Category: Who are the Jehovah’s Witnesses

Jesus is not Michael the archangel. The Bible nowhere identifies Jesus as Michael (or any other angel, for that matter). Hebrews 1:5-8 draws a clear distinction between Jesus and the angels, “For to which of the angels did God ever say, ‘You are my Son; today I have become your Father’? Or again, ‘I will be His Father, and He will be my Son’? And again, when God brings His firstborn into the world, He says, ‘Let all God’s angels worship Him.’ In speaking of the angels He says, ‘He makes his angels winds, his servants flames of fire.’ But about the Son He says, ‘Your throne, O God, will last forever and ever, and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom.’” The hierarchy of heavenly beings is made clear in this passage—angels worship Jesus who, as God, is alone worthy of worship. No angel is ever worshipped in Scripture; therefore, Jesus (worthy of worship) cannot be Michael or any other angel (not worthy of worship). The angels are called sons of God (Genesis 6:2-4; Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7), but Jesus is THE Son of God (Hebrews 1:8; Matthew 4:3-6).

Michael the archangel is perhaps the highest of all the angels. Michael is the only angel in the Bible who is designated “the archangel” (Jude verse 9). Michael the archangel, though, is only an angel. He is not God. The clear distinction in the power and authority of Michael and Jesus can be seen in comparing Matthew 4:10 where Jesus rebukes Satan, and Jude verse 9, where Michael the archangel “dared not bring a judgment of blasphemy” against Satan and calls on the Lord to rebuke him. Jesus is God incarnate (John 1:1, 14). Michael the archangel is a powerful angel, but still only an angel.

Perhaps the most important commonality between Evangelical Christians and Jehovah’s Witnesses is our belief and trust in the Bible as the ultimate authority inspired by God, on issues concerning God and His expectations for us. While we may understand things differently, Jehovah’s Witnesses are to be highly commended for their dependence on and diligence in studying the Holy Scriptures to know God and His will. Like the Bereans, we would be wise to examine all things in life, in light of the Scriptures. To that end, we shall examine verses of the New World Translation (the version of the Bible published by their Watchtower Society) to clear up some common misunderstandings.

A Rose by Any Other Name…

Christians get their name from being followers and worshipers of Jesus Christ, first called “Christians” in Antioch during Paul’s ministry (Acts 11:26). Paul repeatedly made it clear that to be a Christian was to be a witness to men concerning the person of Christ, to be a witness to the words and works of Christ. Jehovah’s Witnesses, on the other hand, believe that we are to focus our worship exclusively on God the Father (who is sometimes referred to in the Bible as “Jehovah”). This name, however, was a hybrid name created by Christians by adding vowels to the tetragrammaton “YHWH,” which was the original rendering which we now know as “Yahweh” in the Hebrew and “Jehovah” in the Greek. Evangelical Christians understand Jesus to be God in all His fullness, equal in deity, but different in function from God the Father. Christians acknowledge that one of the names for God the Father is Jehovah; however, there are many other names and titles which the Scriptures use in reference to God the Father.

Jehovah’s Witnesses understand Jesus to be Michael the Archangel, and categorically deny His deity. As we shall see, if we understand Jesus to be anything other than God, many verses present obvious contradictions. However, we know that God’s Word is inerrant and does not contradict itself. Therefore, we must understand the truth of God’s Word in a way that is consistent and faithful to His revelation. You will notice that these same verses lack any contradiction if we understand Jesus to be God the Son—the fullness of God in bodily form—who surrendered His rights to be the suffering servant and sacrifice for our sin. (All verses are quoted directly from the Jehovah’s Witnesses New World Translation.)

God’s Glory

(Verses regarding God the Father)

Isaiah 42:8 “I am Jehovah. That is my name; and to no one else shall I give my own glory, neither my praise to graven images.”

Isaiah 48:11 “…And to no one else shall I give my own glory.”

(Verses regarding Jesus)

John 8:54 “…It is my Father that glorifies me, he who you say is YOUR God”

John 16:14 “That one will glorify me…”

John 17:1 “…Father, the hour has come; glorify your son…”

John 17:5 “So now you, Father, glorify me alongside yourself with the glory that I had alongside you before the world was.”

Philippians 2:10 “so that in the name of Jesus every knee should bend of those in heaven and those on earth and those under the ground”

Hebrews 5:5 “So too the Christ did not glorify himself by becoming a high priest, but [was glorified by him] who spoke with reference to him; ‘You are my son; I, today, I have become your father.”

