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The Jesus of the Watchtower:firstborn? first created? a god? Michael?
Ever had a knock on the door from a Jehovah’s Witness? It is very probable that you have had an encounter with a Jehovah’s Witness but did not know what to say in response to what they had to share. Jehovah’s Witnesses go door to door sharing what they believe to be the Word of God, however what they have been taught is heretical.
When encountering a Jehovah’s Witness it is important to stay on one topic at a time. Jehovah’s Witnesses are trained through the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society publications on how to stump Christians on various topics and to jump from one place to another. It is very important to be prepared when dialoguing with a Jehovah’s Witness because you want to be able to plant solid spiritual seeds that will cause him or her to come to know Christ personally.
The Jesus of the Watchtower
What do Jehovah’s Witnesses believe concerning Jesus Christ? There are important issues that need to be addressed when you encounter a Jehovah’s Witness.
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jesus is the first creation of Jehovah God. Quote: “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)
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jesus is a created god. Quote: “In [the] beginning was Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.” (New World Translation, John 1:1)
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jesus is Michael the archangel. Quote: “The
foremost angel, both in power and authority is the archangel, Jesus Christ, also called Michael.” (Watchtower, Nov. 1, 1995, p. 8)
These issues are extremely important to know when dialoguing with Jehovah’s Witnesses. It is upon the identification of who Jesus is that demonstrates who is of Christ and who is not of Christ. To effectively respond to Jehovah’s Witnesses one must have some basic guidelines.
First, it is important to see the context of what is being stated. Second, it is important to examine what words mean. Third, it is important to look at the totality of what the Scriptures teach. By doing these three steps you can effectively respond to what the Jehovah’s Witnesses have been taught and Lord willing help plant spiritual seeds.
Responding to Jesus being the Firstborn of all Creation
The Watchtower teaches that Jesus is the only creation of God directly and that all other things were created through Jesus. The word of contention is the Greek word Prototokos which is translated “firstborn” in Colossians 1:15. The Watchtower has given this word the meaning of first to be created. Also, the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society have added a word that theologically changes the context of Colossians 1:16-17: “because by means of him all [other] things were created in the heavens and upon the earth, the things visible and things invisible, no matter whether they are thrones or lord-ships or governments or authorities. All [other] things have been created through him and for him. Also, he is before all [other] things and by means of him all [other] things were made to exist”. (New World Translation, Col. 1:16-17) Why did the Watchtower insert the word “[other]” four times when it is not there in the Greek? What does firstborn mean?
Prototokos in the Scriptures is used in various ways. It is used of those who were born first, those who were given preeminence, those given a higher rank. Consider the following on the word firstborn.
“Then you shall say to Pharaoh, `Thus says the LORD, “Israel is My son, My firstborn.” (Exodus 4:22 NASB)
“With weeping they will come, And by supplication I will lead them; I will make them walk by streams of waters, On a straight path in which they will not stumble; For I am a father to Israel, And Ephraim is My firstborn.” (Jeremiah 31:9 NASB)
In these two passages we see the word firstborn used in a way of preeminence. The LORD calls both Israel and Ephraim His firstborn, thus showing that being called firstborn does not mean first to be born or created.
Scholarly resources on Prototokos and Colossians 1:15:
Prototokos according Strongs Greek Lexicon means: “first in time or place in any succession of things or persons; first in rank influence, honour, chief, principal; first, at the first; firstborn, first-begotten.” (Strongs Greek Lexicon #4413 & 4416)
Spiros Zodhiates states: “In Colossians 1:15 Christ holds the same relation to all creation not that He is included as part of the creation, but the relation of the whole creation to Him is determined by the fact that He is prototokos, the firstborn, pases(3956), of all, ktiseos(2937), creation, so that without Him creation could not be (see v. 16). It is not said of Christ that He was ktistheis, created, and not of the creation that it was techtheisa, born or brought forth.” (Lexical Aids To The New Testament, Dr. Spiros Zodhiates, Prototokos)
W. E. Vines states: “First-begotten, Firstborn <1,,4416,prototokos> “firstborn” (from protos, “first,” and tikto, “to beget”), is used of Christ as born of the Virgin Mary, Luke 2:7; further, 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. It is used occasionally of superiority of position in the OT; see Exod. 4:22; Deut. 21:16,17, the prohibition being against the evil of assigning the privileged position of the “firstborn” to one born subsequently to the “first” child…(a) Col. 1:15, where His eternal relationship with the Father is in view, and the clause means both that 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, Prototokos)
These resources provide solid Biblical evidence that Jesus was not the first to be created, but rather the very One who created all things. Colossians 1:15 has to be interpreted within it’s context.
