Jehovah’s Witnesses and Jesus
Demonstrating the Divinity of Jesus from the Bible
Many years ago in downtown Pittsburgh, two Jehovah’s Witnesses (JWs) confronted me on a street corner. Without wasting time with pleasantries, they immediately set themselves to the task of demonstrating that Jesus was NOT God. (Christians believe He is). The JWs slung many Bible verses at me in rapid succession. Each attempt to make a defense (in some sort of pathetic way) was a failure. They possessed many Scripture verses in their arsenal.
I stood there shaken in my faith a bit and not knowing what to say. Clearly, I was not competent in explaining my faith either from the Bible or from Christian history. However, instead of believing the JWs and joining their religion rashly as many do, I went in search of my faith. I looked up the questions. I sought the answers. Now after 15 years, I teach the Catholic faith for a living. Since that time, I have learned the many Scriptures which teach the Divinity of Jesus Christ and how the JWs twist the others. I have also discovered that the JWs beliefs are novel, since they didn’t come about until the end of the 1800s. Here are some of the verses I have discovered that back up the Christian position.
The Divinity of Jesus from the Bible:
The Old Testament states that God alone created everything (Is. 45:12; Is. 44:24; Is. 42:5), and yet the New Testament states that Jesus created everything (Jn. 1:1; Col 1:16-17). Is this a contradiction? Was it God or Jesus? Was God really alone, or not?
The Old Testament says that there are none who are in God’s exact image (Is. 42:8; Is. 46:9),
but the New Testament says Jesus is the exact likeness and representation of God and bears his very imprint/image (Heb. 1:2-3). Contradiction?
The Old Testament teaches us that God is the only God, and that He is the only Lord. There is no other than He (Is. 45:5; Is. 43:10), and yet the New Testament teaches us that Jesus is God (as will be demonstrated). If there is only one God, then how can Jesus be “a” god as JWs claim (Jn. 1:1; Jn. 20:28)? Also, the word Lord used for Jesus in the New Testament is the same word used for God in the Old Testament. In fact, Scripture states that Jesus is the King of kings and the Lord of Lords (Rev. 19:16).
Revelation 1:8 states that God is the Alpha and Omega (the First and the Last), but Rev. 22:12 applies these titles to Jesus who is said to be the Alpha and Omega. (Rev. 1:18 also affirms this).
Do the above biblical passages completely contradict each other? Yes, absolutely, if you hold to the JW worldview that Jesus is merely a created man. However, if Jesus is God, there is no contradiction. Rather, these passage harmonize and make complete sense.
Jn. 1:1 – “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”
Commentary: This passage shows that Jesus – the Word – is God. The Bible could not be more clear. In fact, JWs have had to change the wording of this passage in their own version of Scripture to avoid the ramifications. Their version states that “The Word was a God,” which doesn’t make much sense. In fact, they have changed many verses that speak of Jesus’ divinity throughout Scripture.
Jn. 5:17-18 – “But Jesus answered them, ‘My Father is at work until now, and I am at work.’ For this reason the Jews tried all the more to kill him, because he not only broke the Sabbath but he also called God his own father, making himself equal to God.”
Commentary: All Jews believed that God was their Father, but what was so radically different about the Sonship of Jesus that the Jews sought to kill Him on the charges of blasphemy? Jesus was claiming to be the very son of God, divine, and equal to God, as the Jews believed the Messiah would be. This statement of Jesus is either true or not. If it’s true, then Jesus is God. If it’s not true, then Jesus would have been the biggest liar and deceiver on earth (See my other post on this here). The Jewish leaders in this verse knew exactly what He was claiming and did not believe Him, much the same way JWs don’t believe Him still today. Thus, the corrupt Jewish leaders tried to stone Him for claiming to be God. In the end, this “blasphemy” is what He was crucified for.
Jn. 8:57-59 – “Abraham your father rejoiced to see my day; he saw it and was glad. So the Jews said to him, ‘You are not yet fifty years old and you have seen Abraham?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I AM.’ So they picked up stones to throw at him; but Jesus hid and went out of the temple area.”
Commentary: Here again, the Jews attempt to stone Jesus for blasphemy, for putting Himself on the same level as Almighty God. In this passage, Jesus took the most holy and sacred name of God used in the Old Testament (Ex. 3:14). God told Moses that His name was I AM (Yahweh), and that this was His name forever. Now, Jesus is applying that name to Himself, an abomination, punishable by death if untrue. The Jewish leaders recognized this claim Jesus was making, as do Christians today. The difference is that Christians believe Jesus to be speaking the truth.
Jn. 10:24-31 – “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.’ The Jews again picked up rocks to stone him.”
Commentary: Wow, Jesus really needs to stop this. Again, Jesus claims to be the Son of God, who is divine, and one with God. The Son of a giraffe is a giraffe; the son of a human is human; and the son of divinity is divine. Thus, Jesus is divine and was claiming to be.
Jn. 20:26-28 – “Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.’ Thomas answered and said to him, ‘My Lord and my God!’
Commentary: Thomas calls Jesus God! If Jesus was not God, then He would be accepting false worship and would have been deceiving Thomas and the Apostles. However, since Jesus was God, the worship was entirely acceptable and appropriate, which is why He did not refuse it. We see people worshiping Jesus in other places in Scripture, as well; for example, Jn. 9:38; Mt. 28:9; Lk. 24:52. JWs attempt to get around this verse by claiming that Thomas was just using this sentence as an expression, that he wasn’t applying it to Jesus. But, the Greek makes it crystal clear. The Greek words that Thomas used in speaking to Jesus were, Ho Theos, which literally mean, the Lord of me, and “the God of me.”