The Savior

(About the Father)

Isaiah 43:3 “For I am Jehovah your God, the Holy One of Israel your Savior.”

Isaiah 43:11 “I am Jehovah and besides me there is no savior.”

Isaiah 45:21 “Is it not I, Jehovah besides whom there is no other God; a righteous God and a Savior, there being none excepting me?”

(About Jesus)

Luke 2:11 “because there was born to you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord…”

Acts 13:23 “From the offspring of this [man] according to his promise God has brought to Israel a savior, Jesus.”

Titus 1:4 “…May there be underserved kindness and peace from God [the] Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.”

Whose name are we to have faith in?

(said about Jesus or by Jesus)

John 14:12 “Most truly I say to YOU, He that exercises faith in me, that one also will do the works that I do…”

Acts 4:12 “Furthermore, there is no salvation in anyone else, for there is not another name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”

Acts 26:18 “…and inheritance among those sanctified by [their] faith in me.”

Revelation 2:13 “I know where you are dwelling, that is where the throne of Satan is, and yet you keep on holding fast my name, and you did not deny your faith in me…”

John 20:28 “In answer Thomas said to him: My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him: Because you have seen me have you believed?

John 20:31 “ But these have been written down that YOU may believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God, and that, because of believing YOU may have life by means of his name.”

Acts 2:38 “Peter [said] to them: ‘Repent, and let each one of YOU be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ…”

1 John 3:23 “Indeed, this is his commandment, that we have faith in the name of his Son Jesus Christ…”

Created or Creator?

Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that Jehovah created Jesus as an angel, and that Jesus then created all other things. What do the scriptures say?

(About the Father)

Isaiah 66:2 “Now all these things my own hand has made, so that all these came to be.”

Isaiah 44:24 “…I, Jehovah, am doing everything, stretching out the heavens, by myself…”

(About Jesus)

John 1:3 “All things came into existence through him, and apart from him not even one thing came into existence.” If all things came into existence through Jesus, He could not have been created because He is included in the “all things.”

Status, Names and Titles of Jesus and Jehovah

Isaiah 9:6 “For there has been a child born to us, there has been a son given to us, and the princely rule will come to be upon his shoulder. And his name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”

Revelation 1:8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says Jehovah God, “the One who is and who was and who is coming, the Almighty.”

Revelation 1:17-18 “…I am the First and the Last, and the living one, and I became dead, but, look! I am living forever and ever, and I have the keys to death and of Hades.”

Revelation 2:8 “…These are the things that he says, ‘the First and the Last, who became dead, and came to life [again]”

Revelation 22:12-16 “Look! I am coming quickly, and the reward I give is with me, to render to each one as his work is. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end…I, Jesus, sent my angel to bear witness to you people of these things for the congregations. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright morning star.”

Revelation 21:6-7 “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To anyone thirsting I will give from the fountain of the water of life free. Anyone conquering will inherit these things, and I shall be his God and he will be my son.” If Jehovah is the Alpha and Omega (the first and last Greek letters), then the “first and the last” must refer to Jehovah, so the Witnesses claim. But when did Jehovah become dead? The only “first and last” who died and lived again is Jesus.

Hebrews 1:13 “But with reference to which one of the angels has he ever said ‘Sit at my right hand, until I place your enemies as a stool for your feet”?

Truth and Unity

Jesus’ substitutionary atonement was accepted for one reason: God accepts only His own righteousness. The righteousness of a man or an angel is insufficient to hold up to the holy and perfect standard of God’s righteous law. Jesus was the only suitable sacrifice because He was the righteousness of God, and as God’s law required shed blood, Jesus took on flesh so that He might be a ransom for all who believe in His name.

Notice that if we understand Jesus to be God incarnate, then all the above verses can be understood to be true and mutually consistent in their claims. They can also be understood clearly with plain reason, taken at face value. However, if we attempt to suggest that Jesus is something less than God—Michael the archangel—then these verses are mutually exclusive and cannot both be true, when taken in their natural context. Therefore, the truth of God’s Word necessitates that we must come to another understanding in which all Scripture is unified, interconnected, interdependent, inerrant and true. That unifying truth can be found only in the person and deity of Jesus Christ. May we see the truth revealed in Scripture as it is, not as we would each have it to be, and may God receive all the glory.

