I’ve been reading the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, and it has taught me that Jesus is Jehovah God. To someone who grew up reading the Bible, that may not be surprising, but if you are a Jehovah’s Witness, what I just said is scandalous. And truly, I’m not just baiting you for a knee-jerk reaction. I, like you, am in pursuit of God’s truth.
The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures is a Bible published exclusively by the Watchtower Society of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Famously, the Jehovah’s Witnesses vehemently deny the deity of Jesus Christ. They believe He was a created being and is Michael the Archangel. To a Jehovah’s Witness, believing that Jesus is God is a damnable heresy.
In John 1:1, the King James Version of the Bible says:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Verse 14 says that the Word became flesh, and it is revealed in verse 17 that the Word is Jesus the Christ. So, from the beginning, Jesus has been God. This passage is a springboard for Christians to discuss the deity of Jesus. Of course, that conclusion is not compatible with Jehovah’s Witness beliefs, so the New World Translation does not say Jesus—or the Word—is God. It says Jesus is a god.
This article will not provide a complete case for the deity of Jesus, nor is it presented as a full refutation of Jehovah’s Witness beliefs. However, I do find it interesting that despite the changes here and there that Watchtower translators have made to the Bible, my copy of the New World Translation still teaches me that Jesus is Jehovah in two different ways. After we study those two ways, we will study a prooftext Jehovah’s Witnesses often use to try to prove that Jesus was a created being, and not God Himself from the very beginning.
A voice of one calling out in the wilderness:Isaiah 40:3
“Clear up the way of Jehovah!
Make a straight highway through the desert for our God.”
This quote is, and all future quotes in this article will be, directly from the latest version of the New World Translation. In this verse, Isaiah prophesied that a voice would call out in the wilderness and make a straight way for Jehovah God. The New World Translation cross-references this verse with Matthew 3, which makes sense.
In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying: “Repent, for the Kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.” This, in fact, is the one spoken of through Isaiah the prophet in these words: “A voice of one calling out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of Jehovah! Make his roads straight.’”Matthew 3:1–3
So John was the one prophesied in Isaiah to prepare the way for Jehovah. Yet, specifically, who did John prepare a way for?
He [John] said: “I am a voice of someone crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make the way of Jehovah straight,’ just as Isaiah the prophet said.”John 1:23
The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and he said: “See, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one about whom I said: ‘Behind me there comes a man who has advanced in front of me, for he existed before me.’”John 1:29–30
So, John was preparing the way for Jehovah, who, when He was revealed, ended up being Jesus. Even when you read the New World Translation of the Bible, you come to the conclusion that Jesus is Jehovah.
This is what Jehovah says,Isaiah 44:6
The King of Israel and his Repurchaser, Jehovah of armies:
“I am the first and I am the last.
There is no God but me.”
Again, the New World Translation provides some cross references here. It suggests we compare this passage with Revelation 22:13, which we will do in a moment.
First, let’s go to Revelation 1:7–8:
Look! He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, and those who pierced him; and all the tribes of the earth will beat themselves in grief because of him. Yes, Amen. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says Jehovah God, “the One who is and who was and who is coming, the Almighty.”
Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet, and Omega is the last. When Jehovah says, “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” that’s just another way of saying what He said in Isaiah 44: “I am the first and I am the last.” Anyone can claim this, but truly, only the God of the universe—Jehovah Himself—can prove it.
When I saw him, I fell as dead at his feet. And he laid his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last…”Revelation 1:17
Again, Jehovah asserts His deity here. Wait, who claims to be Jehovah here? Read the next verse.
and the living one, and I became dead, but look! I am living forever and ever, and I have the keys of death and of the Grave.Revelation 1:18
In verse 11, a voice begins speaking, and John sees the owner of the voice in the following verses. It turns out to be Jesus Himself! In Isaiah 44, Jehovah claims exclusivity to the title The First and the Last. In Revelation, Jesus claims that title for Himself. Either we accept the fact that Jesus is Jehovah, or we call Him a blasphemous liar. But even the New World Translation tells us to check Isaiah 44 with Revelation 22:13, which says:
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.
