The subject of whether Jesus is God is looked at regularly by the Watchtower Society but they rarely come up with anything new. Whereas there is not much new in their articles in Awake! 22 April 2005 orTheWatchtower 15 September 2005, some of the arguments they put forward are worth looking at and answering from a Biblical perspective.
First on p.8 of the Awake! Article we read:
“Although Jesus never claimed to be God, as Jehovah’s appointed ruler he is identified in Isaiah’s prophecy by the terms, ‘Mighty God’…”
A similar thought is brought out on p.7. of the Watchtower article where they ask the question, “Is Jesus God Almighty?”
Let’s get to the heart of their reasoning here, they have no problem with Jesus being called Mighty God but they claim that he was never called Almighty God. Whatever the adjective we put before the word God, what is abundantly clear is that Jesus and Jehovah are described as the same being. In this world we can have a mighty king and an almighty king; from that we might infer that one was stronger than the other but what would be abundantly clear to us would be that both were kings – here we have the same.
The simple fact is that Jesus is called God and indeed He is called Mighty God setting Him above other gods. Two other factors should also be remembered; first Jehovah is given the exact same description in the very next chapter of Isaiah:
“Now in that day the remnant of Israel, and those of the house of Jacob who have escaped, will never again rely on the one who struck them, but will truly rely on the LORD, the Holy One of Israel. A remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the mighty God.” Isaiah 10:20, 21
Isaiah under the anointing of the Holy Spirit gives Jesus the exact same title as Jehovah. This is no coincidence and must be seen for what is a very clear statement. That Jesus is part of the Godhead.
Second we need to look at the context of Isaiah 9:6 where the phrase mighty God comes. When we do we find that this same son, Jesus, has the government on His shoulders; He is the Eternal Father, or father of eternity but which ever way it is translated the word for eternal – having no beginning or end – is used of Jesus; and to emphasise both these points we are told in verse 7 that there will be no end to the increase of His government. Such a one described here can only be fully God – this description could not even fit an angel, let alone a man.
In the same Awake! article, the Society quote in a footnote, 3 translations for their rendering of John 1:1. Two of them we have commented on elsewhere but the third The New Testament, by James L. Tomanek, we have not mentioned. He translates that “the Word was a God”. Please note that ‘God’ has a capital ‘G’ and so he is not relegating Jesus to a lesser god but to God. He also says the following in the preface to his translation:
“FOR A LONG TIME having realized the necessity for a clearer rendering of some parts – phrases, sentences, and even paragraphs of the New Testament and after considering it for some time, I decided that I should work to this need.
And now after many years of this labor, I am offering the result of this work to you.
And may this work – the teaching of Jesus, his apostles, and his disciples be to you clear and beneficial as it was some nineteen hundred years ago to his followers.
I hope that you will find the work helpful even as it is to me, not only in the clarity, but also in the continuity of thought and in all things.
And with the Holy Spirit and its help, may you continue in The Lord Jesus till you attain to his full stature and then thus be sure to obtain agelasting life. (Now we know that we are the children of God, if we are not without proof).
Therefore, remember when you have chosen Jesus and in Him to be perfect that you have by the very same act forsaken the world and all in it including the mammon and become citizens of the heavens, so that now you become witnesses of God and of Jesus on earth. For you were baptized into the death of Jesus; you died with Him, but now you live in Jesus by the power of God.
And finally if you have or will overcome the world and was or will be reborn by the Spirit of God then at his coming, you shall not be ashamed, but rejoice with Him. May God be with you.
James L. Tomanek”
There are several indications there that Tomanek believed in the Trinity but come what may he still translated the word theos as “a God”. Indeed this is one of the possible translations of the word; the others being god, a god and God. If there are 4 possible translations how do we know which one to use, simple, by the context in which the word is found.
In verse 1, the Greek phrase for ‘In the beginning,’ is the same as the Greek translation (Septuagint) for Gen. 1:1. Literally it means, “when the beginning begun God was already there”. If that is true of Genesis, and no Witness would dispute the eternalness of Jehovah, then here in John, it means the same, “When the beginning begun the Word, Christ was already there.” Neither Jehovah nor Jesus were created and both were in existence before any creation took place.
But there is more, because in verse 3 we read that all things were created by Jesus, and there can be no exceptions, as the emphasis in this verse shows; “Apart from Him nothing came into being”. Only if you bring human interpretation to bear can you say that Christ was created.
The context clearly shows that Jesus is an uncreated eternal God and that the only one of the 4 possible translations that is absolutely correct is, “God”.
On p.9 of the same Awake! article we see them dealing with John 20:28:
“‘Why, then,’ one may ask, ‘did Thomas exclaim when seeing the resurrected Jesus, “My Lord and my God!”?’ As already noted, Jesus is a god in the sense of being divine, but he is not the Father… Remember, too, why John wrote his Gospel… that people ‘may believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God’ – not that he is God.”
