[Above: John 5:18 in "New World translation of the Holy Scriptures," Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of New York: Brooklyn NY, Third revision with footnotes, 1971, p.1115:
"On this account, indeed, the Jews began seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath but HE WAS ALSO CALLING GOD HIS OWN FATHER, MAKING HIMSELF EQUAL TO GOD" (my capitals here and below).
This is one of those verses in the New Testament which state that Jesus is God (i.e. has the same God nature as the Father) that the Watchtower did not translate out, e.g. by "making himself equal to a god" (as it did in Jn 1:1; 10:33 and 19:7), probably because it would be so obviously ridiculous. So here the Watchtower correctly states that Jesus was "making himself equal to God" the Father! See below.]
are bold to distinguish them from mine.
>As with TJ, I believe that Jesus is the son of God not that he is God.
That Jesus is the "Son of God" means that He is God by nature:
Php 2:5-6. "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being IN VERY NATURE GOD, did not consider EQUALITY WITH GOD something to be grasped,"
"The fact that Jesus is called the `Son of God' proves that He has the same divine nature as the Father":
"However ... the fact that Jesus is called the `Son of God' proves that He has the same divine nature as the Father. ... Ancient Semitics and Orientals used the phrase `son of ...' to indicate likeness or sameness of nature and equality of being. Hence, when Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, His Jewish contemporaries fully understood that He was making a claim to be God in an unqualified sense. ... from the earliest days of Christianity, the phrase `Son of God' was understood to be fully equivalent to God. This is why when Jesus made His claim, the Jews insisted, `We have a law, and according to that law he [Christ] must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God' (John 19:7, insert mine). Recognizing that Jesus was identifying Himself as God, the Jews wanted to put Him to death for committing blasphemy (see Leviticus 24:16)." (Rhodes, R., 1993, "Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Jehovah's Witnesses," Harvest House: Eugene OR, Reprinted, 2006, pp.242-243. Emphasis original).
That is because "the phrase `son of...' meant among the ancients. ... the ... meaning `of the order of':
"Jesus: The Eternal Son of God. The notion that the title Son of God indicates inferiority to the Father is based on a faulty conception of what the phrase `son of...' meant among the ancients. Though the term can refer to `offspring of' in some contexts, it actually carries the more important meaning `of the order of.' The phrase is often used that way in the Old Testament. For example, `sons of the prophets' meant `of the order of prophets' (1 Kings 20:35). `Sons of the singers' meant `of the order of singers' (Nehemiah 12:28). Likewise, the phrase `Son of God' means `of the order of God,' and represents a claim to undiminished deity. Ancient Semitics and Orientals used the phrase `son of ...' to indicate likeness or sameness of nature and equality of being. Hence, when Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, His Jewish contemporaries fully understood that He was making a claim to be God in an unqualified sense." (Rhodes, 1993, pp.242-243. Emphasis original).
"Jesus was ... God's Son by nature":
"First, Jesus made it clear that the Father was his God in a unique manner compared with the manner in which the Father is our God. Thus, in John 20:17 Jesus stated, `I am ascending to my Father and YOUR Father and to my God and YOUR God' (NWT). Why did Jesus not simply say, `I am ascending to our Father and our God'? In fact, Jesus never spoke of the Father as `our Father,' including himself along with his disciples. (In Matt. 6:9 Jesus told the disciples that they should pray, `Our Father...,' but did not include himself in that prayer.) Jesus was careful to distinguish the two relationships, because he was God's Son by nature, whereas Christians are God's `sons' by adoption." (Bowman, R.M., Jr. , 1989, "Why You Should Believe in the Trinity: An Answer to Jehovah's Witnesses," Baker: Grand Rapids MI, Third printing, 1990, p.72).
