Jehovah’s Witnesses & Eisegesis of Revelation 3:14

Watchtower

Watchtower Society teaches Jehovah’s Witnesses that Jesus is not Jehovah God. Only the Father is Jehovah God. Concurring that Logos, was “existing in God’s form”(Philippians 5:5-11) the Society expounded its Christology as follows,

He [prehumen Jesus] was a spirit person, just as “God is a Spirit”; he was a mighty one, although not almighty as Jehovah God is; also he was before all others of God’s creatures, for he was the first son that Jehovah God brought forth. Hence he is called “the only begotten Son” of God, for God had no partner in bringing forth his first-begotten Son. He was the first of Jehovah God’s creations. He speaks so of himself, at Revelation (or Apocalypse) 3:14: “These are the things the Amen says, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation by God.” (NW) (Watchtower 1952, 32)

Is it true that prehumen Jesus being “the beginning of the creation by God”(NW emp. added) means that He was the first of Jehovah God’s creations? This post aimed to show that the Society is not warranted in reading their presupposed theology into Revelation 3:14.

Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the word “beginning” (Gk. αρχη, G794 archē) in Revelation 3:14 η αρχη της κτισεως του Θεου (the beginning of the creation of God) indicate that prehumen Jesus was brought forth as the first of Jehovah God’s (who is the Father) invisible creations.

Archē, contended the Society, “cannot rightly be interpreted to mean that Jesus was the ‘beginner’ of God’s creation.”(1989, 14) John is said to have used various forms of archē, “more than 20 times, and these always have the common meaning of “beginning.””(ibid) Is this true? Yes and no.

No. John used archē synonymously with alpha(G1) and prōtos (first Gk. πρῶτος  G4413) in Revelation 22:13 “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning[archē] and the end”(ESV) as titles applied to God. Josephus also applied archē  to God when he wrote,

The first command is concerning God, and affirms that God contains all things, and is a being every way perfect and happy, self-sufficient, and supplying all other beings; the beginning [ἀρχή], the middle, and the end of all things (Against Apion 2.190)

Josephus viewed God as the beginning of all things. Unquestionably he did not understood archē to mean that God had a beginning. In this sense, it is possible, contrary to the Society, to rightly translate archē ho theos ho ktisis in Revelation 3:14 as ruler or authority of creation of God (cf Luke 20:20 1 Co. 15:24) Following this path is HCSB translating Originator of God’s creation and NIV, the ruler of God’s creation.

Though it is possible to translate Jesus as ruler or origin of God’s creation, it is more plausible that John used archē as beginning in sense of time, but not as the Society supposed, namely the beginning of the original creation, but the new creation. Revelation 3:14 read with 1:15’s πρωτότοκος (firstborn) and ἄρχων (ruler) in view, viz., Jesus is “the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth”(ESV emp. added) indicate that Jesus is the beginning of the new heaven and new earth.

Furthermore prehumen Jesus cannot be the first of Jehovah God’s creations in the sense that He was created because He claimed the title of eternality, the first and the last. (Rev. 1:17 cf. Isa. 44:6; 48:12)

The Society, thus, is not warranted to read their theology of a created prehumen Jesus into Revelation 3:14, since as Josephus, the beginning of the creation does not necessarily convey the meaning of beginning to exist, but lordship and that Revelation 3:14 is plausibly understood as beginning of the new creation.

Bibliography:

Watchtower (1952) Let God Be True. 2nd Ed. Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, Inc. International Bible Students Association. Brooklyn, NY.

_________________ (1989) Should You Believe in the Trinity? Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, Inc. International Bible Students Association. Brooklyn, NY.

Advertisements

13 thoughts on “Jehovah’s Witnesses & Eisegesis of Revelation 3:14

  1. Pingback: Creator and Blogger God 4 Expounding voice | Bijbelvorser = Bible Researcher

  2. Jehovah is the Father of Jesus and not Jesus himself. Jesus is the son of God who was lower than the angels but made higher by God after Jesus had offered his body on the wooden stake. Jesus really die while God, who is an eternal spirit can not die.
    God who does not lie also said about the Jewish man in the river Jordan: “This is my beloved son”.
    All books in the Holy Scriptures teach that there is only One God of gods and that we only should praise this One and Only God Jehovah.

