Jesus Christ is God: A Response to Jehovah's Witnesses

There is no issue in the Bible of greater importance than the identity of the one who died for us to be our Savior -- Jesus Christ. We must therefore be sure that we are accepting Jesus for who He really is, because if we are not, we are following a false Christ (2 Cor. 11:4,13). Therefore, we will examine the biblical evidence that Jesus Christ is not only fully man, but also fully God.

Is God the Savior of the world?
"Before me there was no God formed and there will be none after Me. I, even I, am the LORD; and there is no savior besides Me," God tells us in Isaiah 43:10,11. This verse teaches several significant things:
1. There always has been and always will be only one true God.
2. There is no Savior of the world except for this one true God.
3. Therefore, the Savior of the world must be the one true God.

Is Jesus the Savior of the world?
I do not think that anyone who has read the New Testament would dispute this. Even the Jehovah's Witnesses New World Translation (NWT) refers to Jesus as the Savior: "...and of the Savior of us, Christ Jesus" --Titus 2:13. Therefore, since:

1. The one true God is the only Savior of the world (Isaiah 43:10,11), and
2. Jesus is the Savior of the world (Titus 2:13; 2 Peter 1:1),
3. Jesus must therefore be the one true God.

To deny that Jesus is the one true God, one would either have to deny that Jesus is the Savior, or say that God is lying to us in Isaiah 43:11. Neither alternative fits with Scripture.

Does Titus 2:13 teach that Jesus is God our Savior?
Titus 2:13 reads: "While we wait for the blessed hope -- the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ" (NIV). Paul is expressly stating that it is Jesus who is our great God and Savior. But the Jehovah's witnesses dispute this, rendering the passage in their NWT: "While we wait for the happy hope and glorious manifestation of the great God and of [the] Savior of us, Christ Jesus." The NWT adds the word the, putting it in parenthesis in front of the word Savior. This obscures the fact that Paul clearly called Jesus "our God and Savior," making it read as if he were speaking of two separate persons here.

The NWT has the incorrect rendering of this passage, evident because it violates what Greek grammarians call Granville Sharp's rule.[1] "Sharp's rule states that when two singular personal nouns (such as God and Savior) of the same case (as we have here) are connected by `and' (the Greek word is kai), and the modifying article `the' (the Greek word is ho) appears only before the first noun, not before the second, both nouns must refer to the same person. In this passage, `God' and `Savior' are connected by `and.' Also, `the' appears only before `God.' Therefore, `God' and `Savior' must refer to the same person--Jesus...In an exhaustive study, C. Kuehne found SharpUs rule to be without demonstrable exception in the entire New Testament. Thus, honest and unbiased scholarship requires that the words in these verses must be translated 'our God and Savior, Jesus Christ'" (John Ankerberg, The Facts on Jehovah's Witnesses, pp. 22-23). A few of the eminent Greek scholars who will confirm this rendering include P.W. Schmiedel, J.H. Moulton, A.T. Robertson, and Blass-Debrunner.

Even the context of the passage shows that Paul had one person -- not two -- in mind, for he speaks of "the glorious appearing" of that person. As Ankerberg points out, the Bible knows of only one such appearing--that of Jesus. And how could it be possible for the invisible God to appear other than as the visible Christ, who is the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15)?

Does Colossians 1:15 teach that Jesus was created?
In this passage, Jesus is called the "first-born" of all creation. This does not mean that Jesus is a part of creation. To this statement, Jehovah's witnesses may level the charge that we are not taking the Bible to mean what it says. That is not the case; in fact the opposite is true -- the Jehovah's witnesses are not taking the Bible to mean what it says. We are not saying that "first-born" does not mean first born; we are saying that "first-born" does not mean "first-created," which is what the Jehovah's Witnesses teach. They are reading into the text something that is clearly not there, namely that Jesus is not the "first-born," but "first-created."

Evidence that Paul is not teaching that Jesus was created 1. Birth and creation are not equivalent terms. For example, the Bible teaches that Jesus was born of a virgin, but even Jehovah's Witnesses would not hold that this means that He was created the day He was born of Mary. Since birth and creation happen at different times, they cannot mean the same thing.

2. There are two different Greek words for "first-born" and "first-created," and Paul used the word which means "first-born," not "first-created."[2] In fact,

3. Paul goes on to say that Christ is actually the creator of all things, so clearly He was not teaching that Christ is a created being. If all things were created by Christ, He must not be created, otherwise there is something that Christ did not create and this verse would be in error when it states that Christ created all things.

