Discussing Deity with Jehovah's Witnesses

By David A. Reed


Encounters between Christians and Jehovah's Witnesses typically revolve around a discussion of deity. The reason for this is twofold: 1) This is the area where Watchtower theology deviates most dramatically from orthodox Christianity. In contrast to the trinitarian concept of one God in three Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the JWs have been taught to believe that God the Father alone is "Jehovah," the only true God; that Jesus Christ is Michael the archangel, the first angelic being created by God; and that the Holy Spirit is neither God nor a person, but rather God's impersonal "active force." 2) The subject of deity is a frequent confrontational focus because both Jehovah's Witnesses and Christians (at least those who like to witness to JWs) feel confident and well-prepared to defend their stand and attack the opposing viewpoint.

Due to the profound theological differences such discussions often take the form of spiritual trench warfare -- a long series of arguments and counterarguments, getting nowhere and ending in mutual frustration. But this need not be the case, especially if the Christian will "become all thing to all men" by taking a moment to put himself in the Witness's shoes, so to speak (1 Cor. 9:22).

In the Jehovah's Witnesses mind, he himself is a worshipper of the true God of the Bible, while you are a lost soul who has been misled by the devil into worshipping a pagan three-headed deity. He is, no doubt, quite sincere in these beliefs and feels both threatened and offended by the doctrine of the Trinity. To give any serious consideration to your arguments in support of the Trinity is simply unthinkable to the JW: he would be sinning against Jehovah God to entertain such a thought.

So, in order to make any headway with the Witness, it is necessary to bridge the gap -- to find common ground that will enable him to rethink his theology. Rather than plunging into a defense of "the doctrine of the Trinity," which can be mind boggling even to a Christian, take things one step at a time.

A good first step would be to consider the question, "Is Jesus Christ really an angel?" It will be frightening to the Jehovah's Witness to open this cherished belief of his to critical re-examination, but not nearly as frightening as to start off discussing evidence that God is triune.

Since the Watchtower Society speaks of "Jesus Christ, whom we understand from the Scriptures to be Michael the archangel" (The Watchtower, February 15, 1979, p.31), put the JW on the spot and ask him to show you "the Scriptures" that say Jesus is Michael.

There are none. The Word of God mentions Michael five times: as 1) "one of the foremost princes" (Dan. 10:13, Watchtower Society New World Translation [NWT]), 2) "the prince of [Daniel's] people" (Dan. 10:21, NWT), 3) "the great prince who is standing in behalf of the sons of [Daniel's] people" (Dan. 12:1, NWT), 4) "the archangel" who "had a difference with the devil and was disputing about Moses' body" but "did not dare to bring a judgement against him in abusive terms" (Jude 9, NWT), and 5) a participant in heavenly conflict when "Michael and his angels battled with the dragon" (Rev. 12:7, NWT).

Ask the Jehovah's Witness which one of these verses says that Michael is Jesus Christ. Help him to see that it is necessary to read Scripture -- plus a complicated Watchtower argument to reach that conclusion. Rather than being merely "one of the foremost princes," Jesus Christ is "Lord of lords and King of kings" (Rev.17:14, NWT) and is "far above every government and authority and power and lordship and every name named, not only in this system of things, but also in that to come" (Eph. 1:21, NWT). And, unlike "Michael who did not dare condemn the Devil with insulting words, but said, 'The Lord rebuke you!'" (Jude 9, Today's English Version), Jesus Christ displayed His authority over the devil when He freely commanded him, "Go away, Satan!" (Matt. 4:10, NWT).

In arguing that Jesus is Michael the archangel the Watchtower Society also points to another verse that does not use the name Michael but says that "the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a commanding call, with an archangel's voice and with God's trumpet ..." (1 Thess. 4:16, NWT). However, the expression "with an archangel's voice" simply means that the archangel, like God's trumpet, will herald the coming of the Lord, not that the Lord is an archangel.

Point out to the JW that none of the verses he has attempted to use as prooftexts even comes close to stating that Jesus Christ is Michael the archangel. In fact, Scripture clearly teaches the opposite: namely, that the Son of God is superior to the angels.

The entire first chapter of Hebrews is devoted to this theme. Have the Witness read Hebrews chapter one aloud with you, and, as you do so, interrupt to point out the sharp contrast between angels and the Son of God. "For to what angel did God ever say, 'Thou art my Son ... ?' And again, when he brings the first-born into the world, he says, 'Let all God's angels worship him'" (vv.5-6, Revised Standard Version).

Remind the JW that angels consistently refuse worship ("Be careful! Do not do that! ...Worship God." -- Rev. 22:8-9, NWT), but the Father's command concerning the Son is, "Let all God's angels worship him" (Heb. 1:6). That is how the Watchtower's own New World Translation read for some 20 years until, in 1970, the WatchTower Society changed it to read "do obeisance to him" instead of "worship him" -- part of their consistent campaign to eliminate from their Bible all references to the deity of Christ.

