Why, in quoting John 1:18 when attempting to refute the doctrine of Christ's deity, do Jehovah's Witnesses...?

...usually -

a). Only quote half the verse, ignoring the rest and what it says concerning how Jesus' PERSON reveals the Father (cf.John 14:9)?

b). Adopt a superficial perspective regarding how the word "seen" (Greek "horao") should be understood in this verse?

c). Apparently choose to ignore the fact that, according to the Hebrew scriptures, Jehovah was indeed seen in a physical sense (Genesis 18:1-33), in an attempt to justify the Watchtower's incorrect defintion of "horao" in John 1:18?

"Horao" definition link -

http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexico...

Thanks in advance for all polite, concise replies.

Update:

SEVEN thumbs down for Wolsk's answer (so far), but not a single JW response (as yet).

Would just one of those (apparently) JW thumbs-downers like to take this question on, please?

Thanks.

Update 2:

Porcelain Vessel -

Thanks for your time.

I shall address address your points -

In your own words, the Son,

"..is EXACTLY like His Father."

If this is so, then surely the Son must also be uncreated, without beginning of days (Hebrews 7:3), otherwise He is NOT exactly like His Father.

Hebrews 1:3 confirms that the Son,

"..is the EXACT representation of (God's) VERY BEING." (NWT)

What does "exact" mean here, PV? That the Son, to draw on your human son/father illustration, is a mere "spitting image" of the Father?

How many human sons EXACTLY represent their father's VERY BEING,

i.e. ALL that the person is?

Answer - NONE.

ALL that the invisible Father is, the visible Son represents EXACTLY. He is not a mere, "spitting image."

He is, to loosely quote the interlinear of Westcott & Hort's Greek text of Hebrews 1:3,

"the beaming forth from out of the glory."

Check out the Kingdom Interlinear for yourself.

Caps for emphasis, insert mine.

Update 3:

PV -

In regard to your comment on the Lord Jesus not claiming to be God, it's simple not true.

Just ONE example -

Revelation 1:8 teaches that "the Almighty" is, "...the Alpha and the Omega."

Jesus clearly claims to be the same in Revelation 22:13. Please read right through from 22:12 to 20, and pay particular attention to verses 12 and 20.

How many "Alpha and Omegas" are there, PV?

Update 4:

PV -

Thanks for your response.

Re my understanding of the use of "horao" -

It's use in John 1:18 is best understood as "perceive," since God had clearly appeared in some form in the past to people such as Abraham.

Genesis 18:1 states, "Afterward JEHOVAH appeared to him..." (NWT, caps for emphasis)

The subsequent verses show that this was indeed Jehovah in the form of a man, and that He interacted with Abraham, literally, "face to face."

So, Jehovah HAS been seen, in a limited, physical sense.

In the latter half of John 1:18, even your own New World Translation says that the Son has "explained" the Father. This rendering of the Greek is arguably far better complimented by an understanding of "horao" as "perceive."

I paraphrase -

"No one has fully perceived God at any time; the unique Son who is in the Father's bosom has explained Him."

All Jesus' speech and actions reveal EXACTLY what God is like.

Update 5:

Re "representation" applied to the Son -

I have no problem with this word being used in reference to the Lord Jesus.

God is an invisible spirit.

The Son represents Jehovah's "very being" (NWT) EXACTLY, in a visible form.

"Very being" does not indicate a superficial "representation," it means all that Jehovah is.

Since one apsect of Jehovah's "very being" includes being uncreated, existing from eternity past, if the Son is the EXACT representation of,

not just Jehovah's character, but - as your NWT translates - His "very being," then surely it is logical to conclude that the Son is without beginning of days,

as Hebrews 7:3 confirms.

Update 6:

In discussing the Bible face to face with a JW recently, I took him to Revelation chapter 22, highlighting verse 13. He admitted that it was Jesus, and he was by no means the only one. I guess he was unaware of Watchtower teaching on the subject, and just read it as it is. He had been associated with the organisation since he was four years old, by the way.

Verse 12 - The speaker says, "Look! I am coming quickly..."

Verse 13 - The same speaker continues, "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last..."

Verse 20 - "I am coming quickly," is repeated, to which the response is,

"Amen! Come, LORD JESUS."

Update 7:

Colossians 1:15-18 does NOT prove that the Son is a created being.

Feel free to quote any lexicon which defines "prototokos" as "first-created."

Context of the passage, and grammatical sense of verse 15 demand that "firstborn" be understood in the sense of preeminence.

"He is... the first-created of all creation for by him all things were created," is nonsense.

6 Answers

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  • Anonymous
    10 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    Greetings,

    First, you are drawing some unsupported conclusions. Looking at answers dealing with Jn.1:18, I notice that I cite the whole verse about 75% of the times. And others, including non-Witnesses, cited the whole verse only about 50% of the time.

