Three seemingly common challenges presented to a member of our Fellowship…
Please note that you are going to need your Bible, and I would ask that you NOT use the New World Translation (NWT) which the Jehovah’s Witness Organization (The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society) has produced. There are several reasons for my request, which for time’s sake; I will not get into right now…
1) If Jesus is God why did he call God his father when he was on the cross?
Let us be clear, Jesus (Yeshuah is his Jewish name, and this will be important in a few moments) consistently referred to YHWH (GOD) as his Father. Throughout the Gospels, we see this. What we have to seek to do first in order to properly understand any time we read the Bible, is to try to hear what the original hearers heard. This is important here, since to the Jews, Fathers and Sons had the same attributes. Here is an example: Read Matthew 13:54-56, and its parallel passage Mark 6:1-5. Note that in Matthew’s account, he (Jesus/Yeshuah) is referred to as ‘The Carpenter’s son’. That is his identity in the community, and that is why they could not hear him or receive from him. Carpenters were just that carpenters, and nothing else. Mark parallels this, referring to him in this same event as ‘the carpenter’. Two things to note here: 1) You are identified with your Father, and 2) You do what your Father does.
I hope you’re with me so far. Here’s why: Jesus identifies himself as being ‘one’ with God in John Chapter 10. Please read verses 22-39, focusing on verses 30-33 in particular. Did you notice WHY they are picking up stones to stone him? Then look at what he says to them in verses 37-38. Whose works is he doing?
Now thinking back on what we read earlier in Matthew, knowing that for the Jew, you did the works of, and had equality with, your Father, what is he then saying to them? He is identifying Himself by His Works, to the ONLY one who could do those works, YHWH (GOD). Better yet, what did they understand? That He was proclaiming Himself to be equal with God. Knowing that to the Jew, GOD has no equal , the implication here is clear. Jesus is calling Himself GOD.
There are many other times that this type of thing occurs, another good one is when He declares to them EGO EIMI (I AM)
Most Jews is Jesus’ time read their Bibles (The Old Testament, as at the time there was no New Testament) in Greek, the document was called ‘The Septuagint’
(… from the Latin word septuaginta (meaning seventy). It is a translation of the Hebrew Bible and some related texts into Koine Greek. The title and its Roman numeral acronym LXX refer to the legendary seventy Jewish scholars who completed the translation as early as the late 2nd century BCE. As the primary Greek translation of the Old Testament, it is also called the Greek Old Testament (Ἡ μετάφρασις τῶν Ἑβδομήκοντα). This translation is quoted in the New Testament, particularly in the Pauline epistles, and also by the Apostolic Fathers and later Greek Church Fathers.. – source Wikipedia)
In the Septuagint, when Moses asks God Who should he say is sending him, God responds ‘I Am’ – Exodus 3:14 – “And God spoke to Moses, saying, I AM (ego eimi); and he said, Thus shall ye say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM’(ego eimi) has sent me to you.”
Now turn to John Chapter 8, and read from verse 48 to 59. Note that he says, before Abraham was ‘I AM’, and can you guess what Greek phrase is used there? You got it, EGO EIME the same name that GOD/YHWH uses with Moses.
Do you see what happened next? They picked up stones (to try to kill him) Why? Because of WHO he was saying that He was/is…
With the preceding point in mind now, (that for Jews, there was equality between Father and Son) let’s take a look specifically at Luke 23:33-34 – 33 When they arrived at the place called The Skull, they crucified Him there, along with the criminals, one on the right and one on the left. [34 Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing.” ] And they divided His clothes and cast lots.
