Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Watchtower teaches that Jesus is Jehovah: the Shepherd of Psalm 23!

Yesterday morning I was reading the Watchtower Society's book, "Come Be My Follower" (2007).

[Right: Jesus as the Good Shepherd, ceiling of S. Callisto catacomb, mid 3rd century AD, Wikipedia]

I was preparing for a meeting with the JW elder named Charlie, who had returned about 3 weeks before and given me that book, saying he would start meeting with me again on Mondays to study it (but has yet to do so), when I found the following:

"Jesus was `the fine shepherd' in another sense. He said: `I know my sheep and my sheep know me.' (John 10:14) Think of the word picture that Jesus was painting. To a casual observer, a flock of sheep might seem just a mass of woolly creatures. The shepherd, however, knows each sheep individually. He knows which ewes will soon need his aid when they give birth, which lambs still need to be carried because they are too tiny and weak to walk far on their own, and which sheep have recently been ill or injured. The sheep know their shepherd as well. They recognize his voice, never mistaking it for that of any other shepherd. When there is a tone of alarm or urgency in his call, they respond quickly. Where he leads, they follow. And he knows just where to lead them. He knows where the grass is lush and green, where the streams are fresh and clear, where the pastures are safe. As he watches over them, the sheep sense that they are secure. - Psalm 23." (Watchtower Bible & Tract Society, 2007, "Come Be My Follower," Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of New York: Brooklyn NY, p.10).

As can be seen in the above, the Watchtower states that "Jesus" is the "shepherd" who "leads" his sheep "where the grass is lush and green, where the streams are fresh and clear, where the pastures are safe. As he watches over them, the sheep sense that they are secure. - Psalm 23" (my emphasis).

But in "Psalm 23" it is "Jehovah" who is the "Shepherd," who leads his sheep "In grassy pastures," "By well-watered resting-places," and who makes his sheep to "fear nothing bad" (my emphasis):

Psalms 23:1-6 [NWT] ... 1 Jehovah is my Shepherd. I shall lack nothing. 2 In grassy pastures he makes me lie down; By well-watered resting-places he conducts me. 3 My soul he refreshes. He leads me in the tracks of righteousness for his name's sake. 4 Even though I walk in the valley of deep shadow, I fear nothing bad, For you are with me; Your rod and your staff are the things that comfort me. 5 You arrange before me a table in front of those showing hostility to me. With oil you have greased my head; My cup is well filled. 6 Surely goodness and loving-kindness themselves will pursue me all the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of Jehovah to the length of days.

Therefore the Watchtower Society is here teaching (presumably inadvertently) that Jesus is Jehovah!

PS: See `tagline' quotes below from Christian literature, showing that Jesus, the Shepherd of the New Testament, is indeed Jehovah (Heb. Yahweh), the Shepherd of the Old Testament (emphasis italics original, emphasis bold mine).

Stephen E. Jones.
My other blogs: CreationEvolutionDesign & TheShroudofTurin

"Besides the name Jehovah and the title God, Jesus has other titles belonging exclusively to Jehovah. Jesus is the first and the last (Rev. 1:17; 22:13; cf. Isa. 44:6). He is the King of kings and Lord of lords (1 Tim. 6:15; Rev. 17:14; 19:16). Used in a spiritual, ultimate sense, Jesus is revealed to be God by his having the titles Savior (Luke 2:11; John 4:42; 1 John 4:14; cf. Isa. 43:11; 45:21-22; 1 Tim. 4:10), Shepherd (John 10:11; Heb. 13:20; cf. Ps. 23:1; Isa. 40:11), and Rock (1 Cor. 10:4; cf. Isa. 44:8). Jesus also receives the honors due to Jehovah God alone. He is to receive the same honor given to the Father (John 5:23). He is to be feared (Eph. 5:21), to receive absolute love (Matt. 10:37), and to be the object of the same faith we have in God (John 3:16; 14:1). He receives prayer (John 14:14; Acts 7:59-60 compared with Luke 23:34, 46; Rom. 10:12-13; 1 Cor. 1:2; etc.), worship (Matt. 28:17; Heb. 1:6), and sacred service (Rev. 22:3)." (Bowman, R.M., 1989, "Why You Should Believe in the Trinity: An Answer to Jehovah's Witnesses," Baker: Grand Rapids MI, Third printing, 1990, p.109. Emphasis original).

