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A Jehovah’s Witness Identity Crisis

On this feast of the archangels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, it’s worth revisiting this question: Is it true Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Michael the archangel and Jesus are the same person?

In a word, yes. The Jehovah’s Witnesses maintain that Jesus was Michael the archangel prior to his coming to Earth: “Scriptural evidence indicates that the name Michael applied to God’s Son before he left heaven to become Jesus Christ and also after his return” (Aid to Bible Understanding, Watchtower Bible & Tract Society, 1971, 1152).

Jehovah’s Witnesses arrive at this erroneous belief primarily through the misinterpretation of two Bible passages:

  1. Daniel 10:13, 21, where reference is made to a “great prince,” Michael; and
  2. I Thessalonians 4:16, where the Lord Jesus is described as descending from heaven at the sound of the archangel’s voice. The JWs’ own New World Translation of the Bible reads, “The Lord himself will descend from heaven with a commanding call, with an archangel’s voice.”

According to the JWs, Michael is the only angel other than Gabriel mentioned in the Bible, and Michael is the only one who is called an archangel. (The angel Raphael is mentioned in the book of Tobit, but since the Jehovah’s Witnesses sprang from Protestantism, they use the Protestant canon of Scripture, which is missing this Old Testament book plus six others.)

Since the Lord Jesus descends from heaven “with an archangel’s voice,” the JWs understand this passage as “suggesting that he is, in fact, himself the archangel” (Aid to Bible Understanding, 1152).

While there are several problems with this line of reasoning, two points in particular easily reveal its fallacy. First, the fact that the Lord Jesus descends “with an archangel’s voice” does not mean that it is his own voice being spoken of. This passage simply says that an archangel’s voice will accompany the Lord’s descent from heaven, in the same manner that the bailiff’s voice (“All rise!”) accompanies the judge’s entrance into the courtroom.

Second, Hebrews 1:5 says, “For example, to which of the angels did he [God] ever say: ‘You are my son; I, today, I have become your father’?” (New World Translation). The answer to the question is, of course, “none.”

Thus, if God never called an angel his Son, then Michael–who is an angel–cannot be the Son. The fact that Michael is an archangel does not change anything, as he is still an angel by nature. An archangel is simply a “higher order” of angel, but an angel nonetheless; arch– means simply “ruling” or “high ranking.”


Comments by Catholic.com Members

#1  Gabriel Buenrostro – Clackamas, Oregon

Whoever wrote this, thank you. I grew up as a JW and am currently in RCIA. I consider it God’s little reminders on my path to his Church when I read these. Thank you again, and God bless.

September 29, 2016 at 2:25 pm PST
#2  Gabriel Buenrostro – Clackamas, Oregon

Whoever wrote this, thank you. I grew up as a JW and am currently in RCIA. I consider it God’s little reminders on my path to his Church when I read these. Thank you again, and God bless.

September 29, 2016 at 2:25 pm PST
#3  Ryan Gill – Calgary, Alberta

It is a most frustrating thing with humanity, debating a point that someone has already made their mind about. With many people you can present them with very clear information that shows them something more logical and they just refuse to accept it.

September 30, 2016 at 5:15 am PST
#4  Andrea Gamblin – Lone Jack, Missouri

Gabriel Buenrostro: What was it that caused you to question the Watchtower beliefs? I talk to a lot of JW’s and always try to share my Catholic Faith, especially since they are taught so many lies about it. But what things can really make them question the Watchtower??? thank you!

September 30, 2016 at 5:54 am PST
#5  Ralph Alameda – Kissimmee, Florida

We do not argue or debate about the Bible. The Bible is to encounter the Living God in our lives. There is a message in each book. The message is to have Mercy, Love, Forgiveness, Charity, Humility. The Bible is not open to personal interpretation. Our main mission is to serve. As He did.

