t have the power to resurrect the dead. Only the Creator, who gives life, has the power to restore it. “For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself. … Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth.” (John 5:26, 28, 29)
In Daniel 10:13-21, an angel identifies Michael as the protector of Israel. Daniel refers to Michael as a “prince of the first rank”. Later in the vision, in Daniel 12:1, Daniel is informed about the role of Michael during the “Time of the End”, when there will be “distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations. At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise.”
In Revelation, Michael is portrayed as leading the heavenly hosts, or armies, in the war against the rebellious Lucifer that took place there. “And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels.” (Revelation 12:7) Here the term “dragon” is a symbolic name for Satan, the leader of evil (verse 9), so it is very safe to assume that Michael is another name for Jesus, the embodiment and leader of good. And there is more evidence.
The activities of Michael could not be performed by a created being, but only by the power of divinity.
“Michael the archangel” means “the greatest messenger who is as God”. It was Jesus, “the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15), who brought the greatest message of hope, the gospel, to our perishing world!
Ian Cotton is the retired pastor of the Creston Seventh-day Adventist Church.