The Jehovah's Witnesses' Doctrine of Christ (II)
Jehovah Passages Applied To Jesus
Another line of evidence which shows that Jesus is God is to notice the number of passages from the Old Testament which speak of Jehovah and which are applied in the New Testament to Jesus. These passages force one to the conclusion that Jesus is the God called Jehovah in the Old Testament. Carefully notice that I am not saying that the Son is the Father but that the name Jehovah is applied to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Here are some of the passages which in the Old Testament speak of Jehovah but in the New Testament are applied to Christ.
1. Psa. 68:18-"Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captive thy captives; thou hast received gifts among men, even among the rebellious also, that the Lord God may dwell there." In Eph. 4:8, this passage is quoted and applied to Jesus Christ.
2. Psa. 102:25-27. This psalm opens, "Hear my prayer, O Lord" (Jehovah). Then, in the verses which interest us, the psalmist said, "Of old Thou didst found the earth; and the heavens are the work of Thy hands. Even they will perish, but Thou dost endure; and all of them will wear out like a garment; like clothing Thou wilt change them, and they will be changed. But Thou art the same, and Thy years will not come to an end." The "Thou" of these verses is Jehovah as verse 1 indicates. This passage is quoted in Heb. 1:10-12 as applicable to the Son. The only way that this could be, in any sense, applied to the Son is if the writer of Hebrews thought that he was Jehovah incarnated.
3. In John 12:37-41, the apostle wrote, "But though He had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in Him; that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke, Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed ? For this cause they could not believe, for Isaiah said again, He has blinded their eyes, and He hardened their heart; lest they see with their eyes, and perceive with their heart, and be converted, and I heal them.' These things Isaiah said, because he saw His glory, and he spoke of Him." When he said that Isaiah saw His glory and spoke of Him, John intended this to be understood to refer to Jesus, Yet, the passages which he quoted was Isaiah 6:10 which tells of Isaiah being in the presence of Jehovah when Jehovah called him to be His prophet. The only possible explanation of this is that John identified Jesus with Jehovah.
4. Isaiah 40:3. In Isaiah's prophecy of the ministry of John. the Baptist, he said, "A voice is calling, `Clear the way for the Lord (Jehovah) in the wilderness; make smooth in the desert a highway for our God." Matt. 3:3 quotes this passage as foretelling the ministry of John the Baptist. Notice, however, for whom the path was made ready. Isaiah called it the way of the Lord (Jehovah) but Matthew applies it to John's preparation for the Lord Jesus Christ. Again, the evidence is that Jesus is identified as Jehovah.
5. Joel 2:28-32. "And it shall come about after this that I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; and your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. And even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days. And I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth, blood, fire, and columns of smoke. The sun will be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be delivered; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be those who escape, as the Lord has said, even among the survivors whom the Lord calls." Our readers, no doubt, recognize this as the passage quoted by Peter on the day of Pentecost. In Acts 2, the Jews were told to call on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. Hence, Peter identified the Lord Jehovah with the Lord Jesus. The same application of this passage occurs in Rom. 10:13 where Paul quotes Joel 2:32 and applies it to Jesus.
6. 1 Pet. 3:14-15 quotes Isa. 8:12ff in part. Peter said. "But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts . . . ." The passage in Isa. 8:12-13 says, "And you are not to fear what they fear or be in dread of it. It is the Lord (Jehovah) of hosts whom you should regard as holy. And He shall be your fear, and He shall be your dread." The quotation of this passage with the identification of Christ as the Lord makes the conclusion irresistible that Jesus is Jehovah.
7. Deut. 30:11-14. "For this commandment which I command you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it out of reach. It is not in heaven, that you should say, 'Who will go up to heaven for us to get it for us and make us hear it that we may observe it?' Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, `Who will cross the sea for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?' But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may observe." This passage is obviously referring to Jehovah (v. 10). Yet, in Rom. 10:6-11, Paul specifically applied this to Christ. Here is what he said: "But the righteousness based on faith speaks thus, Do not say in your heart, `Who will ascend into heaven?' (that is, to bring Christ down), or `Who will descend into the abyss?' (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? `The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart'--that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, `Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed."' The only conclusion is that Jesus is Jehovah.