    On that aspect the Watchtower Society teaches Jehovah’s Witnesses and to others the right Biblical teaching: that Jesus is not Jehovah God. Only the Father is Jehovah God.

    • Thank you for your input. I follow your position that view Jehovah to be the Father only. The early Church ca. 30-250, before Arius, understood that the the Father, Son of God, and Holy Spirit to be distinct persons(center of consciousnesses’) of the one and only Jehovah.

      Clement of Alexandria, commenting on 1 John 1:1 for example contended “the Son of God, who being, by equality of substance, one with the Father, is eternal and uncreate[d]”. and Ignatius(ca.30-107 A.D) in Letter To Rome:” For our God Jesus Christ, being in the Father, is the more plainly visible.”(3:3) and as in Acts 20:28, he, in Letter To Ephesians chapter 1, wrote:”Being the followers of God, and stirring up yourselves by the blood of God, ye have perfectly accomplished the work which was beseeming to you” and in chapter 7: “here is one Physician who is possessed both of flesh and spirit; both made and not made; God existing in flesh; true life in death; both of Mary and of God; first possible and then impossible,— even Jesus Christ our Lord”

      Early Christians did not have problem on how Jesus as God died. Example Tertullian(c. 160 – c. 225 AD) in De Carne Christi rhetorically asked “Was not God really crucified? And, having been really crucified, did He not really die? And, having indeed really died, did He not really rise again? Falsely did Paul “determine to know nothing amongst us but Jesus and Him crucified;” falsely has he impressed upon us that He was buried; falsely inculcated that He rose again.” and “For which is more unworthy of God, which is more likely to raise a blush of shame, that God should be born, or that He should die? that He should bear the flesh, or the cross? be circumcised, or be crucified? be cradled, or be coffined? be laid in a manger, or in a tomb? Talk of “wisdom!””.

      Tertullian, recapitulated the belief of early Church understanding of two natures displayed in the person of Christ Jesus as God and man “in one respect born, in the other unborn, in one respect fleshly in the other spiritual; in one sense weak in the other exceeding strong; in one sense dying, in the other living. This property of the two states—the divine and the human—is distinctly asserted with equal truth of both natures alike, with the same belief both in respect of the Spirit and of the flesh. The powers of the Spirit, proved Him to be God, His sufferings attested the flesh of man”

      Jesus as a man died on the Roman’s mode of criminal death (depending on whether it was Greek-speaking Romans then it was in a X-shaped and if Latin-speaking then it was a T-shaped according to historical data) Following the Alexamenos Graffito, T shaped is Historically more plausible.

      The Watchtower Society teachings echoes Arius teachings which were rejected as not reflecting Scripture and early Church understanding of the one and Only Jehovah God.

  3. Zande,

    You must have put me on ignore, because I am unable to reply to any of your comments. However, I will still respond.

    This 33,000 number which you proposed earlier is actually a number postulated from Roman Catholic resources, which is the alleged number of “denominations” that the Protestant Reformation has given birth to. This myth has been debunked for quite sometime now, more recently by White (http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/index.php?itemid=2218).

    In attempt to “prove” yourself, of all places, you run to… Wikipedia. Because Wikipedia is always reliable (*smile and nod*). This must be some of that advanced “research” that you advise of. What is lacking from the article is that while the Center of the Study of Global Christianity does suggest that there are approximately 41,000 denominations, this statistic also takes into consideration cultural distinctions of denominations in different countries, so there is an overlapping of many denominations.

    With that said, the precise number of denominations is of little importance. There are certainly going to be differences between denominations, but the number of differences in no way outnumbers or outweighs those things held in common. The vast majority of denominations adhere to a number of the very same doctrinal truths… most of the differentiations are of minute importance, and in most situations, are of no salvific importance.

