Sat, Jun 23rd - 1:38AM
Watchtower Teachings Refuted
Do Jehovah’s Witnesses Have the Only True Christian Religion?
The Bible does not teach the us-only pride or the we-versus-they complex that characterize the so-called Jehovah’s Witnesses. (Psalm 119:63; Mark 9:38-42; Philippians 1:18) JWs believe they have the only true Christian religion and are part of God's organization and that they must be faithful to the Watchtower Organization to earn salvation. JWs point to Bible passages such as Matthew 7:13-14, 21, and Ephesians 4:5 to prove that there is only one true Christian religion. It is true that there is one way: Jesus is the way, not a man-made organization. (John 14:6) Watchtower publications say that certain identifying marks taught in Scripture verify that they are God’s organization, but the Watchtower Organization does not measure up to the marks that JWs say characterize true Christianity.
"The main identifying quality by which true Christians are recognized is the outstanding love they have toward one another." (Aid To Bible Understanding, p.317) John 13:35 is a favorite JW proof text in this. They insist that love among themselves proves they are the only true Christian religion. Question for Jehovah’s Witnesses: Do you ever have difficulty getting along with other Jehovah’s Witnesses, and do you ever find it easier to get along with non-JWs than with Jehovah’s Witnesses?
Watchtower publications use I Corinthians 1:10 to teach the importance of complete conformity to the teachings of the Watchtower Organization, and insist that such unity proves that JWs are the only true Christians and that those who do not have such unity are false Christians. Did the lack of unity among believers at Corinth mean that they were not Christians? (I Corinthians 1:2, 11-13) Where is there any reference to an organization in I Corinthians 1:10, and where in I Corinthians 1:10 (or the context thereof) are we told that unity is to be achieved by submitting to an organization?
Now let's look at another so-called identifying mark: "Jehovah's Witnesses believe that the entire Bible is the inspired Word of God, and instead of adhering to a creed based on human tradition, they hold to the Bible as the standard for all their beliefs." (Reasoning From The Scriptures, p.199) Also: "Because Jehovah's Witnesses base all of their beliefs, their standards for conduct, and organizational procedures on the Bible, their faith in the Bible itself as God's Word gives them the conviction that what they have is indeed the truth. So their position is not egotistical but demonstrates their confidence that the Bible is the right standard against which to measure one's religion." (Reasoning From The Scriptures, p.203-204) Here are a few questions for Jehovah’s Witnesses: Do you ever find it difficult to understand how the Watchtower leadership concluded that any particular Watchtower teaching is based on the Bible or the clear teachings of Scripture? (Acts 17:10-11; I Corinthians 2:5; Colossians 2:8; II Timothy 2:15; 3:16, 17) Do you ever feel that the Watchtower Society or Watchtower leadership is intrusive in matters of personal preference or opinion where no genuine Bible truth, principle, or command is at stake? (I Peter 5:1-3; 4:15; Romans 14:1-13) Where does the Bible say that Jesus is Michael the Archangel or that Michael the Archangel is Jesus Christ? (Hebrews 1:5-6) If Jesus was hung on a single upright pole and not on a cross then why was more than one nail used to fasten His hands and why does the Bible say that the written charge was placed over His head and not above His hands? (John 20:25; Matthew 27:37) Where does the Bible forbid a medical blood transfusion to save a life? (Romans 4:15) Where does the Bible tell you to shun a friend or relative who conscientiously chooses to leave the Watchtower Organization? Where does the Bible tell you to shun a friend or relative who conscientiously chooses to join another denomination? Let’s examine some basic Watchtower teachings in relation to Scripture:
The Necessity of the Watchtower Society
Watchtower publications say that the anointed Christians among Jehovah's Witnesses are supposed to be God's collective "Faithful and Discreet Slave" (represented by the Watchtower Governing Body) that guides people in their understanding of Scripture and is God's only channel of truth. If this organization did not exist until the latter part of the nineteenth century then the Watchtower interpretation of Matthew 24:45-47 means that for eighteen centuries God did not have any true representatives on earth. (Consider Ephesians 4:11-16)
Jehovah's Witnesses use II Peter 1:20-21 to discourage independent Bible study and insist that people must heed and submit to the teachings of the Watchtower Society, but this is another case of replacing what a Bible passage says with what the Watchtower Society says the passage means. Look carefully at the wording: II Peter 1:20-21 is dealing with the origin of Scripture and this is another way of saying that the Bible is inspired of God. (II Timothy 3:16)
Watchtower publications use Acts 8:30-31 to say that the Watchtower Society is God's only Bible-interpreting organization and that people cannot understand Scripture without the Watchtower Society. While the Bible certainly does not condemn all use of Christian literature and Bible study helps, and Christian books and magazines (and other materials) can be helpful, where does the Bible indicate that Christians must submit to the infallible views and interpretations of an organization or its publications? While Acts 8:30-31 does indicate that people occasionally need help understanding Scripture, where in this passage or the context is there any indication of an organization? Since the Ethiopian eunuch never saw Philip again, where is there any indication that the Ethiopian eunuch had to join or submit to an organization or anyone? Did Philip use the Bible alone to expound upon the meaning of Scripture or did he use additional literature? If the Bible alone was sufficient for Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch, doesn't this indicate that the Bible itself is sufficient for us also?
If Christ deliberately bypassed the religious elite and highly educated to reveal truths to ordinary people, and the Apostles commended and encouraged personal study and discernment, then why should we assume that God intended for people of our generation to receive (without question or doubt) the Word of God as interpreted by some religious elite claiming to have some special key to understanding Scripture that ordinary people don't have? If the Bible is the Word of God and the final authority, then why should we assume that God expects people of our generation to interpret Bible passages in relation to Christian literature or theologians instead of interpreting Bible passages in relation to context and the whole Bible?
