Welcome to another Berean Perspective Audio Podcast. Today’s focus is on how to Witness to the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and addressing what the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society has taught concerning Jesus and the doctrine of the Trinity. The Jehovah’s Witnesses are one of the most dedicated groups when it comes to reading the Bible, sharing what they believe with other people, and doing what they believe to be right according to what they have been taught. Many Christians have not been equipped in the faith, particularly on the Trinity Doctrine, and because of that many Christians do not know how to witness to the Jehovah’s Witnesses. My hope for you today is that you grow in the Christian faith, that you become a more effective witness to those involved with non Christian Cults, and you are better equipped in witnessing to the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
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Quote – “It has often been said that every theological heresy begins with a misconception of the nature of God. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that we have a clear and accurate understanding of the nature of God and the identity of Jesus Christ” (quote from Christy Darlington, Yes, You Should Believe In The Trinity book which is also online/ Witnesses for Jesus, Inc)
Quote –“You need to understand that the Jesus of the cults is not the Jesus of the Bible. They have another Jesus, a counterfeit, a false Christ who can save no one. And the greatest question still before us is “what think ye of Jesus Christ? Who is He?”” (quote from an article called Jesus and the Cults, Ed Decker, Saints Alive In Jesus)
- Trinity Doctrine and Jehovah’s Witnesses (Watchtower Bible and Tract Society)
The Jehovah’s Witnesses have been taught to believe that the Trinity Doctrine is three Gods in one, that the Bible does not teach the Trinity Doctrine, and that is it confusing, false, and originated from Satan the devil. (Watchtower Bible and Tract Society)
Some Official Quotes
Quote from Charles Taze Russell: “How strange that any should attempt to misuse and pervert these our Lord’s words, to make them support the unreasonable and unscriptural doctrine of a Trinity, – three Gods in one person.” (Charles Taze Russell, Atonement Between God and Man/ Studies In The Scriptures Vol. 5, page 76, 1912)
Quote from J. F. Rutherford: “That there are three gods in one; God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, all there equal in power, substance and eternity. If you ask a clergyman what is meant by the trinity he says: “That is a mystery.” He does not know, and no one else knows, because it is false. Never was there a more deceptive doctrine advanced than that of the trinity. It could have originated only in one mind, and that the mind of Satan the Devil.” (J. F. Rutherford, Reconciliation, page 101, 1928)
Quote from the Watchtower: “The central doctrine of religions of Christendom. According to the Athanasian Creed, there are three divine Persons (the Father, the Son, the Holy Ghost), each said to be eternal, each said to be almighty, none greater or less than another, each said to be God, and yet together being but one God. Other statements of the dogma emphasize that these three “Persons” are not separate and distinct individuals but are three modes in which the divine essence exists. Thus some Trinitarians emphasize their belief that Jesus Christ is God, or that Jesus and the Holy Ghost are Jehovah. Not a Bible teaching” (Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, Reasoning From The Scriptures, 1989, page 405, The Trinity)
- When Witnessing to Jehovah’s Witnesses it is important to focus on the identity of Jesus
1. Jesus is the first to be created according to Jehovah’s Witnesses teachings: “Jesus, in his pre-human existence, was ‘the firstborn of all creation.’ (Colossians 1:15, NJB)” (Should You Believe In The Trinity, page 14, 1989)
The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society teaches that Jesus is the only creation of God directly and that all other things were created through Jesus. The word of contention is the Greek word Prototokos which is translated “firstborn” in Colossians 1:15. The Watchtower has given this word the meaning of first to be created. Also, the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society have added a word that theologically changes the context of Colossians 1:16-17: “because by means of him all [other] things were created in the heavens and upon the earth, the things visible and things invisible, no matter whether they are thrones or lord-ships or governments or authorities. All [other] things have been created through him and for him. Also, he is before all [other] things and by means of him all [other] things were made to exist”. (NWT, New World Translation, Colossians 1:16-17) Why did the Watchtower insert the word “[other]” four times when it is not there in the Greek? What does firstborn mean?
Prototokos in the Scriptures is used in various ways. It is used of those who were born first, those who were given preeminence, those given a higher rank. Consider the following on the word firstborn.
“Then you shall say to Pharaoh, `Thus says the LORD, “Israel is My son, My firstborn.” (Exodus 4:22 NASB)
“With weeping they will come, And by supplication I will lead them; I will make them walk by streams of waters, On a straight path in which they will not stumble; For I am a father to Israel, And Ephraim is My firstborn.” (Jeremiah 31:9 NASB)
In these two passages we see the word firstborn used in a way of preeminence. The LORD calls both Israel and Ephraim His firstborn, thus showing that being called firstborn does not mean first to be born or created.
