Why Jehovah’s Witnessess Have a Difficult Time With John 1:1

anne marie

The Watchtower Organization prides itself as a whole on being “Biblical Experts,” able to quickly look up any number of scriptures in order to back up their organization’s teachings and their faith, but, oddly, when it comes to one of the most recognizable scriptures in all of Orthodox Christianity, the Jehovah’s Witnesses seem strangely reluctant to discuss this particular scripture, John 1: 1, even among themselves. And the reason becomes clearly apparent as to what the problem is when you take a closer look at the Jehovah’s Witnesses core belief system, namely, that there is “only one true God,” and that that “one true God” is none other than Jehovah God, Himself.The Jehovah’s Witnesses do not understand the most basic Christian understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ.  And this is by design.

Jehovah’s Witnesses do not understand that Jesus Christ is not “just a glorified angel named Michael,” or that He is OF God, brought forth from God, is of the same Divine Essense, or Quality as Almighty God, or that Jesus is quite literally “The Word of God,” or that God’s literal Word actually “became flesh and dwelt amoung us.”  (Hebrews 1:3,5,-6; John 8: 42; John 16:27-29; 17:6; Col. 2:9; Revelation 19:13; John 1:14 NWT)

The Jehovah’s Witnesses do not seem to understand that if the Watchtower really felt that it was so important to give them a “name” that would identify them as “true” Christians,” that it would seem fiiting, and would appear to have made more sense, to have named them “Witnesses of Jesus,” as per Jesus’ own words at Acts 1: 8, “…you will be witnesses of me in all of Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the most distant part of the earth.”

Rather than giving the Watchtower members (then known as “The International Bible Students”) the name, “Jehovah’s Witnesses,” as taken from Isaiah 43 :10, why weren’t they given the name, “Jesus’ Witnesses”? since Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that they alone are the only “TRUE Christians,” as The Watchtower continues to reiterate to their members. ..

Let’s take a look back at the beginnig of the modern day Watchtower Organization…

The early members of the Watchtower Organization were all Christians; all completely understood that their salvation lay in the loving, propitiatory sacrifice of Jehovah God’s Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ.  But after their leader, Charles Taze Russell died on a train in October (?) 1916,  Joseph Franklin Rutherford, the lawyer and resident legal council for the Watchtower from Missouri, “took steps to take over,” telling everyone at the Watchtower Headquarters at Bethel in Brooklyn, New York that if any of them had any problems with what he was doing, they could leave, and many of the original faithful did, Rutherford referring to these as “Evil Slaves” to the remaining Bethel Family, (Matt 24 : 48-50), saying that the departing ones just didn’t want to “serve shoulder to shoulder” with the rest of the Bethel Family. Yes, those faithful Christians who had served Jehovah God under Russel were heartbroken that their publishing company for God’s truth should become the object of a “Hostile Takeover.”  It was a very ugly time.

Slowly, every so slowly and methodically and cleverly, through his powerful talks at the many conventions to the Watchtower Faithful, and through his writings, Rutherford used his gift of persuasion and his talent for writing to turn out a seemingly never ending succession of  convincing “New Light” books in order to turn the organization’s focus away from the Jesus of the New Testament…the Jesus by whom we are saved, freed from sin, and freed from “the law of man” …back to the Old Testament; back to serving the vengeful God, Jehovah, who exacts punishment for disobedience, both from the rich and the poor; taking us all backwards!! as if the Old Testament…and the Mosaic Law of the Hebrew Scriptures…had not been fulfilled; as if Jesus and His sacrifice no longer had the power to save us sinners!

It now appears clear as to why Rutherford chose to bestow upon the Bible Students of those days the name, “Jehovah’s Witnesses” (later to have the word, “Christian,” inserted after Jehovah).

If followers of the Watchtower knew that their real salvation and the gift of eternal life lay in their following Christ, how, then, could the Watchtower gain and ever hope to maintain, complete control over their members??

The “Name Change” came at a crucial time. It was 1931, after several Armageddon prophecies had failed...the last one being in the Fall of 1925…and as so many members had been leaving…fed up with being disappointed in “The Truth” that never really seemed to come “true”… and as the numbers of the Watchtower Faithful had been on a steady decline, Rutherford realized that he would have to do something to put life back into those faithful who still remained, and so it was at the Summer Convention of 1931 that THE NAME, “Jehovah’s Witnesses,” was announced, bringing tears of joy to the tired Watchtower faithful, to those who continued to hope that Jehovah God would give them a sign that He really did approve of them; a sign that they really were in “God’s” organization.

(It was a brilliant move…a true stroke of genious! for if Watchtower followers were “Jehovah’s” witnesses, how could they ever think to look to Jesus as their true King? their only Savior? their Redeemer? their Shepherd?  How, then, could they ever think of themselves as “Jesus’ Witnesses”? no matter what Jesus said to His followers at Acts 1:8!!)

