Jesus and Jehovah (or Yahweh) and Jesus as the Word (Logos)

3. Responses to Jehovah's Witnesses

"As usual, Paul entered there and . . . discussed the Scriptures with them." -- Acts 17:2 (International Study Bible)

Excerpts from email exchange with a Jehovah's Witness

Watchtower Society interchange: Recently a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses and I exchanged a lot of e-mail messages about beliefs and doctrines. Here are the questions he asked and the responses I gave. In essence, this is a blog of our conversations. There will be some overlapping of material since the email conversation occasionally circled back to the same themes.

One of the sad things about our email exchanges is that my Jehovah's Witness friend rarely commented on my responses or asked me follow-up questions. So we had very few real "conversations" in which we discussed anything in-depth.

Jehovah's Witness question: Where in Scripture does it say that Jesus is the same as Jehovah?
My answer: Well, take a look at what Jesus said about Himself. Take a look at what was said about Him in Scripture. Here are some Bible passages that indicate Jesus was Yahweh incarnate:

What about Jesus' repeated use of "I AM" -- "I am the shepherd"; "I am the door"; "I am the truth"; "I am the way; I am the life; I am the vine; I am the resurrection and the life; I am the root and offspring of David, and the Bright Morning Star"? Would not each of those "I am" statements have reminded Jewish listeners of the "I AM" statement by God to Moses in the desert?

Jesus was crucified because the Jews understood him to be saying he was God. To them, that was blasphemy, and as a result, they engineered his crucifixion. His disciples understood what Jesus was saying as well. That's why they picked up the Old Testament Hebrew word Adonai, which is usually translated into English as "Lord," and used it for Jesus. The use of Lord as a title for Jesus when that same word is used a few hundred times in the Old Testament as a title for Yahweh makes a strong statement for Jesus' divinity.

In John 20:18 Mary Magdalene is quoted as saying, "I have seen the Lord." The Greek word she uses is "kurios," a word that clearly refers to God in Acts 7:31: "The voice of the Lord came to Moses."

Kurios is also the same word used for God in such passages as Philippians 4:5, 2 Corinthians 8:21, 1 Thessalonians 3:3, 2 Timothy 2:24, Hebrews 13:6, 1 Peter 1:25, 1 Peter 2:3, 2 Peter 3:9, James 1:7, James 4:10, and Revelation 4:11.

When Paul refers to Jesus over and over again as Lord (the same word in Exodus 3:35 which you quoted), it is clear that he understood Jesus to be saying He was God (for Paul, there is only "one Lord.").

In the 21st century, we can try to rationalize away the Early Christians' conviction that Jesus of Nazareth was God incarnate. However, it is clear that Jesus' followers used the title "Lord" for Him in the same way that they used "Lord" for God. In his writings, John especially emphasizes the deity of Christ. Sit down and read all the way through the Gospel of John and his three letters in one sitting. If you do that rather than just focusing on isolated phrases of Scripture, you will be able to see that John was intent on demonstrating that Jesus was indeed God.

Jehovah's Witness question: How could the Word be with God and be God at the same time? When you find a sensible answer to this question, let me know.
My answer: You've asked an excellent question. John 1:1 is one of the most finely crafted verses in the entire Bible. Try to put aside your theological lens for a moment and just look at how the verse is worded. See how its three phrases build to a climax. The first phrase of the verse proclaims the eternal pre-existence of the Word ("In the beginning was the Word"). The next phrase defines the relationship of the Word to God. Then the last phrase establishes that the essential nature of the Word is Deity ("The Word was God"). Verse two then comes back to state again the eternality of the Word -- such eternal pre-existence is, of course, a quality unique to God.

By looking at things written during Bible times by Greek and Jewish philosophers, we know that ancient writers used "the Word" to signify the Divine Mind. Wouldn't that mean God Himself? In fact, Philo, a well-known philosopher who lived during the time of Christ (approximately 20 B.C. to 50 A.D.), used logos (the Word) to mean the sum total of all Divine energies. It's no accident that John used that very same word -- logos (or "the Word"). When he uses logos, John is signaling to his readers that he is talking about the Creator Yahweh.

The potency of this Scripture verse does not come from the words with God or was God. This verse's power centers on John's use of "Word." To the ancient Greeks, logos (what we translate as "word") was not just speech or reason. Logos or "Word" was at the center of the Greek understanding of the existence of the universe. The logos could not be dated in time. The logos was what released creative and constructive forces. There's an echo of this in the verses of Genesis 1 which have God speaking the universe into existence ("And God said, Let there be . . .'"). This idea is what John picks up on and uses to demonstrate the eternal pre-existence of Jesus and to show that He was, in fact, the eternal Creator God.

Your question actually centers on the second phrase of that verse: "the Word was with God." Let's look at that phrase. The Greek preposition pros has some nuances that may not be fully communicated by our English word "with." What John was trying to say with his phrase "with God" is much more than merely "being near" or "beside."

As they read what John wrote, his original Greek-speaking readers would have understood the idea of living union in the phrase "with God." While readers of the English Bible may tend to think "with God" means physically "being near," John wrote that the divine Word not only lived with the Father from all eternity but was joined to the Father.

The chapter introduced by the words of John 1:1 declares three things about "the Word:"
  1. He who was in the beginning became in time.
  2. He who was eternally joined to the Father came and lived among human beings.
  3. He who was God became flesh.
All three of these thoughts are introduced in verse one and then are expanded upon by verse 14. As I have said, the wording of John 1:1 is finely crafted.
   Archangel Michael    |   Ascend  |    Begotten  |    Christ in us    |    Christmas  |    Control  |    Creator/created?    |    Cross or stake?    |    Communion/Evening meal    |   Divine essence    |   Forsaken?  |    God's name  |    God speaks today?    |   Headship  |    Heaven  |    Hell  |    Holy Spirit  |    Is Jesus God?   |    Jehovah/Yahweh    |    Jesus and His  father  |    Jesus as Lord and Savior?  |    Lord   |    Matthew 28   |    New Covenant   |    New World Translation    |   Original manuscripts    |   Pagan teaching    |   Paraclete  |    Praying   |    Present everywhere    |    Resurrection  |    Saved now?  |    Son of God    |   Soul  |    Trinity  |    With God  |    Women 

    -- Howard Culbertson,

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