The archangel Michael, contending with the devil Jude 1:9?

The archangel Michael, contending with the devil Jude 1:9?                        By Jack Kettler                                     

“But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you.’” (Jude 1:9 ESV)

How do we understand this passage? Is the angel Michael a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ? Historically, this passage is undisputedly obscure and along with parallel passages in Daniel 10:13, 21, 12:1, 1 Thessalonians 4:16, and Revelation 12:1, difficult to interpret. As in many previous studies, lexical and commentary evidence will be consulted to gain an understanding of the Jude and related passages.  

Definitions:

What is an archangel?

The word archangel means an angel of the highest position or ranking.

What is the meaning of the name Michael?

Michael means, “Who is like God.”

Strong’ Lexicon:

ἀρχάγγελος (archangelos)

Noun – Nominative Masculine Singular

Strong’s Greek 743: A ruler of angels, a superior angel, an archangel. From archo and aggelos, a chief angel.

Mikha’el – מִיכָאֵל (Hebrew) Μιχαηλ (Greek) meaning, “Who is like God.”

Strong’ Lexicon:

Μιχαὴλ (Michaēl)

Noun – Nominative Masculine Singular

Strong’s Greek 3413: Michael, an archangel. Of Hebrew origin, Michael, an archangel.

An overview on Michael from the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia abridged:  
“mi’-ka-el, mi’-kel (mikha’el, “who is like God?” Michael):

(11) “The archangel” (Jude 1:9). Probably also the unnamed archangel of 1Th 4:16 is Michael. In the Old Testament, he is mentioned by name only in Daniel. He is “one of the chief princes” (Da 10:13), the “prince” of Israel (Da 10:21), “the great prince” (Da 12:1), perhaps also “the prince of the host” (Da 8:11). In all these passages, Michael appears as the heavenly patron and champion of Israel, as the watchful guardian of the people of God against all foes earthly or devilish. In the uncanonical apocalyptic writings, however, Jewish angelology is further developed. In them, Michael frequently appears and excretes functions similar to those, which are ascribed to him in Daniel. He is the first of the “four presences that stand before God”–Michael, Gabriel, Raphael and Uriel or Phanuel (En 9:1; 40:9). In other apocryphal books and even elsewhere in En, the number of archangels is given as 7 (En 20:1-7; Tobit 12:15; compare also Re 8:2). Among the many characterizations of Michael the following may be noted: He is “the merciful and long-suffering” (En 40:9; 68:2, 3), “the mediator and intercessor” (Ascension of Isaiah, Latin version 9:23; Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs, Le 5:1-19; Da 6:1-28). It is he who opposed the Devil in a dispute concerning Moses’ body (Jude 1:9). This passage, according to most modern authorities, is derived from the apocryphal Assumption of Moses (see Charles’ edition, 105-10). It is Michael also who leads the angelic armies in the war in heaven against “the old serpent, he that is called the Devil and Satan” (Re 12:7 ff). According to Charles, the supplanting of the “child” by the archangel is an indication of the Jewish origin of this part of the book.

The earlier Protestant scholars usually identified Michael with the preincarnate Christ, finding support for their view, not only in the juxtaposition of the “child” and the archangel in Re 12:1-17, but also in the attributes ascribed to him in Daniel (for a full discussion see Hengstenberg, Offenbarung, I, 611-22, and an interesting survey in English by Dr. Douglas in Fairbairn’s BD).” John A. Lees (1)

 The cultic Jehovah’s Witnesses and the sectarian Seventh Day Adventists are proponents of the view that Michael is Christ. Unfortunately, anyone who believes likewise, albeit for Scriptural reasons, is unfairly tagged with guilt by association.

 As noted by the encyclopedia, a number of “the earlier Protestant scholars identified Michael with the pre-incarnate Christ.” In the commentators cited below, John Gill, and Matthew Poole, Puritan expositors, identified with this interpretation. In addition, Calvin, in his Daniel commentary agreed, and Lutheran theological tradition does likewise.

