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John 17:3: “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (cf. John 4:24). The one true God has revealed Himself as three distinct persons, the Father and the Son, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

The Unbiblical Teachings of Oneness-Unitarian Theology

Oneness Christology is a clear and major departure from biblical orthodoxy. Similar to Islam, it teaches a unitarian/unipersonal (i.e., one person) concept of God. Hence, the chief Oneness Christological divergences from that of the biblical teachings are as follows:

1. Oneness Christology denies the unipersonality and deity of the Son. It teaches that “Jesus” is the name of the unipersonal deity. Accordingly, the “Son” merely represents the human nature of Jesus, while “Father/Holy Spirit” represents the divine nature of Jesus—thus, the Son is not God, only the Father is (cf. Bernard, Oneness of God, 1983: 99, 103, 252).

2. Along with the deity, Oneness Christology denies the preexistence and incarnation of the Son, and thus, His role as the Creator (cf. ibid., 103-4; Magee, Is Jesus in the Godhead or Is The Godhead in Jesus?, 1988: 25). By denying the preexistence of the person of the Son, Oneness doctrine rejects the incarnation of the divine Son holding to the erroneous notion that it was Jesus as the Father, not the Son, who came down and wrapped Himself in flesh, and that “flesh” was called “Son” (cf. Bernard, 106, 122).

In sharp contrast to Oneness Christology, Scripture presents clearly and definitely that the distinct person of the Son 1) is fully God (cf. Dan. 7:9-14; John 1:18; 5:17-18; Phil. 2:6-11; Heb. 1:3, 8, 10; 1 John 5:20; Rev. 1:8, 22:13), 2) was the Creator of all things (cf. John 1:3; Col. 1:16-17; Heb. 1: 2, 10-12), 3) eternally coexisted with and is distinct from the Father and the Holy Spirit (cf. Gen. 19:24; Dan 7:9-14; Matt. 28:19; John 17:5; 2 Cor. 13:14; 2 John 1:3; Rev. 5:13-14), and 4) became fully man in order “to give His life a ransom for many” (cf. John 1:1, 14; Mark 10:45; Phil. 2:6-11).

This is the Jesus of biblical revelation. Jesus Christ is the only mediator and intercessor between God the Father and human beings. Jesus is the divine Son, the monogenēs theos (“unique God”) who is always in the bosom of the Father (John 1:18), a personal self-aware subject, distinct from the Father and the Holy Spirit. In contrast to Oneness Christology, Jesus is not the Father, but “the Son of the Father” (2 John 1:3; cf. John 17:5ff.; 1 John 1:3).

Worshiping the unipersonal God of Oneness theology is not worshiping the true God in spirit nor truth. The Oneness concept of God is fundamentally the same as Islam and the Watchtower (Jehovah’s Witnesses): a unipersonal deity with no distinction of persons. The true God of biblical revelation is triune—the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. 

NASB: “Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born I am.’” 

NWT: “Jesus said to them: ‘Most truly I say to you, Before Abraham came into existence, I have been.’”

Greek:eipen autois Iēsous: amēn amēn legō humin, prin Abraam genesthai egō eimi.

It is no surprise that most non-Christian cults and religious groups reject that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, claimed to be God or equal to God.[1] Even though passages such as John 5:17-18; 8:58-59; 10:30-33; Rev. 22:13 show this clearly (esp. in light of the response of the Jews in John 5:59; 8:59; and 10:33.

Jesus declared in John 8:24: “For if you should not believe that I am [egō eimi] you will perish in your sins” (lit. trans.).[2] Although many translations add the pronoun “he” after “I am” (e.g., NKJ, NASB) or bracketed clause[3], the fact is there is no pronoun (i.e., no supplied predicate) contained after egō eimi (“I am”) in any Greek manuscript of John 8:24 or after Jesus’ other affirmations of being the “I am” as in John 8:28, 58; 13:19; 18:5, 6, and 8.[4] See also Mark 6:50: “Take courage; I am [egō eimi], do not be afraid” (lit.; also cf. John 6:19).

Hence, these seven particular occurrences (in John) of Jesus’ claim to be the “I am” are not the same as statements such as, for example, “I am the door” or “I am the shepherd.” These all have clear predicates (“door,” “shepherd”) following “I am,” whereas the seven “I am” statements in John seem to have no supplied predicate, but rather the “I am” stands alone. Clearly, this was an absolute claim to deity.

To understand the full theological significance of the phrase egō eimi, the OT background must first be considered. The Hebrew phrase, ani hu (“I [am] He”), which was translated egō eimi in the Septuagint (LXX), was an exclusive and recurring title for Yahweh alone (cf. Deut. 32:39; Isa. 41:4; 43:10; 46:4)—which the Jews clearly understood (cf. John 8:59).[5] Again, Jesus’ claim to be the “I am” was not only seen in John 8:58 (as many assume), but note the marked progression starting in 8:24, then, vv. 28, 58; 13:19; 18:5, 6, and 8. It is when we examine all the “I am” statements do we see the consequence of His claim.

When Jesus declared He was the “I am” at John 18:5, 6, and 8, we read that the “fearless” Romans soldiers “fell to the ground.” What would cause Roman soldiers to fall to the ground? So powerful were Jesus’ divine pronouncements that it caused His enemies to shudder to the ground. Even when Jesus was being arrested at perhaps one of the lowest points of His life on earth, He still retained total sovereignty over His enemies.

So strong was Jesus’ affirmation of deity in John 8:58 that the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Bible (the (NWT) had to mistranslate the present active indicative verb, eimi (“am”) turning it into a past tense: “I have been” (see above NWT trans.). From this, the JW’s argue that Jesus was not claiming to be deity (“I am”), but rather He was claiming to be “older” than Abraham was (as Michael the archangel), which incited the Jews to want to kill Him. However, what immediately refutes this false notion is:

1) Simply, the Greek text contains the PRESENT indicative verb eimi (“am”) and not any kind of past tense. In 1969, the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society[6] (WT) published a Greek Interlinear called, The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures (KIT) and a revised ed. in 1985. The KIT is a Greek NT with English equivalents under each Greek word and the NWT on the side margins. What is interesting is that the Greek is unchanged, only the NWT is altered from the Greek.

For example, notice the photocopy of John 8:58-59 from the KIT in which you can see the unaltered Greek phrase egw eimi (“I am”) and the NWT’s altered reading “I have been,” on the side:

This clearly shows that the NWT purposely altered the Greek NT text, from the present “I am” (viz. the Eternal One) to a past “I have been” (as if Jesus was merely saying that He is older than Abraham)[7] to fit the distinctive theology of the WT.

2) Even more, throughout the years, the WT has offered at least three reasons as to why the present tense verb (eimi, “am”) should be translated as a past action (“have been”). First, in the 1950 ed. of the NWT, there is a footnote referring to the “I have been” rendering, which states: “I have been— egw eimi . . . properly rendered in the perfect indefinite tense. . . .” (p. 312).

This sounds legitimate to one who is not familiar with Greek, however, there is no such tense as a “perfect indefinite” in biblical Greek. The WT made up a phony tense. Some have defended the WT’s explanation saying that “perfect indefinite” refers to the English, not the Greek. But we are not aware of a single official WT source that states this.

Then, the WT argued that the verb eimi was a “perfect indicative.”[8] Now, there is a perfect indicative in Greek, however, the verb eimi takes no such form. And currently, the WT asserts that eimi is a “historical present”[9] explaining that “The verb ei·mi’, at John 8:58, is evidently in the historical present, as Jesus was speaking about himself in relation to Abraham’s past” (emphasis added).[10]

Thus, the JWs see Jesus as merely claiming that He pre-existed Abraham, which, according to the JWs, enraged the Jews to the point of wanting to kill Him (cf. v. 59). This assertion, however, is flawed both grammatically and contextually. First, a historical present tense occurs primarily in narrative literature and only in third person. In this context, Jesus was arguing with the Jews—He was not narrating. Secondly, the equative verb eimi is not used as a historical present. As the recognized Greek scholar, Daniel Wallace, points out:

“If this is a historical present, it is apparently the only historical present in the NT that uses the equative verb eimi. The burden of proof, therefore, lies with the one who sees eimi as ever being used as a historical present. . . If this is a historical present, it is apparently the only historical present in the NT that is in other than third person.[11]

The weight against the historical present view is massive. The reason for these various assertions of eimi postulated by the WT throughout the years (viz. the phony perfect indefinite; perfect indicative, and historical present) is, of course, obvious. If Jesus’ divine statements of being the “I am,” stand unmodified, then, Jesus made some astonishing and unambiguous claims of being the eternal God (as with John 5:17 and 10:27-30), which clearly show the WT to be a false religion in need of salvation.

NOTES

[1] Although Roman Catholicism holds to the deity of Christ, they reject His work as being sufficient, the very ground of justification (esp. seen in Rome’s view of Purgatory). Since Paul states that it is “His [God’s] doing” that we are in Christ, who became to us “righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Cor. 1:30), Rome clearly embraces a “different” Jesus than that of holy Scripture, a Jesus, that did not, alone, become the believers’ righteousness.

[2] Ean gar mē pisteusēte hoti egō eimi apothaneisthe en tais hamartiais humōn.

[3] For example, the pre-2011 NIV has a bracketed clause after “I am” that reads: “the one I claim to be.”

[4] Although John 8:58 is accepted universally in biblical scholarship as a non-predicated divine declaration, “I am,” not all scholars hold to 8:24 in the same light as reflected in many translations. However, some translations (e.g., ISV [2008]; NAB) do see the phrase at 8:24 as unpredicted: “I am.” The Aramaic Bible in Plain English (2010) reads: “I said to you that you shall die in your sins, for unless you shall believe that I AM THE LIVING GOD, you shall die in your sins” (caps theirs). Also see Vincent’s Word Studies, where 8:24, 28, 58 and 13:19 are seen as a “solemn expression” of Jesus’ “absolute divine being.”

[5] Some connect Exodus 3:14 with John 8:58. However, the LXX rendering of Exodus 3:14 is not an exact equivalence: Egō eimi ho ōn (“I am the Being” or “Existing One”). Though there is a solid connection between Jesus’ divine claim in John 8:58 and Exodus 3:14 (both provide same meaning: I am the Eternal one), the full theological impact of Jesus’ divine declarative should be linked to the Hebrew phrase ani hu (“I [am] He”), which was rendered by the LXX as egō eimi. Again, the unpredicted egō eimi was a divine title used exclusively by Yahweh (e.g., Deut. 32:39; Isa. 41:4; 43:10; 46:4). Unlike Elohim (“God”), the title egō eimi was never applied to men or angels, but to Yahweh alone: “See now that I am [egō eimi], and there is no god except Me” (Deut. 32:29, LXX).

[6] The WT is the organization to which the JWs belong and submit.

[7] The Watchtower, 1 September 1974, 526-27

[8] Cf. KIT, 1985 ed. 451.

[9] “The historical present is used fairly frequently in narrative literature to describe a past event” (Wallace, Greek Grammar, 526).

[10] Reasoning from the Scriptures, 418.

[11] Ibid., 530.

One of the most common objections to the deity of Jesus Christ made by unitarians (esp. Muslims & JWs[1])– aside from their false claim that Jesus never claimed to be God/Yahweh- is their claim that Jesus was never worshiped nor did He ever demand to be.

Both the OT and NT teach clearly that worship is to God alone (cf. Exod. 20:5)—with which most unitarians agree. Thus, if it were found in Scripture that the person of the Son, Jesus Christ, was actually worshiped in a religious context and He accepted it, it would be devastating for those who deny that Jesus as the Son is God, such as also Oneness Pentecostals who deny the eternality and deity of the person of the Son.[2] This would demonstrate beyond that the person of the Son; Christ Jesus was indeed God incarnate.

Aside from the fact that Scripture (esp. in John’s literature) presents clearly that Christ is fully God (viz. God-man) and the Creator of all things, we find that Christ was worshiped as God in several passages. Scripture presents the Son as receiving the same kind of religious “worship” as that of God the Father. This is particularly clear in the following examples in John’s literature and other portions of Scripture (both in OT and NT):

Daniel 7:9-14— The “Son of Man” was worshiped by “all the peoples, nations and men of every language.”

  • Matthew 14:33—Jesus was worshiped by the men in the boat.
  • John 9:35-38—Jesus was worshiped by the blind man.
  • Hebrews 1:6—“All the angels” worshiped the Son.
  • Revelation 5:13-14—The Lamb was worshiped in the same sense as that of God the Father.

Jesus received “worship” in a religious context[3] on several occasions. Although the above examples do not include every place where Jesus was worshiped, they give us clear and explicit examples of the Son receiving religious worship by both men and angels.

DANIEL 7:14

And to Him was given dominion, glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations and men of every language might serve [Aram., pelach, LXX., latreuō/douleuō] Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which will not pass away; and His kingdom is one, which will not be destroyed.

1. In Daniel 7:9-14, we read of two distinct persons who are the object of divine worship, the Ancient of Days and the Son of Man. In verse 14, the Son of Man was “given dominion, glory and a kingdom,” by God the Father in which “all the peoples, nations and men of every language might serve/worship Him. . . .”

2. The term “serve” (“worshiped,” NIV) is from Aramaic word, pelach (Heb. palach). When this term appears in the OT where God is the object, it carries the idea of religious worship, services, or rituals performed in honor to the true God. Note, the term pelach, which is applied to the Son of Man in verse 14 is applied to Yahweh in verse 27 as well: “His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions will serve [pelach] and obey Him.”