The New World Translation (NWT) is defined by the Jehovah’s Witnesses’  parent organization (the Watchtower Society) as “a translation of the Holy  Scriptures made directly from Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek into modern-day English  by a committee of anointed witnesses of Jehovah.” The NWT is the anonymous work  of the “New World Bible Translation Committee.” Jehovah’s Witnesses claim that  the anonymity is in place so that the credit for the work will go to God. Of  course, this has the added benefit of keeping the translators from any  accountability for their errors and prevents real scholars from checking their  academic credentials.

The New World Translation is unique in one thing –  it is the first intentional, systematic effort at producing a complete version  of the Bible that is edited and revised for the specific purpose of agreeing  with a group’s doctrine. The Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Watchtower Society  realized that their beliefs contradicted Scripture. So, rather than conforming  their beliefs to Scripture, they altered Scripture to agree with their beliefs.  The “New World Bible Translation Committee” went through the Bible and changed  any Scripture that did not agree with Jehovah’s Witness theology. This is  clearly demonstrated by the fact that, as new editions of the New World  Translation were published, additional changes were made to the biblical text.  As biblical Christians continued to point out Scriptures that clearly argue for  the deity of Christ (for example), the Watchtower Society would publish new  editions of the New World Translation with those Scriptures changed. Here are  some of the more prominent examples of intentional revisions:

The New  World Translation renders the Greek term word staurós (“cross”) as  “torture stake” because Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe that Jesus was  crucified on a cross. The New World Translation does not translate the Greek  words sheol, hades, gehenna, and tartarus as “hell”  because Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe in hell. The NWT gives the  translation “presence” instead of “coming” for the Greek word parousia because Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Christ has already returned in the  early 1900s. In Colossians  1:16, the NWT inserts the word “other” despite its being completely absent  from the original Greek text. It does this to give the view that “all other  things” were created by Christ, instead of what the text says, “all things were  created by Christ.” This is to go along with their belief that Christ is a  created being, which they believe because they deny the Trinity.

The  most well-known of all the New World Translation perversions is John 1:1. The original Greek text reads, “the Word was  God.” The NWT renders it as “the word was a god.” This is not a matter of  correct translation, but of reading one’s preconceived theology into the text,  rather than allowing the text to speak for itself. There is no indefinite  article in Greek (in English, “a” or “an”), so any use of an indefinite article  in English must be added by the translator. This is grammatically acceptable, so  long as it does not change the meaning of the text.

There is a good  reason why theos has no definite article in John 1:1 and  why the New World Translation rendering is in error. There are three general  rules we need to understand to see why.

1. In Greek, word order does not  determine word usage like it does in English. In English, a sentence is  structured according to word order: Subject – Verb – Object. Thus, “Harry called  the dog” is not equivalent to “the dog called Harry.” But in Greek, a word’s  function is determined by the case ending found attached to the word’s root.  There are two case endings for the root theo: one is -s (theos),  the other is -n (theon). The -s ending normally identifies a noun as  being the subject of a sentence, while the -n ending normally identifies a noun  as the direct object.

2. When a noun functions as a predicate nominative  (in English, a noun that follows a being verb such as “is”), its case ending  must match the noun’s case that it renames, so that the reader will know which  noun it is defining. Therefore, theo must take the -s ending because it  is renaming logos. Therefore, John 1:1 transliterates to “kai theos en ho logos.” Is theos the subject,  or is logos? Both have the -s ending. The answer is found in the next  rule.

3. In cases where two nouns appear, and both take the same case  ending, the author will often add the definite article to the word that is the  subject in order to avoid confusion. John put the definite article on  logos (“the Word”) instead of on theos. So, logos is the  subject, and theos is the predicate nominative. In English, this results  in John 1:1 being read as “and the  Word was God” (instead of “and God was the word”).

The most revealing  evidence of the Watchtower’s bias is their inconsistent translation technique.  Throughout the Gospel of John, the Greek word theon occurs without a  definite article. The New World Translation renders none of these as “a god.”  Just three verses after John 1:1, the  New World Translation translates another case of theos without the  indefinite article as “God.” Even more inconsistent, in John 1:18, the NWT translates the same term as both “God”  and “god” in the very same sentence.

