Have you ever felt dismay after presenting the standard Biblical Scripture proof texts for the Deity of Jesus Christ and the Trinity, only to find your Jehovah’s Witness friend unconvinced? There are three reasons for this:
- MISCONCEPTIONS REGARDING THE TRINITY: Jehovah’s Witnesses have several misconceptions about what Christians believe regarding the Deity of Christ and the Triune God. We must address their misconceptions and deal with the verses they rely on to support their position, before they can adequately grasp the Biblical support we have for our position.
- FALSE AUTHORITY: Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the leaders of their Watchtower organization are appointed by God to act as His supreme representatives on earth. In order to maintain good standing with the organization, they are required to accept, without question, all beliefs and policies presented by their leaders. So, when the plain reading of a Scripture passage contradicts a doctrinal belief held by their leaders, they will question their own ability to understand the meaning of that Scripture passage before they will question the belief itself. We must undercut their trust in their leaders before they will be free to accept the plain and simple interpretation of Scripture passages that differ from what they have been taught.
- SPIRITUAL BLINDNESS: Satan, “the god of this world,” has blinded the minds of Jehovah’s Witnesses so that they cannot see “Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4). We must remember that we are engaged in a spiritual battle for their minds and hearts. This battle transcends mere intellectual understanding. We must implore the Spirit of the Living God to free them so that they can say, “Jesus is indeed Lord, Jehovah!” (See 1 Corinthians 12:3).
The following steps will guide you to effectively present the Deity of Jesus Christ in terms your Jehovah’s Witness friend will be able to grasp. Although there is no guarantee that he or she will be convinced by the concepts we present here, in our ministry to Jehovah’s Witnesses, we have found these steps essential to breaking the faulty reasoning Jehovah’s Witnesses have embraced on these issues.
Step 1: Articulate an accurate understanding of the Trinity doctrine.
Step 2: Emphasize that Jesus is not the Father.
Step 3: Remove Watchtower Proof Texts against the Deity of Christ.
Step 4: Discuss the limitations of Jesus’ humanity as they relate to his Divine nature.
Step 5: Prove how submission to authority does not affect nature.
Step 6: Present Scriptural proof texts for the Deity of Christ and the Trinity.
Step 7: Remove the Watchtower Authority Barrier.
STEP 1: ARTICULATE AN ACCURATE UNDERSTANDING OF THE TRINITY DOCTRINE. Before we can adequately defend the doctrine of the Trinity and the Deity of Jesus Christ, we must have an accurate understanding of what the Trinity is and what it is not.
The Trinity is the view that the three persons mentioned in the Bible: Father, Son (i.e., Jesus) and Holy Spirit are one God. This Triune God is called “Jehovah” in the Old Testament and “Lord” in the New Testament. Each person of the Godhead is distinct in His Personhood, yet each is equal in nature and eternal in uncreated substance. Together as the one and only true God, they co-exist, co-create and co-rule this present world. There is a functional hierarchy that exists within the members of this Triune God. The Father, being the supreme person in authority, sends His “Son” Jesus Christ to redeem mankind, and the Son sends the Holy Spirit to indwell Christian believers. During the incarnation (Christ’s coming to earth), Jesus added a human nature to His Divine person. Thus, it was when He operated under the limitations of His humanity that He was unable to do things that He would otherwise have been able to do as God.
Misconceptions regarding the Trinity doctrine occur when the doctrine is misdefined in Modalistic or Tritheistic terms. Modalism is the view that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit operate not only as one God, but as one person manifesting Himself in various modes at different times and places. In this view, the person of God may appear as the Father. At other times, He appears as the Son and then again as the Holy Spirit, but always as one person. The problem with this view is that if God is only “one person,” He would be unable to manifest as Father, Son and Holy Spirit at one time. Thus, we would have to discount Scriptural passages such as Matthew 3:16 where at the baptism of Jesus, all three persons manifested Themselves, and Genesis 1:26 where God refers to Himself in the plural pronouns of “Us” and “Our.”
Tritheism is the direct opposite of Modalism. It teaches that the three persons (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) are not only distinct in their Personhoods, but are separate “Gods.” In the third and fourth centuries, the Church soundly defeated this view in favor of the clear teaching of Scripture that there is only one true God (John 17:3).
Thus, this single Being we call the Triune God came to be defined as three distinct Persons in one substance. During the fourth century, in an attempt to prevent Modalistic and Tritheistic views of God from being promulgated in Christian Churches, this belief was codified into the Creed of Athanasius. Throughout the centuries, the Athanasian Creed has served as the accepted standard by which Christians define the Trinity doctrine. Today, when witnessing to Jehovah’s Witnesses, it is often necessary to appeal to this creed in order to counter the Modalistic views of the Trinity presented in Watchtower literature.
