The name Jehovah
By Jason Wright
As the above Watchtower magazine highlights the name “Jehovah” is by far the most important name used by adherents of the Watchtower Society. For a Witness the name Jehovah identifies the true God whom they worship and is superlative to all other names of God. Furthermore, Witnesses believe the name Jehovah is officially the Father’s name. It should be noted from the outset that by exclusively attributing to the Father the name “Jehovah”, a doctrinal barrier is raised which obscures the true identity of Jesus and the overall nature of God. As we shall discover, the divine name (Tetragrammaton) is not limited to the Father.
So exalted is the name Jehovah that all Watchtower activity – including doctrines, worship and ministries – are found to revolve around this name. Jehovah is the “buzz word” which functions to personalize God for individual Witnesses but also galvanizes and unifies the collective organization under the banner of “Jehovah’s witnesses” (Isaiah 43:10). Consequently, to be a witness of Jehovah is to be part of “Jehovah’s organization” – an honored and privileged position.
Because of the exalted position of the name “Jehovah” members will use the “name” as a litmus test of Christian authenticity. For example, in the mind of a Witness, if a so-called Christian does not know the name Jehovah or honor the name then he/she cannot possibly be a true Christian. This view acts to polarize two groups; viz. those “outside” the organization, particularly “Christendom” whom are pejoratively viewed as the “enemy” of Jehovah while the latter group, viz. those inside the organization are viewed as “true Christians”. Note how this polarization plays out in the Watchtower (simplified version) article of March 2014. Under the heading “Honor Jehovah’s Great name” the authors make the following claims:
“THE churches of Christendom have generally avoided using God’s name. For example, the introduction of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible says that it is “entirely inappropriate” for the church to call God by any name. In contrast, Jehovah’s Witnesses are proud to be called by God’s name and to honor it. Also, we feel honored to understand the meaning of God’s name and to know how important it is for his name to be made holy.”
However, is it true that “Christendom” has abandoned God’s name? Why have English Bibles generally substituted the Tetragrammaton for “LORD”? Could it be argued that the incorporation of LORD is a subtle way of subsuming Jehovah with a view to exalting Jesus? Many Witnesses would conclude such. Or could there be a genuine reason for avoidance of the name Jehovah?
In order to tackle some of these questions this article will examine the origins of the name Jehovah and consider whether or not it best represents the original Hebrew Tetragrammaton (YHWH). Corollary to an incorrect understanding of God’s name are doctrinal and translational errors.
We will discover how the Watchtower society makes knowing and using God’s name – Jehovah – a salvation issue. Additionally, we will see how Witnesses are compelled to repeat the name “Jehovah” over and over resulting in the worship of a name rather than knowing God himself through personal relationship.
Overall, it will be argued that the Watchtower Society has 1) misrepresented the Tetragrammaton both ontologically and theologically 2) built a system of worship around a name 3) inserted the name Jehovah into the N.T. without warrant 4) failed to acknowledge biblical revelation concerning the nature and revelation of God in Christ, thereby reflecting a heretical Semi-Arian/Unitarian position.
The Divine Name
The orthography (letter formation) of all written languages gradually develops over a period of time. This is especially true of Hebrew, which has been used for thousands of years and developed from a simple pictographic script into the modern day letter form. The divine name consists of four (tetra) letters (gamma) = Tetragrammaton (YHWH). Originally (circa 2000 B.C.) the following pictograph script represented the divine name:
Pictographic interpretation can be highly subjective, thus we must proceed with caution. Unlike English, the ancient Hebrew language was a “senses” based language. They thought in agricultural terms and their language was based upon what they could see, feel, taste, smell or hear. Above we see a picture of a man with his arms raised – meaning “look, reveal, breath” followed by a picture of a tent peg – meaning “add, secure, hook” then a second man and finally a picture of an arm with a closed hand meaning “work, throw”. Please note each picture carries a sense-based meaning. A loose sense interpretation conveys the idea of working, putting things together, showing them or revealing them, making things stable, secure, rock solid, living, breathing, revelation – the God who breathes/lives and gives life. That is the sense-based meaning of the divine name. The script next developed into a middle/late Paleo-Hebrew form (circa 1000 BC):
When Israel was taken into Babylonian captivity (597 B.C.) the Aramaic square script was adopted and the divine name was written as follows:
Sometime between the exile and the first century A.D. the name יהוה fell into disuse. While it is true the divine name was still written, the pronunciation was lost because the name was deemed too holy to verbalize (cf. Exodus 20:7). To avoid miss-pronunciation euphemisms were employed, these included: “adonai” (my Lord), “hashem” (the name), “shamayim” (heaven) and “hagibur” (the power).
