A Series of Questions for Jehovah’s Witnesses Pt. 13b
We proceed from where we left off previously.
Jesus – What kind of God is he?
The NWT agrees that Jesus is identified as Theos (“God”), since the translators were aware that the NT applies this Greek word to Christ in at least three places:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god (kai Theos seen ho logos). This one was in the beginning with God. All things came into existence through him, and apart from him not even one thing came into existence. What has come into existence by means of him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light is shining in the darkness, but the darkness has not overpowered it… The TRUE light that gives light to every sort of man was about to come into the world. He was in the world, and the world came into existence through him, but the world did not know him… So the Word became flesh and resided among us, and we had a view of his glory, a glory such as belongs to an only-begotten son from a father; and he was full of divine favor and truth… No man has seen God at any time; the only-begotten god (monogenes Theos) who is at the Father’s side is the one who has explained Him.” John 1:1-5, 9-10, 14, 18
Jesus as the preexistent Word is not only identified as Theos, but he is also described in the same way the Hebrew Bible describes Jehovah.
For instance, it is Jehovah who is the source of life and the light which provides illumination for mankind:
“Jehovah is my light and my salvation. Whom should I fear? Jehovah is the stronghold of my life. Whom should I dread?” Psalm 27:1
“With you is the source of life; By your light we can see light.” Psalm 36:9
Jehovah is also the One who created all things by himself, since he didn’t need or have anyone to assist him:
“He spreads out the heavens by himself, And he treads upon the high waves of the sea.” Job 9:8
“This is what Jehovah says, your Repurchaser, Who formed you since you were in the womb: “I am Jehovah, who made everything. I stretched out the heavens BY MYSELF, And I spread out the earth. WHO WAS WITH ME?” Isaiah 44:24
In fact, all throughout this Gospel Jesus refers to himself as the Light of the world and the Life who grants everlasting life and raises the dead just by the power of his glorious and sovereign voice:
“For just as the Father raises the dead up and makes them alive, so the Son also makes alive whomever he wants to… Most truly I say to you, the hour is coming, and it is now, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who have paid attention will live. For just as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted also to the Son to have life in himself… Do not be amazed at this, for the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his [the Son’s] voice and come out, those who did good things to a resurrection of life, and those who practiced vile things to a resurrection of judgment.” John 5:21, 25-26, 28-29
“This is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose none out of all those whom he has given me, but that I should resurrect them on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who recognizes the Son and exercises faith in him should have everlasting life, and I will resurrect him on the last day.” John 6:39-40
“Then Jesus spoke again to them, saying: ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will by no means walk in darkness, but will possess the light of life.’” John 8:12
“Jesus said to her: ‘Your brother will rise.’ Martha said to him: ‘I know he will rise in the resurrection on the last day.’ Jesus said to her: ‘I am the resurrection and THE LIFE. The one who exercises faith in me, even though he dies, will come to life; and everyone who is living and exercises faith in me will never die at all. Do you believe this?’ She said to him: ‘Yes, Lord, I have believed that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.’” John 11:23-27
“However, Jesus called out and said: ‘Whoever puts faith in me puts faith not only in me but also in him who sent me; and whoever sees me sees also the One who sent me. I have come as a light into the world, so that everyone putting faith in me may not remain in the darkness.’” John 12:44-46
“Jesus said to him: ‘I am the way and the truth and THE LIFE. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” John 14:6
These verses amply testify that Jesus is the same kind of God that the Father is, a point which is brought out more clearly in this next example:
“‘My sheep listen to my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them everlasting life, and they will by no means ever be destroyed, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. What my Father has given me is something greater than all other things, and no one can snatch them out of the hand of the Father. I and the Father are one.’ Once again the Jews picked up stones to stone him. Jesus replied to them: ‘I displayed to you many fine works from the Father. For which of those works are you stoning me?’ The Jews answered him: ‘We are stoning you, not for a fine work, but for blasphemy; for you, although being a man, make yourself a god (Theon).’” John 10:27-33
The reason why the Jews correctly assumed that Jesus was making himself out to be Theos (“God”) is because he ascribed to himself the very functions and characteristics which the OT writings attribute to Jehovah alone.
For instance, Jehovah’s people are said to be the sheep of his hand who are expected to hear his voice:
“O come in, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before Jehovah our Maker. For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasturage and the sheep of his hand. Today if YOU people listen to his own voice, Do not harden YOUR heart as at Mer′i·bah, As in the day of Mas′sah in the wilderness,” Psalm 95:6-8 1984 Edition http://www.jw.org/en/publications/bible/bi12/books/psalms/95/
Jehovah is also the One who gives life with no one being able to rescue or snatch anything out/from his hand:
“See now that I—I am he, And there are no gods apart from me. I put to death, and I make alive. I wound, and I will heal, And no one can rescue from my hand.” Deuteronomy 32:39
“‘I—I am Jehovah, and besides me there is no savior. I am the One who declared and saved and made known When there was no foreign god among you. So you are my witnesses,’ declares Jehovah, ‘and I am God. Also, I am always the same One; And no one can snatch anything out of my hand. When I act, who can prevent it?’” Isaiah 43:11-13
And yet these are the exact same functions which Jesus applies to himself!
Even the Hebrew Scriptures call Jesus God since the book of Isaiah identifies the Messiah as a Child that is born who happens to be the Mighty God:
“For a child has been born to us, A son has been given to us; And the rulership will rest on his shoulder. His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God (El Gibbor), Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. To the increase of his rulership And to peace, there will be no end, On the throne of David and on his kingdom In order to establish it firmly and to sustain it Through justice and righteousness, From now on and forever. The zeal of Jehovah of armies will do this.” Isaiah 9:6-7
Amazingly, the prophet Isaiah applies this very same title to Jehovah in the very next chapter!