There are so many more verses that space will not allow for, but here are a few more that you can look up:
1 Cor. 1:24 says that Jesus is the Wisdom and Power of God. If Jesus was created as JWs assert, then there would have been a time when God was without power and wisdom, and that is not possible.
Pope Dionysius, in the year 262 A.D. sums it up clearly and bluntly: “It is blasphemy then, and not a common one, but the worst, to say that the Lord is in any way a handiwork [a creation], for if He came to be the Son, then He once was not, but if as He Himself says, he be in the Father, and if which you know the divine scriptures say, Christ be the Word and Wisdom and Power, and these be powers of God, then He always existed. But if the Son came into being, then there was a time when these did not exist. Then, consequently, there was a time when God was without them which is utterly absurd.”
Col. 1:15 & Col. 2:9 says that Jesus has all the fullness of divinity dwelling in Him, that He created all things, and that He is the exact image and representation of the Father.
Heb. 1:8 says that Jesus is God. JWs often point out the fact that Jesus calls the Father His God (e.g. “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me. Ps. 22), but here we have the opposite. Here God the Father calls Jesus the Son, God. This is because they are both God. That is why Jesus could say as in Jn. 10, that “The Father and I are one!”
Some other verses:
– 1 Tim. 3:15-16
– Gen. 1:1-2 (The Trinity. The words we and us are used when God is talking)
– Mt. 28:19 (Name of God, singular, though talking about the Trinity)
– Isaiah 9:6 (Jesus is called the mighty God and Everlasting Father.)
– Isaiah 7:14 (He is called Emmanuel, which means God with us)
And there are many more.
Who is Right?
Christians, Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses all interpret the Bible differently. So, who is correct? The truth is that anyone can interpret the Bible any way they feel like. However, in order to understand the proper meaning of Scripture, one needs to understand the tradition of the Church. In other words, what did the earliest Christians believe, those who knew Jesus, those who knew the Apostles, and those who knew their successor? What did Christians believe down through the centuries and hand on to us?
The answer is that, Jesus was divine. Hands down! That’s what the earliest Christians believed. Read their writings! (I have given a few at the bottom of this blog for those interested). In fact, when one person postulated that Jesus could have been created in the 300s, the whole Church appealed to the tradition of what had been handed down from the Apsotles, namely that Jesus was God. This shows that Mormons and JWs don’t have the constant witness and tradition o the Christians down through the ages, meaning their beliefs are novel… and made up. The early Christians believed what we still do today, that Jesus is God.
Earliest Christians on the Divinity of Jesus
St. Hilary of Poitiers (354 A.D): The Son receives all from the Father, from Him who has all, God from God, Spirit from Spirit, light from light. For as the Father is spirit, so also is the Son spirit. And as the Father is God, so also the Son is God. … The Judgment of human intelligence excludes the possibility that anything could be born with a nature different from that of its origin.
Pope Damasus I (382 A.D.): It is not the name of gods however, but of God, which, in respect to the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, and in the view of their one and equal divinity, is revealed and declared to us so that we might believe. For we are baptized only in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and not in the names of archangels, or angels, as the heretics, or the Jews, or even the demented pagans. This is then the salvation of the Christians, that believing in the Trinity, that there is one only true Godhead and power in majesty and substance.
Aphraates (336 A.D.) But, still it is for us a certainty that our Lord Jesus is God, the Son of God, and the King, the Son of the King, Light from light; creator, and counselor, and guide, and the way, and the savior, and the shepherd, and the gatherer, and the gate, and the pearl, and the Lamp,. He is called by many names. But we shall leave aside all of them and prove that He who came from God is God and the Son of God.
The Nicaean Creed (325 A.D.): But those who say, ‘There was a time when he [the Son] did not exist,’ and ‘Before he was born, he did not exist,’ and ‘Because he was made from non-existing matter, he is either of another substance or essence,’ and those who call ‘God the Son of God changeable and mutable,’ these the Catholic Church anathematizes” (From creed appendix)
Lactanatius (304-310 A.D.): [The Word] was made both Son of God in the Spirit and Son of man in the flesh. That is both God and man. When we speak of God the Father and of God the Son we do not speak of them as diverse, nor do we separate them from each other, for without the Son the Father cannot be, nor separated from the Father can the Son be. …Both have one mind, one spirit, one substance.
Origen (220-230 A.D.): Therefore, we worship the Father of truth and the Son of truth who exist as two persons, while they are one in unity of mind, in harmony and identity of will. In the final period, He emptied Himself and was made man. Although He was God, He took flesh and having been made flesh, he remained what he was, God.
Tertullian (197 A.D.): We have already said that God fashioned the whole universe by His word, His reason, His power. … We hold that this which was begotten by God and which was begotten in that utterance, because of the unity of substance is called God and Son of God, for God too is Spirit. Even when a ray is shot forth from the sun, not separated from its substance, … but extended as light enkindled from light. … So, also, that which proceeds from God is God and the Son of God. Both are one. Likewise, He is Spirit from Spirit, and God from
Melito of Sardes (171): The activities of Christ after His Baptism and especially His miracles, gave indication and assurance to the world of His Deity hidden in the flesh. Being God and likewise perfect man, He gave positive indications of His two natures: of His Deity, by the miracles during the three years following after His Baptism; of His humanity, in the thirty years which came before His Baptism, during which, by reason of His condition according to the flesh, He concealed the signs of His Deity, although He was the True God existing before all
Pope Clement of Rome (150 A.D.): Brothers, we must think of Christ as God and as the judge of the living and the dead.
Ignatius of Antioch (107 A.D.): For our God, Jesus Christ, was conceived by Mary in accord with God’s plan. … I give glory to Jesus Christ the God who has made you wise.
(107 A.D.): To the Church beloved and enlightened after the love of Jesus Christ our God, worthy of honor, worthy of blessing, worthy of praise, worthy of success, worthy of sanctification.