Jehovah's Witnesses and the Deity of Jesus Christ
The Watchtower Bible And Tract Society, or Jehovah’s Witnesses, has always taught from its inception in 1896 that Jesus Christ was no more than a perfect man, “certainly not the supreme God Almighty in the flesh.”1 Amplifying this, they state categorically that He was in no sense both God and man. “Some insist that Jesus while on earth was both God and man. This theory is wrong…” 2
By maintaining that our Lord was “the first and direct creation of Jehovah God,” and that prior to His earthly life He was Michael the Archangel,3 the Witnesses deny the very foundation of the historic Christian faith.
In contrast to this teaching, the Bible and the Christian Church declare the full Deity of Jesus Christ and His equality with God the Father.
In the first verse of John’s Gospel, Christ is revealed as the eternal Word of God who became flesh (verse 14) – the “image of God.” II Corinthians 4:4 Consider the emphasis. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1
Note that John 1:1 states that the Word was in the beginning – it does not say the Word “became” or “was created” by God as Jehovah’s Witnesses teach. The Witnesses also mistranslate this text to read “the Word was a god”4 but their translation is by both context and grammar an impossibility according to all recognized authorities on Greek grammar.
Moreover, the Scriptures proclaim that Christ made “Himself equal with God”, John 5:18, and that “in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” Colossians 2:9. The Bible further states that Christ claimed to be the great I AM (Jehovah) of the Old Testament, (see Exodus 3:13-16 with John 8:58), and the Jews during His ministry understood Him so clearly that they sought to stone Him to death for blasphemy, (John 8:59; cf. 10:28-33).
Jehovah’s Witnesses pervert these texts and many others in their determined attempt to demote our Lord from His position of God and Creator, (Colossians 1; Hebrews 1), and they compound their error by translating the Greek of the New Testament in many places, contrary to all known grammatical authorities.5 It is certainly true that during His earthly life our Lord voluntarily limited Himself as a man, (Philippians 2:6-8), and thus He never strove to usurp the prerogatives of Deity. But one does not have to “rob” what is His by inheritance, (Hebrews 1). As we have already shown, He was true Deity – “the Great God.” Titus 2:13
We must not forget that Christ humbled Himself even to the death on the cross and therefore as a man could say, “My Father is greater than I.” John 14:28. However, let us not forget that Christ never said, “My Father is better than I”; “better” is a term of comparison between natures, (Hebrews 1:4), while “greater”, as in the context of John 14, is a term of comparison relative to positions.
The President of the United States, for instance, is greater in position than any of his fellow Americans by virtue of his office as President; but he would be the first to insist that as a human being he is not necessarily better. So Christ was admittedly inferior to His Father positionally while on earth as a man, but the Scriptures indicate He was His Father’s equal on the spiritual plane at all times, (Hebrews 1:3; John 5:18).
Jehovah’s Witnesses always point to Christ’s humanity in the Scriptures; they carefully omit mention of His claim to full Deity and they thus “wrest… the… scriptures, unto their own destruction.” II Peter 3:16.
Our Lord taught His full Deity, (John 8:58, John 8:24), and the Bible calls Him the “Alpha and Omega, the first and the last.” Revelation 1:11,17,18. Yet it is Jehovah alone who declares that He is “the first, and… the last.” Isaiah 44:6. Since there can be only one first and one last God fully manifested Himself in Jesus Christ, “the first and the last”, Revelation 1:17,18, as the Scriptures and the Christian Church maintain.
Jehovah’s Witnesses deny these and many other great doctrines of the Bible. They are therefore misguided followers of a fallible, human organization. Consequently, they too desperately need the salvation that the God-man, Jesus Christ, alone offers to all men who will come to Him and accept Him as their Saviour and Lord, (John 3:16; 5:24).
1. Let God Be True, Edition 1946, The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, p. 87.
2. The Harp of God, J.F. Rutherford. pp. 101 and 128.
3. The Truth Shall Make You Free, The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, p. 49; also The Kingdom Is At Hand, pp. 46, 47, 49.
4. New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures – John 1:1, The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society.
5. See Jehovah of The Watchtower, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan (1957), for a full-length study of Jehovah’s Witnesses with full documentation on their errors.
Walter R. Martin
Mr. Martin is a contributing editor to Eternity Magazine, and Director of Division of Cult Apologetics, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan. Also author of our tract, “Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.”