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).

NOTE: many of the Trinitarian objections made by the JWs are typical of virtually every anti-Trinitarian group. This section does however focus on the Watchtower’s booklet Should you Believe in the Trinity. For more exegetical responses to other anti-Trinitarian objections and assertions see: Oneness Objections to the Doctrine of the Trinity.

The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (i.e., the corporate name of the Jehovah’s Witnesses; hereafter JWs) prints enormous amounts of books, pamphlets, and literature teaching their members that the doctrine of the Trinity is a false doctrine. The JWs are taught that the Trinity doctrine originated from the Devil, and promulgated by the Catholic Church. To be sure, JWs have a gross misunderstanding of the doctrine, hence, since the early twentieth century the Watchtower has consistently taught that the Trinity is a false:

How strange that any should attempt to misuse and pervert these our Lord’s words, to make them support the unreasonable and unscriptural doctrine of a Trinity–three Gods in one person (Studies in the Scriptures, 5:76).

Never was there a more deceptive doctrine advance than that to of the Trinity. It could have originated only in one mind, and that the mind of Satan the Devil (Reconciliation, 101).

Most JWs carry around with them their most popular handout booklet (and study guide) called: Should you Believe in the Trinity (hereafter SYBT). If you have ever discussed the Trinity with them, you probably have been given this booklet. The booklet provides the bulk of most arguments that they use against the “deceived Trinitarians” thus many dedicated JWs memorize the arguments stated in the SYBT.

Thirty-one pages of arguments against the “dreaded” doctrine of the Trinity. Chalk-full of misquotes and selective citations from various Encyclopedias, Dictionaries and biblical scholars. Additionally, the SYBT contains a mega-dose of blatant misrepresentations of early church Fathers, historic revisionism and doctrinal deviations. But yet to the JWs, the SYBT booklet is their gun-of-choice study guide to annihilate the “evil” Trinitarians. You might ask, why would they take this booklet seriously when it contains so much disinformation? The reason being: JWs do not practice independent research outside the libraries of their Kingdom Halls (the place where the JWs assemble). At the end of the SYBT booklet, it concludes by saying:

There can be no compromise with God’s truths. Hence, to worship God on his terms means to reject the Trinity doctrine. It contradicts what the prophets, Jesus the apostles, and the early Christians believed and taught. It contradicts what God says about himself in his own inspired Word (31; under the title “Reject the Trinity”).

JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES: OBJECTIONS TO THE TRINITY

(Based on the Watchtower publication: SYBT
and other standard arguments used by JWs)

OBJECTION #1: THE WORD TRINITY

The SYBT says that the word, “Trinity” is not in the Bible.”

RESPONSE: As mentioned above In point of fact, virtually all anti-Trinitarian groups make this same objection.

To assume: what is not stated must not be true is an argument from silence. Further, to say that the doctrine of the Trinity is not true because the exact word “Trinity” is absent from the Bible is self-refuting. For if that kind of reasoning were true, it would then follow, that Watchtower doctrine could not be true, for in the original Hebrew and Greek text Watchtower terms like, “theocracy,” (which they claim their under), “Jehovah,” (Note: “Jehovah” is an Eng. transliteration. Orig. Heb. had no vowels only consonants. Thus, the English term “Jehovah” is not contained in Scripture either. It also does not follow that because a particular word is not contained in Scripture that we cannot use that word to communicate a truth of God.

What is not at all considered is that even terms like, “Bible,” (a Lat. term) or “self-existent,” are not mentioned in Scripture and both are biblical truths, which all JWs agree upon. If we were only limited to strict biblical words, then, we would have to, when teaching out of the New Testament, use only Koine Greek words that the NT authors utilized! Employing unbiblical words does not violate the rules of sola-Scriptura, which says Scripture alone is the sole infallible “rule of faith” for the church, as long as the unbiblical words are wholly consistent with Scripture. Holding firm to Scripture, the early church would use unbiblical words to explain and define the biblical data revealed within the pages of the Holy Writ.

In other words, “Trinity” is merely a precise doctrinal word that defines the biblical revelation that is so overwhelmingly found in Scripture: God the Father sent God the Son; the Eternal Word, in which He became flesh (cf. John 1:1; 6:37-40; 17:5). After which God the Son died in the place of the believer whereby His death provides full atonement for the sins of His people (cf. Matt. 1:21; Rom. 8:32), and God the Father and God the Son sent the God the Holy Spirit to empower the church, and dwell with believers: “When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me” (John 15:26).

