Jesus is God!!!

I had left the JWs about 8 years earlier and was now a professor at a Lutheran liberal arts college in Nebraska.  I had just finished a radio interview on the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Blood Transfusions for a Christian radio program based out of St. Louis.  I was one of two former JWs who were guests on the program.  The other former JW was Wayne Rogers who had just been excommunicated from the JWs for his dissenting views on Blood Transfusions.  After the show, Wayne and I continued to talk.

Wayne asked me if I now believed in the Divinity of Christ as most Christian denominations believe.  I told him that I did and what follows is the reasoning and discoveries that I shared with Wayne and now share with others to show why I became convinced that Jesus is God.

As a JW, I was taught that Almighty God is God the Father whose name is Jehovah and that Jesus is the first being and the only being that was directly created by Jehovah.  I was also taught that Jehovah used Jesus to make all of the rest of creation from the created spirit creatures known as angels to the entire physical universe including humans.  The JWs identify this pre-human Jesus as Michael the Archangel.

I wanted to know if I could come to the JWs’ view of Jesus as Michael the Archangel by using only the JWs’ New World Translation of the Bible or if some other view of the nature of Jesus was possible using this translation of the Bible.  What I discovered shocked me as I will demonstrate.

Is Jesus Michael the Archangel?

The JWs understand angels to be spirit creatures that live in the heavens with Jehovah. I wanted to see if Jesus, the Son of God, is ever equated with these types of created spirit beings.  I was shocked to discover that exactly the opposite is true as in the following:

God, who long ago spoke on many occasions and in many ways to our forefathers by means of the prophets, has at the end of these days spoken to us by means of a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the systems of things.  He is the reflection of [his] glory and the exact representation of his very being, and he sustains all things by the word of his power; and after he had made a purification for our sins he sat down on the right hand of the Majesty in lofty places. So he has become better than the angels, to the extent that he has inherited a name more excellent than theirs. For example, to which one of the angels did he ever say: “You are my son; I, today, I have become your father”? And again: “I myself shall become his father, and he himself will become my son”? But when he again brings his Firstborn into the inhabited earth, he says: “And let all God’s angels do obeisance to him.” Hebrews 1:1-6 New World Translation (Bold is added.)

Notice how their own Bible says that the Son, whom the JWs believe is Jesus, is more excellent than an angel. And, that no angel has been referred to as the Son of God in the manner that Jesus has.  I was particularly troubled by the comment that the Son of God, whom the JWs believe is Jesus, is considered the exact representation of his [God’s] very being and wondered what this could possibly mean.  In any case, it became very clear to me that Jesus is certainly not an angel in the manner that the JWs have described him but he is clearly something else.

So, if Jesus is not an angel, as the JWs describe him, then what is he?

Hebrews 1:3 in the New World Translation states that he, Jesus, the Son of God, is the “exact representation of his [God’s] very being.”    This comment was particularly troubling to me because as JWs we were taught that Jesus represented Jehovah on earth as merely a perfect human and it made no sense to me that a mere creature could possibly represent Almighty God’s being exactly, no matter how perfect a creature they are.  For example, even Adam in his perfect state, I reasoned, could not do the things that only God can do such as create something out of nothing.   In fact, we were constantly taught as JWs how demeaning the belief in the divinity of Jesus was because it ascribed to Jesus, whom the JWs believed to be a mere created being, the attributes and abilities which in the JWs’ mind belonged only to God the Father, whom the JWs call Jehovah.

I was then, even more troubled by what I discovered in the following verses of Hebrews Chapter 1 in the New World Translation:

“But with reference to the Son: “God is your throne forever and ever, and [the] scepter of your kingdom is the scepter of uprightness. You loved righteousness, and you hated lawlessness. That is why God, your God, anointed you with [the] oil of exultation more than your partners.” And: “You at [the] beginning, O Lord, laid the foundations of the earth itself, and the heavens are [the] works of your hands. They themselves will perish, but you yourself are to remain continually; and just like an outer garment they will all grow old, and you will wrap them up just as a cloak, as an outer garment; and they will be changed, but you are the same, and your years will never run out.”-Hebrews 1:8-12 New World Translation (Bold Added)

The bold section above is a quotation by the writer of the letter to the Hebrews from Psalm 102 as cross referenced in the 1984 New World Translation Study Bible.  In this edition of the New World Translation it states the following about the purpose of Psalm 102:

“A prayer of the afflicted in case he grows feeble and pours out his concern before Jehovah himself.”