The New World Translation tells us the speaker here is Jehovah—the one and only God. And yet, verse 16 reveals who the speaker is:
I, Jesus, sent my angel to bear witness to you about these things for the congregations. I am the root and the offspring of David and the bright morning star.
By the way, Jehovah’s Witnesses have been trained to sidestep this conclusion by simply saying that the text is ambiguous as to who is speaking in these passages, so it must have been the Father each time. If it’s unclear to you who is speaking, I encourage you, as always, to read the passage in context. The one who put His right hand on John and told him, “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last,” was certainly Jesus.
And so, when you read the New World Translation of the Bible, you come to the conclusion that Jesus is Jehovah.
Jesus is firstborn
Now that we have used the Watchtower’s own publication to come to the conclusion that Jesus is the eternal God, how do we answer their accusations toward Jesus that He was the first one created?
Before we study all that, let me warn you, Christian, not to use this as a “gotcha.” Jesus sent us to win souls, not arguments. I respect my Jehovah’s Witness friends greatly, and you should too. They possess a zeal for their message that Christians would do well to have for the gospel of Jesus. Even if you’re able to perfectly answer every Bible question or accusation, that will not guarantee you will win souls. You must love people, and that includes treating them as you want to be treated, and I doubt you want people to bash you over your head with their beliefs. Engage in friendship and honest discussion. Ask questions. Study. Plant. Water. And depend on God to give the increase.
In John 17:5, Jesus claims to have had glory with the Father since “before the world was.” In Psalm 90:2, the psalmist says to God, “From everlasting to everlasting, you are God.” And in Micah 5:2, it is prophesied that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem, “Whose origin is from ancient times, from the days of long ago.” The word for long ago here is the same Hebrew word as everlasting in Psalm 90:2. Micah says that, although Jesus would be born in Bethlehem, He would be coming from an everlasting past. Surely, that’s a quality of God Himself. However, Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jesus was the first one ever created (therefore, He had a beginning), and then everything was created through Him. One of the ways they try to prove this is using Colossians 1:15, which says:
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
See, the Bible calls Jesus the firstborn of creation. That means He was created, right? No. You’re probably aware of the fact that In many cultures, including Bible cultures, the one who is born first usually gets the greatest inheritance and power in a family. Given that cultural norm, when the Bible uses the word firstborn, it’s often a figure of speech. It’s talking about a position, not the fact that someone was actually born first. Psalm 89:27, speaking of king David, says:
And I will place him as firstborn,
The highest of the kings of the earth.
David was actually the youngest of his brothers. Yet, God placed him in a position called the firstborn. God was making David the greatest king on earth. Even though it had nothing to do with his birth or physical lineage, God saw fit to give him this power. That’s exactly what the apostle Paul was saying in Colossians 1. By saying Jesus was the firstborn of creation, he certainly was not saying Jesus was part of the creation. He was saying Jesus has power over creation (see also Matthew 28:18). A few verses later, the apostle says:
He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might become the one who is first in all things.Colossians 1:18
If, by “firstborn of creation,” Paul means Jesus was the first one created, then, by “firstborn from the dead,” he must also mean Jesus was the first to rise from death. Of course, Jesus was not the first to be resurrected. Jesus Himself rose at least four people from the dead during His ministry. His resurrection was the preeminent one. He rose to never taste death again. His rising is the standard of resurrection we can look forward to, if we truly believe Him. If we follow in His death, we can follow His resurrection (see Romans 6:1–6).
Do I trust the New World Translation? No, I don’t. It is not an honest translation. However, even with its flaws, I agree with it that Jesus is Immanuel—“With Us Is God” (see Isaiah 7:14 and Matthew 1:22–23). I agree with the New World Translation that Jesus should be called “Mighty God” (see Isaiah 9:6).
In John 20:28, Thomas calls Jesus, “My Lord and my God!” Of course, Jehovah’s Witnesses say Thomas was mistaken and that Jesus was not required to correct Thomas here. Yet, the very next verse, Jesus says Thomas believes. And the next thing He does is send Thomas out to teach his beliefs to the entire world (see Matthew 28:18–20). What did Thomas believe about Jesus? He believed Jesus is Jehovah God, and anyone who reads even the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures with an honest heart will come to the same conclusion.