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Who Is Michael?*

By Henry Feyerabend

While visiting Western Canada in the summer of 1988, I happened to see the last part of a telecast, in which a lady was being interviewed on the subject of the cults. She asserted her authority, declaring that her study on the subject of the cults was profound, and that she could back up every statement made. She boldly declared that Seventh-day Adventists are a cult because of their understanding of the subject, "Who is Michael?"

"Like the Jehovah's Witnesses, Seventh-day Adventists believe that Michael is an archangel. . . I have told Seventh-day Adventists a number of times that if they would give up their view on Michael the Archangel and on the scapegoat, I would be glad to extend them my right hand of fellowship."

In corresponding with Lorri MacGregor, it became evident that her theory is based on the following premises:

I. Seventh-day Adventists are not clear on the Divinity of Christ.

"May I suggest you look up the 1888 Minneapolis meeting where J. H. Waggoner and A. T. Jones militantly pressed Arian doctrines against the Deity of Christ. (Lorri MacGregor, Letter, July 26, 1988, p. 2)."

"May I also suggest that you examine the writings of Ellen's husband, James White, who attacked the Trinity. (Lorri MacGregor, Letter July 26, 1988. p.2)."

II. If Michael refers to Jesus, you have angels worshipping another angel.

"If Jesus is the archangel Michael, . . . then we are stuck with angels worshipping an archangel! (Lorri MacGregor, Letter July 26, 1988. p. 2)."

III. No Scripture says Jesus is Michael.

"No scripture says Jesus is Michael, and so we conclude that Jesus Christ is NOT Michael the Archangel. (Lorri MacGregor, Seventh-day Adventism another Gospel?, p. 2).

IV. Michael is "One of the princes." Jesus was not "One of anything."

"Michael the Archangel is mentioned in three books of the Bible, Daniel, Jude and Revelation. Daniel 10:13 says "Michael, ONE OF the chief princes" Daniel 10:21 says, "Michael YOUR Prince." Daniel 12:1 says, "Michael the Great Prince." Please notice that Michael is just "ONE OF the chief  princes, " not unique at all. (are there MANY Christs, of which Jesus is  just one -- ridiculous!) (Lorri MacGregor, Seventh-day Adventism another Gospel?, p. 2)." 

"By calling Jesus "Michael" you are reducing him to a category of "one of  the chief princes." Jesus is not "One of" anything. You cannot claim out of one side of your mouth that you believe in the full Deity of Jesus Christ, and then apply Daniel 1-:13 to Him, reducing him to "one of the chief princes." (Lorri MacGregor, Letter July 26, 1988. p. 2)."

V. The Archangel did not dare rebuke Satan.

"In Jude 9 we find that Michael the Archangel did NOT DARE REBUKE Satan. Jesus, on the other hand, repeatedly rebuked Satan. (Matt. 17:18, Mark 9:25, etc.) (Lorri MacGregor, Seventh-day Adventism another Gospel?, p. 2)."

Let us examine the authoritative statements made publicly by Lorri MacGregor.

I. Did J. H. Waggoner and A. T. Jones militantly press Arian doctrines against the Deity of Christ at the 1888 conference? Are Seventh-day Adventists confused on the divinity of Christ?

It would have been difficult for J. H. Waggoner to militantly press any doctrines at the 1888 conference, as he was not able to attend the  meetings. E. J. Waggoner (son of J. H. Waggoner) and A. T. Jones were prominent speakers at the 1888 gathering to which Mrs. MacGregor makes reference. What were the "Arian" doctrines that they militantly pressed upon the Conference? Did Waggoner believe that Christ was a created being?

"We must dwell for a few moments upon an opinion that is honestly held by   many who would not for any consideration willingly dishonor Christ, but who, through that opinion, do actually deny His Divinity. It is the idea that Christ is a created being, who, through the good-pleasure of God, was elevated to His present lofty position. No one who holds this view can  possibly have any just conception of the exalted position which Christ really occupies. (E. J. Waggoner, Christ and His Righteousness. pp. 19, 20)

Here are some of the statements that formed a basis of Waggoner's discourse to the 1888 conference. They are recorded in a book, Christ and His Righteousness, by E. J. Waggoner:

  • "He (Christ) must receive the same honor that is due to God, and for the reason that He is God." (p. 8)
  • "When He comes it will be as 'the mighty God.'" (p. 11)
  • "As the Son of the self-existing God, He has by nature all the attributes of Deity." (p. 12)
  • "He is there as a part of the Godhead, as surely when on earth as when in heaven." (p. 15)
  • "The use of the present tense implies continued existence." (p. 15)
  • "Christ possesses by nature all the attributes of Divinity." (p. 16)
  • "Our object in this investigation is to set forth Christ's rightful  position of equality with the Father." (p. 19)
  • "He is the source whence all things have their origin." (p. 21)
  • "He is above all creation, and not a part of it." (p. 21)
  • "He is of the very substance and nature of God." (p. 22)
  • "He has life in Himself." (p. 22)
  • "He possesses immortality in His own right." (p. 22)
  • "Life inheres in Him." (p. 22)
  • "Having life in Himself, He is properly called Jehovah, the self-existent One." (p. 23)
  • "Originally only Divine, He took upon Himself human nature." (p. 24)
  • "Christ, in whom dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead." (p. 29, 30)
  • "Christ as God and Creator." (p. 31)
  • "Christ is a part of the Godhead, possessing all the attributes of Divinity, being the equal of the Father in all respects." (p. 43)
  • "If He lacked one iota of being equal to God, He could not bring us to Him." (p. 44)
  • "In whom dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead; He is equal with the  Father in every attribute." (p. 63)
  • "The redemption that is in Him - the ability to buy back lost man - is infinite." (p. 63)

These are the points that Waggoner "militantly" pressed upon the delegation of the 1888 conference. Here is a tabular listing of Waggoner's key expressions on the complete Deity of the Son of God, and the  approximate number of times so used:

  • All the fullness of the Godhead 15 times
  • Part of the Godhead 8 times
  • Complete equality with the Father 7 times
  • All the attributes of Deity/Divinity 5 times
  • Eternal power and Godhead 4 times
  • From the days of eternity 4 times
  • Integral part of Godhead 3 times
  • Oneness of Father and Son 2 times
  • Mighty God 1 time
  • Self-existent One 1 time
  • Mediator from eternity 1 time
  • God in the beginning 1 time
  • Continuous existence 1 time
    56 anti-Arian statements

"James White's Arian Views:" Mrs. MacGregor uses a statement by James White, written in 1852, years before the Adventist church was organized, as a basis for her public declaration that the Adventist church is confused on the subject of the Trinity.

It is true that some Seventh-day Adventist leaders in their early experience were not clear in their understanding of the Trinity. Uriah Smith definitely had problems in this area. The question is, "Did the Adventist church go along with his Arian teachings?" As late as 1898 Uriah Smith published a book called, Looking Unto Jesus, which denied the Trinity. The book was not well accepted by Adventists.

About the same time, Ellen White published a book the Desire of Ages which has had a circulation of well over a million copies. In this book she went on record declaring the truth about the divinity of Christ even if it directly opposed earlier statements by Uriah Smith and her own husband, James White. The Seventh-day Adventist church has always accepted her position on this subject without reserve. What is this position?

  1. "From the days of eternity the Lord Jesus Christ was one with the Father." (The Desire of Ages, p. 19).
  2. "He (Christ) was the incarnate God, the light of heaven and earth." (The Desire of Ages, p. 23).
  3. "It is the Son of man who shares the throne of the universe... The mighty God." (The Desire of Ages, p. 29).
  4. "Jesus claimed equal rights with God. He had declared Himself equal with God." (The Desire of Ages, p. 207).
  5. "I am the Son of God, one with Him (the Father) in nature, in will, and in purpose." (The Desire of Ages, p. 208).
  6. "The Son of God, One with the Creator of the universe." (The Desire of Ages, p. 210).
  7. "In Christ is life, original, unborrowed, underived. 'He that hath the Son hath life.' (John 5:12) The divinity of Christ is the believer's assurance of eternal life." (The Desire of Ages, p. 530).

II. What is the Bible definition of the word "Archangel"?

We sing "Praise Him, Praise Him, Highest archangels in glory." Is there any Bible basis for using the word "archangel" in the plural? Where does the notion that archangels are a class of angelic beings come from?

There are four archangels in the Koran, Christian legends speaks of seven, while in the celestial hierarchy attributed to Dionysius an archangel is depicted as being in the eighth order from the Trinity. In Roman Catholic theology there are nine divisions or orders of angels in three hierarchies, each including three orders: Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, Domination's, Principalities, Powers, Virtues, Archangels, and angels.

Though many Christians assume that these divisions are biblical, and have included expressions about them in their hymns, there are no choruses of archangels in the Bible. The term is found only twice in Scripture. In 1 Thessalonians 4:16 it is the voice of the archangel that awakens the dead. In Jude 9 the archangel challenges Satan about the body of Moses. Both times the word is defined as "The Archangel," never "an archangel," or "one of the archangels." This clearly implies that there is only one Archangel.