Jehovah's witnesses reply to this third point that the correct translation of the passage is that "by Christ all (other) things were created," inserting the word "other." There is absolutely no basis in the Greek text for doing this, and no reputable translation includes it.[3] Even Jehovah's Witnesses will admit that the equivalent of the word "other" is not included in the Greek text; their own Greek interlinear (page 896) shows that the Greek word panta means "all things," not "all other things." They will hold, however, that it is implied. But, as Stedman writes, "There is no such implication in Colossians 1:15-17 unless one presupposes that Christ Himself was nothing but a creature. But no translator has the right thus to presuppose on a doctrinal issue. If the text were simply rendered as it is, leaving out the inserted word Rother, it would agree exactly with other New Testament passages that declare plainly that the Lord Jesus Christ is Creator of everything that has been created." Hebrews 1:10 and John 1:3 also confirm that Christ is Creator of everything, and thus He must not be created, but God.

What does the title "first-born" mean?
This title refers to Christ's preeminent position and sovereignty over creation, not that He Himself is a part of creation. In the Old Testament, the first-born had certain rights and a certain status, such as preeminence, a double share of the inheritance, the right of the priesthood, and supremacy.[4] And it can be distinctly seen from Genesis 49:3 that the meaning "priority of birth" or in "in time" has been overshadowed and even sometimes lost to the implication of the term meaning "supremacy" or "preeminence." In other words, one does not have to have been "born first" to be called "first-born" because the term's primary meaning came to be "preeminence" and "supremacy," sometimes with nothing to do about birth.

When Paul calls Jesus the first-born, He is saying that Jesus has all the rights of the first-born and that He has the first-born status of supremacy and preeminence. When Paul adds that He is the first-born of all creation, He is merely specifying what Christ's preeminence (i.e., His first-born status) applies to -- namely, all creation.

Additionally, this passage clearly teaches Christ's deity. Since Jehovah God alone created all things (Isaiah 44:24; Hebrews 3:4), and Colossians tells us that Christ is the creator, we can conclude that Jesus is Jehovah God.

Further, it is demonstrated that born does not mean created from Jesus' title "Son of God." Some might understand this to mean that He must have come into existence at some point and that He is less than God (the Son of God, not God), in just the same way that a human son comes into existence after their human father. This sounds plausible at first, but upon examination it becomes apparent that this cannot be the case. The Bible is very clear in defining the title "Son of God" to mean that Jesus is of the same nature as God, just like a child is of the same nature as their parent. And if Jesus has God's nature, then He is, by definition, God, and therefore without a beginning. For proof of this, let's examine the issue further.

What does it mean to call Jesus the Son of God?
Does the title applied to Jesus, Son of God, imply that He is different than God? No. Jesus is the only begotten Son of God (John 3:16), while Christians are adopted sons of God (Romans 8:15-17). Christians are called adopted sons of God because we are different from God and must become His children (hence, adopted, not begotten). Jesus is not called adopted because He never became God's Son, but has always been God's Son. Calling Jesus the only begotten Son of God means that He is of the same nature as God, not a different nature, as C.S. Lewis explains: "To beget is to become the father of: to create is to make. And the difference is this. When you beget, you beget something of the same kind as yourself. A man begets human babies, a beaver begets little beavers...But when you make, you make something of a different kind from yourself. A bird makes a nest, a beaver builds a dam... Now that is the first thing to get clear. What God begets is God; just as what man begets is man. What God creates is not God, just as what man makes is not man. That is why men are not Sons of God in the sense that Christ is. They may be like God in certain ways, but they are not things of the same kind." There is a clear distinction between making and begetting -- you cannot make what you beget. What you make is different from yourself, what you beget has your nature. Therefore to call Jesus the only begotten Son is to say that He has God's nature and was not made. Since He has God's nature, He is, by definition, God and therefore eternal. If Jesus was created by God, He could not have been begotten, and John 3:16; 1:18, 1 John 4:9, etc. are in error.

In sum,when the Bible says that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God, it means that Jesus is equal to God, not less than God.

Doesn't John 14:28 teach that Jesus is less than God?
In this passage, Jesus says, "My Father is greater than I." The "greater than I" refers to Jesus' position, not person, in that during Jesus earthly life He willingly placed Himself in submission to the Father. It says nothing about His nature, only His temporary rank on earth.[5]

The New Testament evidence that Jesus is God

John 1:1
This passage says,"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." Here we see that


In John 1:14,15 it states "The Word became flesh, and made His dwelling among us." Here we see that


Simple logic declares that if A=B and B=C then A=C. Therefore, since

THE WORD = GOD, then

Jehovah's Witnesses teach that John 1:1 should be translated "The Word was a god," not "The Word was God." They contend that since theos (the Greek word for God) is preceded by the definite article (the) when it first appears in the verse, and the second time it appears it is not preceded by the definite article, they are therefore justified in translating the last part of John 1:1 "the Word was a god," because God appears without the definite article. Thus, they claim that John 1:1 does not say anything about Jesus' identity (i.e.. that He is God), but refers to a quality about Him. There are, however, no reputable authorities or translations that support the Jehovah's Witnesses translation of this verse.[6] In fact, their New World Translation has caused considerable outrage among Greek scholars because it is a major distortion of the text.

