T H E B I B L E ’S V I E W P O I N T – THE NATURE OF GOD
In the May 2013 edition of the Awake Magazine, there is an article entitled ‘The Bible’s Viewpoint – the Nature of God’. It begins:
WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS:
The Bible describes God as a spirit being. (2 Corinthians 3:17) As such, he is far superior to us and beyond our physical senses. He is “the King of eternity, incorruptible, invisible,” says 1 Timothy 1:17. (p15)
As always what The Watchtower Society says sounds biblical; not least because it adds scripture references in support of its assertions. But is everything it says Biblical truth?
Rank and file Jehovah’s Witnesses so implicitly trust the organisation that they rarely, if ever check the Scriptures cited; whereas the Bible exhorts us to be like the Bereans who ‘were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.’ Acts 17:11
Let’s take a look at the two Bible verses quoted above, 2 Corinthians 3:17 and 1 Timothy 1:17.
1) The Bible describes God as a spirit being. (2 Corinthians 3:17)
We agree with the WTS that God is spirit and this is supported elsewhere in Scripture. Speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well Jesus said: ‘God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship in spirit and in truth’ John 4:24
That verse, at least to my mind, would have been the obvious one to cite in support of the statement ‘God is spirit’; but rather the WTS chose 2 Corinthians 3:17 why? Here is 2 Corinthians 3:12-18 in the New World Translation:
Therefore, as we have such a hope, we are using great freeness of speech, and not doing as when Moses would put a veil upon his face, that the sons of Israel might not gaze intently at the end of that which was to be done away with. But their mental powers were dulled. For to this present day the same veil remains unlifted at the reading of the old covenant, because it is done away with by means of Christ. In fact, down till today whenever Moses is read, a veil lies upon their hearts. But when there is a turning to Jehovah, the veil is taken away. Now Jehovah is the Spirit; and where the spirit of Jehovah is, there is freedom. And all of us, while we with unveiled faces reflect like mirrors the glory of Jehovah, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, exactly as done by Jehovah [the] Spirit.
Though the name Jehovah is to be found nowhere in the Greek text, the Watchtower Society has no problem adding it in the New World Translation. Their justification for doing so in 2 Corinthians 3 is because Paul is talking about the Old Testament speaking of Moses and his interaction with YHWH (Exodus 34:34). The actual Greek word they have translated ‘Jehovah’ is κύριος (kyrios) which when properly translated is the ‘Lord’.
Paul uses the same word (κύριος) of Jesus in Romans chapter 10:
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord (κύριος) ,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord (κύριος) is Lord (κύριος) of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord (κύριος) will be saved.” Romans 10:9-13
The context of Romans 10 shows that Paul is speaking about Jesus, but as verse 13 is a quote from Joel 2:32 the New World Translation renders it as ‘everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah (κύριος) will be saved.’ The WTS, in their attempt to hide the real identity of Jesus, incorrectly and misleadingly add the name Jehovah. If they were to be consistent in their translation of κύριος they would have to have Jesus is Jehovah at Romans 10:9.
Every time a Jehovah’s Witness reads the name Jehovah in their Bible it reaffirms their belief that they and they alone, are God’s chosen people. This is possibly why 2 Corinthians 3:17 is cited rather than the more obvious John 4:24.
2) The Bible describes God as a spirit being. (2 Corinthians 3:17) As such, he is far superior to us and beyond our physical senses. He is “the King of eternity, incorruptible, invisible,” says 1 Timothy 1:17. (p15)
After convincing the readers that Jehovah God is a spirit being, the article links him with 1Timothy 1:17. Jehovah God is spirit, superior to us and beyond our physical senses. He is ‘the King of eternity, incorruptible, invisible’.
This again sounds fine and biblical until we read the context of 1 Timothy 1:17, which reveals to us something the WTS does not want its readers to know.
1 Timothy 1:12-17 (NWT)
12I am grateful to Christ Jesus our Lord, who imparted power to me, because he considered me faithful by assigning me to a ministry,13although formerly I was a blasphemer and a persecutor and an insolent man. Nevertheless, I was shown mercy, because I was ignorant and acted with a lack of faith.14But the undeserved kindness of our Lord abounded exceedingly along with faith and love that is in connection with Christ Jesus.15Faithful and deserving of full acceptance is the saying that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Of these I am foremost.16Nevertheless, the reason why I was shown mercy was that by means of me as the foremost case Christ Jesus might demonstrate all his long‐suffering for a sample of those who are going to rest their faith on him for everlasting life.
17Now to the King of eternity, incorruptible, invisible, [the] only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
The context reveals that Paul is talking about Jesus. It is Jesus who is… ‘the King of eternity, incorruptible, invisible, [the] only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen’.