"Jesus was ... the `one and only' ... Son of God who had come from the Father .... who shared his nature ... Unique sonship implies deity":
"As elsewhere in John, the title ho uios tou theou [the Son of God], which is in apposition to ho christos [the Christ] in John 20:31, denotes more than simply the Davidic Messiah. The Gospel was written to produce belief that Jesus was the promised Jewish Messiah and that this Messiah was none other than the `one and only' [monogenes] Son of God who had come from the Father (John 11:42; 17:8), who shared his nature (John 1:1, 18; 10:30) and fellowship (John 1:18; 14:11), and who therefore might appropriately be addressed and worshiped as ho theos mou [my God, lit. the God of me]. Unique sonship implies deity (John 5:18; cf. 19:7)." (Harris, M.J., 1992, "Jesus As God: The New Testament Use of Theos in Reference to Jesus," Baker: Grand Rapids MI, Reprinted, 1998, pp.124-125. Translations and transliterations mine).
"The designation `Son of God' is a metaphysical designation and tells us what He is in His being of being. ... He is just what God is ... `Son of God was equivalent simply to equal with God'":
"The other designation-'the Son of God'-which Paul prefixes to this in his fundamental declaration concerning the Christ that he preached, supplies the basis for this. It does not tell us what Christ is to us, but what Christ is in Himself. In Himself He is the Son of God; and it is only because He is the Son of God in Himself, that He can be and is our Lord. The Lordship of Christ is rooted by Paul, in other words, not in any adventitious circumstances connected with His historical manifestation; not in any powers or dignities conferred on Him or acquired by Him; but fundamentally in His metaphysical nature. The designation `Son of God' is a metaphysical designation and tells us what He is in His being of being. And what it tells us that Christ is in His being of being is that He is just what God is. It is undeniable ... that, from the earliest days of Christianity on, (in Bousset's [Bousset, D.W., 1913, Kyrios Christos] words) `Son of God was equivalent simply to equal with God' (Mark xiv. 61-63; John x. 31-39)." (Warfield, B.B., 1970, "The Person and Work of Christ," Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing Co: Philadelphia PA, p.77).
"By the unique relationship which he [Jesus] was declaring existed between himself and `the Father,' he was making himself "equal ... with God":
"But perhaps his most emphatic claim to equality with the Father comes in 5:23 when he makes one's honoring of `the Father' turn on the issue of whether one honors `the Son,' that is, Jesus himself. With these words Jesus laid claim to the right to demand, equally with the Father, the honor (that is, the devotion and worship) of men! Is it any wonder, given the assumption of the religious leaders concerning him (that is, that he was only a man) that they thought him, under Jewish law (see Lev 24:16), to be worthy of death? By the unique relationship which he was declaring existed between himself and "the Father," he was making himself "equal [ison] with God" (5:18)." (Reymond, R.L., 2003, "Jesus, Divine Messiah: The New Testament and Old Testament Witness," , Mentor: Fearn UK, p.230).
The Jewish religious leaders correctly understood Jesus' claim that God was uniquely His Father (i.e. that Jesus is uniquely the Son of God) as Him claiming essential equality with God the Father:
Jn 5:17-18 . Jesus said to them, "My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working." For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, MAKING HIMSELF EQUAL WITH GOD.
Jn 10:30-33 . "I AND THE FATHER ARE ONE." Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, "I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?" "We are not stoning you for any of these," replied the Jews, "but FOR BLASPHEMY, BECAUSE YOU, a mere man, CLAIM TO BE GOD."
Note that the Watchtower's own New World Translation admits that Jesus' "calling God his own Father" is "making himself equal to God" (see above)!:
Jn 5:17-18 NWT. But he answered them: "My Father has kept working until now, and I keep working." On this account, indeed, the Jews began seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath but HE WAS ALSO CALLING GOD HIS OWN FATHER, MAKING HIMSELF EQUAL TO GOD.