Often the Watchtower claims that substitutionary names reveal a lack of faith on the part of the ancient Israelites. However, contrary to this claim, substitutions reveal how magnified and revered the name of God was in Israel. Cautionary substitutions actually heightened Israel’s adoration and devotion to YHWH.
An example of substitution can be observed by comparing the Gospels of Luke and Matthew – cf. Matthew 13:31-32 with Luke 13:18-19. Matthew speaks of the Kingdom of Heaven, while Luke speaks about the Kingdom of God. Why the discrepancy? Audience sensibilities! Matthew’s audience were Jews thus to write God (Greek Theos, Hebrew Elohim) would be deemed blasphemous, whereas Luke’s Gentile audience had no such semantic presuppositions. Similarly, when N.T. writers quote O.T. verses containing the divine name we find the Tetragrammaton replaced with the word Lord (Grk. Kurios, Heb. Adonai).
This replacement policy is especially evident in the LXX (Greek Septuagint) version of the Hebrew Tanakh (O.T.) where the majority of manuscripts (though not all) replace the divine name with Kurios (Lord). The important point to remember is that even where the Tetragrammaton was found in written form, when it came to pronunciation, the reader would always replace the divine name with a euphemism. This is true for the period of the exile, through the first century, unto the present.
When it comes to pronunciation it is very important to note that the Hebrew language has no vowels, hence the four letters of the Tetragrammaton lack vocalization. We must therefore admit that modern attempts to pronounce the Tetragrammaton are all subjective.
By 700 A.D. Hebrew scribes known as the Masorites invented a system for adding vowels to the text in order to aid and standardize pronunciation. The vowels were written as dots and dashes (vowel marks) above and below the Hebrew letters. However, when the Masorites came to the divine name they had a dilemma. How do you add vowel points to a word where the pronunciation has been lost and where miss-pronunciation is blasphemy? Their decision was to take the vowels from the Hebrew word Adonai (Lord) – the standard euphemism for the Tetragrammaton – and place the vowels within the divine name. Similarly, different vowel points were added to the Tetragrammaton in order to pronounce the divine name as God (elohim). The diagram below highlights these changes:
The result is a plethora of possible pronunciations including Yahveh, Yahweh. Yahueh etc. However, as Dr. Walter Martin rightly points out, without vowel marks the closest pronunciation is “Yud-Hey-Vav-Hey”.
The name Jehovah
From where and how has the peculiar name “Jehovah” originated? Most scholars believe the word “Jehovah” to be a late (circa 1100 A.D.) Latinization of the Hebrew יהוה. As such it is not a translation, nor a transliteration, but a combination of the Latin letters JHVH with the vowels of Adonai. Hence “Jehovah” is not even a real word but a hybrid. Jeff Benner of the Ancient Hebrew Research Centre suggests the pronunciation “Jehovah” occurred through a serious of misunderstandings and mistakes. He notes that a 16th century German scholar came across the Tetragrammaton with the added vowel marks Lord (adonai) but unaware of the history of these marks attempted to pronounce the name and arrived at the pronunciation of Jehovah.
Whatever the true origins of the name, it must be admitted that a Protestant Reformer (i.e. William Tyndale) popularized “Jehovah” in English translations including the KJV. However, most scholars today agree that the closest vocalization of the Tetragrammaton is Yahweh. The Jewish encyclopedia – in regards to “Jehovah” – notes that “this pronunciation is grammatically impossible”.
