This chapter is when we really start to see the most significant and fundamental difference between the teachings of the Watchtower and the teachings of the Bible. Its worth remembering right from the start that for Jehovah’s Witnesses, Watchtower materials are the place to go to really know what the Bible says. Any interpretation outside of the teachings of the Watchtower are instantly wrong as they are not from the Watchtower.
Here is some evidence for this:
“Only this organization functions for Jehovah’s purpose and to his praise. To it alone God’s Sacred Word, the Bible, is not a sealed book,” (Watchtower, July 1, 1973, p. 402).
“We all need help to understand the Bible, and we cannot find the Scriptural guidance we need outside the ‘faithful and discreet slave’ organization,” (Watchtower, Feb. 15, 1981).
“Thus the Bible is an organizational book and belongs to the Christian congregation as an organization, not to individuals, regardless of how sincerely they may believe that they can interpret the Bible,” (Watchtower, Oct. 1, 1967, p. 587).
So I hope you can see that when we approach this chapter in the eyes of a Witness we are not simply reading some Bible teaching, which like any other Bible teacher will have some good things to tell us but ultimately by virtue of being from man may have some flaws. Rather we are seeing THE authoritative teaching on who Christ is. When the Witness looks at the Bible they are seeing it through the lens of this chapter, book and Watchtower materials as a whole, to know who Christ is and beyond.
In the third paragraph of the first page of this chapter it says:
3It is important for you to know the truth about Jesus. Why? Because the Bible says: “This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.” (John 17:3)
While this is a true statement that the truth about Jesus is essential to our eternal life we see a hint of the mindset the Watchtower brings here. The New American Standard Bible says:
“This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”
You can see here that multiple other versions show it in this way. In fact in the Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures which quotes direct from the New Testament Greek, and is published by the Watchtower we see it put this way:
“This but is the everlasting life in order that may be knowing you the only true God and whom you sent forth Jesus Christ.”
Yet the Watchtower organization has changed this to “taking in knowledge of you”.
For Christians its about knowing Jesus, for Jehovah’s Witnesses its about knowing about Him, and you can only really know about Him in the Watchtower organization. They do not have direct access to the Father through Christ, they have indirect access to Jehovah through Christ through the Organization and the first step to this is taking in the knowledge of of the Watchtower teachings in order to qualify for Baptism. Salvation for the Witness can only truly be gained through being in the Watchtower Organization, see this here:
“Come to Jehovah’s organization for salvation” Watchtower 1981 Nov 15 p.21
“Those who will form the nucleus of the “new earth”, a new earthly society of rightly disposed people, are being gathered during these last days. They are already nearly seven million strong, in at least 235 lands and in some 100,000 congregations. These millions have been learning the righteous and just ways of Jehovah, and as a result, worldwide they enjoy a unity that is cemented by Christian love. Their unity is the most pronounced and enduring in the history of the world, a unity exceeding anything experienced by Satan’s subjects.” Watchtower 2007 Aug 15 p.26
Come to Jehovah’s Organization for salvation is a very telling line. It tells us that for these people Jesus alone does not save, Jesus plus active faithful membership in an organization saves. The Jesus that is being proclaimed here is right from the start inferior to the Jesus of Luke 7:50 that says to the woman “Your faith has saved you go in peace”. This Jesus brings a salvation that does not save by faith alone but rather one tha requires works. We see this in Romans 11:6
But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.
Its one or the other, Jesus is able to save or He is not, His work in you saves you to the uttermost, (Hebrews 7:25) or it does not. So my point here is right from the start we see a Jesus that is not powerful enough to save. This is because in the teachings of the Jehovah’s Witnesses He is a created being, not God and therefore His atonement did not have the power to save to the uttermost on its own merits.
We see this on page 40.
At the moment when God’s spirit, or active force, was poured out upon him that day, Jesus became the Messiah, or Christ, the one appointed to be Leader and King.—Isaiah 55:4.
This is a teaching called Adoptionism. It says that up to the point of baptism Jesus was just a man and had nothing divine about Him at all, but at the point of baptism He then receives this call and anointing and becomes the Messiah. Quite often people who believe this also believe this anointing leaves Christ on the Cross.
