Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Doctrine of Jesus

Jesus was created billions of years ago as the archangel Michael. So says the Watchtower Society of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Michael (Jesus) was supposedly created first and then used by God to create everything else in the universe.

Jehovah’s Witnesses acknowledge Jesus as a “mighty god” but reject the notion that He is God Almighty, like Jehovah. To support this assertion, Witnesses bring attention to passages that appear to suggest Jesus is lesser than and subordinate to the Father. For instance, Jesus remarked, “the Father is greater than I” (John 14:28). He referred to the Father as “my God” (John 20:17). According to 1 Corinthians 11:3, “the head of Christ is God.” Jesus is identified as God’s “only begotten son” (John 3:16). Furthermore, He is referred to as the “firstborn over all creation” (Colossians 1:15). Witnesses thus maintain that Jesus is not God in the same sense Jehovah is, and therefore should not be worshiped.

Jesus allegedly existed in His angelic pre-human state for billions of years. At the appointed time, He was born on earth as a human being and ceased to exist as an angel. The life force of this angel was transferred by Jehovah into the womb of Mary. It is important to note that this was not an incarnation. Jesus was not God in the flesh. Instead, Jesus became a perfect man and nothing more. He also died as a mere man.

Jesus was purportedly crucified on a stake, rather than a cross. The adoption of the cross as a Christian symbol is claimed to have occurred during the early centuries of Christianity when ecclesiastical authority was allegedly influenced by pagan beliefs and Satan.

When Jesus died, He became nonexistent and was raised (recreated) three days later as a spirit creature—that is, as Michael the Archangel. There was no physical resurrection. Jesus gave up His human life as a ransom sacrifice for the benefit of humankind. “Having given up his flesh for the life of the world, Christ could never take it again and become a man once more.”[1]

Jehovah’s Witnesses claim that Jesus proved His non-physical “resurrection” to the disciples by appearing to them on different occasions “in various fleshly bodies, just as angels had appeared to men of ancient times. Like those angels, he had the power to construct and to disintegrate those fleshly bodies at will, for the purpose of proving visibly that he had been resurrected.”[2]

Consistent with the alleged spiritual resurrection of Jesus is the teaching that a spiritual “second coming” of Christ took place in 1914. From that time onwards, He has been believed to reign as King on earth through the Watchtower Society.

A Biblical Assessment

Jesus Was Not Created as the Archangel Michael

The Scriptures make it abundantly clear that Jesus is not the archangel Michael. In Daniel 10:13, Michael is referred to as “one of the chief princes.” This implies that he is part of a group of rulers, although the size of this group is unspecified. However, the use of the Greek word “monogenes” (only-begotten) to describe Jesus in John 3:16—meaning “unique” or “one of a kind”—sets Him apart. Jesus is not merely a “chief prince,” but rather the unprecedented “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Revelation 19:16).

Furthermore, Hebrews 1:5 tells us that no angel can ever be called God’s Son. The verse states, “To which of the angels did He [God] ever say, ‘Thou art My Son…’?”. Since Jesus is the Son of God, and no angel can ever be called God’s Son, it logically follows that Jesus cannot possibly be the Archangel Michael.

Still further, Hebrews 2:5 states that the world is not currently and will not be in the future subject to an angel. The context behind this is that the Dead Sea Scrolls, found at Qumran in 1947, indicate an expectation that the archangel Michael would hold a supreme position in the anticipated messianic kingdom. It is possible that some of the recipients of the book of Hebrews were tempted to place angels above Christ. However, Hebrews 2:5 declares that no angel will reign in God’s kingdom. Hence, Christ cannot be Michael since Scripture repeatedly identifies Him as the ruler of God’s kingdom (Genesis 49:10; 2 Samuel 7:16; Psalm 2:6; Daniel 7:13-14; Luke 1:32-33; Matthew 2:1-2; 9:35; Revelation 19:16).

Finally, Colossians 1:16 teaches us that Christ is responsible for creating the world of angels: “By him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.” In Bible times, these words were used to refer to different ranks of angels. Therefore, Christ is not an angel but is the very creator of these beings. 

Jesus Was Not a Lesser God than the Father

Although Jehovah’s Witnesses present a number of Bible verses to support their belief that Jesus is a lesser god than the Father, they consistently misinterpret the passages in question. Let us examine a few examples:

Isaiah 9:6: Because this messianic verse refers to Jesus as “Mighty God,” Jehovah’s Witnesses argue that Jesus is a lesser God than the Father, since the Father is God Almighty. However, in the following chapter of Isaiah (10:21), Yahweh (Jehovah) Himself is also called “Mighty God,” using the same Hebrew word, Elohim. This eliminates any possibility that the term must refer to a lesser deity. The Father and Jesus are equally divine.