In addition, the Jehovah's witnesses do not even stick to their own rule; it is inconsistently applied throughout their NWT. Theos appears six times without the definite article in the first 18 verses of John's gospel (1,6,12,13 and twice in 18). Yet, in the NWT, it is rendered God (referring to Jehovah), not a god, in each instance except for the last clause of 1:1, when it refers to Jesus!

To remain consistent, Jehovah's witnesses must hold that verse six should read, "There arose a man that was sent forth as a representative of a god," that verse 12 should read "to become a god's children," etc. It should also be noted that the absence of the definite article does not refer to someone other than the true God. The scholarly Arndt and Gingrich Greek Lexicon, p. 357, states that theos is used "quite predominantly of the true God, sometimes with, sometimes without, the article."

In answer to the question "How can the Word be with God if He is God?" see my article Understanding the Trinity.

Revelation 22:12,13
Revelation 21:5-7 reads: "He who is seated on the throne said 'I am making everything new!' Then He said `write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true'. He said to me: `It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End...he who overcomes will inherit all this and I will be his God, and he will be my son.'" Here God says that He is the beginning and the end. In Revelation 22:12,13, Jesus (see 22:16) says that He is the beginning and the end: "Behold I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End." Jesus clearly shows that He is God by saying things about Himself that only God can say about Himself.

John 10:30-33
This is another clear passage teaching that Jesus is God: "(Christ speaking) `I and the Father are one.' Again the Jews picked up stones to stone Him, but Jesus said to them: `I have shown you many miracles from the Father, for which of these do you stone me?' `We are not stoning you for any of these,' replied the Jews, 'but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.'" When studying the original Greek of Jesus statement "I and the Father are one," the word translated `one' means one in essence, or nature, not merely one in purpose.[7]

Some hold that Jesus goes on to correct the Jews in verses 34-36. This is not the case. What Jesus is simply doing is taking the Jew's statement about Him blaspheming to its logical conclusion to show that they are being inconsistent. In effect, Jesus is saying "If you say that I am blaspheming, you must also hold that God is blaspheming because He said to those by whom the word of God came, `ye are gods.'" Nowhere does Jesus take back His statement and say that He is not one with the Father. He in fact draws a clear distinction between Himself and those Rby whom the word of God cameS when He says that He was sanctified and sent into the world by God.

Hebrews 1:8
Jesus is specifically called God in this passage: "But of the Son He says, 'Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever."

Hebrews 1:3

This tells us that Jesus is of the exact same nature of God: "And He is the radiance of His glory, and the exact representation of His nature."

Colossians 2:9

This is a strong statement about the full deity and humanity of Christ: "In Him all the fullness of deity dwells in bodily form."

Philippians 2:10,11
God declares that, "to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance"--Isaiah 45:22-23. But Paul declares that Rat the name of Jesus "every knee should bow . . . and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father"--Philippians 2:10,11. Either these passages contradict one another, or Jesus is God.

Romans 9:5
Paul writes "...and from them [the Jews] is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God overall..."

John 8:58
Jesus says, "Before Abraham was, I am." I AM was the most revered divine name of God in the Old Testament (Ex. 3:14). Christ was not merely claiming that He existed before Abraham, but that He was still in existence before Abraham. Dr. A.T. Robertson, one of the greatest Greek scholars who ever lived, had this to say about John 8:58 after translating it "I am": "Undoubtedly here Jesus claims eternal existence with the absolute phrase used of God."[8]

The New World Translation mistranslates this verse as "Before Abraham came into existence, I have been," eliminating Christ's clear claim of possessing absolute eternal existence, and therefore divinity . But the Greek reads ego eimi, which is in the present tense, indicative mood, so the only possible translation is "I am."[9] And once again, the New World Translation does not follow its own rules. "In John 8:42-9:12, the verb `to be' occurs 22 times in the indicative mood, and the New World Translation correctly renders 21 out of 22. John 8:58 is the only incorrect rendering."[10] This passage is another clear reference to Christ's deity.

Hebrews 13:8
"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." This passage teaches that Jesus is immutable -- unchanging in His nature. Thus, He could not have been created, because He would have then undergone change in His nature, from nonexistence to existence. Compare this with Malachi 3:6, where God says that He is immutable.