3. The LXX[4] translates pelach in verse 14, as latreuō, which, in a religious context, denotes service or worship reserved for God alone (cf. Exod. 20:5 [LXX]; cf. also Matt. 4:10; Rom. 1:9, Phil. 3:3; Heb. 9:14 et al). Although in some editions of the LXX, pelach is translated as douleuō (“to serve”), in a religious context (which verses 9-14 undeniably are), douleuō like latreuō denotes service or worship reserved for God alone (cf. Gal. 4:8).

4. To avoid the implications of the Messiah receiving true divine worship, some have argued that the title “Son of Man” refers exclusively to humanity collectively (e.g., referring to Israel). However, contextually this cannot be true. As indicated previously, the Son of Man here receives “dominion, glory and a kingdom,” and “all the peoples, nations and men of every language might serve/worship Him.”

This description cannot be said of men collectively. Moreover, while modern Jewish commentators deny the Messianic import of this passage, this was not the case with the earliest Jewish sources (cf. the Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin, 96b-97a, 98a; etc.). Further, as noted, the testimony of early church Fathers connect the Son of Man in Daniel 7 with Jesus Christ— and not with men collectively.

MATTHEW 14:33

And those who were in the boat worshiped [proskuneō][5] Him, saying, “You are certainly God’s Son!”

Matthew 14:22-34 is a narrative of the Jesus’ miraculous walking on the water. This event is also recorded in Mark 6:45-51 and John 6:16-21. What is notable is that the narrative supplies ample references to the deity of Christ (i.e., His “I am” claim and the religious worship given to Christ by the men in the boat). This event follows the feeding of the 5,000.

Immediately, after Jesus feeds the 5,000, Matthew records that Jesus “made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He sent the crowds away” (v. 22). Jesus went to pray on the mountain. By evening, the boat was a long way off (about 3 or 4 miles, cf. John 6:19).

Then we read in verse 26 that after the disciples who were in the boat saw Jesus “walking on the water,” they were terrified for they thought they saw a phantasma (“ghost/ apparition,” cf. Mark 6:49). At which point Jesus comforted them by stating: Tharseite, egw eimi, mē phobeisthe (lit.) “Take courage, I am, [do] not [be with] fear” (Matt. 14:26). As with the several “I am” claims of Christ in the Gospel of John, Jesus declares His deity in contrast to their fear. Jesus is the One who created all things, the eternal God, who controls the winds and the sea (cf. Matt. 8:27)—why be afraid?

In verses 28-32, Matthew provides additional information. We read that Peter attempted to walk on the water to meet Christ, but sank due to his weak faith. When Jesus helped him get back into the boat, verse 33 indicates, “Those who were in the boat worshiped [proskuneō] Him, saying, ‘You are certainly God’s Son!’” Note that act of worshiping is connected with the affirmation of Jesus being “God’s Son.” As observed, the unique way in which Jesus claimed to be the Son of God was tantamount to claiming to be God the Son—, which was clearly understood by the Jews (cf. Mark 14:61-62; John 5:17-18; 19:7), the apostles (cf. Matt. 16:18; Rom. 1:3-4); the author of Hebrews (cf. Heb. 1:1-3); the devil (cf. Matt. 4:3-7); God the Father (cf. Matt. 3:17; Heb. 1:5-12); and OT prophets (cf. Ps. 2:7; Dan. 7:9-14; Acts 10:43 et al).

JOHN 9:35-38

Jesus heard that they [the Jews] had put him [blind man that Jesus healed] out, and finding him, He said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?”37 Jesus said to him, “You have both seen Him, and He is the one who is talking with you.” 38 And he said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped [proskuneō] Him.

In John 9:1, we read of a man blind from birth. However, Jesus healing of the blind man caused much controversy among the Jews (cf. vv. 13-34). The act of worship was first in response to Jesus’ revealing that He was the Son of Man. As in Matthew 14:33, the worship was combined with the blind man’s affirmation that Jesus, the Son of Man, was Lord—thus, a religious context.

HEBREWS 1:6

And when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says,

“AND LET ALL THE ANGELS OF GOD WORSHIP HIM.”

The prologue of Hebrews provides a marked contrast between all things created (viz., angels, the heavens, and the earth) and the eternal divine Son (cf. vv. 3, 8) who is presented as the unchangeable Creator of all things (cf. vv. 2, 10-13). Since the setting is in the heavens, the context is clearly religious in nature. In verses 1-3 the Son has already been exegetically presented as God, “through whom also He made the world” (v. 2). In verses 8-13, the Father addresses the eternal Son as both ho theos (“the God”) whose throne is forever (v. 8) and the Lord (Yahweh) of Psalm 102:25-27—the unchangeable Creator (vv. 10-12). That “all the angels” (v. 6) worship the person of the Son is perfectly consistent with the entire prologue of Hebrews as well as rest of Scripture.

In verse 6, God the Father commands pantes aggeloi theou (“all the angels of God”) to worship [proskuneō] the Son. Note, the commandment is given to “all the angels”—thus, the Son is excluded from being an angel (as seen below in Rev. 5:13). The theological implications of the Son receiving religious worship would absolutely mean that the Son is truly God. Also in Hebrews 1:10-12, God directly addresses the Son as the “Lord” (Yahweh) of Psalm 10:25-27, which refers to Yahweh as the unchangeable Creator of all things: “You, Lord [kurie[6]], in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of Your hands. . . .”

Interestingly, the JWs’ NWT[7], contained “worship” at Hebrews 1:6 in the 1950, 1961, and 1970 editions; however, “worship” to the Son was quite problematic and confusing to many JWs (esp. in light of Exod. 20:5), so in the 1971 edition, the NWT changed the term “worship” to “obeisance” (meaning respect or honor).[8]

REVELATION 5:13-14

“And every created thing . . . I heard saying, ‘To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.’ 14 And the four living creatures kept saying, ‘Amen’ and the elders fell down and worshiped [proskuneō].”

Here the Father and the Lamb received the same kind of blessing, honor, and glory and thus, the same kind of worship, from “every created thing.” Hence, the Lamb (Jesus) is excluded from the category of a “created thing.” Rather, as in Hebrews 1:16 et al, the Son was worshiped in a religious context. This revealing truth shows that the Son shares the very essence of God the Father. He is God in the same sense as that of the Father (cf. John 1:1b; Heb. 1:3).

CONCLUSION

In the OT (cf. Dan. 7:14) and throughout the NT, Jesus was rightfully worshiped as God—the Creator of all things (cf. John 1:3; Col. 1:16-17; Heb. 1:10-12). Our faith as Christians demand we embrace the Triune God and Jesus as the second person of the Trinity, whose atoning cross work is the very cause of our justification. Let us join all the angels and worship the Son.

[1] Jehovah’s Witnesses.

[2] Oneness advocates see Jesus as a unipersonal (i.e., as one person) deity assuming three modes (not persons). Hence, only in the “Father” mode is Jesus God, not in the “Son” mode, which they argue was created in Bethlehem.

[3] A religious context is any such context where spirituality or holiness exists.

[4] The LXX is the abbreviation for the Septuagint (Latin, “seventy”). The LXX was the Greek translation of the OT, which was the primary source of OT quotations by the NT authors (esp. Hebrews).

[5] The Greek word proskuneō means divine worship in a religious context (as in Matt 4:10 and John 4:24) or it can also mean to fall prostrate in front of another in honor and respect, thus, “obeisance.” Only the context determines the meaning. In Hebrews 1:6, the setting is in the heavens—hence, it is religious worship to the Son that the Father commands of “all the angels.”

[6] Kurie is the “vocative” (direct address) case of kurios (“Lord”).

[7] New World Translation (NWT) is the Bible translation of the JWs.

[8] The NWT only removes “worship” at the places where worship was in reference to Jesus (e.g., Matt. 14:33; 28:9; John 9:38; Heb. 1:6 etc.).

Colossians 1:15,: “He [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.”

Because Jesus is called “firstborn,” the JWs assert that Jesus was created—the “first of Jehovah’s works.” Since this is probably their most utilized passage against Christians, we need to know how to respond to it in order to proclaim the truth of Jesus to them. In simple refutation, note the following:

1. The term “firstborn” (prōtotokos) denotes supremacy, preeminence, or first in rank as the context of Colossians demands. For example, in Exodus 4:22, Israel is called “firstborn” and certainly they were not the first nation created, but as God’s people they had preeminence. In Psalm 89:27, David, because of his status (i.e., his preeminence), is called “firstborn” and he was technically “last born” (note: in the LXX, both passages have prōtotokos). Even the Watchtower acknowledges the correct meaning of the term by admitting:

David, who was the youngest son of Jesses [sic], was called by Jehovah the “first-born,” due to Jehovah’s elevation of David to the preeminent position in God’s chosen nation (Aid to Bible Understanding, 1971, 584; emphasis added).

Further, note that in Genesis 41:51 Manasseh is called “firstborn” and Ephraim is called “second.” But in Jeremiah 31:9, Ephraim is called “firstborn” because it is was Ephraim who now had the preeminence or supremacy, and not Manasseh.

2. The context of the book of Colossians is a sharp refutation against the Gnostic heresy (Gnosticism). The Gnostics (viz. the Docetic Gnostics) denied all matter (creation). In contrast, Paul affirms that Jesus is the Creator of all things (cf. 1:16-17) in which He calls Christ “firstborn” of all creation. As Creator, Christ has supremacy (prōtotokos) over all creation.

3. If Paul wanted to convey that Jesus was “first-created,” he certainly could have used the word prōtoktistos literally meaning, “first-created” to do so (as in 2 Cor. 5:17). Hence, Jesus was not the first-creature, rather He was the Creator of ALL THINGS (cf. John 1:3; Col. 1:16-17; Heb. 1:2, 10-12), whereby in everything He has supremacy (cf. Col. 1:18). Points to remember:

  • In the context of Colossians, “firstborn” (prōtotokos) means supremacy or preeminence—Christ as Creator is preeminent over creation (cf. Exod. 4:22 and Ps. 89:27).
  • Even the Watchtower acknowledges the correct meaning of “firstborn” (“preeminent position”).
  • If Paul wanted to express that Jesus was created, he could have used prōtoktistos (“first created”).

Additional lexical information:

The term translated “firstborn” denotes Jesus as “having special status associated with a firstborn” (BDAG, Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon, 894). Biblical scholar Robert Reymond extracts the true significance of the term:

Paul’s intention behind his description of Jesus as “the Firstborn of all creation” is a universe away from the Arian interpretation of the JWs that would insist that the word shows that the Son was the “first” of all other created things; the entire context demands the term is to be understood in the Hebraic sense as an ascription of priority of rank to the firstborn son who enjoys a special place in the father’s love. (Reymond, Systematic Theology, 251).

  • New World Translation:“and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.”

  • King James Version: “and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

  • Greek Text (literal rendering):“and the Word was [ēnwith [prosthe God [ton theon], and God [theos] was the Word.”

In 1950, the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (WT), the corporate name of the Jehovah’s Witnesses (JWs), published their own translation of the Bible entitled: New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (NWT).[1] The WT’s prior theological commitments are quite obvious when the NWT is examined and compared to the Hebrew and Greek biblical manuscripts particularly at places where Jesus Christ is clearly presented as God (esp. John 1:1; 8:58; Phil. 2:9; Col. 1:16-17; 2:9; Titus 2:13; and Heb. 1:8). In other words, the WT had to make major alterations to their NWT from the original text in order to make their theology seem biblically consistent.. Accordingly, it is rejected by biblical scholarship as a legitimate translation. The above chart is a comparison of (1) the NWT’s rendering of the last two clauses of John 1:1 (1:1b and 1:1c), (2) the literal rendering of the Greek[2] (in Eng.), and (3) the KJV.[3]

“a god”?

One of the main reasons as to why the NWT renders John 1:1c as “and the Word was a god” is that in the Greek (see above), the first occurrence of “God” (theon, 1:1b) has the article “the” (ton), but the second occurrence of “God” (theos, 1:1c) does not (note: nouns without the article are called anarthrous). So, the JWs are taught that “THE God” refers to the “definite” almighty God, Jehovah (the Father) and the anarthrous theos (i.e., “God” without the article) refers to the “mighty god,” Michael the “created” archangel who they believe is Jesus.

In brief refutation to the NWT’s rendering of John 1:1c (“a god”), which is based on their chief theological starting point: Jesus is not God, consider the following:[4]

1. Two Gods? If the Word was a “true god” (for surely the JWs do not see the Word as a false “god”), then, two “true” Gods is clearly being asserted: the almighty God (Jehovah) and a mighty god (Jesus). That the Word was an indefinite god implies that He was merely one of a class of other gods, thus, the meaning of an indefinite noun. Here the JWs introduce polytheism (the belief in many true gods/Gods) into John’s Gospel. Not that it is impossible grammatically to be renders as “a god,” however, this idea would not only challenge John’s own *monotheistic* (one true God) theology, but clearly contradict his presentation of the full deity of Jesus Christ (e.g., John 5:23; 8:24, 58; 18:5, 6, 8; 20:28; 1 John 5:20; Rev. 5:12-14; 22:12-13).