We certainly do need ministers, church fellowship, and Christian literature to help us, and there are difficulties in the Bible, but for the most part the Bible is self-explanatory and self-interpreting when one is familiar with its contents. (Psalm 119:130; Proverbs 2:3-6; II Timothy 2:15; Ephesians 4:11-15) Scripture itself is the key to understanding Scripture, comparing Scripture with Scripture. (I Corinthians 2:13; II Timothy 2:15)
Over the decades of their history the Watchtower Society has changed its official stand or doctrine on various issues, e.g., celebration of Christmas, the Great Pyramid being inspired of God like the Bible, that Black people are inferior to White people, the use of blood as medicine, the stand on the flag and service in the armed forces, the prohibitions against vaccinations and organ transplants, whether the second coming was in 1874 or 1914, predictions of dates for Armageddon that never came to pass, if or how much association with disfellowshipped persons is allowed, whether disassociated persons must be treated the same as disfellowshipped persons, etc.. However, if you point out the string of past errors and doctrinal flip-flopping to a Jehovah's Witness it is likely that he will respond that this proves that he is in God's organization and that God is making their light get brighter. Watchtower publications use Proverbs 4:18 to mean that the introduction of "New Light" proves that they are God's organization. "But the path of the righteous ones is like the bright light that is getting lighter and lighter until the day is firmly established." (Proverbs 4:18 NWT) However, this interpretation of Proverbs 4:18 ignores the context, which demonstrates that Proverbs 4:18 is not a justification for doctrinal changes or a reference to an organization but is a contrast with the way of the wicked. "The way of the wicked ones is like the gloom; they have not known at what they keep stumbling." (Proverbs 4:19 NWT)
The requirement that any light from God has to be true is an obvious and essential part of the theory about the light getting brighter; the light is not supposed to extinguish the old light but merely adds to the old light. An examination of the history of Watchtower changes reveals that the "new light" has not always been true, and often the "new light" has actually been a re-introduction of "old Light" that had been previously discarded as error or falsehood.
Jehovah's Witnesses and other cults and various liberal theologians deny the literal physical resurrection of Jesus Christ. (Romans 10:9-10; I Corinthians 15:13-18) The Gospel is the death, burial, and literal resurrection of Christ through which sinners can be declared righteous through faith in Jesus Christ when they repent. (John 3:13-15; Acts 4:15-19; I Corinthians 15:1-4) The Bible clearly teaches the physical resurrection of Christ and all dead. (Job 19:25, 27; Isaiah 26:19; John 5:28-29; Acts 24:15; I Corinthians 15:42-49; Philippians 3:21; Revelation 20:12-13) The resurrection was central to the preaching of the Apostles. (Acts 3:15; 4:1-2; 10:39-41; 17:18; 24:15) Jesus said that His body would be resurrected, and after the resurrection He verified this. (John 2:19-21; Luke 24:36-43) The redeemed will have a body like that of Christ; the body will be changed. (I Corinthians 15:51-52; II Corinthians 5:4; Philippians 3:20-21; I Thessalonians 5:23)
Watchtower publications assert that Christ was raised up as a spirit creature, and that He materialized a body to make Himself visible. When JWs make this assertion, challenge them to show Scriptural evidence to back up this claim.
JWs use two accounts about Christ not being recognized by those who knew Him as proof that He was resurrected in a different form. Watchtower publications claim that the disciples on the road to Emmaus did not recognize Christ because He was in a different form than when He was crucified. But this interpretation ignores the context. The disciples did not recognize Christ because He did not will it so. (Luke 24:16) After their faith was tested He opened their eyes and they recognized Him. (Luke 24:31) Watchtower publications claim that Christ appeared to Mary as the gardener. But the context makes it clear that it was Mary who made the mistake of thinking Christ was the gardener. (John 20:15-16)
JWs also use I Peter 3:18 to discredit the bodily resurrection. The proposition is set forth that Christ was raised from the dead as a spirit. If JWs give you this interpretation of I Peter 3:18, then show them Romans 8:8-13, Galatians 5:24-25, Ephesians 6:18, Revelation 1:10, and I Peter 4:6.
A favorite passage among JWs is I Corinthians 15:50, which says "flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God." The term "flesh and blood" occurs only five times in the New Testament, and in each case the reference is to natural man and not to literal flesh and blood. (Matthew 16:17; I Corinthians 15:50; Galatians 1:16; Ephesians 6:12; Hebrews 2:14) Natural man, man in his present earthly nature, cannot inherit the kingdom of God; natural man needs the new birth. (John 3:3-7; I Corinthians 15:39-50)
Denial of the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ is calling Him accursed, for this would mean that He died under judgment of sin and is still under that judgment. (I Corinthians 12:3)
The Jehovah's Witnesses deny the teaching of eternal punishment in Hellfire for the unsaved dead. They teach that death is a termination of existence and Hell is the common grave of mankind and a state of unconsciousness. What does the Bible teach?
In the Bible the word soul is used to denote mere animal or physical life, as Watchtower literature points out, but it usually means the internal, immaterial aspect or ego of man. The Bible makes a distinction between the body and soul (a Bible Concordance will help you see this). Also, while the Bible does say that animals have souls, it does not say or indicate that they are immortal.
Ezekiel 18:4 is a favorite JW proof text. The soul does die in the same sense that Adam and Eve died the very day they ate the forbidden fruit. (Genesis 2:17; 5:3-5) Death means separation: Physical death is the separation of the soul and body. (Genesis 35:18) Spiritual death is separation from God. (Romans 5:12, 17; Ephesians 2:1; Colossians 2:13; I Peter 4:6)
Watchtower literature also says that the spirit is merely one's breath. In Acts 7:59 was Stephen asking Jesus to take away his bad breath?
Ecclesiastes 9:5 & 10 are two more favorite JW proof texts. Hell is a place of unconsciousness and inactivity when it comes to bodily senses and the affairs of this world. (Isaiah 63:16; John 9:4; Revelation 14:13) While Ecclesiastes 9:5 & 10 may not prove there is conscious life after death, do these passages prove that there is no conscious life after death or could these passages and their context be dealing with the inevitability of physical death? (Ecclesiastes 9:2) Will all receive the same fate or destiny, whether they are faithful or wicked? Does the phrase “the remembrance of them has been forgotten” in Ecclesiastes 9:5 mean there will be no resurrection after this life for anyone?