It is for the above reasons that the RSV/NRSV and the majority of English translations have NOT adopted the hybrid form “Jehovah”. As the NRSV confirms, the name Jehovah belongs “to an entirely different word”. Therefore, it is not that translators have a hidden agenda, i.e. to hide or obscure the divine name, but rather most translators follow Jewish conventions of substitution because pronunciation of the divine name is wholly subjective.
However, Christians cannot ignore the divine name. It occurs 6,518 times in the Masoretic (O.T.) text. Many argue that the Tetragrammaton should be restored, and some modern translations (i.e. Jerusalem Bible) have sought to rectify this. Certainly employing the unique name YHWH can act as a useful apologetic tool helping to differentiate between so-called gods of other religions. On the other hand, the basic pronunciation problem persists. David H. Stern points out that “Jews did not pronounce the divine name, we don’t really know if these words (Yahweh/Yahveh) are good representations of how the name was pronounced and these words sound strange to English speakers”
In summary we can conclude that the name “Jehovah” is a poor hybrid of the vowels adonai and Latin letters JHVH, although it must be admitted that “Jehovah” is still widely used outside Witness circles as an alternative to Yahweh, including within the academy.
Despite the dubious origin of the name Jehovah, the Watchtower Society continues to promulgate Jehovah as God’s true name. As you read through their literature or view society videos, invariably the name “Jehovah” is inserted or spoken over and over and presented as a historically factual name – which of course it is not. By repetitive use members of the Watchtower are made to think that every generation of true believers acknowledged and employed the name Jehovah. Note how the Watchtower article “Honor Jehovah’s Great name” of March 2014 discredits Jews for employing euphemisms while simultaneously promoting the hybrid name:
“As a result, they [Jews] little by little stopped using God’s name. Jehovah must have felt hurt to see his name treated with so much disrespect. (Psalm 78:40, 41) Jehovah’s name is very important to him. In fact, the Bible says that he is jealous for his name. Because the Jews dishonored Jehovah’s name, they were no longer worthy of it. (Exodus 34:14) This teaches us that it is extremely important to treat our Creator’s name with great respect.”
Do you see what the Watchtower writers have done? They suggest that the Jewish people stopped using the name Jehovah! Yet no Jew in history would have called God Jehovah! Why? Because the name is a man-made relatively modern invention! Furthermore, the Watchtower writers employ emotional jargon: “Jehovah must have felt hurt” – “Jehovah’s name is very important to him” – “He is jealous for his name”. These statements simply reinforce the notion that Jehovah is God’s name and that they alone uphold it. Nothing could be further from the truth! These arguments are built upon a foundational error, namely that the hybrid name Jehovah is God’s real name! The Watchtower article continues:
“The first Christians, who were members of this new nation [Israel of God 144,000], used God’s name. For example, they used his name when they quoted from the Hebrew Scriptures. When the apostle Peter spoke to a large group of Israelites and proselytes at Pentecost in the year 33, he used God’s name several times. (Acts 2:14, 20, 21, 25, 34) Because the first Christians honored Jehovah, he blessed their preaching work.”
Did the early Christians pronounce God’s name? Did Peter really speak out loud the divine name? The historical evidence suggests that no Jew would dare pronounce it out aloud – for to do so was blasphemy – moreover it is highly unlikely that anyone (other than perhaps the high priest) knew how to pronounce the divine name. While it is true that the Apostles may have known the written form יהוה it is intellectually dishonest to suggest they pronounced it. Rather, as the extant Greek manuscripts indicate, when Peter quoted the O.T. he employed euphemism substituting the Tetragrammaton with Kurios (Lord). The NWT/RNWT ignores the extant Greek manuscript evidence in Acts 2, replacing Kurios with the hybrid “Jehovah”, thus implying that Peter said Jehovah! Such editorial revision is commonplace throughout the NWT/RNWT of the Greek scriptures.