 Commentary evidence on the meaning of Jude 1:9 and related passages:

 From Matthew Poole’s 17th Century Commentary on Jude 1:9:  “Michael the archangel: either this is understood of Christ the Prince of angels, who is often in Scripture called an Angel, or of a created angel; and that either:

1. One of the archangels: Daniel 10:13, Michael is called one of the chief princes, which though the word archangel be not found in the plural number in Scripture, may well imply a plurality of them; for what is one of the chief princes among the angels, but an archangel? Or,

2. A principal angel, or one that is chief among others.

When contending with the devil; it may be meant either of Christ contending with the devil, as Matthew 4:1-25, in his temptation, and Zechariah 3:1, 2, and Revelation 12:7; or rather, of Michael, a created angel.

He disputed about the body of Moses:

1. If Michael the archangel be meant of Christ, then the body of Moses may be taken figuratively, for that body whereof the Mosaical ceremonies were shadows, Colossians 2:17, i.e. the truth and accomplishment of the law given by Moses; that accomplishment was to be in Christ, who is represented by Joshua, Zechariah 3:1-10: him Satan resists in the execution of his office, and by him strikes at Christ, whose type he was, and whom he afterward opposeth in the execution of his office, when he was come in the flesh. Or,

2. If we take Michael for a created angel, which agrees best with the parallel place in Peter, then the body of Moses must be taken properly, (as most take it), and the dispute seems to be: Whether Moses’s body should be so buried as to be concealed from the Israelites? Deuteronomy 34:6, it is said God buried him, (which might be by the ministry of Michael the archangel), and that no man knoweth of his sepulchre. The devil opposeth the angel, desiring to have the place of his burial known, that in after-times it might be a snare to that people, and a means to bring them to idolatry. And this seems very probable, if we consider what work the devil hath made in the world with the bodies of saints and martyrs, and how much idolatry he hath brought in thereby. This passage Jude, most probably, had (as was observed in the argument) from some known tradition among the Jews, the truth of which we are now sure of, because certified here concerning it.

Durst not bring against him; or, could not endure, (as the Greek word is often taken among profane writers), or find in his heart, not from fear of punishment, but by reason of the holiness of his own nature, and to give an example to us. And this sense agrees to the scope of the place, whether we understand it of Christ, or of a created angel, Hebrews 12:3 1 Peter 2:23.

A railing accusation: see 2 Peter 2:11.

But said, The Lord rebuke thee; i.e. put thee to silence, restrain thy insolence, hinder thy design, &c.: hereby the angel refers the cause to God.” (2)

 From the 20th Century New Testament Commentary by Simon J. Kistemaker:  “B. Michael and Satan

9–10

In these two verses, Jude relies on information that is recorded in the apocryphal book the Testament of Moses or the related work known as the Assumption of Moses. Unfortunately, the ending of this testament is no longer extant, but scholars have been able to reconstruct it from early Christian sources.

Because of this allusion to a non-canonical book and the direct quote from the apocryphal book I Enoch, the church in the first few centuries hesitated to accept the Epistle of Jude as canonical. The fact remains, however, that although Jude uses material from other sources, he does not recognize these books as inspired. He borrows examples from apocryphal literature or from the oral tradition of his day to illustrate and clarify his own teachings.

9. But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil over the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”

a. Michael

The name given to the archangel means “who is like God?” and is common in the Old Testament. The name also belongs to ten different persons, all of whom are virtually unknown. In the prophecy of Daniel, the name Michael belongs to the angel who is “one of the chief princes” (10:13) and “the great prince who protects” the people Israel (12:1). He opposes and overcomes demons whom Satan has sent to influence the rulers of Persia and Greece (10:13, 20). The term prince is equivalent to the word archangel (compare 1 Thess. 4:16).

Apocryphal literature teaches that there are seven archangels. This information corresponds with John’s description of “the seven angels who stand before God” (Rev. 8:2). Four of these have names; they are Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, and Uriel. Michael is the leader of the heavenly armies that fight Satan and his fallen angels and drive them out of heaven (Rev. 12:7–9).

b. Moses

“But even the archangel Michael … was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses.” The Old Testament is silent about this dispute between Michael and Satan and only records that God “buried [Moses] in Moab, in the valley opposite Beth Peor, but to this day no one knows where his grave is” (Deut. 34:6). A reconstructed outline of the lost ending of the Testament of Moses gives this account of Moses’ burial:

Joshua accompanied Moses up Mount Nebo, where God showed Moses the land of promise. Moses then sent Joshua back to the people to inform them of Moses’ death, and Moses died. God sent the archangel Michael to remove the body of Moses to another place and bury it there, but Samma’el, the devil, opposed him, disputing Moses’ right to honorable burial.… The devil brought against Moses a charge of murder, because he smote the Egyptian and hid his body in the sand. But this accusation was not better than slander against Moses and Michael, not tolerating the slander, said to the devil, “May the Lord rebuke you, devil!” At that the devil took flight, and Michael removed the body to the place commanded by God, where he buried it with his own hands. Thus, no one saw the burial of Moses.