What is an Angel?

The word angel in the Bible is a translation of the Hebrew Malak or the Greek Aggelos, both of which mean "messenger."

There are three basic uses of the word.

1. A supernatural being created by God, superior to man. This is the most common use of the term. This is what the apostle was talking about in the first chapter of Hebrews:

"Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation? (Hebrews 1:4)

2. In some Bible passages Malak and Aggelos refer, not to superhuman beings, but to prophets and others fulfilling the function of a messenger. (2 Samuel 3:14; Ezekiel 23:16; Haggai 1:13; Matthew 11:19; Luke 7:24; and Revelation 1:20)

3. In some passages the term applies to Deity.

The Angel of Jehovah: In the book of Genesis, the angel of the Lord found Hagar by a fountain of water in the wilderness (Genesis 16:7), told her to return to her mistress (verse 8), and promised her that her seed would be multiplied (verse 11). Who was this angel?

"And she called the name of the Lord that spake to her, Thou God seest me: for she said, Have I also here looked after him that seeth me?" (Genesis 6:13)

The angel is identified as the "Lord" and "God." This is not to suggest that God is a created being, but rather that the word "angel" or messenger is sometimes used to refer to Deity.

When Abraham was about to slay his son, "the angel of the Lord" called to him (Genesis 22:11, 15). Who was this angel?

"And the angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son...." (Genesis 22:15, 16)

When Moses saw the burning bush, "the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of the bush." (Exodus 3:2) Who was the angel? He clearly identifies Himself in these words:

"Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God." (Exodus 3:6)

In his sermon just before martyrdom, Stephen identifies the One that appeared to Moses.

"This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear. This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sinai, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us. (Acts 7:37, 38)

Is Jesus an Angel? Only in the sense that He is a messenger, called the Angel of Jehovah. He is the One who appeared to Moses in the burning bush, whose name was "I Am." In the New Testament He identifies Himself as the great "I Am." (John 8:58)

He is decidedly not a created angelic being. The divinity of Christ is clearly spelled out in Scriptures. Hebrew the first chapter clearly differentiates between Jesus and those supernatural beings called angels.

"Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they". (Hebrews 1:4)

The messianic prophecies did not foretell the coming of an angel to redeem the human race.

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:7)

When Joseph received the divine message regarding the birth of Jesus, the angel quoted the words of Isaiah.

"Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us." (Matthew 1:23)

The Gospel of John presents Jesus as God. "The Word was with God and the Word was God." (John 1:1) In writing to the Philippians Paul refers to Jesus "Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God." (Philippians 2:6) Writing to the Colossians he says, "For in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily." (Colossians 2:9)

On two different occasions John was inclined to worship an angel. He was told by the angel, "See thou do it not: I am a fellow servant, and of they brethren that have the testimony of Jesus." (Revelation 19:10)

Worship of a creature was clearly prohibited in the Bible.

Worship of the Creator was another matter. Jesus accepted worship. Of the Canaanite woman it was said, "Then came she and worshipped Him..." (Matthew 15:25). When Thomas recognized Him as the risen Christ he said, "My Lord and my God." (John 20:28)

Is the Archangel a created being?

The Greek word archaggelos is compounded from archi, a prefix denoting "chief" and the word aggelos, "messenger." He is the Chief Messenger. He is not an angel, but rather the Commander of angels. An archbishop is not a bishop, but is over the bishops. An archdiocese is not a diocese, though it may contain many diocese. The president of the United States is the "chief" of the armed forces of his country. That does not make him a soldier. The fact that the Archangel is the Chief of all of the angelic host, does not imply that He is a created being.

III. Is there any Scriptural Basis for Concluding that Michael refers to Christ?

The name "Michael" means Who is like God? The activities of Michael could not be performed by a created being, but only by the power of divinity.

Whose Voice Raises the Dead?

"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: (1 Thessalonians 4:16).

It is the voice of the Archangel that will awaken the dead. "Whose voice is it?" "The hour is coming when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: (John 5:25)

"Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice. (John 5:28)

Paul says that it is the voice of the Archangel that will awaken the dead. John says that it is the voice of the Son of God. No creature has the power over death. Only Jesus has that power.

"And if Christ be not raised your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. (1 Corinthians 15:17, 18)

"For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:22)

It was no mere angel that cast Satan out of heaven! He was cast out by the "power of his Christ."

"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 any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. (Revelation 12:10)

IV. "One of the Princes"

Mrs. MacGregor's argumentation on Daniel 10:13 may sound somewhat convincing if the words are taken completely out of their context. A text out of its context is only a pretext. Will her statement stand in the light of its context?