We will deal with this aspect of the Son of God later as it comes in another Watchtower but first let us deal with what Thomas said. The Greek is clear that Thomas exclaimed, “ho theos”. We do not even have the problem of context because the meaning of those two words is abundantly clear, ho = the and theos = God; Thomas called Jesus not “a god” but “the God. He used the phrase that is, according to the Watchtower Society, reserved for Jehovah God. There is no doubt that Thomas called Jesus God and Jesus neither denied it nor rebuked Thomas. The statement stands accepted by the one who is truth. It is true, Jesus is God and verse 29 encourages everyone us to belive what Thomas believed. Anyone therefore who does not believe that Jesus is God is refusing to believe and accept the words of Jesus, a very serious matter.
One reader emailed us to let us know that this identical Greek phrase, apart from Lord and God being round the other way, is found in the Septuagint (Greek version of the Old Testament) at Psalm 35:23. Here David is praying to Jehovah and says, “…my God and my Lord” (ho theos mou kai ho kyrios mou. John speaking to Jesus says, “ho kyrios mou kai ho theos mou”. There can be no doubt what John was actually saying.
The theme of The Watchtower 15 Sept
ember 2005 is, “Who is Jesus Christ?”; we begin with a short article on p.3 entitled, “A God or a Man?” The article ends up by saying that the Bible has a great deal to say about Jesus and will give truthful answers to these questions. However, we do not have that much confidence in the writers of the article or the version they are using when we have the article contains their standard misquote of John 17:3. We are not to ‘rake in knowledge’ but to ‘know’. Indeed it is impossible to take in accurate knowledge as the article goes on to say if we do not know Him and the ministry of the Holy Spirit who is the one that leads us into this knowledge of the truth.
The article beginning on p.4 entitles, “Who Is Jesus Christ” has several interesting statements that we need to comment on:
They start by saying that Jesus was the Messiah, the anointed one, but we will leave comment on this but we will leave comment on this subject until the next Quarterly. They then have a sub heading, “His Origin Was ‘From Early Times'”. In the paragraph that follows they quote their version of Micah 5:2 which adds that Jesus was from, “the days of time indefinite.” Even if you stop to think about that phrase you would have problems. If Jesus was from time indefinite, He was not from time! However, the Society hope to obscure the meaning enough so that no loyal Witness would ask the right questions. What the verse in Micah actually says is:
“But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity.”
Here is a promise of the Messiah that we will refer too later that shows, as the New Testament passages such as John 1 show, Jesus is eternal!
The next paragraph proceeds to deal with the fact that all created things had a beginning and so at some point God was alone. This of course shows that they believe God is uncreated and therefore, as shown earlier, it also means that Jesus is not a created being.
To show, however, according to their thinking that Jesus is created they line up the ‘usual suspects’. First comes Revelation 3:14, which in the NWT reads that Jesus is “the beginning of the creation by God”. But their Kingdom Interlinear Translation shows that the Greek is actually “of God” not “by God” and this puts a different light on the verse. The KIT also shows that the Greek word translated ‘beginning’ is arche from which we get the English word ‘architect’. The architect is the source and designer of the whole building and so Jesus is the beginning in the sense of being the source of all God’s creation, not the first one to be created.
Hot on its heels comes Colossians 1:15; but what does, “Firstborn of all creation” actually mean? Its meaning is priority to, or pre-eminence over; therefore Jesus is the pre-eminent one over all creation and not a created being Himself. See this in Colossians 1:18; was Jesus was the first one to be born from the dead? No, because again the Greek word has the meaning of position, place, or ranking. The context of Colossians makes it clear that the word is used in this way when we read the rest of verse 18, “that He might come to have first place in everything’. Jesus is not the first one to be born but the one who is supreme over all creation.
Later on in the article, seeking to show a distinction between Jesus and Jehovah, they quote Colossians 1:15 indicating that Jesus is, “the image of the invisible God”. They say because of close association the Son became like the Father, but is that true to the Greek word? Vincent’s Word Studies tells us:
“Image is more than likeness which may be superficial and incidental. It implies a prototype, and embodies the essential verity of its prototype. Compare in the form of God, Phi.2:6, and the effulgence of the Father’s glory, Heb.1:3.”
More than just a superficial likeness that he came to be like but as Hebrews 1:3 says the ‘exact representation’. The word ‘effulgence’ used in the KJV means shining out from. In other words what God was appeared in the very nature and being of Jesus. This isn’t growing to be like somebody this is being filled inwardly with the very nature of that person, in other words, God.
A caption to an illustration at the bottom of p.4 reads, “At his baptism, Jesus became God’s Anointed One”. As ‘Anointed One’ means the Messiah, his leads to the question, “Wasn’t He the Messiah before his baptism?” If not what was so special about His baptism that anointed Him?