Jude uses this illustration about the dispute between Michael and Satan to demonstrate that even this mighty archangel did not dare to rebuke the devil. Even though Michael ranked high above Satan and from our point of view had every right to reprimand this devil, the archangel avoided uttering a rebuke. God is the judge.

c. Satan

“The Lord rebuke you!” This sentence is reminiscent of the account that describes, “Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him” (Zech. 3:1). Then the Lord said, “The Lord rebuke you, Satan!” (v. 2). Likewise, Michael turned Satan over to God when Satan forced him to argue about the body of Moses. Jude uses the literary device of comparison: the greater versus the lesser. That is, if the mightiest archangel Michael refuses to rebuke Satan, how much more should sinful man refrain from reviling (compare 2 Peter 2:11–12).

10. Yet these men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand; and what things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals—these are the very things that destroy them.

In passing, we note that Peter provides a parallel that is even clearer than the wording in Jude’s epistle. He writes, “But these men blaspheme in matters they do not understand. They are like brute beasts, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like beasts they too will perish” (2 Peter 2:12).

After illustrating his teaching with an incident that involves Michael and Satan, Jude returns to the subject of his discussion, namely, the godless men, whom he calls dreamers (v. 8). He depicts them as people who lack spiritual discernment and yet speak abusively against anyone and everything. As Jude says elsewhere, “[They] follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit” (v. 19). Indeed, they are devoid of divine wisdom, unable to comprehend spiritual truth and unwilling to admit their foolishness (see especially 1 Cor. 2:14). David also reflected on the thoughts and deeds of evil men when he composed Psalm 14. This is David’s view, presented here in verse:

The God who sits enthroned on high

The foolish in their heart deny;

Not one does good; corrupt in thought,

Unrighteous works their hands have wrought.

—Psalter Hymnal

“What things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals— these are the very things that destroy them.” What is Jude trying to say? He means that persons without spiritual discernment are abysmally ignorant of reality and depend on instinct. That is, they have lowered themselves to the level of animals and in their sexual pursuits (see v. 8) are guided by instinct. Yet, unlike the animals which abide by the laws of nature, these godless men are destroyed by the very things they fail to understand. When men live by instinct, they abandon even natural law and consequently perish. They place themselves on a par with the animals, but because of their refusal to obey even the laws God has placed in nature, they are destroyed (compare Rom. 1:24).

Greek Words, Phrases, and Constructions in 9–10

Verse 9

ὁ δέ—this combination indicates a change of subject in the discourse.

διακρινόμενος—the use of this middle participle in the present tense denotes duration of time. The tense of the participle relates to the tense of the main verb.

διελέγετο—from the verb διαλέγομαι (I discuss); this form is in the imperfect middle indicative to show duration in the past tense. The imperfect is descriptive.

Verse 10

οὗτοι δέ—Jude returns to the subject of verse 8. The combination of these two Greek words reveals a change of subject in the discourse.

οἴδασιν—this verb in the perfect tense with a present meaning (from οἶδα, I know) expresses innate knowledge.” (3)

 “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.” (Daniel 10:13)

 From Matthew Poole’s Commentary on Daniel 10:13:  “But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: this place hath some difficulty, therefore variously expounded. Some expound it of earthly princes, some of angels, and among them, some will have good angels meant, who they say have the patronage of the kingdoms and provinces of the earth; but who can imagine that good angels should quarrel one with the other? therefore, say others, they are bad angels that oppose the people of God, and their deliverance, seeking rather their ruin, as Michael and the devil strove, Revelation 12:7: now sometimes God permits Satan to do much this way. But I judge by the prince of Persia is meant Cambyses, who was an enemy to the Jews, and hindered the building of the temple. Now he could not properly resist the angel, but figuratively he did. Angels’ power is not unlimited, but by commission and instructions from God, and their works successive. Therefore, God suffered the wicked counsels of Cambyses to take place a while; but Daniel by his prayers, and the angel by his power, overcame him at last. And this very thing laid a foundation of the Persian monarchy’s ruin, Daniel 10:20; and doubtless that king was stirred up to his evil machinations against the people of God by the prince of the powers of darkness, that ruleth in the children of disobedience, Ephesians 2:2.

