Q: I have a question concerning Jesus and his pre-human existence, which we believe Jesus was and is Michael the Arch Angel. From the evidence the scriptures leave I believe this to be the case, but I come to realize that some ex Witnesses no longer believe this. Can you give me your thoughts on this matter?

A: As you know, we are taught by the Watchtower Society that Michael the archangel and Jesus are one and the same, and I have no problem with that because there are no Scriptures that might prove otherwise. To the contrary, there are many Scriptures that would indicate that Jesus is Michael by his previous name. Among those who argue that Michael the archangel cannot be Jesus are predominantly those who also believe that Jesus is God Almighty, and view it as sacrilege to refer to him as an “angel,” even as an “archangel.”  

Is Jesus an angel? What is an angel? Simply put, an angel is a spirit person, having a spiritual body, who resides in heaven and is able to stand before the person of Jehovah (except for the wicked angels [demons] who have been cast out of heaven). On the other hand, mankind is fleshly, physical, made of dust. (1 Kings 22:21; Job 1:6; 2:1; Psalms 103:14; Luke 12:8-9; 1 Cor. 15:42-48) Jesus, as "the son of man," appears before "the Ancient of Days" in heaven to receive "rulership and dignity and kingdom." (Dan. 7:9,10, 13-14; Matt. 16:27; Heb. 9:24)

Being an angel does not in any way detract from the glory that belongs to Jesus as an "only-begotten son," even from the time before he came to earth. Angels are also sons of God, and as such can themselves be referred to as "gods." The apostle John calls Jesus "the only-begotten god [Greek μονογενής θεός] who is in the bosom position with the Father" ("the only God, who is at the Father's side," ESV); while Paul calls Satan the "god of this system of things." (Psalms 82:1, 6; John 1:14, 18; 10:34-36; 2 Cor. 4:4)

The Scriptures indicate that there is order and rank among the angels. The Bible speaks of only one “archangel,” namely Michael (although some religions have the tradition of there being many such archangels). (Dan. 12:1; Jude 9; Rev. 12:7) Besides the archangel, the Bible mentions “Seraphs” as ranking very high among the angels in privileges and honor. (Isaiah 6:2, 6) “Cherubs” are mentioned some 90 times, and from the description of their duties and responsibilities it is apparent that they, too, hold a special position among the angels. (Gen. 3:24; Ezek. 10:1-22)

"Then there is the great body of angelic messengers who serve as a means of communication between God and man. However, they do more than simply relay messages. As agents and deputies of the Most High God, they serve as responsible executioners of the divine purpose, be it protection and deliverance of God’s people or destruction of the wicked." Whatever their rank or position, they are all angels. (Insight on the Scriptures vol. I, p. 106 Angel.)

Angels are created Beings, they had a beginning, something that Trinitarians object to as applying to Jesus. Yet, the Bible tells us that Jesus had a beginning, that he is God’s “only-begotten Son,” the “firstborn of all creation,” yes, “the beginning of the creation by God,” as the glorified Jesus spoke of himself. (John 3:16; Col. 1:15; Rev. 3:14. What does only-begotten son mean? Compare Luke 7:12; 8:42; 9:38; Heb. 11:17) They argue that Jesus cannot be identified with Michael the archangel because they claim that Jesus has always occupied his superior position above all creation.

But the Scriptures tell us that Jesus has not always had the position that he now holds. That is what the apostle Paul explains in Hebrews 1:1-14. He reasons how Jesus has been exalted far above any of the angels in that he is now sitting at God’s right hand, a place he obviously did not occupy prior to his glorification. After his resurrection, Jesus told his disciples: “All authority has been given me in heaven and on the earth.” (Matt. 28:18) Clearly, he cannot be given something that has always been his, can it? Therefore, he did not have “all authority” in heaven and on the earth previously.

In his letter to the congregation in Philippi, Paul explains further: “God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name.” (Phil. 2:9, ESV; Heb. 5:5; 12:2) If the glorification of Jesus included receiving “the name that is above every name” then that means that he is no longer known by his previous name. What is the "new name of mine" that Jesus mentions, which is above every name? And by what name was he formerly known? (Rev. 2:17; 3:12; 19:12,13, 16) Could we not expect the Scriptures to tell us that?

This is how the English Standard Version (
ESV) Study Bible explains Paul’s words to the Philippians (2:9):

“It was precisely Jesus’ humiliation that became the grounds for his exaltation. By humbling himself on the cross out of love, he demonstrated that he truly shared the divine nature of God, who is love (1 John 4:8). For this reason (“therefore”) God raised him to life and highly exalted him, entrusting him with the rule of the cosmos and giving him the name that is above every name. This name is not specified here, but many think it refers to the name Yahweh (Heb. YHWH), God’s personal name, which in the Septuagint is regularly translated as Greek Kyrios, “Lord,” the name specified in Phil. 2:11. In any case, Paul means that the eternal Son of God received a status and authority (cf. Matt. 28:18 and note on Acts 2:33) that had not been his before he became incarnate as both God and man. Jesus’ being given this name is a sign that he exercises his messianic authority in the name of Yahweh.”ESV Study Bible, page 2283. (Italics and Bold is theirs.)


Does the above explanation make sense to you that “by humbling himself on the cross out of love, [Jesus] demonstrated that he truly shared the divine nature of God, who is love,” and therefore “the eternal Son of God received a status and authority that had not been his before he became incarnate as both God and man”? Can you see why there are many who argue that Jesus cannot be Michael the archangel, when at the same time they believe that Jesus "became incarnate as both God and man"? Jehovah is not a mystery to his people, and neither is his Son!

Regarding Michael the archangel the Scripture says that he and his angels battled against the Devil and his angels, defeating them and ousting them from heaven. (Rev. 12:7-9) Who else in the Scriptures exercises authority over the angels and directs them into battle? Another Scripture answers: “God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction.” (2 Thess. 1:6-9, ESV)

Also to consider: When Jesus “arrives in his glory, and all the angels with him,” where is Michael the archangel at that time with his angels? Does Jesus arrive with “all the angels,” or only with the ones who don’t belong to Michael? (Matt. 25:31) Yes, if Michael with his angels won the war against "the one called Devil and Satan," then where is he when the decisive battle of Armageddon is fought? Where is he when Jesus—who as “The Word of God,” and “King of Kings and Lord of lords”—is accompanied by “the armies that were in heaven,” and rides into battle against “the wild beast and the kings of the earth and their armies" in order to annihilate them? (Rev. 16:14, 16; 19:11-19)

What do you think? If Jesus received the new and superior name that is above all others, could we expect the Scriptures to continue to refer to him by his previous name? If Jesus was indeed known as Michael, would he still be called by that name after his exaltation? (compare Gen. 17:5; 35:10; John 1:42) It is no coincidence that after Jesus' glorification Michael is no longer mentioned in the Bible. Jesus said: "I am the fine shepherd, and I know my sheep and my sheep know me." (John 10:14) Jesus' sheep know him because they accept what the Scriptures tell us about him, including the many things that Jesus revealed about himself. (Matt. 3:17; 17:5)