Scholarly resources on Prototokos and Colossians 1:15:
Prototokos according Strongs Greek Lexicon means: “first in time or place in any succession of things or persons; first in rank influence, honour, chief, principal; first, at the first; firstborn, first-begotten.” (Strongs Greek Lexicon #4413 & 4416)
Spiros Zodhiates states: “In Colossians 1:15 Christ holds the same relation to all creation not that He is included as part of the creation, but the relation of the whole creation to Him is determined by the fact that He is prototokos, the firstborn, pases(3956), of all, ktiseos(2937), creation, so that without Him creation could not be (see v. 16). It is not said of Christ that He was ktistheis, created, and not of the creation that it was techtheisa, born or brought forth.” (Lexical Aids To The New Testament, Dr. Spiros Zodhiates, Prototokos)
W. E. Vines states: “First-begotten, Firstborn <1,,4416,prototokos> “firstborn” (from protos, “first,” and tikto, “to beget”), is used of Christ as born of the Virgin Mary, Luke 2:7; further, in His relationship to the Father, expressing His priority to, and preeminence over, creation, not in the sense of being the “first” to be born. It is used occasionally of superiority of position in the OT; see Exod. 4:22; Deut. 21:16,17, the prohibition being against the evil of assigning the privileged position of the “firstborn” to one born subsequently to the “first” child…(a) Col. 1:15, where His eternal relationship with the Father is in view, and the clause means both that He was the “Firstborn” before all creation and that He Himself produced creation (the genitive case being objective, as ver. 16 makes clear)” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, Prototokos)
These resources provide solid Biblical evidence that Jesus was not the first to be created, but rather the very One who created all things. Colossians 1:15 has to be interpreted within it’s context.
Examining the context of Colossians 1:15-17 it is clear that the Watchtower has added their theological interpretation to the text with their misuse of adding the word “[other]” four times. Not one Greek text has the word “[other]”, thus showing the Watchtower Scripture twisting. Also, there is not one English translation that has the word “[other]” in Colossians 1:16-17. By adding the word “[other]” four times it changes the context of what Colossians 1:15-17 is teaching. See how it reads without the word “[other]” in it:
“15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” (Col. 1:15-17 NASB)
According to the apostle Paul Jesus was the very image of the invisible God manifested in the flesh, through Him all things have been created, and He is before all things. Common sense says if Jesus created all things than He was not a part of creation. Therefore the Watchtower is wrong in how they view Jesus and their misuse of changing what the Scriptures say.
2. Jesus is Michael the Archangel according to Jehovah’s Witnesses teachings: “The foremost angel, both in power and authority is the archangel, Jesus Christ, also called Michael.” (Watchtower, Nov. 1, 1995, p. 8)
The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society teaches that Jesus is also known as Michael the archangel. According to the Watchtower Michael is the “foremost angel” in authority. Do these teachings line up in Scripture? No they do not!
No where in the Bible is there any indication of Jesus being called Michael. No where in any of the Gospel accounts does Jesus ever speak of Him being a chief angel. None of the apostles teach that Jesus is Michael. Jesus repeatedly identified Himself as the Son of Man, the Son of God, the Lord of the Sabbath, Messiah, I am He, etc., thus showing the Watchtower has added their own theological spin upon what the Scriptures teach concerning Jesus.
As to Michael being the “foremost prince” we read the following: “But the prince of the kingdom of Persia was withstanding me for twenty-one days; then behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left there with the kings of Persia.” (Daniel 10:13 NASB) The Watchtower said Jesus is the “foremost angel”, meaning He is the highest in rank among the angels. However, Michael is not‘the’ chief prince but is “one of the chief princes.” Michael is “one of”, meaning there are other angels who are chief princes (angels) along with Michael. This shows Biblically that Jesus is not Michael because Jesus is above all the angels, including Michael.
Jehovah’s Witnesses have been taught that Jesus is Michael the archangel in 1 Thessalonians 4:16. Here is what Paul wrote: “For theLord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.” Jehovah’s Witnesses have been deceived into believing that “the voice of the archangel” is Jesus. Simply reading this in context it is clear that is not the case. Notice the word with used three times. If Jesus is the archangel in this passage then Jesus is also a trumpet and God! However, there are three things happening here at the same time. Jesus descends with a shout, along with the voice of the archangel, and the trumpet of God. This is all Paul is stating. The Watchtower has added their theological views into this text and it has no warrant.
3. Jesus is a created god according to the Jehovah’s Witnesses teachings – “In [the] beginning was Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.” (NWT, New World Translation, John 1:1)
The Watchtower not only teaches that Jesus was the first to be created but that Jesus was created a god. This theological position comes from the way they have interpreted John 1:1. In the New World Translation it reads this way: “In [the] beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.” The contention is on the letter “a” and if it should be there. In the Greek text there is no “a” but the Watchtower has added this letter to fit their theological position. There are various ways this can be refuted.