“In that day those remaining of Israel And the survivors of the house of Jacob Will no longer support themselves on the one who struck them; But they will support themselves on Jehovah, The Holy One of Israel, with faithfulness. Only a remnant will return, The remnant of Jacob, to the Mighty God (El Gibbor).” Isaiah 10:20-21 – cf. Deuteronomy 10:17- Psalm 24:8; Jeremiah 32:18
On top of all this, Jesus receives the same exact honor that the Father himself receives,
“For the Father judges no one at all, but he has entrusted all the judging to the Son, so that all may honor the Son JUST AS they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.”
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of the Christ, so that each one may be repaid according to the things he has practiced while in the body, whether good or bad. Therefore, since we know the fear of the Lord, we keep persuading men, but we are well-known to God. However, I hope that we are well-known also to your consciences.” 2 Corinthians 5:10-11
In fact, every created thing that exists is depicted as giving Christ the exact same honor that the Father receives!
“When he took the scroll, the four living creatures and the 24 elders fell down before the Lamb, and each one had a harp and golden bowls that were full of incense. (The incense means the prayers of the holy ones.) And they sing a new song, saying: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and open its seals, for you were slaughtered and with your blood you bought people for God out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and you made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God, and they are to rule as kings over the earth.’ And I saw, and I heard a voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders, and the number of them was myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, and they were saying with a loud voice: “The Lamb who was slaughtered is worthy to receive the power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing.’ And I heard EVERY CREATURE in heaven and on earth and underneath the earth and on the sea, and all the things in them, saying: ‘To the One sitting on the throne AND TO THE LAMB be the blessing and the honor and the glory and the might forever and ever.’ The four living creatures were saying: ‘Amen!’ and the elders fell down and worshipped.” Revelation 5:8-14
To top it all off, one of Jesus’ own disciples went as far as to worship the risen Christ as his very Lord and God:
“In answer Thomas said to him: ‘My Lord and my God (ho Kyrios mou kai ho Theos mou)!’ Jesus said to him: ‘Because you have seen me, have you believed? Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.’” John 20:28-29
To say that Thomas’ confession is astonishing would be putting it mildly, since the Watchtower itself acknowledges that when a Jew or an Israelite says “my God,” s/he could only be referring to Jehovah!
In its articles on Jehovah, The Imperial Bible-Dictionary nicely illustrates the difference between ʼElo·him′ (God) and Jehovah. Of the name Jehovah, it says: “It is everywhere a proper name, denoting the personal God and him only; whereas Elohim partakes more of the character of a common noun, denoting usually, indeed, but not necessarily nor uniformly, the Supreme. . . . The Hebrew may say the Elohim, the true God, in opposition to all false gods; but he never says the Jehovah, for Jehovah is the name of the true God only. He says again and again my God . . . ; but never my Jehovah, for when he says my God, he means Jehovah. He speaks of the God of Israel, but never of the Jehovah of Israel, for there is no other Jehovah. He speaks of the living God, but never of the living Jehovah, for he cannot conceive of Jehovah as other than living.”—Edited by P. Fairbairn, London, 1874, Vol. I, p. 856. (Insight to the Scriptures, Volume 2: http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1200002391; bold emphasis mine)
In light of this candid admission, this means that Thomas was worshiping Jesus as Jehovah his God who had become a flesh and blood human being!
Here is a quick breakdown of what we have seen thus far:
- The NWT of the Christian Scriptures identifies Jesus as Theos in several places.
- In one passage it even refers to him as the “Mighty God” (El Gibbor), a title that is used elsewhere for Jehovah himself.
- The Scriptures attest that there is only one true God that exists in the heavens above and on the earth beneath.
- Jesus must therefore be the only true God since this is the only kind of Theos and “Mighty God” he could possibly be.
- Yet for Jesus to be the only true God he must be Jehovah Incarnate, since there is no other god besides Jehovah.
- At the same time, however, Jesus is personally distinguished from God the Father, since he is referred to as the beloved Son of God.
“No, it was not by following artfully contrived false stories that we made known to you the power and presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, but rather, we were eyewitnesses of his magnificence. For he received from God the Father honor and glory when words such as these were conveyed to him by the magnificent glory: ‘This is my Son, my beloved, whom I myself have approved.’ Yes, these words we heard coming from heaven while we were with him in the holy mountain.” 2 Peter 1:16-18
“There will be with us undeserved kindness, mercy, and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, with truth and love.” 2 John 1:3
- This means that both the Father and the Son together exist as the one true God Jehovah.
In light of the foregoing, how can the JWs continue to deny that Jesus is Jehovah when their own version of the Holy Bible identifies him as Theos (“God”) and El Gibbor (“Mighty God”), despite the fact that their translation seeks to make him into a lesser, secondary god from Jehovah? After all, since the God-breathed Scriptures proclaim that there is only one true God in heaven above and on the earth below, and since Jehovah is said to be that one true God, the only way that Jesus could be God in any sense of the term is if he was/is Jehovah Incarnate. Otherwise, Jesus would be a false god like the rest of the so-called gods that are wrongly worshiped by others. However, such as position would be utterly blasphemous, as even the JWs would agree.
Therefore, the JWs have no other choice but to acknowledge and confess that Jesus is the one and only true God, and therefore Jehovah in the flesh, without this making him the Father or the Holy Spirit.