Meaning of the Name (יהוה YHWH)
We have traced the origin of the name Jehovah and concluded it to be a man-made hybrid. What though does the original language word יהוה (YHWH) mean? The word itself is derived from a root word היה (h-y-h). The concrete meaning of this root is “breath” – which carries a “sense” meaning already noted in the pictographic form of YHWH – with an extended meaning viz. “exist”, as one who exists, breathes. The Tetragrammaton (YHWH) is found in parallel with this root word in Exodus 3:14-15 where we encounter God introducing himself to Moses as “I exist whom I exist” or “I am that I am” אֶהְיֶה אֲשֶׁר אֶהְיֶה (Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh). God tells Moses to say to the sons of Israel “I exist” or “I am” has sent me. What we observe in poetic form is the divine name (YHWH) being paralleled with the verb “I am”. Because the root meaning carries the sense meaning to breathe and hence give life when connected with the theoretical vocalization Yahweh (hif’il a causative verb inflection of the root היה h-y-h) we arrive at the meaning “He who causes to exist” – “He who gives life” – “He causes to become”.
Incidentally, Exodus 6:2–3 seems to indicate that the name יהוה (YHWH) was not known until the time of Moses. Watchtower literature promulgates this view. However, the divine name was known as early as the time of Enosh (Gen 4:26) and was used – not infrequently – during the patriarchal period (cf. Gen 12:1, 4; 13:4, etc.). This tension is resolved by a correct understanding of the passage in Exodus 3:14-15. Motyer offers an excellent exegesis, translating it as follows:
“And God spoke to Moses, and said to him: I am Yahweh. And I showed myself to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob in the character of El Shaddai, but in the character expressed by my name Yahweh I did not make myself known to them….”
He concludes that “it was the character expressed by the name that was withheld from the patriarchs and not the name itself….to know by name means to have come into intimate and personal acquaintance with a person.”
These are extremely important points. The divine name (יהוה) YHWH existed well before the time of Moses, but the meaning of that name was not revealed until this time. To understand the meaning of the divine name is to understand the character of God revealed by that name. Thus while pronunciation of the name is important it is not the pronunciation of the name through which the person is revealed, but the character that is represented in the name. Consequently, as we plumb the depths of the divine name we move beyond written forms or vocalizations and uncover the fullness of the divine being.
For example the O.T. presents YHWH as a relational being. He is a feeling God. He is drawn in love to Israel (Due 7:7; 10:16) and is merciful (Due 4:31). He is a God whom is jealous of his people (Due 4:24; 5:9). What God says, He will do. His name promises that. And He will act on behalf of His people. But YHWH does not ultimately limit the significance of His name to the children of Israel. As Eichrodt succinctly states, “it is in the person of Jesus that the function of the Name of Yahweh as a form of the divine self-manifestation finds its fulfillment.” Truly Jesus is the par excellence manifestation of God’s active effectiveness in the history of the world!
Consequently, as we uncover the real meaning of the divine name, we can reflect on the God behind the name, his character, his purpose, his nature. Hence rather than dwelling or insisting on any one particular vocalization, the important question to ask is “do I have a relationship with YHWH?” – “Do I know in my heart the one who “gives life” and “causes to become”?
Scripture is not passive, but eclectic, and self-revelatory. God has progressively revealed himself to mankind through scripture. Jehovah’s Witnesses will agree with this statement. Yet despite this acknowledgement the name “Jehovah” remains the foundation of witness doctrine and practice. However, we cannot stop at the divine name, nor can we build our theology on that name. Rather we must examine the entire biblical data as it expands upon the Tetragrammaton and nature of God. For Christians the culmination of God’s self-revelation takes place at the incarnation, that moment in history when YHWH became man:
John 1:1-3 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.”
John 1:14 “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
John 1:18 “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he [Jesus] has made him known.”
Romans 10:9 “…because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord (YHWH) and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
It is here that the Jehovah’s Witnesses get inexorably muddled. Because they have concluded that the Father alone is Jehovah God, reason dictates Jesus must be a lesser being. In other words Jesus must be a created Son. This is a narrowing of biblical revelation – an ontological and theological error. Once in place this view viz. “Jehovah alone is God the Father” acts as an impenetrable wall to further revelation concerning the nature of God in Christ. Therefore to suggest to a Jehovah’s Witness that Jesus could be Jehovah is anathema to them.
