A couple of nights ago, I went to see a couple from our church to talk with them about a Jehovah’s Witness friend they have who has been trying to convert them to their church (or rather their cult or religion). We talked at some length and looked at a number of scriptures and I thought I might record some of what we talked about here.
We looked at John 1:1 which in the new world translation (the JW translation of the Bible) says "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with the God and the word was a god".
If you ask a JW to explain this verse they will acknowledge that there is a big (almighty) God and a little (mighty) god and that the little god serves the big God.
We compared this to Isa 43:10-11 which says "Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me." The following verse (which I was pushed for context on once) nicely follows this up by stating clearly that God (Jehovah) alone is saviour: "I, I am the Lord, and besides me there is no savoir." Clearly there is only one God which demonstrates the inconsistency of the NWT. It also points to the fact that God is triune – specifically that Jesus is also God – as John is trying to say in John 1:1.
We also looked at Matt 14:25-33, Luke 24:52, Matt 28:16-17, John 9:35-39 which all are instances where people worshipped Jesus and He accepted their worship. In the new world translation the word worship is replaced with "obeisance" which means "to bow down in deep respect". From a cultural perspective this would have been very odd in the day, not by any measure a standard greeting and regardless of the word used, it appears to be worship and Jesus seems to have no problem with it.
It would be interesting to compare the new world translation with the verses in Revelation that are translated as "worship" in my translation – as this refers to a variety of other people/being (the beast, false prophet, etc). The Greek word used in the majority of passages above is also the same word used in Revelation.
Of course there are the “I am” passages (John 8:58 and John 10:30). I’ve generally had these refuted with “yes, one in essence, that is all”. To this I say “What is the difference?” It seems that this response is a vain attempt to split hairs where no hair exists to be split. It is clear what his listeners thought he was saying because in both these instances they picked up stones to stone Jesus – because that was the punishment for blasphemy.
In fact this is explicit in John 10:33 where the Pharisees answer Jesus question “which of my works do you stone me for?” with the answer that “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God” This of course this is also a clear answer for those who say Jesus was merely a good man or even a prophet. No good man makes himself out to be God – but clearly Jesus did.
We also looked at Matt 8-9 which records a series of miracles that Jesus does. They are:
- Cleansing a leper (Matt 8:1-4)
- Healing a centurions servant from afar (Matt 8:5-13)
- Healing Peters Mother in law (Matt 8:14-17)
- Calming a storm (Matt 8:23-27)
- Casting out demons (Matt 8:28-34)
- Forgiving sin (Matt 9:1-8)
This last example is specifically done to demonstrate that Jesus has authority to forgive sin – and while the example specifically states "the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins", Jesus was not emphasising that he had authority on earth to forgive sins, but that He had authority to forgive sins – and that this was proven by his then healing the man. The reason this summarizes chapter 8 is to point out that no human being cleanses leprosy with a word, heals from afar, cures illnesses, has authority over nature and has authority over demons. Indeed the word of the disciples after Jesus calms the storm is pertinent "What sort of man is this, that even the winds and sea obey him?". Their point was that he was not merely a man. No man does this.
Matthews entire point from this series of events that demonstrate Jesus’ comprehensive authority over all things is that Jesus is not merely a man, but is God incarnate.
In fact, not only is this Matthews point, but the whole of scripture are a testimony of who Jesus is (Jn 15:26):
"Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Phil 2:9-11)