2. “The God”? In biblical Greek, “God” with the article (“the”) and “God” without the article (i.e., the anarthrous theos) as in John 1:1c (lit., “and God was the Word”) can both refer to the one true God—context dictates the meaning. Further, many JWs incorrectly think that the two terms translated “God” (theon and theos) in 1:1 mean two different things: ton theon (“the God”) being the almighty God (Jehovah) and the anarthrous theos (“God”) being a mighty god (Jesus). However, the difference in spelling is due to their function in the sentence—not their meaning![5]

3. By asserting that the anarthrous theos should be rendered indefinite (“a god”), the JWs impose their own translational rule: anarthrous nouns = an indefinite meaning. But in fact, the anarthrous theos appears 282 times in the NT! Only at sixteen places does the NWT translate these 282 anarthrous occurrences of theos as indefinite.[6] Hence, the NWT was faithful to its translational rule only six-percent of the time![7] For example, the anarthrous theos appears in John 1:6, 12, 13, and 18, but yet the NWT did not follow its so-called translational rule at those passages. Only at John 1:1c did it do so—for obvious reasons. But why then (as JWs and many Christians will ask) does theos in John 1:1c not have the article? (kai theos ēn ho logos, lit., “and God was the Word” not “the God was the Word”). Answer: Simply put, if John had written: ho theos ēn ho logos (lit., “the God was the Word” making theos definite), he would have been teaching Oneness doctrine (or Modalism)! In other words, the passage would have indicated that “God” in 1:1b (the Father) and “God” in 1:1c (the Word) were the same Person! But semantically, theos is *qualitative,* not definite (and surely not indefinite—one of many).

Definite nouns point to the specific identification of someone or something (thus, in 1:1b “the God” identifies the Father) while qualitative nouns point to the essence or nature of someone or something.[8] The anarthrous theos indicates exactly as to what John was communicating: As to the Word’s nature (quality), He was fully God, but as to His Person (or specific identity), He was not identified as the Father, but personally distinct from Him: “The Word was with [pros] God.”[9]

To summarize:

  • To say that Jesus is a true God (“a god”) and Jehovah is also a true God forces polytheism (more than one true God) into John’s Gospel.
  • In Scripture, “God” with the article (“the God”) and “God” without the article does not necessitate a different meaning (see note 7).
  • The NWT is not consistent to its self-imposed translational rule (viz. “God” without the article should be rendered indefinite—“a god”). See John 1:6, 12, 13, 18.
  • That the Word was with God is consistent with Trinitarian theology, which states that there are three *distinct* Persons that share the nature of the one God. Only when one starts with the conclusion that God is unitarian (one Person), will he or she misunderstand John 1:1.

NOTES

[1] The NWT was revised in 1961, 1970, 1971, and a fourth revision in 1984.

[2] Interestingly, the WT has produced their own Greek interlinear (i.e., a Gk. text with the corresponding Eng. words under each Gk. word with the NWT written in the margin). It is called: Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures [KIT], which is a fairly accurate Greek text based on Westcott and Hort’s so-called, “Neutral Text” (pub. in 1881). Thus, I found it very effective to ask JWs to reference the KIT at passages such as John 1:1c; 8:58; Col. 1:16-17; 2:9; Titus 2:13; etc. where the purposeful modifications contained in the NWT can be clearly seen compared to the Greek text of the KIT. Also, at passages such as John 20:28, the KIT correctly records Thomas directly addressing Jesus as ho theos (“the God”), lit., “the Lord of me, and the God of me” (one of many places where Jesus is called ho theos as in Titus 2:13; 2 Pet. 1:1; Heb. 1:8; and 1 John 5:20).

These questions are answered below. Take first a few minutes to read the questions, then endeavor to feed on the answers and understand them, not just produce them as quick soundbites. 

Ask first: Jesus talked a lot about false prophets in the last-days,” tell me, biblically speaking what is a false prophet?”

I. Unitarianism: one God = one Person

QUESTION: If Jehovah is unitarian (existing as one Person), where in Scripture do we find a passage that teaches this?

II. Jesus is God and called “the God” (ho theos)

QUESTION 1: If Jesus is not Jehovah

III. Jesus as Creator

QUESTION 2: If Jesus was created as you were taught, why is He presented as the Creator of all things?

QUESTION 3: If the NWT did not add to the text the word “other,” would not the plain reading indicate that the Son was the Creator of “all things”? (see notes 6-7).

QUESTION 4: John 1:3 in the NWT says that “All things came into existence through him, and apart from him not even one came into existence.” Does this mean that “all things” came into existence through Jesus?

QUESTION 5: Hebrews 1:10, which is a reference to the Son, says that the Son “laid down the foundation of the earth itself” and the heavens are the work of His hands (NWT), does this not clearly indicate that the Son is the Creator?

QUESTION 6: If passages such as John 1:3; Colossians 1:16-17; and Hebrews 1:8-10 do not teach that Jesus was the Creator, even though they plainly say that He created “all things,” how would a passage read that did?

QUESTION 7: If Scripture did indeed teach that Jesus was the actual Creator of all things wouldn’t that make Him eternal and thus preexistent?

IV. The Divine Worship of Christ

QUESTION 8: Exodus 20:5 says that worship is reserved for God alone. So, why did the Father command all of His angels to worship the Son in Hebrews 1:6?

QUESTION 9: Revelation 5:13 says that “every creature” said to the “One sitting on the throne [God the Father] and to the Lamb [the Son] . . . be the blessing and the honor and the glory and the might forever and ever” (NWT). How can the Lamb be a creature when “every creature” is said to be giving praise to both the Father and the Lamb?

Part 1~ Question Asking Technique (Q&A)

Main Watchtower[1] Theological Distinctives:

  • They reject the biblical doctrine of the Trinity.
  • They reject the full deity of Jesus Christ.
  • They reject the deity and personally of the Holy Spirit.
  • They reject the “physical” resurrection of Jesus Christ.
  • They reject that justification is through faith alone.
  • They reject the biblical concept of God’s wrath (viz. hell) for the unregenerate

JW’s teach that they are the only “true” Christians and that the WT is God’s sole channel of communication on earth.

Even though the theology of the WT is clearly false, when Christians engage in dialogue with JWs (esp. on the Trinity and the deity of Christ) too often they become intimidated and, within minutes, doctrinally confused! For in dialogue, the JWs generally aim to dominate the conversation by “proving” his or her position by rapid-firing a host of biblical passages[2]—most of which are wrenched out of context. Typically, they do not allow time for any meaningful exegetical discussion of each passage presented; they merely cite them—and at times, in one breath!

The problem is that many Christians who desire to reach out to JWs lack the basic knowledge of their own theology to provide a clear biblical affirmation and response to the assertions of the JWs. So, if your desire is to witness to the JWs, the first thing that you must do is to learn the basics of your own faith, then, the basics of what JWs believe. If you can biblically communicate central doctrines such as the Trinity, deity of Christ, and salvation through faith alone, even without exhaustively understanding every doctrine of the WT, you can confidently and adequately defend and affirm the Person and finished work of Christ—namely, the gospel.

JW’s answer questions & ignore opposing arguments

They spend many hours in Kingdom Halls[3] learning how to proclaim the WT’s version of the “Kingdom of God.” Because they are taught not to argue, even though few follow this rule, when dialoguing with JWs, I have found it extraordinarily effective to engage in “question asking.” Q&A forces the JWs to (a) contemplate the question asked as well as the answer that they will be giving, and (b) stick to the topic being addressed, which prevents their normal tactic of playing biblical hopscotch—namely, jumping from one passage to another. Jesus frequently utilized Q&A as an effective way to teach and express particular truths (e.g., with Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman; cf. John 3, 4). The Apostle Paul likewise used Q&A as a means of teaching (e.g., 1 Cor. 1:13; 12:29-31; Gal. 3-1-5).

Types of questions to ask

Before you rush to the nearest Kingdom Hall with your 101 questions, first, as mentioned, you should be biblically prepared to respond to the JW’s rejections and assertions mounted against the true gospel. They will normally start the dialogue by getting you to agree that these are the “last-days,” then, as seen above, they will quickly jump from one subject to another. Many times they will postulate the notion that the entire church apostatized (fell away) after the death of the original apostles[4] and hence, that they alone are the only true Christians—Jehovah’s true witnesses.

Above all, do not allow them to dominate the conversation: Keep them on one subject at a time particularly on the Person, nature, and finished work of Jesus Christ. But if they persist on the topic of the last-days, you may want to try a method, which I found works very well:

*Example-

Ask first: “That is true; in fact, Jesus talked a lot about false prophets in the last-days,”[5] tell me, biblically speaking what is a false prophet?”

They may waver here, but immediately take them to Deut. 18:20-22 where a false prophet is clearly defined (even in their own NWT) as one who prophesies in the name of the LORD (“Jehovah” NWT) and what was prophesied did not come to pass. The JWs should not have any problem agreeing on the biblical definition here of “false prophet.”

Then ask: Did the WT ever make false predictions or prophecies on behalf of Jehovah? “If you assert that the WT made false prophecies make sure you possess the actual citations.”[6]

They will either deny this (out of ignorance or deception) or, most of the time, they will calmly assert that “the WT made mistakes; for they are mere men who never claimed that they were ‘prophets,’ they are constantly receiving ‘new light.’”[7]

At that point it is very important to show[8] them where the WT has undeniably claimed that they were prophets:

Who will be Jehovah’s prophet? Who will be the modern day Jeremiah? The plain facts show God has been pleased to use Jehovah’s Witnesses (WT Magazine, January 15, 1959, pp. 40-41; *additional WT claims of being a “prophet” can be found @ www.christiandefense.org/jw.htm).

To recap, when the JWs use the “last-days tactic” to open up the dialogue, first, get the JWs to agree on the “biblical definition” of a false prophet (cf. Deut. 18) any other definition is merely fallible opinion. Then, show (from their own literature) where the WT has made definite claims of being a “prophet.” Then take them to references or citations of false prophecies made by them. Once the biblical definition to which the JWs has agreed upon has been established, the WT ends up proving itself to be a false prophet. This route of witnessing utterly undermines their sole religious authority, which tells them that doctrines such as the Trinity and the full deity of Christ are false. Even if they disagree at first (which most will), they will almost certainly remember the dialogue they had with you in which you revealed biblically that the WT is a false prophet.

Part 2~ Question Asking Technique (Q&A)

Previously, we saw how Q&A is an effective way to witness to JWs. We will now deal with the very heart of the gospel: the Trinity including, of course, the deity of Christ. The information presented below is not by any means an exhaustive compilation of every feature of these doctrines; it merely provides some basic tools for presenting these doctrines.

Unitarianism: one God = one Person

The fact is that too many Christians, without forethought, dart right to the doctrine of the Trinity only to get discouraged by a “studied” JW that learned how to answer Trinitarian or deity of Christ objections.[9] Hence, before discussing the Trinity and/or the deity of Christ, you must first realize this: The main reason why the JWs (and most anti-Trinitarian groups) reject these *essential doctrines[10] is because they wrongly assume from the start that God (Jehovah) is *unitarian,* that is, existing as one sole Person—uni-personal, not tri-personal.

“For if,” they argue, “there is only one God (i.e., one Person), how can Jesus (another Person from Jehovah) be God? That would be two Gods.” Hence, this unitarian assumption must first be dealt with or you will find yourself endlessly going back and forth asserting your position (the Trinity) in which the JWs will argue a different position (unitarianism) than that of the real argument being asserted.

Due to their unitarian assumption, many JWs falsely assume that the “evil” Trinity doctrine means ‘three Gods,’ rather than ‘three Persons.’ Thus, Christians must clearly define what the Trinity is and what it is not before discussing it.[11]

Also see: Most utilized Unitarian Objections to the Trinity

What’s more, most JWs (and unfortunately, many Christians) have never been taught as to what the *biblical* doctrine of the Trinity actually teaches. Hence, their views of the Trinity and the deity of Christ are usually based on either a false notion or faulty information.

Below is one question to ask JWs that will expose their false notion of what the Trinity is:

QUESTION: If Jehovah is unitarian (existing as one Person), where in Scripture do we find a passage that teaches this?

>>There is no passage in the OT or NT that teaches “one God” = “one Person” (unitarianism), but rather Scripture teaches that God is one Being. Monotheism is simply the belief in one God (e.g., Deut. 4:35; Isa. 44:6, 8): mono from monos, meaning, alone or only one and theism from theos, meaning, God). To argue that one God equals one Person is to argue in a circle.[12] However, for a JW to even contemplate as to the truth of the Trinity, he or she must see that (a) unitarianism is not biblical and (b) the deity of Christ is clearly established in Scripture: if a JW can see that Scripture does indeed teach the deity of Christ, then, one God revealed in three Persons—the Trinity, can be envisaged as biblical. So here we will focus on key questions regarding the deity of Christ.

Scripture exegetically presents that Jesus Christ is presented as fully God, God the Son.

In the NT,[13] there are three significant theological truths that clearly and unequivocally show that Jesus is God—in the same sense as that of the Father: Scripture presents that 1) Jesus, the Son, is fully God and is called “the God” (ho theos),[14] 2) Jesus is Creator, and 3) Jesus receives the same kind of worship that God the Father receives. The questions below do not represent an exhaustive list of every question regarding the deity of Christ, but they do present some challenging questions for JWs:

Jesus is God and called “the God” (ho theos)

QUESTION 1: If Jesus is not Jehovah[15] why did the apostles call Him “the God.”?

Remember, the JWs are convinced that in the Bible only Jehovah is and is called “the God.” However, note the clear examples below of where Jesus is called “the God.” Be sure that you have the JWs consult their own KIT[16] Greek text to verify the original rendering.

*John 20:28: ho kurios mou kai ho theos mou, lit., “the Lord of Me and the God of Me”).[17]

*Titus 2:13: tou megalou theou kai sōtēros hēmōn Christou Iēsou, lit., “the great God and Savior of us Christ Jesus.”