September 30, 2016 at 9:15 am PST
#6  Gabriel Buenrostro – Clackamas, Oregon

Dear Andrea Gamblin,

Wow! Where do I start? One thing to remember from the get-go is that JWs are trained to debate. They have a “safety net” verse for everything. You can see that in the article with their use of “voice of an archangel” argument. When reasoning points like the Trinity I would remember they have no understanding of the differences of same nature, different persons understanding. Some will argue with a modalist stance (who was Jesus praying to?), etc. or just say that Jesus is called the Son of God, not God the Son. On that very note, Witnesses have no concept of nature. I remember debating a well intent older man who had all the Scripture backing but no reasoning power. So I shot back by using Peter’s first letter 1:3 where it says that Jesus has a God and Father. I never understood how the Father is the source of the entire Godhead and how Jesus in his human nature can be spoken of as having a Father and God. Please keep that in mind.

Ultimately, what helped seal the deal was their changing scripture from the original Greek when verses didn’t go their way. Don’t start with John 1:1. It doesn’t work they will have an immediate answer. Use the Socratic Method and ask questions. They might bring up verses such as Colossians 1 where Jesus is the creator of all OTHER things. Ask them, is the Greek word “Allos”, which means other in the text? (It isn’t by the way). They may have a response to this but my rebuttal would be too long and I am working on a blog post for it. Ask, how can you trust a translation that changes the text by adding words to fit their view? What linguistic training have your translators had in the Biblical languages? They may fire back with something like, “your translation removed God’s name from the Bible”. Answer back with an explanation from the Catechism paragraph 2666. Like I said I can’t include everything here. But there are a lot of other sources out there.

Final, ask, “How do you know which books such be in the Bible?” and reference the messianic prophecy of Wis. 2. This is just to get the ball rolling of course.

September 30, 2016 at 9:52 am PST
#7  Gabriel Buenrostro – Clackamas, Oregon

Dear Andrea Gamblin,

Wow! Where do I start? One thing to remember from the get-go is that JWs are trained to debate. They have a “safety net” verse for everything. You can see that in the article with their use of “voice of an archangel” argument. When reasoning points like the Trinity I would remember they have no understanding of the differences of same nature, different persons understanding. Some will argue with a modalist stance (who was Jesus praying to?), etc. or just say that Jesus is called the Son of God, not God the Son. On that very note, Witnesses have no concept of nature. I remember debating a well intent older man who had all the Scripture backing but no reasoning power. So I shot back by using Peter’s first letter 1:3 where it says that Jesus has a God and Father. I never understood how the Father is the source of the entire Godhead and how Jesus in his human nature can be spoken of as having a Father and God. Please keep that in mind.

Ultimately, what helped seal the deal was their changing scripture from the original Greek when verses didn’t go their way. Don’t start with John 1:1. It doesn’t work they will have an immediate answer. Use the Socratic Method and ask questions. They might bring up verses such as Colossians 1 where Jesus is the creator of all OTHER things. Ask them, is the Greek word “Allos”, which means other in the text? (It isn’t by the way). They may have a response to this but my rebuttal would be too long and I am working on a blog post for it. Ask, how can you trust a translation that changes the text by adding words to fit their view? What linguistic training have your translators had in the Biblical languages? They may fire back with something like, “your translation removed God’s name from the Bible”. Answer back with an explanation from the Catechism paragraph 2666. Like I said I can’t include everything here. But there are a lot of other sources out there.

Final, ask, “How do you know which books such be in the Bible?” and reference the messianic prophecy of Wis. 2. This is just to get the ball rolling of course.

By Catholic Answers Staff









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2 comments

  1. Patrick Gannon Reply

    I just love to watch Christians shredding each other…

  2. Lisa Cabello Reply

    As an EX Jehovah’s Witness (was Witness for 30 years left 4 years ago and am Catholic again) I never understood HOW JW’s equated Micheal the Arch Angle as being Jesus. Oh don’t get me wrong we had Watch Tower articles and studies on this I have studied the Book of Revelation on this 4 times with Jehovah’s Witnesses (well THEIR version of the Book of Revelation) and I sat through 30 years of Conventions and Assemblies that lasted 3 days some covering this very subject. They CANNOT and WILL NOT accept that Jesus DID NOT cast out Satan from Heaven but that St Micheal did. They feel that since Jesus died for our sins that HE alone has authority to cast out Satan and his name was changed to Micheal in order to do that! Don’t let Jehovah’s Witnesses fool you! Many do not understand what the HECK the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses tell their flock they just go along with the brain washing program.

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