is the God of the Jehovah’s Witnesses?
of the most singular doctrines taught by the Jehovah's Witnesses
is that Christ, before he came to Earth and since his return to
heaven, was and is Michael the Archangel. The Witnesses rely on
I Thessalonians 4:16: "the Lord himself will descend from heaven
with a commanding call, with an archangel's voice and with God's
trumpet." (All citations in this tract, unless otherwise noted,
are from the New World Translation of the Bible, published by the
Watchtower Bible and Tract Society and used by the Jehovah’s Witnesses.)
this verse the Witnesses conclude that the Lord is an archangel
because He has "an archangel's voice." No other denomination
has ever come up with such a conclusion, because every other denomination
has concluded that the return of the Lord will be heralded by an
archangel. Let's continue with the Witnesses' argument.
identify the archangel as Michael from Jude 9: "But when Michael
the archangel had a difference with the Devil and was disputing
about Moses' body, he did not dare to bring a judgement against
him in abusive terms, but said: 'May Jehovah rebuke you.'"
does this identification work? According to Reasoning from the
Scriptures, one of the manuals Witnesses use in door-to-door evangelization,
"the expression 'archangel' is never found in the plural in
the Scriptures, thus implying there is only one."
interesting argument, but weak. Actually, 1 Thessalonians 4:16
refers to an archangel's voice, not to the archangel's voice, implying
there is more than one archangel. If there were only one, the article
"the" would be used. If there were more than one, but
only one is being referred to, the article would be "an."
from the Scriptures claims "the evidence indicates that the
Son of God was known as Michael before he came to earth and is known
by that name since his return to heaven where he resides as the
glorified spirit Son of God." But what little evidence there
is against the Witnesses' position. Look at Hebrews 1:5: "to
which one of the angels did he ever say: 'You are my son; I, today,
I have become your father’“? This suggests the Son of God can't
be an angel (or an archangel, to be technical), because it was to
the Son that the Father said, "I have become your father."
the Jehovah's Witnesses, in their own, backhanded way, recognise
this. Look at their translation of verse 6: "Let all God's
angels do obeisance to him," referring to the Son. The Witnesses
want you to think the angels do obeisance to the (sole) archangel,
but they know this isn't what the verse really says. Until 1970
the New World Translation didn't use the word "obeisance."
Until then verse 6 read this way: "Let all God's angels
worship him" (italics added). Angels don't worship an
archangel, who, after all, is just another creature. They worship
God. When the New World Translation was first made, this verse
slipped by the translating committee and effectively undercut the
argument that Christ is really Michael.
Jesus Only a Man?
will come as no surprise to you to learn that the Witnesses do not
believe our Lord is divine at all. He isn't God. They appeal to
their own rendering of John 1:1: "In the beginning the Word
was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god." In
every Catholic and Protestant translation, the final clause is given
this way: "and the Word was God." The translation given
by the Witnesses simply isn't supported by the Greek. They use
the lower-case "g" to show that Christ is merely a creature,
even if the most exalted creature. In the 'Book of Judges certain
magistrates are called gods, but it is clear from the context they're
merely human beings. No divinity is implied in the ancient usage,
and the Witnesses imply none when they call Christ "a god."
missionaries come to your door and argue that Jesus is just a creature,
point out the illegitimate translation of John 1:1, and then turn
to John 20:28, where Thomas says, as he probes Jesus' wounds, “My
Lord and my God!" Then note that Jesus didn't correct Thomas's
identification of him as God, because no correction was needed.
Thomas, previously doubting, knew exactly what he was saying, and
what he was saying was true.
Jehovah's Witnesses deny the Incarnation, of course. They deny
it first because Jesus isn't God, according to them, so there's
no question about God taking flesh. They also deny it in a second
sense. In the Incarnation what the Son of God was before — that
is to say, God — became united with a human nature, so two natures
coexisted. Even after Jesus' appearance on Earth, say the Witnesses,
there was only one nature, the human. This is how they see it.
In heaven, before coming down, Jesus was the Son of God, a creature,
and was known as Michael. He was the archangel Michael, pure spirit.
He then ceased to be a spirit at all. His spiritness entirely disappeared,
vanished. On Earth the Son of God was purely human. No angelic
spirit was commingled with his human nature. This man Jesus was
killed at Calvary. At his Resurrection, his human body was not
resuscitated. It remained in the tomb and rotted. There was no
real, physical Resurrection in the traditional Christian sense.
Instead, what was resurrected was the angelic spirit body.
in mind the sequence. In heaven: spirit only. On Earth: body only.
Back in heaven: spirit again. There is no continuity here. The
creature called Michael entirely ceased to exist. The creature
called Jesus (while here on Earth) began to exist, then, at death,
he ceased to exist also. The creature Michael then began to exist
Resurrection Was Real
of this squares with the Bible. The Resurrection accounts in the
Gospels are accounts of a re-animated corpse, a corpse no-longer
in the tomb. There isn't a shred of evidence in the Gospels to
indicate anyone thought the body remained in the tomb. (Recall
that the guards were told to lie about it, to say someone stole
the body while they were sleeping, even though an admission of sleeping
while on duty was tantamount to a death sentence for the guards.)
the Resurrection Jesus appeared to the apostles and said, "See
my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; feel me and see, because
a spirit does not have flesh and bones just as you behold that I
have." Then he said, "Do you have something there to
eat?" "And they handed him a piece of broiled fish; and
he took it and ate it before their eyes" (Luke 24:39-43).
