Further arguments from Revelation 12

Since writing up the above blog sequence and presenting it at the annual meeting of the Adventist Society for Religious Studies in San Antonio (November 2023), I have observed further aspects of the context of Revelation 12:7 that lean me in favor of identifying Michael with Jesus Christ. For one thing, the male child appears in verse 5 never to be mentioned again. When the scene moves to heaven, Michael appears as the adversary of the dragon/Satan. It is likely that Michael and the male child are two ways of describing the same historical entity, Jesus Christ. Michael is powerful enough to cast out Satan (Rev 12:9-10) and make way for the authority of Jesus Christ (12:10). Outside of God and Christ, Michael is the only person in Revelation powerful enough to defeat Satan. Designations of Jesus Christ switch frequently in Revelation, He is the “son of man”, the “Lamb”, “the male child”, the rider on the white horse, “Christ”, and “Jesus Christ”. Adding Michael to the list is not a stretch. Also the language of Revelation 12 recalls the messianic premotions of the Old Testament, such as Psalm 2 (“rule with a rod of iron”) and Genesis 3:15.

In fact, according to Ekkehardt Mueller, the entirety of chapter 12 reads like a midrash on Genesis 3:15. The “male child” of 12:5 echoes the male offspring of the woman in Genesis 3:15 that will crush the serpent’s head. The renaming of the dragon/Satan as “the ancient serpent” (12:9, cf. 12:14) introduces a structural parallel to Genesis 3, making Genesis 3:15 a foretaste of the cosmic conflict language in the rest of Scripture. The use of language like “seed of the woman” in 12:17 to describe the enmity between the dragon and the remnant would be rather odd if we were not dealing with an allusion to Genesis 3:15. So the warfare between the dragon and the woman, and between the dragon and “the remnant of her seed”, and the ultimate defeat of the dragon, all reflect John’s awareness that Genesis 3:15 is a prototype of the whole plan of salvation; which culminates in the birth, ministry, death, resurrection, and heavenly reign of Jesus Christ. In that larger context, equating Michael with Jesus Christ makes the most sense.

Perhaps even more decisive is the fact that the Greek word for “war (polemos) appears 14 times in the book of Revelation. Eleven times the warfare is either neutral or is engaged in by the enemy powers of Revelation (Rev 11:7; 12:17; 13:7; 17:14; 19:19, etc.). Only three times is war waged by positive powers, in Revelation 2:16, 12:7, and 19:11. In Revelation 2:16 it is Jesus who makes war against the Nicolaitans. In Revelation 19:11, it is the rider on the white horse (Jesus) who judges and makes war. In both cases, the means of Jesus’ warfare is by “the sword of his mouth”. I take this odd metaphor to mean that He fights the war with persuasion rather than force. In Revelation 12:7-8, it is Michael and his angels who make war with the dragon and his angels. It seems that is also a war of words (Rev 12:9-11). It was through words that the ancient serpent deceived Eve (Rev 12:9). It is through accusations that Satan seeks to gain an advantage in the war (Rev 12:10). It is through the “word of their testimony” that the people of God counter those accusations (Rev 12:11). This use of war language as a metaphor for heavenly conflict over the character of God is further evidence within Revelation that Michael is Jesus Christ by another name.