Saturday, May 16, 2009

Answering Jehovah's Witnesses

I wrote this as a tract for a person at my church who had an encounter with Jehovah's Witnesses recently. Now, I was informed that Jehovah's Witnesses generally don't accept non-Watchtower material such as book and tracts, so it is unlikely that any of them will accept a copy of this tract. However, I think this may be useful anyway in furnishing a response against them.

The Biblical Picture
Answering the claims of Jehovah’s Witnesses

There are a lot of religious groups that claim to understand the Bible a lot better than others. As a Jehovah’s Witness, you have probably been taught a lot of things regarding the Bible, about God, who He is, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, etc. What I want to know is, are you really sure that what you’ve been taught is correct? Let us take a look at what the bible teaches, and examine the beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses in light of God’s word.


This is where you got the name “Jehovah’s Witnesses”. You have been taught that Jehovah is the personal name of God, based on the Hebrew Tetragrammaton, YHVH, and this is the name that appears in the New World Translation of the Bible, as well as a select few other translations. However, the fact is that “Jehovah” first entered into usage sometime during the Middle Ages. Also since the Jews omitted vowels from God’s name, we don’t really know for certain whether “Jehovah” is the correct spelling of the name. Even the Watchtower admits to this. So, it does not make that much sense to attach so much importance to the name “Jehovah”.

Granted, translating YHVH as Jehovah may be acceptable in the Old Testament, but it is completely inexcusable to insert it in the New Testament. But this is exactly what is done in the New World Translation, where the name “Jehovah” is inserted instead of “Lord” in various passages. Now, if you ever spent time to study the original Greek text of the New Testament, you would discover that the original Greek word that is used there is “Kurios”, which means Lord. This is how every translation renders it. The New World Translation changes this by translating the word as “Jehovah”. To show just one example of this, here is Acts 1:24 where the text differs between the NWT and another translation:

And they prayed and said: “You, O Jehovah [Kurie], who know the hearts of all, designate which one of these two men you have chosen. (NWT)

And they prayed and said, “You,
Lord [Kurie], who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen. (NASB)

Not only is this change completely unjustified, it is also terribly inconsistent, as the word Kurios is translated in the NWT as Jehovah in some places, but Lord in others. Here are just two examples from the text of the New World Translation:

…and when they entered they did not find the body of the Lord [Kuriou] Jesus. (Luke 24:3, NWT)

It is therefore necessary that of the men that assembled with us during all the time in which the
Lord [Kurios] Jesus went in and out among us. (Acts 1:21, NWT)

Why the inconsistency? It is obvious why: If you are to be consistent in translating Kurios as Jehovah, you would have to translate the above passages as “Jehovah Jesus”, thus implying that Jesus is God. This is what we will examine next.

Jesus Christ

As a Jehovah’s Witness, you have been taught that Jesus is the first creature to be created by God, that he is one of his special “spirit creatures”, and that he is not God. But does the Bible
really teach this? Look at the scriptures more closely, and you will see that this idea cannot account for what the text says regarding who Christ is.

One passage that you were probably taught to memorize is John 14:28, where Jesus says:

YOU heard that I said to YOU, I am going away and I am coming [back] to YOU. If YOU loved me, YOU would rejoice that I am going my way to the Father, because the Father is greater than I am. (NWT)

You were most likely taught that this passage teaches that Jesus is different from God, based on the latter clause of that verse, yet this ignores the full meaning of the passage. Why does Jesus refer to the Father as being greater than He is? It is because He is rebuking the disciples for being selfish. He told them that He would be returning to the Father, and if they truly loved Him (rather than acting selfishly), this would case them to rejoice. This is the key to understanding what “greater” means. It does not mean the Father is by nature “better”, but is positionally greater than the Son, being in Heaven while the Son remained on earth in bodily form.

Now, take a look at the flip side to the passage: Jesus was going to return the right hand of the Father. This position of glorification is one that is only fit for deity. No mere creature, no matter how great and exalted he may be, is fit to be in such a position. Taking this into account, we see that John 14:28 actually
implies Christ’s deity.

Another passage that you may have been taught that supposedly denies the divinity of Christ would be John 17:3, where it says:
This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ. (NWT)

The Watchtower teaches that Jesus is making a clear distinction between Himself and His heavenly father here. However, this too is inaccurate. Three things need to be pointed out here. First, the purpose of Jesus saying “the only true God” is to affirm monotheism. Second, just because the Father and the Son have difference in role/function, doesn’t mean there one or the other is inferior by nature. And finally, you must read that passage in its entire context. Why? See the verses that follow it:
I have glorified you on the earth, having finished the work you have given me to do. So now you, Father, glorify me alongside yourself with the glory that I had alongside you before the world was. (John 17:4-5, NWT)

Here we see that Jesus Christ shares in the glory of the Father, even before the World came into existence. Now, how can a mere creature ever share the glory of God? Jesus would have to be God Himself in order for that to be possible.

These two passages aside, there are many places where Jesus is addressed as God. The New World Translation obscures some of these, but the translation keeps at least one of these intact:
In answer Thomas said to him: “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him: “Because you have seen me have you believed? Happy are those who do not see and yet believe.” (John 20:28-29, NWT)

You might argue that Thomas is merely using a figure of speech, but one thing should be noted here is that the Greek word for “said to him” is “auto”, which indicates that Thomas is directly addressing Jesus as “my Lord and my God”. Also, due to fact that they were in a Jewish culture, to use a figure of speech like that would have been considered highly blasphemous. Thus, the only possible conclusion that we can get from here is that Thomas regarded Jesus as Lord.