Mark 13:32: Jehovah’s Witnesses argue that because Jesus does not know the hour of His return, He must be inferior to God the Father, who is all-knowing. However, this accusation can be easily refuted. As God, Jesus is indeed all-knowing (see Matthew 11:27; 17:27; Luke 5:4, 6; John 7:29; 8:55; 10:15; 16:30; 17:25; 21:17; 21:6-11). In the incarnation, however, He took on a human nature, which is not omniscient. It is from His humanity that Jesus could truthfully say that He did not know the day or hour of His return. The passage in Philippians 2:5-11 further explains that in order to fulfill His role as the Messiah on earth, Jesus voluntarily chose not to utilize certain divine attributes, including omniscience, at certain times during His three-year ministry. Mark 13:32 serves as an example of this.

John 3:16: Jehovah’s Witnesses argue that because Jesus is referred to as God’s “only begotten Son,” He cannot be God in the same sense as the Father. However, while the term “son of” can mean “offspring of,” it also carries the more significant meaning, “of the order of.” This usage is frequently seen in the Old Testament. For instance, “sons of the prophets” meant “of the order of prophets” (1 Kings 20:35), and “sons of the singers” meant “of the order of singers” (Nehemiah 12:28). Likewise, “Son of God” means “of the order of God” and signifies an assertion of undiminished deity. Clear evidence of Christ’s eternal Sonship can be found in the fact that Christ is presented as the Son of God even before His birth in Bethlehem. Consider Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus in John 3. Jesus said, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:16-17). The fact that Christ was sent into the world as the Son of God implies that He was the Son of God before the Incarnation. Furthermore, Hebrews 1:2 states that God created the universe through His “Son,” implying that Christ was the Son of God before creation. Additionally, Christ as the Son is explicitly described as having existed “before all things” (Colossians 1:17; compare verses 13-14). Jesus, speaking as the Son of God (John 8:54-56), affirms His eternal preexistence prior to Abraham (verse 58). So, this verse adds no support to the Jehovah’s Witness viewpoint.

John 14:28: Jehovah’s Witnesses argue that Jesus must be a lesser god than the Father because the Father is said to be “greater” than Him (John 14:28). However, in this particular verse, Jesus is not referring to His nature (for Jesus had previously proclaimed, “I and the Father are one”—John 10:30), but rather to His humble position during His Incarnation. The Father held the throne of supreme majesty in heaven, while His incarnate Son was despised and rejected by humanity, surrounded by relentless enemies, and soon to be crucified on a criminal’s cross. From His lowly earthly standpoint, Jesus could honestly say that the Father was “greater” than Him.

1 Corinthians 11:3: Because 1 Corinthians 11:3 states, “The head of Christ is God,” Jehovah’s Witnesses conclude that Jesus must be a lesser deity than the Father. However, it is important to note that in the same verse, Paul mentions that the man is the head of the woman, despite men and women being equal in their essential nature as humans (Genesis 1:26-28). This suggests that equality of nature and functional subordination are not mutually exclusive. Both Christ and the Father are equal in their divine nature (John 10:30), although Jesus is functionally subordinate to the headship of the Father.

Colossians 1:15: Jehovah’s Witnesses argue that because Jesus is referred to as the “firstborn” (Colossians 1:15), He must have been created at some point and therefore is a lesser deity than the Father. However, the term “firstborn” (Greek: prototokos) does not mean “first created,” but rather signifies being “first in rank, preeminent, and heir.” (Recall that even though David was actually Jesse’s last-born son in the Old Testament, he was still called “firstborn” because he became the preeminent son; Psalm 89:27). Christ is the “firstborn of creation” in the sense that He holds a position of preeminence over creation and reigns supreme over all things.

Jesus Was (Is) Yahweh

A comparison of the Old and New Testaments presents compelling evidence of Jesus’ identity as Yahweh. For example, in Isaiah 43:11, Yahweh proclaims, “I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from me there is no savior.” This verse reveals that (1) claiming to be Savior is, in fact, claiming divinity, and (2) there is only one Savior—God (Yahweh). Keeping this in mind, it is truly revealing of Christ’s divine nature that the New Testament refers to Him as the Savior (Luke 2:11; John 4:42).

Another key passage is Isaiah 6:1-5, where the prophet recounts his vision of Yahweh “seated on a throne high and exalted” (verse 1). He said, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord [Yahweh] Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory” (verse 3). Isaiah also quotes Yahweh as saying: “I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another” (42:8). Later, the apostle John under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit wrote that Isaiah actually “saw Jesus’ glory” (John 12:41). Yahweh’s glory and Jesus’ glory are equated.