    However, there is no fault with citing only the part of a verse which pertains to the discussion.

    However, Jn.1:18 does not say that “Jesus’ PERSON revealed the Father.” While I can only assume that your statement is somehow a reflection of your reading Trinitarian concepts into the verse, the word used here is ALWAYS used in the sense of “explaining” or relating information (Lk. 24:35; Ac 10:8; 15:12,14; 21:19). The idea here is explicitly that "No one has seen God" but his begotten son declared or made Him known. This clearly separates Christ from the unseen God.

    So, there is no mystical Trinitarian concepts supported here. The immediate context clearly differentiates Christ from *GOD* in both heaven and on earth.

    Next, there are other verses which present the idea that Christ revealed God’s qualities by his own personal example, but none of these support the idea that Jesus was equal to, or the same as, Almighty God

    The very verse you compare, Jn 14:9, is a good example of this. When Jesus said "if you've seen me you've seen the father" he was not claiming to be God.

    In fact, any Trinitarian who uses this verse is unknowingly contradicting his own belief. This is because Jesus here is saying that if you see him you see "The FATHER." And according to the Trinity the son and the Father cannot be the same! Such an interpretation would actually prove Sebellianism, a heresy to Trinitarians. The "mainline" Trinity belief teaches that there are three completely different and separate "persons" who are all one "God." The only way Trinitarians can force this Scripture to support their belief is to arbitrarily replace the word "Father" with "God."

    However, in the context Jesus made it clear that he was not saying he literally was the Father but was saying that as God's foremost representative he perfectly reflected his Father's qualities and teaching (Jn.12:49; 5:19).

    In fact, EVERY verse which states that Jesus revealed God also shows that Jesus was less than God. Mt.11:27 and Lk.10:22 say that Jesus "reveals" God to us but it makes it clear that he had to receive his power and authority. Jn.5:36,37 says that Jesus bears witness regarding God, yet he was "assigned," "dispatched" and "sent" by God. Jesus said himself the sender is superior to the one sent (Jn.13:16; cf. 5:19; 8:28).

    Many scholars have properly understood that Christ’s words in their true contextual sense referred to Christ's representative authority:

    "It would be rash to conclude that he meant to identify Jehovah with Christ. No such identification can be clearly made out in the N.T....For it is through the kindness of the son that the kindness of the Father is clearly made known to Christians: 'He that has seen me has seen the Father.'"—F.J.A. Hort; The First Epistle of Peter

    "Rabbis said the man's agent was like the man himself...In John 14, for instance, Jesus said, ‘He that has seen me has seen the Father.' That is like saying, ‘He that has seen the ambassador has seen the queen.' But in the same chapter, Jesus said, ‘But the Father is greater.'"— George Wesley Buchanan

    Next, your interpretation is incorrect regarding Heb.1:3. You can stress the word “exact” all you want, but it does not change the fact that it still says that Christ is the “representation” or “image” of God. Grammatically, this word limits the extent of the term “exact.” If I say my statue is an “exact” *copy* of a bird no one would expect the statue to be the original nor that it would be exact in EVERY detail such as its feathers etc. The word “copy” would cause you to immediately limit the word “exact.”

    The word used in Heb (CARACTHR) was used when a king would press his signet ring into clay to form an "exact representation" of the King's seal. But nobody would understand the clay to actually be the ring. Likewise, Jesus only emulated his Father's qualities so well that he shows us exactly what God is like. But he is not God himself.

    F.F. Bruce notes that XARAKTHR is also used by Philo to describe "the image of God in human beings." So righteous humans can also be "exact representations" of God. And no one would even think that we were God.

    CARACTHR is also used of family likenesses in 4 Macc. 15:4. So, just as my son bears the exact likeness of his father, so too Christ bears the *exact* likeness of his father. This verse is indeed stating that Christ is “a mere spitting image" of God.

    So there is absolutely nothing in the semantics of this word which would cause someone to believe some mystical oneness or equality between the "representation" and the original. That is simply a later Trinitarian concept forced into the words of Scripture.

    Christ was sent as God's representative and he *perfectly* showed us what God thought, felt and all His other qualities. But the "image" is never the same as the original. We must stick to what the context tells us regarding the sense of the word CARACTHR. And the context makes it very clear that Christ is not equal to nor the same as Almighty God.

    The first chapter of Hebrews is dealing with Christ's position *under* Almighty God, and so cannot mean that Jesus was “exactly” like God in an absolute sense: Jesus is not all-powerful since it says he has a *God* over him (Heb.1:9)! God had to subject all things under him (1:13; 2:5,8) and he was "appointed" to his position by *God* (1:2,7; 3:2). He is said to be "God's son" (1:2,5,6,8,), God's "firstborn" (1:5,6), and he is the "reflection" and "image" of God, not God himself (1:3). He is "at God's right hand" (1:3,13).