This rejection of orthodoxy stems from C.T. Russell’s adoption of 1800’s Adventist doctrines. However, such doctrines were compounded in 1931 with the adoption of the name Jehovah. As “they [JW’s] let the world know that they were proud to be “a people for his name and to praise God’s name” the society moved ever further away from the centrality of Christ as revealed throughout the N.T. towards idolatry – the cultic act of name worship. For adherents of the Watchtower the name Jehovah is their ultimate focus, they believe they are Jehovah’s standard bearers, holding aloft his name to which all must rally. In essence the name “Jehovah” has taken on mystical powers, it is a name jealously guarded by the Society.
Christians everywhere appeal to active and inactive Jehovah’s Witnesses – please take a step back and re-evaluate the evidence. Below are a few examples of O.T. pericope quoted by N.T. writers, which in their original context applied to YHWH but in their N.T. context are applied to Jesus.
|Psalm 102:25,”Of old Thou didst found the earth; and the heavens are the work of Thy hands.”||Heb. 1:10,”And, “Thou, Lord, in the beginning didst lay the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of Thy hands.”|
|Isaiah 45:23″I have sworn by Myself, The word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness and will not turn back, That to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance.”||Phil. 2:10-11,”…that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”|
|Deut. 10:17,”For the Lord your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God who does not show partiality, nor take a bribe.”||Rev. 17:14,”These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful.”|
|Isaiah 44:6″Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: ‘I am the first and I am the last, And there is no God besides Me.”||John 1:49,”Nathanael answered Him, ‘Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel.'”Rev. 22:12-13,”Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. 13 “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”|
|Psalm 130:7-8,”O Israel, hope in the Lord; for with the Lord there is lovingkindness, and with Him is abundant redemption. And He will redeem Israel from all his iniquities.”||Titus 2:14,”…who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.”|
|Zech. 12:10,”And I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him, like the bitter weeping over a first-born.”||Rev. 1:7,”Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. Even so. Amen.”|
|Joel 2:32,”And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be delivered; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be those who escape, as the Lord has said, even among the survivors whom the Lord calls.”||Rom. 10:13 ,”…for ‘Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.'”|
As we wrestle with these scriptures, through objective examination we arrive at the only logical conclusion: Jesus is indeed YHWH. In other words “the one who causes to become” exists in a plural unity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, not three gods, but ONE ontological God existing as three persons. We must humble ourselves and submit to the data. Any attempt to subsume either person of the godhead invariably leads to heresy, or in the case of Jehovah’s Witnesses, polytheism, wherein Jesus becomes a secondary lesser god.
Jehovah in the New Testament
Perhaps the most striking misuse of the name Jehovah is the arbitrary insertion of the name Jehovah 237+ times into the NWT/RNWT New Testament (Greek scriptures). The Watchtower society provides various specious arguments, including evidence from the LXX, apostasy, Hebrew versions etc. However, despite their protestations, the fact remains that none of the 5,000+ extant Greek manuscripts employ the divine name. Surely if the Apostles had freely spoken the divine name and incorporated it into their writing we should have at least some manuscript evidence? The truth is we have none. Every occurrence of the divine name is substituted with a euphemism within all extant Greek manuscripts. Surely we must trust that God by the Holy Spirit not only inspired the original text but also oversaw the trustworthy copying of scripture?
That being the case, in the absence of a distinct contrast between Kurios (Lord) and the Tetragrammaton, we are left with the inescapable conclusion that the inspired Christian writers, under inspiration of God, attributed to the word Kurios (Lord) a dual meaning. Wherever the O.T. text references the Tetragrammaton the substitute Kurios was used. In other pericope Jesus is contextually equated to YHWH (cf. Romans 14:3-9). In such cases Paul employs Kurios (Lord) and God as functional synonyms wherein Jesus as Lord (Kurios) is given the attributes of YHWH! Hence we find Jesus designated two titles viz. Christ and Lord (Kurios). For example:
1 Corinthians 8:6 “…yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord [YHWH], Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.”
Ephesians 4:4-7 “There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord [YHWH], one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.”
If the Watchtower were consistent with its replacement of Kurios then clearly Jesus would be identified as being Jehovah – yet this is impossible in the mind of a Jehovah’s Witness.