The New World Translation, in its efforts to mislead people, even separates this verse from its immediate context, to make it look like the preceding verses are speaking of Jesus and then verse 17 is speaking about Jehovah!
What the Bible says:
The Bible also states: “At no time has anyone beheld God.”—1 John 4:12.
Our Creator is so superior to us that we cannot even begin to imagine what he looks like. “To whom can you people liken God, and what likeness can you put alongside him?” says Isaiah 40:18. Even the awe-inspiring physical heavens pale in comparison with the Almighty.—Isaiah 40:22, 26.
There are, however, intelligent creatures who can see God and even speak with him face-to-face. How so? Because they too are spirits, and they live in heaven. (1 Kings 22:21; Hebrews 1:7) Concerning these superhuman creatures, who are also called angels, Jesus Christ said: “[They] always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven.”—Matthew 18:10 (p15)
The Jehovah’s Witnesses are correct in saying that God is far superior to us and beyond our comprehension. It is a shame that they do not follow what they say in practice. They usually claim that the Trinity doctrine is beyond reason, not logical, it does not make sense. Yet, God is far superior – not only can we not begin to imagine what He looks like – neither can we fully comprehend His nature. How can a finite mind understand the infinite?
WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS:
The Bible does not teach that God is omnipresent, or present everywhere at all times, like some impersonal force. (p15)
GOD is fittingly described as omnipotent and omniscient—almighty and all-knowing. Yet, when attempting further to describe God’s greatness, some add a third term—omnipresent. They believe that God is present everywhere simultaneously. (p15)
The Watchtower denies the omnipresence of God as the following quote shows:
‘While none of these descriptive terms are found in the Bible, the first two are clearly supported by Scriptural teachings. (Genesis 17:1; Hebrews 4:13; Revelation 11:17) God is indeed omnipotent and he is omniscient in the sense that nothing can be hidden from him. But is he omnipresent? Is God everywhere, or is he a person with a specific dwelling place?’ (Awake March 8 2005 p20)
Jehovah’s Witnesses are taught that God is a person who dwells in heaven. He cannot be everywhere at the same time. This quote illustrates what they believe:
“Consider the far-reaching effects of an electric power plant. A power plant has a certain location in or near a city. But its electricity is distributed over all that area, providing light and power. It is similar with God. He is in the heavens. Yet his holy spirit, which is his invisible active force, can be felt everywhere, over all the universe. By means of his holy spirit God created the heavens, the earth and all living things. … He can send out his spirit, his active force, to do whatever he wants even though he is far away.”
(You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth, (1982), p. 37).
Because The Watchtower denies the deity of the Holy Spirit, making Him only an ‘invisible active force’, they cannot understand how God can be omnipresent.
Rather, as Jesus’ words found at Matthew 6:9 and 18:10 show, God is a person—a “Father”—and he resides in heaven, his “established place of dwelling.”—1 Kings 8:43. Toward the end of his life, Jesus said: “I am leaving the world and am going my way to the Father.” (John 16:28) After his death in the flesh and resurrection as a spirit, Christ ascended “into heaven itself, now to appear before the person of God.” —Hebrews 9:24. (p15)
Notice that the verses quoted above speak of God the Father. Jesus (the Son) is leaving and going to ‘the Father’; and when he goes he will send the Holy Spirit.
But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. John 16:13
The Watchtower’s denial of the Trinity leaves them with a God who is limited. Theirs is a God who is transcendent but not immanent.
There are a number of verses that prove that God is omnipresent. Here are just a couple:
Can anyone hide himself in secret places, So I shall not see him?” says the LORD; “Do I not fill heaven and earth?” says the LORD. Jeremiah 23:24
Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me. Psalm 139:7-10
The article concludes:
How Bible truth can help you. The more we learn about God and imitate him, the more we live the way he intended us to live. As a result, we experience more joy in life, along with genuine satisfaction, inner peace, and contentment. (Isaiah 48:17, 18) Yes, God knows that his endearing qualities resonate in the human heart, drawing honest hearted people to him and setting them on the path to everlasting life.—John 6:44; 17:3. (p.15)
‘Bible truth can help you’ and ‘the more we learn about God…’. This means, according to the WTS, having a Bible Study with Jehovah’s Witnesses. A person cannot learn ‘Bible truth’ by reading the Bible alone:
“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, p. 19).
Concerning the nature of God the Bible says ‘God is Love’ (1 John 4:8). How Jehovah’s Witnesses need to know this God. A God who loves them regardless of how many doors they knock on. A God who longs for them to come to know Him through Christ alone.