So, this Psalm is a prayer to Jehovah.  Notice how the Psalmist refers to Jehovah in verses 25 and 26:
“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.” -Psalms 102:25, 26 New World Translation
I was shocked!  Here we see the author of the letter to the Hebrews taking a scripture from the Psalms that is a prayer to Jehovah and applying this to Jesus!  In short, the author of the letter to the Hebrews is equating Jesus with Almighty God.  This is blasphemous unless of course Jesus truly is Almighty God.

Are there other examples of the New Testament Equating Jesus with Almighty God?

Yes, there is.  A particularly troubling example of this is when Jesus entered Jerusalem.  According to the New World Translation the following occurred:

“So the disciples got on their way and did just as Jesus ordered them. And they brought the ass and its colt, and they put upon these their outer garments, and he seated himself upon them. Most of the crowd spread their outer garments on the road, while others began cutting down branches from the trees and spreading them on the road. As for the crowds, those going ahead of him and those following kept crying out: “Save, we pray, the Son of David! Blessed is he that comes in Jehovah’s name! Save him, we pray, in the heights above!”-Matthew 21:6-9

The New World Translation says the people were crying out to Jesus “Save, we pray, the Son of David!”  The phrase “Save, we pray!” is also translated as “Hosanna!” in other versions of the Bible.  It is my understanding that the Jews used this word mainly when addressing Jehovah in prayer.  Now, the Jewish religious leaders were greatly offended by what the crowds were saying to Jesus because they viewed this as blasphemy that is why they said the following to Jesus:

“When the chief priests and the scribes saw the marvelous things he did and the boys that were crying out in the temple and saying: “Save, we pray, the Son of David!” they became indignant and said to him: “Do you hear what these are saying?”-Matthew 21:15, 16 New World Translation

The Jewish religious leaders were obviously upset that the people were addressing Jesus as if he were Jehovah.  They wanted Jesus to put a stop to such blasphemy.  Is that what Jesus did?  Well, here is Jesus’ response:

“Jesus said to them: “Yes. Did YOU never read this, ‘Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings you have furnished praise’?” And leaving them behind he went outside the city to Beth´a·ny and passed the night there.”-Matthew 21:16, 17 New World Translation

Notice how Jesus did not stop the people from referring to him in that way.  In fact his response to the Jewish religious leaders was to quote a scripture from the book of Psalms. Jesus quotes to them from Psalm 8:2 which says the following in the New World Translation:

“O Jehovah our Lord, how majestic your name is in all the earth, You whose dignity is recounted above the heavens! Out of the mouth of children and sucklings you have founded strength, On account of those showing hostility to you, So as to make the enemy and the one taking his vengeance desist. “-Psalms 8:1, 2

So, Jesus’ response was not to silence the crowd but to apply to himself a prayer from the Psalms that the Jewish people prayed to Jehovah!  He was telling the Jewish religious leaders by his actions that he deserved the same honor from the Jewish people as Jehovah.  Again, this is blasphemous unless Jesus is, in fact, almighty God.

And the Word was God

Perhaps no scripture has been debated and discussed more often when it comes to the divinity of Jesus between JWs and mainstream Christians as John 1:1.  Both Christians and JWs recognize that the Word being referred to in this scripture is the Son of God prior to his becoming human.  In the New World Translation this scripture is rendered as follows:

“In [the] beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.”

