Talking About Jesus With Jehovah’s Witnesses – Part 3

Dealing with the various doctrines of the Watchtower society can be an often daunting affair. There are an endless array of ideas and so-called “proof texts” behind them that could be addressed, and the average Christian should probably not go into many of these areas when in conversation with JW’s, lest they be taken way off track and bogged down in less essential areas of the faith. The identity of Jesus is the primary issue that divides orthodox Christianity and groups like Jehovah’s Witnesses, and staying on that topic should be of primary importance when discussions take place. If our belief in Jesus is based on a Jesus that doesn’t exist, then it is quite possible that our eternal destination could be in jeopardy. In John 8:24, Jesus stated as much when He said,  I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.”(NIV).  Jesus’ identity was of crucial importance to Him, and it should be for us, and our JW friends as well.

With that being said, let’s look at some other interesting passages.

  1. Everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah?

In Romans 10:9-13, we see the Apostle Paul stating what is necessary to have a saving faith. In verse 9 he says:  If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Then in verse 13 Paul finishes his thought by quoting from the prophet Joel by saying: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. (Joel 2:32)” The Greek word for Lord (kurios) is used in both cases by Paul, indicating that he was applying this passage from the Old Testament which clearly referred to Yahweh or Jehovah, directly to Jesus. Remember that Paul was a very well trained Pharisee, and a strict monotheist, with a thorough knowledge of the Old Testament scriptures, and yet he felt perfectly comfortable equating the God of the Old Testament with Jesus! Here we have a very compelling reason to believe that the earliest Christians believed that Jesus was Jehovah. So what will be the response from the Jehovah’s Witnesses?

While their New World Translation translates verses 9 through 12 very similarly to most accepted translations, verse 13 reads: “For everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will be saved.” The reason for having the name “Jehovah” instead of “Lord” here is because the “translators” of the New World Translation have inserted the name “Jehovah” anywhere a writer quotes from the Old Testament and uses the word “Lord.” In fact they have inserted the name “Jehovah” 237 times where the word “Lord” (kurios) was originally written. They do this despite the fact that there is not one single solitary Greek manuscript of the New Testament in the entire world that contains the name “Jehovah” anywhere.

This is a clear example of the bias that is inherent to the New World Translation. Despite the fact that we have well over 5000 Greek manuscripts in our possession, and not a single one contains the name “Jehovah”, the Watchtower adds it anyway, in order to protect the image of Jesus that they have invented. The reason Paul never wrote Jehovah, is because he believed Jesus was Jehovah, and passages like this are a perfect evidence of this.

  1. To Jesus every knee will bow…

In Philippians 2: 5-11, we encounter a passage known as the “Carmen Christi (Hymn to Christ).” It is agreed upon by scholars that this passage pre-dates Paul’s letter to the Philippians, and most likely contains one of the earliest creeds of the church.  Here is how it reads:

 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Contained within this passage is one of the strongest and earliest attestations to the fact that Jesus was worshiped as God by the earliest Christians. Verse 4 says Jesus existed in the form of God, and that He had equality with God but didn’t consider it something to be grasped (taken advantage of). In other words, Jesus could have displayed the full glory of His divinity and stopped His execution, but did not take advantage of it, and His followers are being exhorted here to have an attitude of humility as much like His as possible.

But the most amazing part of the passage is in verses 9 through 11, where Jesus is given the “name which is above every name so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Here we see a position that only Yahweh possesses being applied to Jesus.  Isaiah 45:23 reads: “I have sworn by Myself, The word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness And will not turn back, That to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance.”

In this passage, God says every knee will bow to Him, and every tongue will swear allegiance to Him, and yet Paul applies this statement to Jesus without hesitation. The question our JW friends must answer is whether or not Paul, whom they hold to be an inspired writer of the New Testament, was just contradicting himself constantly, or else he knew something about Jesus’ identity that they don’t.

Hopefully these last 3 posts are helpful in your future conversations with Jehovah’s Witnesses. Remember to be patient, as they will almost never accept what you have to say on the spot, but could very likely leave with a large stone in their shoe that may bother them enough to evoke further investigation of the Scriptures for themselves. As a prepared and respectful ambassador for Christ, you may be their first step towards freedom in the gospel of Christ, and that is a reward that cannot be measured.

 

All  unmarked scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible.

 

 

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