Question: Some believe Jesus is Michael the Archangel in Daniel:12:1 and other verses of the Bible. I would like to know where this teaching came from.
Biblical speculation, like everything else, falls under the category of being “nothing new under the sun.” More recently, of course, this teaching has become common among Seventh-day Adventists. In Patriarchs and Prophets, written in 1890 by the SDA “prophetess,” Ellen G. White wrote, “Again: Christ is called the Word of God. John:1:1-3. He is so called because God gave His revelations to man in all ages through Christ. It was His Spirit that inspired the prophets. 1 Peter:1:10, 11. He was revealed to them as the Angel of Jehovah, the Captain of the Lord’s host, Michael the Archangel” (p. 761).
White isn’t the earliest writer to promote this teaching, however. Isaac Watts, writer of many beloved hymns, wrote on page 223 in The Glory of Christ as God-Man (published 1795, but clearly written before his death in 1748), “And may not Christ himself be this Michael the Archangel, the Prince of Israel? It has been observed by some writers, that the scripture never speaks of archangels in the plural number; perhaps there is but one archangel and that is Christ.”
The issue is further complicated because on page 224 Isaac Watts comments that some (unnamed writers or preachers) believed that the angel appearing to the prophet Daniel was not Gabriel. Rather, he was “Christ.” And Watts doesn’t appear to be giving his own theological opinion but is passing on what he has read or heard elsewhere. It has been also pointed out that John Calvin was discussing this teaching 200 years prior to the time of Watts.
So, is there is any truth to the idea that Michael the archangel is just another name for the Lord Jesus Christ? No! Hebrews:1:8-14, speaking of the Son, specifically contrasts Jesus with the angels and very bluntly asks, “but to which of the angels said he at any time, ‘Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool?’ Are they not all [my emphasis] ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?”
The Lord Jesus directly rebukes Satan, as recorded in Matthew chapter 4 regarding the account of the temptation in the wilderness. In contrast, “Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil...durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee” (Jude 9).
Speaking of His humanity and His relationship with the Father, the Scriptures declare that Jesus was made “a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands” (Hebrews:2:7). All the angels (Michael included) are part of “the works of thy hands.” Jesus, on the other hand, is the only begotten (not created) son of the Father (John:1:14; 3:16). When the Father brought His only begotten son into the world, He said, “And let all the angels of God worship him” (Hebrews:1:6).