Stumper Questions for Jehovah’s Witnesses #28
The NWT translates Jn 1:1 as “… and the Word was WITH God, and the Word was a god”. How can the Word (Jesus) be “a god” if God says in Deut 32:39, “See now that I-I am he, and there are NO gods together WITH me …”?
First, the New World Translation of Jehovah’s Witnesses is not exactly unique in the way it translates John 1:1. The appendix of the New World Reference Bible lists six other Bibles in various languages that translate the verse similarly. For example, an American Translation by E.J. Goodspeed (1931) renders the verse: “And the word was divine.”
Taken in context Moses was not saying that other gods did not exist. He was emphasizing the fact that they in no way can compare or compete or defy Jehovah God. That’s why in the same verse Moses went on to write: “See now that I—I am he, and there are no gods apart from me. I put to death, and I make alive. I wound, and I will heal, and no one can rescue from my hand.”
In the previous verse Jehovah challenged the Israelites to make an accounting for the impotence of the gods worshipped by the peoples, asking: “Where are their gods, the rock in whom they sought refuge, who used to eat the fat of their sacrifices, to drink the wine of their drink offerings? Let them rise up and help you. Let them become your place of refuge.”
Again, the point is not that there are not superhuman entities that are worshipped as gods, it is that Jehovah is superior. Jehovah is the only true God. In fact, that is what Jesus himself called his heavenly Father in a prayer recorded in the 17th chapter of John. We should hope the Jesus is a faithful and true witness in this matter. And in his identifying his own Father as the only true God we may be certain that he did not consider himself to be such.
Elsewhere in the Scriptures God recognizes that there are those who are rightly called gods, but Jehovah is called “the God of gods.” Also, concerning those gods who were in competition with him for our worship, this is what Jehovah himself has said through his prophet, Jeremiah: “The gods that did not make the heavens and the earth will perish from the earth and from under these heavens.”
So, Jehovah does indeed acknowledged that there are other gods, and the irony is those other gods, themselves, will be forced to acknowledge that Jehovah truly is the God of gods.
But now consider the fact that in the first chapter of Hebrews Paul explained that Jesus is the exact image and representation of God. That being the case, would not that make Jesus a god? If, in all of his heavenly glory and power, he is exactly like Jehovah, then, obviously, Jesus possesses the very glory of God himself. How could he be considered to be anything but a god?
But unlike the would-be gods who are destined to pass into oblivion at the coming of Christ in Jehovah’s glory, foremost of which is Satan, the devil, whom the apostle Paul revealed to be the god of this world, Jesus does not covet what Jehovah has. He is certainly not opposed to God, as is Satan and his coterie of demon gods. Jesus is not vying for our worship apart from the role that Jehovah has assigned him as his vindicator. Since his being created in the beginning he has always been in complete harmony and unity with the true God – although in complete subjection to him. As Jesus testified when he was upon the earth he does nothing of his own initiative, but only what he has beheld his Father doing.
It is interesting that when Jesus was upon the earth and he confronted humans who were possessed by demons, the demons confessed him to be the son of God. Years later when Paul and Barnabas were preaching from city to city a girl possessed by a demon of divination followed them around for several days declaring that they were men of God preaching the good news. But the question is why would the enemies of God share in declaring the truth?
Apparently, it is so that their human agents may gain credibility, so as to insinuate themselves into the company of Christians in order to deceive and control.
The adversary ultimately succeeded in overreaching those who had strayed from the truth, so that by the fourth century the Roman Emperor, Constantine, succeeded in inserting himself into a position of authority over those who were elders of Christ’s congregation. In what was called the Council of Nicaea, Constantine declared that Jesus was the same substance as God. But that was just the beginning. This paved the way for Jesus and God to eventually be amalgamated into the mold of the pagan triad.
Obviously, the wicked god of this world whom Jesus identified as the father of the lie, has created an elaborate theological scheme to shove Jehovah in the background and exalt Jesus into his place, not for the glory of God, but in order to obscure the special relationship that exists between Jehovah and his unique Son.
While they may have succeeded in deceiving the masses the truth has prevailed, as Jesus assured us that it would. Jehovah’s Witnesses have been privileged to preach that truth. Those who are on the side of truth accept it.