.: Letter from a Jehovah’s Witness - “How Can Anyone Believe Jesus is God?”
Thank you for taking the time to contact us with your conviction that Jesus is not God. It is indeed an admirable task to seek to be a true “witness” of Jehovah by studying to accurately defend the identity of this only true God (John 17:3; 1 John 5:20). Your studious examination of Scripture in this regard is to be commended.
In response to your concerns, let's start by first discussing what traditional Christians mean when they/we say that “Jesus is God.” We believe that as God (John 1:1), Jesus possesses the full nature of the only true God (Colossians 1:19; 2:9), yet we DO NOT believe that Jesus is the Father. As you correctly note when you mentioned how the Son’s will is distinct from the Father’s will, Scripture makes a clear distinction between the person of the Father and the person of the Son.
We view Jesus’ relationship to the Father in much the same way that one would view the relationship between a human father and son. While the son is a distinct person from his father and is subordinate to his father’s will, so Jesus as God’s Son is a distinct person from God the Father and is subordinate to God the Father’s will. Yet, just as a human son possesses just as much “human” nature as his father, so Jesus as God’s Son possesses just as much “God” nature as His Father. This is why the Jews endeavored to stone Jesus for blasphemy. They understood Jesus’ claim to be the “Son of God” as a claim that made Him “equal” in nature to the one and only true God (See John 5:18; 19:7; c.f., Leviticus 24:16). This is also why Jesus called the Father His “God” at John 20:17. His Father would always be His “God,” just as our human fathers will always be our “human” ancestors.
In the same way that one would not argue that a human son is an inferior “human” simply because his father is in a “greater” position as leader of the family, so it is incorrect to argue that Jesus is an inferior “God” simply because His Father is in a “greater” position of authority (John 14:28). At Luke 2:51, we read that Jesus “continued in subjection” to Mary and Joseph as they were in a greater position of authority over Him at that point in His earthly life. Are we to argue that Jesus was inferior to them? I’m sure by now you see our point that submission to authority does not denote an inferior nature. Thus, Scriptural references to this affect (i.e., John 5:19; Matthew 28:18; 1 Corinthians 11:3 and 15:24-28) do not have any bearing on whether or not Jesus is an inferior “God.”
We will now address your concern over the Scripture passages that show Jesus’ limited abilities compared to God the Father. God in His very nature cannot be seen (John 1:18), tempted (James 1:13), nor physically die (Habakkuk 1:12). Yet, all these things were necessary for Jesus to do in order to pay the ultimate price to cover the sins of mankind (Hebrews 9:22). So, the solution was for Jesus to add a human nature to His Divine person. Philippians 2:5-10 explains how Jesus continued to exist in God’s “form” (i.e., nature), yet He relinquished His right to enjoy equality with God so that He could limit Himself to the human nature he had adopted. In this, He experienced everything we experience (Hebrews 4:15), and He died to pay the price for mankind’s sins. Thus, by adding a human dimension to His Divine person (Colossians 2:9), Jesus became the visible “image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15).
You asked, “If the Son were God, how could there be any real temptation in offering God something back that He Himself had already given to Satan (Matthew 4:8-9)?” Let’s turn this question around. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jehovah created Jesus and that Jesus created everything else, right? In the previous temptation, Satan commanded Jesus to turn the stones into bread (Matthew 4:3-4). Using your logic, how could there be any temptation in inviting Jesus to turn the stones into bread if He really is the One who created the stones in the first place? Do you see the problem with this logic? Your argument assumes that Jesus was not God because Satan was trying to tempt Him with the kingdoms of this world that God already had authority over. But if we were to use this reasoning, we would also have to argue that Jesus could not be the Creator because Satan was trying to tempt Him with the stones that Jesus already had authority over as Creator of them. Of course, we know this argument can’t be true because Scripture is clear that Jesus is the Creator (Colossians 1:16-17; John 1:3), just as Scripture is clear that Jesus is God. So, the real test wasn’t whether or not Jesus was God or Creator. The real test was whether Jesus would put aside the limitations of His human nature and operate as God before it was time for Him to do so. Indeed, this was a real test because as God, He could have easily put aside His human nature and taken the kingdoms back from Satan before it was time (see Acts 17:31).
Finally, in conclusion, we would like to address your concern over the fact that Jesus didn’t always “know” everything that was going to happen – specifically the day or the hour of His return (Matthew 24:36). Here again, Jesus was operating under the limitations of His humanity. But as God, we see many other examples where Jesus did “know all things” (John 2:24-25; 16:30). The following chart illustrates how Jesus limited Himself to the finiteness of His human nature at certain times, but expressed the God-attributes of His Divine nature at others. Thus, Jesus was both 100% Man (being the “Son of Man” - Matthew 26:64) and 100 % God (being the “Son of God” - John 5:18; 19:7) unified in His very Person.
For more information on Biblical evidence for the Deity of Jesus Christ and the Trinity and answers to common objections raised by Jehovah’s Witnesses, please visit the following resources on our website:
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God bless you for the difference you are making.
“My brother and I were raised by a Jehovah's Witness mother. I am 52 years old now and still haven't been able to shake the stigma of the experience. My brother wasn't as lucky as me and ended up taking his own life at 17. I have been through everything ... I can't express how much I appreciate what you are doing... God bless for the difference you are making.”
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Just as I was about to enter the Jehovah’s Witnesses again, God led me to your website.
“Hi…I am an Ex-Jehovah’s Witness from South Africa. ...I left the Jehovah’s Witnesses not because I did not agree with their beliefs, but because my wife could not handle it with me being a Jehovah’s Witness and she not. I became an anti-religious person. Then, just as I was about to enter the Jehovah’s Witnesses again, God led me to your website… Today, I prayed to Jesus for salvation after I read your article on your website…”
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Your website is a great source for truth
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The stories I read at your website were loud and clear - conditional love by the ‘brothers’! I have learned more in the Christian Church about unconditional love than 30 years as a Witness. When I accepted Christ, who He really is, the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to see both sides clearly. ...Without the Holy Spirit it is impossible to know the real TRUTH! Keep up your good work.”