Finding the real Jesus in the New World Translation
This is the third in a series of columns addressing Jehovah’s Witnesses and their understanding of Jesus.
Previously, we saw how the Watch Tower has effectively scrubbed the deity of Christ from its official version of Scripture, the New World Translation (NWT).
If Jehovah’s Witnesses are leery of using any other translation, what hope exists for them to find the real Jesus in the NWT? Have any passages survived the Watch Tower’s theological sanitizing, so we may point our Witness friends to an eternal and divine Jesus who took on flesh to save us from our sins?
Fortunately, the answer is yes. We may begin by raising sincere questions and seeking answers in the New World Translation.
Who is Lord?
Jehovah’s Witnesses boldly proclaim Jehovah as Lord. Deuteronomy 10:17 in the NWT 2013 reads: “For Jehovah your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords …” (emphasis added). Clearly, there is but one Lord, Jehovah.
But the NWT also contains the following:
Luke 2:11 – “For today there was born to you in David’s city a savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
1 Cor. 8:6 – “there is actually to us one God, the Father, from whom all things are and we for him; and there is one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things are and we through him.”
Jude 4b – “My reason is that certain men have slipped in among you … they are ungodly men who turn the undeserved kindness of our God into an excuse for brazen conduct and who prove false to our only owner [master] and Lord, Jesus Christ.”
We may ask our Witness friends, “If Jehovah is Lord, and Jesus is Lord, according to the NWT, are there two Lords? Or is it possible the New Testament writers are affirming that Jesus is coequal with the Father?”
Who created all things?
Jehovah’s Witnesses say Jehovah created Jesus ex nihilo (out of nothing). Jesus then created all other things. Consider what the NWT says:
Isa. 44:24b – “I am Jehovah, who made everything. I stretched out the heavens by myself, And I spread out the earth. Who was with me?” (emphasis added).
Isa. 48:13 – “My own hand laid the foundation of the earth, And my right hand spread out the heavens …”
Eph. 3:9b – “God, who created all things” (emphasis added).
So, clearly, Jehovah made everything – and Witnesses would include Jesus in “everything.” However, look at the following New Testament passage in the NWT:
John 1:3 – “All things came into existence through him [the Word/Jesus], and apart from him not even one thing came into existence” (emphasis added).
If Jesus is a created being, then He is a “thing.” But this verse says that “all things” came into existence through Jesus. So, either Jesus is uncreated and, with the Father and Holy Spirit, created everything, or there is a contradiction in the NWT.
Who is the first and the last?
Jehovah’s Witnesses say only Jehovah is the first and the last. Isaiah 44:6 in the NWT reads, “This is what Jehovah says … ‘I am the first and I am the last. There is no God but me.’” In Isa. 48:12b, Jehovah declares, “I am the first; I am also the last.” This carries through into the New Testament, where Jehovah calls Himself “the Alpha and the Omega” (Rev. 1:8).
But a few verses later in the NWT we see the glorified Jesus, who tells the apostle John, “I am the First and the Last” (Rev. 1:17). Then, to the church at Smyrna, Jesus is “the First and the Last” (Rev. 2:8). Finally, in the closing chapter of Revelation, “I, Jesus” (Rev. 22:16) identifies Himself as “the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (Rev. 22:13).
So, either there are two Alpha and Omegas, two first and lasts, or Jesus may rightly declare Himself eternal and sovereign, just as the Father does.
Next: Who is the I Am?