The Watchtower, therefore, has no  hard textual grounds for their translation—only their own theological bias.  While New World Translation defenders might succeed in showing that John 1:1 can be translated as they have done, they cannot  show that it is the proper translation. Nor can they explain the fact that that  the NWT does not translate the same Greek phrases elsewhere in the Gospel of  John the same way. It is only the pre-conceived heretical rejection of the deity  of Christ that forces the Watchtower Society to inconsistently translate the  Greek text, thus allowing their error to gain some semblance of legitimacy in  the minds of those ignorant of the facts.

It is only the Watchtower’s  pre-conceived heretical beliefs that are behind the dishonest and inconsistent  translation that is the New World Translation. The New World Translation is most  definitely not a valid version of God’s Word. There are minor differences among  all the major English translations of the Bible. No English translation is  perfect. However, while other Bible translators make minor mistakes in the  rendering of the Hebrew and Greek text into English, the NWT intentionally  changes the rendering of the text to conform to Jehovah’s Witness theology. The  New World Translation is a perversion, not a version, of the Bible.

The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society is an organization directed by the  leaders of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. The  Watchtower Society was founded in 1886 and is currently located in Brooklyn, New  York. The Watchtower possesses tremendous control over its members and has gone  so far as to produce its own translation of the Bible called the New  World Translation The Society has gone through several presidents since  its founding and has positioned itself as a major competitor to evangelical  Christianity. While claiming to be the only legitimate followers of Jehovah God,  the Watchtower denies and even opposes several of the fundamental doctrines of  the historic Christian faith.

To begin with, the Watchtower gets wrong  one of the most important of all religious questions: Who  is Jesus Christ? The Watchtower Society teaches that Jesus Christ is  actually the first creation of Jehovah God, not God incarnate as the Bible  clearly teaches (Titus 2:13Colossians  2:9). In doing so, they have placed Christ in the category of creature  rather than acknowledging His rightful place of Creator of all things (Colossians 1:16-17John 1:1-3). They have  repeated the deadly error of Arianism, which was condemned as heresy by the  Christian Church at the Council of Nicea and is easily refuted by a fair reading  of Scripture.

Since its inception, the Watchtower has denied the  biblical teaching of the triune God (one Being who exists as three co-equal,  co-eternal Persons) and gone so far as to say that the God of Christianity is a  satanic counterfeit. Charles Taze Russell, the founder of the Jehovah’s  Witnesses and a former President of the Society, even referred to the Christian  concept of God as, “the devil himself.” The God of the Watchtower is not the  biblical God and is therefore not capable of saving people from their sins.

In an attempt to justify their doctrines through biblical exegesis, the  Society produced their own translation of the Scriptures in 1961. This  translation, known as the New World Translation, is regarded by the  Jehovah’s Witnesses as the only faithful rendering of the biblical text. The NWT  is unique in that it is the first intentional systematic effort at producing a  complete version of the Bible that is edited and revised for the specific  purpose of agreeing with a group’s doctrine. Greek scholars from across the  theological spectrum have repeatedly criticized the NWT as an inaccurate  rendering of key biblical passages.

The late Dr. Bruce Metzger,  formerly Professor of New Testament Language at Princeton Theological Seminary  and author of several highly acclaimed books on textual criticism stated, “The  Jehovah’s Witnesses have incorporated in their translations of the New Testament  several quite erroneous renderings of the Greek.” Dr. Robert Countess, who  completed his PhD dissertation in Greek on the New World Translation, is  on record as saying that the Watchtower’s translation “has been sharply  unsuccessful in keeping doctrinal considerations from influencing the actual  translation. It must be viewed as a radically biased piece of work. At some  points it is actually dishonest.”

A further reason to reject the claims  of the Watchtower is their long history of engaging in false prophecy. The  Watchtower Society has on numerous occasions predicted in print the end of the  world, the most recent dates being in 1946, 1950, and 1975. What makes their  false prophecy all the more damning is when their false predictions are seen in  the light of their claim to be “the true prophetic mouthpiece for God on earth  at this time.” The Society’s history of false prophecy stands in stark contrast  to the standard for a true prophet laid out in Scripture: “If what a prophet  proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a  message the LORD has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not  be afraid of him” (Deuteronomy 18:22).