Again, this point must be understood: We cannot confuse biblical data with doctrinal words that merely define that data. The doctrine of the “Trinity” was derived from the Scriptural data. Biblical scholar Benjamin B. Warfield explains the difference:

Precisely what the New Testament is, is the documentation of the religion of the incarnate Son and the outpoured Spirit, that is to say, of the religion of the Trinity, and what we mean by the doctrine of the Trinity is nothing but the formulation in exact language of the conception of God presupposed in the religion of the incarnate Son and out poured Spirit. (Benjamin B. Warfield, Biblical Doctrines (Carlisle: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1929, 146.)

Thus the Tri-Unity of God is based on biblical data. The formulation of doctrinal words, however, came later when Christians, developed the precise term “Trinity” that simply defined the biblical data, because of the heresies that denied the biblical data in some way or other. As with the doctrinal terms like “Substitutionary Atonement,” “Incarnation” or even the term “Gospel.” All these terms came later after the apostolic age, which the church used to define the revelation or data that is clearly contained in Scripture.

Moreover, salvation is completely dependent on the Tri-Unity of God (i.e., soteriological Trinity). Example: The Covenant of Redemption, that is, all that the Father gives to Christ will come and He will raise them up at the last day (cf. John. 6:37ff). That Jesus is the Mediator between God (the Father) and man (cf. 1 Tim. 2:5) can only be true if Jesus is God and is a distinct Person from the one He is mediating for. Again, this point must be understood: we cannot confuse the Scriptural data of the Trinity with the doctrinal word, “Trinity” that defines the biblical data.

OBJECTION #2: PAGAN ORIGINS

The book also asserts, as do most anti-Trinitarians, that the doctrine of the Trinity is derived from pagan sources.

RESPONSE: This is a fallacy of false cause (misrepresents the cause). The Trinity is an utterly unique Christian doctrine. Pagans worshipped and believed in many gods (as with the Mormons) hence, the references in SYBT to the so-called parallelisms of the pagans were to THREE separate gods NOT one God in existing in three distinct Persons.

OBJECTION # 3: CHURCH FATHERS

The SYBT booklet asserts that the early (Anti-Nicene; before the Council of Nicene; A.D. 325) church Fathers did NOT believe in the doctrine of the Trinity. The JWs booklet quotes from the Anti-Nicene church Fathers: Justin Martyr (c. A.D. 160); Irenaeus (c. A.D. 180); Clement of Alexandria (c. A.D. 195); Hippolytus (c. A.D. 205); Tertullian (c. A.D. 213); and Origen (c. A.D. 225). However when we refer to actual statements contained in many works (e.g., The Anti-Nicene Fathers, found at most city libraries and seminaries) clear is the fact: the SYBT booklet grossly misquotes or misrepresents what they said and believe. Not surprising is that the SYBT does not provide the addresses of the citations; for obvious reasons.

RESPONSE: This an argument from ignorance. They all, unequivocally, believed in the full Deity of Christ (the quotes below are from the Ante-Nicene Fathers [hereafter ANF], (ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson; 1885-1887; reprint, 10 vols. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1994).

Ignatius bishop of Antioch (c. A.D. 105). The SYBT does not quote him, however, Ignatius was an early church Father that was a disciple of the Apostle John.

God Himself was manifested in human form for the renewal of eternal life (1:58).

Continue in intimate union with Jesus Christ, our God (1:68).

I pray for your happiness forever in our God, Jesus Christ (1:96).

Justin Martyr (A.D. 150). The SYBT booklet says that Justin called Jesus “a created angel” (p. 7). Justin did call Christ an angel, however only in the sense that He came as a messenger, to the people of the Old Testament (e.g., the angel of the LORD who spoke to Moses and claimed to be the “I AM”; cf. Exod. 3:14ff; see ANF, 1. 223). The English word “angel” has the denotative meaning, in both Hebrew and Greek, as simply “messenger.” Jesus certainly was active in the Old Testament as a “messenger,” and that is what Justin meant. John 1:18 says: “No man has ever seen God at any time; the only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.” Jesus in the Old Testament interacted with the people of God (e.g., angel of the LORD; the Rock that accompanied the Israelites, see 1 Cor. 10:4).

Never once did Justin say or infer that Christ was created only the converse is asserted: Jesus Christ was the Eternal God. But again the quotes in the SYBT booklet are without addresses. Let us read what Justin really said:

He deserves to be worshipped as God and as Christ (1:229).

For Christ is King, Priest, God, Lord, Angel and man (1:221).

The Father of the universe has a Son. And He, being the first-begotten Word of God, is even God (1:184).