The word rendered destruction in II Thessalonians 1:9 is the Greek word olethros. Olethros means a ruin of one's state of being, and is used in I Timothy 6:9. Olethros does not mean a termination of existence.
The word rendered destruction in Matthew 10:28 is the Greek word apollumi, which means ruin or loss of well-being. This word is used in Luke 5:37 regarding the destruction of wineskins, and does not mean a termination of existence.
The word rendered everlasting in II Thessalonians 1:9 and Matthew 25:41 & 46 is the Greek word aioonios, which means never ceasing.
The word Hell is the rendering of the Hebrew word Sheol, and the Greek words Hades, Gehenna, and Tartaroo. The verb Tartaroo means cast down to Tartarus; Tartarus means the deepest or lowest places. (II Peter 2:4 NWT) Sheol is the unseen state or world of the dead, whether lost or saved. (Genesis 37:35; Psalm 31:17; Isaiah 38:10) Hades is the unseen world of the dead, usually of the lost, and corresponds to Sheol. (Luke 16:23; Revelation 20:13-14) Hades is a place of disembodied souls of the dead. (Acts 2:31; Psalm 16:10) Paradise refers to a division of Hades (Sheol) reserved for the saved dead. (Job 3:13-19; Luke 23:43) At the time of the resurrection of Christ, Paradise was changed from beneath into heaven. (Isaiah 42:6-7; II Corinthians 12:2-4; Ephesians 4:8-9)
JWs claim that the account of the Rich Man and Lazarus is a parable and does not relate an actual occurrence. (Luke 16:19-31) If this account is a parable (even though the context gives no indication of this), keep in mind that a parable is an example or picture which verifies something, and a symbol is a small representation of a greater reality. Watchtower literature says the Rich Man represents false religious leaders and Lazarus represents true Christians. If this is the case then who are the Rich Man's five brothers and why did he want Lazarus to witness to them? (Luke 16:27-31)
Gehenna (Valley of Hinnom) is a valley near Jerusalem where Solomon and others built high places and sacrificed children to Moloch and Chemosh by burning them alive. (I Kings 11:7; II Chronicles 28:3; 33:6; Jeremiah 32:35) Gehenna eventually became a city dump and incinerator. (II Kings 23:10) Gehenna was considered an abomination and came to signify Hell in the modern sense of the word, and is used in the Bible to mean Hell. Were the Scribes and Pharisees thrown into the literal Valley of Hinnom? (Matthew 23:15, 33) Who is referred to in Luke 12:4-5, and why should anyone fear someone who can do more to him after the body is killed if death is a termination of existence? Is there still fire burning in the literal Valley of Hinnom? (Mark 9:47-48) Are there worms that never die in the literal Valley of Hinnom? (Mark 9:44, 46, 48) The Old Testament refers to the lost in Hell as worms or maggots, so we can assume that this is what Christ was meant. It is obvious that Gehenna is the Lake of fire and brimstone. (Mark 9:43-48; Revelation 21:8) The Lake of fire is called the second death because it is the final judgment of the unsaved dead after they have been physically resurrected. It is the conclusive and permanent separation from God. (Matthew 7:23; Hebrews 6:2; II Peter 2:4-9; Revelation 20:11-15)
Why fire? Fire is purifying. (Numbers 31:23; I Peter 1:7; Revelation 3:18) Everything contaminated by sin must be purified, and those not washed in the blood of the Lamb must be purified by fire. But fire will not atone for sin or remove the sins of the lost, which is why the fire is eternal. (Matthew 3:12; 25:41, 46; II Thessalonians 1:7-9)
The Second Coming
JWs deny the Second Coming of Christ in bodily human form and teach that Christ returned invisibly in 1914 AD and that the Second Coming is invisible. JWs will inevitably refer to John 14:19. "A little longer and the world will behold me no more, but YOU will behold me, because I live and YOU will live." (John 14:19 NWT) The world in which Christ lived when He said this beheld Him no more. (Acts 1:9; consider II Peter 3:6) JWs will also refer to I Timothy 6:16. But notice this does not say that Christ is unapproachable and cannot be seen, it says this about the light He dwells in. The Bible does say that we no longer know Christ according to the flesh, but it also says this about fellow Christians. (II Corinthians 5:16-17) In heaven today Jesus Christ has a glorified human body. (Acts 1:9-11; 2:29-33; Colossians 2:9; I Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 10:12-13; I John 4:1-3) JWs will also point to Acts 1:9-11 and explain that something in a cloud is unseen and so this must mean that His return is invisible. But look at this text again: Did anyone see Christ ascend with their literal human eyes, and was Christ caught up into a figurative or imaginary cloud?
How do they calculate 1914 AD to be the year of the return of Christ? The line of Kingdom rulers was interrupted in 607 BC when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonian Army and God's kingdom of Judah fell. (Ezekiel 21:25-27) Seven times to pass until rule restored. (Daniel 4:32, 16, 17) Seven=2 x 3 1/2 times, or 2 x 1,260 days. (Revelation 12:6, 14; 11:2, 3) A day for a year, making 2,520 years. (Ezekiel 4:6; Numbers 14:34) To run until the kingdom's establishment. (Luke 21:24; Daniel 7:13-14) Now let's look at just a few problems with this. The prophecy about seven times to pass until the rule is restored was about Nebuchadnezzar and was fulfilled in Nebuchadnezzar's lifetime. (Daniel 4:30-36) All credible scholars give 586 BC as the year Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonian Army. Ask a JW to verify that this happened in 607 BC.. What did Jesus say to the Disciples when they asked if He was about to restore the kingdom to Israel? (Acts 1:6-7)
How is it possible to reconcile the promise of Matthew 28:20 with the teaching that the return of Christ would be invisible and that He returned invisibly in 1914 AD?
