John, Jesus, and Jehovah’s Witnesses

by Jefferson David Tant

Those who are familiar with the Jehovah’s Witnesses' teaching about Jesus Christ are aware that they believe that Christ is not the Son of God, but that he is Michael the Archangel, a created being. Note the following quote from their writings: “the evidence indicates that the Son of God was known as Michael before he came to earth and is known also by that name since his return to heaven where he resides as the glorified spirit Son of God” [Reasoning from the Scriptures, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1985, p. 218].

The Witnesses are taught that Christ is none other than Michael the archangel. In their view, identifying Christ as Michael confirms their belief that Christ is not God and does not have the authority or deserve the same honors as God.

For example, in an article published in 2010, the Watchtower magazine asked, “Is Jesus the Archangel Michael?” Here was the response: ‘Put simply, the answer is yes…. Jesus Christ is Michael the archangel…. So Michael the archangel is Jesus in his prehuman existence. After his resurrection and return to heaven, Jesus resumed his service as Michael, the chief angel, “to the glory of God the Father.” [“Is Jesus the Archangel Michael?’” Watchtower, 1 April 2010, p. 19].

Now consider what is written in the Gospel of John.

" "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one." The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, "I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?" The Jews answered Him, "For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God." Jesus answered them, "Has it not been written in your Law, 'I said, you are gods'? If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, 'You are blaspheming,' because I said, 'I am the Son of God'? If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father" " (John 10:27-38).

Note in John 10:28 that Christ is speaking, and claims that “I give eternal life to them.” No one but God has the power to give eternal life. Then in John 10:33, the Jews were going to stone Christ because he claimed to be God. The Bible does speak of Michael, the archangel, but I never read where he claimed to be God. In fact, there are passages where Christ is worshipped, but John is told that we should not worship angels.

I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed me these things. But he said to me, "Do not do that. I am a fellow servant of yours and of your brethren the prophets and of those who heed the words of this book. Worship God" (Revelation 22:8-9).

Another passage in the gospel of John to consider is John 8:58: “Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.’" The “I am” is from the Greek “eimi” which is “first-person singular present indicative” [Strong’s Greek Dictionary]. Now notice the wording in the New World Translation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses: “Jesus said to them: “Most truly I say to you, before Abraham came into existence, I have been.” Notice what was done here. They have mistranslated the Greek “eimi,” which, in its present tense is translated “I am,” carries the idea of Christ’s eternal existence. It doesn’t mean “I was” or “I have been,” Thus by changing the meaning of the word, they can claim that the archangel Michael (Jesus) was just created before Abraham was born, and therefore was not eternal.

Another passage in John tells of the time that Christ healed a blind man, and the Jews shunned the man. Jesus heard that they had put him out, and finding him, "He said, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?" He answered, "Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?" Jesus said to him, "You have both seen Him, and He is the one who is talking with you." And he said, "Lord, I believe." And he worshiped Him” " (John 9:35-38). Since we are not to worship angels, this passage presents a problem. So, how do the Jehovah’s Witnesses deal with this? Note their commentary:

“did obeisance to him: Or “bowed down to him; prostrated himself to him; paid him homage.” When the Greek verb pro·sky·neʹo is used to refer to the rendering of worship to a god or a deity, it is translated “to worship.” (Mt 4:10; Lu 4:8) In this context, however, the healed man, who was born blind, recognized Jesus as God’s representative and did obeisance to him. He viewed him, not as God or a deity, but as the foretold “Son of man,” the Messiah with divine authority.”

Strong’s Greek Dictionary always translates the word “proskuneo” as “worship.” So the Jehovah's Witnesses' translation seeks to soften that to “did obeisance,” in the sense of giving homage or expressing gratitude. This is exactly the same Greek word in Revelation 22:9 where the angel told John to “worship God.” Thus the Jehovah's Witnesses' version recognizes the meaning of “proskuneo” in Revelation, but they change the meaning of the word in John so that would not contradict their belief that Christ is only an angel and not the divine Son of God.

These are just a few passages from the writings of John that refute the false teaching of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. I hope they will be of some help when you encounter their workers when they come to your door.

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