David predicted that He would be born from the womb before the sun and moon, according to the Father’s will, He made Him known, being Christ, as God, strong and to be worshipped (1:237).

Next, the SYBT cites Irenaeus bishop of Lyons (c. A.D. 185), as saying that Jesus was inferior and not equal with the Father. However Irenaeus clearly believed and defined the full Deity of Christ:

I have shown from the Scriptures that none of the sons of Adam are, absolutely and as to everything, called God, or named Lord, But Jesus is Himself in His own right, beyond all men who ever lived, God, Lord, King Eternal, and the Incarnate Word… (1:449). 

Thus He indicates in clear terms that He is God, and that His advent was in Bethlehem… God, then, was made man, and the Lord Himself save us (1:451).

He is God for the name Emmanuel indicates this (1:452).

Christ Himself, therefore, together with the Father, is the God of the living, who spoke to Moses, and who was also manifested to the fathers (1:467).

He was man, and He was God. This was so that since as man He suffered for us, so as God He might have compassion on us (1:545).

Clement of Alexandria (c. A.D. 195) who is cited as saying that Jesus, was not equal to the Father. But read what he actually said:

He is God in the form of man. . . the Word who is God, who is in the Father, who is at the Father’s right hand. And with the form of God, He is God (2:210).

The Word itself, that is, the Son of God, is one wit the Father by equality of substance. He is eternal and uncreated (2:574).

Hippolytus (c. A.D. 203) is cited as believing that prehuman Jesus was created. But notice what this great Christian apologist really stood for and believed:

Having been made man, He is still God for ever. For to this effect, John also had said, ‘Who is and who was, and who is to come–the Almighty.’ And he has appropriately called Christ the ‘Almighty’ (5:225)

They killed the Son of their Benefactor, for He is co-eternal with the Father (5:220)

For, as the Only-Begotten Word of God, being God of God, He emptied Himself, according to the Scriptures… (5:167)

The Logos alone of this One is from God Himself. For that reason also, He is God. Being of the substance of God. In contrast, the world was made from nothing. Therefore, it is not God (5:151).

Therefore, a man . . . is compelled to acknowledge God the Father Almighty, and Christ Jesus the Son of God–who, being God, became man, to whom also the Father made all things subject (Himself excepted)–and the Holy Spirit; and that these are three [Persons] (5:226).

“Go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” By this, He showed that whoever omits any one of these three, fails in glorifying God perfectly. For it is through this Trinity that the Father is glorified. For the Father willed, the Son did, and the Spirit manifested (5:228).

Tertullian Carthage (c. A.D. 213) is cited next as saying, “there was a time that the Son was not” ( 7). However, what Tertullian meant (in his argument against the Modalism of Praxeas) was that he believed the Word was the Eternal God but yet distinct in His Person from God the Father, and that the Word took on the title “Son” which was a common belief among many church Fathers (esp. the apologists). That Tertullian said that Jesus was created or came to be (in terms of His existence as a Person) is completely and diabolically distorting what Tertullian meant. In fact, it was Tertullian that first coined the word “Trinity” (Lat. trinitas, the cognate of Gk. triados) in the West. Odd that the SYBT booklet would even cite this church Father. Tertullian taught:

For the very church itself–properly and principally–the Spirit Himself, in whom is the Trinity [trinitas], of the One Divinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” (4:99; emphasis added; cf. Against Praxeas).

This opens the ears of Christ our God (3:715; cf. ibid.).

Surely I might venture to claim the very Word also as being of the Creator’s [Father] substance (3:356; cf. ibid.).

Now, if He too is God, for according to John, ‘The Word was God,’ then you have two Beings– One who commands that the thing to be made, and the other who creates. In what sense, however, you ought to understand Him to be another. I have already explained: on the ground of personality, not of substance. And in the way of distinction, not of division. I must everywhere hold only one substance, in three coherent and inseparable [persons] (3. 607; cf. ibid.).

It should be noted as well that in the East, as early as A.D. 180, church apologist Theophilus bishop of Antioch first uses the term “Trinity” to describe God: “In like manner also the three days which were before the luminaries, are types of the Trinity [triados] of God, and His Word, and His wisdom” (Theophilus To Autolycus 2.15, in ANF, vol. 3).

Origen (c. A.D. 228) was also cited by SYBT as denying that Jesus was God. However, Origen contradicts these Watchtower assertions: The Word that was in the beginning with God (who is also very God) may come to us (4:449). Also, 

The Son is not different from the Father in substance (9:336).

