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Question:

"I have a friend whom I've been talking to about Christ. His background is Jehovah's Witness and he's having a little trouble grasping that Jesus is God. The New Testament refers to Him constantly as "The Son of God." He is also referred to as "The Firstborn" which makes it sound like He was created. I have shown my friend John 1:1-18 and Philippians 2:5-11 but this doesn't seem to be enough. Can you help?"

Answer:

The Jehovah's Witnesses are correct in claiming that there is only one God, as Jesus says in Mark 12:29 (quoting Deuteronomy 6:4): "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one." However, they deny that Jesus is the Jehovah God of the Old Testament. This is sad, because having faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior is the only way for us to be saved and have eternal life, as we are told in Acts 4:12: "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."

Let's look at the Scriptural proof that Jesus is Jehovah God.


Jesus is Jehovah God

When we look at Old Testament passages which refer to Jehovah and compare them to New Testament passages which refer to Jesus, it becomes clear that Jesus is Jehovah God.

For example, notice some things that Isaiah wrote about Jehovah (in the Old Testament, the word "LORD" is translated from the Hebrew word for "Jehovah"):
"But now, this is what the LORD [Jehovah] says-- he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine."" (Isaiah 43:1)

"For I am the LORD [Jehovah], your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior" (Isaiah 43:3)

"[the LORD (Jehovah) is speaking] everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made." (Isaiah 43:7)

"I, even I, am the LORD [Jehovah], and apart from me there is no savior. I have revealed and saved and proclaimed-- I, and not some foreign god among you. You are my witnesses," declares the LORD [Jehovah], "that I am God."" (Isaiah 43:11-12)

"This is what the LORD [Jehovah] says-- your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel" (Isaiah 43:14)

"I am the LORD [Jehovah], your Holy One, Israel's Creator, your King." (Isaiah 43:15)
We can see in the above Old Testament passages that the LORD (Jehovah) "created," "formed," "redeemed," is the "Savior," is the "Holy One," and is the "King." In the New Testament we are told that Jesus created and formed all things, that Jesus is the Savior, that Jesus is the Holy One, and that Jesus is the King:
"In the beginning was the Word [Jesus, as the end of this quote proves], and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him [the Word, Jesus] all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. ... The Word [Jesus] became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." (John 1:1-3, 14)

"He [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him." (Colossians 1:15-16)

"Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord." (Luke 2:11)

"From this man's descendants God has brought to Israel the Savior Jesus, as he promised." (Acts 13:23)

"Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit cried out, "What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are-- the Holy One of God!"" (Mark 1:23-24)

""How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?" The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God."" (Luke 1:34-35)

"Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God."" (John 6:68-69)

"The next day the great crowd that had come for the Feast heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, "Hosanna! " "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" "Blessed is the King of Israel!"" (John 12:12-13)

"Then the King [Jesus] will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.'" (Matthew 25:34)
So therefore Jesus is the Lord God (Jehovah).


Now let's compare Isaiah 44:6 with Revelation 22:12-13:
"This is what the LORD [Jehovah] says-- Israel's King and Redeemer, the LORD Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God." (Isaiah 44:6)

"Behold, I [Jesus] 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." (Revelation 22:12-13)
In the Old Testament, the prophet Isaiah quoted Jehovah as saying that He (Jehovah) is "the first and the last." In the New Testament, Jesus says that He (Jesus) is "the First and the Last." Jesus is Jehovah God.


Now let's compare Isaiah 40:3 with Matthew 3:1-3:
"A voice of one calling: "In the desert prepare the way for the LORD [Jehovah]; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God."" (Isaiah 40:3)

"In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea and saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: "A voice of one calling in the desert, 'Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.'"" (Matthew 3:1-3)
In the Old Testament, Isaiah prophesied about someone calling out to prepare the way for Jehovah God. In the New Testament, Matthew tells us that John the Baptist is the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy. John the Baptist told people to prepare the way for Jesus, and therefore Jesus is Jehovah God.

