Talking with Jehovah’s Witness always gets confusing. My question is in Daniel when he says that Michael the Archangel will lead the people, how do I explain to my aunt and cousins that Jesus is NOT Michael and is fully God and fully man even though they interpret most angel verses in the Bible as Jesus such as "Angel of the Lord" is Jesus? Please tell me how I can help explain these verses to them.
First of all, you should be aware that, in the great majority of cases, logical, rational arguments have absolutely no effect on members of the Jehovah Witness group. They are thoroughly trained and (forgive the term, but….) brainwashed into a particular way of thinking, to such an extent that no matter how obvious and biblical an argument you use, they are impervious to the truth. So, please be prepared for this effort to be of use only to yourself and not to your Jehovah Witness friend. This group is all about intellectual argument and misses the heart of Christianity, which makes it very difficult to sustain a real biblical discussion.
Having given that somewhat discouraging introduction, let me deal with your question. First of all, Jesus is God. He is not some sort of created super-angel. Your friend has been convinced through biased and unbalanced argument using the literature of the Watchtower Society that Jesus in not God–that he is not deity–that he is a created being who is the greatest of the angels. Of course, you will find nothing of the sort in the Bible. Perhaps you could ask your friend where in the Bible it says that Jesus Christ in one and the same Michael the Archangel. Of course, he/she will not have a passage for this, but he/she will go back to arguing that Jesus is not God, and by a back-door argument, will try to come around to him being an angel, and then by another back-door proof-text argument, will make him be Michael. Fine, but you will notice that they simply cannot answer this challenge. Never is Michael even remotely referred to as the Messiah.
Next, you might want to go to Hebrews chapter 1:4 which says that Jesus is as much superior to the angels (including Gabriel) as the name he has inherited is greater than theirs. In Hebrews 1:14 he concludes his thoughts on angels by saying that they are simply ministering spirits who serve those who will inherit salvation (us!). Jesus is something much greater than this, which is the entire point of Hebrews chapter 1. Earlier in the chapter, the Hebrew writer tells us that the Son (Jesus) is the exact representation of God’s being. Gabriel is certainly not the exact representation of God’s being. In Colossians 2:15-20 Paul says that he (Jesus) is the image of God and that in him the fullness of deity dwells. We certainly cannot say such a thing about Gabriel. There is such a great variety of passages which can only be interpreted as to imply that Jesus is God. Where should I start? Titus 2:13 describes Jesus as our God and Saviour. In John 8:58, Jesus says of himself, before Abraham was born, I AM. He takes the very name Jehovah (which means I AM) for himself. The Jews were not in doubt what that meant. They picked up stones to stone him. Angels bow to him (several places in Revelation), Thomas worships him (John 20:28). It is blasphemy to consider anyone bowing to or worshiping Gabriel.
Do not count on these passages influencing the thinking of your friend. First of all, he/she has been thoroughly trained using a translation of the Bible (The New World Translation) which is perhaps the most discredited translation in existence. It mistranslates the Greek whenever it obviously has Jesus being God. Second, he/she has been well trained by the Watchtower Society with proof-texts which can be used to explain away the obvious implications of every single one of these passages. Thirdly, if he/she has not actually been sufficiently well trained to provide countering proof-texts, then he/she has been trained to disengage immediately from the discussion and bring in someone else to prove you wrong. This is a no-win situation.
So, what should you do? Perhaps simply politely refuse to engage in fruitless arguments with this person. Or, if you choose to have the discussion, perhaps you can point your friend back to the heart of Christianity, which is the love of God, the grace of Jesus Christ and God’s desire for all people to be saved. Hopefully, your Christian life is sufficiently strong that you can provide a true witness to Jesus Christ. If he/she has already become disillusioned with the Watchtower Society, then perhaps you may have found God’s moment to help change a life for eternity. In any case, you should pray for your friend. I am copying and pasting a document from the web site on the Jehovah Witness religion below.
Background and History.
Founded by Charles Russel
Russel was influenced by the Adventist movement (let to the 7th Day Adventist Church)
The Adventist/Millerite movement began in the 1830’s
William Miller used Daniel 8:14 and Daniel 9:25 (a very odd connection) to calculate that the millennial reign would come in October, 1844.
