Talking with Jehovah’s Witnesses

Many people are visited by Jehovah’s Witnesses.  The following is meant as a resource that might be used when talking to them:

1. Jesus is worshiped as God

In the 10 Commandments we are told to have no Gods but Jehovah (Exodus 20:3, Deuteronomy 5:7).  That is, only Jehovah is to be worshiped (Exodus 34:14). Yet the homage and devotion that is due to Jehovah, is given to Jesus, and he didn’t object!

After he walked on the water, his disciples worshipped him (Matthew 14:33); a healed blind man worshipped him (John 9:38); after his resurrection, when he encountered the women, they worshipped him (Matthew 28:9) and later more of his disciples acted the same way (Matthew 28:17).

In John 20:28, Thomas exclaims of Jesus “My Lord and my God” and Jesus did not rebuke him.

In fact, in Hebrews 1:6, we are told that Jehovah instructed the angels to worship Jesus and in Revelation 5:9-14 the people and angels indeed do that.

In John 5:22-23 we are told “the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father.”

We can compare this to what God (Jehovah) says in the book of Isaiah.  There we see that God is adamant that no one else but he is the Saviour and he will not share his honour with anyone.  He says:  I will not share my glory with anyone else (Isaiah 42:8; 48:11).

Jesus in accepting various people’s worship is blasphemously acting in direct denial of what God has so clearly stated (as his detractors noted in Luke 5:21), unless of course, Jesus is worthy of such worship because he is God.  If Jesus is not God, then he is not a godly person, instead he is far worse.

By contrast, in Acts 14:8-18, Paul and Barnabas were horrified when the people of Lystra wanted to honour them as gods.  Peter acted the same way in Acts 10:25-26 when Cornelius fell at his feet in reverence as did and an angel acting as a guide for John (Revelation 22:8-9).  Were they more righteous than Jesus?

2. Jesus is the Saviour

Repeatedly in Isaiah (Isaiah 43:11; 44:8 and 60:16), we are told in no uncertain terms that Jehovah is the only Saviour, yet in Luke 2:11 we are told that Jesus is the Saviour.  Similarly in Acts 4:12 Peter declares that salvation is found in no one but Jesus.  In the same way in Isaiah 45:20-25, Jehovah proclaims “there is no God apart from me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none but me”,  yet as we have seen, Jesus is proclaimed as Saviour.  How can Jesus share this unique role of God without being God himself?

3. Jesus claimed to be equal to God

In John 5:18 the Jewish leaders understood that by what Jesus said and did, he was equating himself with God.  Similarly in Mark 2:1-12, the teachers of the law understood Jesus to be doing something that only God could do – forgive sins.  Jesus doesn’t tell them they have the wrong idea, but instead heals the man, to prove to them he has that authority, again equating himself with God.

In John 17:5, Jesus asks the Father to glorify him with the glory that Jesus had before the world began.  This only makes sense if Jesus was (and will be) eternally glorified with the Father.

4. The New Testament writers equated Jesus with Jehovah

In John 14:37-41, John is describing the lack of belief of the Jewish believers, ending up quoting from Isaiah, saying that Isaiah had seen Jesus’ glory.  Of course, in the original context, the glory that Isaiah saw was that of Jehovah.  John equates Jesus’ glory with that of Jehovah.

In Romans 10:9-13, Paul says everyone who confesses that “Jesus is Lord” will be saved, he then quotes from Joel 2:32 “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” But the Lord there in Joel, is Jehovah.

In 1 Corinthians 8:6, Paul is applying the “Shema”, Deuteronomy 6:4 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.”  Paul extends these words by saying “for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.”  He applies the word “God” from the Shema to the Father, and the word “LORD” from the Shema to Jesus.

In Philippians 2:10 it declares that every knee shall bow to Jesus, but in Isaiah 45:22-23 Jehovah declares that “to Me every knee shall bow”.  The only name that is above every name is Jehovah, and in Philippians 2:9, that name is given to Jesus.

In Revelation 1:14, John describes Jesus in words used to describe the Ancient of Days (Jehovah) in Daniel 7:9.  Then in Revelation 1:17, Jesus says he is the “First and the Last”.  In Isaiah 44:6, the LORD refers to himself with these words, adding “apart from me there is no God.”  Then who is Jesus?

