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What do the Jehovah’s Witnesses believe about the Trinity, Jesus and Salvation?
The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society is the religious organization that is in control of what Jehovah’s Witnesses believe and what they are to teach others. The history of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society has gone through many doctrinal changes and prophetical allusions. The founder of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society organization is Charles Taze Russell, who died in 1916. After the death of Charles Taze Russell a man identified as judge F. Rutherford took control of the group at that time called International Bible Students, and he died in 1942. The major theological doctrines, prophecies, and practices of the Jehovah’s Witnesses have come from Charles Taze Russell and judge F. Rutherford, whether they acknowledge this or not it is a fact.
What Do Jehovah’s Witnesses Believe About The Trinity?
The teachings of the “International Bible Students and the Jehovah’s Witnesses.” Charles Taze Russell said: “How strange that any should attempt to misuse and pervert these our Lord’s words, to make them support the unreasonable and unscriptural doctrine of a Trinity, – three Gods in one person.” (Atonement Between God and Man/ Studies In The Scriptures Vol. 5, page 76, 1912) J.F. Rutherford said: “That there are three gods in one; God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, all there equal in power, substance and eternity. If you ask a clergyman what is meant by the trinity he says: “That is a mystery.” He does not know, and no one else knows, because it is false. Never was there a more deceptive doctrine advanced than that of the trinity. It could have originated only in one mind, and that the mind of Satan the Devil.” (Reconciliation, page 101, 1928) The Jehovah’s Witnesses of today say: “Trinity is defined as three gods in one. God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, all three equal in power, substance and eternity.” (Let God Be True, page 100, 1946) The above statements do not truly state what Christians believe. They are not accurately teaching what Christians believe about the Tri-Unity of God being three persons in the one God or they truly have not being given an accurate definition and explanation of what the Trinity is. The word Trinity is not in the Bible, but the doctrine is. The word Monotheism (belief in one God) is not in the Bible, but the doctrine is. Throughout the Scriptures God has revealed Himself not in reference to being one in person but one in unity. In Genesis 1:1 it states, “And God created the heavens and the earth”, and continuing on to verses 26-27, God then identifies Himself both in the singular and plural. The Scriptures state that God said let Us make man in Our image, and after Our likeness, thus showing God being not one in person but one in unity. In the very first Chapter of the Bible God has revealed Himself not one in person but in unity, and throughout the Scriptures God has revealed Himself both in the singular and plural. One of the common objections is in Deuteronomy 6:4 where it says: “Hear O Israel, the LORD our God is one LORD.” Jehovah’s Witnesses and others state here God is shown only to be one in person, and therefore the Trinity cannot be true in any sense. The fact is that in this verse the composite unity of God is being shown, that means this verse does not state God is one in person but rather one in unity. The Hebrew word here is ‘Echad’ which is used throughout the Old Testament, such as Genesis 1:5, Genesis 2:24, Ezra 2:64, Ezekiel 37:17 & Ezekiel 37:22; which states the day and night are ‘one’ day, the man and woman will become ‘one’ flesh, the whole assembly was ‘one’, and the two kingdoms will become ‘one’ nation. The Hebrew word ‘Echad’ which is the word ‘one’ does not mean one in absolute number but in reference to a composite unity. If God truly wanted to tell us He is one in reference to being one person than God would of inspired the prophets to use the Hebrew word ‘Yachid’ which does mean literally one in number, however that word is not used in reference to God being one in person. Other Scriptures that demonstrate the composite unity of God: Genesis 11:7 “Let Us go down”, Genesis 19:24 “The LORD rained fire and brimstone on Sodom and Gomorrah from the LORD out of heaven”, Amos 4:10-11 shows that God is not one in person, Isaiah 48:12-16 shows the nature of God being triune. The New Testament demonstrates that the Father, the Son (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit are all distinct personages from one another, and all are identified as being God. The Father is called God – Jude 1:1; Jesus is called God – Isaiah 9:6/ John 1:1-3 & John 1:14-18/ John 20:28/ 2 Peter 1:1; Holy Spirit is called God – Acts 5:3-4/ 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 1 Corinthians 12:11 &1 Corinthians 12:18/ Hebrews 10:15-18. The Father and the Son are clearly identified as distinct persons in John 1:1-3 & John 1:14-18 & John 17:5, and the Holy Spirit is identified as an distinct person from the Father and the Son in John 14:16-17 & John 15:26 &John 16-7-15, as well as in Acts 13:2 and 1 Corinthians 12:11. The Tri-Unity of God is both Biblical and logical, and can be understood though not completely with a finite mind. The nature of God is triune yet one of which there seems to be a misunderstanding about the issue of God being one. In everyday life there are many things that are one in nature, but triune in substance. (Egg-shell, white, yoke, three distinct parts all one egg) The body of Christ is one but many members.
