I had a Jehovah’s Witness come over to my house the last two weeks to talk with me. I wish this was the story of how he got saved, but we’re still going to be praying for Gilberto. His visit prompted my sermon in church last week about Jehovah’s Witnesses and how we as Christians can know that Jesus is truly God. He’s not part God, He’s not God’s first creation. He is God, YHWH, the Great I AM.
But how can I be so sure of this? There are tons of Witnesses, Mormons, and Muslims that thoroughly disagree. While I’d love to address the others at some point, this post is focused on showing Christians and Jehovah’s Witnesses that Jesus is truly God because that is exactly what the Bible clearly teaches.
What’s really unfortunate is that this is not what the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Bible teaches. Their Bible has been altered to include the same books as the Protestant Bible but with several important changes in the wording. These could be chalked up to translation differences were it not for the systematic and intentional nature of the changes related to the divinity of Jesus.
Before we get to who Jesus is, we have to understand what the Bible says about God. In Exodus 20, we are instructed to have no other gods but God. In Deuteronomy 6, God tells Israel that YHWH is God, and that He is one. There are not many true gods, only the one true God who created the world. In Matthew 4, Jesus was being tempted by the Devil. The last temptation was that Satan would give Jesus power over all the kingdoms of the world if Jesus would bow down and worship him. Jesus answered Satan, “Worship the Lord your God and Him only you shall serve.” There is one true God, and He alone is worthy of our worship.
Just a few chapters later in Matthew 14, Jesus walked on the water with Peter. After seeing this miracle and Jesus calming the storm over the lake, the disciples in the boat worshiped Jesus. They did the same thing again in chapter 28 just before Jesus ascended into heaven – they worshiped Him. “But I thought we were only supposed to worship God?” – says the astute listener. This is exactly the point. God is the only one worthy of worship. It would be a sin to worship anyone else. Therefore, if Jesus is worthy of worship, then he must be God. He cannot be a lesser God, because he would not be worthy of the worship that only the one true God deserves, and that would also violate the teaching of Exodus and Deuteronomy.
While that may seem like a slam dunk case right there, with Witnesses it’s a bit more difficult. They have Bibles that use different words when worship is directed at God the Father than when it is directed at Jesus. (See v. 33 here where worship is changed to “did obeisance.”) The only solution I know of in this situation is to go to the source – the Greek text. I don’t usually like this option, but with a Bible that has been intentionally altered to hide clear teachings, I don’t see a lot of other options. The Greek word for all three of the Matthew passages is proskuneo (προσκυνέω). It’s not necessary for you or the witness to study Greek to look at one of their interlinear Bibles and show them that we are forbidden to proskuneo to anyone other than God and that the disciples did proskuneo to Jesus and He accepted it. Now back to English.
Other passages where people worship Jesus are the visit of the Magi and Jesus healing a blind man. I would also look at passages like John 5:18, where Jesus is persecuted for claiming to be equal with God (which the Jehovah’s Witnesses say He is not) and John 10:28-30, where Jesus says that He and the Father are one. One last but very important place to look is John 1:1, where the Bible very clearly states that the Word (Jesus) is God. In this passage once again the New World Translation changes the wording to make Jesus a god and not simply God Himself. This presents problems theologically with multiple gods and the commands of Exodus and Deuteronomy, as well as being completely against the clear understanding of the original Greek text. I’m not here to give a Greek lesson, but if you have any questions, let me know.
What I really want in writing this is for my Christian friends to not fear Jehovah’s Witnesses but rather to engage them and share the good news with them. There is truth that they desperately need. Let’s love them and bring them the gospel that God loved us enough to come to earth and die for our sins. He didn’t just make another son and send him to die – He loved us so much He did it Himself!
*Special thanks to Ronny Rogers for his work at Trinity Baptist Church of Norman, OK for presenting much of this material and so much more to all of us. May God bless him for his ministry.