The "Jewish religious leadership correctly perceived that" Jesus "was claiming a Sonship with God of such a nature that it constituted .... equality with God and thus, from their perspective, was the committing of blasphemy deserving death":
"Jesus claimed by his `Son' sayings essential divine oneness with God in the Synoptic Gospels in Matthew 11:27 (Luke 10:22); 21:37-38 (Mark 12:6; Luke 20:13); 24:36 (Mark 13:32); and 28:19; and in the Gospel of John in (at least) 5:1 7-29; 6:40; 10:36; 11:4; 14:13; 17:1. To these must be added those instances in the Fourth Gospel when he claimed that God was his Father in such a unique sense that the Jewish religious leadership correctly perceived that he was claiming a Sonship with God of such a nature that it constituted essential divine oneness and equality with God and thus, from their perspective, was the committing of blasphemy deserving death (John 5:17-18; 10:24-39, especially verses 25, 29, 30, 32-33; 37, 38; see also 19:7)." (Reymond, 2003, pp.202-203).
That was why the Jewish religious leaders had Jesus executed, because His claim to be "the Son of God" was regarded by them as "blasphemy" and "worthy of death" :
Mt 26:63-66 . But Jesus remained silent. The high priest said to him, "I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, THE SON OF GOD." "YOU HAVE SAID SO," Jesus replied. ... Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, "HE HAS SPOKEN BLASPHEMY! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?" "HE IS WORTHY OF DEATH," they answered.
Mk 14:61-64. But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer. Again the high priest asked him, "ARE YOU the Christ, THE SON OF THE BLESSED ONE?" "I AM," SAID JESUS. ... The high priest tore his clothes. "Why do we need any more witnesses?" he asked. "You have heard THE BLASPHEMY. What do you think?" They all CONDEMNED HIM AS WORTHY OF DEATH.
Lk 22:70-23:1. They all asked, "ARE YOU THEN THE SON OF GOD?" He replied, "YOU SAY THAT I AM." Then they said, "Why do we need any more testimony? WE HAVE HEARD IT FROM HIS OWN LIPS." Then the whole assembly rose and LED HIM OFF TO PILATE.
Jn 19:6-7 . As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, "Crucify! Crucify!" But Pilate answered, "You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him." The Jews insisted, "We have a law, and ACCORDING TO THAT LAW HE MUST DIE, because he CLAIMED TO BE THE SON OF GOD."
"This is why, when Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, the Jews insisted, `We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God'":
"Warfield affirms that, from the earliest days of Christianity, the phrase `Son of God' was understood to be fully equivalent to God. [Warfield, B.B., 1950, "The Person and Work of Christ,"p.77] This is why, when Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, the Jews insisted, `We have a law, and according to that law he [Christ] must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God' (John 19:7). Recognizing that Jesus was identifying Himself as God, the Jews wanted to put Him to death for committing blasphemy (see Leviticus 24:16)." (Rhodes, 1993, pp.242-243).
But the only grounds in the Law for executing a blasphemer is in Leviticus 24:16, where "anyone who blasphemes the name of the LORD must be put to death":
Lev 24:16. anyone WHO BLASPHEMES THE NAME OF THE LORD MUST BE PUT TO DEATH. The entire assembly must stone him. Whether an alien or native-born, when HE BLASPHEMES THE NAME, HE MUST BE PUT TO DEATH.
Jesus "at his trial ... when he acknowledged that he was the `Son of God' ... his judges accused him of blasphemy worthy of death ... the basis of which judgment Jesus made no attempt to repudiate":
"More can be said-a great deal more-in favor of Jesus' claim, as the Messiah, to deity. ... he claimed as well to be the Son of God, not in an ethico-religious, in an official or functional, or in a nativistic sense of the title, but in what the church would later come to describe as the Sonship of the intra-trinitarian relation denoting essential oneness and sameness with the Father. This was clearly the case at his trial, for when he acknowledged that he was the `Son of God' (or `Son of the Blessed'), his judges accused him of blasphemy worthy of death (Matt 26:65-68; Mark 14:63-64; Luke 22:71), the basis of which judgment Jesus made no attempt to repudiate." (Reymond, 2003, p.202).