8. Zech. 12:10. The reader must recognize that the personal pronouns of this passage apply to Jehovah God. The verse reads, "And I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him, like the bitter weeping over a first born." Notice that the passage says that they will look on Me Jehovah whom they have pierced. Jn. 19:37 applies this messianic prophecy to Jesus. Obviously, Jesus is Jehovah.
There are a number of passages which teach that certain things belong exclusively to Jehovah which things are later said to also belong to Jesus. These passages are contradictory of each other unless Jesus is Jehovah. Here are a number of those passages:
1. Lord of Lords. In Deut. 10:17, Moses said, "For the Lord (Jehovah) your God is God of gods and Lord of lords . . . ." In Rev. 17:14, Jesus is identified as "Lord of lords." Who is Lord of lords? The passages are not in conflict once Jesus is identified as Jehovah.
2. Knows the hearts of men. In 1 Kgs. 8:39, the writer said that Jehovah alone "dost know the hearts of all the sons of men." Yet, Lk. 5:22 and Jn. 2:25 explicitly say that Jesus knew the hearts of men. Again, this is best harmonized by admitting that Jesus is Jehovah.
3. The Glory of God. In Isa. 42:8, Isaiah said, "I am the Lord (Jehovah), that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, nor My praise to graven images." Yet, in Jn. 17:5 and 1:14, Jesus is said to have the glory of God.
4. Creator of the World. In Isa. 44:24, Jehovah is identified as Creator of this World; He said, "I, the Lord (Jehovah), am the maker of all things, stretching out the heavens by Myself and spreading out the earth all alone." The New Testament teaches that Jesus is the Creator (Jn. 1:3; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:2). The only way that Jehovah could have done these things "all alone" was if Jesus is Jehovah.
5. Lord of Sabbath. In Ex. 20:8-11, the Sabbath is consecrated and set apart to Jehovah; it belonged to Jehovah because on that day He rested. Yet. Jesus boldly taught that He was Lord of the Sabbath (Mk. 2:28). He was guilty of blasphemy if He were not Jehovah.
6. The Rock. In 1 Cor. 10:4, Paul related some of the history of Israel. He said, ". . .and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ." The only person referred to as the rock for Israel in the Old Testament was Jehovah (Isa. 44:8). Yet, Jesus is here identified as the Rock from which Israel drank in the wilderness. Paul obviously is identifying Jesus as Jehovah (cf. Deut. 32:15).
7. Stills the Sea. In Psa. 89:8-9, the psalmist said, "O Lord God of hosts, who is like Thee, O mighty Lord (Jehovah)? Thy faithfulness also surrounds Thee. Thou dost rule the swelling of the sea; when the waves rise, Thou dost still them." Yet, Jesus also stilled the sea (Mt. 8:23ff); Jesus exercised the power of Jehovah because He is Jehovah.
8. Savior. In Isa. 43:11 and 45:21, Jehovah is identified as the only Savior. Yet, the New Testament teaches that Jesus is our Savior (cf. Mk. 2:7; Tit. 2:13). Jesus is able to be our Savior and forgive our sins because He is Jehovah.
Other evidences similar to these could be added to show that things which were exclusively the characteristic of Jehovah in the Old Testament were said to be true of Jesus in the New Testament. These evidences confirm what I have been seeking to establish, namely, that Jesus is Jehovah.