True, you have not yet proved the "doctrine of the Trinity" in this discussion. But you have laid a good foundation by 1) giving your Jehovah's Witness acquaintance convincing evidence that Jesus Christ is not an angel -- he is now faced with the question of who Jesus really is -- and 2) you have shown the Witness that the Watchtower Society has misled him, even resorting to altering Scripture to do so. Now you are in a much better position to go on to present the abundant biblical evidence for the triune nature of God.

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The Jesus of the Bible

The Bible presents Jesus Christ, the unique Savior of mankind, as being both fully God and fully Man. He is eternal, without beginning or end, and as the second Person of the Trinity is co-equal with the Father and the Holy Spirit.

He was begotten by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the virgin Mary, became flesh and lived a sinless life, dying on the cross as full payment for the sins of mankind.

He rose bodily from the grave and one day this same Jesus will physically and visibly return to earth.

Jesus Is The Only True Christ

"For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect," (Matt 24:24).

"Many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them." (Luke 21:8).

"One Lord, one faith, one baptism," (Eph. 4:5).

Jesus Is Fully Human

"...the young child with Mary his mother" (Matt. 2:11).

"Behold, thy mother and thy brethren...," (Matt. 12:47).

"The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us," (John 1:14).

"Made of a woman," (Gal. 4:4).

"For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus," (I Tim. 2:5).

Jesus Was Born Of A Virgin

"Mary ... was found with child of the Holy Ghost," (Matt. 1:18).

"Behold, a virgin shall be with child... God with us," (Matt. 1:23),"

[Joseph physically] knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son," (Matt. 2:25).

Jesus Is Fully God

"The Word was God," (John 1:1).

"And Thomas answered [Jesus] and said unto him, My Lord and my God," (John 20:28).

"But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever," (Heb. 1:8).

"Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever," (Rom. 9:5).

"For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily," (Col. 2:9).

"The great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ," (Tit. 2:13).

"...and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life," (1 John 5:20).

Jesus Existed Before Becoming Flesh

"In the beginning was the Word.... All things were made by him," (John 1:1-3).

"Before Abraham was, I am," (John 8:58).

"... the glory which I had with thee before the world was," (John 17:5).

"For by him were all things created," (Col. 1:16).

"I and Alpha and Omega the beginning and the end, the first and the last.... I Jesus have sent mine angel," (Rev. 22:13-16).

Jesus' Purpose Was To Die On A Cross

"From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples how that he must... be killed, and be raised again the third day," (Matt. 16:21).

"For even the Son of Man came... to give his life a ransom for many," (Mark 10:45).

"But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs," (John 19:33).

"Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails [plural]... I will not believe," (John 20:24).

"Without the shedding of blood is no remission," (Heb. 9:22).

"... the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin," (I John 1:7).

Jesus Resurrected The Same Body From The Grave

"Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again," (John 10:17-18).

"But they... supposed that they had seen a spirit. And he said unto them... Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. (Luke 24:37-39).

"Then he said to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands, and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side," (John 20:27)

Jesus Will Return In Person - Both Bodily And Visibly

"This same Jesus, which is taken up form you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven," (Acts 1:11).

"Every eye shall see him" (Rev. 1:7).

This is the Lord Jesus Christ of the Bible!

The Jehovah's Witness Jesus

The Jehovah Witness Jesus

The Jehovah's Witnesses JESUS is little, weak and DIFFERENT from the Jesus of the Bible! 2 Cor. 11:4.

Their Jesus is simply AN ANGEL. J.W.'s DO NOT WORSHIP Him.

From whom does Jesus accept worship as God?

 From the angels. Hebrews 1:6 (see the N.W.T. from 1950 - 1970)

 From the disciples. Luke 24:52

 From the believers. John 9:38

 From the saints in glory. Revelation 7:9-10

 From everyone eventually. Philippians 2:10-11; Matthew 9:18; 15:25

Proof positive from the Greek language!

Compare Matthew 28:9,17 and Revelation 22:8.

Jesus comforted those who worshipped Him. Matthew 28:10.

He did not condemn them.

Only the true God is to be worshipped! Matthew 4:10; John 20:28.

FACT: The Bible Teaches That Jesus Is Not An Angel . . .

 No angel is or can ever be called God's Son. Hebrews 1:5-6

 The world is not in subjection to any angel. Hebrews 2:5

 Jesus did not take on the nature of angels. Hebrews 2:16

 The angels of God never receive worship. Colossians 2:18;

 Revelation 19:10; 22:9

All power is given to Jesus, in heaven and earth. Matthew 28:18

Jesus has the name that is above all names. Philippians 2:9-10

God will not share His glory with any other. Isaiah 42:8

Jesus (not an angel) shares His Father's glory. John 17:5

Is the voice of the archangel the voice of Jesus? 1 Thes. 4:16.

Jesus comes with a trumpet. He is not the trumpet! Jesus comes with the voice of the archangel. He is not the archangel!

The One coming is the Almighty God! Revelation 1:8.

He is Jesus! Revelation 22:20.

Not one verse of Scripture says, "Jesus is Michael" or "Michael is Jesus"!

Jesus is stronger than Satan. Satan is stronger than Michael. The power of the false J.W. Jesus is what?

-- unable to face Satan alone. Jude 9

The power of the Bible Jesus is undiminished!

-- indisputable power over Satan! Matthew 4:10