Last Sunday afternoon, I was visited by two Jehovah’s Witnesses. There are several of you in our congregation who also have been visited by JW’s recently, and most of you have been visited repeatedly. It has been a blessing to hear how you are regarding these visits as opportunities to share the gospel.
It is quite likely that others in the congregation will be visited at some point. Jehovah’s Witnesses are very persistent and one of their main requirements is that all of their people do door-to-door proselytizing on a regular basis. For that reason, I’d like to give you something of a reference sheet that you use in conversing with them.
One of the telltale signs of a cult is that they do not exalt Christ as the Scriptures do. This is certainly the case with the JW’s. They do not believe that Jesus is God. They believe that elevating Jesus to the level of deity demeans Jehovah. So they reject the idea that Jesus is divine in the same sense that Jehovah is divine. The same goes for the Holy Spirit. In other words, they reject the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity.
The problem is that the Bible clearly teaches that Jesus is God:
In Matthew 1:21, Joseph is instructed to name the coming child Jesus, “for he will save his people from their sins.” Jesus means, “Yahweh (or Jehovah) saves.”
In Matthew 1:23, Jesus is identified as Immanuel, which means “God with us.”
In Matthew 2:11, the magi worship the young Jesus.
In Matthew 3:3, John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ, is the one who cries out in the wilderness, “Prepare the way of the Lord.” John is quoting Isaiah 40:3, where “LORD” is the translation of Jehovah.
In John 1:1, Jesus is referred to as the Word: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
In John 8:56-59, Jesus claimed that Abraham had seen His day, to which the Jews replied, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” Jesus answered, “Before Abraham was born, I am.” Jesus was repeating the exact words God used to identify Himself to Moses in Ex 3:14 – I AM. The Jews recognized that Jesus was claiming to be Jehovah, which is evidenced by the fact that they immediately picked up stones to stone Him.
In John 10:30-33, Jesus says, “I and the Father are one.” The Pharisees understand Him to be claiming that He is God.
In John 12:39-41, the writer identifies the unbelief of the Jews as being a fulfillment of Isaiah 6:10. John then writes in v41, Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him. Isaiah 6 is the account of Isaiah seeing the glory of Jehovah in the temple. Therefore, John is claiming that when Isaiah saw Jehovah and His glory, he was actually seeing Christ.
In John 20:26-28, Jesus invites Thomas to touch His wounds so that he might believe that Jesus was really resurrected in the flesh. Thomas does so and exclaims, “My Lord and my God!”
Romans 10:13, 1 Corinthians 1:31, 2:16, 10:26, and 2 Corinthians 10:17 all show Paul quoting Old Testament passages about Jehovah and applying them to Christ.
Colossians 2:9 tells us that in Him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.
Hebrews 1:1-3 identifies Jesus as the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature.
The following verses quote Old Testament passages, showing that they refer to Christ. For example, Heb 1:8, But of the Son he says, "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever.”
These references are just a portion of the New Testament witness to the deity of Christ. So how will Jehovah’s Witnesses deal with these clear references to Christ as God? They use their own bible translation.
This is one key thing to keep in mind. The bible that the JW’s use is not the same as the Bible you use. In many of the above references, they have changed the wording in order to accommodate their view. For example, John 1:1 in your Bible reads, In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. Their bible reads, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god."
In John 8:58, instead of “before Abraham was born, I AM,” their bible has “before Abraham came into existence, I have been.” So if you have a conversation with a JW, do not agree to use their bible. Get your own out and use it. Show them what your Bible says compared with theirs. In each case of a discrepancy, it will always be in the favor of their heretical doctrine of Christ. And in each case, their version will be different than every other English translation. I can also tell you that in each case, their version diverges from the original Greek text.
Christ is the key. He must be God because the Scriptures tell us that He is. Speak the truth from the Word, knowing that the Holy Spirit is the only One who can open their eyes.
The divinity of Christ is only one area in which this cult introduces false doctrine. For a much more exhaustive treatment on the JW’s beliefs and how to interact with them, check out CARM.org, a great resource for Christian apologetics.
Posted by Greg Birdwell