"Jesus Claimed to Be Yahweh. Yahweh (YHWH; sometimes appearing in English translations as `Jehovah' or in small capital letters as `LORD') is the special name given by God for himself in the Old Testament. It is the name revealed to Moses in Exodus 3:14, when God said, `I AM WHO I AM.' Other titles for God may be used of humans, such as Adonai ('Lord') in Gen. 18:12, or false gods, such as elohim ('gods') in Deut. 6:14. Yahweh, however, only refers to the one true God. No other person or thing was to be worshiped or served (Exod. 20:5), and his name and glory were not to be given to another. Isaiah wrote, `This is what the LORD says.... I am the first, and I am the last; apart from me there is no God' (Isa. 44:6) and, `I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another, or my praise to idols' (42:8). Jesus claimed to be Yahweh. He prayed, `And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was' (John 17:5). But Yahweh of the Old Testament said, `my glory will I not give to another' (Isa. 42:8). Jesus also declared, `I am the first and the last' (Rev. 1:17)- precisely the words used by Jehovah in Isaiah 42:8. He said, `I am the good shepherd' (John 10:11), but the Old Testament said, `Yahweh is my shepherd' (Ps. 23:1). Further, Jesus claimed to be the judge of all people (Matt. 25:31f.; John 5:27f.), but Joel quotes Jehovah as saying, `for there I will sit to judge all the nations on every side' (Joel 3:12). Likewise, Jesus spoke of himself as the `bridegroom' (Matt. 25:1) while the Old Testament identifies Jehovah in this way (Isa. 62:5; Hos. 2:16). While the Psalmist declares, `The LORD is my light' (Ps. 27:1), Jesus said, `I am the light of the world' (John 8:12). Perhaps the strongest claim Jesus made to be Yahweh is in John 8:58, where he says, `Before Abraham was, I am.' This statement claims not only existence before Abraham, but equality with the `I AM' of Exodus 3:14. The Jews around him clearly understood his meaning and picked up stones to kill him for blaspheming (cf. John 8:58 and 10:31-33). The same claim is made in Mark 14:62 and John 18:5-6." (Geisler, N.L., 1999, "Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics," Baker Books: Grand Rapids MI, p.129).

"Although Jehovah's Witnesses seek to differentiate sharply between Jehovah God and Jesus his creature, it is a remarkable fact that occasionally writers in the New Testament apply to Jesus Christ passages from the Old Testament which refer to Jehovah. ... (a) Isaiah promises that `Jehovah will be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory' (60:19). Luke applies this to Jesus, quoting it in the form, `A light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel' (2:32). (b) Isaiah's vision in the Temple (6:1, 3, 10) was of Jehovah. In the Gospel of John, however, it is said that Isaiah saw the glory of Jesus Christ and spoke of him (12:37-41, see especially verse 41). (c) In Psalm 28:1 and Isaiah 40:10-11, Jehovah is said to be our shepherd. In John 10:11 Jesus, with obvious reference to the Old Testament passages, claims to be the good shepherd. (d) Paul quotes the promise in Joel, `Whosoever shall call upon the name of Jehovah shall be delivered' (2:32), and refers it to Jesus: `If thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord, and shalt believe in thy heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved ... for, whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Rom. 10:9, 13)." (Metzger, B.M., 1953, "The Jehovah's Witnesses and Jesus Christ," Reprint of article in Theology Today, April, 1953, pp.65-85, Princeton Theological Seminary: Princeton NJ, 1953, pp.73-74).

"JESUS' IDENTITY WITH YAHWEH/JEHOVAH The NT attributes to Jesus many of the perfections of Yahweh (or, Jehovah), the creator/redeemer God of the OT. There are seven main points of identity. God's name When the OT was translated into Greek in the 2nd and 3rd centuries BC (the Septuagint), the sacred name of God, YHWH, usually rendered Yahweh or Jehovah, was translated by the Greek word Kyrios (Lord); there are approaching 7,000 instances of this. This sacred and exalted title was attributed directly to Jesus (Rom. 10:9; 1 Cor. 12:3; Phil. 2:11; etc., cf. also Lord of lords, 1 Tim. 6:15; Rev. 17:14; 19:16). Indeed the confession Jesus is Lord is probably the earliest confession of faith (Rom. 10:9; 1 Cor. 12:3; 2 Cor. 4:5). On several occasions NT writers apply OT passages concerning Yahweh directly to Jesus (Acts 2:34f.; Rom. 8:34; Heb. 10:12f.; 1 Pet. 3:22 apply Ps. 110:1. Rom. 10:13 applies Joel 2:32. Phil. 2:9-11 applies Is. 45:23. Jn. 12:41 applies Is. 6:10. Eph. 4:8 applies Ps. 68:18). These passages clearly identify Jesus with Yahweh. Another link is provided by self-designations of God appropriated by Jesus or referred to him. Supremely significant is the I AM (Ex. 3:14; cf. Jn. 8:58; 6:35; 8:12,24; 11:25; 14:6; 18:5f.; Mk. 14:62). Others are bridegroom (Is. 62:5; Je. 2:2; Ezk. 16:8; cf. Mk. 2:19f.; Jn. 3:29; 2 Cor. 11:2; Rev. 19:7); shepherd (Pss. 23:1; 80:1; Is. 40:11; Ezk. 34:15; cf. Jn. 10:11-16; Heb. 13:10; 1 Pet. 2:25; 5:4); the first and the last (Is. 44:6; 48:12; cf. Rev. 2:8; 22:13)." (Milne, B., 1982, "Know the Truth: A Handbook of Christian Belief," Inter-Varsity Press: Leicester UK, Fifth printing, 1988, pp.129-130).