"Jesus' opponents here state explicitly that, by `blasphemy,' they mean that Jesus is in some way claiming to be God ":
"In John's Gospel, opponents of Jesus threatened to stone him for blasphemy, explaining, `Because you, though only a human being, are making yourself God' (John 10:33). In this instance, Jesus' opponents here state explicitly that, by `blasphemy,' they mean that Jesus is in some way claiming to be God. In context, Jesus has just claimed to do his works in the name of the Father (v. 25), to be the Shepherd of the sheep (vv. 26-27), to give eternal life to them (v. 28), and to prevent anyone from snatching them out of his hand, just as the Father does (vv. 28-29; cf. Deut. 32:39). He then concludes that, in asserting these divine prerogatives, he is claiming, `The Father and I are one' (John 10:30). It is not hard to see how Jesus' opponents drew the conclusion they did. Clearly, they understood Jesus to be claiming to do things that only God' can do." (Bowman, R.M., Jr. & Komoszewski, J.E., 2007, "Putting Jesus In His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ," Kregel: Grand Rapids MI, p.239).
"Thus ... when the Jews say Jesus claimed to be `the Son of God,' they ... mean that Jesus claimed to be ... God's `Son' in a sense that made him ... on a par with God " which is why "they regarded his claim to be God's Son ... to be blasphemy":
"John reports that when Pilate told the Sanhedrin that he had no grounds to crucify Jesus, they replied, `We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has claimed to be the Son of God' (John 19:7). This statement recalls both John 5:17-18-where Jesus' claim to work on the Sabbath just as his Father implies a claim to be uniquely God's divine Son-and John 10:28-33, where Jesus' statement that he and the Father are one provoked an explicit accusation of blasphemy. Thus, in John 19:7, when the Jews say Jesus claimed to be `the Son of God,' they clearly mean that Jesus claimed to be divine, God's `Son' in a sense that made him functionally on a par with God. In short, their reason for wanting Jesus dead remained consistent from John 5 through John 8 and 10 all the way to John 19: they regarded his claim to be God's Son-uniquely like him in his prerogatives, attributes, and works-to be blasphemy." (Bowman, 2007, p.240).
"With him [Paul] ... the maxim rules that whatever the father is, that the son is also: every father begets his son in his own likeness. The Son of God is necessarily to him just God, and he does not scruple to declare this Son of God all that God is (Phil. ii. 6; Col. ii. 9) and even to give him the supreme name of `God over all' (Rom. ix. 5)." (Warfield, 1970, pp.77-78).
>I do all things for the glory of God through Jesus Christ.
But "Jesus Christ" to JWs is merely "Michael the Archangel:
"Who Is Michael the Archangel? ... the Bible indicates that Michael is another name for Jesus Christ, before and after his life on earth." (WB&TS, 2005, "What Does the Bible Really Teach?," Watchtower Bible & Tract Society: Brooklyn NY, p.218. Emphasis original).
Therefore, as I pointed out in part #1, the JW "Christ" is a false Christ.
Indeed, the Watchtower Society itself has become for JWs "a corporate false Christ obeyed as master and looked to for salvation":
"Sing Praises to Jehovah, 1984 Musically the book of 225 songs released in 1984 differs from earlier versions in that it provides notations for guitar. But more significant is the different doctrinal emphasis commented on in the Watchtower Society's book Revelation-Its Grand Climax At Hand!,In the songbook produced by Jehovah's people in 1905, there were twice as many songs praising Jesus as there were songs praising Jehovah God. In their 1928 songbook, the number of songs extolling Jesus was about the same as the number extolling Jehovah. But in the latest songbook of 1984, Jehovah is honored by four times as many songs as is Jesus.This comment reveals that Watchtower leaders are well aware that the organization's doctrinal shifts over the years have made it far less Christ centered, and that this changed emphasis is reflected in its songs of worship. But what the quotation fails to reveal is that the shift away from Jesus Christ has been accompanied by a growing emphasis on the organization, which itself takes on the role of a corporate false Christ obeyed as master and looked to for salvation. Hints of this can be found in a number of the newer songs. For example, song number 8 in the 1984 book is titled `Loyally Submitting to Theocratic Order,' and its third and final stanza beginsThen we have God's `steward' and His active force. These will ever guide us in our Christian course.Witnesses who sing these verses understand `God's `steward' to be a term much like vicar of Christ applied to the Watchtower leadership, giving them authority like that of the popes of the Middle Ages. ... Note, too, these words from song number 38 titled `Displaying Loyalty':To God's loyal congregation We too will show loyalty, Give it our steadfast allegiance Even in adversity,Also, these from number 42, `This is the Way':He has a fine channel that's surely unique, And thru it he chooses to warn and to speak.Such verses, sung with deep conviction, continually impress upon Jehovah's Witnesses that the organization speaks for God and that loyalty to God is manifested by loyal allegiance to the organization. Even the songs that do focus on Christ, such as number 105, `Hail Jehovah's Firstborn!' lower him to the status of a created being:Let's hail Jehovah's Firstborn-God's Heir he has been made-Who since he was created, His Father's voice obeyed.So, while most Christians might have felt comfortable singing from the hymnal Charles Taze Russell produced for his followers in 1879, such would hardly be the case with the songbook Jehovah's Witnesses use today." (Reed, D.A., 1993, "Jehovah's Witness Literature: A Critical Guide to Watchtower Publications," Baker: Grand Rapids MI, pp.167-168. Emphasis original).