Emphasis on the immanent return of Jesus Christ to the Earth.
Russel founded his own cult-like movement.
•a. Strong emphasis that only his followers are saved.
•b. Use of language unique to his religious movement (Jehovah, etc.)
Predicted the End of the World in 1914, also using Daniel 8:14
When that did not happen, said we have entered the Investigative Judgement.
Very controversial. Made a lot of money from his movement. Accused of numerous scams.
Sold miracle wheat" through the Watchtower organization. A scam which made him quite a bit of money. Was sued over this.
Was divorced by his wife for marital unfaithfulness
Later, the JW movement basically disowned Russel and do not acknowledge him as the founder of their religion-more for theological reasons than because of his scandals.
Began the Watchtower Society-the publishing arm of the church.
The Watchtower Society became the all-powerful, controlling influence in the Religion. One Watchtower publication went so far as to say "We recognize not only Jehovah God as our father, but his organization (The Watchtower Society) as our mother."
Succeeded by "Judge" Rutherford. Hired to keep Russel out of jail.
Continued the policies of Russel, increased organization of the Watchtower
Very strong emphasis on indoctrination into the teachings of the church and the requirement that all members go door-to-door to go to heaven have caused the church to grow rapidly ever since it was founded. 2/3 of members are outside the US at this point.
Fundamental beliefs of JW movement:
•1. Jesus Christ is the archangel Michael. He definitely is not deity. He is a very powerful created being. He was not raised from the dead in a physical body.
2. The Holy Spirit is definitely not a person and is definitely not God. It is a force for good, rather than part of God.
•2. The only true and acceptable name for God is Jehovah. Those who do not use the name Jehovah are not true Christians.
•3. Only faithful JW members will be in heaven with Jehovah. (144,000 of Revelation 7.)
•4. There is no such thing as Hell as a place of torment for those who are not saved. Those who are not saved when they die simply cease to exist. All go to a common grave called hell when they die. There is no such thing as a soul without a body. "Man does not have a soul. He is a soul. Therefore there is no consciousness at all after death without a body. Even Jesus was mortal.
•5. Very soon after Jesus ascended to heaven, the true church became completely apostate. There were no true Christians at all until God’s "Faithful and Discreet Servant" Charles Russel came to call people back to the true gospel. (Nowadays, JW’s would emphasize the Watchtower Society as the Faithful and Discreet Servant, not Russel)
•6. As with most Adventist groups, there is a strong emphasis on obeying selected Old Testament laws (they are totally inconsistent-seemingly arbitrary on this)
•a. no eating of blood, no transfusions accepted, even to save a life.
•7. Miscelaneous odd doctrines which JW’s use to make themselves different from everyone else.
•a. All celebrations and holidays not specifically mentioned in the Bible are sinful. Birthdays, Anniversaries, Christmas, Easter, etc.
•b. Complete refusal to serve in the armed forces of whatever country they live in. This creates huge problems in some countries.
•c. Christians cannot wear a cross, because it is a pagan symbol. "No biblical evidence even intimates that Jesus died on a cross." "Jesus most likely was executed on an upright stake without any crossbeam." (John 20:25)
•d. Cannot pledge allegiance to the flag.
•8. Various Adventist false prophecies.
•a. Jesus second coming began back in October, 1874. (now denied by the Watchtower Society)
•b. The world would end in 1914 (now described as the beginning of the investigative judgement-an invisible appearing. Supported by a false reading of Matthew 24:3)
•c. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob would rise from the grave in 1925.
•d. Jesus would come back bodily to begin his 1000 year reign in Jerusalem in 1975.
THE WATCHTOWER SOCIETY
JW’s call the Watchtower Society the "faithful and discreet slave" of Matthew 24:45-47 (faithful and wise servant)
Ie WS is the fulfillment of this prophecy (used to apply this to Russel)
"Unless we are in touch with this channel of communication (The Watchtower Society) that God is using, we will not progress along the road to life, no matter how much Bible reading we do" Wow!!!