In Mark 1:3 (paralleled in Matthew 3:3), John the Baptist is to “Prepare the way for the Lord”, a quotation from Isaiah 40:3.  In Isaiah, “the Lord” is Jehovah.  John is preparing the way for Jesus, so his coming is the coming of Jehovah.

In 1 Peter 2:8, Peter tells us that Jesus is a “stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall”, however this is a quotation from Isaiah 8:14, where it is speaking of Jehovah.

5. The Old Testament prophecies called Jesus God

In Isaiah 9:6, a passage that clearly refers to Jesus, he is called Mighty God and everlasting Father.  By the way, Jehovah is also called “Mighty God” in Isaiah 10:20-21.

6. Jesus is eternal

In John 1:3, it says that everything was made through Jesus.  If Jesus was made, then this cannot be true.  Therefore he was not made – he is eternal.

Colossians 1:16-17 repeats this idea with great emphasis.  By the way, in verse 16, there is no word “other” in the Greek (added in the New World Translation). The “Kingdom Interlinear” also published by Watchtower, does not add this word.

This was also the issue in Jesus’ dispute with the Jews in John 8:48-58.  Jesus was claiming to have been around before Abraham.  Jesus says there “before Abraham was born, I am!”  Of course, the emphatic “I am” here is the Greek equivalent to the Hebrew “Jehovah”.  The Jews got the point and wanted to stone Jesus for blasphemy.

7. Only begotten

Much is made of this term used in the King James Version, in Greek monogenēs.  The word is not emphasising the origins of the one described, rather that the one described is unique, one of a kind.  E.g. Abraham had two sons, Isaac and Ishmael, but Isaac is described in this way in Hebrews 11:17.  Isaac wasn’t Abraham’s only son, but he was Abraham’s special, unique son.  Jesus is the Son of God in a unique way.  Those who are in Christ are also children of God, but in a different way.

It is significant that Jesus, in his teaching of the Twelve, never used the term ‘Our Father’ as embracing himself and them. In the resurrection message through Mary he indicated two distinct relationships: ‘My Father, and your Father’ ( Jn 20:17)

– New Bible Dictionary ‘GOD – His Fatherhood’

8. Firstborn

The term does not mean the same thing as “born first”.  The firstborn was the one who inherited from his father.  E.g. in Psalm 89:20,27, Jehovah says that he will appoint David (really referring to Jesus) as the firstborn, making him “the most exalted of the kings of the earth”.  Of course, David was not the eldest son of Jesse, but he is still the “firstborn” – the inheritor.   The whole section is describing how magnificent David’s kingdom will be.  This is what Jesus is given as his inheritance.  This idea is repeated in Colossians 1:15.

9. Order in the Trinity

The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all God, but they are not all the same, they have different roles and there is an order between them. So the Son submits to the Father.  So in John 14:28, Jesus can say that “the Father is greater than I”.  Similarly, the Son sends the Holy Spirit (John 15:26).

10. Peter says Jesus is God

In 2 Peter 1:1b, Peter refers to Jesus as “our God and Saviour”.  Now it is true that the KJV has “of God and our Saviour”, making this expression refer to two persons – God (the Father) and our Saviour (Jesus), but there is no justification for that.  All modern translations, including the NKJV, NIV, CSB, ESV, NRSV, MSG, NLT, WEB and NET show Peter as describing one person, Jesus, by the two terms.  The NET Bible notes refer to the Granville Sharp rule which says this type of construction ALWAYS refers to one person in NT Greek.  Peter uses the same form in 2 Peter 1:11 and 2 Peter 2:20 (in both cases referring to Jesus as “our Lord and Saviour”) indicating that this was certainly how he used the expression.

A note about John 1:1

In John 1:1, it says that “the Word was God”.  That this is saying that Jesus is God becomes clear as we continue reading John’s introduction.  However Jehovah’s Witnesses claim that this is a mis-translation.  They claim that it should say that “the Word was a God”, that is, Jesus is only a god, not the God.  They say this due to the form of the Greek being translated here.  Without getting into the details too much, this is because “God” here lacks the definite article (the).  However this same construction is used by John in John 1:6, 12, 13, and 18 (twice) without needing an “a” placed before the word “God”, so why is it needed in verse 1?

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