Was Jesus merely a perfect human while here on earth? Or, was He a perfect blend of Deity and humanity? Was Jesus still God while He inhabited the fleshly body in which He lived while on earth? Or was He merely a perfect man, an ordinary human, just like all other mere mortals except that he lived a sinless life? These questions may sound strange to some of you, but I assure you, they are very serious and very real questions. Our friends in the Jehovah’s Witness Organization teach that Jesus was not the Eternal Son, that He, like all other mortals, was a created being. They deny Jesus was deity while he lived on earth as a man. They further deny His bodily resurrection from the dead.
In order that you do not simply take our word that the Jehovah’s Witnesses do not accept Jesus as the Eternal Son of God, but regard him as merely a perfect man, please consider the following statements. They are taken directly from official Jehovah’s Witness documents, and express the view of one of their most influential members, the late J.F. Rutherford. Rutherford wrote:
“We shall see subsequently, when we come to consider particularly the ransom feature of his work, that it was absolutely necessary that he should be a man — neither more nor less than a perfect man — because it was man that sinned, man who was to be redeemed, and the divine law required that man’s life should pay the redemption price for a man’s life.” (Studies in the Scriptures, Volume V, page 95).
To the Jehovah’s Witness, Jesus was nothing more or less than a perfect man. He was not God, clothed in human flesh, for that would make him more than a man. He had to be fully (100 percent) man or he would be less than a man. And, he had to live sinlessly to be the perfect ransom for sinful mankind. That is the Jehovah’s Witness theory about Jesus in the flesh. Their position is a flat out denial of the incarnation of Deity. They reject the biblical truth that Jesus was truly God and truly man, fully divine and fully human, all at the same time. In fact, they rather scoff at the idea. To them it makes Jesus sort of a freak. Here’s how they express that.
“Neither was Jesus a combination of the two natures, human and spiritual. The blending of two natures produces neither the one nor the other, but an imperfect, hybrid thing, which is obnoxious to the divine arrangement. When Jesus was in the flesh he was a perfect human being; previous to that time he was a perfect spiritual being; and since his resurrection he is a perfect spiritual being of the highest or divine order. It was not until the time of his consecration even unto death, as typified in his baptism — at thirty years of age (manhood, according to the Law, and therefore the right time to consecrate himself as a man) — that he received the earnest of his inheritance of the divine nature. (Matt. 3:16, 17)” (Ibid, Series I, page 179).
The language used by the Jehovah’s Witnesses relative to the nature of Christ is confusing. It is not necessary to refute their doctrinal error by examining what they mean by “spiritual” in reference to the nature of Jesus Christ while on earth. The fact is, Jesus was more than a perfect man, he was, on earth, a perfect being in whom the fulness of God bodily dwelt and continues to dwell. “For in Him (Christ) dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Col. 2:9). The term “dwells” is present tense. It indicates a state of continued being. The word dwell means, “to house permanently, i.e. reside (literally or figuratively): -dwell, inhabitant.” (Strong). That the fullness of God dwelt in Christ before, during, and after His earthly life is seen from a statement in John’s gospel. “Bodily” means it remained in Jesus while he was on earth. John wrote: “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. . . . And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace” (John 1:14, 16). Godhood means “the state of Deity, the condition of being God.” The passage clearly shows that Jesus is before, during, and after His life on earth, of the very same nature as God. On earth Jesus simply declared, “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30).
Jehovah’s Witnesses, in denying the Deity of Christ on earth, argue erroneously that Jesus is never called Jehovah. They contend that only Jehovah is The God and admit that Jesus was a somewhat lesser God. J.F. Rutherford, a Jehovah’s Witness scholar, expressed their official doctrine on this. “The great Jehovah is The God, The Son, — the Logos, is A god. The name god is applied to mighty ones, even to angels and to magistrates. The name god is therefore properly applied to the Son because he is a mighty one. The names Jehovah, Almighty God, and Most High are never in the Scriptures applied to Jesus, the Son of God. … In truth, when Jesus was on earth he was a perfect man, nothing more and nothing less. Jesus was not God the Son.” (Deliverance, pages 106, 111, 113).
There is no difference in angelic beings and Jesus, according to the Jehovah’s Witnesses. He is not Mighty God, He was simply a mighty being. To the contrary, the inspired prophet Isaiah prophesied, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulders and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6-7). The great prophet said His name would be Mighty God. Jehovah’s Witnesses flatly contradict the Bible!