Not only do we find that people cannot see the divine plan in studying the Bible by itself, but we see also that if anyone lays the Scripture Studies aside, even after he has used them, after he has become familiar with them, after he has read them for ten years-if he then lays them aside and ignores them and goes to the Bible alone, though he has understood his Bible for ten years, our experience shows that within two years he goes into darkness. On the other hand, if he had merely read the Scripture Studies with their references, and had not read a page of the Bible, as such, he would be in the light at the end of the two years, because he would have the light of the Scriptures. (Witness of Jehovah, 1988, p.33)
1969 edition of the Watchtower mag: God’s faithful and discreet slave is God’s sole "channel of communication to His people."
Other quotes from the WS:
"God has not arranged the [His] word to speak independently or to shine forth life-giving truths by itself. It is through his organization God provides this light"
"Avoid independent thinking… questioning the counsel that is provided by God’s visible organization.
If we have love for Jehovah and for the organization of his people, we shall not be suspicious, but shall, as the Bible says, "believe all things," all things that The Watchtower brings out."
Vs. Acts 17:11 Let us never become like this!
Early JW movement: Charles Russel was the sole interpreter of the Bible
Now: The Watchtower is the sole legitimate interpreter of the Bible.
THE NEW WORLD TRANSLATION
JW’s have their own translation which they use so as to avoid some of the obvious problems and contradictions between their beliefs and the Bible.
Most famous example:
John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was a god. No support for this translation;
Faithful and discreet slave vs faithful and wise servant
Nevertheless: I suggest you let them use their bogus translation and work with that.
REFUTING FALSE DOCTRINES OF JW’S
•I. Jesus is not God. Jesus is the first and highest of created beings. Jesus is an angel. He is the archangel Michael. ("Michael the great prince is none other than Jesus Christ Himself" (The Watchtower, Dec, 1984, p 29.) (Daniel 10:1,13, 12:1)
This is the Arian heresy Arius
J. W. proof-texts:
Jn 1:1 In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was a god.
Jn 3:16 "Jehovah’s first creation was his only begotten Son" (an attempt to preempt Jn 1:14)
Rev 3:14 the beginning of (The ruler of)the creation of God (a mistranslation)
Coll 1:15-17 The first-born of (NIV over) all creation…. By means of him all other things have been created (they insert the word other)
Jn 14:28 The Father is greater than I
Jn 20:17 My God
1 Cor 15:28 the head of Christ is God.
Claim: Jesus is never worshipped in the NT
Jesus is never called Jehovah, so he is not God, because Jehovah is the only name of God.
Compare Coll 1:16 to Hebrews 2:10
Besides, just look at Coll 1:16 all things were created by Christ….all things were created by him and for him.
Heb 1:2 the entire universe
OT: God is the creator
NT: Jesus is the creator Jesus is God.
Jn 8:58 Before Abraham was born, I AM (Exodus 3:14)
…they picked up stones to stone him.
Jn 10:30 I and the Father are one. Clear enough? Read through vs. 33.
Coll 2:9 The fullness of deity lives in bodily form.
(NWT: Because it was in him that all the fullness of the divine quality dwells bodily)
Not one single Greek scholar will support the NWT
Jn 20:28 My Lord and my God.
Titus 2:13 Our great God and savior, Jesus Christ
(NWT: the Great God and of the savior of us, Jesus Christ)
Is 43:11 God says that only he saves
God our savior and Jesus Christ our savior used interchangeable in Titus
Phil 2:5,6 Who being in very nature God, …
Zech 12:10 They will look on me, the one they have pierced…
(NWT look to the one whom they pierced)
(if time… Heb 1:6 angels are commanded to worship (proskuneo) Jesus.)
II. The Holy Spirit is not deity or part of God. It is a force for good.
"The Holy Spirit is not a person, but is a powerful force that God causes to emanate from himself to accomplish his holy will" (Reasoning from the Scriptures, 1989, p 381)
The HS can be likened to electricity, "a force that can be adapted to perform a great variety of operations." (Should You Believe in the Trinity?, 1989, p.20),
Naturally, if JW’s deny deity to Christ, they have to do so with the Holy Spirit as well.
HS never given a name.