>Jesus is the means by which we all can be forgiven of our sins and have a relationship with Jehovah.
Significantly you do not say that you have been forgiven your sins, as I and my fellow evangelical Christian do. That is because the Watchtower's system cannot allow you to know your sins are forgiven, because then it would have no power over you. But if you are not forgiven now of your sins, when will you ever be?
Also, you need to have a relationship with Jesus (who is Jehovah) to be saved. On the Day of Judgment Jesus will turn away those whom He "never knew":
Mt 7:21-23 NWT. "Not everyone saying to me, `Lord, Lord,' will enter into the kingdom of the heavens, but the one doing the will of my Father who is in the heavens will. Many will say to me in that day, `Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and expel demons in your name, and perform many powerful works in your name?' And yet then I will confess to them: I never knew YOU! Get away from me, YOU workers of lawlessness."
The Greek word for "knew" in the above passage is egnon from ginosko, which "implies an active relation between the one who knows and the person ... known":
"KNOW ... 1. GINOSKO (ginosko) ... 2. OIDA (oida) ... The differences between ginosko ... and oida demand consideration: ... while ginosko frequently implies an active relation between the one who knows and the person or thing known ... oida expresses the fact that the object has simply come within the scope of the knower's perception ; thus in Matt. 7:23 `I never knew you' (ginosko) suggests ` I have never been in approving connection with you,' whereas in 25:12, `I know you not' (oida) suggests 'you stand in no relation to Me.'" (Vine, W.E., 1940, "An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words," Oliphants: London, Nineteenth impression, 1969, Vol. 11, pp.296-299. Emphasis original).
It is an "experimental knowledge" (i.e. experienced knowledge):
"[Mt 7:22-23] Did we not prophesy in thy name? ... They claim to have prophesied (preached) in Christ's name and to have done many miracles. But Jesus will tear off the sheepskin and lay bare the ravening wolf. `I never knew you' (oudepote egnon humas). `I was never acquainted with you' (experimental knowledge). Success, as the world counts it, is not a criterion of one's knowledge of Christ and relation to him." (Robertson, A.T., 1930, "Word Pictures in the New Testament: Volume I: The Gospel According to Matthew," Broadman Press: Nashville TN, pp.62-63).
not "a knowledge of the mind" but "a knowledge of the heart":
"[Mt 7:23] It is for that reason that the Lord continues: And then will I say to them openly, `Never have I known you; go away from me, you law despisers!' `Never,' that is, not a single moment. Just what does Jesus mean when he says, `Never have I known you'? There is a knowledge of the mind. That according to his divine nature Jesus possessed this knowledge in unlimited degree is clear from John 1:47, 49; 2:24, 25; 21:17. It was exactly because he knew the false prophets so thoroughly that he was so completely justified in condemning them. There is, however, also a knowledge of the heart, that is, of electing love, acknowledgment, friendship, and fellowship (Amos 3:2; Nah. 1:7; John 10:14; I Cor. 8:3; Gal. 4:9; and II Tim. 2:19). The connection makes plain that it is this knowledge that is referred to in our passage. The false prophets speak as if Jesus had been their friend. Jesus replies, as it were, `Not for a single moment have I acknowledged you as my own, or known you to be my friends.' When he now forever expels the law-despisers (literally `workers of lawlessness'), he is dooming them to eternal destruction, in body and soul, away from his loving presence (Matt. 25:46; Luke 13:27, 28; II Thess. 1:9)." (Hendriksen, W., 1974, "The Gospel of Matthew," Banner of Truth: Edinburgh UK, Reprinted, 1982, p.377).