What Do Jehovah’s Witnesses Believe About Jesus?
Jehovah’s Witnesses do not understand the nature of Jesus being the Son of God and God at the same time, in which they come to the conclusion that Christians are stating Jesus is literally the Father, which is not what Christians believe. To them Jesus cannot be God if He is the Son of God, therefore it is necessary to briefly share on the identity of Jesus Christ when He was here on earth. John 1:1-3 & John 1:14-18 make it clear that Jesus and the Father are two distinct persons, and it is very important to share that with the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Within those verses the Father is identified as being God, and was in the beginning before anything was created. Jesus is identified as being in the beginning with the Father before anything was created, and was Himself God. When Jesus came to the earth He took on flesh, and dwelt among us, and revealed the message of salvation, hope, truth, who the Father is, who He is, and the Holy Spirit, thus showing the distinction of persons. (John 1:1-3 & John 1:14-18 & John14:16-17 & John 15:26 & John 16:7-15) According to the Apostle Paul Jesus is by nature God, and He humbled Himself for mankind and took on flesh so that He could give His life to reconcile us from our sins. (Philippians 2:5-11, Colossians 1:13-22 & Colossians 2:1-15) When Jesus claimed to be the Son of God the Jews understood Him to be claiming equality with God and wanted to kill Him. (John 5:17-23) The term ‘Son of God’ was a Messianic claim as well: “Our rabbis taught, The Holy One, blessed be He, will say to the Messiah, the son of David (May he reveal himself speedily in our days), ‘Ask of Me anything, and I will give to Thee,’ as it is said (Psalm 2:7,8): ‘I will tell of the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, ‘Thou art My son; this day I have begotten Thee. Ask of Me and I will give the nations for Thine inheritance.'” (Talmud, Sukkah 52a) This is a Jewish Commentary giving the understanding of the Messiah, the Son of God, and it gives clear reference to how the Jews of that day would of understood what Jesus claimed. Finally when Jesus made statements such as “the Father is greater than all” or “the Father is greater than I”,
these statements do not teach Jesus was not God or less than the Father, but that when He came into this world He took on limitations and set aside His glory, and taught people to follow His example. (John 10:29-34 & John 14:28, Romans 8:1-3, Philippians 2:5-11, 1 Peter 2:21-26, 1 John 1:1-4)
The Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that Jesus is the first of God’s creation, and all ‘other’ things came into existence through Jesus: “Jesus, in his pre-human existence, was ‘the firstborn of all creation.’ (Colossians 1:15, NJB) He was ‘the beginning of God’s creation.’ (Revelation 3:14,RS)” (Should You Believe In The Trinity, page 14, 1989) Jesus according to Jehovah’s Witnesses is not the Creator of all, but a part of creation itself, therefore is lesser and is not God. Carefully reading these passages and taking a deeper look within the context it is very clear that Jesus is not being addressed as being created, but rather the very One who created all things: “Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether [they be] thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” (Colossians 1:16-17) Carefully reading these verses it is clear that Jesus is the Creator of all things, and was not created as the Jehovah’s Witnesses are indicating. The term ‘firstborn’ is where they say Jesus was created by God because the word ‘firstborn’ means, “first created.” The word ‘firstborn’ (prototokos) does not mean first created but rather first in rank, preeminence, above all, or as renowned Greek Scholar W.E. Vines put it: “in His relationship to the Father, expressing His priority to, and preeminence over, creation, not in the sense of being the “first” to be born He was the “Firstborn” before all creation and that He Himself produced creation (the genitive case being objective, as ver. 16 makes clear)” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words/ firstborn) When looking at Revelation 3:14 the context and meaning of the word ‘beginning’ (arche) demonstrates that the Jehovah’s Witnesses are not properly interpreting the Scriptures: “And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God” (Revelation 3:14) This passage of Scripture is not indicating that Jesus is the first of God’s creation, but rather the source or origin for it. The word ‘beginning’ literally means: “beginning, origin the person or thing that commences, the first person or thing in a series, the leader that by which anything begins to be, the origin, the active cause the extremity of a thing, of the corners of a sail, the first place, principality, rule, magistracy, of angels and demons.” (Strongs Greek Lexicon/ beginning) So clearly looking at the text Jesus is not the first of God’s creation but rather the very one who created all things. An added note that if ‘beginning’ (arche) here means to be first in being created implying that Jesus is not eternal, then the Alpha and Omega is not eternal according to Revelation 22:13. (The same Greek word in Revelation 22:13 for ‘beginning’ is also in Revelation 3:14)
The Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that Jesus is none other than Michael the archangel: “The foremost angel, both in power and authority is the archangel, Jesus Christ, also called Michael.” (The Watchtower, Nov. 1, 1995, p. 8) According to Jehovah’s Witnesses Jesus was God’s first creation who is known as Michael the archangel. Is Michael ‘the’ foremost angel, or does Scripture indicate otherwise. In the Jehovah’s Witnesses own Bible the answer is clear which says: “one of the foremost princes”, not the foremost. (New World Translation/ Daniel 10:13) Why is that important? Because in all Bible Translations Daniel 10:13 makes it clear that Michael is not unique or above all others, but has others in the same rank as he is, whereas Jesus is above all and before all. Michael the archangel is one of the many angels Jesus created because Scripture teaches that Jesus created all things on earth and in the heavens, and that includes Michael. No where did Jesus teach He was Michael the archangel, but He did teach that He was the Son of Man (Messiah), the Son of God (Deity in flesh), the Lord of the Sabbath (Above all), that He was sent from the Father as the Savior for all mankind, and many other things. But Jesus never taught He was an angel created by the Father, or that He was Michael which shows the Jehovah’s Witnesses misinterpret the Scriptures on the nature of who Jesus is.
What Do Jehovah’s Witnesses Believe About Salvation or Eternal Life?
The Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that only those who are of their Organization can be saved. That means anyone other than a Jehovah’s Witness can not be saved or have eternal life. A couple quotes: “And while now the witness yet includes the invitation to come to Jehovah’s organization for salvation, the time no doubt will come when the message takes on a harder tone, like a ‘great war cry.'” (The Watchtower Nov. 15, 1981, page 21) “Similarly, Jehovah is using only one organization today to accomplish his will. To receive everlasting life in the earthly Paradise we must identify that organization and serve God as part of it.” (The Watchtower Feb. 15, 1983, page 12) The Jehovah’s Witnesses believe there are two groups that are of God. One group is called the ‘great crowd’ also known as the ‘other sheep,’ which they believe will live forever here on earth (paradise). The other group is called ‘little flock’ also known as the 144,000, which will rule and reign with Jesus in heaven forever: “So the 144,000 are persons who die on earth as humans and are resurrected to heavenly life as spirit creatures, as Jesus was. (Romans 6:5) When compared with the thousands of millions of persons who live on earth, they are, indeed, a ‘little flock.’ However, the ‘little flock’ who go to heaven are not the only ones who receive salvation. As we have seen, they will have happy earthly subjects. Jesus referred to these as his ‘other sheep,’ of whom ‘a great crowd’ are even now serving God faithfully.” (The Truth, That Leads to Eternal Life, 1968 p. 77) Making this simple to understand the Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that those who are truly faithful to the end and are of the ‘other sheep’ (John 10:16) will be resurrected to live forever on Paradise earth, and those who have been chosen by God who are of the 144,000 (Revelation 7:4-8 & Revelation 14:1-5) will be ruling with Jesus Christ in heaven for all eternity. Jehovah’s Witnesses use John 10:16 to indicate a certain group class called ‘other sheep’ or ‘the great crowd’, however John 10:16 does not teach what they want it to say: “I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. “I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd.” (John 10:14-16) In Matthew 10:5 Jesus stated that He came for the lost sheep of Israel, namely the Jews, and as John 1:9-13 & John 3:16-18 indicates Jesus came to His own (Israel) and for the whole world (all nations), but His own rejected Him and to those who did receive Him they became children born of God. In Jesus’ ministry He ministered to the Jews, and at times to the Gentiles, and as Jesus said in Luke 24:44-48 & Matthew 28:19-20 that the Gospel and His teachings are to be proclaimed to all nations. (Jews and Gentiles) Paul states: “For He is our peace, He making us both one, and He has broken down the middle wall of partition between us, having abolished in His flesh the enmity (the Law of commandments contained in ordinances) so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, making peace between