Mark 1:10, Acts 2 etc. describe the HS coming on people with power-allowing people to work miracles, filling people up. Can a person fill someone up? (answer: Eph 3:19 filled with God)
Genesis 1:2 NWT "God’s active force was working to shape the earth"
1 Cor 2:10 The Spirit searches all things.
Eph 4:30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit.
1 Cor 12:11 The Holy Spirit distributes spiritual gifts to each one individually just as He wills.
Jn 14:16 …another helper, that He may be with you forever…
Jn 16:5,f … the Counselor… I will send him to you… When he comes, he will convict the world
Matthew 28:18 …in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. JW’s make a big deal out of the HS not having a name….
Acts 13:2 The HS says Set apart for Me Barnabus and Saul for the work to which I have called them.
Acts 16:6 The HS forbids Paul to preach
Acts 8:29 The HS told Philip to speak to the Ethiopian.
Matthew 12:32 Anyone who speaks against (blasphemes) the HS will not be forgiven. Can you blaspheme a force? (besides, God Rev 13:6 and Jesus Matt 27:39 can be blasphemed)
•III. Jehovah is the only legitimate name for God, both in NT and OT
Ezekiel 39:6 "People will have to know that I am Jehovah."
Matthew 6:9 Our Father in heaven, praised be your name.
Exodus 3:15 …This is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation.
Romans 10:13 "Everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will be saved"
JW’s: Those who do not call God his proper name, Jehovah, are not saved!
(a very familiar cult methodology)
…and by the way, Jesus is never called Jehovah in the OT or the NT, so this is further proof that he is not God.
a. Response to these passages: to the ancients, the name of a person was taken as a personification of the person. "Halt in the name of the king"
b. The word Jehovah is never used in either the OT or the NT
YHWH plus the vowels for ADONAI (Lord) = YAHOWAH
Went into Yiddish, then into German as Jehovah.
c. God has many other names in the OT Elohim, Adonai, etc.
(JW’s claim superstitious Jews selectively took YHWH out without any evidence at all)
d. God is never called YHWH even once in the NT. (Father, God, Lord, etc. Jesus never called his Father Jehovah. (Abba, Father, into your hands I commit my spirit)
e. Get this…. JW’s claim that the early church changed all the references to YHWH in the New Testament. This one is absolutely ridiculous. We have manuscripts from AD 125
•IV. There is no punishment in hell.
JW’s claim that there is no conscious existence after death. There is no soul apart from the physical body. This even applies to Jesus. God will re-create us at a later time to live in a new physical body. All go to a common "Hell" upon death to experience soul-sleep.
Some, 144,000 JW’s (the "anointed class", the "little flock" of Luke 12:32)will live with God as spiritual beings, in heaven (Rev 7:4)
The other (my "other sheep" of John 10:16) JW’s will live on a physical paradise earth.
Proof-text: Matthew 6:10 Your kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven NWT: "Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth."
Proof-text: Ecclesiastes 9:5 "the dead know nothing"
Everyone else will simple cease to exist.
Example: NWT Luke 23:43 I tell you today, you will be with me in Paradise (vs. I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise)
Matthew 25:46 NWT "And these will depart into everlasting cutting-off" vs depart into eternal punishment.
Note: eternal life and eternal punishment use the same words.
Rev 14:9-12 smoke of their torment rises forever and ever.
Vs 13 Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord. Blessing and punishment are laid alongside one another.
Mark 9:44 What does this mean if hell does not involve punishment.
Daniel 12:2 How can you have one without the other.
Luke 12:46-48 Degrees of punishment. If there is no punishment, how can there be degrees of punishment?
Luke 16:19-28 torment = pain.
Salvation impossible apart from total obedience to the Watchtower Society and participation in the programs of the Society (such as going door-to-door).
"To get one’s name written in the Book of Life will depend on one’s works"
(The Watchtower, 1 April, 1947, p 204)
"…working hard for the reward of eternal life." (The Watchtower, 15 Aug, 1972, p 491)
Only the anointed are born again
Others are recreated and based on their performance during the 1000 year reign of Christ will earn eternal life in a physical paradise on earth.