The book of Colossians was addressed to a church which was bothered by a Gnostic heresy very similar in doctrine to that of the Jehovah's Witnesses. Instead of saying that Jesus was God, Gnosticism said that Jesus was an emanation from God. William Barclay described the Gnostic heresy as follows:
"Gnosticism began with two basic assumptions about matter. First, it believed that spirit alone is good, and that matter is essentially flawed and evil. Matter is basically an evil thing. Second, it believed that matter is eternal; and that the universe was not created out of nothing-which is orthodox belief-but that this flawed matter is the stuff and material out of which this world was made. Now this basic belief has certain inevitable and logical consequences . . . .It has its effect on the doctrine of the person of Jesus Christ. If matter is altogether evil, and if Jesus Is the Son of God, then Jesus cannot have had a flesh and blood body-so the Gnostic argued. Jesus must have been a kind of spiritual phantom. He must have looked as if He had a body, and yet not have had one. So the Gnostic romances say that when Jesus walked, He left no footprints on the ground, because He had no body to leave them. This, of course, completely removes Jesus from humanity, and makes it completely impossible for Him of be the Savior of men. It is to meet this Gnostic doctrine that Paul insists on the flesh and bloody body of Jesus, and insists that Jesus saved men in the body of His flesh" (The Daily Study Bible, "The Letter to the Colossians," pp. 118-119).
"It is best if we go through the whole perversion of Christianity by Gnosticism before we look at Paul's resounding answer to ft. The next mistake in which Gnosticism issued was a denial of the uniqueness and the full divinity of Jeuss Christ. The Gnositcs had drawn their picture of the long series and ladder of emanations between man and God. They then went on to say that Jesus was no more than a link in that chain; he might even be the highest link; but he was no more than of these many beings who were intermediaries between God and man. To them he was no longer unique; he was simply one of many, even if he was the highest of many. The direct and unique unity of Jesus with God was gone, and at the best Jesus ranked only with the highest of the prophets" (The All-Sufficient Christ, pp. 52-53).
Like the Gnostics, the Jehovah's Witnesses deny the full deity of Jesus Christ; they teach that Jesus was just an emanation from Jehovah and not Jehovah Himself. Hence, Col. 2:9 must be understood as a full denial of the Gnostic (and Jehovah's Witnesses) doctrine of Christ.
The passage says, "For in Him (Jesus-mw) all the fulness of Deity dwells in bodily form." This passage states that Christ is very God Himself. Here are some comments about this passage from reputable Greek scholars:
"Here Paul declares that `all the fulness of the Godhead' dwells in Christ `bodily.' The phrase `fulness of the Godhead is an esp. emphatic one. It means everything without exception which goes to make up the Godhead, the totality of all that enters into the conception of Godhood . . . .The distinction is that theotes emphasizes that it is the highest stretch of Divinity which is in question, while theiotes might possible be taken as referring to Deity at a lower level. It is not merely such .divinity as is shared by all the gods many and lords many of the heathen world, to which `heroes' might aspire, and `demons' attain, all the plenitude of which dwells in Christ as incarnate; but that Deity which is peculiar to the high gods, or, since Paul is writing out of a monotheistic consciousness, that Deity which is the Supreme God alone. All the fulness of supreme Deity dwells in Christ bodily. There is nothing in the God who is over all which is not in Christ . . . .Paul wishes here to assert-that all that enters into the conception of God, and makes God what we mean by the term `God,' dwells in Christ, and is manifested in Him in connection with a bodily organism" ("Godhead," Benjamin Warfield, International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. II, pp. 1269-70).
"When the apostle thus describes Christ he has in mind the latter's deity, not just his divinity. He is referring to the Son's complete equality of essence with the Father and the Holy Spirit, his consubstantiality, not his similarity. He is saying that this plenitude of deity has its abiding residence in Christ, and this bodily" (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Colossians, p. 111).
. . .St. Paul is declaring that in the Son there dwells all the fulness of absolute Godhead; they were no mere rays of divine glory which gilded Him, lighting up his person for a season and with a splendour not his own; but He was, and is, absolute and perfect God . . . ." (R. C. Trench, Synonyms of the New Testament, p: 8).
That Jesus is God cannot be denied.
The Jehovah's Witnesses deny that Jesus is fully God; they will state that Jesus is "a god" or "divine" but will deny that He is Jehovah God. In essence, they are saying that not all the fulness of God dwelt in Jesus. Yet, Col. 2:9 teaches otherwise; it asserts that Jesus is God. (Continued Next Week)
Truth Magazine XXI: 14, pp. 211-214