Also, take note of the following two passages:

Simon Peter, a slave and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have obtained a faith, held in equal privilege with ours, by the righteousness of our God and [the] Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:1, NWT)
…while we wait for the happy hope and glorious manifestation of the great God and of [the] Savior of us, Christ Jesus… (Titus 2:13, NWT)

Note the brackets on the word “the” in these two passages. The article is not present in the original Greek text, and is inserted there by the NWT translators. This insertion is made in order to circumvent a grammatical rule formulated by biblical scholar Granville Sharp, which states that when the Greek word “kai” (meaning “and”) is used to connect two nouns, and the article “ho” (meaning “the”) is used for only one of them, it indicates that the two nouns refer to the same object/person. So here, we see that the original Greek text testifies to Jesus being God, and that the NWT inserts an article there in an attempt to cover up this fact. Now, let us see how the passage reads in a different translation:

Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:1, NASB)
...looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus... (Titus 2:13, NASB)

Finally, there are various passages in the NWT where it says people “give obeisance” to Jesus (Matthew 2:8-11,28:9, Luke 24:52, John 9:38). The Greek word translated into obeisance here is proskuneo. Interestingly, the word proskuneo is translated as obeisance when in reference to Jesus, but is translated as worship when in reference to the Father (Matthew 4:10, Luke 4:8, John 4:20-24). Why the inconsistent translation? The answer is this: The Watchtower is committed a priori to denying Christ’s deity, even to the point of deliberately using two different English words for the same Greek word.

So here we can see that the Bible does indeed testify that Jesus is God. To say otherwise would be to mutilate the text, and only by accepting Christ’s deity can we do justice to the words of scripture.

The Holy Spirit

As a Jehovah’s Witness, you have been taught that the Holy Spirit is not a person, but a mere active force. This can again be seen in the NWT where the article “the” is omitted from “the Holy Spirit”, even when the Greek texts contain them. Here are some examples:

…she was found to be pregnant by holy spirit... (Matthew 1:18, NWT)

That one will baptize YOU people with holy spirit and with fire. (Matthew 3:11, NWT)

… he will be filled with holy spirit right from his mother’s womb… (Luke 1:15, NWT)

The NWT also has an altered rendering of Genesis 1:2:

Now the earth proved to be formless and waste and there was darkness upon the surface of [the] watery deep; and God’s active force was moving to and fro over the surface of the waters. (Genesis 1:2, NWT)

The intention of the Watchtower is clear: They have removed the article and edited the text of Genesis 1:2 so that they can deny the personhood of the Holy Spirit. You may also believe that the Holy Spirit is an active force, but I would like you to answer the following questions for yourself:

Would Jesus make it an unforgivable sin to blaspheme against a mere active force? (Mark 3:29, Luke 12:10)

Can a mere active force be considered a helper? (John 15:26, 16:13-14)

Can a mere active force speak? (Acts 8:29, 21:11 Galatians 4:6)

Can a mere active force act as an intercessor? (Romans 8:26-27)

Can a mere active force be insulted? (Hebrews 10:29)

Can a mere active force be grieved? (Ephesians 4:30)

As you can see, the Bible does not treat the Holy Spirit as a mere force or object, but as a person, who is capable of speaking, acting, being insulted and grieved.

607 B.C. and 1914 A.D.

As a Jehovah’s Witness, you were taught that “the appointed time of the nations”, which lasted for 2,520 years, ran out, and Jesus became King of God’s kingdom (which just makes one wonder how Jesus Christ can be the King of God’s Kingdom without admitting that He is God). According to the Watchtower Society, “if we measure back that many years from 1914, we come to the ancient date of 607 B.C.”, which, according to them, was “marked for the overthrow of the earthly ‘throne of Jehovah’ and for the destruction of the throne city of Jerusalem and its sanctuary and for the total desolation of the land of the kingdom of Judah."

The main problem with this is that the date that the Watchtower has given in its magazine articles and books is wrong. If you are to check any reliable article, book, encyclopedia or website on biblical archaeology and ancient history, you will discover that the correct date of the destruction of Jerusalem is actually 586 B.C,
not 607 B.C.

We see here that the Watchtower has propagated a glaring historical error, and if they got the date of the destruction of Jerusalem wrong, one can only conclude that they got the date of Jesus’ enthronement wrong as well. This is significant, as the Bible warns of false prophets. In Deuteronomy, it states:

You may say in your heart, 'How will we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?' When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him. (Deuteronomy 18:21-22, NASB)

The Implications

All of these things go to show that what you have been taught as a Jehovah’s Witness does not come from the Bible, but in fact contradicts scripture and cannot be reconciled with it without mangling the text and meaning of the scriptures. I would urge you to seriously re-think your position on these matters, as to remain in error would have serious consequences. Kindly go through the words of Jesus, and understand who He really is, what He came for and what message He is trying to relay to us, for it is of vital importance to the salvation of your very soul:

“Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins." (John 8:24, NASB)

Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." (John 14:6, NASB)

If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9, NASB)

  • New American Standard Bible (1995 Update). Lockman Foundation. 1995.
  • New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (1984 Edition). Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1984.
  • Sharp, Granville. Remarks on the Uses of the Definitive Article in the Greek Text of the New Testament. 1798.
  • What Does the Bible Really Teach? Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. 2005.
  • White, James Robert. The Forgotten Trinity. Bethany House Publishers, 1998.
  • Your Will. Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. 1958.

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