Now notice that Jesus is called Jehovah. Again from Isaiah we read, “… mine eyes have seen the King, Jehovah of hosts” (Isa. 6:5). Isaiah saw Jehovah, the King. Now read what John, under divine guidance of the Holy Spirit said specifically about this prophecy. “These things said Isaiah, because he saw His glory, and He spoke of Him” (John 12:41). The glory John specified was that which belonged to Jesus Christ. John affirmed that the glory Isaiah saw was the glory of Christ, but Isaiah said he saw the glory of Jehovah, the King. Thus, Jesus is referred to by the term Jehovah, contrary to the assertion of official Jehovah’s Witness doctrine. Any doctrine that denies His deity while on earth is false and the Jehovah’s Witnesses deny his deity.
Jesus birth was announced as follows: “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel” (Isa. 7:14). When Jesus was born, Matthew tells us that the birth of Christ was in fulfillment of this very prophecy. “Now all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: ’Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which is translated, ’God with us’” (Matt. 1:22-23). How could anyone deny that Jesus was Jehovah God when this verse says he was “God with us”? It is blasphemy to teach that Jesus was no more and no less than a mere man. Jesus was God with us while in the flesh.
Jesus is directly addressed as God. Thomas doubted that Jesus had actually come back to life. But when he examined Jesus personally, he was forced to exclaim, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28). An honest person cannot come to any other conclusion. Jesus is both Lord and God. He has always been God. He will ever be God. Thomas did not use the same kind of descriptive phrases Rutherford, and other Jehovah’s Witnesses, use. He called Him God –not “a god.” The Greek text reads, “Ho Kurios mou kai ho Theos mou,” which is literally translated, “The Lord of me and the God of me.” Thomas referred to Jesus as “the God of me.” Jehovah’s Witnesses cannot use the language of Thomas and remain true to their doctrinal defection and denial of our Lord’s deity.
If Thomas overstated the case Jesus should have corrected him. If Thomas was simply wrong, Jesus should have said, “No, Thomas, I am not the God — I might be called ‘a god,’ if by that you mean a mighty person, but I am not the God.” However, all who have read the Bible with any profit at all know that Jesus did not correct Thomas. Thomas was correct in recognizing Jesus as “the God.” The Jehovah’s Witnesses are fully in error in refusing to do so. Jesus claimed to be the great I AM. “Jesus said to them, ”Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM“ (John 8:58).
The expression “I AM” is used of Jehovah God. ”And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you“ (Exo. 3:14). Jesus declared, ”Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins” (John 8:24). Jesus condemns those who deny His deity to the penalty of death in their own sins. The Jehovah’s Witness Organization does not believe in eternal punishment in hell, but if they do not repent of this false doctrine they will learn how wrong they have been by the awful experience of it. It is not enough that people condemn themselves to an eternal existence in the infernal regions of torment, they also deprive themselves of the beauty of believing that Jesus was both God and man while here in the flesh.
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jesus was a created being — not one who has existed from all eternity. Rutherford said, “Jesus Christ was the beginning of God’s creation.” In an effort to substantiate this view, he distorted Colossians 1:15. That passage says, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.” Jehovah’s Witnesses argue from this verse that Jesus was the first thing created by the Almighty Jehovah. But firstborn does not mean the one born first in sequence. Firstborn over all creation means Jesus is preeminent in creation.
The fact that he is the firstborn of all creation does not at all suggest that he is part of his own creation. Notice the next two verses. “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist” (verses 16-17). Creation is the work of Deity — not a mere man. Christ is the creator. B.F. Lightfoot refutes this false notion of the Jehovah’s Witnesses by saying, “The main ideas involved in the words are (1) priority to all creation, (2) sovereignty over all creation.”
Dear reader, Jesus was, is, and will never be anything less than unabridged Deity. The Hebrew writer says of Him, “And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail” (Heb. 1:12). Also, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8). That is the cornerstone of the saving faith. In order to go to heaven we must believe that Jesus is God manifest in the flesh — not merely a perfect man. John says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God” (John 1:1).
In the same context he added, “And the Word became flesh and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten of God, full of grace and truth” (Verse 14). Without a full acceptance of this fundamental fact there is no saving faith in Christ. The one called Jesus is not a Savior at all if he was “just a perfect human.” There is only one way to acknowledge him as your Lord and Savior. Jesus said, “Why call Me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46). The evidence of his deity is as irrefutable as it is overwhelming. Acceptance of Christ is strong faith that is willing to obey him without reservation. All who are unwilling to accept him will be lost. Jesus said, “He that believes and is baptized, shall be saved; he that disbelieves shall be condemned” (Mark 16:16).