>>*2 Peter 1:1 has nearly the same rendering as Titus 2:13: tou theou hēmōn kai sōtēros Iēsou Christou, lit., “the God of us and Savior Jesus Christ.” The point is, both Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1 have the same grammatical construction: “God and Savior Jesus Christ.” This construction is known as Granville Sharp’s rule #1, which states (basically): when two singular descriptive nouns (“God” and “Savior”) are connected by the conjunction kai (“and”) and there is only one article (“the”) before the first noun (“God”), but not the second noun (“Savior,” thus, does not read, “the Savior”), both nouns, “God” and “Savior,” refer to the first named person, which is “Jesus Christ” at these passages.[18]

Also see HEBREWS 1:8 where the Father calls the Son “the God”: “ho thronos sou ho theos, lit., “the throne of You the God.”

Part 3~ Question Asking Technique (Q&A)

The goal of this article is to equip Christians to proclaim the deity of Christ to JWs utilizing Q&A as an effective means. As shown, we saw how presenting passages where Jesus is called “the God,” (Gk. ho theos, viz John 20:28; Titus 2:13; and 2 Pet. 1:1) can be greatly effective in the task of presenting Jesus as God. Also, to recall, in the NT (and OT), there are three significant theological truths that clearly and unequivocally show that Jesus is God—in the same sense as that of the Father: Biblically, 1) Jesus is “the God” (ho theos),[19] 2) Jesus is Creator, and 3) Jesus receives the same kind of worship as that of God the Father.

We first addressed a very important point when dialoging with JWs on the issue of the Trinity and/or the deity of Christ: their *unitarian* assumption that God exists as one Person. [20] I cannot stress this enough: the JW’s unitarian/unipersonal assumption of God must be addressed before interacting on topics such as the Trinity and the deity of Christ.

Previously, in Question 1, the first biblical truth was presented: Jesus is God and is called “the God.” So the next set of questions will address the fact that Jesus is presented as the Creator and He is worshiped as God. For if Jesus was the actual Creator, then, He would be excluded from being a creature as the JWs believe. [21] As indicated before, the questions below do not represent an exhaustive list of every question regarding the deity of Christ, but they do present some challenging questions for JWs.

Jesus as Creator

QUESTION 2: If Jesus was created as you were taught, why is He presented as the Creator of all things?

>>Scripture presents that Jesus was the very “agent of creation” (i.e., the Creator; esp. John 1:3; Col. 1:16-17; 1 Cor. 8:6; and Heb. 1:8-10). The normal response by JWs is that all those passages that speak of the Son creating, speak of His role in that He was merely with and assisting the Father. Thus, they argue that the Son created all “other” things except Himself, as their translation (NWT) indicates in Colossians 1:16-17 where the NWT added the word “other” four times![22]

But what were they to do? If Paul taught that Jesus created “all things” (as the literal unedited text of vv. 16-17 reads[23]) that would mean that the Son is eternal, hence, God Himself. Interestingly, the NWT “correctly” reads at John 1:3: “All things came into existence through him, and apart from him not even one came into existence.” In the Greek, the same phrase is used as in Colossians 1:17: literally, “the all things [ta panta] through Him [di’ autou] came into being.” As pointed out (see n. 7 below), the preposition dia (“through”) followed by the genitive case ending (autou, “Him”) indicates that Jesus was the actual agent of creation.[24]

QUESTION 3: If the NWT did not add to the text the word “other,” would not the plain reading indicate that the Son was the Creator of “all things”? (see notes 6-7).

QUESTION 4: John 1:3 in the NWT says that “All things came into existence through him, and apart from him not even one came into existence.” Does this mean that “all things” came into existence through Jesus?

>>So far, the NWT has not changed this text here by adding the word “other” as they did with Colossians 1:16-17 (and Phil. 2:9). Be sure to point out the similarities of John 1:3 (panta, “all things”) and Colossians 1:16-17 (panta, “all things”) except, of course, the NWT added “other” four times to Colossians 1:16-17.

QUESTION 5: Hebrews 1:10, which is a reference to the Son,[25] says that the Son “laid down the foundation of the earth itself” and the heavens are the work of His hands (NWT), does this not clearly indicate that the Son is the Creator?

>>Here the author of Hebrews is quoting Psalm 102:25, which is referring to Yahweh,[26] but the author specifically applies it to the Son (cf. v 8). This is one of many places where a NT author quotes an OT passage referring to Yahweh, yet applies it to the Son[27]—clearly showing that the Son is Yahweh.

QUESTION 6: If passages such as John 1:3; Colossians 1:16-17; and Hebrews 1:8-10 do not teach that Jesus was the Creator, even though they plainly say that He created “all things,” how would a passage read that did?[28]

QUESTION 7: If Scripture did indeed teach that Jesus was the actual Creator of all things wouldn’t that make Him eternal and thus preexistent?[29]

The Divine Worship of Christ

QUESTION 8: Exodus 20:5 says that worship is reserved for God alone. So, why did the Father command all of His angels to worship the Son in Hebrews 1:6?

>>In the 1971 edition of the NWT, the word “worship” was changed to “obeisance,”[30] but only at places where the Son is said to have received “worship” (e.g., Matt. 14:33; 28:9; John 9:38; Heb. 1:6; etc.). If the WT is Jehovah’s “sole channel” of communication, as they claim, and worshipping Jesus is wrong, as they teach, why did the NWT contain “false doctrine” for over twenty years?[31]

The word “worship” is translated from proskuneō in Greek. It could mean “obeisance” or “to fall prostrate” depending on the context. Surely, it is not wrong to proskuneō, that is, bow before a king or dignitary. But in a “religious context” (to which Exod. 20:5 refers) would be idolatry. Thus, when John started to worship (proskuneō) the angel, the angel quickly stopped him saying, “I am a fellow servant . . . worship God” (Rev. 19:10; cf. Acts 10:25-26). But the Son was worshiped (proskuneō)—in a “religious context.” In Hebrews 1:6, for example, the context is in heaven, in the presence of God the Father—it does not get more religious than that!

QUESTION 9: Revelation 5:13 says that “every creature” said to the “One sitting on the throne [God the Father] and to the Lamb [the Son] . . . be the blessing and the honor and the glory and the might forever and ever” (NWT). How can the Lamb be a creature when “every creature” is said to be giving praise to both the Father and the Lamb?

>>Revelation 5:13 and esp. verse 14, show clearly that the Lamb received the *same kind* of worship and praise (“blessing and the honor and the glory and the might forever and ever”) as that of the “One sitting on the throne,” the Father. The text speaks of two categories: “every creature” and the Father and the Lamb, thus excluding the Lamb from the category of “every creature.”

In conclusion, the NT teaches unambiguously that Jesus Christ was God, Creator of “all things.” He is the very object of religious worship by His followers and the angels in heaven are commanded by the Father to worship the Son. Religious worship is to God alone. Only because Jesus Christ is fully God is He deserving of divine worship to the utmost. Jesus said to honor the Son as you would honor the Father. “He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father. . . .” (John 5:22-23).

RESPONSE:

1. No passage in the Bible teaches that a “total” apostasy will happen. 1 Tim. 4:1 reads that only “some will fall away,” and 2 Thess. 2:3 does not say that the entire church will fall away, only that there will be an apostasy with no mention as to the extent of the apostasy.

2. Jesus said, “I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it” (Matt. 16:18). That a total apostasy had occurred would indicate that the church was indeed overpowered by evil, a notion that is completely refuted by Christ.

3. The apostle Paul likewise speaks of the perpetuity of the true church: “to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen” (Eph. 3:21). Also consider this: If the entire church (post-apostolic age) fell away in which many false doctrines emerged, what does that say of the apostles who started and oversaw the original churches, and, who personally taught and commissioned many of the leaders of these churches? In fact, we do have many writings of significant “apostolic” church Fathers (viz. disciples of the original apostles, as with Clement of Rome, Ignatius, Hermas, Mathetes, Polycarp, etc.). So, I would ask, which of these (or any other early church Fathers) apostatized? And if not any of them, who then started this supposed total apostasy? Moreover, when exactly, did this so-called total apostasy happen? What is the evidence? For we know that at least by c. A.D. 90 there were Christian churches existing (cf. Rev. chaps. 2-3). LDS scholars certainly disagree as to when this so-called total apostasy happened. Were the apostles so spiritually ineffective in that they could not positively impact their disciples to stay consistent to their teachings? Hardly, Paul was fully confident that his doctrines would be entrusted “to faithful men who would be able to teach others” (2 Tim. 2:2). The fact is, even though some will fall away in the last days starting in the 1st Century (cf. 1 John 2:18-19) neither secular evidence nor a biblical passage indicates a total apostasy. Jesus promised that He will preserve the church (cf. Matt. 16:18) and He will be the “glory in the church . . . to all generations forever and ever. Amen” (Eph. 3:21).

1) the word that speaks of God being “one” (in the OT) is אחר, echad (e.g., Deut. 6:4: “The LORD is our God . . . is one [echad]”). The term echad predominately indicates compound or composite unity—not absolute solitary oneness (e.g., Gen. 2:24; 2 Chron. 30:12).

2) The word in the OT language that does strictly signify absolute solitary oneness is yahiyd (cf. Ps. 68:6).

Note: in the OT, this word was never applied to God. If God were an unipersonal deity, as JWs presuppose, surely the OT authors would have used the term yahiyd to say that God is “one,” but they did not, they exclusively used echad, 2) in the OT, plural pronouns, adjectives, and verbs were used of God (e.g., “Us,” “Our,” cf. Gen. 1:26-27; 3:22; 11:7-9; Isa. 6:8; in Isa. 54:5, God is said to be the “Makers” [pl. in Heb. same as Ps. 149:2]; in Eccl. 12:1, the Hebrew literally reads, “Remember also your Creators.”

Only because God is tri-personal He can be described as both “Maker” and “Makers” and as “Creator” and “Creators.” He is one Being, not one Person—a point that is repetitiously brought out by the OT authors. See also passages such as Gen. 19:24; Ps. 45:6-7 (quoted in Heb. 1:8ff.); and Isa. 48:16 where God is clearly presented as multi-personal, not unitarian or unipersonal.

NOTES

[1] The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society is the official name of the organization to which the JW’s belong (hereinafter WT).

[2] The Bible of the JWs is the New World Translation (NWT).

[3] A Kingdom Hall is a meeting place for JW’s where the majority of their worship, Bible studies, and religious services are held.

[4] This notion is also shared by the LDS Church (i.e., the Mormons). The JWs use the “total apostasy” assertion to buttress their view that they alone are Jehovah’s true witnesses on the earth who restored many “true” doctrines, which the “apostate” church corrupted. To show this, both JWs and LDS use the same passages, mainly, 1 Tim. 4:1 and 2 Thess. 2:3.

[5] Cf. Matt. 24:4, 11, 24.

[6] There are many false prophecies that the WT had made. For example, the 1925 prophesy: “Therefore we may confidently expect that 1925 will mark the return of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the faithful prophets of old. . . . (Millions Now Will Never Die, 1920, pp. 89-90); “The year 1925 is a date definitely and clearly marked in the Scriptures, even more clearly than that of 1914 (WT, July 15, 1925, p. 211).

Of course, there was no resurrection of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob proving this prophecy false. You can acquire the citations of many significant false prophecies from www.christiandefense.org/jw.htm including the blatant false prophecies concerning the supposed “end of the world” and return of Christ in 1914.

[7] To deflect the charge of being a false prophet, the JWs use the “new light argument” appealing to Prov. 4:18: “But the path of the righteous ones is like a bright light that is getting lighter and lighter. . . .” However, notice verse 19 (which is ignored by the JWs): “The way of the wicked ones is like the gloom; they have not known at what they keep stumbling” (NWT). In context then, v 18 & 19 are simply contrasting “the path of the righteous” with “the way of the wicked.” Ask JWs who used this line of reasoning: If they think that the “new light” argument would be valid excuse for a self-proclaimed prophet who promulgated false prophecies in the OT in light of Deut. 18:20-22. Even the WT’s own magazine said: “Of course, it is easy to say that this group acts as a ‘prophet’ of God. It is another thing to prove it. The only way that this can be done is to review the record” (WT, April 1, 1972, p.197).

[8] It is very important that you show only the specific addresses of the citations or photocopies, not anti-JW Christian literature (such as this article). If you do, they will immediately retract from your presence and never want to dialogue with you again.

[9] For example, a JW may ask you, “Did you know that the Trinity was invented in 4th century by the Roman Catholic Church?” In our Jan/Feb 2007 newsletter, we provided some of the main Trinitarian objections made by anti-Trinitarian groups (or view it here: Most utilized Unitarian Objections to the Trinity

[10] “Essential” doctrines are doctrines that are indispensable to true Christian faith, namely, the Trinity and the finished work of Christ (i.e., justification through faith alone). To reject any of these doctrines is to reject the Jesus of biblical revelation since they biblically define His very nature and finished work.

[11] One thing that we must consider first: only God can open a JW’s mind to embrace the Trinity. Normally, when I define the Trinity, I simply state, in three points, that Scripture presents 1) there is one eternal God (but not one Person), 2) that there are three Persons (viz. the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) that are God and are called God (or Yahweh), and 3) (conclusion) that the three divine Persons are distinct from each other. Though, the very foundation of the Trinity is monotheism, one God. Thus, there are three divine Persons that share the nature of the one Being, God. The three Persons are presented biblically as coeternal, coequal, coexistent, and distinct from each other. Moreover, when presenting the Trinity, be sure to have the biblical support to justify your presentation.

