Jehovah, Jesus & the New World Translation
Would you be surprised to find that the New World Translation of the Bible calls Jesus Jehovah?
Believe it or not, that’s exactly what we find in Jeremiah 23:5-6. The Prophet Jeremiah clearly predicts the coming of the Jewish Messiah, whom we now know as Jesus Christ, predicting that He is the coming King and Deliverer of Judah and Israel. This unmistakable prediction of the coming of the Jewish Messiah reads like this in the New World Translation:
“Look! The days are coming,” declares Jehovah, “when I will raise up to David a righteous sprout. And a king will reign and show insight and uphold justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will reside in security. And this is the name by which he will be called: Jehovah Is Our Righteousness.”
If you’re a Jehovah’s Witness, this should be a bit disturbing. Jehovah Himself is declaring the coming Messiah, whom you know to be Jesus of Nazareth, to be none other than Jehovah Himself! As you know from Biblical and Jewish culture, frequently names are given because they reflect the character or the very nature of the individual being named. So, if Jesus is not God as Jehovah’s Witnesses claim, why in the world would Jehovah Himself confuse the issue by calling Him by His own name?
Of course, there must be some other explanation for this, except that there are many indications even in the New World Translation that Jesus is actually Jehovah God Himself.
For instance, have you ever noticed what the New World Translation says that Thomas told Jesus when he finally encountered the resurrected Savior? Thomas, who refused to believe in the resurrected Jesus unless he personally put his hand in Jesus’ side and his fingers in the wounds in his hand ultimately exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28, NWT). And the translation is absolutely accurate to the Greek, which literally reads, “the Lord of me, and the God of me!”
Now if Thomas were mistaken, wouldn’t you expect that Jesus would correct him? It’s a very crucial point after all, for if Thomas had mistaken him for Jehovah, and worshipped him with such words, he would be guilty of the great sin of idolatry! However, how does Jesus respond? Not with a correction, but with a commendation of Thomas’ faith, and a commendation for everyone who believes as Thomas did without having seen the risen Lord Jesus: “Jesus said to him: “Because you have seen me, have you believed? Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.” (John 20:29, N.W.T.)
Wouldn’t you think that Jesus, if he were truly merely Michael the Archangel, as Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society officially teach, would reject such worship? After all, that’s exactly what an actual angel did when the Apostle John mistakenly began to worship him in Revelation 22:8-9.
“Well I, John, was the one hearing and seeing these things. When I heard and
saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing
me these things. But he tells me: “Be careful! Do not do that! I am only a fellow
slave of you and of your brothers the prophets and of those observing the words
of this scroll. Worship God.” (Revelation 22:8-9, N.W.T.).
It is critical to note here that the Greek word translated as “worship” in the New World’s Translation’s version of John 22:8-9 is the Greek word proskuneo. However, the Watchtower Society, the New World Translation’s author, reveals its bias against the deity of Christ by refusing to translate this same word as “worship” whenever it is used of someone worshiping Jesus-- as it is in Matthew 2:11 when the Magi worship Him, in Matthew 14:33 when the disciples worship Him after He calmed the storm, in John 9:38 when the healed blind man worshiped Him and in Matthew 28:9 when the women who followed Jesus fell at his feet and worshiped Him after His resurrection. Instead, the Watchtower Society translates proskuneo with the very obscure phrase to “do obeisance” toward Jesus. Compare nearly any other English Bible’s translation of this verse and you’ll find that the word is translated as worship, and that Jesus never rejected or corrected anyone who worshiped Him.
This same habit of Scripture twisting shows up in one of the most challenging passages to anyone who doubts that Jesus is Jehovah, Hebrews 1. After noting that Jesus is the exact representation of God’s very being and sustains all things by His power in Hebrews 1:1-3, the New World Translation goes on to distinguish Jesus as superior to all angels when it says, “So he has become better than the angels to the extent that he has inherited a name more excellent than theirs. For example, to which one of the angels did God ever say: “You are my son; today I have become your father”? And again: “I will become his father, and he will become my son”? But when he again brings his Firstborn into the inhabited earth, he says: “And let all of God’s angels do obeisance to him” (Hebrews 1:4-8).
This verse clearly reveals that Jesus is not an angel, not even the archangel Michael, because he is superior to all angels. Notice this statement in reference to Jesus: “For to which of the angels did God ever say: ‘You are my son, today I have become your father.’” This statement clearly rules out the possibility that Jesus is an angel. It explicitly states that He is the Son of God, in contradistinction to the status of any angel. Therefore, God’s Word here directly contradicts what Jehovah’s Witnesses officially teach—that Michael the archangel is “evidently a name given to Jesus before and after his life on earth.” (www.jw.org/en/bible-teachings/question/archangel-michael).