Also see Luke 3:22, Romans 9:5, 1 John 5:20,21, John 1:18, Romans 1:4, Revelation 1:8.

The Jews also understood Jesus' claims to be God
John 5:18 tells us that "For this cause therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God." If Jesus did not mean for the JewUs to think that He was claiming to be God in this passage, then why did Jesus not correct the Jews when they interpreted it this way?

Jesus possess attributes that only belong to God
He is omnipresent (Mt. 18:20; 28:20; Acts 18:10) omniscient (Mt. 16:21; Lk. 11:17; Jn. 4:29), omnipotent (Mt. 8:26, 27; 28:18; Jn. 11:38-44; Lk 7:14-15; Rev. 1:8), and self existent (John 1:4; 14:6; 8:58). Only God has these attributes, so if Jesus also has them, He must be God. God says in Isaiah 46:9 "There is no one like Me."

Jesus accepted worship as God
John 20:28 states: "Thomas said to Him, `My Lord and My God!'" If Jesus is not God, as Thomas exclaimed, then why didn't Jesus correct Thomas for his "error"? Some contend that Thomas was merely exclaiming "My Lord and My God!" as many people today do when they are surprised. If this were true, however, Jesus would have rebuked him for taking God's name in vain.

The disciples, who lived with Jesus for three years, believed He is God, and so at many other times worshiped Him. Jesus accepted their worship (see Matthew 28:17, Luke 5:8)! Since God alone is to be worshiped (Luke 4:8), why did Jesus not correct these "mistakes" if He truly is just a man? Every other man of God in the New Testament who receives worship immediately refuses the worship, declaring that God alone is to be worshiped (Acts 14: 10-16, Rev. 22:8-9). Why didn't Jesus do this in a forceful way like His followers did? So,

1. Since only God is to be worship, and
2. Jesus accepted worship, either
A. Jesus sinned when accepting the worship, thus disqualifying Him as Savior, or
B. Jesus is God

Clearly option A is unbiblical (Hebrews 4:15), so it must be true that Jesus is God.

Perhaps even most striking is Hebrews 1:6, where God commands the angels to worship Jesus: "And when He again brought the first-born into the world, He says, 'And let all the angels of God worship Him.'" If Jesus is not God, then God is contradicting Himself when He lets the angels worship Jesus.

Jesus forgave sins
This is evidenced in Mark 2:5 and Luke 7:48. By Jewish law, this was something that only God could do. In Mark 2:7, the scribes say, "He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone?" I may be able to forgive someone for sins committed against me, but never for sins they commit against God, and this is what Jesus claimed to do. But only God can forgive sins that are committed against Him. So,

1. Only God can forgive sins committed against Himself (and all sins are against God).
2. Jesus forgave people for their sins, which were against God, so
3. Jesus has to be God

Jesus had to be fully God as well as fully man in order to pay the penalty for the sins of the world. While only a man can pay the penalty for a man, only someone who is infinite can pay the penalty for more than one person. Only God is infinite, therefore Jesus had to be God in order to pay for the sins of more than one other human. He also had to be man to pay for the sins of a man. If Jesus was only human, He could have only died for one other person, not the whole world.

From these passages, it is clear that the Bible teaches that Jesus is God. As William Biederwolf has said, "A man who can read the New Testament and not see that Christ claims to be more than a man, can look all over the sky at high noon on a cloudless day and not see the sun." Therefore, any other passages that JehovahUs witnesses put forth trying to teach that Jesus was created have no validity, unless they want to hold that the Bible contradicts itself.

1. For proof of Sharpe's Rule, see H.E. Dana and Julius R. Mantey, A Manual of the Greek New Testament, p. 147.
2. H.A.W. Meyer, Critical and Exegetical Handbook to the Epistles to the Philippians and Colossians and to Philemon, p. 226.
3. Ray C. Stedman, "The New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures," Our Hope, 50:32, July, 1953.
4. I.M. Casanowicz, "Primogeniture," The Jewish Encyclopedia, X, p. 198.
5. Josh McDowell and Don Stewart, Understanding the Cults, p. 59.
6. Understanding the Cults, p. 77.
7. Thomas Robertson Archibald, Word Pictures in the New Testament, p. 186.
8. Dr. A.T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, Vol. V, pp. 158-159.
9. Word Pictures in the New Testament, Vol. V, pp. 158-159. Also see any Greek New Testament and dictionary for confirmation of this.
10. Understanding the Cults, p. 79.

Acknowledgement: McDowell and Stewart's book was a major source for this article, including the source of notes 3, 4, 7, 8, 9.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible, copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1975, 1977, by the Lockman Foundation.


Go back to Contend for the Faith.

This page hosted by Get your own Free Home Page