As new converts came into the Watchtower during those years of “The Great Change,” (1917-1941), they believed as “God’s Truth” whatever Rutherford was currently teaching…always presented to the rank and file as “New Light.”

Yes, anyone who joined the Watchtower Organization during the time period of “The Great Change” learned as “truth” directly from Rutherford’s prolific writings and his dictatorial and forceful speeches, and so as more of the “old timers” left, and as more and more of the rank and file came into the Watchtower Organization under Rutherford, believing HIS version of “God’s Truth,” it is not difficult to see how the Watchtower Organization came to be what it is today.

(It was Nathan Homer Knorr, known as “The Organizer,” who became the Watchtower’s President after the death of Rutherford in 1942; it was Knorr who turned the Watchtower into the rigid, well-run and finely-tuned “organizied” structure that Jehovah’s Witnesses know so well today.)

The Summer Convention in 1931 proved to be a great turning point in the the changing of the Watchtower as the remaining members of the Watchtower were overjoyed to finally have a NAME…a “special name” that made THEM, as Jehovah’s People, feel special. They were now JEHOVAH’S personal witnesses!!!  They felt a renewing of their strength, and they lifted up their weary heads, ready to march once again with assuredness and with renewed confidence in Jehovah God’s Door-to-Door Service to “find His sheep” before Armageddon came.

Of course, I think it is worthy to take note here of the fact that Jehovah God, Himself, never called His personally chosen people, The Israelites, by His name.

If Jehovah God had seen fit…if it was His will that HIS people be called, “Jehovah’s Witnesses,” why did He not, then, call The Israelites “Jehovah’s Witnesses”??

But Rutherford saw fit to take the scripture at Isaiah 43 :10 (where Jehovah God is simply saying that His people are His witnesses in a land of idol worshipping pagans) as a means and a method to gain an avenue by which he could now “turn” the Watchtower Followers to now concentrate on the “laws” and the “rules” and the “punishments” of the Old Testament, thus slowly and surely bringing the rank-and-file under ever more control, and away from and belief of “freedom in Christ.” “For such freedom Christ set us free.  Therefore stand fast, and do not let yourselves be confined again in a yoke of salvery.” (Galatians 5:1 NWT)

(See also Gal. 1: 7-8, 10-11; Gal. 2: 4-5, 21; Ro.10: 2-4, 9  NWT)

This is also why the “Dramas,” which the Watchtower Summer Conventions are so famous for, are almost always taken from the Old Testament; (usually about “Korah”) and why they are more often than not a story about some terrible punishment for some sin of disobediance, ending with the sounding of a “loud warning” to the trembling audience lest they think they can “get away with” any type of “disobedience” to “Jehovah’s” Organization.  (So Jehovah’s Witnesses had better be careful!!)

So where does this all, now, put Jesus?  Well, quite succinctly put, over the years of his campaign to “turn” the Watchtower Organization’s belief system backwards to the Old Testament, Rutherford brilliantly managed to “demote” Jesus to a now subserveant position; that of an “angel” named Michael the Archangel, and worse…and even more blasphemous, Jesus was now said by the Watchtower to have been a “creation” of God, when the scriptures plainly show that Jesus does not fit this Watchtower Description at all. (See Hebrews chapter one.)

So now how does John 1: 1 fit in with the Jehovah’s Witnesses??

The Watchtower changed nearly all the scriptures in God’s Holy Word that did not support their doctrines; changing them, sometimes ever so slightly, so as to convey a completely different thought or meaning entirely, again, to support their Watchtower Doctrine…and this is why they had to come up with their own translation.

Since it’s meaning is so clear, the scripture John 1: 1 caused the Watchtower particular trouble.  Let’s see why that was…

At John 1: 1 in the King James Version, we read, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

As this one inspired scripture makes clear, “The Word of God is God.”

Since this scripture does not support the Watchtower’s “demoting” of Jesus, the leaders of the Watchtower simply could not allow this scripture to stand on it’s own merit.

Because John 1:1 makes it so obvious that the Watchtower’s teaching that Jesus was merely an “angel,” a “creation,” not much more than a perfect “glorified servant” is FALSE, they chose, therefore, to make sure to change the wording of John 1: 1…just ever so slightly…to now read in their New World Translation Version as:

“In the beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.”

Did you catch that clever “slight of hand”?  Referring to God’s Word as “a” god?? and not just “a” god, but as a “little” god??  As opposed to Jehovah being a “Bigger” God??