Saving baptism was not complete except by the authority of the most excellent Trinity of them all. That is, it is made complete by naming the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In this, we join the name of the Holy Spirit to the Unbegotten God (the Father) and to His Only-Begotten Son (4:252).

The above is a mere set of examples of the massive collection of the libraries of quotations and apologetic works of church Fathers teaching and defending the deity of Christ and the doctrine of the Trinity are massive. To the church Fathers, teaching, and defending the Deity of Christ and the Trinity was extremely important to them. Many of them spilled their own blood defending these doctrines. Why? Because in Trinity is how God revealed Himself to man: FATHER, SON, and HOLY SPIRIT.

The SYBT ends this page entitled: “What the Ante-Nicene Fathers Taught” by this: “Thus, the testimony of the Bible and of history makes clear that the Trinity was unknown throughout Biblical times and for several centuries thereafter” (p. 7).

Unknown?

OBJECTION #4: THE TRINITY DOCTRINE DID NOT EMERGE
UNTIL FOURTH CENTURY:

RESPONSE: To be sure, this is an argument from ignorance. First of all, it is completely misleading to say that the doctrine of the Trinity did not emerge until the fourth century. As seen above, in the East, as early as A.D. 180, church apologist Theophilus, bishop of Antioch, first uses the term “Trinity” to describe God:

In like manner also the three days which were before the luminaries, are types of the Trinity [triados] of God, and His Word, and His wisdom (Theophilus, To Autolycus, 2.15).

And, noted above, in the West, around A.D. 213, the brilliant church theologian and polemicist, Tertullian of Carthage, uses the term “Trinity”: “As if in this way also one were not All, in that All are of One, by unity (that is) of substance; while the mystery of the dispensation is still guarded, which distributes the Unity into a Trinity [trinitas] placing in their order the three Persons. . . .” (Tertullian, Against Praxeas, 2, in ANF, vol. 3).

Again, it is true the exact English word “Trinity” is not in the Bible. But, as we have seen, this is a meaningless objection since there are many words that are justifiably used to communicate the truth of God, not specifically utilized in the Hebrew or Greek text (e.g., “incarnation,” “self-existent,” “omnipresence”; etc.). The point being that the Christian church has used many extra-biblical terminology words to convey divine revelation. Sola Scriptura is not simply adhering to the words of Scripture, but it is also being faithful to the teaching of Scripture. Regrettably, far too many people are deceived into thinking that the latter must be rejected if it does not incorporate verbatim the language of the former.

Descriptive theological words do not necessarily have to be the exact words form the original languages to communicate a biblical truth. The reason that the Protestant church rejected (and rejects) the dogmas of Roman Catholicism is that Rome holds to the position that the Word of God is contained in both “tradition and Scripture.” Hence, Catholic doctrines like Purgatory, praying for the dead, the Immaculate Conception of Mary, ex cathedra, (i.e., the infallibility of the Pope), etc., are not doctrines derived from Scripture (the written Word), but rather church tradition.10 For these teachings are foreign to Scripture. Thus, the Protestant church repudiates that claim whereby holding to Scripture alone11 as the sole infallible rule of faith for the church—Scripture is sufficient. “Do not,” Paul says, “go beyond what is written” (1 Cor. 4:6 NIV).

We are dealing, therefore, with the biblical data for the Trinity. Again, the precise terms to which define the data (viz. formularized doctrine) came later. So the assertion that the Trinity did not emerge until the fourth century confuses the doctrinal word “Trinity” with the biblical data of God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, which, as we will enjoy shortly, the early church envisaged. They did not see God as a single undifferentiated Being, but the God who revealed Himself as tri-personal.

OBJECTION #5: THE CHURCH FELL INTO TOTAL APOSTASY

JWs assert that the Early Christian church fell into Complete Apostasy after the death of the Apostles.

RESPONSE: This is an argument from ignorance. When did so-called apostasy happen? What year? In point of fact, there is not a shred of anything that would indicate or even infer that the entire Christian church fell into apostasy. The verses that they use say that only “some” will fall away or that “many” will abandon the faith but never once does Scripture say that ALL will apostatize. To assert this notion is an “easy-out” for JWs that say that: The original Christian Church did not teach Jesus was God. Both Mormons and JWs maintain this idea of a total apostasy only to avoid the truth that the early Christians taught what Christians believe today: THERE EXIST ONE TRUE GOD and JESUS IS THE ETERNAL GOD DISTINCT FROM HIS FATHER.