[12] Of course, the JWs can say the same to us: “You too make an assumption: ‘one God’ does not mean one Person, but one Being.” However, the concept of “one” is really not what is being argued, for Scripture does teach that there is only one God by nature (e.g., Deut. 4:35). The argument, however, revolves around the “interpretation” of “one God.” First, since the phrase and concept “one God” is not specifically defined as “one Person” (for in both Heb. and Gk. there were words that specifically denoted “person[s]”), then, the burden of proof would certainly fall on the one claiming that the definition in the biblical author’s mind of “one God” means “one Person.” Second, it does not follow that because God is personal, He must be unipersonal (one Person). The fact is that both the OT and NT authors did not envisage God as unitarian/unipersonal. Note the following:

[13] The OT contains abundant examples of the deity of the pre-incarnate Christ (e.g., “the angel of the Lord” references; Gen. 19:24; Isa. 9:6; Micah 5:2; etc). However, since the NT reveals the full revelation of the deity of Christ, we will primarily focus our attention on the NT data.

[14] The JWs assert that only Jehovah can be called “the God.” The WT has published a Greek *Interlinear called, The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures (hereafter KIT). It is a fairly accurate Greek text. A Greek interlinear is a Greek text with the literal word-for-word translation of the English equivalent words placed under the Greek words. In the KIT, the NWT is printed on the side margin. The KIT is a way for the JWs, most of whom cannot read Greek, to see the actual Greek rendering by reading the English equivalents. Pertaining to their view of “the God” there is a footnote in reference to John 1:1c (“the Word was a god” NWT) that reads, “‘a god’ in contrast with ‘the God’” (401). See John 1:1 where the NWT is exegetically examined. Moreover, the WT magazine explains that “The title ho theos [“the God”], which now designates the Father as a personal reality, is not applied in the NT to Jesus himself; Jesus is the Son of God (of ho theos). . . .” (1 July 1986, 31). Showing JWs that Jesus is called “the God” could incite them to study further.

[15] Be sure to clarify your position: when you say Jesus is Jehovah, you are not saying that Jesus is the Father as JWs typically assume due to their unitarianism assumption: only the Person of Jehovah (the Father) is God. So, you need to make this point clear: Jesus is God, but He is not the same Person as the Father.

[16] See note 6 above.

[17] Many JWs will explain that Thomas was not addressing Jesus as “God,” rather he was merely expressing excitement as with “Oh my God, it’s You!” This argument is flawed on at least three accounts: 1) the English reads “My Lord and My God,” but the Greek reads, ho ku rios mou kai ho theos mou, lit., “The Lord of Me and the God of Me.” An equivalent phrase is found in Ps. 35:23 (LXX): ho theos mou kai ho kurios mou, lit., “the God of Me and the Lord of Me,” 2) if Jesus was not the true God, He, as a Rabbi, would have rebuked Thomas for addressing Him as God, but Jesus instead blessed him, and 3) grammatically, the text indicates that Thomas “said to Him”—in direct address. This is clear from the rendering: apekrithē Thōmas kai eipen autō, lit., “answered Thomas and said to Him.” In Rev. 4:11, an equivalent phrase is used to directly address God: ho kurios kai ho theos hēmōn, lit., “the Lord and the God of us.”

[18] 2 Pet. 1:11; 2:20; 3:2, and 18 literally read, “the Lord of us and Savior Jesus Christ” (tou kuriou hēmōn kai sōtēpos Iēsou Christou). These passages are of the same grammatical construction as that of 2 Pet. 1:1 (and Titus 2:13) except 2 Pet. 1:1 reads, “the God and Savior” while the others read, “the Lord and Savior.” In 2 Pet. 1:11; 2:20; 3:2, and 18, the JWs have no problem seeing both nouns “Lord” and “Savior” as refering to one person, Jesus. Only at 1:1, do the JWs see “God” and “Savior” as two persons—even though grammatically 2 Pet. 1:11; 2:20; 3:2; and 3:18 are of the same as that of 2 Pet. 1:1 (article-noun-“and”-noun = the first named person).

[19] As seen before, the JWs assert that only Jehovah can be called “the God.” We also noted that the JWs could see for themselves the “original rendering” of passages such as John 20:28; Titus 2:23; and 2 Pet. 1:1 in which Jesus is called ho theos (“the God”) in their own Greek Interlinear (KIT).

[20] As indicated, monotheism is the belief in one God, not necessarily “one Person.” Anti-Trinitarians such as JWs argue that one God means one Person, thus assuming what is meant to be proved.

[21] JWs believe that Jesus, before Bethlehem, was Michael the created archangel, the first of Jehovah’s works.

[22] The NWT reads: “by means of all [other] things . . . All [other] things have been created . . . he is before all [other] things . . . all [other] things were made. . . (NWT; brackets theirs). They argue that adding “other” helps the context. However, adding the “other” changes the context. He either created “all” or “some” things. Besides that, Paul’s argument is against the Gnostics who rejected that the Son created all things (see note 5 below).

[23] Note the *literal* rendering of verses 16-17: “By Him were created the all things [ta panta] . . . the all things [ta panta] through Him [di’ autou] and for Him have been created. And He is before all things [autos estin pro pantōn] and the all things [ta panta] in Him hold together.” Remember, Colossians was written specifically to refute the Gnostics who taught that “matter” (viz. all material things) was inherently evil (or as some believed, was illusory). Thus, to say that Jesus did not create “all things” and that the “fullness of Deity” was dwelling in the Son in human flesh (cf. Col. 2:9), would have made Paul’s argument completely vacuous. Paul specifically says that “all things” were created “through” the Son. The preposition dia (“through”) followed by the genitive pronoun autou (“Him”) indicates that Jesus was not merely an instrument, but rather the Creator Himself (see dia +genitive at John 1:3; 1 Cor. 8:6; and Heb. 1:2). There is no stronger way in Greek in which Paul could have communicated that Jesus was the actual Agent of creation. Hence, the NWT’s insertion of “other” cannot stand grammatically; it changes the intended meaning of the text and ignores the chief theme of the letter.

[24] We also find dia (the “a” drops off when followed by a vowel, thus, di’ autou) followed by the genitive at 1 Cor. 8:6 and Heb. 1:2, which further substantiates that the Son was the Creator.

[25] Verse 8 reads, “But with reference to the Son” NWT).

[26] When dialoguing with JWs, I use the badly mistransliterated English term “Jehovah” instead of “Yahweh” (“LORD”). The JWs only recognize “Jehovah” as the “true” name of God.

[27] Also cf. Isa. 6:1-10 with John 12:41; Ps. 102:25-27 with Heb. 1:10-12; Isa. 45:23 with Phil. 2:10-11; Isa. 8:12-13 with 1 Pet. 3:14, 15; Joel 2:32 with Rom. 10:13. .

[28] When Scripture says that the “Son” is the Creator, it does not mean that the Father and Holy Spirit are excluded from being the actual Creator. For Scripture presents that all three Persons of the Godhead are Creator. The three Persons share the nature of the one Being. Thus, as God it can be said that the Father is the Creator (cf. Acts 17:24), the Son is the Creator (as seen), and the Holy Spirit is the Creator (cf. Job 33:4). For God is one indivisible, inseparable, and unquantifiable Being. So, passages like Isa. 44:24, which says that God created by Himself and alone are perfectly consistent with Trinitarian theology.

[29] Aside from John 1:3; Col. 1:16-17; Heb. 8-10, there are many passages that present the preexistence of the Son (e.g., John 1:1; John 3:13; 6:38, 62; 8:23, 38, 42; 16:28; 1 Cor. 8:6; Heb. 1:2).

[30] Obeisance basically means, to bow, as one would to a king—thus, not the same as “worship.”

[31] From the NWT’s first edition (1950) to the 1970 edition, “worship” was applied to Christ. Further, early WT doctrine taught that Christ was to be worshiped. For example, WT’s founder Charles Taze Russell promoted the worship of Jesus when he said:

He was the object of unreproved worship even when a babe, by the wise men who came to see the new-born King. Matt. 2:2-11. Even the angels delighted to do Him honor. “When He bringeth the first-begotten into the world, He saith, “And let all the angels of God worship Him.” Heb. 1:6. He never reproved any one for acts of worship offered to Himself. . . (Watch Tower, 15 May, 1892, 157).

He also wrote that Jesus was not Michael the Archangel:

Hence it is said, “Let all the angels of God worship him”: (that must include Michael, the chief angel, hence Michael is not the Son of God). . . .” (Watch Tower, Nov. 1879, 4).

Last month, I, Edward Dalcour, president/apologist of DCD, formally debated Muslim apologist Sadig Abdul Malyk, which was held at Foothill Bible Christian Church in Upland, CA.

The thesis of the debate was the deity of Jesus Christ. Being familiar with the method to which Muslim apologists defend Islamic teachings, in my opening statements I described how Mr. Malyk would handle the biblical affirmations and evidence regarding the deity of Christ. I stated that I did not expect Mr. Malyk to 1) exegetically interact with any of the passages submitted for his examination, 2) adequately respond to the unambiguous claims of deity made by Christ Himself (esp. John 5:17ff.; John 10:30; the “Alpha and Omega” claims; and the absolute “I Am” [egō eimi] declarations found in John 8:24, 28; 58; 13:19; 18:5, 6, and v. 8), and 3) I did not expect Mr. Malyk to respond to the heated reaction of the Jews when Jesus made these claims: They wanted to kill Him for blasphemy!

I also stated in my opening that due to Mr. Malyk’s denial of the deity of Christ as a Muslim, I did expect him to 1) appeal to liberal scholars such as Bart Ehrman who not only denies the reliability of the NT and thus denies divine revelation all together, but calls himself a “happy agnostic.” Ehrman, as I pointed out, would certainly see the Koran as a ridiculous piece of work, 2) deny all the passages that affirm the deity of Christ asserting that the passages in the Gospels that allegedly assert the deity of Christ and/or Jesus’ claims of deity, were either not the original work of the biblical authors (esp. John) or an incorrect interpretation. And further assert that the Apostle Paul cannot be trusted. Paul, as Muslims claim, did not accurately represent the teachings of Christ, and 3) ignore and/or evade specific passages that present the deity of Christ. In the end, as I predicted, Mr. Malyk did exactly that!

The arguments of unitarians (i.e., groups that assert a unipersonal God—namely, God as one Person) are basically the same. Assuming that “one God” means “one Person” causes unitarian groups such as the Muslims, JWs, Oneness Pentecostals, etc., to reject the idea that the Son, Jesus Christ is also God. In their mindset, that idea violates monotheism. But as biblically stated, the very foundation of the Trinity is monotheism:

One eternal God revealed in three coequal, coeternal, coexistent, distinct Persons (not 3 Gods). For it must be pointed out here: there is a distinction between “being” and “person.” “Being” is what something is, “person” is who something is. Thus, maintaining a continued awareness of this distinction is greatly efficacious in accurately communicating the doctrine of the Trinity—one Being revealed in three Persons.

Passages Muslims & JWs use to Deny that Jesus is God

The passages used by Mr. Malyk in the debate and by most JWs to deny the deity of Christ are as follows: Mark 13:32 (where seemingly the Son is ignorant of His return); John 14:28 (where Jesus says that the Father is “greater” than the Son); Matthew 16:28 (where Muslims make the absurd claim that Jesus made a false prophecy); and Matthew 27:46 and John 20:17 (where Jesus addresses the Father as His God).

Before dealing with these passages, it must be remembered that the deity of Christ is exegetically presented in virtually every NT book[1] (e.g., Matt. 12:6; John 1:1-3, 18; 8:24, 58;10:30; Rom. 9:5; 1 Cor. 2:8; Phil. 2:6; Col. 1:16-17; 2:9; Titus 2:13). So, to put implicit biblical passages against explicit passages reveals a serious flaw in one’s hermeneutic. Furthermore, these passages that Muslims and JWs use to deny the deity of Christ actually prove the converse—they affirm the deity of Christ!

Mark 13:32: “But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone” (same with the response to Mark 10:18)

If one is going to use Mark 13:32 (or 10:18) to argue that the ignorance of the Son- shows that the Son cannot be God; to stay consistent one must use the entirety of chapter 13 and not omit verse 32 from its context. In short, the entire context of the chapter is future events from the time of which the author is writing. However, in spite of the various eschatological views proposed these days, it seems that in verse 32 (in light of Matt. 24:36), Jesus is speaking of His final Eschaton (return).

Note first, verse 27, where we read that the Son “will send forth the angels, and will gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest end of the earth to the farthest end of heaven.” Here the Son is said to “send forth the angels” and they will gather His elect. Does Mohammad (or Michael the archangel, as JWs believe Jesus to be) have angels that obey him? Does Mohammad have an elect? For only Yahweh has an elect class (cf. Rom. 8:33; 1 Pet. 1:1). So thus far, the full deity of the Son is clearly presented in chapter 13. So whatever Jesus actually meant in verse 32, it cannot be in objection to verse 27.

Now, let’s deal with verse 32. First, Philippians 2:7 says Christ emptied (kenoō) Himself. But how did He empty Himself? By taking the NATURE (morphē) of a slave, being made in the likeness of men. . . .” Then in verse 8, we read that the Son humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross! Thus, Jesus Christ voluntarily veiled some of His divine prerogatives, without divesting any deity.[2]

So any knowledge that the Son did not apparently have, must be seen within the context of His incarnation, thus, His emptying and humbling—He was not only God, He was God-man. Muslims and JWs confuse and deny all aspects of His incarnation and merely go to passages which denote His humanity. If the incarnation and humiliation of Christ is misrepresented and/or distorted, then, one will be hopelessly confused, and keep asking questions, such as, “If Jesus was God, why didn’t He know the day or hour of His return?, “How can He die?” “Why didn’t He know who touched Him”; and on and on it goes.

