Who is Archangel Michael?
St. Michael the Archangel (as some Christians may call him), or Archangel Michael, is said to be the strongest archangel in the Bible. This was evidently a name given to Jesus before and after his life on earth. The title “archangel,” meaning “chief of the angels,” appears in only two Bible verses. In both cases, the word is singular, suggesting that only one angel bears that title.
The mystery surrounding Archangels are as you might imagine, quite difficult to unpick, and perhaps, that’s what makes them so fascinating in that there is so much intrigue surrounding their vague presence in the Bible.
While the Bible is full of ambiguity with some of its characters, there is perhaps no one more ambiguous than the Archangel known as Michael. Yet, despite his minuscule presence in the Bible, Archangel Michael has cultivated a massive devotion, from not only those from the Christian faith but also the Jewish and Islamic faiths as well, given that Archangel Michael appears across all three religious texts in some capacity.
However, there are those that would believe that Archangel Michael’s appearance in this manner is subject to interpretation.
In this article, we’ll be primarily focusing on Michael’s presence in the Bible, as this is biblical stories explain series, but I will be touching on stories and legends originating from both Jewish and Islamic texts to give you an unbiased and hopefully more complete picture on who Archangel Michael is, as well as what he means to people today.
He’s considered to be the biblical God’s finest champion. A being so powerful that he’s able to banish Lucifer from heaven by himself without direct intervention from God.
His name, which means, ‘he who is as God,’ is usually considered to be an angel of protection and perhaps the most powerful of all of God’s angels. It goes without saying that as the most powerful, Michael is the leader within the realm of angels, and serves as a warrior to defeat the forces of evil in all their forms.
Archangel Michael in the Bible
Did you know that Archangel Michael is only mentioned a total of six times in the Bible? He’s mentioned three times in the Old Testament—in the Book of Daniel where he is merely mentioned by another unknown entity—and later again in the New Testament in his battle of Lucifer and the other fallen angels.
He’s also seen in the Epistle of Jude, in a debate with Satan, and is again alluded to in the first epistle of the Thessalonians, though, he’s not explicitly named in this instance.
In all these accounts, the scripture supporting Archangel Michael is loose at best, and as I mentioned earlier, perhaps this is where the fascination of angel stems from, in that the Bible does not tell us much about this bold and brilliant persona.
The Book of Daniel
Archangel Michael’s first mentioned comes out of the Old Testament in the Book of Daniel, and it is virtually just that—a mere mention.
Daniel, serving as a prophet for God, praise his Lord in hopes that he will bring some stability to the turmoil in Israel, and hopes to confess all the sins of its people.
During this prayer, a being makes himself known and is described in Daniel 10:5-6, as “…a certain man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz: His body also was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in colour to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude.”
While this man is never explicitly identified, it is understood that this being is not mortal and that he’s of a supernatural composition. His presence in Daniel 10:10-20, sees this entity explained to Daniel what will happen to his people, and what lies in Israel’s fate in the time coming.
What’s most interesting about these passages is that the entity, powerful as he appears to be, claims that he has been resisted by the Prince of Persia and that this has delayed him in reaching Daniel.
In Daniel 10:13, he states “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; and I remained there with the kings of Persia.”
While the nature of Michael’s help is not detailed beyond this, we can gather that the entity in question is reinforced by Michael, and thus, on the side of God.
The fact that Michael came to help this entity shows us perhaps the basis of his reputation as a protector stem from. Michael’s involvement also shows Daniel that the entity, which has approached him, is on God’s side, for Michael works only with God’s divine intentions in mind.
Some have speculated that this entity is Archangel Gabriel—another suspected Archangels in religious Scripture, most notably, Judaism. But many disputes this idea as this figure is never addressed as Gabriel in this chapter.
Previously, Daniel heard Gabriel’s voice in chapter 8:16, when Daniel is having a vision. He states, “And I heard a man’s voice between the banks of Ulai, which called, and said, Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision.”
In the next verse, Gabriel speaks and says, “…Understand, O son of man: for at the time of the end shall be the vision.”
Furthermore, Gabriel appears before Daniel in Chapter 9:21, where Daniel explains, “Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation.”
So, if the entity speaking of Michael was Gabriel, then Daniel should have recognized him, instead of being overcome by the shape or of him where he’s noted as trembling with his hands and knees—unless, of course, as some have suggested, Gabriel has only shown himself to Daniel in a lesser form, and when he appears to him again in chapter 10, he comes as his true self, hence why Daniel only chooses now to describe the entity’s appearance.