In contrast, the Catholic Edition of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible renders John 1:1 as follows:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

Understanding John 1:1

Most often JWs’ assume that Christians believe that the third part of John 1:1 where it says “and the Word was God”, means that Christians are saying that God the Father, whom the JWs believe is Jehovah, and the Word (who is Jesus) are the same person.  They believe that by translating the third part of John 1:1 in the New World Translation as “and the Word was a god” more accurately distinguishes the Word as a separate person from God the Father and also shows that the Word is merely godlike and not quite the same in nature as the Father.  This is explained in the JWs’ Kingdom Interlinear Version of the Greek Scriptures as follows:

“The God with whom the Word, or Logos, was originally designated here by the Greek expression ό θεός, that is the•os’ preceded by the definite article ho.  This is an articular the•os’.  The articular construction of the noun points to an identity, a personality, whereas a singular anarthrous predicate noun preceding the verb points to a quality about someone.

Therefore, John’s statement that the Word, or Logos, was “a god” or “divine” or “godlike” does not mean that he was the God with whom he was.  It merely expresses a certain quality about the Word, or Logos, but it does not identify him as one and the same God himself.”-page 1139

In reality, Christians do not believe that the Word and the Father are the same person but Christians do believe that God the Father and the Word have the same divine nature and that this is what St. John is expressing in John 1:1.   Where Christians and Jehovah’s Witnesses differ is in what having the same divine nature as God the Father means.

For JWs, the divine nature of Christ is that of merely being godlike and of having an inferior nature to that of the Father and only some of the qualities of God.  For Christians, the Word having the same nature as that of God the Father means that Jesus has all of the fullness of the divine quality of God the Father and, therefore, Jesus has all of the qualities of God the Father.

Another example of the claim that Jesus’ divine nature is equal to that of the Father’s divine nature is demonstrated in St. John’s Gospel in Chapter 5 where Jesus tells the Jews that he can do whatever the Father does.  This occurs when Jesus heals a man on the Sabbath and while defending himself to the Jewish religious leaders for doing this work of healing on the Sabbath, Jesus keeps claiming to have God as his father.  Notice the following:

The man went away and told the Jews it was Jesus that made him sound in health. So on this account the Jews went persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things during Sabbath. But he answered them: “My Father has kept working until now, and I keep working.” On this account, indeed, the Jews began seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath but he was also calling God his own Father, making himself equal to God.”-John 5: 15-18 New World Translation

Here the Jewish religious leaders knew that Jesus was making the claim that he could do whatever it is that God the Father does.  Does Jesus deny that he is making himself equal to God in the succeeding verses?  Notice the following:

Therefore, in answer, Jesus went on to say to them: “Most truly I say to YOU, The Son cannot do a single thing of his own initiative, but only what he beholds the Father doing. For whatever things that One does, these things the Son also does in like manner.  For the Father has affection for the Son and shows him all the things he himself does, and he will show him works greater than these, in order that YOU may marvel. For just as the Father raises the dead up and makes them alive, so the Son also makes those alive whom he wants to. For the Father judges no one at all, but he has committed all the judging to the Son, in order that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father.”-John 5: 19-26 New World Translation

Notice how in the JWs’ very own New World Translation as quoted above, Jesus is recorded as saying that he does everything in the same manner that the Father does.  He raises the dead, like the Father does.  And, the Father does no judging at all but has given this to the Son so that we may honor the Son just as we honor the Father.  This comment that we should honor Jesus just as we honor God the Father is blasphemous, unless Jesus is Almighty God which is what Christians believe that the Gospel of St. John teaches us.

Furthermore, St. Paul clearly says that Jesus is divine in the following scripture as rendered in the New World Translation:

“Look out: perhaps there may be someone who will carry YOU off as his prey through the philosophy and empty deception according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary things of the world and not according to Christ; because it is in him that all the fullness of the divine quality dwells bodily.”-Colossians 2:8, 9

Note that St. Paul says that Jesus has in him “ALL of the fullness of the divine quality”.  So after reading this scripture, I asked myself the following questions:

If someone has all of the qualities of God could it be said that this person is fully divine? If someone is considered to be fully divine would that not make that person fully God?

I was shocked as I read this scripture in the JWs’ own Bible which clearly states that Jesus has all of the qualities of God and is, therefore, completely Divine and completely God.