Moreover, the Watchtower  continues to engage in cultic manipulation of its people through the prohibition  of military service, the celebration of holidays, and the saluting of the  nation’s flag. The impetus for these restrictions is rooted in their false claim  to be the exclusive organized collection of Jehovah’s people. The Watchtower  views these practices as devices of Satan to lead people away from Jehovah. The  Watchtower sees the entire “world system” (any activity not connected with the  Watchtower) as connected to Satan and is thus prohibited. This would include the  practice of blood transfusions, which the  Watchtower wrongly believes to be prohibited by Scripture. The Watchtower has  stated that a blood transfusion “may result in the immediate and very temporary  prolongation of life, but at the cost of eternal life for a dedicated  Christian.” The Society wrongly assumes that the biblical prohibition of  eating blood (Genesis 9:4Acts  15:28-29) extends all the way to the modern practice of blood transfusions,  a restriction that, in practice, has cost the very lives of many Jehovah’s  Witnesses and even their children.

Despite a track record of repeated  false prophecies, a cultic isolation of their own people, and a flagrant  mistranslation of the Bible to justify their own theology, the Watchtower Bible  and Tract Society continues to gain unsuspecting converts every year. It is the  job of biblically faithful Christians to be prepared to refute these errors with  sound doctrine (Titus 1:9). As  Jude tells us, we must “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all  handed down to the saints” (Jude 3).

and what are their beliefs?”

The sect known  today as the Jehovah’s Witnesses started out in Pennsylvania in 1870 as a Bible  class led by Charles Taze Russell. Russell named his group the “Millennial Dawn  Bible Study.” Charles T. Russell began writing a series of books he called “The  Millennial Dawn,” which stretched to six volumes before his death and contained  much of the theology Jehovah’s Witnesses now hold. After Russell’s death in  1916, Judge J. F. Rutherford, Russell’s friend and successor, wrote the seventh  and final volume of the “Millennial Dawn” series, “The Finished Mystery,” in  1917. The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society was founded in 1886 and quickly  became the vehicle through which the “Millennial Dawn” movement began  distributing their views to others. The group was known as the “Russellites”  until 1931 when, due to a split in the organization, it was renamed the  “Jehovah’s Witnesses.” The group from which it split became known as the “Bible  students.”

What do Jehovah’s Witnesses believe? Close scrutiny of their  doctrinal position on such subjects as the deity of Christ, salvation, the  Trinity, the Holy Spirit, and the atonement shows beyond a doubt that they do  not hold to orthodox Christian positions on these subjects. Jehovah’s Witnesses  believe Jesus is Michael the archangel, the highest created being. This  contradicts many Scriptures which clearly declare Jesus to be God (John 1:1,14, 8:58, 10:30).  Jehovah’s Witnesses believe salvation is obtained by a combination of faith,  good works, and obedience. This contradicts countless scriptures which declare  salvation to be received by grace through faith (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5). Jehovah’s  Witnesses reject the Trinity, believing Jesus to be a created being and the Holy  Spirit to essentially be the inanimate power of God. Jehovah’s Witnesses reject  the concept of Christ’s substitutionary atonement and instead hold to a ransom  theory, that Jesus’ death was a ransom payment for Adam’s sin.

How do  the Jehovah’s Witnesses justify these unbiblical doctrines? First, they claim  that the church has corrupted the Bible over the centuries; thus, they have  re-translated the Bible into what they call the New World Translation. The  Watchtower Bible and Tract Society altered the text of the Bible to make it fit  their false doctrine, rather than basing their doctrine on what the Bible  actually teaches. The New World Translation has gone through numerous editions,  as the Jehovah’s Witnesses discover more and more Scriptures that contradict  their doctrines.

The Watchtower bases its beliefs and doctrines on the  original and expanded teachings of Charles Taze Russell, Judge Joseph Franklin  Rutherford, and their successors. The governing body of the Watchtower Bible and  Tract Society is the only body in the cult that claims authority to interpret  Scripture. In other words, what the governing body says concerning any  scriptural passage is viewed as the last word, and independent thinking is  strongly discouraged. This is in direct opposition to Paul’s admonition to  Timothy (and to us as well) to study to be approved by God, so that we need not  be ashamed as we correctly handle the Word of God. This admonition, found in 2 Timothy  2:15, is a clear instruction from God to each of His children to be like the  Berean Christians, who searched the Scriptures daily to see if the things they  were being taught lined up with the Word.

There is probably no religious  group that is more faithful than the Jehovah’s Witnesses at getting their  message out. Unfortunately, the message is full of distortions, deceptions, and  false doctrine. May God open the eyes of the Jehovah’s Witnesses to the truth of  the gospel and the true teaching of God’s Word.