Further support is found in Christ’s crucifixion. In Zechariah 12:10, Yahweh speaks prophetically: “They will look on me, the one they have pierced.” Although Yahweh is speaking, this is obviously a reference to the future crucifixion of Christ. We know that “the one they have pierced” is Jesus, for He is described this same way by the apostle John in Revelation 1:7.

Still further, in Isaiah 40:3 we read a prophecy about John the Baptist preparing the way for Jesus: “A voice of one calling: ‘In the desert prepare the way for the LORD [Yahweh]; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God [Elohim].’” That this verse was written in reference to the future ministry of Christ is made clear in John 1:23. This means that within a single verse, Christ is called both Yahweh and Elohim.

The Incarnate Jesus Was God on Earth

Contrary to the Watchtower view that Jesus during the incarnate state was just a man and nothing more, Colossians 2:9 tells us, “For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.” Jesus thus fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14: “‘The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’—which means, ‘God with us’” (Matthew 1:23). Jesus, born as a human, was literally “God with us.”

We can observe that Jesus was the perfect Savior because He possessed both a divine and a human nature. If Christ had only been God, He would not have been able to experience death since God, by His very essence, cannot die. It was through His human nature that Christ was able to represent and sympathize with humanity, and ultimately die as a human. Additionally, because of His divine nature, Christ’s death held immeasurable worth, fully sufficient to provide redemption for all of humanity’s sins. Thus, it is clear that Christ had to be both God and man in order to secure the salvation of mankind (1 Timothy 2:5; also see Hebrews 2:14-16).

Jesus Physically Resurrected

The resurrected Jesus told the disciples plainly, “Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have” (Luke 24:39). There are three important things to note here: (1) the risen Christ is not a spirit; (2) Christ’s resurrection body is composed of flesh and bones; (3) Christ’s tangible hands and feet provide physical evidence of the materiality of His resurrection from the dead.

Further evidence supporting the physical resurrection of Christ can be found in the words of Christ recorded in John 2:19-21: “Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.’ The Jews replied, ‘It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?’ But the temple he had spoken of was his body.” Jesus made it clear that He would be resurrected in His physical body, rather than as a spirit creature.

The risen Christ ate physical food on four separate occasions to prove that He had a genuine physical body (Luke 24:30; 24:42-43; John 21:12-13; Acts 1:4). It would have been deception on Jesus’ part to have offered His ability to eat physical food as a proof of His bodily resurrection if He had not been resurrected in a physical body.

The physical body of the risen Christ was touched and handled by various individuals. Mary touched Him (John 20:17), along with some women (Matthew 28:9). He even invited the disciples to physically touch Him to reassure them that His body was tangible (Luke 24:39). This aligns with the biblical truth that the body that is laid to rest is the same body that is raised in life (1 Corinthians 15:35-44). What is buried is brought back to life (see verse 42). Clearly, Christ was physically resurrected.

Jesus Will Physically Come Again

Some of Jesus’ followers witnessed His ascent to heaven: “As they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.’” How did Jesus ascend to heaven? He was taken up physically and visibly! The second coming of Christ will also be physical and visible. 

A key Greek term used to describe the Second Coming in 1 Peter 4:13 is apokalupsis, which carries the fundamental meaning of “revelation,” “visible disclosure,” “unveiling,” and “removing the cover” from something that is hidden. The second coming of Christ will be a visible event. 

Another Greek term used for the second coming of Christ is epiphaneia, which means “to appear” or “to shine forth.” The apostle Paul frequently employed this term to describe the visible return of Christ. For instance, in Titus 2:13, Paul speaks of eagerly anticipating “the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.” Similarly, in 1 Timothy 6:14, Paul encourages Timothy to “keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Just as Christ’s first coming was an epiphany, manifested in bodily form (2 Timothy 1:10), so His second coming will be a visible and bodily event.

In summary, Jesus was not created as the archangel Michael, is not inferior to the Father, and is indeed Yahweh. The incarnate Jesus was God in human form and was physically resurrected from death.  

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My friends, there is so much more to be said on this subject. I invite you to consult either my comprehensive treatment of Jehovah’s Witness theology, Reasoning from the Scriptures with Jehovah’s Witnesses, or my much smaller but still-thorough treatment, The 10 Most Important Things You Can Say to a Jehovah’s Witness.

  1.  You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth (Brooklyn: Watchtower, 1982), p. 143.
  2.  Aid to Bible Understanding (Brooklyn: Watchtower, 1971), p. 1395.

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