Once you have finished discussing the Watchtower’s claim that Jesus is Michael the Archangel (if the Witnesses agreed to discuss it at this juncture in the study), you will need to decide whether to discuss the book’s other arguments against the deity of Christ made in Chapter 4 and the related appendix.
Assess your relationship with the Witnesses and how the study has gone to this point. If you delve too deeply into the following arguments with most Witnesses, it will likely result in them cutting off the study. If that seems likely to happen soon anyway, or if you are dealing with someone who is already seeing that the Watchtower doctrines may be false, you may want to go ahead with discussion of the deity of Christ at this point. On the other hand, if the person you are studying with seems willing to continue the study but is still defending the Watchtower, you may want to let the seed you planted about Jesus not being Michael grow a while and come back to these arguments when you get to Chapter 15.
If you do decide to discuss the deity of Christ now, or if the Witnesses insist on discussing the appendix on the Trinity, here’s how you can respond to the Scriptures the Watchtower cites. As usual, you do not need to discuss every point. Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s promptings.
Colossians 1:15-16: “firstborn of all creation” (paragraph 11, p. 41)
“Bible Teach” says, “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)… Jesus is also the only one whom God used when He created all other things. (Colossians 1:16)
In my book, Getting Through to Jehovah’s Witnesses: Approaching Bible Discussions in Unexpected Ways, I discuss these verses in The Jesus Is the God-Man Approach, p. 175. There is a Greek word that means “first created.” Paul did not use that word. Rather, he used the Greek word for “firstborn.” In the Bible, “firstborn” often means “preeminent.” Thus King David is called “firstborn” in Psalm 89:27 even though 1 Samuel 17:12-14 tells us he was the eighth and last son born to his father, Jesse.
Colossians 1:16 does not say that Jesus is firstborn of all creation because he was the first creation of Jehovah. It says Jesus is firstborn because he is preeminent—”For 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.”
Ask the Witnesses, “Were all things really created for an archangel?”
The Watchtower’s Bible inserts the word “other” four times into Colossians 1:16-17, making it look like Jesus is one of the things created. That word isn’t there in the Greek text. The Watchtower added it in order to bolster its doctrine. In an earlier post entitled, “Using the Kingdom Interlinear Translation,” I discussed how to show this to the Witnesses on the Watchtower’s own website.
John 3:16: “only-begotten” (paragraph 11, p. 41)
“Bible Teach” says that when the Bible calls Jesus the “only-begotten” Son of God, that “means that Jesus is the only one directly created by God.”
In fact, as I pointed out in The Jesus Is the God-Man Approach (p. 176), the Greek word for “only-begotten,” monogenes, means “unique,” not “created.”
Psalm 90:2: God had no beginning (paragraph 12, p. 41):
“Bible Teach” says, “As we noted in the preceding paragraph, the Son was created. Obviously, then, he had a beginning, whereas Jehovah God has no beginning or end.”
In The Jesus Is the God-Man Approach (pp. 174-176), I show how to refute the claim that Jesus had a beginning, covering three of the Watchtower’s favorite proof texts, Colossians 1:15-16, Revelation 3:14, and Proverbs 8:22-24.
As I pointed out on pages 165-167 of the God-Man Approach chapter, Isaiah 44:24 says that God alone created all things, and even the Watchtower’s own rendering of John 1:3 says of Jesus, “All things came into existence through him, and apart from him not even one thing came into existence.”
John 14:28: “The Father is greater than I am” (paragraph 12, p. 42)
1 Corinthians 11:3: “the head of Christ is God” (paragraph 12, p. 42)
“Bible Teach” cites John 14:28 and 1 Corinthians 11:3 as texts to prove that Jesus never even considered trying to be equal to his Father.
On pages 143 (“Irreconcilable Differences”) and 159 (“The Jesus Is the God-Man Approach) of my book, I point out that as a man, Jesus was positionally subordinate to the Father.
Even though “Bible Teach” doesn’t cite Philippians 2:6 here, Witnesses often quote the Watchtower’s rendering of that verse to argue that Jesus didn’t try to seize equality with God—“who, although he was existing in God’s form, gave no consideration to a seizure, namely, that he should be equal to God.”
By using the word “seizure,” the Watchtower makes it seem as if Christ would be a sinful rebel if he, like Satan, claimed equality with God.
As I pointed out in the God-Man Approach (p. 174), to counter this you can say, “You don’t have to seize something you already have. Christ already existed in God’s form. He could have chosen to remain in heaven where he was positionally equal to his Father. Although he never gave up his divine identity, he chose additionally to become a man, come to earth, and as a man subject himself to the will of the Father. In other words, he voluntarily lowered his position without changing his identity.”
In addition, John 5:18 does assert Jesus’ equality with the Father: “This is why the Jews began seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath but he was also calling God his own Father, making himself equal to God.” Witnesses will tell you that it was the Pharisees who mistakenly thought Jesus was making that claim. You might ask them to help you diagram that sentence. If you do, you’ll see that, in fact, John is the one saying Jesus was declaring himself equal to God—equal in nature, subordinate in role.
Genesis 17:1: “God Almighty” (paragraph 12, p. 42)
Paragraph 12 (p. 42) says, “Jehovah alone is ‘God Almighty.’”
Of course, this begs the question as to whether the Son—as well as the Father—is rightly identified as Jehovah. On pages 169-170 of the God-Man Approach, I point out passages in Revelation (1:8; 22:12-13,20) which show that Jesus is also called Almighty God.
In my next post, I will discuss how to deal with the anti-Trinity Appendix—“The Truth About the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit”—which is referred to in paragraph 12.