Translating John 1:1

There have been many things written about the appropriate way to translate John 1:1 and much of the arguments are based on the grammar rules of Koine Greek.  I am not an expert in Greek and neither am I an expert in the grammar rules of Koine Greek.  If someone wants to explore the grammatical rules of Koine Greek in more detail, I highly recommend the book entitled The Trinity: Evidence and Issues by Dr. Robert Morey.

However, there is an aspect of translating John 1:1 that the Jehovah’s Witnesses use to support their particular view of Jesus as a mere godlike created being.  The JWs say that in John 1:1 when St. John says “and the Word was with God”  the Greek expression used for Almighty God in this verse is “the God” or ‘ho the•os’.  The JWs claim that the Greek expression, ‘ho the•os’, is only used in reference to God the Father, whom they consider to be Jehovah but when the word, ‘the•os’, is used without the modifier, ‘ho’, it merely means that the person is divine or godlike and does not have all of the qualities, attributes, or abilities of God the Father.  Therefore, one would expect that the phrase, ‘ho the•os’, would never be used in reference to Jesus if what the JWs say is true.
They explain this in their Bible encyclopedia entitled Insight on the Scriptures it says the following on page 54:
“Additionally, the word for “god” (Gr., the•os’) in its second occurrence in the verse is significantly without the definite article “the” (Gr., ho). Regarding this fact, Ernst Haenchen, in a commentary on the Gospel of John (chapters 1-6), stated: “[the•os’] and [ho the•os’] (‘god, divine’ and ‘the God’) were not the same thing in this period. . . . In fact, for the . . . Evangelist, only the Father was ‘God’ ([ho the•os’]; cf. ÞJohn Ü17:3); ‘the Son’ was subordinate to him (cf. ÞJohn Ü14:28).”
The problem with this explanation is that in this same article in their Insight on the Scriptures publication, the Jehovah’s Witnesses admit that St. John uses the phrase, ‘ho the•os’, to refer to Jesus when quoting what St. Thomas said in response to seeing the risen Christ. Notice the following:
“On the occasion of Jesus’ appearance to Thomas and the other apostles, which had removed Thomas’ doubts of Jesus’ resurrection, the now-convinced Thomas exclaimed to Jesus: “My Lord and my God! [literally, “The Lord of me and the God (ho The•os’) of me!”].”  (John 20:24-29) Some scholars have viewed this expression as an exclamation of astonishment spoken to Jesus but actually directed to God, his Father.” –  Insight on the Scriptures page 55

I find this attempt to explain away the reference to Jesus as “the God [ho the•os’] of me” by St. Thomas as some 1st Century version of the modern English expression “Oh, my God!” as extremely weak given the very strong Jewish prohibitions on using any references to God in this way as a form of taking God’s name in vain.  Furthermore, this interpretation attempts to ignore the clear context of the comment when it says that St. Thomas was speaking this directly to the Risen Christ and, thus, recognizing the Risen Christ as Lord and Almighty God.

After looking at the evidence above and by using the JWs’ own New World translation of the Bible, I became convinced that a good argument could be made that Jesus is not a created angel and, while a separate person from God the Father, has all of the same qualities of God the Father and, therefore, is completely divine, completely God by nature, and is Almighty God.

The next questions I needed to attempt to answer had to do with the nature of God.  What attributes does God have?  Is God subjected to space and time or does He exist beyond space and time?  What abilities and qualities are attributed to God alone?  And what person or persons in the New Testament are said to have these attributes?  And what should I believe about the Holy Spirit?  Christians believe He is a person with all of the qualities of God and the JWs deny this.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. […] you remember, this discussion on the Trinity started when a former JW, Wayne Rogers, asked me why I accepted the divinity of Christ after leaving the JWs. What I have written over the […]

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  2. […] Christ, Misquotes, The Triune God, Trinity, Watchtower Society. Leave a Comment About the time Wayne Rogers and I had our discussion on how to properly interpret those proof text used by Trinitarians on the […]

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