Secondly, and a key point, notice the ascending ontological (in nature) order in verse 32: “But of that day or hour”:

1) “No one knows.” Thus, no “man” knows. Thus, the first category of being is man.

2) “Not even the angels in heaven.” The next category is angels, which is a higher category of being than that of man.

3) “Nor the Son, but the Father alone.” What being is higher than angels? God. So, the ascending order: man> angels> Son shows that the Son, as God, is in a higher category than that of man and angels—hence clearly affirming the deity of the Son.

John 14:28: “The Father is greater than I.”

Just as Mark 13 actually proves the deity of Christ, John 14 likewise proves the same. First in verse 6, Jesus says that He is the Way, and the Truth, and the Life and no one can come to the Father except through Him. Neither Mohammad nor Michael the archangel, nor any mere man or angel can make such a claim. Then in verse 14, Jesus says that “If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.”

Prayer is to God alone, but the Son instructs His disciples to pray to Him. And in verse 23, Jesus says, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.” What does this passage reveal about the Son? It indicates that Jesus is omnipresent as the Father is. Jesus claims that He and His Father will be with believers everywhere: “We will come to him and make Our abode with him.”

Up to now, Jesus reveals that He possesses the very attributes of God affirming once again His absolute deity: He is the only Way, the only Truth, the only Life, and hence, the only means of coming to the Father; He instructs His followers to pray to Him; and He claims to be omnipresent.

Therefore, when we come to verse 28, we must take the preceding passages into consideration theologically and not wrench them out of the chapter. So what then does Jesus mean? First, it must be realized that the term translated “greatest” is meizōn (from megas), which denotes position or function—not nature (cf. BDAG). In fact, no standard lexicon offers a meaning of qualitative or ontological superiority for the term megas. Note how the same term in the same form (meizōn) is used in Romans 9:11-12:

though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls, 12 it was said to her, “The older [meizōn] will serve the younger” (cf. John 15:20).

If the Son wished to communicate that the Father was ontologically superior (better) than He was, He certainly could have used the term kreittōn, “better/stronger” to accomplish this.

This term can indeed denote ontological superiority (e.g., Heb. 1:4: the Son is “much better [kreittōn] than the angels”). The same word is used in verse 12: “He who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater [megas] works than these. . . .” What are these greater works? Contextually, they can only refer to greater in quantity (geography), not greater in quality (cf. Matt. 28:19).

Matthew 16:27-28: “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”

All the apostles died and Jesus has not yet come. So is this a false prophecy? This assertion of Jesus making a false prophecy rests upon the assumption that the phrase, “Son of Man coming in His kingdom” speaks of His final return. Simply, the first word in verse 1 of chapter 17 is the conjunction: kai, “and.” (“and six days later . . .”). Hence, 16:28 and 17:1 are connected: the “Son of Man coming in His kingdom” is connected with the Transfiguration, which was witnessed by Peter, James, and John who were the “some of those” that “would not taste death.” This coming was not the final return, but rather a precursor to Jesus’ final Eschaton.

Finally, in Matthew 27:46 and John 20:17, Jesus calls His Father “God.” Thus, it is argued, “If Jesus is God, how can He address someone else as His God? The simple answer: Jesus is not only God, but God-man. He has two natures. As to His humanity He can grow in wisdom, feel pain, die on the cross, etc., but as to His deity He can claim that He is the “I Am” of the OT (John 8:58; cf. Deut. 32:39; Isa. 43:10 LXX); He can still the waters (Matt. 8:23-27); command the Father to glorify Him with the glory that only Yahweh possesses (Isa. 48:11; John 17:5); be the Creator of all things (John 1:3; Col. 1:16-17); claim that He is greater than the temple and “Lord of the Sabbath” (Matt. 12:6, 8).

Further, in John 20:17, Jesus carefully distinguishes His relationship with God the Father and the relationship of God the Father with others: “My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.” Jesus is the Son of God by nature; whereas believers are sons and daughters of God, by adoption.

Therefore, many of the arguments railed against the deity of Christ by Muslims and other anti-Trinitarian groups, actually affirm the deity of Christ. Aside from that, it is no wonder as to why Muslims deny the authenticity of the Gospel of John and the Epistles of Paul—they present in the strongest and clearest way that the Son, Jesus Christ, was God (e.g., John 1:1; 8:58; 20:28; Col. 2:9; Titus 2:13; see also Heb. 1:3, 8), Creator (cf. John 1:3; Col. 1:16-17), and He was worshipped in a religious context (cf. Matt. 14:33; John 9:35-38; see also Heb. 1:6; Rev. 5:13-14)–see Christ Worshiped as God

.NOTES

[1] In the OT, as well, there are numerous places that teach the deity of the Son (e.g., Gen. 19:24; Ps. 102:25-27 [cf. Heb. 1:10-12]; Prov. 30:4; Isa. 6:1-10 [cf. John 12:41]; 9:6; Dan. 7:9-14; Joel 2:32 [cf. Rom. 10:13]; etc.).

[2] In verse 6, Paul indicates that the Son was en morphē theou huparchōn, lit., “in nature God subsisting.”

A FALSE PROPHET: BIBLICALLY DEFINED

“But the prophet who speaks a word presumptuously in My name which I have not commanded him to speak, or which he speaks in the names of other gods, that prophet shall die.’

“You might say in your heart, ‘How will we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?’

“When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken. . . . ” (Deut. 18:20-22; emphasis added).

Thus saith the LORD of hosts,

“Do not listen to the words of the prophets who are prophesying to you, They are leading you into futility; They speak a vision of their own imagination, Not from the mouth of the LORD. . . .

“I did not send these prophets,

But they ran.

I did not speak to them,

But they prophesied. . . .

“I heard what the prophets who prophesy falsely in My name, saying, ‘I had a dream, I had a dream!’

“How long? Is there anything in the hearts of the prophets who prophesy falsely, even these prophets of the deception of their own heart, . . .

“Therefore behold, I as against the prophets,” declares the LORD, “who steal words from each other.

“Behold, I am against the prophets,” declares the LORD, “who use their own tongues and declare, ‘the LORD declares. . . ’

“I will bring punishment upon that man and his household” (Jer. 23:16, 21, 25-26, 30-32, 34; NASB; emphasis added).

Clearly, a biblical description of a false prophet was someone that prophesied in the name of the Lord and what he prophesied did not come to pass. Further, a false prophet always taught a false God (cf. Deut. 13:1ff.; Matt. 7:15-29; 1 John 4:1ff.). The biblical definition is clear; there are no modifications or conditions. The New Testament definition of a false prophet is the same as the Old Testament. When Jesus was discussing the events that would mark the last days, He was concerned that false prophets would not deceive His church:

And Jesus answered and said to them, “See that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many.… Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. . . . For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible even the elect” (Matt. 24:4, 11, 24).

Thus, what I found to be effective in witnessing to the Jehovah’s Witnesses (hereafter JWs) is to ask first, “What is a false Prophet?” They will usually admit the above definition is true, that is, someone who prophesies falsely. Even more, most agree that anyone who says, “the Lord says,” and then it does not come to pass, he or she is a false prophet. And after they clearly define what a “false prophet” is, then it is most important to demonstrate by their own material (i.e., photocopies, references, etc.) that the Watchtower (hereafter WT) is a false prophet. Again, under his or her own definition the WT is shown to be a false prophet.

Keep in mind, the main reason that the JWs do not believe in the doctrine of the Trinity, the deity of Jesus Christ, justification by faith alone, and other essential doctrines of biblical Christianity is that their religious organization, their source, told them that these doctrines are false.

Therefore, you need to undermine the source first. By demonstrating that the source is unreliable, the door swings open to utilize Scripture.

Just as David killed Goliath with his own sword, the theology of the JWs can be demolished by using their own material. For that reason, it is productive to discuss first the subject of the WT’s failed prophecies. Think about it, if the WT is really a true “mouthpiece for Jehovah,” as they arrogantly assert, then what they prophesy should come to pass. Though when the JWs are confronted with the WT’s false prophecies, the common response is asserted: “We never claimed to be a prophet . . . people can make mistakes.” But the fact is, the WT has claimed to be a prophet many times!

Note the examples below of statements made by the WT in its own publications:

So does Jehovah have a prophet to help them, to warn them of the dangers to come? These questions can be answered in the affirmative. Who is this prophet? . . . This prophet was not one man, but was a body of men and women. It was a small group of footstep followers of Jesus Christ, known at that time as International Bible Students. Today they are known as Jehovah’s Christian Witnesses (WT, 1 April 1972, 197).

Who will be Jehovah’s prophet? Who will be the modern day Jeremiah? The plain facts show God has been pleased to use Jehovah’s Witnesses (ibid., 15 January 1959, 40-41).

God has on earth a people, all whom are prophets, or witnesses for God . . . Jehovah’s Witnesses (Awake, 8 June 1986, 9).

This of course is but a few of the many times that the WT has claimed to be a prophet. Although many times when confronted on this subject the JWs will also argue that “The Apostle Peter was wrong concerning the second coming of Jesus, so we can be mistaken, we are not perfect.”

However, it must be pointed out to them that Peter never claimed to be a prophet nor did he say, “Thus saith the Lord.”[1] However, the excuse most utilized by the JWs in their effort to defend their blundering prophetic track record is that “The light is getting brighter and brighter, we are consistently seeing new light, that is how we know that we are Jehovah’s mouthpiece on the earth.” First of all, this idea of “new light” is derived from a faulty interpretation of Proverbs 4:18 which reads:

But the path of the righteous ones is like a bright light that is getting lighter and lighter until the day is firmly established.

However, they stop at verse 18, but notice verse 19:

The way of the wicked ones is like the gloom; they have not known at what they keep stumbling (NWT).

In context and in complete opposition to their interpretation, verses 18 and 19 are contrasting “the path of the righteous” with “the way of the wicked.” Therefore, ask the JWs if they think using the concept of “new light” would have been a valid excuse for a so-called prophet in the Old Testament who promulgated false prophecies. As we seen above, God clearly defines what a false prophet is:

“When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken. . . . ” (Deut. 18:22).

Interestingly, the WT’s own magazine said:

Of course, it is easy to say that this group acts as a ‘prophet’ of God. It is another thing to prove it. The only way that this can be done is to review the record (WT, 1 April 1972, 197).

But after reviewing the record, all we find is false prophecies and consistent changes in the WT’s doctrine. The fact is, according to its own statements printed in its own publications, and according to the biblical definition, the WT is clearly a false prophet of Jehovah.

WATCHTOWER FAILED PROPHECIES

The following are examples of false prophecies and doctrinal changes that will no doubt, be an effective way to reach out to the JWs when they come to your door. Also take into account that there are no biblical scholars or Greek grammarians involved with or in the WT. Hence, it is of no great wonder as to why the JWs undeniably lack a clear understanding of the basic rules of biblical interpretation. As with all non-Christian cults—the JWs only believe what their ultimate authority, that is, their religious organization (i.e., the WT) has taught them.

False Prophecies about 1874:

Our Lord, the appointed King, is now present since October 1874, A.D. . . . and the formal inauguration if his kingly office dates form April 1878, A.D. (Studies in the Scriptures, vol. 4, 621).

Fall 1874 A.D. Second Advent of the Lord (ibid., vol. 7, 60).

the beginning of the Times of Restitution, A.D. 1874 (ibid., 64).

The Millennium began in 1874, with the Return of Christ (ibid., 386).

The second coming of the Lord therefore began in 1874. . . . (Creation, early ed., 289; and late ed., 312).

The Scriptural proof is that the second presence of the Lord Jesus Christ began in 1874 A.D. (Prophecy, 65).

Note, there are many more WT prophecies of the alleged “invisible return” of Christ in the year 1874.

False Prophecies about 1914:

the battle of the great day of God Almighty’ (Revelation 16:14), which will end in A.D. 1914 with the complete overthrow of earth’s present rulership, is already commenced (Studies In The Scriptures, vol. 2, 1908 ed., 101).

That the deliverance of the saints must take place some time before 1914 is manifest. . . . (ibid., vol. 3, 1913 ed., 228; emphasis added).

That the deliverance of the saints must take place very soon after 1914 is manifest. . . . (ibid., vol. 3, 1923 ed., 228; emphasis added).

We did not say positively that this would be the year (WT, 1 November 1914, 5565).

False Prophecies about 1918:

It seems conclusive that the hour of Nominal Zion’ travail is fixed for the Passover of 1918 . . . the fallen angels will invade the minds of many of the Normal Church people . . . leading their destruction at the hands of the enraged masses. . . . (Studies in the Scriptures, vol. 7, 128).

It is the Day of Vengeance, which began in the world war of 1914 and which will break like a furious morning storm in 1918 (ibid., 404).

The churches will cease to be. . . . culminating in 1918, to remove it with a stroke or plague of erroneous doctrines and deeds Divinely permitted (ibid., 1917 ed., 484).

Note, the 1926 edition of Studies in the Scriptures removed the phrase “culminating in 1918” and replaced it with “culminating shortly.”

False Prophecies about 1925:

Therefore we may confidently expect that 1925 will mark the return of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the faithful prophets of old. . . . (Millions Now Will Never Die, 89-90; note: for an original photocopy of this citation contact this ministry: Department of Christian Defense, www.christiandefense.org

1925 shall mark the resurrection of the faithful worthies of old. . . . (ibid., 97).