Clearly the N.T. manuscripts present insurmountable evidence of the willful use of euphemisms. Why then bother to insert the divine name? – In a nutshell: theological bias. The Watchtower has begun with a theological presupposition, viz. the Father is Jehovah and Jesus is his created Son. To galvanize their position and reinforce the importance of the name Jehovah, Watchtower translators willfully ignore the evidence in the manuscript and arbitrarily insert – where it best suits their theology – the name Jehovah. The result is nominal members – who are blissfully unaware of this corruption – believe Jehovah to be the name on the tip of every first century Christian’s tongue!
What about Jesus? Did he employ the divine name? Contrary to Watchtower claims that Jesus spoke the name Jehovah we actually find Jesus himself never uses the divine name, but employs substitutes/euphemisms (cf. Luke 15:21, Matt 26:64). The model prayer does not begin “Our Jehovah” – but “Our Father” (Matt 6:9). Not once in Jesus’ priestly prayer of John 17 does he address God as Jehovah, but always as Father. In contrast Jesus employed the word God (theos) over 180 times and Father (pater) roughly 175 times. Where then is Jehovah? The divine name is not used because Jesus was the embodiment of that name. We note Jesus self-identification in John 8:58
John 8:58 “Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM. (ego eimi)”
Quoting directly from the LXX version of Exodus 3:14, this was the third and last of Jesus’ solemn pronouncements in this discourse (cf. vv. 34, 51). If Jesus had only wanted to claim that He existed before Abraham, (as Jehovah’s Witnesses insist) He could have said, “I was.” By saying, “I am,” He was not just claiming preexistence but deity (cf. vv. 24, 28; 5:18; Exodus. 3:14; Isa. 41:4; 43:13). It is eternity of being and not simply being that has lasted through several centuries that the expression indicates. In other words Jesus identified himself as the eternal God Jehovah (YHWH). Moreover the Apostles (particularly after his resurrection) identified Jesus as a deity:
John 1:1-3 “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us—that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.”
The word of life – Jesus – was made manifest. The first person of the triune God – the Father – sent the second person of the triune God – the Son – to earth to redeem lost humanity (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). YHWH the relational God had come to restore, renew and reclaim the children of God. He had not come to proclaim the name Jehovah, but rather to fulfill that name. Thus the character of YHWH is revealed in Jesus. Indeed the true Witnesses of Jehovah (YHWH) will follow Jesus and be His witnesses (Revelation 3:14). To proclaim the name of YHWH and make holy the name of God is to proclaim Jesus! As Jesus himself commanded:
Act 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Jesus warned those who rejected him:
John 5:39-30 “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.”
Eternal life is in Jesus the great “I AM” the revelation of YHWH come in the flesh.
John 8:24 “I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I AM (ego eimi) you will die in your sins.”
Please do not neglect such a salvation. It is open to all who would “believe – in the Son of Man” (John 3:16; 6:53). Maybe it is your turn to meet the true Jehovah of scripture? I pray it be so!
In our discussion of the name Jehovah we have explored the origin of the Tetragrammaton, its various written forms, concluding that the name Jehovah is derived from mixing the vowel points of adonai with the Latin letters JHVH. We noted Jehovah is a name much used in Protestant circles and certainly not unique to Jehovah’s Witnesses. Despite the usage of Jehovah modern scholarship suggests Yahweh is probably more accurate, but in both cases vocalization is subjective.
While correct pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton is important, the name “Jehovah” does not warrant the emphasis that the Watchtower has placed on it. Our search to “know” God, and please him, does not require pronunciation of the divine name. Instead we experience the divine person, his character, glory, love, mercy, and power because such qualities are represented in the name. Consequently the divine name meaning “He who exists” – “He who gives life” evokes a call to a personal encounter with the savior who is the LORD Jesus. This is the progressive revelation of scripture. Use of the name Jehovah is not essential to Salvation; rather salvation is to know personally the God represented by the name viz. Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In other words the scriptures call us into relationship with the three persons of the triune God. Such a conclusion may sound strange, but each divine person plays an important role in our personal Christian walk and development. It is true we speak primarily to the Father through the Son. Yet on many occasions we speak directly to the Son, just as Stephen and Paul did! The person of the Holy Spirit we invoke for empowerment and enabling. These are beautiful, humbling and liberating truths.