The phrase Anointed One refers back to the Old Testament where prophet, priest and king were anointed and set apart for their ministry. No one was allowed to hold more than one of those offices; this of course shows that Jesus is the true fulfilment of this Old Testament picture because He was prophet, priest and king! But when did He take up this role?
If the Society wants to say that it was the act of the Holy Spirit coming upon Him, as pictured by the anointing oil in the Old Testament, they have a problem as they have already indicated the work of the Holy Spirit in Jesus’ birth
“Jehovah’s holy spirit, or active force, came upon Mary, and his power ‘overshadowed’ her, miraculously causing her to become pregnant.”
Jesus was born of the Holy Spirit and so He was anointed from birth, a fact that is clearly born out by Matthew 2. The magi were looking for the King (v.2) – the Anointed One – and this baby was called ‘the Christ’ – the Anointed One, the Messiah – by Herod in v.4. It was not just King Herod – the angels announced (Luke 2:11) that the Saviour – the Christ was born; Jesus was the Anointed One from birth!
Not only does the Society give wrong teaching about Christ’s birth they do the same over His resurrection.
“The third stage of his life began about three days later when Jehovah God resurrected his Son as a spirit person.” – p.6.
In other publications the Society seeks to explain this by using 1 Peter 3:18 and 1 Corinthians 15:45 which use the phrases, ‘made alive in the spirit’ and, ‘life-giving spirit’. But do these descriptions mean that Jesus was raised a spirit creature?
The resurrection life of Christ was a ‘spiritual life’, no longer with the confines of the human body. But how does Scripture describe this life?
“So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; it is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So also it is written, ‘The first man, Adam became a living soul.’ The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.” – 1 Cor.15:42-45.
The context of these verses is that of the body becoming imperishable and immortal. Greek scholar W. E. Vine comments on the Greek word soma, translated ‘body’ in the above Scriptures:
“The body is an essential part of the man and therefore the redeemed are not perfected till the resurrection, Heb 11:40; no man in his final state will be without his body, John 5:28-29; Rev. 20:13.” – Vine, Vol. 1, pp.136-37.
Scripture uses ‘body’ in the sense that at the resurrection we will have spiritual bodies. Just as we have had bodies suitable for this earth, so we will have bodies suitable for our new spiritual life. Jesus was not raised a spirit creature but with a new spiritual body.
Finally we must also take notice of the clear declaration of Luke 24:36-39, “a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have”.
This idea that he was raised a spirit creature leads to the final declaration we want to look at in this article:
“Jesus today is neither man nor God Almighty. Rather, he is a mighty spirit creature, a reigning King.” – p.6.
What contortions you need to go through to come to this conclusion and what questions it leaves unanswered.
The Society tells us (p.5), that Jesus was transferred to the womb of Mary by ‘holy spirit’ and came to earth as a perfect child. That child would have body, soul and spirit – whatever definitions you want to put on them. Albeit perfect, Jesus was still within the human confines of a body. Just supposing for a minute, that body went back to the dust, as the Society teaches, what happens to the rest of Jesus? He clearly says as He is dying on Calvary,
“Father into Thy Hands I commit My Spirit” – Luke 23:46
Not, I am a mighty spirit creature but my spirit is in your hands. How did He become a mighty spirit creature? Every spirit creature had to be created and once created there is no evolution into a different species. What we are asked to believe is that a created spirit creature became a perfect man; was anointed to be the chosen Messiah without any clear pedigree that we shall see in the next part is necessary; died as man and went back to heaven where he was recreated into a spirit creature again!
This is just not the Jesus of the Bible and in the light of this I close this section with a quote from another Watchtower
“Turn away, then, from any institutions or organizations that have besmirched the name of Christ and defamed Christianity over the past two thousand years. Otherwise, as Jesus Christ told the apostle John, you could ‘receive part of [their] plagues” when God executes his judgment on them in the near future” – the Watchtower, March 1, 2006, p.7.
For those of you who are not sure besmirched basically means to stain a reputation. With evidence provided in thei s article there appears little doubt that the Witnesses have indeed stained the reputation of Jesus and have made Him to be less then He really is. We need therefore, on their own command, to turn away from them.
If further evidence is required of this you need to look no further than the following:
“Rather than announce the incoming Kingdom of God, Christendom’s clergy have chosen to remain with Satan’s world. They want no part with the locust band and their King, concerning whom John now observes: ‘They have over them a king, the angel of the abyss. In Hebrew his name is Abaddon [meaning “Destruction”], but in Greek he has the name Apollyon [meaning “Destroyer”].’ (Revelation 9:11) As ‘angel of the abyss’ and ‘Destroyer,’ Jesus had truly released a plaguing woe on Christendom. But more is to follow!” Revelation – Its Grand Climax At Hand, – p.148.
If you look at the context of Revelation 9, Abaddon/Apollyon is clearly used of the Devil but the Society stretch the context and say that this one is Jesus!