By observing the Memorial service (Lord’s Supper/Communion) Jehovah’s Witnesses contradict the teaching that Christ returned in 1914 AD and contradict the purpose of the ordinance, since this is to be observed "... until he arrives." (I Corinthians 11:26 NWT)
The Bible clearly teaches that the return of Christ will be personal and visible. (Acts 1:11; Revelation 1:7)
The Jehovah's Witnesses teach that only The Father is Jehovah, that Jesus Christ is a created angel, that the Holy Spirit is an impersonal force, and that the Trinity is a pagan teaching and "Not a Bible teaching." (Reasoning From The Scriptures, p.405)
The Trinity is not a pagan doctrine. Ancient pagans did not worship any trinity, they worshipped triads. A triad is three distinct gods, while the Trinity is one God existing in three persons.
The word Trinity is a combination of the word "trine," which means threefold or three times, and the suffix "-ity," which means state, character, or condition. In other words, God is not triplex (1+1+1), God is triune (1x1x1). (I John 5:7; II Corinthians 13:14; Ephesians 2:18, 22; I Peter 1:2) The triunity of God is seen in Bible teaching on salvation: As the Father, God originates salvation and made provision for salvation; as the Son, God paid the penalty for sin; as the Holy Ghost, God applies salvation. Consider that it comes natural to love oneself (Galatians 5:14; Ephesians 5:29), a Christian is obliged to bring his body into subjection (I Corinthians 9:27), and man is made in the image of God and is triune. (Genesis 1:26-27; I Thessalonians 5:23)
Whether any of us completely understand or even accept a Bible truth does not determine if it is a Bible truth, and since God is our Creator and is so much higher than us we should not be surprised to find difficulties in understanding His nature. God reveals Himself to man through words, words in His Word. As the Spirit of God reveals truths to us through the Word of God He becomes more majestic to us, not simple. (Psalm 97:2)
The Deity Of Christ
JWs like to use I Corinthians 15:28 and similar passages to try to prove that Jesus Christ is inferior by virtue of His being subject. However, submission or subjection does not necessarily mean inferiority, it is often a form of love. A wife should submit to her husband because of love for God and her husband. (Ephesians 5:22-24; Colossians 3:18; I Corinthians 11:3) Jesus was subject to Mary and Joseph even though He is their Creator. (Luke 2:51; John 1:3)
John 14:28 is another favorite JW proof text. Note that He did not say the Father is better, He said the Father is "greater," a reference to position and not nature. Also note that the MAN Christ Jesus is mediator. (I Timothy 2:5; also consider John 5:19; Acts 2:29-33; Colossians 2:9; Philippians 2:5-11; Hebrews 2:8,9; 10:12)
JWs will also refer to Revelation 3:14 which says that Jesus is "the beginning of the creation of God." The word beginning here is the rendering of the Greek word Arche, which means first cause, origin or source, and is where we get the English word "architect."
Watchtower literature often points to Bible passages which say that Jesus Christ is only-begotten. The word only-begotten is the rendering of the Greek word monogenes, which simply means the only one of a class or kind.
JWs also refer to Colossians 1:15 which says Jesus Christ is "the firstborn of every creature" to prove that He was a created angel before He was conceived in Mary's womb. The term firstborn means the legal heir and does not always mean the eldest. The nation of Israel was called firstborn even though there were many other nations already in existence before Israel was formed. Psalm 89:27 calls King David firstborn even though David was the youngest son in his family.
JWs will insist that Jesus Christ cannot be God and must be created because the Bible calls Him the Son of God. The term son is used in the Bible to denote or imply almost any kind of descent or succession, and the meaning of the word depends on the setting and context in which it is used. (Consider Exodus 2:10 and Hebrews 1:8) Son of God was a messianic title which signified the function of Deliverer. (E.g. Matthew 16:16) Note that the Devil tempted Christ by bringing against Him the popular Jewish conceptions of the Messiah. (Matthew 4:1-11)
Ask a JW to show any passage of Scripture which says that Jesus Christ was a created angel before He was an embryo in Mary's womb. His humanity originated in Mary's womb, but not His deity. (Micah 7:2; Matthew 1:18-23; Luke 1:31-35; John 8:58; Galatians 4:4; Hebrews 7:3; 10:5) Christ is God veiled in human flesh. (Matthew 1:23; John 1:1-14; 10:30; 14:9-10; II Corinthians 5:19; Colossians 1:15; 2:9; I Timothy 3:16)
JWs like to compare the unity of the Father and the Son to the unity of Christians. (John 8:28, 29; 10:30; 17:20-22; I Corinthians 1:10) But consider the context of I Corinthians 1:10; this was written because Christians, even believers who were members of the same congregation, were divided.
JWs also point to John 1:18 which says "No man hath seen God at any time," and people did see Jesus Christ. No man hath seen God as He is, only visions or materializations of God, but there have been those who have seen God manifest in the flesh. (John 4:24; 6:46; 14:9; Philippians 2:6-7; I Timothy 3:16)
In the New World Translation (the Watchtower Society's translation) John 1:1 says the Word was "a god." This is because the third stanza of the Greek text does not use the definite article, and it is therefore assumed that this must be translated indefinitely as "a god" or "divine." For John 1:1 to say that Jesus was a lesser form of deity the Greek word theios would have been used instead of theos. In the 282 New Testament references to God without using the definite article with the word theos the New World Translation usually renders theos as "God," such as in Luke 20:38 and verses 6, 12, 13, and 18 of chapter one of John. Should we change John 1:18 to say: "No man hath seen a god at any time?" Why isn't the same rule applied to John 1:1 in the New World Translation also applied to the other New Testament passages where Theos is used without the definite article?