    In attempt to “poke fun,” your ignorance has in turn handed you your own. That must suck.

  4. Great post, Prayson. Thanks for addressing JW arguments sometimes. I am currently interacting with a JW that I work with. It is interesting within the Watch Tower publication quoted above how badly they twist the “ONLY begotten Son” to indicate that Jehovah had no partner (?) in bringing Jesus forth. And quickly refer to the “only begotten Son” as the “FIRST begotten son.” As if “only” and “first of many” were not mutually exclusive!

    They make the argument that a son, must be preceded by his father, but that is an argument from creaturely nature back to divine nature that breaks down. Human sons have a beginning because they share their father’s nature, and he also is human and had a beginning. Human fathers always precede their sons. But Jesus, the only BEGOTTEN Son of God, shares His father’s nature. If He did not share His Father’s nature completely, then he could still be a creation, but not a begotten son. We begat after our own nature, as the genealogies throughout the Bible so clearly demonstrate.

  5. Pingback: Growing closer to God | Eldie's Life with the Lord

    • Prayson,

      When speaking with JW’s I have argued this very point. In addition, I have also argued that whenever arch (“Beginning”) is applied to an individual throughout Scripture, it speaks to the individual’s authority, or in the case of the John’s apocalyptic literature, their Deity and role as the source of creation (see Revelation 21.6, 22.13). This of course certainly makes the most sense considering the prologue of John’s gospel, as well as the interchangeable language John uses of Christ throughout the epistle. When John speaks of Christ as “the First and the Last” (Revelation 1.17, 2.8, 22.13 [c.f. Isaiah 41.4]), he does not mean anything substantially different from “the Alpha and the Omega” or “the Beginning and the End,” it is simply sequentially alphabetically expressing the same thing that was expressed sequentially numerically and sequentially temporally. Never does the Apostle, when applying this term to an individual, does arch refer to a “first part in a series” so to speak, nor do any of the authors of the NT use it in such a way when applying this term to persons — to insist that it does so here is irregular.

      As the One through whom all things which have “come into being” have their place in existence (John 1.3, “All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being”), it can rightfully be said of Christ that He is “the Alpha and the Omega” (Rev. 22.13a), “the First and the Last” (Rev. 1.17, 2.8, 22.13b), “the Beginning and the End” (Rev. 3.14, 22.13c). All of creation originated “in” Him, came into existence “through” Him, and was made “for” Him (Colossians 1.15-16), both, the present age (Heb. 1.10-11, “In the beginning, Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth… they will perish, but you remain”), and the age to come (Heb. 1.3, “through whom also He made the ages” [c.f. Heb. 2.5]).

      From a historical perspective, in 106AD, Ignatius of Antioch wrote a letter to one of the very same audiences that the Apostle John wrote the Book of Revelation to: The Church of Ephesus (see Revelation 2). The Church of Ephesus was entrenched in Apostolic teaching, Timothy had died at Ephesus in the mid-80’s, the Apostle John had essentially retired at Ephesus around the year 101. And here in the year 106AD, approximately 10 years after the Book of Revelation was written, Ignatius of Antioch wrote to the Church of Ephesus,

      “For some are in the habit of carrying about the name [of Jesus Christ] in wicked guile, while yet they practise things unworthy of God, whom you must flee as you would wild beasts. For they are ravening dogs, who bite secretly, against whom you must be on your guard, inasmuch as they are men who can scarcely be cured. There is one Physician who is possessed both of flesh and spirit; both made and not made; God existing in flesh; true life in death; both of Mary and of God; first passible and then impassible — even Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Ignatius to the Ephesians, Chapter 7)

      The only viable option for the JW at this point would be to say that by 106AD, the Church of Ephesus was entrenched in apostasy.

    • The number you have proposed is laughable at best. Something tells me you’ve borrowed imaginative figures and arguments from Tim Staples, and Steve Ray.

Comments are closed.