Witnessing to Jehovah’s Witnesses—Part 1

Author Tim Barnett Published on 09/11/2015

(Notes for the video “Witnessing to Jehovah’s Witnesses”—available in our store—are below. See Part 2.)

Over the next two days I’d like to spell out the verses that I think are the most compelling to use with a Jehovah’s Witness (JW) to argue from Scripture that Jesus is God. In addition, I want you to take these notes, print them off, and slip them into your Bible or place them by your door so that you don’t have to worry about remembering every word. It’s my hope this will be a practical resource that will help you make a lasting impact when witnessing to JWs.

I want to start with a word of advice. Don’t get sidetracked with all the other issues that JWs may want to talk about like soul sleep, or heaven, or 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—simply pale in comparison. Christianity stands or falls on its view of Jesus Christ.

Jehovah’s Witnesses are very clear that Jesus is not God. He is actually the created archangel Michael. On the other hand, Christians hold that Jesus is the God-man. Fully human, but also fully God. So how can we show them that Jesus is God?

Point #1: The Bible Teaches That Jesus Is Jehovah

If it could be demonstrated that Jesus is identified as Jehovah, then the JWs’ worldview comes crashing down. So the question becomes, is Jesus ever referred to as Jehovah? The simple answer to this question is yes! You may be thinking, “What’s so special about Jesus being identified as Jehovah?” Well, this requires a little background knowledge. The proper name for God in the Hebrew Bible is transliterated YHWH. This name is called the tetragrammaton­ (which means “four letters”). The most widely used pronunciation of the tetragrammaton is Yahweh, though some English Bible translations use the term Jehovah.

(A) Demonstrating That Jesus Is Jehovah from Psalm 102:25–27 and Hebrews 1:10–12

With these preliminary comments out of the way, let’s dive into the argument, which involves two rather straightforward passages of Scripture.

Ask your visitors to take out their New World Translation (NWT) and have them flip to Psalm 102:25–27. You will find it says,

“[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.”

Now ask them, who is this passage about? Make sure you get a straight answer. If they know their Bible they will be excited to say, “Jehovah!” Some less biblically literate JWs will need a lifeline. In this case, I would encourage you to read the context together.

In fact, the first verse of Psalm 102 (NWT) declares,

“[1] O Jehovah, hear my prayer; Let my cry for help reach you....[12] But you remain forever, O Jehovah, And your fame will endure for all generations....[21] So that the name of Jehovah will be declared in Zion And his praise in Jerusalem, [22] When the peoples and kingdoms Gather together to serve Jehovah.”

There can be no doubt that the psalmist is describing Jehovah. Therefore, we have established that our first text is describing the eternal, changeless (immutable), creator Jehovah. This is not describing a finite, created being.

Once you have agreed upon this point, it’s time to flip over to the New Testament. Now 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 a few verses back to get the context.

Hebrews 1:6–8 NWT Hebrews 1:6–8 ESV

[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.”

[6] And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship (proskuneo) him.” [7] Of the angels he says, “He makes his angels winds, and his ministers a flame of fire.” [8] But of the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.”

Clearly, these verses are speaking about the Son—Jesus Christ. At this point I would also suggest passing over the dangling carrot in verse 8. God says to the Son, “Your throne, O God.” That’s right folks, God calls Jesus God (ho theos, in Greek). So putting aside the second part of verse 8, you need to emphasize the beginning of verse 8, “But of the Son he says.” And still talking about the Son, the author of Hebrews writes:

[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.”

Did you catch that? Where have we heard these words before? This is a quotation from Psalm 102:25–27. Remember that our new JW friend has already agreed that Psalm 102:25–27 is a description of the eternal, changeless, creator Jehovah. Yet, the author of Hebrews, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, clearly attributes this same identification to the Son. Therefore, Jesus is being identified as Jehovah. So, is Psalm 102:25–27 about Jesus, or is it about Jehovah? The answer is, yes! Why? Because Jesus is Jehovah.

(B) Demonstrating That Jesus Is Jehovah from John 12:41 and Isaiah 6:1

Now we’re going to start in the New Testament and move to the Old Testament. Start by asking your JW friends to open their Bible to John 12:41. You will need to read the surrounding verses to lay down the context. Here Jesus is at the end of his public ministry and is about to start his private ministry to his disciples. And although Jesus had performed many signs, some would not put their faith in him. John tells us why:

[37] Although he had performed so many signs before them, they were not putting faith in him....[39] The reason why they were not able to believe is that again Isaiah said: [40] “He has blinded their eyes and has made their hearts hard, so that they would not see with their eyes and understand with their hearts and turn around and I heal them.” [41] Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory, and he spoke about him. [42] All the same, many even of the rulers actually put faith in him, but they would not acknowledge him because of the Pharisees, so that they would not be expelled from the synagogue; [43] for they loved the glory of men even more than the glory of God.

At this point, we need to ask a question: who is the “him” in verse 41? From the context, it is clearly Jesus who is being referred to. Verse 42 continues the thought, “All the same, many even of the rulers actually put faith in him, but they would not acknowledge him...”

The next question that needs to be asked is, when did Isaiah see his (Jesus’) glory?

Well, verse 40 gives us a quotation from Isaiah 6. This is the prophet Isaiah’s vision of Jehovah sitting on his throne. The NWT will even have the reference to Isaiah 6 in the side margin. So that’s exactly where you need to turn next.

Isaiah 6:1–3 says:

[1] In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw Jehovah sitting on a lofty and elevated throne, and the skirts of his robe filled the temple. [2] Seraphs were standing above him; each had six wings. Each covered his face with two and covered his feet with two, and each of them would fly about with two. And one called to the other: “Holy, holy, holy is Jehovah of armies. The whole earth is filled with his glory.”

So if you were to ask Isaiah, who did you see sitting on the throne? His answer would be Jehovah. But if you were to ask John, who did Isaiah see sitting on the throne? His answer would be Jesus.

They may insist that Isaiah doesn’t explicitly say he saw his glory. Fair enough. But this argument is even stronger than it appears. The New Testament authors, including John, would almost always quote from the Septuagint (LXX) which is the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament. In the Septuagint, Isaiah 6:1 reads: And it came to pass in the year in which king Uzziah died, [that] I saw the Lord sitting on a high and exalted throne, and the house was full of his glory.

(C) The New Testament Authors Applied the Greek Term for Jehovah to Jesus

Consider the dilemma faced by the New Testament writers. They needed to communicate two distinct truths. First, Jesus is God. Second, Jesus is not God the Father. The problem is, theos (the Greek translation of Elohim) was already used as a designation of God the Father. Do you see how this could be an issue?

Instead of applying the word theos to Jesus, which they did on occasion (See Jn. 1:1, 20:28; 2 Pt. 1:1; Rm. 9:5; Titus 2:13), they used the word kurios, the Greek translation of Jehovah.

Romans 10:9,13 says,

“[9] because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord [kurios] and believe in your heart that God [theos] raised him from the dead, you will be saved....[13] For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord [kurios] will be saved.’”

Paul takes Joel 2:32 (“everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved”) and applies it to Jesus (“if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord [kurios] will be saved”).

Paul does this again in his letter to the Philippians. Philippians 2:9–11 says,

“Therefore God [theos] has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, [10] so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, [11] and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord [kurios], to the glory of God [theos] the Father.”

This is a quote from Isaiah 45:23 where Jehovah declares, “To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance.” There can be no mistake that Paul is intentionally applying the name of Jehovah from the Old Testament to Jesus. Here we have very clear examples from Scripture where Jesus is described as Jehovah.