In Daniel, chapters 8 - 10 we definitely have more than one prince

The prince of the kingdoms of Persia. (Daniel 10:13, 20)
The prince of the host. (Daniel 8:11)
The Prince of princes. (Daniel 8:25)
Messiah the Prince (Daniel 9:25)
Michael your Prince. (Daniel 10:21)

Daniel, in the context of these verses says that Michael is "one of the chief princes.: Obviously he is referring to the princes that the passage is talking about. Mrs MacGregor declares that Jesus is not "one of the chief princes mentioned in Daniel chapters 8 - 11. In that case He is not "Messiah the Prince," (Daniel 9:25) nor is He "The Prince of princes" (Daniel 8:25).

More About Princes: That Christ is called a "Prince" is evident.

1. Jesus is called a prince.

A. The Prince of peace (Isaiah 9:6)
B. The Prince of princes. (Daniel 8:25)
C. Messiah the Prince. (Daniel 9:25)
D. Prince of life. (Acts 3:15)
E. Prince and Saviour. (Acts 5:31)
F. Prince of the kings of the earth. Revelation 1:5)

2. He is not the only prince in the Bible.

A. Jacob was called a prince. (Genesis 23:6)
B. David was called a prince. (Ezekiel 34:24)
C. Satan was called the prince of this world. (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11)
D. Satan referred to as "The prince of the power of the air," (Ephesians 2:2)

Christ is a Prince, but there are other princes. To say that Christ is not one of anything, is not accurate. He is one of the trinity. The fact that there are other princes, calling Him one of them does not reduce Him to the same level as the others.

When angels worship Christ who is the Chief Messenger, the Prince of the angelic host, they are not worshipping another angel, but rather the Creator of angels.

V. Did Michael Rebuke Satan? One of the identifying marks of a cult is  that they misquote Scripture. Lorri MacGregor states, "In Jude 9 where we find that Michael the Archangel did not dare rebuke Satan." (Seventh-day Adventism Another Gospel? p.2) Many of her readers may not take the time to look up the passage, thus being misled by what she is saying. The text says that "he durst not bring against him a railing accusation."

"Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but saith, The Lord rebuke thee. (Jude 9)

Satan is the "accuser of our brethren." (Revelation 12:10) Because of  his character, Christ does not deal in railing accusations. However He did rebuke Satan! The very next phrase says "but said, the Lord rebuke thee." 

Apart from Jude's account, the only scriptural reference to the burial  of Moses is Deut. 34:5, 6, where it is recorded that the Lord buried His faithful servant and that his grave was not known to men. Jude now  reveals that the dead body was the subject of dispute between Christ and Satan. It is evident that the Lord triumphed in His contest with the  devil and raised Moses from his grave, making him the first known subject of Christ's resurrecting power. (Matthew 17:3). Moses appeared with Elijah on the Mount of transfiguration. 

Conclusion: A superficial study of Michael the Archangel, tainted with pagan ideas about the hierarchy of angels, might imply that an archangel is a created being. A more thorough study of the subject reveals that:

1. The term "angel" means messenger, and does not always refer to created beings, but is sometimes used to refer to divinity.

2. Greek philosophy, as well as Moslem and Roman Catholic tradition teach that there is a class of angels called Archangels. There is no Biblical basis for this teaching. The Bible never refers to a plurality of archangels, but only to "the Archangel."

3. The word Archangel is compounded from two words, archi, a prefix denoting "chief," and aggelo, or "messenger." He is the chief "Messenger," linking heaven to earth.

4. It is the voice of the Archangel that calls the dead from their graves. It is the voice of Christ that awakens the dead. No created being has the power to challenge the power of death.

5. It is only Christ who has the power to wrest the body of Moses from the power of death making him the first known subject of His resurrecting power.

6. Only Christ could cast Satan out of heaven.

7. Michael your Prince in Daniel 10:21 refers to the same Person as Messiah the Prince (Daniel 9:25), The Prince of princes (Daniel 8:25), The Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6), The Prince of life (Acts 3:15), the Prince and Saviour (Acts 5:31), and the Prince of the kings of the earth. (Revelation 1:5)

* Our thanks to Ron Keys for sending us this material and obtaining permission from the author for publication on our web site. Who Is Michael? was written in 1988, in response to specific allegations that Seventh-day Adventists are not clear on the divinity of Christ because they teach that Michael the Archangel is another name for the pre-incarnate Christ. Since there are others today who are making this same charge, we are reproducing the entire booklet online. The booklet itself may be ordered from: It Is Written, Box 2010, Oshawa, Ontario, Canada L1H 7V4[back]

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