It is clear that Jesus is Jehovah God. This might be a difficult concept for us to comprehend, but as God says: "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:9). The Bible makes it clear that Jesus is God, as the following passages prove:
"I [Jesus] and the Father are one." (John 10:30)

"[After Jesus died and was resurrected] Then he [Jesus] said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe." Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!"" (John 20:27-28)

"I [Jesus] have given them the glory that you [the Father] gave me, that they may be one as we are one" (John 17:22)

"Theirs [the people of Israel] are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen." (Romans 9:5)

"But about the Son [Jesus] he says, "Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever, and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom."" (Hebrews 1:8)

"Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours" (2 Peter 1:1)

"the Father, the Word [Jesus], and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one." (1 John 5:7) [New King James Version]

"We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true--even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life." (1 John 5:20)
We can see that Jesus is Jehovah God.


Jesus is the One and Only Son of God and the Firstborn Over All Creation

People sometimes refer to Jesus as the "only begotten" Son of God, based on John 1:14, 18, 3:16, 18, and 1 John 4:9. However, the Greek word in those passages is monogenes, which means:
"from monos (3441), only, and genos (1085), stock. Unique, one of a kind, one and only." (The Complete Word Study Dictionary of the New Testament, Spiros Zodhiates, p.995)
This Greek word does not exactly mean that Jesus is the "only begotten" Son of God, but more literally it means that Jesus is the "unique, one of a kind, one and only" Son of God. For example, here is how the above passages are translated in the NIV:
John 1:14: "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only [monogenes], who came from the Father, full of grace and truth."

John 1:18: "No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only [monogenes], who is at the Father's side, has made him known."

John 3:16: ""For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only [monogenes] Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."

John 3:18: "Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only [monogenes] Son."

1 John 4:9: "This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only [monogenes] Son into the world that we might live through him."
Here's what a New Testament Greek word study dictionary says about this Greek word:
"John alone uses monogenes to describe the relation of Jesus to God the Father, presenting Him as the unique one, the only one (monos) of a class or kind (genos), in the discussion of the relationship of the Son to the Father (John 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18; 1 John 4:9)." (The Complete Word Study Dictionary of the New Testament, Spiros Zodhiates, p.995)
So Jesus is the "unique, one of a kind, one and only" Son of God.

In addition, Jesus is called "the firstborn over all creation" in Colossians 1:15-16:
"He [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him." (Colossians 1:15-16)
Jesus is the firstborn over all creation, but He Himself was not created because the above passage says that Jesus is the one who created everything!

The Jehovah's Witnesses use their own version of the Bible, which is called the New World Translation (NWT). In the NWT, the word "other" has been added in the above passage, as if Jesus created all "other" things after He Himself was created. However, the word "other" is not in this passage in the Greek manuscripts, and therefore the Jehovah's Witnesses' translation is incorrect. You can prove this for yourself by going to any library or Christian bookstore and finding any Greek/English Bible, which shows the Greek and English translations side-by-side.

The word "firstborn" comes from the Greek word prototokos, which means "Firstborn, preeminent" (The Complete Word Study Dictionary of the New Testament, Spiros Zodhiates, p.1249). Jesus is the firstborn among many brothers, and here is what a New Testament Greek word study dictionary says about this:
"the firstborn among many brothers. Prototokos presents Christ as the preeminent or ranking member of the group. ... since the salvation of sinners restores the divine image in man, Christ [is] exalted and made preeminent among them.
     ... The word prototokos is also used in relation to God's creation referring to Christ's supremacy over it. Jesus Christ cannot be both creator and creature. In Col. 1:15 He is placed above His creation when He is called prototokos pases ktiseos (pases, gen. fem. of pas [3956], every; ktiseos, gen. of ktisis [2937], creation or creature), "the firstborn of every creature," or better still, "the one preeminent over all creation" (a.t.). The next verse makes it adequately clear, "For by him were all things created," meaning that He Himself is not part of creation (cf. John 1:3)." (The Complete Word Study Dictionary of the New Testament, Spiros Zodhiates, p.1249-1250, emphasis added)
As this New Testament Greek word study dictionary points out, "the firstborn of every creature" has the meaning of, "the one preeminent over all creation." Again, Jesus is not part of creation because "by him were all things created."

Now, imagine that a husband and wife have a son. Since the mother and father are human, the son must be human as well. In other words, a true son of human parents won't be a dog or a cat or any other creature. The son will have the same "nature" as his parents, which means that he will be human. Similarly, Jesus is the Father's one and only Son (even before the world began - John 17:5), as we saw above. Since the Father is God, the Son must be God as well. Jesus has the same "nature" as His Father, which means that Jesus is God. For example, imagine that I am able to create something which looks and acts like a little boy, such as a puppet or a robot or a hologram. No matter how lifelike it might be, it is a created object and therefore it cannot truly be my son. Similarly, if Jesus were a created object then He would not truly be the Son of God. Since the Bible tells us that Jesus is the one and only Son of God, this means that Jesus cannot be a created object. Jesus shares the same "nature" as His Father (they are both God), just as a human son shares the same "nature" as his father (they are both human).