Knowing what you now know about the context in which Jesus spoke, what is so unusual about this? Nothing. He was doing as He always had, declaring Himself one with/equal to, GOD
Please note that the disciples identified him as God as well. Here are a couple of examples:
2 Peter 1:1 – “Simon Peter, a slave and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:”
He is not, as some might claim, referring to two beings, He is referring to only ONE Jesus Christ (Yeshuah Ha Maschiach) who he calls ‘our God and Savior.’ As in one being both attributes… How do we know this? It is a reference to the doctrine of imputation. The righteousness of the Messiah, was imputed to men, and their sin was imputed to him. Imputation means to replace missing data/information/elements with substituted values. It is what the Jews clearly understood from Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. The sin of the family is imputed to the animal that is to be sacrificed, and that animal’s blood is then shed in atonement of sin. The animal in effect, becomes/takes on the sin of the person, and the animal pays the price for the sin, with its blood (its life). Sound familiar? It should, It is the point of the cross. As Paul said: ‘He who did not have any sin, became sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God.’ – 2 Corinthians 5:21 That is imputation.
Paul says of the Jews (his brothers ethnically), in his letter to the Roman church:
Romans 9:1 – I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience is testifying to me with the Holy Spirit— 2 that I have intense sorrow and continual anguish in my heart. 3 For I could almost wish to be cursed and cut off from the Messiah for the benefit of my brothers , my own flesh and blood. 4 They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the temple service, and the promises. 5 The ancestors are theirs, and from them, by physical descent, came the Messiah, who is God over all, praised forever. Amen .
2) Was Jesus an Archangel?
No, Jesus is not a created being, He is the Creator. This is especially hard for people who are Unitarians (as Jehovah’s witnesses are). To grasp the idea that one being can exist in three persons is unfathomable, and yet the Bible clearly maintains this truth.
Here is what the Apostle Paul says to the church at Colossae (where a similar debate was going on as to whether or not Jesus was deity or a created being.)
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For everything was created by Him, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities— all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and by Him all things hold together. 18 He is also the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He might come to have first place in everything.– Colossians 1:15-18
If he is the image of that which is invisible, he is that thing in representation. For example, if you look in the mirror, the reflection that you see is who? You. If everything was created by him, (that includes angels) He cannot have created himself, as such he is THE CREATOR, HE is GOD. All things have been created through and for Him. He is before ALL things, as such if he was a created being something/someone would have to have been before him, and by him all things (notice it says ALL THINGS) hold together. All clearly means ALL so there is nothing before Him, as such he MUST be GOD.
Compare this to: “Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, and the one who formed you from the womb, “I, the Lord, am the maker of all things, stretching out the heavens by Myself, and spreading out the earth all alone.“ – Isaiah 44:24
The Apostle John, at the beginning of his Gospel, declares:
The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory, the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 John (the Baptist) testified concerning Him and exclaimed, “This was the One of whom I said, ‘The One coming after me has surpassed me, because He existed before me.’”) 16 Indeed, we have all received grace after grace from His fullness, 17 for the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God. The One and Only Son— the One who is at the Father’s side— He has revealed Him. – John 1:14-18
Notice that John the Baptist is quoted as saying that Yeshuah is pre-existent. Chronologically, John was older than his cousin Jesus/Yeshuah (see Luke 1:26-45) yet he says that Yeshuah existed before him… This comment from John lends weight to the contention made at the beginning of the Gospel of John which we will discuss later in this tome.
See also Revelation 3:14-22 written to the church at Laodicea, a city quite close to Colossae, in fact mentioned 3 times in the letter to the Colossian church, and a place where clearly the same heresy concerning Yeshuah’s Deity was active, wherein Yeshuah identifies Himself as: ““The Amen , the faithful and true Witness, the Originator of God’s creation” – Rev. 3:14
This is a very big issue, and here is one reason why I prefer that you not use the NWT.
Consider what EVERY OTHER BIBLE EVER TRANSLATED has to say re: John 1:1-3: 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 All things were created through Him, and apart from Him not one thing was created that has been created.
Now this is what the NWT says: In [the] beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god. This one was in [the] beginning with God. All things came into existence through him, and apart from him not even one thing came into existence (John 1:1–3 NWT).