Examining the context of Colossians 1:15-17 it is clear that the Watchtower has added their theological interpretation to the text with their misuse of adding the word “[other]” four times. Not one Greek text has the word “[other]”, thus showing the Watchtower Scripture twisting. Also, there is not one English translation that has the word “[other]” in Colossians 1:16-17. By adding the word “[other]” four times it changes the context of what Colossians 1:15-17 is teaching. See how it reads without the word “[other]” in it:
“15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” (Col. 1:15-17 NASB)
According to the apostle Paul Jesus was the very image of the invisible God manifested in the flesh, through Him all things have been created, and He is before all things. Common sense says if Jesus created all things than He was not a part of creation. Therefore the Watchtower is wrong in how they view Jesus and their misuse of changing what the Scriptures say.
Responding to Jesus being the Beginning of God’s Creation
The Watchtower teaches that Revelation 3:14 means Jesus was the first of God’s creation. The word for “beginning” in the Greek is Arche. Arche 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, Arche) According to what Arche means it is clear that Jesus is the Origin or the Cause of all creation, not that He was the first to be created. Greek scholar Dr. Spiros Zodhiates makes the following observation:
“The word archee, “beginning,” then, can mean either the result or the cause of something. The beginning of a line, for instance, can mean either the point where the pencil first touched the paper, or the person’s decision or intent to draw the line. Lets look at some passages other than John 1:1 which throw light on the subject. One of the most important of these in Rev. 3:14, “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.” Does John here refer to Jesus Christ as the first result of the creation of God or as the First Cause, the Creator? By virtue of other Scriptures, we are forced to adopt the active meaning of the word archee, that Jesus Christ was the Cause of God’s creation and not the first result of it.” (Spiros Zodhiates, Was Christ God, pp. 45-46)
If Arche means first in the sense to be created than the same meaning would apply to God being called “the beginning and the end” in Revelation 22:13! The same Greek word Arche is used of God in Revelation 22:13 as Revelation 3:14, but no Jehovah’s Witness will say that God was first to be created. The proper interpretation of Revelation 3:14 is to examine what Arche means and the context of the Scriptures. Jesus is the One who created all things and not one thing came into existence without Him. (John 1:3, Colossians 1:16-17, Revelation 3:14)
Responding to Jesus being a Created God
The Watchtower not only teaches that Jesus was the first to be created but that Jesus was created a god. This theological position comes from the way they have interpreted John 1:1. In the New World Translation it reads this way: “In [the] beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.” The contention is on the letter “a” and if it should be there. In the Greek text there is no “a” but the Watchtower has added this letter to fit their theological position. There are various ways this can be refuted.
First, to say Jesus is a created god you have to be able to prove God was wrong in Isaiah 43:10. In Isaiah 43:10 God says: “”You are My witnesses,” declares the LORD, “And My servant whom I have chosen, So that you may know and believe Me And understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, And there will be none after Me.” This one passage of Scripture proves that Jesus could not be a created god. Jehovah’s Witnesses acknowledge Jesus being a God but reject Him being Jehovah God. However, God states two things that dismantle Watchtower theology. The Hebrew word for “formed” is Yastar which means to be made, to be created, to be formed, to be fashioned. (Strongs Hebrew Lexicon, Yastar) This means that there were no created or formed Gods/gods before the LORD and that there would be no created or formed Gods/gods after Him. Therefore Jesus is not a created god as the Watchtower teaches and their rendering of John 1:1 would be incorrect theologically making the apostle John a polytheist.
The apostle John knowing the Hebrew Scriptures knows there is only one eternal God and that all other so called gods are either false or not genuine. Therefore for John to be implying that Jesus was a god in John 1:1 he would be going against what the Old Testament Scriptures taught, thus making John a false teacher and polytheist. But John was not a polytheist and he did not imply Jesus being a created God. John in various places shows the eternal Deity of Jesus, thus proving John 1:1 is to be translated “and the Word was God.”