Michael: this we take to be Christ.

1. His name signifies, who is like God.

2. He is the first in dignity above all the angels, Hebrews 1:4-7, &c., called archangel, and the church’s prince, Daniel 10:21.

3. The chief champion of his church, helping Gabriel not as his fellow, but as his general. Thus we see what care God takes of his church’s safety against their potent enemies, by doubling their succours, (when he could do it, if he pleased, without means,) thereby to consult his own glory in the world by defeating the counsels and breaking the powers of the mightiest enemies, after he had given them rope to do their worst.” (4)

 “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.” (Daniel 10:21 KJV)

 From Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible on Daniel 10:21:  “But I will show that which is noted in the Scripture of truth,…. Not in the written word, though there are many things relating to what should befall the Jews in the latter day, especially in Deuteronomy 28:1 but in the decrees and purposes of God, which are sometimes signified by a book, and things written in it; because so particular and distinct, and so sure and certain, and which will be most truly, infallibly, and punctually performed: these are “noted”, marked, engraven, in the eternal mind of God; they are “in writing”, and they are “truth” (b), as it may be rendered, since there is a distinguishing accent between “Scripture” and “truth”: they are written in the book of God’s decrees, and are his true and faithful words and sayings, and will most surely be accomplished: now these are the deep things of God, which angels themselves know nothing of, till they are revealed unto them: the angel here having a revelation of such of them as concerned the future monarchies of the earth, and the case of the Jews under them, promises to show them to Daniel; which was the work he was appointed to do:

and there is none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your Prince; Christ the Prince of the kings of the earth, he was the Prince, Protector, and Guardian of the people of the Jews; he is the Angel that went before them in the wilderness, and guarded them in it, and guided them into the land of Canaan; he is the Angel of God’s presence, that bore, carried, and saved them all the days of old, and was their King and their God, their Defender and Deliverer, still; he took their part, and was on their side; yea, he was on the side of, and took part with, them that were for them, the holy angels; and there was none but him that exerted his power, and strengthened Gabriel to act for them in “these things” relating to their peace and prosperity: or, “against these” (c), as it may be rendered; against the princes of Persia and Greece, the evil spirits that worked in these kingdoms, in the children of disobedience there; and had it not been for him, and the exertion of his mighty power, it would have been soon all over with the people of the Jews; as it would be now with the church of Christ, of which they were typical, but the Lord is on their side; Michael the Archangel, and his angels under him, fight for it, protect and defend it; and since he is for his people, who shall be against them? or to what purpose will an opposition be? The gates of hell cannot prevail against the church of God, the saints of the most High.” (5)

 “At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book.” (Daniel 12:1 ESV)

 Barnes’ Notes on the Bible on Daniel 12:1 is useful:  “And at that time – At the period referred to in the preceding chapter. The fair construction of the passage demands this interpretation, and if that refers to Antiochus Epiphanes, then what is here said must also; and we are to look for the direct and immediate fulfillment of this prediction in something that occurred under him, however, it may be supposed to have an ultimate reference to other and more remote events. The phrase “at that time,” however, does not limit what is here said to any one part of his life, or to his death, but to the general period referred to in the time of his reign. That reign was but eleven years, and the fulfillment must be found somewhere during that period.

Shall Michael – On the meaning of this word, and the being here referred to, see the notes at Daniel 10:13.

Stand up – That is, he shall interpose; he shall come forth to render aid. This does not mean necessarily that he would visibly appear, but that he would in fact interpose. In the time of great distress and trouble, there would be supernatural or angelic aid rendered to the people of God. No man can prove that this would not be so, nor is there any inherent improbability in the supposition that good angels may be employed to render assistance in the time of trouble. Compare the notes at Daniel 10:13.

