Jehovah Witness and the Deity of Christ
Exposing False Teaching: Jehovah Witness & The Deity of Christ
The purpose of this document is to provide a clear and succinct resource for Christians who encounter false teaching. This particular document focuses on one major false teaching propagated by the Jehovah Witness sect. Bear in mind that like most sects, there are a plethora of incorrect teachings, and false prophecies, however, the Jehovah Witnesses’ denial of Christ’s divinity is perhaps the most central. One central false teaching from the Jehovah Witness sect is their denial of Christ’s deity—that is, that Jesus was fully God. Jehovah Witnesses believe, “Jesus was only a perfect man, not God in flesh,” Reasoning from the Scriptures, 1985, pp. 306. Before and after Jesus’ incarnation they believe that Jesus was (and now is) the archangel Michael, “Jesus was Michael the archangel who became a man, The Watchtower, May 15, 1963, p. 307; The New World, 284. The divinity of Christ is a central Christian doctrine firmly grounded in the Bible. Below are a list of Scriptures that clearly demonstrate the divine nature of Jesus of Nazareth. Jehovah Witnesses, support their false view of Christ, in part, on their false translation of Scripture: The New World Translation (NWT). The New World Translation was translated by 5 Jehovah Witness men in 1950 (Information supplied by former Governing Body Official, Raymond Franz-Crisis of Conscience). The seven translations of Scripture we have chosen for comparison are recognized to be the most accurate in the English language. Together they represent more than 400 Bible scholars from a wide variety of denominations and countries. One can easily see how the NWT “translators” have purposefully distorted Scripture in order to support their heretical view of Christ’s nature.
(All underlined words or phrases below are for emphasis only)
|VERSE||NASB, ESV, NIV, RSV, HCSB, KJV, NKJV(representing over 400 translators from different Christian denominations)||New World Translation (NWT) (Jehovah Witness Bible) (representing 5 JW translators)||Commentary|
|Matthew 28:17 (also 28:9, Philip. 2:9-10, Heb. 1:6, Rev.5:14)||And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted||and when they saw him they did obeisance, but some doubted||Worship is reserved for God alone. (Ex. 20:5, Acts 14:15, 20:26, Rev. 19:10) In many places Jesus is worshiped by both angels and mankind. All references to the worship of Jesus have been systematically deleted or obscured in the NWT.|
|John 1:1;14a(see also Isaiah 45:21)||In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us||In [the] beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.||Since in verse 1 “the Word was God” and in verse 14 “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,” it is clear the Jesus is God. The NWT state Jesus was “a god.” Ps. 96:5 states, “For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the LORD made the heavens.” Or “Was it not I, the LORD? And there is no other god besides me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none besides me” (Isaiah 45:21)|
|John 8:58||Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”||Jesus said to them: “Most truly I say to YOU, Before Abraham came into existence, I have been.”||Jesus’ statement was a clear reference to his identification as God. In Exodus 3:14 God identified himself to Moses as, “I am”, God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you. The NWT uses “I have been”-clearly intended to obscure the divinity of Jesus-clearly a false translation of the Greek “ego eimi”-I AM.|
|John 14:11 (also 10:38)||“I am in the Father and the Father is in me.”||“I am in union with the Father and the Father is in union with me.”||A verse that underscores the unity of the Godhead, and the divinity of Christ. The NWT inserts the word “union” which is not in any Greek manuscript.|
|John 20:28||Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”||In answer Thomas said to him: “My Lord and my God!”||This is a rare gem found in the NWT: a clear declaration of Christ’s deity that has not been edited away.|
|1 Corinthians 10:4 (Isaiah 44:8)||For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.||For they used to drink from the spiritual rock-mass that followed them, and that rock-mass meant the Christ.||In the Old Testament the LORD (Yahweh) is often referred to as the “Rock.” (Dt. 32:4, 2 Sam. 22:3, Ps. 89:26, Is. 44:8) Who followed Moses and the Israelites in the wilderness?-None other than God. The NWT attempts to mislead the implication with “rock-mass” when the word in Greek is “petras” simply means “rock.” Also the Greek states that “the Rock was Christ” There is no Greek word for “meant” here. Another clear false insertion to obscure the meaning of the text.|
|Colossians 1:16See. John 1:3, Isaiah 44:24||For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things were created through him and for him.||because by means of him all [other] things were created in the heavens and upon the earth, the things visible and the things invisible, no matter whether they are thrones or lordships or governments or authorities. All [other] things have been created through him and for him.||Who created all things? “Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, who formed you from the womb:|
“I am the LORD, who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself,” (Isaiah 44:24) Since the LORD (Yahweh) alone created all things Colossians 1:16 clearly demonstrates the deity of Christ. That is why the NWT places the word “other” in the text. The word “other” is found in no Greek manuscripts.