Here Jesus himself points out that he is more than just a spirit
— he's a body too. In Matthew 28:6, an angel offers as proof that
Jesus has risen from the tomb the fact that the tomb is empty.
This implies the body had been raised. If only Jesus' spirit had
been resurrected (assuming the word resurrection can even apply
to a spirit), then the tomb would still contain the body.
Force Be With You"
this is about Christ. What about the Holy Spirit? The Jehovah's
Witnesses are Unitarians, not Trinitarians. They don't believe
in three divine Persons, but in one, Jehovah The Son isn't God,
but a creature. The Holy Spirit isn't God either, and He isn't
as exalted a creature as is the Son. He isn't a Person at all,
but "Jehovah's active force." In the New World Translation
we find his name given in lower-case: "the holy spirit."
Witnesses rely on passages such as Acts 2:1-4: "on the day
of Pentecost ... they all became filled with the holy spirit."
Written this way, it almost makes sense. But Christ spoke of the
Holy Spirit as personal in John 14:26: "But the helper, the
holy spirit, which the Father will send in my name, that one will
teach you all things and bring back to your minds all the things
I have told you." How can an impersonal force teach anyone
anything? Does the wind teach? Do gravity or electromagnetism
teach? Of course not. This verse makes sense only if "the
holy spirit" is really "the Holy Spirit," a divine
speaking with a Witness about this passage, turn to the first few
verses of Acts 5, the story of Ananias and Sapphira. In verse 3,
Peter asks, "Why has Satan emboldened you to play false to
the holy spirit and to hold back secretly some of the price of the
field?" The one that was defrauded was "the holy spirit."
In verse 4, Peter says, "You have played false, not to men,
but to God." So it was God that was defrauded. The conclusion?
That "the holy spirit" must be God, a conclusion drawn
from the Witnesses' own translation of the Bible.
already mentioned, the Jehovah's Witnesses are Unitarians, not Trinitarians.
Only the Father — Jehovah — is God. The Son is the first creature.
The Holy Spirit is Jehovah's power. So how do the Witnesses interpret
a verse such as John 10:30: "I and the Father are one"?
They say Jesus meant he was "one in agreement, purpose, and
organisation" with the Father, that's all. But they ignore
the very next verse, in which the Jews take up stones to throw at
him, and verse 33, in which they say, "We stone you ... because
you, being a man, make yourself God." This is a Catholic translation.
We must use it because the New World Translation, as in John 1:1,
translates the Greek improperly. It gives: "We are stoning
you ... because you, although being a man, make yourself a god."
Note the lower-case "g" again.
or Mere Stupidity?
Jesus were only claiming an angelic nature — which, according to
Witnesses, he didn't have while on earth anyway: to them he was
just a man — then why would the Jews attempt to stone him? They
were stoning him for blasphemy, and it isn't blasphemy to declare
oneself an angel. (Not blasphemy, just stupidity, and the Jews
didn't punish stupidity by stoning.)
Jehovah's Witnesses ignore the import of Matthew 28:19: "Go
therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptising
them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit."
Another translator's slip here? Note the singular "name."
If the Father, Son and "holy spirit" were three different
entities — God, exalted creature, and impersonal force — then they'd
have three names, not one name. The fact that the singular is used
implies a unity of being.
Witnesses will argue the inferiority of the Son from verses such
as these: "The Son cannot do a single thing of his own initiative,
but only what he beholds the Father doing" (John 5:19). "I
have not come of my own initiative, but he that sent me is real,
and you do not know him. I know him because I am a representative
from him, and that One sent me forth" (John 7:28-29). "I
am going my way to the Father, because the Father is greater than
I am" (John 14:28).
Has Two Natures
can be said about these verses? Two things. First, that they may
be referring to Christ's human nature, as distinguished from his
divine nature. His human nature, being created, is clearly subordinate
to the Father's divine nature. But the verses may also be understood
as referring to Christ's divine nature insofar as the Son is generated
or begotten by the Father. This doesn't mean he's unequal and therefore
not divine. It means there is a certain logical, but mysterious
relationship between the Father and the Son in which it may be said,
rightly, that "the Father is greater than I."
there verses that argue against the Witnesses' position? Sure.
Look at John 10:30 again: "The Father and I are one."
This is blunt. There's nothing here to imply they are "one
in agreement, purpose, and organisation" only. If that were
the case, then other angels—not just the "archangelic"
Christ — could say the same words, because they too would be "one
in agreement, purpose, and organisation" with the Father.
They too would be creatures — exalted, even if not as exalted as
Christ — and would parallel Christ as he parallels the Father.
But even the Jehovah's Witnesses won't go this far. Look at John
17:22: "that they may be one just as we are one." This
is Christ speaking to the Father. His words evince a unity of being,
not merely a unity of intent. Go over these verses carefully with
the next Witness who comes to your door. Show him, always, the
context of what is being said, whether on this topic or on any other.
the Witnesses, far more than any fundamentalists, take verses out
of context. They are the pre-eminent prooftexters. Often the very
next verse will undercut their interpretation of the single verse
they're expounding to you. Never accept their interpretations at
face value (or their translations — always have on hand the Catholic
translation - especially the Douay-Rheims - to compare the new World
Translation with). Read everything in context, and show the Witnesses