The great prince, which standeth for the children of thy people – See the notes as above at Daniel 10:13. The meaning is that he had the affairs of the Hebrew people, or the people of God, especially under his protection, or he was appointed to watch over them. This doctrine is in accordance with the notions that prevailed at that time; and no one can demonstrate that it is not true. There is no authority for applying this to the Messiah, as many have done, for the term Michael is not elsewhere given to him, and all that the language fairly conveys is met by the other supposition. The simple meaning is, that he who was the guardian angel of that nation, or who was appointed to watch over its interests, would at that time of great trouble interpose and render aid.

And there shall be a time of trouble – Under Antiochus Epiphanes. See the notes at Daniel 11:21-45. Compare the books of the Maccabees, passim.

Such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time – This might be construed with reference to the Jewish nation, as meaning that the trouble would be greater than any that had occurred during its history. But it may also be taken, as our translators understand it, in a more general sense, as referring to any or all nations. In either sense, it can hardly be considered as the language of hyperbole. The troubles that came upon the land under the persecutions of Antiochus probably surpassed any that the Hebrew nation ever experienced, nor could it be shown that, for the same period of time, they were surpassed among any other people. The Saviour has employed this language as adapted to express the intensity of the trials, which would be brought upon the Jews by the Romans Mat 24:21, but he does not say that as used in Daniel it had reference originally to that event. It was language appropriate to express the thought which he wished to convey, and he, therefore, so employed it.

And at that time – When these troubles are at their height.

Thy people shall be delivered – To wit, by the valor and virtues of the Maccabees. See the accounts in the books of the Maccabees. Compare Prideaux, Con. iii. 257, following.

Every one that shall be found written in the book – Whose names are enrolled; that is, enrolled as among the living. The idea is, that a register was made of the names of those who were to be spared, to wit, by God, or by the angel, and that all whose names were so recorded would be preserved. Those not so enrolled would be cut off under the persecutions of Antiochus. The language here does not refer to the book of eternal life or salvation, nor is it implied that they who would thus be preserved would necessarily be saved, but to their preservation from death and persecution, as if their names were recorded in a book, or were enrolled. We frequently meet with similar ideas in the Scriptures. The idea is, of course, poetical, but it expresses with sufficient clearness the thought that there was a Divine purpose in regard to them, and that there was a definite number whom God designed to keep alive, and that these would be delivered from those troubles, while many others would be cut off.” (6)

 “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.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16)

 From Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible on 1 Thessalonians 4:16:  “with the voice of the archangel; so Michael is called, in Jude 1:9 with which compare Revelation 12:7 and who perhaps is no other than Christ himself, who is the head of all principality and power; and the sense be, that Christ shall descend from heaven with a voice, or shall then utter such a voice, as will show him to be the archangel; or as the Syriac version renders it, “the head”, or “prince of angels”; and which whether, it will be an articulate voice, such as was expressed at the grave of Lazarus; or a violent clap of thunder, which is the voice of God; or the exertion of the power of Christ, is not certain: it is added,” (7)

 “Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back,” (Revelation 12:7 ESV)

 From the Pulpit Commentary on Revelation 12:7:  “Verses 7, 8. – And there was war in heaven. The passage verses 7-13 is an interruption of the narrative of the persecution of the woman by Satan. It is caused, apparently, by a desire to account in some degree for the relentless hostility of the devil towards God and his Church. Two explanations of the passage may be referred to.

(1) Verses 7-13 relate to the period anterior to the Creation, concerning which we have a slight hint in Jude 1:6. This, on the whole, seems to agree best with the general sense of the chapter, and to present fewest difficulties. Thus:

(a) It accounts for the insertion of the passage (see above).

(b) The war is directly between the devil and Michael, not between the devil and Christ, as at the Incarnation and Resurrection.

(c) Verses 8 and 9 seem to require a more literal interpretation than that which makes them refer to the effects of Christ’s resurrection.

(d) It was not at the period of the Incarnation that the scene of Satan’s opposition was transferred to the earth, as described in ver. 12.

(e) The song of the heavenly voice may be intended to end with the word Christ (ver. 10), and the following passages may be the words of the writer of the Apocalypse, and may refer to the earthly martyrs (see on ver. 10).

(f) This attempt of the devil in heaven may be alluded to in John 1:5, “The darkness overcame it not” (see also John 12:35).