But imagine that you could set aside your human-ness, and that you could allow yourself to be born as a baby ant in an ant pile. What if you grew up among them, and you were able to speak to them on their ant level about human things in the outside world which they can't comprehend? This is very similar to what Jesus did when He set aside His glory and allowed Himself to be born as a human baby so that He could grow up among us and teach us and then die on the cross for us. Even though He was God, He set aside His divine glory for awhile (He "made himself nothing," as in Philippians 2:7) and stepped into time and space by being born as a human baby, and while He was on the earth He experienced human weaknesses of the flesh (hunger, thirst, tiredness, etc., but never any sin). Since He had "emptied Himself" and set aside His divine attributes during His time on the earth, this means that He did not retain His omniscience and therefore He did not possess all knowledge (for example, see Matthew 24:36). Therefore, the Father was certainly "greater" than Jesus while Jesus was on earth (John 14:28), and that's why Jesus referred to the Father as "my God" (John 20:17). The Father and Jesus are one in their divine nature (John 10:30, above), but they have different roles and responsibilities as Father and Son, which is why we sometimes see Jesus deferring to the Father (as in 1 Corinthians 15:24-28).

Jesus has a divine nature as the one and only Son of God, but He also has a human nature as the physical child of Mary (see Romans 1:2-4, for example). He is unique because He is 100% God and 100% man at the same time, which is why He is sometimes called "Son of God" and sometimes called "Son of Man." No-one but God is capable of such a thing, and no-one else would be capable of paying the price for our sins. Jesus is the only human who never committed any sins, and therefore He is the unique human who was able to take all of our sins upon Himself so that we can be forgiven.

Now, imagine that a human husband and wife are both Caucasian (for example), from Caucasian families. Therefore, their true son will be Caucasian. Notice that if they adopt an Asian baby then that baby boy will be a part of their family as an adopted son. In a similar way, Jesus is the Father's one and only true Son, and Christians are all adopted sons and daughters:
Romans 8:23: "Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies."

Ephesians 1:5: "he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will--"
In ancient Middle East culture, the firstborn son received the highest blessings (see for example Genesis 27:1-41), whether he was the only son or the first of many sons. Jesus is the one and only Son of the Father, and He has received all of the rights and blessings of the firstborn Son. In contrast, we humans are created beings, and God adopts us into His family when we receive salvation through faith in Jesus as our Lord and Savior.


Conclusion

Jesus is the Jehovah God of the Old Testament. He is not a created being like we are, He is the one and only Son of God. Having faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior is the only way for us to be saved and have eternal life, as we are told in Acts 4:12: "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."

In fact, on earth Jesus knew that He was God, He said that He was God, He did things that only God can do, He accepted worship that rightfully only belongs to God, and the Jewish religious leaders tried to stone Him for blasphemy because they understood that He was claiming to be God. For the Scriptural proof of these things, see my article called Was Jesus Just a Great Teacher?

Calling Jesus the "Son" of God does not mean that He is a created being. Humans and angels are created beings, but Jesus is the unique, one of a kind, one and only, Son of God. He is unique because He is 100% God and 100% man. His human nature was born of Mary, but His divine nature existed before the world began (see for example Romans 1:3-4 and John 17:5).

When the Jehovah's Witnesses deny the deity of Jesus it is because they have been led astray. Take a look at what the apostle John has to say about this:
"Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist--he denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also. See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. And this is what he promised us--even eternal life. I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray." (1 John 2:22-26)
For more information on the errors of the Jehovah's Witnesses, you might take a look at JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES Offsite Link.


I hope this has been helpful, and may the Lord abundantly bless you as you study His Word!
 
 
 
  Modification History  
 
 

  • 08/18/2005 - Modified some of the wording, described what it means that Jesus is the "unique, one of a kind, one and only" Son of God, described what it means that Jesus is the "firstborn" over all creation, and added a link to my article called "Was Jesus Just a Great Teacher?"
  • 05/27/2001 - Modified some of the wording.