Watchtower publications say that only the Father is the one true God (Jehovah) based on John 17:3 and say that Jesus Christ is “a god” based on the New World Translation’s rendering of John 1:1. So is Jesus a true god or a false god? If Jesus is a true god how is it possible to reconcile this with John 17:3? If Jesus is a false god how is it possible to reconcile this with John 1:1?
If only the Father is God and Jesus is "a god," then how many "gods" do JWs have in their religion? (Isaiah 43:10; Isaiah 44:8)
Jesus Christ is the true God. (I John 5:20; Jeremiah 10:10)
Jesus is called Mighty God. (Isaiah 9:6) Only Jehovah is God. (Isaiah 43:10; 44:6) Jehovah is called Mighty God. (Isaiah 10:20-21)
Jesus is Jehovah of Hosts. (Isaiah 8:13-14; I Peter 2:7-8)
Jesus is God the judge. (Ecclesiastes 12:14; I Corinthians 4:5; II Corinthians 5:10; II Timothy 4:1)
Whose manifestation and whose kingdom is referred to in II Timothy 4:1?
Whose glory did Isaiah see? (Isaiah 6:1; John 12:37-41)
Jesus is Jehovah, the first and the last. (Isaiah 44:6; Revelation 1:8, 17-18; 2:8; 22:13, 16)
Jesus is Jehovah, the light. (Psalm 27:1; Isaiah 60:19; I Timothy 1:1; Titus 1:3; 2:10,13; 3:4,6)
Jesus is Jehovah, the Shepherd. (Psalm 23:1; John 10:11)
Jesus is Jehovah, the Creator. (Isaiah 44:24; Psalm 102:24-27; Hebrews 1:8-12; John 1:3; Colossians 1:16,17)
Jesus is Jehovah, the King. (Psalm 24:10; Acts 17:7)
Who did Stephen pray to? (Acts 7:59-60)
For Whom did John the Baptist prepare the way? (Isaiah 40:3; Matthew 3:1-3; Luke 1:76; also compare Malachi 3:1 and Matthew 11:10)
The Deity of the Holy Spirit
If someone lies to the Holy Spirit he lies to God. How is it possible to lie to an impersonal force? If you lie you lie to a person. (Acts 5:3-4) The Holy Spirit speaks (Acts 13:2-4; I Timothy 4:1), hears (John 16:13), makes intercession (Romans 8:26), has intellect (Romans 8:27), makes decisions (Acts 15:28), grieves (Ephesians 4:30), and has a will (I Corinthians 12:11). These are characteristics of a personality.
The Holy Spirit is Jehovah. (Exodus 17:7; Hebrews 3:7-9) The Holy Spirit is Jehovah of Hosts. (Isaiah 6:3, 8-10; Acts 28:25-27) The Holy Spirit is Jehovah, Most High. (Psalm 78:17, 21; Acts 7:51) The Holy Spirit is Jehovah, Who promised the New Covenant. (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 10:15-17)
Does The Name Jehovah Occur In The New Testament?
Jehovah's Witnesses, and sometimes ex-JWs, insist that the New World Translation of the New Testament is more accurate because it includes the Hebrew name of God. Is this a correct assumption?
No ancient Greek manuscripts of the New Testament contain the Hebrew name of God.
If I were to talk about Mosheh many readers would not immediately recognize that I was referring to Moses, even though Moses is an inaccurate rendering of the word Mosheh. The same would be true of other Hebrew names. The Hebrew name of God, the Tetragrammaton, is a Hebrew word that most Gentiles would probably not be able to pronounce even if the correct pronunciation were known.
Consider that the name Jesus is the Latin counterpart of the Hebrew Yeshua, the Hebrew word Yeshua means "Jehovah-Savior" or "Jehovah is salvation" or "salvation of Jehovah," and in the Old Testament the New World Translation often renders Yeshua as merely "salvation," such as in Job 13:16 & Psalm 13:5.
The New Testament is inspired of God, and Jesus Christ recognized and verified the inspiration and authority of the New Testament by way of anticipation. (John 14:26; 16:12-13) New Testament quotes of the Old Testament are translations of a Hebrew text into Greek, and under inspiration of God the New Testament Bible writers rendered the Hebrew name of God as Lord (Gr. Kurios) in their quotations of the Old Testament. Why? Because of the changeover of the authority and power of the name of Jehovah to the name of Jesus. (John 5:23; 17:11; Acts 4:12; Philippians 2:9-11; Hebrews 1:4)
The Watchtower Society inserts the Hebrew name of God into the New Testament text of the New World Translation to support their doctrines and support their claim that only Jehovah's Witnesses are true Christians and that only Jehovah's Witnesses will be saved.
The Watchtower Interpretation of Exodus 3:15
"Then God said once more to Moses: 'This is what you are to say to the sons of Israel, "Jehovah the God of YOUR forefathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob, has sent me to YOU." This is my name to time indefinite, and this is the memorial of me to generation after generation.'" (Exodus 3:15 NWT) Watchtower publications insist that Exodus 3:15 is a command to always refer to God as Jehovah forever, and claim that the name Jehovah is the only name by which to address God.
While God is known by the name Jehovah (or Yahweh), Jehovah is not the only name by which God is known. The Watchtower interpretation conflicts with the numerous Bible passages where God is identified in other ways besides the name Jehovah, such as the numerous times He is referred to as "the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob" without any mention of the name Jehovah. Jesus never addressed the Father as Jehovah or referred to the Father as Jehovah, and He thus demonstrated that Jehovah is not the only way that God can be addressed.
