Jesus is God…right?

18 Jun

As I’ve previously mentioned, it is vital to the success of your conversation that you know with whom you are speaking. Does this person accept the truth of the Bible or not? A skeptic will need different reasons for the truth of your claim than a cultist (someone who claims to follow the Bible but has radically unorthodox beliefs). In this post I will be dealing with defending Jesus’ divinity in conversation with a Jehova’s Witness. I am going to link to the verse references so that the post is more readable – know that you don’t need to memorize them but it will be important to find specific examples of what you’re talking about when actually dealing with JWs.

One God

With your JW friend you can agree that there is one God. This is explicitly clear in the Old Testament. (Good examples of this come from Is 43:10-11 and 44:6-8). The case for Jesus’ divinity begins here.

New Testament Authors

Despite the fact that all the New Testament Authors have Jewish roots, most of them feel comfortable calling Jesus “God” or “Lord.” This seems weird given the strict prohibition against idolatry and blasphemy set up by God. Examples abound but the following are particularly helpful: Phil 2:5-11, Jude 1:4, Ti 2:13, 2 Pet 1:1

In addition to using overt titles of deity, the NT uses divine titles for Jesus that should be reserved for God alone. The book of Revelation refers to Jesus as First and the Last (Rev 2:8, Rev 1:17-18) and Alpha and Omega (Rev 21:6 ).

What about Jesus?

So maybe we are reading the NT authors wrong. If Jesus himself didn’t claim to be God, how can we put that into the mouths of his followers? This is a question that emanates from the JW camp and it is important to show that Jesus did have a divine self understanding.

First, he uses divine titles as well. He uses the famous “I AM” phrase in John 8:58, and his meaning was clear enough that the Jews tried to kill him for it. Jesus favorite self designation is “Son of Man” which is often erroneously cited as proof of his humanity. Instead, this refers to Daniel 7:13-14 when Daniel sees someone “like a son of man” approach the Ancient of Days (God). This son of man is worshipped by all nations and is given glory and sovereign power. The high priest understood what Jesus meant by the title Son of Man at his trial, because after he uttered it the case for blasphemy was closed. If Son of Man simply meant “human” then Jesus’ prosecution would have needed more to go on!

Second, Jesus accepts glory and worship; things which are reserved for God alone (Is 42:8). He asks God to glorify him in His presence (John 17:8), a strange request considering God’s stance on sharing glory (spoiler alert: he doesn’t). When Thomas is convinced of the Resurrection he worships Jesus, saying “My Lord and My God!” (John 20:28). [See here for an article responding to claims that Thomas was not worshipping Jesus]

So…conversation?

Remember, we should do our best to use questions. Knowing this general outline (NT authors named Jesus as divine and used divine titles, Jesus himself used divine titles and accepted glory and worship) should give you plenty of questions. Essentially they will all be of the challenge variety, and you can phrase them that way. For example “If Jesus never claimed to be God, then why do so many New Testament authors call him by divine names?”

Having not had a productive conversation with a JW ever, I’m not sure how they will respond to all of these different lines of reasoning, but at some point it becomes stubbornness. Often they will appeal to logic, but not well. (How can God say ‘us’ if he’s one person!? Referring to Gen 1) Learning how to make the case for Jesus’ divinity will help your faith in the long run, so it’s a worthwhile time investment even if you don’t want to hang out on your front porch with JWs.

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