If you try to ask any of Jehovah’s Witnesses about this, they will likely give you some excuse such as, “Well, Jehovah is Almighty God, and Jesus is just a “Mighty” god…as if this is an actual explanation. And if you push the issue, they are masterfully taught “scriptural gymnastics” by which they are able to “turn” the subject being discussed around completely.

If one were to simply look at Isaiah 43:10, and to then continue reading to the end of the book of Isaiah, one would find many scriptures where Jehovah God, Himself, makes it VERY clear that HE is “the one and only TRUE GOD.”

Isaiah 43:10, “…Before me there was no God formed, and after Me there continued to be none.” vs.11 “I-I am Jehovah, and besides Me there is no savior.” Isaiah 44:6, “…I am the first and I am the last, and besides Me there is no God.” vs.8 “Does there exist a God besides Me? No. There is no Rock. I have recognized none.” (NWT)

Isaiah 45:5, “I am Jehovah, and there is no one else. With the exception of me there is no God.”

There are many more scriptures where Jehovah continues to make His point clear; that HE is The Only True God…also, if you will pay close attention to Isaiah, you can see where Jesus, (God’s Word, the promised coming Immanuel, or Savior), is referred to as God’s “arm,” and also as His “hand,” which is in keeping with the Biblical understanding that Jehovah God is the ONE TRUE GOD…which makes the Watchtower’s rendering of John 1:1 a lie and a blasphemy, and their teachings of the person of Jesus false.

At John 17: 3 Jesus refers to Jehovah God as “the only true God.” (NWT)

In just considering these scriptures, it seems quite plain that the Biblical teaching is in agreement:  There is ONLY ONE TRUE GOD.

It appears strange, therefore, that the Watchtower (which so loudly and adamantly claims to believe God’s Word as truth) should state as an undeniable fact that their particular version of God’s Word is “the most accurate.” So how is it then, that the Watchtower, who claims that they teach and believe that Jehovah God is the only “One True God,” should in their own translation of God’s Word make it clear that they actually believe in TWO True Gods??

Let each and every Jehovah’s Witness, loyal to the Watchtower Organization, bristle and balk at this claim, but then let them each understand, again, that it is by their own wording and rendering…yes, by their very ALTERING of God’s own Holy Word that they have virtually “painted themselves into a proverbial corner.”

If they claim that they believe in only ONE TRUE GOD, and at the same time insist that Jesus is “a” god, or a “lesser” or “little god,” then by their own teaching, Jesus must be a FALSE GOD!!

ONE true God means that there is only ONE.

You can’t have it both ways! It’s either one or the other; if there is only ONE of something, there can’t, then, be TWO.  You cannot have two of “only one” of anything.

If there is only One True God, and Jesus Is “a ” god, (which means Jesus is a second, “little” god), then Jesus must be a FALSE God!!

You just can’t have it both ways.

If we can understand that the Greek word for “was” in John 1:1 is the same word and has the same meaning in each case that it is used, and if we can understand that in Greek, the word for “was” denotes “past, continuous, action,” we can therefore properly read this scripture as follows:

“In the beginning the Word continuoulsy was, and the Word continuously was with God, and the Word continuously was God.”

To put it simply, Jesus is Jehovah God’s outward expression of His Word from the person of Himself in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ.

Jesus is quite literally “The Word of God” “brought forth from God,” not “created.”  He is OF God; He IS God.  (John 8: 42; John 16:27-29; John 17:6; Revelation 19:13  NWT)

There are two Greek words relating to proper Biblical understanding worth taking note of here.  One is “eisegesis,” and the other is “exegesis.”

Eisegesis” is the process of reading into a written passage of scripture something that just isn’t there…something the passage is not actually saying…and inserting a meaning that flows from a personal agenda, while “exegesis” means drawing from the passage the clearly intended meaning, keeping in mind the context of the particuar scripture, and looking to other scriptures on the same topic to broaden understanding or clarification, and of also being willing to look to legitimate and unbiased Bible commentaries for further understanding of what the Bible verse is actually saying.

When any religion or organization seeks to change God’s Word to “say” what it doesn’t actually “say” in order to support their own “doctrines of men,” which Jesus warned us about at Matt. 15: 9, that is “twisting” the Word of God. And that is wrong.

It is clear that if one sincerely wants to know the truth about God, then one would want to consider His Own Word, the Holy Bible, as their final scriptual authority, and not that of any religion, organization, and especially not any changing “doctrines of man.”

May God’s light shine ever upon you!

Note: January 30, 2011

Our site was just informed that the Watchtower has had in the works a publication dealing specifically on the scripture at John 1: 1, using much “reasoning,” (as one might expect), and presumably over “400 Scholarly References” to “prove” their long-standing position on their interpretation of this scripture.  This should prove to be an “enlightening” piece of work.

Anne Marie

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Author: Anne Marie