That is, it is a personal relationship knowledge between Jesus and His follower. But you cannot have a personal relationship with a person you never speak to. Therefore, since JWs are forbidden by the Watchtower to speak to Jesus directly: "Should You Pray to Jesus? ... No ... we should present our prayers ... not directly to Jesus himself":
"Should You Pray to Jesus? SOME people consider it proper to pray to Jesus ... Do the words `in the name of Jesus every knee should bend' [Php 2:10] mean that we are to pray to him? No ... Just as a path leads to a goal, so Jesus is the `way' that leads to God the Almighty ... (John 14:6) Thus, we should present our prayers to God through Jesus and not directly to Jesus himself." ("Should You Pray to Jesus?," The Watchtower, December 15, 1994, pp.23-25, pp.23-24. Emphasis original).
Watchtower-obedient JWs cannot have a personal relationship with Jesus, and therefore, as their own NWT states, such JWs (along with all those who don't have a personal relationship with Jesus) will be told by Jesus on Judgment Day, "I never knew YOU! Get away from me, YOU workers of lawlessness":
"How to Identify the True Religion LOGICALLY there must be just one true religion. ... But who are these true worshipers today? How can you identify them and know that their worship is indeed the one approved by God? This cannot be decided simply on the basis of what people and organizations claim to be. In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus pointed out that many would call him `Lord, Lord,' claiming to have done notable things in his name. Yet he would say to them: `I never knew you! Get away from me, you workers of lawlessness.' [Mt 7:21-23 NWT]" (WB&TS, 1968, "The Truth that Leads to Eternal Life," Watchtower Bible & Tract Society: Brooklyn NY, p.122. Emphasis original).
The Watchtower is right that "worship ... approved by God ... cannot be decided simply on the basis of what people and organizations claim to be" (including the Watchtower organization), nor by having "done notable things in his name" (including JWs' works).
But the Watchtower is wrong in not accepting what Jesus plainly warns in the above passage, that the criterion for being accepted or rejected by Jesus is His: "I never knew [egnon] you," i.e. having a personal relationship with Jesus
That is because Jesus is Jehovah the Son (not Michael the archangel), come in the flesh. This is evident in all calling Jesus on the Day of Judgment, "Lord, Lord" [Gk. kurie, kurie] (Mt 7:21-22; 25:11; Lk 6:46), which means "Lord YHWH" or "YHWH Lord":
"Early in his ministry, Jesus warned that even those who said to him `Lord, Lord' (kurie, kurie) and claimed to do miracles in his name were condemned if they disobeyed him (Matt. 7:21-22; Luke 6:46; see also Matt. 25:11). This doubled form of address occurs repeatedly in the Septuagint in place of the Hebrew `Lord YHWH' (Deut. 3:24; 9:26; 1 Kings 8:53; Ps. 69:6; Ezek. 20:49; Amos 7:2, 5) or `YHWH Lord' (Pss. 109:21; 140:7; 141:8), but never in reference to anyone but YHWH. ... Were we to take seriously the hypothesis of an original New Testament text containing the tetragram, Matthew 7:21-22 would be a clear candidate for `restoring' the divine name YHWH, since the doubled kurie kurie evidently originated from Greek-speaking Jews translating `Lord YHWH' and `YHWH Lord.'" (Bowman & Komoszewski, 2007, pp.159, 337 n.13).
Continued in part #3.