Concerning the centrality of Christ in salvation note the following pericope.
Act 4:11-13 “This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
Salvation is in the name of Jesus – not Jehovah.
Philippians 2:9-11 “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 (YHWH), to the glory of God the Father.”
Jesus is the embodiment of Jehovah; consequently the name of Jesus is above the name of Jehovah.
John 5:22-23 “The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.”
To honor the Father we must first honor the Son. Both the Father and Son share the same nature (God) and as such both require submission, obedience and worship. To reduce the Son to a creature or messenger is to dishonor the Father. This view is in stark contrast to the high Christology of N.T. documents. For example, in Hebrews the Son of God is worshiped (as YHWH) by all the angels (Hebrews 1:3-6) and subsequently exalted as creator (Hebrews 1:10-11). Similar biblical evidence of Jesus as a deity is strewn throughout scripture.
As we trace Watchtower history we discover that the early doctrinal errors of C.T. Russell feed into the later misappropriation of the name Jehovah in 1931. The society’s exclusive claim to the name Jehovah has resulted in an almost fanatical defense of the name Jehovah and its corresponding religious expression, viz. the Watchtower society. This obsession with the name Jehovah reaches its climax with the unwarranted insertion of the name Jehovah 237+ times in the NWT/RNWT of the Greek scriptures (N.T.). The result is a religious system that worships – not the true God as revealed in Christ Jesus – but a man-made “Jehovah of the Watchtower”. This is a mind-blowing truth, not easily grasped by the Watchtower-controlled mind. Indeed, revelation of Jesus’ true identity requires divine intervention (Matthew 16:17).
If you are a Christian then we have the wonderful task of growing in comprehension of the fullness of the ineffable name as embodied in the Son of God. In so doing Christians honor YHWH the great “I AM”; Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
For our Jehovah’s Witness readers – I pray that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob will empower you by His Spirit and His holy word to break free from “Jehovah of the Watchtower”. In so doing I pray you meet with YHWH in the face of Christ and come to know the grace, peace, love and freedom that only Jesus can give. May I suggest you dare to ask Jesus who he really is? Ask him daily to reveal his love and truth, ask Jesus to manifest himself to you;
John 14:21 “… and he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”
To my Christian brethren I pray this article proves useful to you as you battle to unlock the closed mind of the Jehovah’s Witness. I encourage further study of the divine name on the websites below.
May the LORD richly bless you.
Ancient Hebrew: http://www.ancient-hebrew.org
 New World Translation & Revised New World Translation
 Many expressions exist in scripture that serve to uniquely identify God. For example, the expressions “the God of Abraham, God of Isaac and God of Jacob” each serve to identify the true God. We also find an absence of the divine name in Esther and Ecclesiastes. If the divine name identifies the true God why is it absent in these books?
 His Name is One – Ancient Hebrew Perspectives of the Names of God, Jeff Benner Virtual Bookworm.com 2002.
 NRSV Anglicized Edition, page xii.
 CJB Introduction xxxiv.
 The Meaning of the Divine Name YHWH Charles R. Gianotti, Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra Volume: BSAC 142:565 (Jan 1985).
 If divine name apostasy did occur shortly after the death of John, then the Jehovah’s Witnesses claim viz. “all scripture is inspired of God” is surely invalidated? Furthermore it means God himself could not preserve his own name!
 This is not to say that manuscript copies are error free. The discipline of textual criticism has uncovered various textual anomalies thus helping translators counter scribal error and arrive at textually sound conclusions. For a discussion of manuscript transmission see “The Canon of the New Testament” By Bruce M. Metzger, Clarendon Press Oxford 2009, also “The Text of the New Testament” by Bruce M. Metzger & Bart D. Ehrman, Oxford University Press 2005.
 Notes on John by Dr. Thomas L. Constable, page 149, 2012 Edition
 Be careful of Jehovah’s Witnesses who try to muddle meaning by suggesting Jesus can be deity or divine and at the same time not be God, as if deity or divine is lesser than God. Actually the two words are synonymous – both are ontological.