More than that, Hebrews 1:4-8 specifically asserts that God says that Jesus is His Son,
thus indicating equality with God (see John 5:18-23). And it tells us that all the angels must “do obeisance to," or in more truthful language, worship (Greek: proskuneo) Him. In other words, Jesus is absolutely in a different category from any and all angels—He is so far superior to them that all angels (not all other angels) must worship (proskuneo) Him, indicating He is very God of very God.
And this is also the very claim that Jesus repeatedly made for Himself. There are far too many examples to cite here, but one of the most essential is found in John 3:16: “For God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life. (N.W.T.).
The critical phrase is “only begotten Son” (you might ask why Son is capitalized in the N.W.T. if Jesus is not God). Anyone who has read the Bible knows that when some being is begotten, it is begotten according to the nature of the being who begets it. Sheep beget sheep, goats beget goats, and birds beget birds. You never see sheep begetting goats, or birds begetting sheep. In the same way, God begets God. Jesus is uniquely God’s only begotten Son because He shares His heavenly Father’s nature—He also is God. When Jesus was begotten, He was the only begotten God, as the proper translation of John 1:18, in the New American Standard Bible, reveals: “No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.”
And that’s exactly what the Jewish religious leaders of Jesus’ day understood Jesus to mean when Jesus called God, “My Father” in John 5:17. John 5:18 tells us “This is why the Jews began seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath but he was also calling God his own Father, making himself equal to God” (N.W.T.).
Jesus could easily have defused their anger and their efforts to murder Him if he had simply corrected their misunderstanding. The only problem is that it wasn’t a misunderstanding. Jesus confirmed this is exactly what He meant as He addressed them at that very moment with these telling words: “For the Father judges no one at all, but he has entrusted all the judging to the Son, so that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him” (John 5:22-23, N.W.T.).
Now ask yourself this question: How are men to honor God the Father? Obviously, the answer is given throughout the Bible, and we have already seen this is the case from Revelation 22:8-9. Men are to worship God, and God alone, and never an angel. Here Jesus confirms that how men honor the Father--by worshiping Him--is exactly how they are to honor the Son—by worshiping Him! And more than that, whoever does not honor the Son as God by worshiping the Son as God does not honor the Father who sent Him! Thus, Jesus cannot be a mere angel and must be Jehovah God Himself!
Now this is incredibly important to understand. If you refuse to honor or worship Jesus as God, then according to Jesus Himself, you are not honoring or worshiping Jehovah! And if you are not worshiping Jehovah, are you then worshiping a false god? Are you then an idolater?
This possibility becomes even more evident in John 8:24 and 8:58. Once again the Watchtower Bible Society reveals its bias against Jesus’ deity by mistranslating these verses, even at the risk of contradicting its own Greek Interlinear’s translation of the Greek words ego eimi. In the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society Greek Interlinear of 1969, on page 467, ego eimi is translated as “I am.”
So in John 8:58 when Jesus says to the Jews, “Before Abraham was born, I Am (N.A.S.B.) Jesus is identifying Himself as the “I Am” of Exodus 3:14-15. That is the very first place when God revealed that His name was Jehovah, or “I Am that I Am” (K.J.V) to Moses at the burning bush on Mt. Sinai. In the ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament, which is called the Septuagint, the Greek Words used for “I Am” are again translated from ego eimi—eimi being the first person present tense of the Greek verb for “to be.” These are the exact words that Jesus used according to the Greek in John 8:58. The proper translation of John 8:58 then is the following, “Before Abraham was born, I Am” (NASB). The New World’s Translation of this verse as a first person perfect, “Jesus said to them: “Most truly I say to you, before Abraham came into existence, I have been” is bogus—an attempt to deny that Jesus used the most holy name of Jehovah to identify Himself as Jehovah.
If Jesus did not intend to identify Himself as Jehovah, or very God of very God, why would the Jewish leaders have been so upset in John 8:59 that they picked up stones to stone Jesus? If Jesus had merely said “I have been,” rather than having used the most holy name of “I Am” or Jehovah (see Exodus 3:14-15), they would not have understood him to be blaspheming by claiming to be God Himself! As it was, again, Jesus did not seek to correct their understanding of what He had said in the verses that follow John 8:59. Instead, knowing that they had properly understood him to have claimed to be Jehovah, He allowed them to continue to oppose Him.
Even more telling is Jesus’ use of “I Am” or Jehovah in John 8:24. There, He tells the Jewish religious leaders, “That is why I said to you: You will die in your sins. For if you do not believe that I am the one, you will die in your sins” (N.W.T.). The more exact translation of this verse: “If you do not believe that I am, you will die in your sins,” shows Jesus claimed to be the “I Am” of Exodus 3:14-15. Yes, He was claiming to be Jehovah here also, moments before his incredible claim in John 8:58.
