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.
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.