Remember in Isaiah 43:10 the LORD identifies Himself as the “I am He”. This is extremely important to see what John wrote in regards to the identity of Jesus. For example:
“I am He who testifies about Myself, and the Father who sent Me testifies about Me.” (John 8:18 NASB)
“Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” (John 8:24 NASB)
“”Surely You are not greater than our father Abraham, who died? The prophets died too; whom do You make Yourself out to be?” Jesus answered, “If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing; it is My Father who glorifies Me, of whom you say, `He is our God’; and you have not come to know Him, but I know Him; and if I say that I do not know Him, I will be a liar like you, but I do know Him and keep His word. “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” So the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.” Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple.” (John 8:53-59 NASB)
“So Jesus, knowing all the things that were coming upon Him, went forth and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” They answered Him, “Jesus the Nazarene.” He said to them, “I am He.” And Judas also, who was betraying Him, was standing with them. So when He said to them, “I am He,” they drew back and fell to the ground.” (John 18:4-6 NASB)
Within these Scriptures it is clear that Jesus was claiming something about Himself in a Divine way. Jesus states He is “I am He” in John 8:18, that people will dies in their sins unless they believe He is the “I am He” in John 8:24, that He is the Eternal One (I am) in John 8:58, and in John 18 He is “I am He”. This shows John knew the eternal identification of Jesus being God manifested in the flesh, not a created god as the Watchtower teaches. Also, compare Isaiah 41:4 with Jesus’ “I am He’s” and see that there is no doubt Jesus was God in the flesh.
“Who has performed and accomplished it, Calling forth the generations from the beginning? `I, the LORD, am the first, and with the last. I am He.’” (Isaiah 41:4 NASB)
Responding to Jesus being Michael the Archangel
The Watchtower teaches that Jesus is also known as Michael the archangel. According to the Watchtower Michael is the “foremost angel” in authority. Do these teachings line up in Scripture? No they do not!
No where in the Bible is there any indication of Jesus being called Michael. No where in any of the Gospel accounts does Jesus ever speak of Him being a chief angel. None of the apostles teach that Jesus is Michael. Jesus repeatedly identified Himself as the Son of Man, the Son of God, the Lord of the Sabbath, Messiah, I am He, etc., thus showing the Watchtower has added their own theological spin upon what the Scriptures teach concerning Jesus.
As to Michael being the “foremost prince” we read the following: “But the prince of the kingdom of Persia was withstanding me for twenty-one days; then behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left there with the kings of Persia.” (Daniel 10:13 NASB) The Watchtower said Jesus is the “foremost angel”, meaning He is the highest in rank among the angels. However, Michael is not ‘the’ chief prince but is “one of the chief princes.” Michael is “one of”, meaning there are other angels who are chief princes (angels) along with Michael. This shows Biblically that Jesus is not Michael because Jesus is above all the angels, including Michael.
Jehovah’s Witnesses have been taught that Jesus is Michael the archangel in 1 Thessalonians 4:16. Here is what Paul wrote: “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.” Jehovah’s Witnesses have been deceived into believing that “the voice of the archangel” is Jesus. Simply reading this in context it is clear that is not the case. Notice the word with used three times. If Jesus is the archangel in this passage then Jesus is also a trumpet and God! However, there are three things happening here at the same time. Jesus descends with a shout, along with the voice of the archangel, and the trumpet of God. This is all Paul is stating. The Watchtower has added their theological views into this text and it has no warrant.
Additional information concerning this:
It is interesting to know that at one time the Watchtower taught that very thing which they have subtly changed: ‘Archangel is the name given to some of God’s spirit creatures, which name signifies “first in rank”‘. [Creation, 1927, 1,100,000 ed., p. 19] ‘Long ages ago, before earthly time began, the great Jehovah God had a wonderful and mighty organization consisting of a host of spirit creatures, the beautiful angels among them, archangels, seraphim, cherubim, Lucifer and the mighty Logos, the two latter being designated as ‘the morning stars”‘. [Creation, 1927, 1,100,000 ed., pp.23] Notice how the Watchtower taught that archangel was not unique but was among others of the same rank, and Jesus was separated from the category of being an archangel. Why did the Watchtower change their teachings?
The Watchtower had it correct at one time concerning Jesus: "Jesus, means Savior, and we are carried forward from the mere word to the exalted official position, on account of which he can “save to the uttermost all who come unto God by him.” His position is contrasted with that of men and angels, as he is Lord of both, having “all power in heaven and earth.” Hence it is said, “Let all the angels of God worship him”; [that must include Michael, the chief angel, hence Michael is not the Son of God] and the reason is, because he has “by inheritance obtained a more excellent Name than they.” Michael or Gabriel are perhaps grander names than Jesus, though Jesus is grand in it’s very simplicity, but the official character of the Son of God as Savior and King is the inheritance from his Father, which is far superior to theirs, for it pleased the Father that in him all fullness should dwell.’" [The Watchtower Reprints, November 11, 1879, p.48]
The Jesus of the Watchtower is not the Jesus of the Bible. Knowing the Jesus of the Bible means everything. If you have the wrong Jesus you are wrong for all eternity. Jesus said, “unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” If you have any comments or questions please contact us. May God bless you and guide you.
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