An Argument for Jehovah's Witnesses: Jesus Is Jehovah

How should we speak to Jehovah’s Witnesses about Jesus? That was the topic of a recent one-hour interview I did for The Evangelist’s Podcast. Most of us have had the experience of hearing a knock at the door only to discover that it’s a pair of well-dressed Jehovah’s Witnesses wanting to talk about the latest Watchtower publication.

I used to dread these encounters. In fact, while they would be introducing themselves, I would be thinking up excuses to get out of the conversation. However, I came to realize that this fear of Jehovah’s Witnesses came from the fact that I was ill-equipped to handle myself in a discussion with them. They knew their stuff. I didn’t. They trained for hours prior to our conversation. I hadn’t trained at all.

I only knew what I believed, but I didn’t know why I believed it. I would get into these conservations with the belief that Jesus is God, but when the pressure was on I couldn’t provide good reasons for my belief. As a result, I would leave the discussion feeling beat up and unsure about my own convictions. Unfortunately, many Christians feel the same way.

I want to offer you one persuasive argument that I have found very effective while talking to Jehovah’s Witnesses. It involves two straightforward passages of Scripture. For the biblical texts we will be exploring, I want to encourage you to use the Jehovah’s Witness Bible—the New World Translation (NWT). Please don’t misunderstand me. I believe NWT is a mistranslation, but it can be utilized by Christians to make our point. Get them to open their NWT, and have them read the passages to you. There are two reasons why I find this tactic very helpful.

First, it will completely avoid a debate over whose translation is more accurate. By using the translation they trust, you sidestep these debates altogether.

Second, your argument will have a greater impact since you are using a book they believe is trustworthy. I will readily admit that when I read a book from another religion or cult, I'm inherently skeptical. So then, why should we expect anything less from a Jehovah's Witness? When you start reading from your NIV or your ESV, they are going to be equally skeptical. But they trust the New World Translation. Therefore, for this particular argument, we will only be citing the NWT.

Third, Jehovah’s Witnesses probably won’t take and read literature that you give them. However, they will always leave your house with their NWT. Therefore, if we can show them who Jesus is from their own book, then they will take the truth with them.

Where do we start with the Jehovah’s Witness? Don’t get sidetracked with all the other issues that Jehovah’s Witnesses want to talk about, like soul sleep, Heaven, Hell, and the Holy Spirit. These are all important issues, but they are not the most important issue. Make the goal of your conversation about answering one question: Who is Jesus? How you answer this question changes everything. All other questions, although interesting and important, simply pale in comparison. Christianity stands or falls on its view of Jesus Christ. If it could be demonstrated that Jesus is identified as Jehovah, then the foundation of the Jehovah’s Witness's belief comes crashing down.

Furthermore, the salvation of everyone, including Jehovah’s Witnesses, depends on an accurate understanding and belief in God the Son. Jesus said, “I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am He you will die in your sins” (John 8:24). Therefore, if you only have a few minutes to talk, it’s best to zero in on Jesus. 

With these preliminary comments out of the way, let's dive into the argument. This argument involves two rather straightforward passages of Scripture: one from the New Testament, and one from the Old Testament. We will begin with the latter first.

Ask your visitors to take out their NWT and have them flip to Psalm 102:25-27. The psalmist writes,  

[25] Long ago you laid the foundations of the earth,
And the heavens are the work of your hands.
[26] They will perish, but you will remain;
Just like a garment they will all wear out.
Just like clothing you will replace them, and they will pass away.
[27] But you are the same, and your years will never end. 

There are two key questions you need to ask about this passage. First, who is this text about? That is, who is the “you” being referred to? Make sure you get a straight answer. If they know their Bible, they will recognize that this text is about Jehovah. This is clear from the context of the passage. The first verse of Psalm 102 declares, “O Jehovah, hear my prayer; Let my cry for help reach you...” (Psa. 102:1). This is a short prayer directed to Jehovah that uses His name seven times.  

Second, how is Jehovah described in this text? We are told that Jehovah created the heavens and the earth (Psa. 102:25). We are also told that Jehovah does not change; He is immutable (Psa. 102:26-27). Finally, we are told that Jehovah is eternal (102:27). Therefore, we have established that this text is describing the unique eternal, changeless, creator Jehovah.

Once you have agreed upon this point, it's time to flip over to the New Testament. Kindly ask your guests to turn in their NWT to Hebrews 1:10-12. It is very important that you take your time and establish the context of these verses. I usually start back at verse 6. The author of Hebrews writes:  

[6] But when he again brings his Firstborn into the inhabited earth, he says: “And let all of God’s angels do obeisance to him.” [7] Also, he says about the angels: “He makes his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire.” [8] But about the Son, he says: “God is your throne forever and ever, and the scepter of your Kingdom is the scepter of uprightness.  

Clearly, these verses are speaking about the Son. At this point, I would also suggest passing over the dangling carrot in verse 8. Here the Father says to the Son, “Your throne, O God.” Of course, the NWT must reinterpret this passage to say, “God is your throne.” Also, verse 6 has the angels doing obeisance to the Son. Every modern translation uses the term worship. The Jehovah’s Witnesses' presuppositions will not allow for angels to worship Jesus, so they avoid the term.

Putting these erroneous interpretations aside, you need to emphasize the beginning of verse 8, “But of the Son he says.” Now, still talking about the Son, the author of Hebrews continues:  

[10] And: “At the beginning, O Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the works of your hands. [11] They will perish, but you will remain; and just like a garment, they will all wear out, [12] and you will wrap them up just as a cloak, as a garment, and they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will never come to an end.”   

Do you recognize these words? This is a quote from Psalm 102:25-27. Remember that our new Jehovah’s Witness friend has already agreed that Psalm 102:25-27 is a description of the eternal, changeless, creator Jehovah. The “you” in Psalm 102:25-27 is Jehovah! Yet, the author of Hebrews, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, clearly attributes this same identification to the Son. The “you” in Hebrews 1:10-12 is Jesus! Therefore, Jesus is being identified as Jehovah. So is Psalm 102:25-27 about Jesus, or is it about Jehovah? The answer is, yes, because Jesus is Jehovah.

I’ve used this argument on Jehovah’s Witnesses and have yet to receive a reasonable response back. The only response available to the Jehovah’s Witness is to downplay the attributes in Hebrews 1 to fit the description of a created creature. But this won’t work, because the same attributes are applied to Jehovah. Are we to believe that the God of the universe is being described in the same terms as a mere creature? Psalm 102 is not the description of a created, finite, changing creature; rather, it is a description of the eternal, unchanging Creator. The only honest way to make sense of these two passages is to affirm that Jesus is Jehovah.

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Tim Barnett

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