Many people are confused about the Jehovah's Witnesses and their teachings regarding Jesus Christ. People who encounter them ask, "Do you believe in Jesus?" Jehovah's Witnesses will answer, "absolutely!" But is He the same Jesus of the Bible? Is He the same Jesus that Christians believe in and worship? The following will help to answer these important questions from the Scriptures.
Jehovah's Witnesses and Christians have several things in common. They share common concerns about religious apostasy, biblical teachings on morality and hold to a high moral and ethical standard of living. However, as in the case of others such as the Mormon cult, when examined closely they quickly stray from biblical teachings. (See
101 Strange Teachings and Practices of Jehovah's Witnesses)
Jehovah's Witnesses and Christians differ on the most important of any doctrine, who Jesus Christ really is. This is not just a minute technical point.
Knowing and believing in the real Jesus has eternal ramifications.
Jehovah's Witnesses believe that Jesus Christ was only a perfect man co-equal with the first man, Adam. Consequently, this man Jesus could have fallen to temptation and sinned. They teach that before His earthly life, Jesus was a spirit creature, Michael the archangel, who was created by God and became the Messiah at His baptism. So to the Jehovah's Witnesses, Jesus is a materialized angel. According to their teachings, Jesus is "a mighty one," although not almighty as Jehovah God. According to John 1:1 in their Bible, The New World Translation, Christ is "a god" not simply "God" as the text plainly states. They teach that Jesus "was and is and always will be beneath Jehovah" and that "Christ and God are not co-equal". They also do not believe Jesus died on a cross but on a "tourture stake." In their publications they rarely picture Jesus shedding any blood.
Does the Bible confirm their beliefs or does it teach the Christian concept that Christ is God? This is an extremely important question with eternal consequences. Jesus Himself said: "I said therefore to you, that you shall die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you shall die in your sins." (John 8:24 NASB)
Consider the following points:
- The Christ of the New Testament is the Jehovah of the Old Testament.
These verses demonstrate that the name "Jehovah" is used for both God the Father and of God the Son. Although they are distinct persons they are each called "Jehovah" because they each possess deity.
- Isaiah wrote about seeing Jehovah in Isaiah 6:1-10.
- In John 12:31-42, we are told that Isaiah saw Jesus' glory and spoke of Him
- In Exodus 34:14 we are to worship no one but Jehovah.
- In Hebrews 1:6 the angels worship Christ.
- In Isaiah 44:6 Jehovah is called the first and the last (confirmed in Revelation 1:8),
- but in Revelation 22:13 Christ is the first and the last.
The deity of Christ is taught in Scripture.
In Matthew 1:23, Christ is called "Immanuel," which means "God with us."
When Thomas touched Jesus' wounds, after the resurrection, he exclaimed, "My Lord and my God" (John 20:28). There is no basis whatsoever for saying, as some JW's say, that Thomas was referring to Christ when he said "my Lord" but was referring to God (Jehovah) when he said "my God." Instead, Thomas called Christ both his Lord and his God. And Christ did not correct him! Colossians 2:9 clearly confirms the deity of Christ when it states that in Him "all the fullness of the divine quality dwells bodily" (New World Translation). Stephen called Jesus "Lord" (Acts 7:59,60), and we are to confess Jesus as Lord (Rom. 10:9; I Cor. 12:3). "Lord" in these verses is Kurios, which is the Greek word for Jehovah in the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Old Testament. It is evident from this that Christ the Lord (kurios) is Jehovah God.
Attributes of Christ show that He is God.
Jesus Christ knows all things (John 1:48; 2:25; 6:64;14:30;21:17). He is all-powerful (Matt. 28:18; Heb. 1:3), sinless (John 8:46), eternal (Mic.5:2), and unchanging (Heb. 13:8). Since only God possesses these attributes, Christ must be God.
Certain works of Christ show that He is God.
Jesus Christ has the power to forgive sins (Mark 2:5-7; Eph. 1:7), give eternal life (John 10:28; 17:2), judge the world (John 5:22,27), and control nature (Matt. 8:26). Since only God can do these things, Christ must be God.
Christ received worship as God.
Jesus is worshiped by the angels (Heb. 1:6) and by man (Matt. 14:33), and yet only God is to be worshiped (Ex. 34:14). Christ Himself said that worship is due to God alone (Matt. 4:10), and yet He accepted worship. If Jesus in His pre-existent state were the archangel Michael, how could He have received worship, since angels are not allowed to receive worship (Rev.19:10)? If Christ were not God, then worshiping Him would be idolatrous.
Jesus Christ is called "the mighty God" in Isaiah 9:6.
JW's have a ready answer for this verse. They explain that Christ is "the mighty god" but not "the almighty." They say that Christ is the mighty, never the almighty and that Jehovah is the almighty God, never the mighty. However, Jeremiah 32:18 shows that Jehovah is the mighty One. Therefore, since Christ is the mighty God (Isaiah 9:6) and Jehovah is the mighty God (Jer. 32:18), they are both God. They both possess full deity.
Christ is God, the Creator of all things according to Colossians 1:15-17.
JW's refer to this passage to support their teaching that Christ was created by Jehovah (for example, Let God Be True, p.35). This is based primarily on the words, "the firstborn of all creation," in verse 15. However, if this verse was teaching that Jesus Christ is the first created being made by God, the word "first-created" would have been used of Christ, not the word "firstborn." These are two different words in the Greek, with two different meanings. "First-created" is protoktistos, and "firstborn" is prototokos. Colossians 1:15 does not use the protoktistos, "first-created." Instead it uses prototokos, which means an heir, a begotten one, the first in rank. The teaching of Colossians 1:15 is that Christ is first in rank above all creation; He is the Heir of all things. He is prior to all creation and superior over it.
The JW's New World Translation adds the word "other" four times in Colossians 1:15-17, which changes the entire meaning of the passage to read that Christ created "all other things," except Himself. However, there is no basis for adding "other." It certainly does not occur in Greek manuscripts. The Watchtower translators of the New World Translation admit it is not in the original Greek by putting "other" in brackets. This "translation" attempts to comply with their teaching that firstborn means first-created. But, as shown, this is not the meaning of firstborn, and therefore it is also wrong to add the word "other." There is no verse in the entire Bible that states that Christ was created by Jehovah!
Christ claimed to be equal with God in John 10:30.
JW's believe that this verse, "I and the Father are one," means that Christ was one with God the Father in purpose and not in nature and essence. However, if that was all Christ was saying, why did the Jews want to stone Him? They themselves thought His purpose was the same as God's. Verse 33 of John 10 explains that they wanted to stone Him because of blasphemy, because He claimed to be God!
The deity of Christ is the central point of the Scriptures. It clearly teaches that Christ is God. (not "a god") The teachings of the Jehovah's Witnesses concerning Jesus Christ clearly contradict the teachings of Holy Scripture. Passages such as Philippians 2:5-11 tell us that Jesus Christ, who existed as God, took the bodily form of a humble servant in order to die in our place. "Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (kurios), to the glory of God the Father."
What is the motivation of Jehovah's Witness leaders who deny the deity of Christ and the simple message of salvation through Him? Jesus warned about false teachers and false prophets arising to deceive people. He called them "wolves in sheeps covering." They will look like the real thing, however by "their fruits" or their teachings, you will know them. The Bible says, "But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep." (2 Peter 2:1-3) The apostle Paul also warns of judgement on those who teach false doctrine, "But even though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed." (Gal. 1: 8,9)