Not only is this translation inaccurate, it is deceitful, and dishonest, because it seeks to intentionally change the writer’s statement re: the Deity of Christ (Yeshuah) by calling him a ‘god’ (note the small g’)
3) Is Jesus’ name Jehovah?
In a Word NO. But GOD’s name is not ‘Jehovah’ either. Why do I say that? First off, because there is no ‘J’ or j sound in Hebrew. So Jesus’ name isn’t Jesus either. So where did ‘Jehovah’ come from?
“The word “Jehovah is a hybrid, arising from a misunderstanding. The word “Yahweh,” which more nearly corresponds to the original Hebrew name, is preferable;” – Bade The Old Testament in the Light of Today (Boston, 1915), pp. 313 f.
And this from the 1911 – Encyclopedia Britannica: “JEHOVAH (YAHWEH 2), in the Bible, the God of Israel.
“Jehovah” is a modern mispronunciation of the Hebrew name, resulting from combining the consonants of that name, Jhvh, with the vowels of the word Adonay, ” Lord,” which the Jews substituted for the proper name in reading the scriptures. In such cases of substitution the vowels of the word which is to be read are written in the Hebrew text with the consonants of the word which is not to be read.”
As such the better question is: Is Jesus/Yeshuah YHWH (Yahweh)?
The answer is YES! Let’s look at Philippians 2:9-11— The Apostle Paul says: 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.
Once again, we have to, when reading the Bible try to understand what the original hearers/readers would have understood. Paul’s readers (remember there was no new testament at the time of this letter’s writing) would have immediately identified that Paul was calling Jesus GOD, specifically YHWH. Why? Because he is drawing directly from Isaiah 45:20-25 –
20 “Come, gather together, and draw near, you fugitives of the nations. Those who carry their wooden idols, and pray to a god who cannot save, have no knowledge. 21 Speak up and present your case— yes, let them take counsel together. Who predicted this long ago? Who announced it from ancient times? Was it not I, Yahweh?* There is no other God but Me, a righteous God and Savior; there is no one except Me. 22 Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth. For I am God, and there is no other. 23 By Myself I have sworn; Truth has gone from My mouth, a word that will not be revoked: Every knee will bow to Me, every tongue will swear allegiance. 24 It will be said to Me: Righteousness and strength is only in the Lord.” All who are enraged against Him will come to Him and be put to shame. 25 All the descendants of Israel will be justified and find glory through the Lord .
*If the translation that you are using says ‘The LORD’ or something close, here is why:
Whenever the name LORD is printed in small caps in some English translation, it means the NAME: YAHWEH. For ancient Jews (and conservative modern ones), YAHWEH was the Name of names; so sacred that they would not speak it nor would they write it in full (they left out the vowels: YHWH). YAHWEH was the Holy One of Israel. Here is what it looks like:
So let’s consider this:
As a Pharisee, (one of the most learned and trained Jews) Paul knew this text very well. He knew exactly what he was saying: Jesus of Nazareth is YAHWEH.
In The Psalms, we find this: “Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O Yahweh, faithful God.” Psalm 31:5
The Apostle Stephen as he was being killed, said what? – Acts 7:59-60 “And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ And when he had said this, he fell asleep.’” What did Stephen believe abiout Jesus/Yeshuah, even to his death? That He is YAHWEH
The Prophet Joel says: “And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of Yahweh shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as Yahweh has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom Yahweh calls.” Joel 2:32
The Apostle Paul says:
8 On the contrary, what does it say? ‘The message is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’ (he is quoting Deuteronomy 30:14). This is the message of faith that we proclaim: 9 If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation. 11 Now the Scripture says, Everyone who believes on Him will not be put to shame, 12 for there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, since the same Lord of all is rich to all who call on Him. 13 For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” – Romans 10:8-13
The Lord who? Who does Paul say is Lord? What scripture is he clearly referencing? So what is He saying about Jesus/Yeshuah? Right, that HE IS YAHWEH
I hope that at least gets you started.