(2) The passage may refer to the incarnation and resurrection of Christ, and the victory then won over the devil. This interpretation renders the whole passage much more figurative.

(a) Michael is the type of mankind, which in the Person of Jesus Christ vanquishes the devil.

(b) Subsequent to the Resurrection Satan is no more allowed to accuse men before God in heaven, as he has done previously (see Job 1; Zechariah 3:1; 1 Kings 22:19-22); he is thus the accuser cast down (ver. 10), and his place is no more found in heaven (ver. 8).

(c) The earth and sea represent the worldly and tumultuous nations. Perhaps the strongest argument in favour of the second view is found in Luke 10:18 and John 12:31. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, Michael and his angels [going forth] to war with the dragon (Revised Version). Alford explains the infinitive phrase as compounded of the genitive τοῦ and depending upon ἐγένετο. Michael (מָי־כאֵל) signifies, “Who is like to God?” We may compare this with the cry of the worldly in Revelation 13:4, “Who is like unto the beast?” In Daniel, Michael is the prince who stands up for the people of Israel (Daniel 12:1; Daniel 10:13, 21). Michael, “the archangel,” is alluded to in Jude 1:9 as the great opposer of Satan. St. John, perhaps borrowing the name from Daniel, puts forward Michael as the chief of those who remained faithful to the cause of God in the rebellion of Satan and his angels. The angels of the dragon are the stars of ver. 4, which he drew with him to the earth, and possibly the reference to this event in ver. 4 gives rise to the account in verses 7-13. Some commentators interpret the war here described as that between the Church and the world. Michael is thus made to be symbolical of Christ, and some have no difficulty in indicating a particular man (such as Licinius) as the antitype of the dragon. And the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. The Greek is stronger, not even their place, etc. Οὐδέ is read in א, A, B, C, Andreas, Arethas; οὔτε is found in P, 1, 17, and others. So complete was the defeat of Satan that he was no longer permitted to remain in heaven in any capacity.” (8)

 Is appears that John Calvin also taught that Jesus is Michael:  “The twelfth chapter commenced, as we stated in yesterday’s Lecture, with the angel’s prediction as to the future state of the Church after the manifestation of Christ. It was to be subject to many miseries, and hence this passage would soothe the sorrow of Daniel, and of all the pious, as he still promises safety to the Church through the help of God. Daniel therefore represented Michael as the guardian of the Church, and God had enjoined this duty upon Christ, as we learn from the 10th chapter of John, (ver. 28, 29.) As we stated yesterday, Michael may mean an angel; but I embrace the opinion of those who refer this to the person of Christ, because it suits the subject best to represent him as standing forward for the defense of his elect people. He is called the mighty prince, because he naturally opposed the unconquered fortitude of God to those dangers to which the angel represents the Church to be subject. We well know the very slight causes for which terror often seizes our minds, and when we begin to tremble, nothing can calm our tumult and agitation. The angel then in treating of very grievous contests, and of the imminent danger of the Church, calls Michael the mighty prince. As if he had said, Michael should be the guardian and protector of the elect people, he should exercise immense power, and he alone without the slightest doubt should be sufficient for their protection. Christ confirms the same assertion, as we just; now saw, in the 10th chapter of John. He says all his elect were given him by his father, and none of them should perish, because his father was greater than all; no one, says he, shall pluck my sheep out of my hand. My father, who gave them me, is greater than all; meaning, God possesses infinite power, and displays it for the safety of those whom he has chosen before the creation of the world, and he has committed it to me, or has deposited it in my hands. We now perceive the reason of this epithet, which designates Michael as the great prince.” (9)

 Michael as Christ in the Lutheran Exegetical Tradition: An Analysis by Christian A. Preus:  “The identification of Michael as Christ in Revelation 12:7 has a long history in the Lutheran exegetical tradition. Both Luther and Melanchthon make the identification and the Lutheran exegetes of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries follow suit with apparent unanimity.” (1)