If the early Christian church apostatized, why do we read in Revelation 2:1ff. that the Ephesus church was commended by God for not tolerating wicked men and testing those who claimed to be apostles but were false. And we read of six other functioning Christian churches. The point is this: the Apostle John wrote Revelation, in or around A.D. 70-90!– no more than forty or sixty years after the resurrection Christ!

So, did the entire Christian church fall after that? How could this happen? What does that say about the condition of the early Christians? Where they so spiritually bankrupt that they suddenly fell to paganism? Or suddenly just quit believing? What does that say about God? Could He not hold His own church together? Where is the evidence for this?

That the whole Christian church is even able to fall-away is notion that is sharply refuted by the apostles and Jesus Christ Himself:

Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. . . . And Jesus answered and said unto him. . . . “That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:16-18; KJV).

“All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt. 28:18-20; emphasis added).

Jesus promised that He would never leave His church, nor would the gates of hell come against her. Likewise, the apostle Paul explains: “To him [Jesus] be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen (Eph. 3:21). In contrast to the assertions made by the JWs, that His teachings were somehow lost, Jesus made a clear promise that His teachings would indeed last: “You did not choose me, but I choose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit — fruit that will last” (John 15:16; emphasis added). As seen above, the church Fathers from Ignatius, to the great defender of the Trinity, Athanasius, and after, believed and taught that: Jesus Christ was the eternal God Creator of all things.

Think about it, if there were no true Christians until the JWs emerged (1870), then, would it not follow that we would find distinctive Watchtower theology somewhere in church history? We have records of virtually every teaching that was prorogated from the first century. Where in church history though were the teachings of the JWs? And of course the Mormons (who make the same church fell in total apostasy claim) have the same problem: where was distinctive LDS doctrine before Joseph Smith (1830)?

Historically, we do have records of virtually every promulgated theology. However we do not have ANY historical record of distinctive Watchtower theology. Hence, are we to believe that for over 1800 years Jehovah did not have a witness until Charles Taze Russell (JW’s founder) came on the scene? The only teaching that even resembles Watchtower theology (esp. Jesus as a created being) was Arianism.1 Accordingly, the Christian church roundly and sharply condemned Arianism because it denied Jesus Christ as eternal God, as the JWs teach.

OBJECTION #6: THE TRINITY IS THREE GODS

Most JWs grossly misrepresent the doctrine of the Trinity by asserting that the Trinity is three separate Gods.

RESPONSE: Again, this a typical straw man argument. The doctrine of the Trinity is not three Gods. The doctrine of three Gods is tritheism, not Trinitarianism. Three Gods is how Mormons view the Godhead. The foundation of the Trinity is pure ontological monotheism: ONE GOD. One Being revealed in three distinct Persons, coexistent, coequal, and coeternal.

OBJECTION #7: THE TRINITY IS ILLOGICAL

The SYBT says that the Trinity is, “Beyond the grasp of human reason” (4). And that God is, “Not a God of confusion” (ibid.). From that line of thought, JWs will argue that Trinity cannot be true, it too confusing.

RESPONSE: For something to be illogical, it would have to contradict reason. The doctrine of the Trinity does not contradict reason. The Trinity is not 1 person in 3 persons or 1 God in 3 Gods. It does not follow that because something is not completely explicable that it cannot exist or cannot be true. For example, many of the formulations in physical science, not contrary to reason, and may be apprehended (though it may not be comprehended) by the human mind.2 Does anyone completely understand how light travels? Does it travel as a wave, corpuscular or quantum phenomenon? Yet, we believe in the reality of light, even though we cannot totally comprehend it.

The Trinity may not be totally comprehendible, but we can surely apprehend how God has revealed Himself to us through Scripture: There is ONE TRUE GOD; the Father is God the Son is God and the Holy Spirit is God. And the three are clearly differentiated. One God revealed in three distinct Persons. We cannot simply put God in easy-to-understand categories to gratify our feeble minds. We are called to worship God how He revealed Himself to us in His Word, anything less, is not worshipping, or honoring the true God.

The JWs reject the Trinity and hence they reject God. God is tri-personal He is not a unipersonal God as taught by the JWs. They are without excuse:

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.” (Isa. 40:28).

 

Notes

1, Early in the fourth century, Arius of Alexandria, postulated his teaching that Jesus was a different substance (heteroousios) than that of the Father. He used some of the same argumentation that the JWs use today. And of course, Arianism was completely refuted as heresy at the Council of Nicea (A.D. 325).

2, Example taken from: Robert M. Bowman, Jr., Why You Should Believe in the Trinity, An Answer to Jehovah’s Witnesses (Baker House Books, Grand Rapids Michigan), 17.