2. Emphasize that Jesus is not the Father. Because Jehovah’s Witnesses have a modalistic view of the Trinity doctrine, when they hear you say, “Jesus is God,” they automatically assume you said, “Jesus is the Father.” Immediately, Scripture verses that demonstrate the distinction between the Father and the Son flood into their minds. To preempt this argument, say to your Jehovah’s Witness friend:
- I believe Jesus is God, but I DO NOT believe Jesus is the Father.
Pause, and let them ask you how you can believe Jesus is God without believing He is the Father. Because Jehovah’s Witnesses are accustomed to going right into their arguments about the distinction between the Father and the Son, they may miss the point you are making about Jesus not being the same person as the Father. If this occurs, do not argue about the verses they bring up. Just repeat your statement about Jesus not being the Father until they ask you what you mean by Jesus being God, but not the Father. Once they ask, you are ready to proceed to the next point below.
3. Use a human analogy to explain Jesus’ relationship to the Father. Jehovah’s Witnesses have a hard time understanding how both the Father and the Son can co-exist as two distinct persons, yet one God. To aid in communicating this concept, we have found it helpful to draw an analogy between God’s nature and human nature. Ask the Jehovah’s Witness:
- Do you believe that a human son is less human than his father?
(The Jehovah’s Witness will answer, “No.”)
- Then, how can Jesus as God’s Son be less God than His Father is God?
Just as a son is no more, no less “human” than his father, so Jesus as God’s Son is no more, no less “God” than his Father is “God.” This is why the Jews endeavored to stone Jesus for blasphemy. They understood Jesus’ claim to be the “Son of God” as a claim that made Him “equal” in nature to the one and only true God (See John 5:18; 19:7; c.f., Leviticus 24:16). This is also why Jesus called the Father His “God” at John 20:17. His Father would always be His “God,” just as our human fathers will always be our “human” ancestors. For more examples on how to use this analogy to respond to Jehovah’s Witness objections, see the following What Does God Require mock dialogues between Jehovah’s Witness Cindy and Christian Karen, posted on our www.4jehovah.org website at:
- Why is the Father “Greater” Than Jesus—John 14:28?
- How Can Jesus Be “With” God and at the Same Time Be God?—John 1:1?
- Was Jesus Created as God’s “Firstborn Son” —Colossians 1:15-16?
Pointing to the fact that the angels are called “sons of God” at Job 38:7, a Jehovah’s Witness may object to your conclusions by saying that Jesus was claiming to be an angel, rather than God Himself. To this objection, have the Jehovah’s Witness read Hebrews 1:5 which says in their New World Translation Bible, “For example, to which one of the angels did he ever say: ‘You are my son; I, today, I have become your father’? And again: ‘I myself shall become his father, and he himself will become my son’?” Then, ask the Jehovah’s Witness the following questions:
- Since the Bible does not contradict itself, why does Hebrews 1:5 say that God never said, “You are My Son” to any of His angels?
- Doesn’t this mean that Jesus is called the “Son of God” in a different sense than angels are called God’s sons?
- What does the Bible mean when it says that Jesus is the “Son of Man” at Matthew 26:64?
- Since God is not a man (Hosea 11:9), could it be that Jesus is the “Son of Man” because He possesses the nature of man, being fully human?
- Since Jesus is called the “Son of Man” because He is 100% man, what do you think Scripture means when it calls Jesus the “Son of God”? He must be 100% God, right?
4. Discuss the limitations of Jesus’ humanity as they relate to His Divine nature. Common objections Jehovah’s Witnesses raise against the belief that Jesus is God are the facts that no human has seen God (John 1:18), but Jesus was seen (John 1:14);God cannot die (Habakkuk 1:12), but Jesus died (Philippians 2:8); God cannot be tempted (James 1:13), but Jesus was tempted (Matthew 4:1); God knows all things (1 John 3:20), but Jesus did not know the day or hour of His return (Matthew 24:36; Mark 13:32). To answer these objections, explain to the Jehovah’s Witness that because God in His very nature cannot be seen, tempted, nor physically die to pay for the sins of mankind, it was necessary for Jesus to add a human nature to His Divine person so that He could redeem mankind. Philippians 2:5-10 explains how Jesus continued to exist in God’s “form” (i.e., nature), but relinquished His right to enjoy equality with God so that He could limit Himself to the human nature he had adopted in order to redeem mankind. Thus, by adding a human dimension to His Divine person, Jesus became the visible “image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15). The following chart illustrates how Jesus limited Himself to the finiteness of His human nature at certain times, but expressed the God-attributes of His Divine nature at others:
|OMNIPOTENCE (All Power): Mark 2:7-12; 14:62-64; John 2:7-11||HUNGER & WEARINESS: Luke 4:2; John 4:6; Matthew 8:24|
|OMNIPRESENCE (Present Everywhere): John 1:48; Matt. 18:20; 28:20||LIMITED PHYSICAL BODY: Mark 3:9; John 11:32|
|OMNISCIENCE (All Knowledge): John 2:24-25; 6:64; 16:30||LIMITED KNOWLEDGE: Mark 13:32; John 11:34|
For more information on answering common Jehovah’s Witness arguments against the Deity of Jesus Christ and the Trinity, see the following resources on our website:
- The Deity of Jesus Christ – Simple Reference Outline
- Is Jesus Christ God? – Response to a Jehovah’s Witness
5. Prove how submission to authority does not affect nature. Jehovah’s Witnesses struggle with the concept that Jesus can submit His will to the will of the Father and yet remain “equal” in nature to the Father. They may also question how Jesus can be “equal” to God, yet proclaim at John 14:28 that the Father is “greater” than Him. Here again, our human analogy comes into play to explain how this is the case. Ask the Jehovah’s Witness:
- In God’s design for the family, doesn’t the human father hold the greatest authority within the family? Although the father may share his authority with the mother, would you not you agree that he is in a “greater” position than anyone else in the family and is the ultimate one in charge?