them; and so that He might reconcile both to God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity in Himself.” (Ephesians 2:14-16) The Gospel is for the lost sheep of Israel, and the lost sheep of the Gentiles. The fact is that the two have become one, and are not to be divided, for in Christ we are one body. In reference to the 144,000 in Revelation 7:4-8 & Revelation 14:1-5 these verses do not teach in any that these are the only ones who will go to heaven, rather they speak about how God is going to use them during the Great Tribulation. The Jehovah’s Witnesses do not qualify for being a part of the 144,000, for they must be literally from the 12 tribes, not to be defiled with women, and are to be virgins. Many of the so-called 144,000 in the Jehovah’s Witness Organization are either married or not from one of the 12 tribes. Jehovah’s Witnesses argue that in Revelation 7 it is not a literal tribe but a spiritual, thus saying they are of the spiritual Israel, but then the number of the 144,000 then by definition would also be spiritual and then it is not limited to only a 144,000, thus showing their claims to be false. And in Revelation 14 they say it again is a spiritual purity not physical, and again the same can be said of who is of the 144,000 if this is not to be taken literally.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses place works and faith as the requirement for eternal life, and for one to be truly saved they must be a part of the Jehovah’s Witnesses Organization. In order for a person to become a Jehovah’s Witness they must go through many Bible studies, door to door preaching, and prove themselves that they truly believe that this Organization is truly of God, and agree with it’s teachings. Then they are baptized into the Organization, thus they are now on the train to eternal life if they hold fast to the doctrines and guidance of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. The Bible does not teach that you have to be a part of some Organization, or go through a certain amount of Bible studies to receive eternal life and be saved. The Bible makes it clear that it is very important to know the Jesus of the Bible, and coming to know Him personally, and living for Him forever. (Matthew 16:24-24, 2 Corinthians 13:5) The Scriptures state: “But as many as received Him, He gave to them authority to become the children of God, to those who believe on His name, who were born, not of bloods, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but were born of God…so that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but so that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes on Him is not condemned, but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God…Therefore I said to you that you shall die in your sins, for if you do not believe that I AM, you shall die in your sins…Jesus said to him, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father but by Me…But these are written so that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you might have life in His name.” (John 1:12-13 & John 3:15-18 & John 8:24 & John 14:6 & John 20:31) The Bible teaches that we can know that we will have eternal life, and this is in Christ Jesus, and receiving Him and living for Him. When a person comes to Christ they receive Him as Lord and Savior, the one who died for their sins, and rose again for their justification, and accepting Him as the only way of salvation and committing their lives unto Him. (Luke 24:44-48, Acts 2:22-41 & Acts 3:19-21 & Acts 16:22-33, Romans 3:19-31 & Romans 4:1-5 & Romans 5:5-10 & Romans 6:1-6 & Romans 8:1-39 &Romans 10:9-13, Galatians 2:20-21, James 1:22-27 & James 2:1-26) When a believer in the Lord Jesus dies they go to the very presence of the Lord, and whether or not it is living on earth or in heaven forever is not the issue, but being with the Lord, and there will be a new heavens and new earth and God will dwell with Him people. (Luke 23:43, John 14:1-6, Philippians 1:21-23, 2 Corinthians 5:1-9, Revelation 21-22)
What has been shared here is a brief summary of some of the teachings of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. The main topics when discussing the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses are the Trinity, the Deity of Jesus Christ, salvation and the forgiveness of sins. This information was written to show the differences of what Jehovah’s Witnesses and Christians believe concerning who God is and receiving eternal life. There are plenty of good books out there that have many more things concerning Jehovah’s Witnesses, such as their false prophecies, blood transfusions, the New World Translation (their Bible), and many more things. I recommend getting “Kingdom of the Cults” by the late Dr. Walter Martin. If you have any questions about this material or other questions please feel free to ask us.
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