But what should be of most interest to you, if you are a Jehovah’s Witness, is His statement about what will happen to anyone who does not believe He is Jehovah. Jesus Himself clearly stated that the person who does not believe He is God will die in His sins. That is, that person will pay for his own sins throughout eternity—Jesus’ death will not pay for his sins because he has not believed in the only begotten Son of God (Remember this is also what John 3:16 actually says!).
Now I urge you to think about this just a bit more, as painful as this realization may be. Is it really possible for a mere angel, even an archangel, to pay for the nearly infinite sins of all mankind? Scripture tells us it certainly is not possible for a man, a finite being, to pay for or redeem a single man from his sin so that he may live forever in Psalm 49:7-9. More than that, how can an angel properly represent mankind? The only kind of being who could properly represent mankind, and pay for mankind’s nearly infinite number of sins would have to be both man, to represent man, and infinite God, to pay for a virtually infinite number of sins which mankind would commit throughout history, wouldn’t He? And this is exactly what Jesus and Scripture represent Jesus to be and to have been—both man and God. And He even does so in a verse so basic as John 3:16: “For God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.” (N.W.T.)
But notice the condition to gain eternal life instead of destruction—belief in Jesus as the only begotten Son—the only begotten God! In other words, what is at stake in denying Jesus is Jehovah is not some minor theological point, but your personal and eternal destiny—eternal destruction or eternal life!
And this after all only makes sense if Jesus’ other numerous claims about Himself are indeed true. Consider only one--John 14:6: “Jesus said to him: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (N.W.T.) How is it possible for Jesus to be the truth--the absolute and ultimate truth--without actually being the ultimate reality, the eternal Creator/God Himself—even Jehovah in the flesh? Isn’t this even what John 1:3 indicates when it says, “All things came into existence through him, and apart from him not even one thing came into existence” (N.W.T, author's emphasis). And if He is the ultimate reality, then Jesus is also the source of life for all who will believe in Him as Jehovah.
By this time you must be wondering about the proof texts you have been taught to prove Jesus isn’t God, like Matthew 24:36 where Jesus says about the time of His second coming,
“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone,” and John 14:28b, “the Father is greater than I.”
However, there is a good answer for these questions in Philippians 2:5-8, a passage which also affirms that Jesus is, in His very nature, God. In the more accurate NASB version, it reads,
“Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
What is being said here is that Jesus existed in the very form of God, and therefore was equal with God and did not grasp to be something He wasn’t—because He was already equal with God. However, He emptied Himself in becoming a man—taking the form of a bond-servant, made in the likeness of men, so He could serve our needs. So, to become a man, and truly to be “tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15b), it was necessary for the Self-existent One to become dependent on a human mother and father, to suffer needs as men do, to experience hunger and fatigue (John 4:6-7) as men do, and to ultimately, for the One who lives forever, suffer and die to pay the penalty for our sins. In so doing, he “emptied Himself” in the sense that He chose not to make use of some of the divine attributes that had been His prerogative as God (for example, calling for legions of angels to come to His aid when on the cross), in order to both become a man and to accomplish our salvation. So, in this sense Jesus chose not to use His own divine powers in order to love and serve our needs as a man who was perfectly dependent on the Father and the Holy Spirit to be both the example for us, and the perfect sacrifice for our sins.
And again, because he was willing to empty Himself in this way, what does the rest of this passage indicate? It boldly declares that He would become worthy of the glory, worship and honor that belongs to Jehovah God alone—“For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:11). I don't know about you, but I know what "every knee will bow" means to me. It means every single human being who ever existed will ultimately worship Jesus Christ as God!
And what about Colossians 1:15 where we’re told “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation?” The clear alternate and logical interpretation of this passage is that He was firstborn not in the sense that He was a created being, but that He is the heir of all creation—as the firstborn in Israel were the primary heirs. In fact this is the only logical interpretation when we carefully read the rest of the passage which tells us in a more accurate translation that “all things have been created through Him and for Him” (Colossians 1:16b N.A.S.B.). (The New World Translation improperly translates Colossians 1:16b as “all other things have been created through Him and for Him,” despite the fact that the Greek word for “other” appears nowhere in this verse).
Why resist this truth that Jesus is Jehovah-God any longer? Your eternal destiny depends on believing in and trusting in Jesus as God Himself, the Savior, who is and always has been Jehovah and became “Our Righteousness” (Jeremiah 23:6) when died for our sins and rose again (I Corinthians 15:1-4).
What it comes down to is this: Who will you trust for your eternal life—the very fallible and mortal Scripture-twisting men who run the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (See II Peter 3:14-15), or Jehovah-Jesus, who died for your sins and “who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead.” (Romans 1:4, NASB)
Again, I don’t know about you, but when it comes to my eternal salvation, I’m going to trust the One who proved He had power over life and death by His own resurrection from the dead, the God-man, Jesus Christ, for my salvation.
--Pastor Jim Wallace, Risen King Community Church (775-722-5733).