Exodus 3:15 is dealing with more than the use of a word. God was telling Moses that He would be manifest in the nature expressed by that name, that is, He would manifest that in His true nature and being He is the eternally self-existent and sovereign God. (Consider I Kings 18:36-37)
Romans 10:13 in the New World Translation
"For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." (Romans 10:13 KJV) "For 'everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will be saved.'" (Romans 10:13 NWT) "For if you publicly declare that 'word in your own mouth,' that Jesus is Lord, and exercise faith in your heart that God raised him up from the dead, you will be saved." (Romans 10:9 NWT) "Let it be known to all of YOU and to all the people of Israel, that in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene', whom YOU impaled but whom God raised up from the dead, by this one does this man stand here sound in front of YOU. This is 'the stone that was treated by YOU builders as of no account that has become the head of the corner.' Furthermore, there is no salvation in anyone else, for there is not another name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must get saved." (Acts 4:10-12 NWT)
Although including the name Jehovah in Romans 10:13 indicates that Jesus is Jehovah when compared to Romans 10:9, this contradicts the teaching on salvation presented in Romans 10:9 and Acts 4:12. Since the name Jehovah does not occur in any ancient Greek manuscripts of the New Testament and every ancient Greek manuscript of the New Testament uses the Greek word Kurios (Lord) in Romans 10:13, what is the basis for inserting the name Jehovah into Romans 10:13 in the New World Translation? If God had wanted Romans 10:9-12 to make it clear that Jesus is the "Lord" being referred to in Romans 10:13 how would He have changed the wording of this text?
The Watchtower Organization teaches that separation from the world means that Christians must not vote or otherwise participate in politics or public affairs, or serve in the military (not even to defend their nation against aggression). The separation taught in the Bible is godly conduct, distinctions, and relationships within society (separation from the sins of society), and is not isolation from society or neutrality concerning politics, community affairs, or even war. (Matthew 22:21; Romans 13:1-7; Ephesians 5:3-11; I Timothy 2:1-2; I Peter 2:11-12)
Man is a natural-born sinner, inherently depraved. It is not human government that is sinful or wicked but rather those who comprise human government, which is why Christian influence is essential. Christians are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Salt cleanses, purifies, preserves, and makes people thirsty, and light dispels darkness. Christians are supposed to be a cleansing and illuminating influence, impacting society and culture for righteousness. (Matthew 5:13-16) Should we interpret the words of Christ in Matthew 6:9-11 to mean that He was promoting laziness and idleness? No, a good job should be considered an answer to the prayer for basic necessities. The exhortation to pray for all men and for all that are in authority does not imply neutrality regarding politics and community affairs; opportunities to vote and otherwise influence and participate in public affairs should be considered answers to such prayers. (I Timothy 2:1-2)
The Watchtower Society forbids JWs from joining the armed forces for any reason, and they will not baptize a member of the armed forces until he leaves the armed forces. (Anyone remember Cornelius? -Acts 10) Where in the Bible is any soldier told to resign from the armed forces? Having the armed forces is part of God's purpose for human government and a soldier is a representative of the government. (Romans 13:1-4) Granted, sometimes human governments (being composed of humans) abuse or exceed their authority, but that is another issue. The same God who said "Thou shalt not kill" also told His people to fight wars and execute various criminals, and a passage must be understood or interpreted in relation to its context and the whole Bible. In Exodus 20:13 the word rendered "kill" (Hebrew: Ratsach) means murder. Different Hebrew words are used for killing in self-defense, killing in the line of duty, etc... In the Old Testament, military service was the duty of all able-bodied adult males (with the exception of Levites), and the vast majority of them were what we refer to today as Reservists or National Guardsmen; the words of Christ that are often used to promote pacifism were initially spoken to people still living under the Old Covenant, and should be understood or interpreted accordingly. (Numbers 1; consider II Timothy 2:15; 3:16) What about Matthew 5:39? This is not condemning self-defense or military service, Christ was using an idiom. Note that the Greek word here rendered "smite" is Rhapizo, which means "slap." This does not imply anything against left-handed people, but the vast majority of people are right-handed and a right-handed person must approach someone from behind in order to slap the right cheek; this is dealing with backbiting. What about Matthew 26:52? Again, the passage must be interpreted or understood in relation to context. (Matthew 26:47-56) What about Isaiah 2:4 and similar passages? Bible passages dealing with the actions of nations that will be inevitable as a result of the absence of the threat of war and the universality of righteousness or godliness obviously do not relate to what we should be doing right now.
Holidays & Birthdays
Where does the Bible condemn celebrating birthdays and being happy that someone you love was born and lives, especially the birth of our Savior (regardless of whether we have the correct date or not)? What truth or principle is violated? The death, burial, and resurrection of Christ would not have been possible without the virgin birth. Watchtower literature points to two accounts of kings (Herod & Pharaoh) celebrating their birthdays and having someone killed. It must be noted that these ancient kings (dictators) had people killed every day, and not just on their birthdays. According to chapter one of Job (note verse one), Job and his family celebrated birthdays and had such a good time at this that Job felt compelled to offer sacrifices just in case they might have went too far in their merrymaking.
If we are going to nit-pick on details we should forbid weddings rings since wedding rings have a pagan origin; wedding cakes have a pagan origin so we should probably prohibit them since the Bible never specifically authorizes wedding cakes; the names of the months and the days of the week have pagan origins so we should forbid calendars; we should forbid clocks and watches since the use of clocks and timepieces and the division of the day into the hours comes from astrology and the Bible never commands you to wear a wristwatch or hang a clock on the wall; etc.. The Bible forbids idolatry, not everything that pagans happened to do.
Consider Romans 14:1, 4-6. This was initially written to Christians in Rome who lived in a culture which promoted pagan holidays (such as Saturnalia). The converted Gentiles there came from a background of pagan holidays and the converted Jews came from a background of Jewish holidays. If you happen to know someone who uses Christmas or Easter as opportunity to worship Baal or Tammuz I will agree that they are sinning and need to repent of idolatry. But it is not a sin to set aside a day unto the Lord to honour Him and enjoy fellowship.
