Unfortunately, some Christians have come to believe that the Jehovah’s Witnesses is simply another Christian denomination—a denomination adhering to the basic doctrines of the Christian Faith, albeit with its own distinctives, like the Anglicans, the Baptists, the Assemblies of God and the Presbyterians.
An elder of an evangelical church told me some time ago that he fellowships with Jehovah’s Witnesses because they are fellow Christians and, as indicated in John 17, Jesus wants Christians to be united.
But the Jehovah’s Witnesses is not a Christian denomination, and Jehovah’s Witnesses themselves are not Christians, because their beliefs are not Christian. They speak, for example, of Jehovah and Jesus and the Holy Spirit, but what they mean by these names is not what the Bible means.
The following is a brief examination of Jehovah’s Witnesses teaching on God, Jesus and the Spirit. The points are reproduced from Justin Taylor’s article, “The 11 Beliefs You Should Know about Jehovah’s Witnesses When They Knock at the Door”, posted on The Gospel Coalition website:*
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the Trinity is unbiblical because the word is not in the Bible and because the Bible emphasises that there is one God.
Biblically, while it is true that there is only one God (Isa. 44:6; 45:18; 46:9; John 5:44; 1 Cor. 8:4; James 2:19), it is also true that three persons are called God in Scripture:
- the Father (1 Pet. 1:2),
- Jesus (John 20:28; Heb. 1:8), and
- the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3-4).
Each of these three possesses the attributes of deity—including
- omnipresence (Ps. 139:7; Jer. 23:23-24; Matt. 28:20),
- omniscience (Ps. 147:5; John 16:30; 1 Cor. 2:10-11),
- omnipotence (Jer. 32:17; John 2:1-11; Rom. 15:19), and
- eternality (Ps. 90:2; Heb. 9:14; Rev. 22:13).
Still further, each of the three is involved in doing the works of deity—such as creating the universe:
- the Father (Gen. 1:1; Ps. 102:25),
- the Son (John 1:3; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:2), and
- the Holy Spirit (Gen. 1:2; Job 33:4; Ps. 104:30).
The Bible indicates that there is three-in-oneness in the Godhead (Matt. 28:19; cf. 2 Cor. 13:14).
Thus doctrinal support for the Trinity is compellingly strong.
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jesus was created by Jehovah as the archangel Michael before the physical world existed, and is a lesser, though mighty, god.
Biblically, however, Jesus is eternally God (John 1:1; 8:58; cf. Ex. 3:14) and has the exact same divine nature as the Father (John 5:18; 10:30; Heb. 1:3).
Indeed, a comparison of the OT and NT equates Jesus with Jehovah (compare Isa. 43:11 with Titus 2:13; Isa. 44:24 with Col. 1:16; Isa. 6:1-5 with John 12:41).
Jesus himself created the angels (Col. 1:16; cf. John 1:3; Heb. 1:2, 10) and is worshiped by them (Heb. 1:6).
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that when Jesus was born on earth, he was a mere human and not God in human flesh.
This violates the biblical teaching that in the incarnate Jesus, “the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily” (Col. 2:9; cf. Phil. 2:6-7).
The [Greek] word for “fullness” carries the idea of the sum total. “Deity” refers to the nature, being, and attributes of God.
Therefore, the incarnate Jesus was the sum total of the nature, being, and attributes of God in bodily form.
Indeed, Jesus was Immanuel, or “God with us” (Matt. 1:23; cf. Isa. 7:14; John 1:1, 14, 18; 10:30; 14:9-10).
The Holy Spirit
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the Holy Spirit is an impersonal force of God and not a distinct person.
Biblically, however, the Holy Spirit has the three primary attributes of personality:
- a mind (Rom. 8:27),
- emotions (Eph. 4:30), and
- will (1 Cor. 12:11).
Moreover, personal pronouns are used of him (Acts 13:2). Also, he does things that only a person can do, including:
- teaching (John 14:26),
- testifying (John 15:26),
- commissioning (Acts 13:4),
- issuing commands (Acts 8:29), and
- interceding (Rom. 8:26).
The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity (Matt. 28:19).
In short, the Jehovah’s Witnesses are not Christians because they wilfully reject and zealously oppose the foundational biblical teachings of the Christian Faith. Most seriously, they deny that: God is one Being in three Persons, the Father-Son-Spirit Trinity; Jesus Christ is God incarnate, fully human and fully divine; and the Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Godhead, in intimate eternal fellowship with the other two Persons.
In closing, permit me to make a further comment on the church elder I mentioned in my opening paragraphs. The outcome of this elder’s fellowshipping with Jehovah’s Witnesses is that he no longer believes in the deity of Jesus Christ, the deity of the Holy Spirit and the triune nature of God.
However, although he now denies the Incarnation, I am not sure that he has yet swallowed the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ claim that Jesus was the archangel Michael before he came to earth as a man. But give him time. For while bad companions corrupt good morals and false teachers corrupt sound doctrines, their corrupting influence is usually gradual and cumulative.
The ruin of this elder’s faith has come about because he made the mistake of thinking that Jehovah’s Witnesses are Christian brothers with whom to worship rather than Christian pretenders with whom to be on guard.
In his second inspired letter, the Apostle John declares that “many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh”. Concerning these deniers of the Incarnation (with all its implications for both the deity and the humanity of Jesus), John warns, “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting”.
There may sometimes be a case for courteously debating with Jehovah’s Witnesses when they come knocking, but there is never a case for spiritually fellowshipping with them. They are deceivers and should never be mistaken for brothers. John explains that “whoever greets [them] takes part in [their] wicked works”. Indeed, as the sad case of the elder illustrates, the Christian who welcomes them first succumbs to their wicked works, then he takes part in them by disseminating them to other Christians.
* Read the full text of Justin Taylor’s article “The 11 Beliefs You Should Know about Jehovah’s Witnesses When They Knock at the Door” here: www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justin-taylor/the-11-beliefs-you-should-know-about-jehovahs-witnesses-when-they-knock-at-the-door/