(1) For Luther’s sermon dealing with Michael, see his Predigt am Michaelistage(September 29, 1544), in Martin Luther ,Luthers Werke: Kritische Gesamtausgabe [Schriften], 65 vols. (Weimar: H. Böhlau, 1883–1993),49:570–587 (hereafter WA). For Melanchthon, see In Danielem Prophetam Commentarius (Basel: Bartholomaeus Westheimer, 1543), esp. 148. I have not been able to find a single Lutheran exegete of Reformation or Post-Reformation times who says that the Michael of Revelation 12 is not Christ. In his posthumously published notes on Jude, John Gerhard (or Gerhard’s son who edited the notes) calls it the opinion of the “orthodox,” by which he means, the Lutherans. See John Gerhard, Annotationes Posthumae in Epistolam Judae (Jena: George Sengenwald, 1660), 29.” (10)

 The reader is encouraged to use the link below to see Christian A. Preus’ complete article. In this article, Preus presents Scriptural reasons for the Lutheran understanding of why Michael is believed to be Christ.

 Answers:

 Q. Is the angel of Jude and Daniel and Revelation the same?

A. It can be concluded, yes.

 Q. What does Michael, contending with the devil about the body of Moses imply?

A. Matthew Poole above answers this question,  1. If Michael the archangel be meant of Christ, then the body of Moses may be taken figuratively, for that body whereof the Mosaical ceremonies were shadows, Colossians 2:17, i.e. the truth and accomplishment of the law given by Moses; that accomplishment was to be in Christ, who is represented by Joshua, Zechariah 3:1-10: him Satan resists in the execution of his office, and by him strikes at Christ, whose type he was, and whom he afterward opposeth in the execution of his office, when he was come in the flesh. Or:

2. If we take Michael for a created angel, which agrees best with the parallel place in Peter, then the body of Moses must be taken properly, (as most take it), and the dispute seems to be: Whether Moses’s body should be so buried as to be concealed from the Israelites? Deuteronomy 34:6, it is said God buried him, (which might be by the ministry of Michael the archangel), and that no man knoweth of his sepulchre. The devil opposeth the angel, desiring to have the place of his burial known, that in after-times it might be a snare to that people, and a means to bring them to idolatry. And this seems very probable, if we consider what work the devil hath made in the world with the bodies of saints and martyrs, and how much idolatry he hath brought in thereby. This passage Jude, most probably, had (as was observed in the argument) from some known tradition among the Jews, the truth of which we are now sure of, because certified here concerning it.

 Q. Is Michael the archangel really an angel or Christ?

A. In this writer’s opinion, there are arguments for both yes and no. This however is not suitable. Possibly the best solution is how the Pulpit commentary in the above entry introduces the reader to the idea that Michael is “symbolical of Christ.” Moreover, certainly, Lutheran theological tradition on this topic cannot be dismissed out of hand.  

 “To God, only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27) and “heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28-29)

 Notes:

 1.      Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor, Entry for “Michael,” International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans, reprinted 1986), pp. 2047-2048.

2.       Matthew Poole’s Commentary on the Holy Bible, Jude, Vol. 3, (Peabody, Massachusetts, Hendrickson Publishers, 1985) p. 945.

3.       Simon J. Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary, Peter and Jude, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Baker Book House, 1986), pp. 385-388.

4.       Matthew Poole’s Commentary on the Holy Bible, Jude, Vol. 3, (Peabody, Massachusetts, Hendrickson Publishers, 1985) p. 841.

5.      John Gill, Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, Daniel, (Grace Works, Multi-Media Labs), p. 228-229.

6.       Albert Barnes, THE AGES DIGITAL LIBRARYCOMMENTARY, Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, Daniel, Vol. 9 p. 838-840.

7.       John Gill, Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, 1 Thessalonians, (Grace Works, Multi-Media Labs), p. 69.

8.       H. D. M. Spence and Joseph S. Exell, The Pulpit Commentary, Revelation, Vol. 22, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans Publishing Company reprint 1978), p. 311-312.

9.       Calvin’s Commentaries on The Prophet Daniel, Vol. II, Baker reprint, vol. XIII, pp. 369, 370.

10.   Christian A. Preus, Michael as Christ in the Lutheran Exegetical Tradition: An Analysis (CTQ 80 (2016): 257–267), p. 257.   

 Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at: www.TheReligionThatStartedInAHat.com

For more study:

CTQ 80 (2016): 257–267

Christian A. Preus, Michael as Christ in the Lutheran Exegetical Tradition: An Analysis at http://www.ctsfw.net/media/pdfs/PreusCMichaelasChrist.pdf

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