All in all, though, the reference of Gabriel as man, in the title of the chapter called Daniels’s vision of a man, seems to indicate that this is not Gabriel, and while otherworldly, is merely a messenger bringing word of Michael.
By the end of their encounter in 10:20-21, the entity further confirms his allegiance with Michael by saying, “Knowest thou wherefore I come unto thee? and now will I return to fight with the prince of Persia: and when I am gone forth, lo, the prince of Greece shall come. But I will shew thee that which is noted in the scripture of truth: and there is none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your prince.”
By calling Michael Daniel’s prince, it highlights his importance. It gives us something of an inkling that the Archangel Michael is some sort of higher power, and that he should be respected and revered by Daniel, and therefore, Daniel’s people.
However, beyond this, we can’t do much more than speculate.
The prophecy is finally concluded in Chapter 12, and Michael is brought up one last time—his final mention in the entirety of the Old Testament, where the entity explains, “And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.”
Essentially, Daniel was being told that Michael would be the one who brought salvation upon Israel, and once more, his status as a protector is furthermore cemented.
Beyond this, it’s hard to gather a real sense as to who Michael is, and what his great attributes are. Based on the Old Testament alone, defining Michael is a difficult task, because frankly, he isn’t physically present. We can deduce some idea as to what the Archangels role is, and that is the dispelling of evil forces, some say demons.
If we take the demon analogy, there are those that believe the Prince of Persia, for lack of any real identity, is in fact a demon. If this is the case, then we can derive from this encounter that angels and demons engage in spiritual battles. Perhaps, this is why Daniel is unable to understand or convey the gravity of what is happening in this encounter, for it is beyond him to comprehend the conceptuality of angels battling demons.
The Book of Revelation
Still, we get a much better understanding it’s Archangel Michael’s persona, once later in a New Testament, most notably, the book of Revelation.
Some of you may wish to refresh your memory by reading the Lucifer article for this part of the article. But to keep things brief, the biblical God created a perfect being, a beautiful creation that was so divine and mighty when in comparison to his peers, that he grew woefully arrogant.
As you may remember his name was Lucifer, and before long, he believed that he was above God, and he was worthy enough to rule the heavens instead.
Worse yet, many took to Lucifer’s charisma and passion and believed that he could overthrow their God, and so joined him in the quest of his usurpation. Unfortunately for Lucifer, challenging God would be a secondary concern for him because first, he had to get through resistance led by Michael himself.
A fierce battle took place, but Lucifer soon realized that Michael was stronger than expected. So, Lucifer transformed himself into a dragon, as noted in Revelation 12:7-8, “And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels and prevailed not; neither was their place found anymore in heaven.”
From these passages, we understand Michael a little better. We already gathered, that from his elusive encounter with the Prince of Persia, that Michael was a fighter. Likely what he fought resiliently for the glory of his God.
But like most battles, the measure of a man is determined by how big his enemy is. The Prince of Persia had given hassle to the unknown entity for 21 days, and going by his prophecy, the Archangel Michael would prevail, showing us how he succeeded where others did not.
But the Prince of Persia was a relatively unknown adversary, and so, we cannot comprehend how much of a fight Michael was given. But when the character is so bold as Lucifer, the creature created perfectly by God, we can mostly agree that this pitted Michael against an enemy of equal skill.
Some might even say that Michael was at a disadvantage, and he was facing off against God’s favourite angel turned bad boy. From this, we can derive that Michael is certainly courageous. He would even think about going head-to-head against Lucifer, the being who had been created by God to be perfect.
By that logic, Michael may have considered his mortality, in a duel with someone like Lucifer, but without hesitation, Michael said to have defeated Lucifer and all of his angels.
Furthermore, Michael demonstrates loyalty and that he doesn’t turn away from God and join Lucifer, where so many other angels chose to do so.
It’s also notable that during this battle, when things are looking bleak for Lucifer, Lucifer turns into a dragon and makes one last assault upon Michael, only to be defeated anyway.
While it’s not specified if Archangel Michael had this ability to transform as well, he chooses not to and faces Lucifer as he had done from the beginning of the battle.
Some might say that this is a testament to his skill as a warrior, that he did not see it necessary to face Lucifer as anything other than himself. Others would agree that his stance in the battle was one of fearlessness, and his facing of Lucifer, even in his dragon form, only shows us that the power of God flows through him, and he is something of a conduit for God’s justice and punishment.