First, to say Jesus is a created god you have to be able to prove God was wrong in Isaiah 43:10. In Isaiah 43:10 God says: “”You are My witnesses,” declares the LORD, “And My servant whom I have chosen, So that you may know and believe Me And understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, And there will be none after Me.” This one passage of Scripture proves that Jesus could not be a created god. Jehovah’s Witnesses acknowledge Jesus being a God but reject Him being Jehovah God. However, God states two things that dismantle Watchtower theology. The Hebrew word for “formed” is Yastar which means to be made, to be created, to be formed, to be fashioned. (Strongs Hebrew Lexicon, Yastar) This means that there were no created or formed Gods/gods before the LORD and that there would be no created or formed Gods/gods after Him. Therefore Jesus is not a created god as the Watchtower teaches and their rendering of John 1:1 would be incorrect theologically making the apostle John a polytheist.
The apostle John knowing the Hebrew Scriptures knows there is only one eternal God and that all other so called gods are either false or not genuine. Therefore for John to be implying that Jesus was a god in John 1:1 he would be going against what the Old Testament Scriptures taught, thus making John a false teacher and polytheist. But John was not a polytheist and he did not imply Jesus being a created God. John in various places shows the eternal Deity of Jesus, thus proving John 1:1 is to be translated “and the Word was God.”
Remember in Isaiah 43:10 the LORD identifies Himself as the “I am He”. This is extremely important to see what John wrote in regards to the identity of Jesus. For example:
“I am He who testifies about Myself, and the Father who sent Me testifies about Me.” (John 8:18 NASB)
“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)
“”Surely You are not greater than our father Abraham, who died? The prophets died too; whom do You make Yourself out to be?” Jesus answered, “If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing; it is My Father who glorifies Me, of whom you say, `He is our God’; and you have not come to know Him, but I know Him; and if I say that I do not know Him, I will be a liar like you, but I do know Him and keep His word. “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” So the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.” Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple.” (John 8:53-59 NASB)
“So Jesus, knowing all the things that were coming upon Him, went forth and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” They answered Him, “Jesus the Nazarene.” He said to them, “I am He.” And Judas also, who was betraying Him, was standing with them. So when He said to them, “I am He,” they drew back and fell to the ground.” (John 18:4-6 NASB)
Within these Scriptures it is clear that Jesus was claiming something about Himself in a Divine way. Jesus states He is “I am He” in John 8:18, that people will dies in their sins unless they believe He is the “I am He” in John 8:24, that He is the Eternal One (I am) in John 8:58, and in John 18 He is “I am He”. This shows John knew the eternal identification of Jesus being God manifested in the flesh, not a created god as the Watchtower teaches. Also, compare Isaiah 41:4 with Jesus’ “I am He’s” and see that there is no doubt Jesus was God in the flesh.
“Who has performed and accomplished it, Calling forth the generations from the beginning? `I, the LORD, am the first, and with the last. I am He.’” (Isaiah 41:4 NASB)
- Additional Bible References in reference to the Doctrine of the Trinity
Trinity Doctrine Evidence/Proof – Some Old Testament Scriptures
Genesis 1:26-27, Genesis 19:24, Amos 4:10-11, Psalms 2, Psalms 110, Isaiah 48:12-16
The Trinity Doctrine Evidence/Proof – Some New Testament Scriptures
John 1:1-3, John 1:14-18, John 5:17-23, John 8:53-59, John 14:16-17, John 16:7-15, Acts 5:3-4, Acts 13:2, Hebrews 10:15-17
Matthew 3:16-17, Matthew 28:19-20, 2 Corinthians 13:14
- Conclusion – How to Witness to Jehovah’s Witnesses
This has been an overview of some of the main un-biblical and false teachings that Jehovah’s Witnesses have been taught from the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society over the years concerning the Deity of Jesus Christ and the Trinity Doctrine. When witnessing to the Jehovah’s Witnesses remember that they are in need of grace, love, respect, patience, and prayer. Remember that they see things very different according to what the Bible teaches. Be familiar with what the Scriptures teach and what the Jehovah’s Witnesses have been taught, and in that you will be more effective in your interactions with them.
Showing Jehovah’s Witnesses that the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society has mislead them is not easy and will be offensive to them. Remember it is important to share the Word of God gracefully, accurately, confidently, and patiently. The Bible teaches the Deity of Jesus Christ, that Jesus is God, that the Trinity Doctrine is true, and if you are a Jehovah’s Witness and willing to examine this more please let me know. If you have any questions or comments you are encouraged to post it or send us an email.
2 Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving; 3 praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned; 4 that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak. 5 Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. 6 Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person. (Colossians 4:2-6 NASB)