The Destiny of the Earth
Jehovah's Witnesses deny that God will one day destroy the earth by fire. (II Peter 3:7) "If these texts (2 Peter 3:7,10 and Revelation 21:1) mean that the literal planet Earth is to be consumed by fire, then the literal heavens (the stars and other heavenly bodies) are also to be destroyed by fire. Such a literal view, however, conflicts with the assurance contained in such texts as Matthew 6:10, Psalm 37:29 and 104:5, also Proverbs 2:21, 22. Furthermore, what effect would fire have on the already intensely hot sun and stars? So the term "earth" in the above-quoted texts must be understood in a different sense." (Reasoning From The Scriptures, p.114) This Watchtower publication goes on to say that the terms "heaven" and "earth" are figurative and the "fire" is also symbolic.
You should note that the cited proof texts do not conflict with the view that the earth will be destroyed by fire. Also, the same argument they employ could be used to say that their cited proof texts refer to a figurative "earth." If "earth" represents wicked human society, "heaven" represents the ruling powers or earthly governments, and "fire" represents annihilation in these texts, as Watchtower publications claim, then how is it possible to renew something which no longer exists? (Revelation 21:5)
Watchtower publications say that if II Peter 3:7, 10 means that the literal earth will be destroyed by fire, then this means that the sun and stars (which are already intensely hot) will be destroyed by fire. But is this what the passage says? The word "heaven" is used in the Bible in several senses, and the setting and context must be considered to determine the meaning. "Heaven" does refer to the region in which the stars revolve in the New Testament. (Acts 7:42; Hebrews 11:12) Heaven also refers to the abode of God and Christ. (II Corinthians 12:2; Hebrews 9:24; I Peter 3:22) Heaven can also mean the sky or atmosphere, and in these prophecies about a new heaven and a new earth heaven obviously refers to the atmosphere surrounding the earth. (Matthew 6:26; 8:20; 16:1-3; 24:30; Luke 21:27; Acts 1:9-11; 14:17) It is noteworthy that Watchtower publications say that in the Bible the word "heaven" also refers to the sky or atmosphere surrounding the earth. (Make Sure Of All Things, p.228; Reasoning From The Scriptures, p.161; Aid To Bible Understanding, p.731)
It should also be noted that the prophecy of a new heavens and a new earth in Isaiah 65 is a different context and setting than New Testament prophecy. Isaiah 65:17 (another JW proof text) and subsequent verses are part of a prophecy about restoration from Babylonian captivity and predict a transformation during which death still occurs while the New Testament predicts a sudden and complete destruction followed by renewal and no more death. (Isaiah 65:20; II Peter 3:7, 10; Revelation 21:1-4)
Who Are The “Generation” Of Matthew 24:34?
Watchtower publications teach that Matthew 24 is a prophecy about modern times beginning in 1914 A.D… While the discourse may go on to deal with futurist components, Matthew 24 is a prophecy about the end of the Jewish world which centered on Jerusalem and the temple (Destruction of Jerusalem 70 AD; the Lord's coming in judgment); consider the context and setting. (Matthew 24:1-3) There were many deceivers who claimed to be Christian (saying that Jesus is Christ), false prophets and false messiahs in the years and decades preceding the destruction of Jerusalem. (Matthew 24:4-5, 11, 24; Romans 16:17-18; II Corinthians 11:13-15; Titus 1:10) Wars, famines, and pestilences characterized the years preceding the destruction of Jerusalem. (Matthew 24:6-7; note also that WWI was not the first "world war" in history, and there were other wars preceding WWI that were far more destructive.) Matthew 24:14 was fulfilled before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. (Romans 10:18; Colossians 1:6, 23) Matthew 24:29 uses an Old Testament figure of speech for national disaster. (Consider Isaiah 13:10; Ezekiel 32:7; Joel 2:10; 3:15) There were survivors of the destruction of 70 AD; thousands were taken captive, many of whom were sold into slavery. (Matthew 24:22, 40-41) Matthew 24:15 is an obvious reference to the earthly temple in Jerusalem then in operation. (Compare Hebrews 9:11-12, 24-25) In 66 A.D., Roman forces surrounded Jerusalem and made a thrust up to the temple walls and then withdrew for no apparent reason, and then the Christians in Judea fled to the mountains as instructed. (Matthew 24:16) Matthew 24:15-16 refers to the prophecy of the seventy weeks in Daniel 9:24-27. Calculating a day for a year (Ezekiel 4:6) means that 69 weeks (62 + 7) is 483 years, which would bring us to the year Christ was baptized and began His public ministry. (Daniel 9:25) Christ was crucified about 3 1/2 years later; in other words, "in the midst of the week" He was "cut off." (Daniel 9:26-27) "Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression...." (Daniel 9:24) Note that Stephen emphasized how Israel's response to God revealed character, and his death led to a persecution and a dispersal of Christians from Jerusalem. (Acts 7:51-53; 8:1-4; consider Matthew 23:33-36) "And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week...." (Daniel 9:27) Cornelius was converted about four years after the crucifixion of Christ, and until his conversion the preaching of the Gospel was limited to Jews, Jewish proselytes, and Samaritans who kept the Mosaic Law. Before Cornelius became a Christian it had not been revealed that Gentiles were to be received into the church as Gentiles and did not have to first become Jews in order to become Christians. (Acts 10:1-48; 11:18) "This generation" refers to people living when Christ uttered the prophecy, and Jerusalem was destroyed within the lifetime of people then living. (Matthew 24:34; compare Matthew 11:16; 12:39; 17:17; 23:36; etc...)
The Heavenly Hope
"And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise." (Luke 23:43 KJV) "And he said to him: 'Truly I tell you today, You will be with me in Paradise.'" (Luke 23:43 NWT) The word "Paradise" occurs three times in the New Testament: Luke 23:43, II Corinthians 12:4, and Revelation 2:7. JWs usually ignore the other two passages and insist that Luke 23:43 is a promise that the man to whom Jesus was speaking would be resurrected thousands of years later to live forever on an earth changed into one big beautiful garden park. The Watchtower interpretation is based on the placement of the comma in the words of Jesus; by placing the comma after the word "today" it appears that the resurrection in paradise that Jesus spoke of would be in the far future and not that day. Since there are no commas in the Greek text of these words the placement of the comma is left to the discretion of the translator. Most Bibles place the comma before the word "today," but the New World Translation puts the comma after the word "today." In the dozens of other New Testament passages where Jesus uses the expression "Truly I tell you" or "Truly I say to you" ("tell" and "say" are the same word in the Greek text) the New World Translation is consistent in the punctuation, but the New World Translation makes an exception in Luke 23:43. Why? If I were to vocally and personally say something to you right now it would be quite obvious that I would speaking "today;" where does the context of Luke 23:43 indicate any logical reason that Jesus would feel the need to verbalize the quite obvious fact that He was speaking those words on that very day?