(The Jehovah’s Witness should agree.)
- Does the fact that the human father is in a “greater” position of authority than anyone else in the family prove that his wife or his son or daughter is inherently inferior to him? If so, are we to argue that they are less human than their father is simply because they submit to his “greater” authority and obey his rules and guidelines?
- Then, why argue that Jesus is inferior to God simply because He submits His will to the Father? At Luke 2:51, we read that Jesus “continued in subjection” to Mary and Joseph. Does this mean that Jesus was inferior to them?
6. Present Scriptural proof texts for the Deity of Christ and the Trinity. By this point, your Jehovah’s Witness friend should understand what you believe concerning the Deity of Christ. Your friend should understand that Jesus is not the same person as the Father, but yet possess God’s nature as the only true God. He or she should understand that as the Son of God, Jesus is equal in nature to God the Father, but chose to be confined to the limitations of His humanity while on earth so that He could purchase mankind’s redemption. Finally, your friend should agree with you that submission to one in “greater” authority does not prove an inferior nature. Having laid the foundation for an accurate understanding of Jesus’ Deity, you are now ready to present your Scriptural proof that Jesus is indeed God. There are many passages one can present to prove that Jesus is God, but we have found that some of the best Scriptures are those that demonstrate how both the Son and Holy Spirit possess God’s attributes and perform actions that only Jehovah God is able to perform. See the following chart:
|DIVINE QUALITY||THE FATHER||THE SON||THE HOLY SPIRIT|
|OMNIPRESENCE||Jeremiah 23:24; 1 Kings 8:27||Matthew 28:20; 18:20; John 1:48||Psalm 139:7|
|OMNISCIENCE||Psalm 147:5; 1 Kings 8:39||John 16:30; 2:24-25||1 Corinthians 2:10-11|
|OMNIPOTENCE||Jeremiah 32:17,27; Matthew 19:26; Luke 1:37; Psalm 135:6||Matthew 28:18; John 16:15; Hebrews 1:3||Romans 15:19|
|HOLINESS||Revelation 15:4||Acts 3:14||Romans 1:4|
|ETERNITY||Psalm 90:2; Romans 16:26||Hebrews 7:3; Isaiah 9:6; John 8:58||Hebrews 9:14|
|THE TRUTH||John 7:28||John 8:32,36; 14:6; Revelation 3:7||John 16:13; 1 John 5:6-7|
|LORD||Luke 1:32; 10:21||Romans 10:9; Philippians 2:11||2 Corinthians 3:17|
|GOD||1 Peter 1:2; Philippians 2:11||2 Peter 1:1; Titus 2:13; John 1:1; 20:28; Hebrews 1:8||Acts 5:3-4; 1 Corinthians 3:16-17|
|ALMIGHTY||Genesis 17:1||Revelation 1:8; 22:12-13, 20||Zechariah 4:6|
|RESURRECTION||1 Thessalonians 1:10; Eph 1:20||John 10:17-18; John 2:18-22||Romans 1:4; 8:11|
7. Remove the Watchtower Authority Barrier. Although your Jehovah’s Witness friend may better understand your beliefs at this point, he or she may not be ready to agree with you that Jesus is indeed God. This is because your friend is committed to following the Watchtower organization, and as long as your friend wishes to remain associated as “one of Jehovah’s Witnesses,” he or she will not be able to embrace beliefs contrary to this religion. So, to be effective in helping your friend come to the real Jesus for salvation, you must help him or her divorce the false authority this counterfeit religion has set up. When it comes to discussing the Trinity doctrine, we have found the best way to attack this false authority is to focus on how the Watchtower Society twists and misrepresents facts in their Should You Believe in the Trinity? brochure. We provide the following resources on our website to assist you in breaking this organization’s hold on their minds:
- 10 Questions for Jehovah’s Witnesses on Lies in the Watchtower Trinity Brochure
- Yes, You Should Believe in the Trinity!!! Book
- How To Witness Effectively to Jehovah’s Witnesses – Breaking the Watchtower Authority Barrier