|Colossians 1:19||For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell||because [God] saw good for all fullness to dwell in him||All translations make it clear the fullness of God was pleased to dwell in Christ. I’m not sure we understand the meaning of the NWT.|
|Colossians 2:9||“in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.”||“it is in him that all the fullness of the divine quality dwells bodily.”||The Greek “theotetos” means Deity or Divinity not “divine quality.” Again, because of their denial of the divinity of Christ, the translators have systematically attempted to blur practically all references to Christ’s divine nature.|
|Hebrews 1:3||He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.||He is the reflection of [his] glory and the exact representation of his very being, and he sustains all things by the word of his power;||In this example Christ is the exact imprint (or duplicate) of the nature/essence (hypostaseos) of God. A clear attestation to the deity of Jesus.|
|Hebrews 1:8||“But about the Son he says, ‘Your throne O God will last forever.’”||“with reference to the Son: ‘ God is your throne forever and ever.”||God speaks about the Son identifying him as “God.” (Not so in the NWT)|
|Hebrews 1:6||“Let all God’s angels worship him.”||“Let all God angels do obeisance to him.”||As we have seen before the NWT never ascribe worship to Jesus, knowing that if that be so he can be neither man nor angel, but indeed Almighty God! (Isaiah 9:6)|
|2 Peter 1:1(same issue found in Titus 2:13)||To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ||to those who have obtained a faith, held in equal privilege with ours, by the righteousness of our God and [the] Savior Jesus Christ||The definite article “the” may seem like a detail, but notice how that insertion in the NWT changes the meaning of the text. It clearly attempts to dull the implication the unity between Jesus and God. “The” is not found in any Greek manuscripts.|
|Isaiah 9:6||For to us a child is born,|
to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace
|For there has been a child born to us, there has been a son given to us; and the princely rule will come to be upon his shoulder. And his name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace||A Messianic prophecy regarding Jesus of Nazareth. Notice one of his names is “Mighty God.”|
Further support for the divinity of Christ are the attributes that Jesus shares with God the Father. Below are a few examples.
The Attributes of Jesus.
Scripture unambiguously teaches that “God” created all things. In fact, in Isaiah 44:24, the Bible says the LORD (Yahweh) alone created the heavens and earth. In Colossians 1:16 Scripture teaches Jesus created all things. This is an unmistakable declaration of the divinity of Jesus of Nazareth.
1. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1)
2. Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, who formed you from the womb: “I am the LORD, who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself,” (Isaiah 44:24)
3. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things were created through him and for him. (Colossians 1:16)
Jesus received worship from both angels and mankind. (Matthew 28:9, 17, Philippians 2:10, Hebrews 1:6, Revelation 5) Worship is reserved exclusively for God (not to either mankind or angels). (Exodus 20:5, Acts 14:15, 20:26, Revelation 19:10)
Authority to Forgive Sins
Scripture teaches that God alone has the authority to forgive sin. (Isaiah 43:25, Psalm 32:5, Psalm 130) This same attribute is a part of Jesus’ ministry.
“And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “My son, your sins are forgiven.” Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Mark 2:5-7)
Omnipresence “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (Matthew 18:20) One of the attributes of God is omnipresence: that is being at all places at all times. In the above verse Jesus told his disciples that he wherever 2 or 3 are gathered in his name he would be present. This is impossible for an angel or man to accomplish.
Inherent Authority-to declare the Words of God In the Old Testament the prophets always prefaced their prophetic statements with, “thus saith the LORD.” They did this to demonstrate the source and hence authority of the words. When Jesus utters the words of God he makes no such preface, but rather says, “I say”. (not as the prophets, “thus saith the LORD.” (Matt. 5:22, 28, 32, 34, 39, 44)
The Titles of the Father and the Son.
Another convincing piece of evidence for the deity of Christ are the “titles” that are bestowed on both the Father and the Son. Here are a few examples.
First and the Last
Father: Thus says the LORD (Yahweh), the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD (Yahweh) of hosts: “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god.” (Isaiah 44:6) Clearly, the title, “I am the first and the last” in this verse is in reference to the LORD (Yahweh). See also Isaiah 41:4, 44:12.
Son: When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. (Revelation 1:17-18)
Son: And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: ‘The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life. (Revelation 2:8) These last 2 references are clearly referring to Jesus. Therefore the same title “I am the first and the last” is bestowed on both the Father and the Son.