The Book of Jude
We see Michael mentioned again in a rather ambiguous confrontation between himself and Satan, in Jude 1:9. The writings of Jude—a servant of Jesus Christ—is featured in the Bible, as he addresses a letter to his friends, reminding them to pay respects to God and not allow the failures of the likes of Cain, Sodom, Gomorrah, and even what appears to be the angels of Lucifer to influence them in any way.
During his lengthy rant, Jude also cites an incident between Archangel Michael and Satan, where they were debating the body of Moses.
He says, ‘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 the LORD rebuke you.” But these men are speaking abusively about all the things they do not understand. And in all the things that they do understand by instinct like unreasoning animals, they go on corrupting themselves.’
The event that Jude speaks of does not seem to appear anywhere else in the scripture and Jude doesn’t try to explain it either, thus assuming his friends knew what he was talking about, which they may very well have done so. All we know from this, though, is that Michael somehow found his way into the company of Satan and that Moses’ body was the reason for that argument.
Some say that this was because Satan opposed God’s decision to race Moses to eternal life because Moses had sinned, or that God was considering letting Moses into the Promised Land after all and that Satan detested this, threatening terrible things if this was to happen.
Others suggested that Jude is referencing the story from an apocryphal text adjacent to the Old or New Testament, which details the account that Jude speaks of.
Supposedly, some source this book has been titled ‘The Assumption of Moses’ or ‘The Testament of Moses,’ but these books appeared to be either lost or missing chapters according to some scholars.
Ultimately, our conjectures nor the conjectures of the scholars bring us much closer to the real understanding of what Michael and Satan were arguing about concerning Moses’ body.
Some do not see the reason for Michael and Satan arguing as the thing to take away from this encounter, but more so, how Michael reacts in the proper Christian way.
Michael tells Satan in the heat of their argument, ‘The Lord rebuke you’—his only four words in the entire scripture. This shows us that he is not sinking to Satan’s level in his argument. He’s not physically engaging Satan nor condemning Satan for his words but telling Satan that God will deal with him.
His refusal to personally attack Satan serves as a lesson to believers that they should not exact justice for themselves and should allow God to work plan. It also shows believers that if once such as Michael is refusing to address a demon, then believers themselves should not address them, either-even if they mean to banish them, for this should be left to their God.
How Many Archangels are There?
This brings me to the mentioning of the Archangel in Thessalonians 4:16, where Paul writes to the Christians in Thessalonica. He states, “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:”
You’ll notice he does mention an archangel, but this one is preceded by ‘the’ as in ‘the Archangel,’ suggesting that there is only one.
Whether or not this is Michael or not, is of course unknown to us. But what’s interesting about this passage is that it shows us another role of the Archangel; in that, it’s his voice that will come to earth in the end times and signalling the rising of the dead.
Some translations of this text indicate that the Lord is referenced in this passage is Jesus and that it is Jesus, whether as God or the son of God, who is using the voice of the Archangel.
By this, many go on to say that Jesus and this Archangel is the same, because if Michael is the Archangel, as in the only Archangel, then he is the single most powerful creation of God. But then, Jesus is also said to have been God’s most powerful creation, and so many conclude that these two must share the same existence.
Other beliefs include that it was Jesus who was present against the battle against Lucifer in Revelations and that he was the one leading the army of angels.
Given that the bible does not mention two armies, one led by Jesus and the other led by Archangel Michael, there exists a belief that these two are one and the same.
Archangel Michael Prayer
“St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil; May God rebuke him, we humbly pray; And do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all evil spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls.
Today, some believe that Archangel Michael is amongst us on earth and at his role as a divine protector has not changed over time. It’s understood that many believers call upon Archangel Michael in time of need, particularly in times of potential danger, in that Michael will answer them and deliver them safely from a certain circumstance.
Many believe that they can feel Archangel Michael’s presence when they have summoned him, usually if they have been successfully removed from a dangerous circumstance or if they feel protected.
Uplifting feelings of warmth, inner peace and flashing lights are also said to be common science that Archangel Michael is amongst those who have summoned him. Others claim to have even heard Archangel Michael speak to them with guidance, similarly to how the unnamed man spoke to Daniel.
By in any case, whether you believe in Archangel Michael as a champion of the biblical God, as Jesus Christ, or as an entity that wanders through earth offering aid and guidance, do let me know your thoughts.
Image Sources: Orestis Kanellopoulos.