1914 ended the Gentile Times. . . . The date 1925 is even more distinctly indicated by the Scriptures … by then the great crisis will be reached and probably passed (WT, 1 September 1922, 262).

1925 is definitely settled by the Scripture . . . the Christian has much more upon which to base his faith than Noah had (so far as the Scriptures reveal) upon which to base his faith in a coming deluge (ibid., 1 April 1923, 106).

The year 1925 is a dated definitely and clearly marked in the Scriptures, even more clearly than that of 1914 (ibid., 15 July 1924, 211).

The year 1925 is here. With great expectation Christians have looked forward to this year. Many have confidently expected that all members of the body of Christ will be changed to heavenly glory during the year. This may be accomplished. It may not be (ibid., 1 January 1925, 3; emphasis added).

As the year 1925 finally arrived, the WT began to tone down this prophecy that was, a few years prior: “definitely settled by the Scripture.” Thus, the year 1925 came and left.

The year 1925 came and went. Jesus’ anointed followers were still on the earth as a class. The faithful men of old times-Abraham, David and others-had not been resurrected to become princes in the earth. (Ps. 45:16) So, as Anna MacDonald recalls: ‘1925 was a sad year for many brothers. Some of them were stumbled; their hopes were dashed. . . . Instead of it being considered a “probability,” they read into it that it was a “certainty,” and some prepared for their own loved ones with expectancy of their resurrection’ (1975 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses, 146).

Still, the JWs did not learn their lesson. After 1925, the JWs continued to promulgate false prophecies and fixing dates (e.g., 1975); claiming that these prophecies were “definitely settled by the Scripture.”

FLIP- FLOPS

Again, when the JWs are questioned concerning false prophecies, the usual response is: “We know that we are the only true church because the light keeps getting brighter and brighter” (see response to this Prov. 4:18 assertion above, p. 5). However, if that is true, then, why do the JWs go back to the old light? In other words, if the “light” is getting “brighter and brighter” it would follow that at the time when the WT held to and taught the old teachings the WT was in darkness. Anything but doctrinal brightness is the WT, who after receiving the so-called “new light” returned to its old teaching on that subject—the darkness!

Many times the WT has gone back-and-forth on various teachings. Simply, if they were really Jehovah’s “mouth piece” as they claim, they would not flip-flop from old light to new light and return back again to the old light.

Keep in mind that the WT has claimed to be “a modern day Jeremiah” and the “prophet … known as Jehovah’s Witnesses” (see p. 4 above). Let us now observed some of the WT’s doctrinal flip-flops:

Prophecies about the Men of Sodom:

The men of Sodom will be resurrected (WT, July 1879, 8).

The men of Sodom will not be resurrected (ibid., 1 June 1952, 338).

The men of Sodom will be resurrected (Ibid., 1 August 1965, 479).

The men of Sodom will not be resurrected (ibid., 1 June 1988, 31).

The men of Sodom will be resurrected (You Can Live Forever In Paradise On Earth, early ed. 179).

The men of Sodom will not be resurrected (ibid., later ed., 179).

The men of Sodom will be resurrected (Insight On The Scriptures, vol. 2, 985).

The men of Sodom will not be resurrected (Revelation- Its Grand Climax at Hand, 273).

In point of fact, the WT has changed its position concerning the men of Sodom no less then eight different times! As one writer said, the light is not getting brighter and brighter but rather it’s flickering on and off.

“Higher Powers” (Rom. 13:1-7)

The WT, as with most biblical commentators, first taught that the “higher powers” in Romans 13:1-7 were human rulers, man’s government. Before long, a decade after World War 1, the WT taught that the “higher powers” were Jehovah and Jesus (cf. The Truth Shall Make You Free, 312).

However, in 1959 they switched back to their original view (cf. Jehovah’s Witnesses In The Divine Purpose, 91). Then, soon afterward, they changed again to the teaching that the “higher powers” were Jehovah and Jesus (cf. Babylon The Great Has Fallen! 1963, 548).

Even more, and not at all surprising, 17 years later they changed it again back to the old teaching that man’s government was the “higher powers (cf. WT, 15 May 1980, 4).

The Generation That Will Not Pass Away

The WT prophecy of the “generation that will not pass away” (taken from Matt. 24:34). is the most recent of the WT’s prophetic blunders. It must be understood first, that the JWs are taught that the “1914 generation” (i.e., those who witnessed the signs of the invisible return of Christ in 1914) is part of the “anointed class.” That is, as the JWs tell us, they are included in the so-called group of the “144,000” which are the only ones that will enter into heaven.[2] The rest of the JWs, well, as they inform us, will reside on earth (i.e., “paradise”) forever. According to “Jehovah’s prophetic word” as claimed by the WT (see p. 14) the 1914 generation would not die off until Jehovah restores a peaceful new secure world (as we will see below). Nevertheless, as the years passed so did the 1914 generation.[3] Hence, this caused a serious dilemma for the WT. What was the WT to do?

Well for starters, they could say that the 1914 generation included young teenagers to buy more time. And, that’s exactly what they did.

So, in 1968 they defined the 1914 generation as:

Those who were old enough to witness with understanding what took place when the ‘last days’ began. . . Even if we presume youngsters 15 years of age would be perceptive enough to realize the import of what happened in 1914, it would still make the youngest of ‘this generation’ nearly 70 years old today. . . . Jesus said that at the end of this wicked world would come before that generation passed away in death (Awake, 8 October 1968, 13-14; emphasis added).

The WT made that statement above in 1968. But by 1984, many of that “generation” died. So to accommodate the decreasing numbers, they started to teach that babies were now a part of the 1914 generation! This enabled the WT to buy even more time and avoid the possibility of yet another failed prophecy. Again, they were prophesying that the earth would be restored to a “peaceful and secure new world”: before the 1914 generation dies.

Digging the hole even further, as early as 1975 the WT started claiming that the prophecy “of a new order of lasting peace and true security within our generation” was now the “Creator’s promise,” who the JWs say is Jehovah! On page 2 of the Awake magazine, January 8, 1975, the WT stated:

Most importantly, “Awake!” provides hope, giving you a basis for confidence in the Creator’s promise of a new order of lasting peace and true security within our generation (emphasis added).

Then, by 1982, the WT became even more explicit. For on the same page, they added to the former prophecy in order to make a bolder pronouncement. Now it was the “Creator’s promise” that before the 1914 generation passes away He (Jehovah) will restore the world to a “peaceful and secure new order”:

Most importantly, this magazine builds confidence in the Creator’s [Jehovah’s] promise of a peaceful and secure new order before the generation that saw 1914 C.E. passes away (Awake, 8 January 1982, 2).

The above purpose statement remained until the January issue of 1987. Then, they redesigned their statement, moving it to page 4 with a slight rewording. However the “thus saith the Lord” pronouncement: the “Creator’s promise,” that before the 1914 generation passes away there will be a new world, was still staring at all of its readers:

Most importantly, this magazine builds confidence in the Creator’s promise of a peaceful and secure new world before the generation that saw the events of 1914 passes away (Awake, 8 January 1987 through 8 October 1995, 4; emphasis added).

That the JWs say, “We never said, ‘thus saith the Lord’” or “We never spoke for Jehovah” is an assertion that is contradicted by their own Awake magazine declaration: “the Creator’s promise.” The Creator is Jehovah, and I do not think that any JW would ever disagree. Easily shown then, is that the WT was speaking for Jehovah for 13 years! (1982 through 1995). However, it was not only in the Awake magazine that the WT spoke in the name of Jehovah. We find the same speaking for Jehovah pronouncements in other WT literature:

From a purely human view point, it could appear that these developments could hardly take place before the generation of 1914 disappears from the scene. But the fulfillment of all the foretold events affecting the generation of 1914 does not depend on comparatively slow human action. Jehovah’s prophetic word through Christ Jesus is: ‘This generation (of 1914) will by no means pass away until all things occur.’ (Luke 21:32 And Jehovah, who is the source of inspired and unfailing prophecy, will bring about the fulfillment of his Son’s words in a relatively short time. . . . (WT, 15 May, 1984, 6-7; emphasis added).

Which generation is this [1914], and how long is it? . . . It applies to Christ’s followers and others who were able to observe that war and the other things that have occurred in fulfillment of Jesus’ ‘composite sign.’ Some of such persons ‘will by no means pass away until’ all of the present wicked system (ibid., 1 October 1978, 31; emphasis added).

Change of Prophecy

Now, we saw above how for over 13 years the WT spoke in the name of Jehovah, that is, it was the “Creator’s promise of a peaceful and secure new world before the generation that saw the events of 1914 passes away.” But that “generation” of 1914, is dying off and only a relatively few are left. Just as little children will cross their fingers behind their back and say, “it doesn’t count,” the WT totally changed the 1914 generation prophecy with no explanation whatsoever.

On page 4 of the November 8th 1995 edition of the Awake magazine, they omitted the words “before the generation that saw 1914 passes away.” Notice how the change now reads:

Most importantly, this magazine builds confidence in the Creator’s promise of a peaceful and secure new world that is about to replace the present wicked, lawless system of things (note that all present eds. of the Awake magazine contain this reading—so far).

Builds confidence? In a God who cannot get it right the first time? Remember this is not some human fallible error, the WT said that it was Jehovah’s promise, His “prophetic word.” For 13 years (concerning the “generation” prophecy alone), they allowed themselves to be the Deuteronomy 18 false prophets.

Additionally, the WT’s entire doctrine of “this generation” has changed. Before 1995, the “1914 generation” was the faithful “anointed class” (i.e., part of the 144,000). Now, since November 8, 1995, the “generation” is defined as the “lawless wicked ones” that saw the signs of the invisible return of Christ in 1914 but did not change their evil ways and become JWs (cf. WT, 1 November 1995, 19). Clearly then, the WT is a false prophet that tells its devotees that Jehovah spoke to them when in fact Jehovah did not.

Along with the many false prophecies, the WT has also countless doctrinal flip-flops. They declare (as Jehovah’s mouthpiece on earth) principles and doctrines for its people. Then, years later, change it, because of the supposed “new light.” But then, after a while, they change it again back to the original teaching, as with the men of Sodom being resurrected. Jehovah’s mouthpiece?

Sadly, millions of faithful followers are told that the WT is Jehovah’s sole channel of communication:

Those who are convinced that The Watchtower is publishing the opinion or expression of a man should not waste time in looking at it at all. . . . Those who believe that God uses The Watchtower as a means of communication to his people, or of calling attention to his prophecies, should study The Watchtower (WT, 1 January 1942, 5; emphasis added).

Who is the False Prophet?

8 January 1982 through 8 October 1995:

Most importantly, this magazine builds confidence in the Creator’s promise of a peaceful and secure new world [order] before the generation that saw the events of 1914 [C.E.] passes away (Awake, 8 January, 1982 through 8 October, 1995, 2[1982-1987], 4 [1987-1995]; emphasis added).

November 8, 1995 to the present:

Most importantly, this magazine builds confidence in the Creator’s promise of a peaceful and secure new world that is about to replace the present wicked, lawless system of things (4; and in all present eds. of the Awake magazine; emphasis added).

Whom can you trust? You cannot trust the Watchtower.

“For I, the LORD, do not change. . . . ” (Mal. 3:6).

© 2003 Department of Christ Defense

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APPENDIX I
Jesus is called “The God” (o qeoj, ho theos):

Matthew 1:23: “they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “the God [ho theos] with us.”

John 20:28: Thomas said to Jesus (direct address): ho kurios mou kai ho theos mou, lit. “the Lord of me and the God of me” (see the WT’s Greek interlinear: The Kingdom Interlinear Translation).

Titus 2:13: tou megalou theou kai sōtēros hēmōn Christou Iēsou, lit. “the great God and Savior of us Christ Jesus.” Note, in 2 Peter 1:1 is the same grammatical construction (i.e., article-noun-kai-noun [“the”-“God”-“and”-“Jesus”]): tou theou hēmōn kai sōtēros Iēsou Christou, lit. “the God of us and Savior Jesus Christ (cf. 2 Peter 1:11; 2:20; 3:2, 18; 2 Thess. 1:12; see Gk.).

Hebrews 1:8: “But of the Son He [the Father] says, “YOUR THRONE, O GOD IS FOREVER AND EVER. . . . ” (ho thronos sou ho theos, lit. “the throne of thee the God. . . . ”).

Jesus’ Absolute claim to BE the “I AM” (egw eimi, egō eimi):

(Mark 6:50; John 8:24; 8:28; 8:58; 13:19 [cf. Isa. 43:10; LXX]; 18:5; 18:6; and 18:8)

*Why is it important to know and teach that Jesus IS God? Besides that of John 4:24; 17:3 and 1 John 2:23, Jesus declares in John 8:24:

“Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I AM He [egw eimi, egō eimi], you will die in your sins” (emphasis added; note: “He” is not in the Gk., lit.: “Unless you believe that I AM you will die in your sins”; no supplied predicate).

*See also: John 1:18; Romans 9:5; Philippians 2:6-11; Colossians 2:9 (theotētos); Hebrews 1:3; 1 John 5:20; and Revelation 5:13-14. [The Trinity: One God revealed in three distinct coequal and coeternal Persons].

NOTES

[1] Only by way of biblical authorship (viz. 1 & 2 Peter) were Peter’s words theopneustos, “God breathed out” (cf. 2 Tim. 3:16).