Alpha & Omega
Closely related to First and Last is the title Alpha and Omega. Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet and Omega the last, hence the relationship to First and Last. There are 3 references to the title Alpha and Omega in the book of Revelation:
Father: I am the Alpha and the Omega, says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” (Revelation 1:8)
Father: And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. (Revelation 21:8)
Son: “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” (Revelation 22:16)
The first 2 references are clearly referring to “God.” The 3rd reference is definitely referring to the Son, since he is the one “coming soon.” (see 1:7, 22:16, 20) Therefore the title Alpha and Omega is applied to both the Father and the Son interchangeably.
King of Kings and Lord of Lords
Father: “which he will display at the proper time–he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen” (1 Timothy 6:15-16, see also Deuteronomy 10:17, Psalm 136:3) All references to the Father.
Son: They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful. (Revelation 17:14)
Son: “On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.” (Revelation 19:16) A clear reference to Jesus. Another title that is used for both God the Father and God the Son.
Jehovah Witness Arguments:
Colossians 1:15 is a key Scripture Jehovah’s Witnesses us to substantiate their belief, that Jesus is a created being: “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” Colossians 1:15
Does “firstborn” mean “first created” as Jehovah Witnesses teach, “Thus he is shown to be a created being, part of the creation produced by God” (Reasoning from Scriptures, 1989, 409)?
- First: Jesus was not the “first created” since Colossians 1:16 states he created all things. If he himself were created he couldn’t have created all things. (that is why the NWT inserts the word “other.”)
- Second: In fact Scripture teaches that Jesus created all angels, and all worship him. (Hebrews 1:6) (JW believe Jesus is the archangel Michael.)
- Third: In Scripture the word “firstborn” carries the meaning “supreme” or “preeminent,” not first created. The firstborn son usually had this special status. In Col. 1:15, “firstborn of all creation” means he is supreme over creation since all things were created by him (1:16). Jesus is supreme over creation because he is its author and creator. (see also John 1:3)
- Fourth: “Firstborn” is also used in relation to Christ’s preeminence or supremacy over death since he was the first to conquer death by his resurrection from the dead. (Col. 1:18, Rev. 1:5)
- Fifth: “Firstborn” doesn’t necessarily mean “first.” King David is referred to in Scripture (Psalm 89:27) as the “firstborn,” though he had 7 older brothers! David was not “first-created;” David was preeminent. In fact Scripture teaches David was “firstborn” over all the kings of the earth. (Psalm 89:27) Clearly he was preeminent over all kings, not the first-created king.
- Sixth: Israel is the LORD’s “firstborn son” (Exodus 4:22). Israel was by no means the “first created” people of God. There are many nations that preceded Israel. Similarly in Jeremiah 31:9 the LORD says, “Ephraim is my firstborn son.” Ephraim was not the LORD’s “first created” son. He was one of Joseph’s sons and became the name of the northern kingdom.
- Therefore it is abundantly clear that in Scripture firstborn does not mean first created.
“You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.” (John 14:28)
- First, in the gospel of John, Scripture clearly presents Jesus as God. (John 1:1,3,14, 8:58, 10:30, 14:11, 20:28)
- Second, Christ voluntarily “humbled himself” (Philippians 2:8). Christ’s humility is misunderstood for difference in ontology (essence/nature). This is a common mistake in Jehovah Witness interpretation.
- Third: It is possible (for example) for an earthly father and son to be of the same essence or nature (human) but have different roles or positions.
Implications for the Atonement
- First, Jehovah Witnesses believe that while on earth Jesus was a perfect man. Before and after his earthly existence he was (and is) the archangel Michael.
- No human could have taken the sins of the world in his body. Only God could bear the weight and terror of sin.
- No human could have bore the wrath of God for all sin. Not only did Jesus bear our sin, but he also bore the punishment due sin, therefore appeasing the wrath of Almighty God.
- No mere human could have been an adequate mediator between God and Man, unless he was both fully God and fully man. (1 Timothy 2:5)
- In Cur Deus Homo, Why God became a man, St. Anselm (1033-1109) states in regards to the Atonement that, “For God will not do it, because he has no debt to pay; and man will not do it, because he cannot. Therefore, in order that the God-man may perform this, it is necessary that the same being should perfect God and perfect man, in order to make this atonement.” (Chapter VII) Thus only God could take away man’s sins and only man needed them to be taken away.
Conclusion: The Scripture teaches that Jesus was both fully man and fully God. The few examples that we have outlined above make this fact abundantly clear. It is equally clear that the New World Translation has deliberately attempted to obscure this cardinal Christian doctrine.