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Witnessing to JW's - Jesus is Jehovah


The one statement a Jehovah’s Witness will never make – Jesus is Jehovah!

If you have spent any amount of time with the average JW, you will have noticed they are quite nice people. Not every conversation with a JW is a confrontation and you may have even found some common ground in your theological discussions.

But there is one statement a JW cannot make; that Jesus is Jehovah. Here’s why.

Put simply, if a JW admitted Jesus was Jehovah, they would no longer be a JW (not a proper one anyway). It is a core doctrinal belief that Jesus was Jehovah’s first creation and therefore a step below him in both nature and authority.

Just so you understand this clearly, it means Jesus is, in their view, a created angel. Here’s how the Watchtower Society argues its position:

If Jesus of the ‘New Testament’ is Jehovah of the ‘Old Testament’ as many claim, should there not at least be one Biblical reference saying that Jesus is Jehovah? Yet there is not one.1

It is not hard to look correct when this is the test. As one author puts it;

Of course, the name Jesus with reference to Christ never appears in the Old Testament, and the name Jehovah in most Bibles never appears in the New Testament (and rightly so). So it is clearly impossible for the Bible to say, in just so many words, that Jesus is Jehovah.2

Furthermore, it is possible to turn this logic back on JW’s themselves, as Bowman explains:

On the other hand, the Bible also never says in just so many words that the Father is Jehovah. Although it may seem obvious that the Father is Jehovah, heretical sects throughout history have denied it, including Mormonism, which teaches that Elohim and Jehovah are two separate beings and that the Father is Elohim and Jesus the Son is Jehovah.3

For JW’s, everything hangs on this distinction. It defines true worship and, consequently, identifies those who worship a false god.

Jesus in his humanity

In order to prove Jesus is not Jehovah, JW’s are taught to refer to the many examples of Jesus expressing or being seen in his humanity while on earth. The theory is that if Jesus can be seen to be restricted to or limited by his humanity, he could not possibly be Jehovah.

A favourite proof text is John 14:28 where Jesus says, “The Father is greater than I”. Another is 1 Corinthians 11:3 where we read “the head of Christ is God” and 1 Corinthians 15:28 in which Jesus is said to be “subject” to the Father.

In each of these cases, however, it is not the nature of Jesus which is under consideration but his function at that time. In his deity Jesus is fully God, but in his humanity he was humbled by taking on an earthly life with all the limitations such a life brings.

We could say it was the ‘role’ of Jesus to live on earth (all the while being limited to a very human existence), and to free creation from bondage to sin through obedience to the cross.

God the Father did not die on the cross, nor did God the Holy Spirit. It was the unique role of God the Son and while he’s in the process of living this earthly life, he appears humbled and weak. That is the way it was planned from eternity, it is not proof Jesus is not God.

Time to get the Bible out

Whilst Scripture may not have the one verse JW’s claim they are looking for which delivers the knockout blow in this whole discussion, there are plenty of places to go in the Bible to find our answer. Jesus is most definitely Jehovah or much of the Bible doesn’t make sense.

The true identity of Jesus is revealed in the titles given to him in Scripture. JW’s say they would believe Jesus is Jehovah if there was one verse which said so. Well, they may get a shock when they find out exactly what Scripture does say about Jesus.

Jesus is given many titles in the pages of the Bible, but there are at least nine which are only applied to God (yes, Jehovah!). Nine titles of God which Jesus shares.4

The following table illustrates for us how comprehensive this list is5;

 

Jehovah is God (Jer 32:18, Is 43:10, Is45:22)

 

Jesus is God (Is 9:6, John 1:1, John 20:28, 2 Peter 1:1, Titus 2:13, Jer 23:6, Heb 1:8, 1 John 5:20) 

 

Jehovah is God of gods and Lord of lords (Psalm 136:1-3, Deut 10:17)

 

Jesus is King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Rev 17:14, Rev 19:16)

 

Jehovah is creator (Gen 1:1, Is 40:28, Job 33:4)

 

Jesus is creator (John 1:3, Col 1:15-17, Heb 1:10)

 

Jehovah is light (Psalm 27:1, Isaiah 60:20, Micah 7:8)

 

Jesus is light (Luke 2:32, John 1:9, John 8:12)

 

Jehovah is Judge (Gen 18:25, 1 Chron 16:33, Job 21:22, Psalm 7:11, 9:8, 82:8, 50:6,Isaiah 33:22, Ezekiel 20:36, Joel 3:12, 1 Cor 5:13, Heb 10:30, 1 Peter 1:17)

 

Jesus is Judge (John 5:22, 5:27, 8:16, Acts 10:42, 17:31, Romans 2:16, 2 Tim 4:1)

 

Jehovah is saviour (Psalm 106:21, Isaiah 45:21, 43:3 , 43:11, Hosea 13:4)

 

Jesus is saviour (Luke 2:11, Acts 5:31,

 

Jehovah is ‘I AM’ (Exodus 3:14)

 

Jesus is ‘I AM’ (John 8:58, 18:5)

 

Jehovah is the rock (Gen 49:24, Deut 32:4, 1 Sam 2:2, 2 Sam 22:2, 32, 47, Psalm 18:2, Psalm 19:14, Psalm 28:1, Psalm 89:26, Isaiah 17:10)

 

Jesus is the rock (Rom 9:33, 1 Cor 10:4, 1 Peter 2:8)

 

 

Jehovah is the first and last (Isaiah 41:4, 44:6, 48:12)

 

Jesus is the first and last (Rev1:17, 2:8, 22:13)

 

                                 

References:

1.   The Watchtower 96, 6 (March 15 1975) p.174

2.   Bowman, Robert M., Understanding Jehovah’s Witnesses, 1994, Baker Books, p. 119

3.   Ibid.

4.   I am indebted to the late William I. Cetnar for this list. William was a full time staff member at the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society in Brooklyn, New York until he was disfellowshipped in 1962 for openly questioning the Society’s teachings. Questions for Jehovah’s Witnesses “who love the truth 2 Thess 2:10”, self published 1983.

5.   Note that I have used the title ‘Jehovah’ where many Bibles insert ‘LORD’ for the divine name which today we would more likely pronounce ‘Yahweh’. To dialogue with a JW, you should maintain use of the title ‘Jehovah’. Whilst I think the etymology of the word ‘Jehovah’ is suspect, it’s a fruitless argument with a JW. Besides, thanks to the RSV, NASB, The English Bible and others, plenty of Christians have used the name Jehovah down through the years without the slightest doubt as to their salvation.

Terry Allen

 

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