According to Watchtower teaching only a little flock of 144,000 from among mankind will go to heaven, while the other faithful Jehovah's Witnesses will live forever on earth. (Luke 12:32) But Christ spoke the words of Luke 12:32 when the disciples were still a small group, and He did not set a number. The Watchtower Society pulls the number 144,000 from Revelation 7:4 & 14:1-3. JWs believe that each group of 12,000 in Revelation 7:5-8 is figurative. How can twelve figurative or symbolic groups of 12,000 each add up to a literal number of 144,000?
JWs believe that God stopped calling people into the body of Christ in 1935 (except to replace those of the anointed who proved unfaithful) and the new believers cannot be born again. (Consider Matthew 23:13) Where does the Bible say the call to the heavenly hope would end in 1935? It doesn't.
Watchtower leadership use Biblical language to identify themselves as the anointed remnant of the little flock, and promote the idea that this unique status qualifies them to disperse instruction and salvation to the great crowd of other sheep who are outside of the little flock. (John 10:16) JWs believe the anointed remnant composes the "Faithful and discreet slave" of Matthew 24:45-47 (NWT) represented by the Watchtower Society's Governing Body.
The context of John 10:16 indicates that the other sheep are Gentile Christians. While the Bible discusses the Old Covenant for Jews and the New Covenant for Christians, there is there no reference to a third arrangement for gathering a great crowd of other sheep after 1935 that do not have a heavenly hope. (John 17:20, 24; I Peter 1:3-4)
Watchtower publications on the subject claim that the word temple in Revelation 7:15 refers to the courtyard of the Gentiles, and then explain that Gentiles were allowed in the outer courtyard of the temple in Jerusalem but not allowed in the inner sanctuary. It is then explained that only the 144,000 spiritual Israelites enter heaven while the other sheep who are not spiritual Jews are limited to the earthly courtyard of Jehovah's arrangement. The word rendered temple in Revelation 7:15 is the Greek word Naos, which refers to the inner sanctuary. If this passage were referring to the whole building or the courtyard of the Gentiles the Greek word Hieron would have been used.
In Revelation7:9-11 you should note that the great crowd (NWT) is standing before God's throne in the company of angels. Also note that Revelation 19:1 in the New World Translation clearly places the great crowd in heaven.
"And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." (Mark 16:15) "I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed." (Galatians 1:6-8)
"But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him." (II Corinthians 11:3-4)
It should be noted that the command of Mark 16:15 does not specify the method that Christians must use. I certainly do not say this to criticize or discourage visitation work or any church visitation programs; such efforts should be commended and encouraged. But Watchtower publications use Acts 20:20 to insist that house-to-house witnessing is a Christian obligation and that Jehovah's Witnesses are the only true Christians because other so-called Christian groups do not go witnessing door to door. Why does the Watchtower Society avoid the possibility that Acts 20:20 refers to house-churches, since the early Christians usually met for worship in private homes? (Romans 16:5; I Corinthians 6:19; Colossians 4:15; II Timothy 3:6; Philemon 2)
The point is that the message is the main issue and not the method of proclaiming that message, and even if Jehovah's Witnesses were right about the method Christians are obligated to use to proclaim the Gospel, they have the wrong message. The Gospel preached by Christ, the Apostles, and Bible-believing Christians throughout Christian history is the death, burial, and literal resurrection of Christ through which sinners can be justified (declared righteous) through faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ when they repent. (John 3:13-15; Acts 4:15-19; I Corinthians 15:1-4)
What is the Gospel being proclaimed by Jehovah's Witnesses?
Let the honest-hearted person compare the kind of preaching of the gospel of the Kingdom done by the religious systems of Christendom during all the centuries with that done by Jehovah's Witnesses since the end of World War I in 1918. They are not one and the same kind. That of Jehovah's Witnesses is really "gospel," or "good news," as of God's heavenly kingdom that was established by the enthronement of his Son Jesus Christ at the end of the Gentile Times in 1914. (The Watchtower 5/1/81, p.17)
Salvation is a personal experience with Jesus Christ and is through the finished work of Calvary. (John 3:13-16; Acts 2:21; 10:43; Romans 5:1-2,8-11; I Corinthians 15:1-4; II Corinthians 5:17-18; Titus 3:5-6; I Peter 1:3; I John 5:20) Jehovah's Witnesses do acknowledge that faith is essential for salvation but they add works to faith, and Watchtower publications teach that one must be an active Jehovah's Witness and obedient to the Watchtower Society to be saved. Is believing in Jesus Christ sufficient for salvation or must we combine faith and good works to qualify for salvation? Note that the New Testament says that salvation is by faith alone without works almost two hundred times. (Consider John 3:15; 5:24; 11:25; 12:46; 20:31; Acts 16:30-31; Romans 3:20; 4:5; Galatians 2:16; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5; etc..; also compare Acts 16:31 with Acts 16:34 and note that believing in Jesus and believing in God are presented as identical acts) "Exercising faith" by doing good works is not what saves. Good works follow salvation but are not the cause of salvation. While genuine faith produces good works, it is faith alone that brings salvation and not good works. (John 3:16, 18; Romans 1:16-17; 4:5; I Corinthians 3:13-15; II Thessalonians 1:8-10; Titus 1:16; I Peter 1:3-10; James 2:14-16; consider Isaiah 64:6)