The Jesus of the Jehovah’s Witnesses
The Jesus of the Jehovah’s Witnesses
Who is Jesus? What is His relationship to the Father? Is He really God? These are all important questions to consider, but they are difficult. There’s so much we can’t know for certain about the nature of God and the nature of the Son. However, I do feel confident that we can determine what we need to know about Jesus from the Bible. It is worth reviewing what we believe and also investigating the claims of others about Jesus, in this bulletin that will be Jehovah’s Witnesses claim about Jesus.
In brief, their claim is that Jesus is Michael the archangel. This means that he is a powerful servant of God but also a created being. This is the biggest problem.
I. Jesus and Michael are distinct
While Daniel does describe Michael as a very powerful angel, Daniel 10.13 only calls him “one of the chief princes.” It seems like a stretch to conclude he is the greatest from this passage. Perhaps he is the greatest angel; Jude 9 lends strength to this argument, but it is still uncertain.
Daniel 12.1 says that Michael will “rise up”, no doubt to play a role in the judgement and deliverance the rest of the chapter describes. It’s true that Jesus plays a very important role in this situations as well, but that does not equate Michael with Him. Consider how in Isaiah 45 the Persian king Cyrus is called a messiah and is described as being a future savior to the exiles. God is able to use men and angels for His purposes, but He chose His Son for the most important plan. And Jesus didn’t retire after He was resurrected.
It isn’t exclusively Jesus’ job to battle Satan. We see Him take the lead on that and ultimately it will be God’s power that judges him, but we are commanded to fight too. Ephesians 6.10- 20 describes how we should combat the Devil and his wickedness. Angels and men play a role in this battle but that doesn’t make us Jesus.
According to Jehovah’s Witnesses, 1 Thessalonians 4.16 identifies Jesus as the archangel and thus, Michael. They do this because of the fact that Jesus descends to the earth with an
angelic shout. Firstly, it isn’t clear, in English or Greek, who is doing the shouting. It is reasonable to understand the archangel’s voice as Michael’s but that does not mean it’s also Jesus’ voice. What is clear is that His arrival will be announced from heaven in a way that will not escape anyone’s notice.
Jehovah’s Witnesses often cite Jude 9 in order to establish that Michael is the archangel, but I want to look there to assert that Michael is distinct from Jesus. Verse 9 describes a scene from the apocryphal work The Assumption of Moses. Michael is in conflict with the devil, but He doesn’t rebuke from his own authority, instead he relies on God saying, “The Lord rebuke you!” So, Michael, a faithful and mighty angel, defers to God in rebuking an evil rebel like the devil. This is an important because when Jesus rebukes and banishes the devil He does it Himself (Matthew 4). I think this clearly shows a distinction between Jesus and Michael.
II. Jesus was not created
I want to look at Colossians 1.15. This passage describes Jesus as “firstborn over all creation.” At first this may sound like Paul is saying Jesus is a created being. If he is, this would lend great credit to the argument of the Jehovah’s Witness as Michael is certainly a created angel. But this word ‘firstborn’ could also be referring to the imminent and honored status of the firstborn. Thus, describing Jesus as the inheritor and master over all creation. The fact that firstborn is paired with the word ‘over’ implies that Paul is talking about authority. The verses following verse 15 also support this as they describe Jesus as a divine creator. It simply is not necessary to assume that this verse is calling Jesus a created being.
Another point is that angels are created beings and that God clearly cannot be created. Even though Jesus does say that Father is greater than He is in John 14.28, there are numerous occasions where Jesus is described as God. In John 1.1 & 18 Jesus is identified as God. This also the case with John 5.18, 10.30 and 20.28.
Many epistles identify Jesus as God too: Philippians 2.5-6, 2 Peter 1.1, Romans 9.5, 1 John 5.20, Titus 2.13, and Hebrews 1.8.
III. Angels rebuked those who worshipped them
There are many passages where men and angels rebuked those who worshipped them. Revelation 19.10 and 22.8 show the response of an angel to John’s worship and Acts 10.25-26 show what Peter did in a similar situation. God is the only one deserving worship and we read that Jesus accepted worship Himself. Matthew 14.33 and 28.9 are just a couple examples of this. A faithful and blameless man like Jesus would not accept worship unless He were also God.
It's important to be aware of these arguments when we talk to others but it’s also important to consider our own beliefs to make sure we are on sure foundation.