6. Questions posed to me by a Jehovah's Witness

Bible translation issues and is Jesus God Himself or the archangel Michael?

"As usual, Paul entered there and . . . discussed the Scriptures with them." -- Acts 17:2

Excerpts from email interchange with a Jehovah's Witness

Jehovah's Witness question: Don't you believe this way simply because that's the way you were brought up?
My answer: I am saddened that you think I believe what I believe simply because I grew up surrounded by others believing this way. I made, and I continue to make, a conscious decision to accept the Biblical assertion that Jesus is God come in human form to deliver the human race. That decision to invite Christ into my life and to make Him Lord has made a radical difference.
Jehovah's Witness question: If Jesus was God, how could God have raised him from the dead? That doesn't make sense.
My answer: It's not a problem for me to say that God raised Jesus from the dead any more than it's a problem for me to say that God created the universe out of nothing. It's difficult for us to get our human minds around that. However, just because I don't totally understand something doesn't mean that it's not so.

I don't totally understand electricity, but that doesn't keep me from asking the electric company to hook up my house to their power lines. I don't understand how cell phones work, but that doesn't make me sit here saying, "They're an illusion; it cannot be."

One of the things the early Greek "fathers" of the church can teach us is that sometimes we just need to stand in awe of God rather than feeling we have to figure out everything. Those early church leaders were not governed by the rationalism that later overwhelmed the Western church during the Enlightenment period and has caused western Christians to be proposition- or doctrine-oriented rather than worship-oriented.
Jehovah's Witness question: Who do you think the archangel Michael is, according to Daniel 10:13, 21, Daniel 12:1, Jude 9 and 1 Thessalonians 4:16? Did you know that Jesus is the archangel Michael?
My answer:The archangel Michael is simply who the Bible says he is. He is the archangel Michael. There's not a single verse of scripture that says the archangel Michael is Jesus Christ.

"To which of the angels did God ever say, 'Sit at my right hand'?" -- Hebrews 1:13. Jesus could not therefore be the archangel Michael because scripture does say that Jesus will sit at the right hand of God the Father.

"It was not to angels that he has subjected the world to come" -- Hebrews 2:5. You asked me where the Bible says that angels will not judge the world. Here it is. Because the Archangel Michael is an angel, he could not be the Ruler of the world, could he? Since Scripture says Jesus is to be the Judge and ruler, he cannot be the Archangel.

I like the way Ken Taylor puts Hebrews 1:14 in his paraphrased Living Bible: "The angels are only spirit-messengers sent out to help and care for those who are to receive his salvation." Angels do accomplish specific tasks for Yahweh, but they do not and will not "judge" the world. That's very clear from a reading of chapters one and two of Hebrews.

Now, as to who Jesus Christ is, here are scriptures that clearly identify Him as God:
Jehovah's Witness question: Why are you so critical of the New World Translation of the Bible? Isn't it superior to other translations because it uses the real name of God whereas the others do not? Don't you agree that it stays close to the original Greek?
My answer: As to your comment that the New World Translation is the only Bible that has God's real name in it: That is not true. Who gave you that false information? If you are talking about the name "Jehovah," did you not know that the classic King James Version from 1611 uses Jehovah in passages in Genesis, Exodus, Judges, Psalms and Isaiah? An updated version of that called The 21st Century King James Version uses Jehovah in those same passages. The American Standard Version uses Jehovah 5822 times. Young's Literal Translation uses Jehovah 5787 times. Darby's Translation uses Jehovah 5791 times. The Third Millennium Bible and the Webster Bible both use Jehovah.

A very contemporary English translation or paraphrase called The Message uses Yahweh in several places. The Holman Christian Standard Bible uses Yahweh 611 times. The Hebrew Names Version of the World English Bible uses Yahweh 5,795 times. The Bible in Basic English uses Yahweh.

One reason I'm critical of the New World Translation is because its peculiar wording of John 1:1 -- "and the Word was a god" -- is used to support the position that Jesus was not God Himself come in human flesh.

How did "a god" get in John 1? None of the English translations I've looked at -- including King James, New King James, Revised Standard, New English Bible, Living Bible, New International Version, Amplified Bible -- have an "a" in front of God in the last phrase of John 1:1. The Greek grammatical construction and word order all cause them to say: "and the Word was God."

I speak a few other languages and so looked in my Italian Bible. It says: "La parola era Dio" (the Word was God). A more contemporary Italian translation follows an almost word-for-word progression with the Greek: "Dio era il Verbo" (God was the Word).

I looked in a French Bible. It says: "La Parole etait Dieu" (the Word was God). I looked in the Spanish. It says: "El Verbo era Dios" (the Word was God). I looked in the Haitian Creole. It says: "La Parol te Bon-Dieu"(the Word was God).

What we have in John 1 is a thought that builds toward a climax. John intends to show that Jesus is God incarnate. Proving the deity of Christ seems to be a principal reason John wrote this gospel as well as his letters. Thus, rather than telling a birth story as do Matthew and Luke, John starts with the external pre-existence of Jesus. In his first chapter, John uses words and phrases that clearly are intended to remind us of Genesis 1. John seems eager to make sure his readers see the connection between Jesus and God. So, he builds in his wording toward a climax: "And the Word was God."

Now, to return to the idea that the New World Translation is superior to other English translations because it uses the "real" name of God whereas they do not: I assume you are referring to the word Jehovah. Jehovah, of course, may not be the right Hebrew word; Yahweh most likely is. Therefore, hasn't the argument that we must use the proper name of God backfired on the Jehovah's Witnesses because they aren't really using God's exact name? Aren't they actually mispronouncing it?

It also puzzles me that the word Jehovah appears more than 200 times in the New Testament portion of the New World Translation. Even if the correct Hebrew Yahweh were used, using it would, however, still be incorrect because that particular Hebrew word does not appear in any New Testament Greek manuscript. What is written in Greek is kurios or Lord. So, if the New World editors were doing their job correctly, they would have used the word "Lord" when kurios appears. Or, shouldn't they have been consistent and used Jehovah whenever kurios appears in the Greek New Testament as a title for Jesus? Otherwise, doesn't it seem like they were simply making sure the translation "fits" a pre-determined doctrinal belief ?

You are right. The New World Translation is "close" to the original Greek. It's just not faithful to it. I want a translation that is faithful. I don't want one that's just "close." Wasn't it professional baseball player and manager Frank Robinson who said, "Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades"? 🙂
   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 

Watchtower Society interchange: Recently a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses and I exchanged a lot of email messages about beliefs and doctrines. Here are questions he asked and 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 similar themes.

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

    -- Howard Culbertson,

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