[2] Specifically, the JWs are taught that in 1935 God stopped calling people to heaven (cf. WT, 15 December, 1982, 19). Thus, the total number of people that will enter into heaven is 144.000 (also called the “anointed class” and “little flock”). The JWs say that they will be “spirit creatures” (without “flesh and blood”) as Christ is. Also included in the 144.000 are the ones (viz. the 1914 generation) who witnessed the signs of the so-called invisible return of Christ in 1914. The rest (i.e., the “other sheep” or the “great crowd” which comprises the majority of JWs) will have to live on earth for eternity. It is only the 144.000 that can be “born again” (cf. WT, 1 April, 1988, 18); be justified before God (cf. Life Everlasting-in Freedom of the Sons of God, 1966, 391); and partake in communion services. Note that in WT theology, the Old Testament prophets are not even a part of the heaven bound “anointed class” rather they will live on earth forever.

[3] According to the Statistics: 2001 Report of Jehovah’s Witnesses Worldwide there are only 8,730 left of the 1914 generation.

Here at DCD, we receive many questions regarding many issues. A few months ago, we received a question regarding the term “Jehovah” and the Jehovah Witnesses:

I have written you before, maybe about a year ago. My name is Tim. I have a question regarding the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ obsession with the name “Jehovah” and why our English translations do not contain the name Jehovah.

The JWs are taught that the term “Jehovah” is the *true* name of God.[1] Further, they assert that the term “Jehovah” was actually removed from the original Greek NT and thus faithfully restored by the NWT.[2] However, consider the following statements made by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (i.e., the organization of the JWs; hereafter WT):

The WT acknowledges that “Jehovah” is not the true pronunciation of God’s name.

While inclining to view the pronunciation “Yah.weh” as the more correct way, we have retained the form “Jehovah” because of people’s familiarity with it since the 14th century. Moreover, it preserves, equally with other forms, the four letters of the tetragrammaton JHVH (NWT, 1950 ed., Foreword, p. 25 [note: This admission was removed from the 1961, 1970, 1984 editions of the NWT]).

The WT acknowledges that most Hebrew scholars prefer “Yahweh” as the true pronunciation:

Yes, many Bible scholars acknowledge that “Yahweh” more nearly represents the Hebrew pronunciation of the Divine Name (WT,[3] July 15, 1964, p. 423).

Hebrew scholars generally favor “Yahweh” as the most likely pronunciation (Aid To Bible Understanding, 1971, 885).

“Jehovah” is the best known English pronunciation of the Divine name, although “Yahweh” is favored by most Hebrew scholars (Insight on the Scriptures, 1988, vol. 2, p. 5).

The WT acknowledges that the exact pronunciation of God’s name is unknown:

Yet no one today actually can say with certainty how Moses, for example, pronounced the Divine name (WT, May 1, 1978, p. 12).

Due to religious disuse, the original pronunciation of the Hebrew has been lost . . . there is no way of knowing what pronunciation is correct (WT, December 1, 1983, p. 5).

The WT acknowledges that the pronunciation “Jehovah” was originally a “blunder”:

As to the Old Testament name of God, certainly the spelling and pronunciation “Jehovah” were originally a blunder (The Bible in Living English, 1972, p.7).

The WT acknowledges that the pronunciation “Jehovah” originated not until the thirteenth century A.D.:

The first recorded use of this form [Jehovah] dates from the thirteenth century C.E. Raymundus Martini, a Spanish [Roman Catholic] monk of the Dominican Order, used it in his book Pugeo Fidei of the year 1270 C.E. (Aid To Bible Understanding, 1971, p. 884-5).

But “Jehovah” did not appear until Martine’s 1381 ed. In the earlier eds. he used Yohoua.

The WT acknowledges that there is no NT Greek manuscript that contains “the divine name”:

One of the remarkable facts, not only about the extent manuscripts of the original Greek text, but

of many versions, ancient and modern, is the absence of the Divine name (NWT, 1950 ed., Foreword, p. 10; the same quote is found in the Awake magazine, 1957, January 8, 25).

no ancient Greek manuscript that we possess today of the books from Matthew to Revelation contains God’s name in full (The Divine Name That Will Endure Forever, 1984, p. 23).

The fact is, “Jehovah” is not and has never been God’s name. As seen above, the WT acknowledges this fact.

Ask the JW: Since your organization (i.e., the WT) admits that “Jehovah” is not the correct name for God (“a blunder”), how is continuously mispronouncing His name honoring to God?

Here’s the point: God was known by many names. In the OT, for example, God is called, “Yahweh” (YHWH, “LORD”, Deut. 6:4); “LORD God” (Gen. 1:4); “Lord” (Adonai, Isa. 6:1); “God” (Elohim, Gen. 1:1); “God of Abraham” (Gen. 26:24); “God of Daniel” (Dan. 6:26); “God of Israel” (Num. 16:9); “Glory of Israel” (1 Sam. 15:29); “God of heaven” (Dan. 2:44); “Creator” (Isa. 40:28); “Everlasting God” (Isa. 40:28); “I AM” (egō eimi in the LXX;[4] Deut. 32:39; 43:10); “First and the Last” (Isa. 44:6); “mighty God” (Isa. 10:21); “God of gods,” “Lord of lords” (Deut. 10:17); “Holy One” (Isa. 40:25); “Rock of Israel” (Isa. 30:29); and many other names and titles were used to refer to God in the OT.

And in the NT, God[5] is referred to as “Father” over 250 times. Jesus refers to Him as “Father” about 179 times. The apostle Paul (and other apostles) also refers to God as “Father” (Abba in Rom. 8:15 and Gal. 4:6). But not once did any NT author use the Hebrew Tetragrammaton (“YHWH”) to refer to God.

Note: the manuscript evidence indicates that the NT was written in Greek, not Hebrew or Aramaic—thus, the Hebrew Tetragrammaton is not found in any NT manuscript. When citing passages from the OT, the NT authors used kurios (“Lord”) to translate YHWH. As well, the LXX used kurios to translate the Tetragrammaton.

To recall:

1. The term “Jehovah” was the invention of a Catholic monk (Raymundus Martini) in A.D. 1202.

2. “Jehovah” is a mispronunciation and an incorrect transliteration of the Hebrew Tetragrammaton (YHWH) to which virtually all biblical scholars concur.

3. God was referred to by many names and titles: There is no passage in the OT or NT that commands the people of God to call Him by a specific name—and definitely not “Jehovah.” In fact, Jesus normally used “Father” and sometimes kurios (“Lord”; e.g., Luke 10:21) to refer to God (His Father).

4. When citing passages from the OT, the NT authors used kurios (“Lord”) to translate YHWH (e.g., Rom. 10:13). Note: most of the OT quotations in the NT were from the Greek LXX where kurios, not YHWH was used.

5. As seen, even the WT agrees with point 1 and 2 above.

Since the JWs believe that the “true name” of God (“Jehovah” as they assume) is essential in honoring Him, then, why would they mispronounce and mistransliterate (as the WT admits) the Tetragrammaton—YHWH?

*Witnessing Tip*

Romans 10:13 reads (Paul here quoting from Joel 2:32): “everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will be saved” (NWT). Ask the JW: “If “Jehovah” is not the true and correct name (as agreed by the WT), how can a JW be saved since he or she calls on the wrong name?[6]

Contrary to the JW’s false and fixed notion regarding the term “Jehovah,” Jesus Christ instructed His followers

“After this manner therefore pray ye: ‘Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. . . .’” (Matt. 6:9; KJV).

Remember, it is not merely the mispronunciation of YHWH that condemns JWs (for many Christians use the term “Jehovah”), but rather it is their denial that Jesus IS YHWH that condemns them before God (cf. John 8:24).

NOTES

[1] The term “LORD” in the English OT is translated from YHWH (viz. Tetragrammaton, lit., “word with four letters”). Original Hebrew had only consonants—no vowels, though, vowels were verbally pronounced (thus, “Yahweh” as most scholars coincide). Vowels were added to the written text by the Masoretes (cf. Masoretic Text) around the ninth century A.D.

[2] The WT’s New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures is the translation that the JWs use. Prior to the NWT (1950), the WT distributed and utilized the Kings James Version. However, in order to stay coherent to WT doctrines, the NWT departed from the translational norm of the KJV. The brunt of the translational deviations reflect the theological distinctives of the WT (e.g., Matt. 25:46: “everlasting cutting-off”; John 1:1: “a god”; Col. 1:16-17: the insertion of “other” four times in order to teach that Christ was not the Creator of ALL THINGS as the original Greek [grammar/context] indicates (but in John 1:3, the NWT did not add “other”); Col. 2:9: “divine quality” and, of course, the NWT inserted “Jehovah” (in the NT)—some 237 times).

[3] I.e., The Watchtower magazine.

[4] LXX is the abbreviation for the Septuagint (meaning “seventy,” i.e., the traditional number of scholars that translated the OT Heb. into Greek). Jesus Christ and the NT authors utilized the LXX. The LXX was used exclusively in the book of Hebrews.

[5] I.e., God the Father.

[6] Note on Rom. 10:13: The phrase “Jesus as Lord” in Romans 10:9 is clearly the antecedent to the occurrences of the pronoun “Him” and “Lord” following up to verse 13:

9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;

10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.

11 For the Scripture says, “WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.”

12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him;

13 For “WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD [YHWH] WILL BE SAVED” (emphasis added).

“Jesus as Lord” is the object of salvation from verse 9-13. Throughout these passages, it is the same “Him” and same “Lord” beginning in verse 9. To say that the “Lord” in verse 9 is a different “Lord” than in verse 13 completely breaks the flow of the passages. The Lord that one confesses (v. 9) is the same Lord that one calls upon for salvation (v. 13). In verse 13, Paul cites Joel 2:32: “whoever calls on the name of the Lord [Heb. YHWH] will be delivered.” Just as he does in Philippians 2:10-11, Paul cites a passage referring to YHWH and applies it to Jesus. Thus, whoever confessing and calls upon Jesus as Lord, that is, Jesus as YHWH will be saved.

In fact, there are many places where the NT authors cite OT passages referring to YHWH and apply them to Jesus Christ. This is a great way to share the truth about Jesus to JWs. For example, compare Psalms 102:25-27 with Hebrews 1:10-12; Isaiah 6:1-10 with John 12:39-41; Isaiah 8:12-13 with 1 Peter 3:14-15; Isaiah 45:23 with Philippians 2:10-11; Joel 2:32 with Romans 10:13. The most productive way to use this witnessing tactic is to first take the JW to the OT passage first, then have him read the NT passage where the author cites the OT passage and applies it to Jesus.

Romans 10:13: “Everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will be saved” (Rom. 10:13 NWT).

10:13 cannot be disconnected from verse 9 in that the same “Lord” in verse 9 is the same Lord in verse 13 (from Joel 2:32) calling upon Christ as YHWH.

JW are taught that the term “Jehovah” is the *true* name of God (see http://www.christiandefense.org/Article%20on%20Jehovah.htm). Further, they assert that the term “Jehovah” was actually removed from the original Greek NT and thus faithfully restored by the NWT. Except, of course, when the OT passages is referring to Jesus Christ, they do not follow their own rule. For example, the phrase “Jesus as Lord” in Romans 10:9 is clearly the antecedent to the occurrences of the pronoun “Him” and “Lord” following up to verse 13:

9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;

10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.

11 For the Scripture says, “WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.”

12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him;

13 For “WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD [YHWH] WILL BE SAVED” (emphasis added).

“Jesus as Lord” is the object of salvation from verse 9-13. Throughout these passages, it is the same “Him” and same “Lord” beginning in verse 9. To say that the “Lord” in verse 9 is a different “Lord” than in verse 13 completely breaks the flow of the passages. The Lord that one confesses (v. 9) is the same Lord that one calls upon for salvation (v. 13). In verse 13, Paul cites Joel 2:32: “whoever calls on the name of the Lord [Heb. YHWH] will be delivered.” Thus, whoever confessing and calls upon Jesus as Lord, that is, Jesus as YHWH will be saved.

In fact, there are many places where the NT authors cite OT passages referring to YHWH and apply them to Jesus Christ. This is a great way to share the truth about Jesus to JWs. For example, compare Psalms 102:25-27 with Hebrews 1:10-12; Isaiah 6:1-10 with John 12:39-41; Isaiah 8:12-13 with 1 Peter 3:14-15; Isaiah 45:23 with Philippians 2:10-11; Joel 2:32 with Romans 10:13. The most productive way to use this witnessing tactic is to first take the JW to the OT passage first, then have him read the NT passage where the author cites the OT passage and applies it to Jesus.

In v. 9, Jesus is called “Lord.” And from vv. 9-13, all pronouns refer grammatically to Jesus (i.e., “Him” in vv. 9, 11, 13, and 13 refer to the closest named person: “Jesus”).

Therefore, Paul in v. 13 sees Jesus as the Yahweh of Joel 2:32 (“whoever calls on the name of the LORD [YHWH] will be delivered”; NASB) whereby those confessing Jesus as YHWH will be saved (cf. v. 9). This is one of many places where the NT authors cite OT passages referring to YHWH and apply them to Christ (e.g., compare Ps. 45:6-7 with Heb. 1:8-9; esp. Ps. 102:25-27 with Heb. 1:10-12; Isa. 6:1, 10 with John 12:40-41; Isa. 8:12-13 with 1 Pet. 3:14-15; Isa. 45:23 with Phil. 2:10-11; etc.).

When using this way of showing that Jesus is the “Jehovah” of the OT (distinct from the Father, though) have the JW read the OT passage first. Then, after agreeing that “Jehovah” is being referred to, have he or she read the NT passage in which the NT author applies the OT passage to Christ Jesus.