Either way this teaching is totally unfounded in scripture. We see this in Philippians 2:5-11 (NASB)
5 Have this attitude [a]in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be [b]grasped, 7 but [c]emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death [d]on a cross. 9 For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name,10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Jesus stepped down from His equality with God to be a man like us, being made in the likeness of men. This means when He was found in the likeness of a human He was therefore this person in human form, by no means at Baptism. He is the Word became flesh (John 1:14).
Jesus says to John the Baptist that He was to be baptised to “fulfil all righteousness” however He did not say it was to receive His divine call or anointing. As is often the case with Watchtower teachings this is not taught in the Bible. The verse quoted given as a reference Isaiah 55:4 in the New World Translation says:
Look! As witness to the national groups I have given him, as a leader and commander to the national groups.
This obviously provides no basis for the view that Jesus became the Christ at baptism. Often you will find in your study’s with Jehovah’s Witnesses that in reality they are training you to see Watchtower materials as authoritative. You will be asked those little questions at the bottom of the page and you will be guided by the numbers next to the points made above where you can find your answer. This is training people to see the Watchtower materials as the place to find your answer, as you will not find this teaching in the Bible. But in the mind of the Witness as long as the Watchtower materials teach something then it is true as they are the only source of Spiritual food from Jehovah.
We also see this on Page 41:
1 Jesus is Jehovah’s most precious Son—and for good reason. He is called “the ﬁrstborn of all creation,” for he was God’s ﬁrst creation. (Colossians 1:15)
So they use this verse to justify that Jesus was created. Lets take a look at the New World Translation rendering of it.
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation;
This is a fair enough translation of it and I do not find any differences with other Bible versions of note, however in the next two verses we run into massive problems.
because by means of him all other things were created in the heavens and upon the earth, the things visible and the things invisible, no matter whether they are thrones or lordships or governments or authorities. All other things have been created through him and for him. 17 Also, he is before all other things and by means of him all other things were made to exist,
I have bolded the problematic parts here. The Organization has added other to support their teaching that Jesus did not create all things as if He had, then He would be uncreated. If He is before all things in verse 17 rather than other things then He would therefore have to be God.
Yet again the direct Greek translation in their own Interlinear provides no support for this teaching, Jesus creates all things and is before all things even in their own material. Its only in the New World Translation that this change has been added. This is deceptive and dishonest in the highest level possible and traps its people into believing something simply because the Organization teaches it rather than the Bible does.
In terms of what does First-born mean, well obviously it can mean the first to be born, however in the Old Testament we see other uses for it:
Psalm 89:27 I also shall make him My firstborn, The highest of the kings of the earth. (speaking of David)
Jeremiah 31:9 “With weeping they will come, And by supplication I will lead them; I will make them walk by streams of waters, On a straight path in which they will not stumble; For I am a father to Israel, And Ephraim is My firstborn.”
First-born is often a status or a position rather than talking about birth, In Colossians 1:15 this makes massive sense as Jesus is called the “Firstborn of all creation.” Jesus is the pre-eminent one over ALL creation, the authors intention is clear in v17 by saying He is before ALL things, the Watchtower clearly sees it this way too as it saw fit to make this change yet their own material, their own Greek interlinear shows the clear deception.
This chapter consistently shows that for the Jehovah’s Witnesses Jesus is merely a significant human being rather than God, and that He is not able to save without our works to contribute to our salvation, that must be done while in membership and submission to the Watchtower Bible and Trace Society. There is much more in this chapter that could be commented on but mostly I hope you will see that nothing they teach can be taken at face value, look at the sources for yourself and do not follow the structure of looking to the Watchtower teachings to answer the questions they ask. What you believe about Jesus shapes your eternity as we see in John 8:24 when He says:
“Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He,you will die in your sins.”
Jesus is saying this in light of when God said who He was in Exodus 3:14 which says:
God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” (I wonder why He didn’t say Jehovah, worth asking,)
The New World Translation changes this to “I have been” yet the literal Greek says…….
Well I am sure you can guess.
Thanks for reading please leave any thoughts below.