"JESUS, THE CHRIST. ... DIVINITY OF: As Jehovah, Isa. 40:3, with Matt. 3:3; Jehovah of glory, Psa. 24:7,10, with 1 Cor. 2:8; Jas. 2:1; Jehovah our righteousness, Jer. 23:5,6, with 1 Cor. 1:30; Jehovah above all, Psa. 97:9, with John 3:31; Jehovah the first and the last, Isa. 44:6, with Rev. 1:17; Isa. 48:12-16, with Rev. 22:13; Jehovah's fellow and equal, Zech. 13:7; Phil, 2:6; Jehovah of hosts,, Isa. 6:1-3, with John 12:41; Isa. 8:13,14, with 1 Pet. 2:8; Jehovah, Psa. 110:1, with Matt. 22:42-45; Jehovah the shepherd, Isa. 40:10,11; Heb. 13:20; Jehovah, for whose glory all things were created, Prov. 16:4, with Col. 1:16; Jehovah the messenger of the covenant, Mal. 3:1, with Luke 7:27. Invoked as Jehovah, Joel 2:32, with 1 Cor. 1:2; as the eternal God and Creator, Psa. 102:24-27, with Heb. 1:8,10-12; the mighty God, Isa. 9:6; the great God and Saviour, Hos. 1:7, with Tit. 2:13; God over all, Rom. 9:5; God the Judge, Eccl. 12:14, with 1 Cor. 4:5; 2 Cor. 5:10; 2 Tim. 4:1; Emmanuel, Isa. 7:14, with Matt. 1:23; King of kings and Lord of lords, Dan. 10:17, with Rev. 1:5; 17:14; the Holy One, 1 Sam. 2:2, with Acts 3:14; the Lord from heaven, 1 Cor. 15:47; Lord of the Sabbath, Gen. 2:3, with Matt. 12:8; Lord of all, Acts 10:36; Rom. 10:11-13; Son of God, Matt. 26:63-67; the only begotten Son of the Father, John 1:14, 18; 3:16,18; 1 John 4:9. His blood is called the blood of God, Acts 20:28. One with the Father, John 10:30,38; 12:45; 14:7-10; 17:10. As sending the Spirit equally with the Father, John 14:16, with John 15:26. As unsearchable equally with the Father, Prov. 30:4; Matt. 11:27. As Creator of all things, Isa. 40:28; John 1:3; Col. 1:16; supporter and preserver of all things, Neh. 9:6, with Col. 1:17; Heb. 1:3." (Nave, O.J., ed., 1897, "Nave's Topical Bible: A Digest of the Holy Scriptures," Moody Press: Chicago IL, Reprinted, 1969, p.665).

"Statements which in the Old Testament are made distinctly of Jehovah, God, taken in the New Testament to refer to Jesus Christ. ... (9) Ps. 23:1-' The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.' Is. 40:10, 11-' Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold his reward is with him, and his work before him. He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.' (Compare Jno. 10:11-`I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.') In the Old Testament Jehovah is the good shepherd; in the New Testament JESUS. (10) Ezek. 34:11, 12, 18-' For thus saith the Lord GOD: Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. Seemeth it a small thing unto you to have eaten up the good pasture, but ye must tread down with your feet the residue of your pasture? and to have drunk of the deep waters, but ye must foul the residue with your feet? ` (Compare Luke 19:10-' For the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.' In the O. T. Jehovah, in the N. T. JESUS `seeks and saves the lost.'" (Torrey, R.A., 1957, "What The Bible Teaches: A Thorough and Comprehensive Study of What the Bible Has to Say Concerning the Great Doctrines of Which it Treats," Oliphants: London, Third impression, 1963, pp.77, 79-80).


Anonymous said...

I used to be a Jehovah Witness. I am not currently, but they taught in their beliefs that Jesus is the son of God. The first creation of Jehovah, not Jehovah. YOu are confused.

Stephen E. Jones said...


>I used to be a Jehovah Witness. I am not currently,

Thanks for your comment and good to see that you have left JWism!

>but they taught in their beliefs that Jesus is the son of God.

Agreed. But that makes Jesus God BY NATURE. See my recent post: "Re: I am a young Jehovah Witness who by chance came across your site #2."

>The first creation of Jehovah, not Jehovah.

Agreed that is what the Watchtower (wrongly) TEACHES. That was the POINT of my post, that:

"Therefore the Watchtower Society is here teaching (presumably INADVERTENTLY) that Jesus is Jehovah!" (my emphasis).

>YOu are confused.

No. You have failed to understand my point.

Which is that although the Watchtower teaches that Jesus is "NOT Jehovah," it is so pervasively taught in the Bible, that that Jesus IS Jehovah come in the flesh, that the Watchtower Society cannot translate it all out in its New World Translation. And therefore the Watchtower still INADVERTENTLY teaches that Jesus is Jehovah.

For example, as in my post:

"... the Watchtower states that `Jesus' is the `shepherd' who `leads' his sheep `where the grass is lush and green, where the streams are fresh and clear, where the pastures are safe. As he watches over them, the sheep sense that they are secure. - Psalm 23 ... But in `Psalm 23' it is `Jehovah' who is the `Shepherd,' who leads his sheep `In grassy pastures,' `By well-watered resting-places,' and who makes his sheep to `fear nothing bad'"!

Stephen E. Jones