Engaging with JW's about the deity of Jesus , pt. 1
Bullet points on Jehovah’s Witness beliefs about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit:
JW’s believe that the Watchtower (i.e. “faithful and discreet slave”) represents God’s voice and direction on earth. They only interpret scripture though the Watchtower lenses. The Watchtower is the governing body of all Jehovah’s witnesses.
Jesus is a created being. He was originally created as Michael the arch-angel, then became Jesus when he came to earth. They would say Jesus is “god-like” or “a god" or "a mighty god" but not the "Almighty God Jehovah." Jehovah created Jesus and then He created "all other things" during creation week.
Jesus did not resurrect physically but only spiritually.
The Holy Spirit is an “active force” of God but not God himself or a person. They believe in a unitary being God, not the Trinity.
Jesus must not be given worship, but only honor or “obeisance”
The JW's have produced their own translation of the Bible called the New World Translation (NWT). All Biblical scholars today recognize it as a gross distortion of the original greek.
They believe that Jehovah is the only name by which God must be called. Every time our Bible has LORD in the OT (all caps represent YHWH) or Lord in the New Testament (kurious in the Greek), they insert the name Jehovah in the NWT.
It is important that we place our faith in the true Jesus. A False Jesus cannot save (see 2 Corinthians 11:4) and will result in a false gospel (see Galatians 1).
Below is a section of scriptures and questions that you can bring up in conversation with JW. Be sure to be respectful and ask them a lot of questions that lead the conversation forward. You want to help them have the space to rethink their views on each of these scriptures. This will not happen if they feel like you are trying to pin them down and are aggressive.
You want to simply leave a rock in their shoe.
Focus on just a few scriptures, ask them questions about it and then give them time to chew on it. In fact, You may just want to focus on just 1 or 2 scriptures in your conversation with them. They may try to jump around to multiple scriptures, but it is your job to lead the conversations and ask them if you guys can just focus on one scripture at a time.
Since JW's only believe that the NWT is authoritative, go ahead and use it some to demonstrate the deity of Jesus from their own translation. I would compare the NWT to your version though. They tried to change the original reading of explicit passages in the Bible that point to the deity of Jesus (i.e. John 1:1, Colossians 1:16; Jesus being worshiped in Hebrews 1). We will cover those verses in future posts. In the meantime, the following verses are some of the strongest combination of Old and New Testament verses that support the deity of Jesus.
I encourage you to use each of these verses and questions below to move the discussion forward on the identity of Jesus. You want to help them see that Jesus is Jehovah. Jesus is one with God the Father in substance, yet distinct as the second person of the Trinity. The Trinity formula is that within the one being that is God, there exists eternally three co-equal and co-eternal persons, namely, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
JW's need to see and believe that Jesus is the I AM, Jehovah, of the Old and New Testament's and unless they believe that, they will die in their sins (John 8:24).
1. John 12:41 and Isaiah 6
Isaiah 6:1 “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of his robe, filled the temple.”
Question: Who did Isaiah see in the temple? NKJV (answer: the LORD, Jehovah)
John 12:37,40-41 “But although he has done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him, that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled….He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, lest they should see with their eyes, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them. These things Isaiah said when he saw His Glory and spoke of Him. Nevertheless even among the rules many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogues.” NKJV
John 12:41 “Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory, and he spoke about him.” NWT
Question: Who is John talking about in chapter 12? (Jesus)
Question: In John 12 whose glory did he say that Isaiah saw? (Jesus)
Question: Again, I want to ask, whose glory did Isaiah see in Isaiah 6? (Jehovah)
Question: Therefore whose glory did Isaiah actually see according to both John 12 and Isaiah? (Jesus is Jehovah)
2. Hebrews 1 and Psalm 45:6 and 102:25-27
Psalm 102:25-27 “Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you will endure; yes, they will all grow old like a garment; like a cloak you will change them, and they will be changed but you are the same, and your years will have no end.” NKJV
Psalm 102:1,25 “O Jehovah, do hear my prayer…long ago you laid the foundations of the earth itself, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They themselves will perish, but you yourself will keep standing, and just like a garment they will all of them wear out Just like clothing you will replace them, and they will finish their turn. But you are the same, and your own years will not be completed.” NWT
Question: Who is the subject of this sentence? (Jehovah)
Psalm 45:6 “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of your kingdom” NKJV
Question: Whose throne is forever- Jehovah’s or someone else?
Hebrews 1:6 “But when he again brings the firstborn into the world, He says: Let all the angels of God worship him. And of the angels He says: “Who makes his angels spirit and his ministers a flame of fire. But to the Son He says: Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness more than your companions. And: You LORD, in the beginning, laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands, they will perish, but you remain; and they will all grow old like a garment: like a cloak you will fold them up, and they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will not fail.” NKJV
Question: Why do you think that the author of Hebrew quoted Psalm 102 and 45? What are the implications of applying OT passages directed towards YHWHW towards Jesus? Why do you think that angels worship Jesus if he is not God? If Jesus is not God, then the angels are technically committing idolatry.
3. John 1:3 and Isaiah 44:24
John 1:3 “All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” ESV
John 1:3 “All things came into existence through him, and apart from him not even one thing came into existence.” NWT
Question: According to John 1:3, we have two categories:
1. All things that never came into being
2. All things that came into being.
Question: As described by John 1:3, which category does Jesus belong in?
Question: Could Jesus have created himself before he existed?
Question: If Jesus is in the category of "all things that never came into being," what is the implication?
Question: Can I share one more verse with you?
Isaiah 44:24 “Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, who formed you from the womb: I am the LORD, who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself.’ ESV
Isaiah 44:24 “This is what Jehovah has said, your Repurchaser and the Former of you from the belly: “I, Jehovah, am doing everything, stretching out the heavens my myself, laying out the earth. Who was with me?” Isaiah, NWT
Question: If Jehovah created all things, yet John 1:3 says Jesus created all things, then what do you think the solution to this dilemma is?
4. There is only one First and the Last:
Isaiah 44:6b “I am the first and the I am the last; besides me there is no god.” ESV
Isaiah 44:6 “This is what Jehovah has said, the King of Israel and the Repurchaser of him, Jehovah of armies, ‘I am the first and I am the last, and besides me there is no God.” Isaiah 44:6, NWT
Question: Who is talking here? (Jehovah)
“I am the alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God,” who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” Revelation 1:7-8
Question: Who is this passage talking about? (YHWH/Jehovah)
“Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lamp-stands, and in the midst of the lamp-stands one like a son of man clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand, he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying “fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one." NKJV
“Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. I am the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end….I, Jesus have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches.” NKJV
Question: If Jesus is a created being and is calling himself “the first and the last” how is it not considered blasphemy…unless he actually is one in substance with Jehovah?
5. John 2:19- Jesus said He will physically raise himself up from the dead.
John 2:19-22 “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then the Jews said, “it has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking of the temple of His Body. Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said.”
Question: If Jesus did not actually raise himself from the dead, wouldn't that make him a liar? However, if he lied that mean that he sinned and consequently would not be a perfect sacrifice for ours sins, right?
Question: How can Jesus not be God when he says that He would raise himself up from the dead? When we combine this verse with Galatians 1:1 that says “Paul, an apostle (not sent from men nor though the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raise him from the dead)….” It seems that it’s the most logically consistent view that Jesus the Son and God the Father are both co-equal and co-eternal in the divine nature. Otherwise, isn’t the logical conclusion that Jesus was lying when he said that He would raise himself up if He is not God?
*Stay tuned for part 2-3 as we tackle terms like "Son of God, Firstborn, only begotten" and more....