    It is very clear that the writer of Hebrews did not think Jesus and Jehovah were the same God.

    And it is clear that the writer was not saying Jesus was like God in existing from eternity since he stated that God was Jesus' "father" and Jesus was God's "firstborn" and His "son." Unless we force some mystical sense into these words they all denote a beginning of existence for Jesus!

    Next, in your “b.” point you ask why Witnesses “Adopt a superficial perspective regarding how the word "seen" (Greek horao) should be understood in this verse?”

    I’m not sure why you state this because Witnesses here actually understand the word “seen” (hORAW) in its primary basic sense of visible sight and as carrying a secondary sense of “mental discernment.” Both senses are well attested by standard Greek lexicons and so cannot be called “superficial” in any sense of the word. Nor can their definition be legitimately viewed “incorrect” as you assert.

    And that brings us to your “c.” point. I would assert that *you* are the one who is understanding “see” in a superficial sense at Jn. 1:18. Because you must be accepting the word hORAW in Jn.1:18 to somehow be a figurative sight while you view the verses in the Hebrew Scriptures that say some human “saw” God to be literal.

    The Bible does say that some "saw" God (Ex.24:10; Isa.6:1; Job 42:5) while it also says "no one can see God" (Jn.1:18; Ex. 33:20; 1Jn:4:12). This is an interpretive problem and rules of interpretation must be applied to determine whether humans literally “saw” God.

    And when we read the Bible in context and consider all the facts it is clear that humans cannot literally see God and we must take verses which speak of “seeing” God to be referring to figurative sight or mental perception.

    For example, when the Scripture says Jehovah appeared to Abraham (Gen.18:1ff) the context makes it clear that it was only angels (19:1). The Scriptures explicitly state that it was an *angel* who appeared to "our forefathers" which would include Abraham (Ac 7:30,38).

    Jacob said he "saw *God* face to face" (Gen.32:30), yet Hos. 12:4, 5 says that it was an "angel." At Judges 13:21, 22 Manoah says that he “had seen God," yet it is clear from the context that Manoah knew that he had literally seen an angel, and not God. At Ex 3:4-6 “God speaks to Moses" out of the thornbush and Moses was “afraid to look at God.” Yet, it specifically states that it was actually an angel (Ex 3:2; Ac 7:30).

    The bible repeatedly makes reference to *angels* as "God" when they represent Him (Ge 18:1-5; Jg 13:9, 19-22). Sometimes they even speak and are addressed as though they are Jehovah (Ex.4:10; Jdgs 6:11,14,15,22). This is the case at Gen. 18 where angels are simply representing Jehovah.

    So, in context the Bible confirms that the verses which state that “no one has seen God” (Ex 33:20; Jn.1:18; 6:46) must be taken literally. On the other hand those accounts which relate how someone “saw” God are always revealed to actually be a vision or an angel which appeared to *represent* God.

    Only if we ignored the overall context of the Bible could we be deceived into thinking that the Almighty was actually "seen."

    Yours,

    BAR-ANERGES

    EDIT:

    Regarding your incorrect claim that Jesus is the Alpha and Omega see these links:

    http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index;_ylt=AtAXy...

    http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index;_ylt=AndCX...

  • Hi,

    When I quote John 1:18, it is always in full.

    "No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him." (KJV)

    Yes, the person of Jesus does reveal the Father. He is exactly like his Father (as a Son would be after spending eons of time in the company of his Father). However, this does not mean that he IS the Father. We say that many human sons are 'spitting images' of their father but that doesn't mean that we mean that they ARE them, does it?

    Nowhere in that scripture does it say or even imply that the Son IS the Father... it simply says that he has declared him (or explained him)

    Have you never wondered why there is not even ONE place in the Bible where Jesus ever claimed to be God? Surely, if this was fundamental to learning the truth about them... it would say it at least once, don't you think?

    The truth is that when we examine the full evidence of the scriptures, we find that Jesus is God's Son..a separate personality than God

    He even said that he does not do a thing of his own initiative.

    Also he said "let not my will, but yours (God's) take place" This shows that he had a separate 'will' than God's... thus showing that they are two separate persons

    About the Greek verb 'horaō' ....

    Why do you choose to accept the word as meaning "perceive" in this instance, yet reject it as meaning "perceive" at Matthew 24:30 and Revelation 1:7?

    Is it because you need it to fit in with Trinitarian views?

    (no thumbs down from me)

    ~ ~

    edit in reply to you...

    We can say that someone (or something) is the exact representation of someone else, but that does not mean that they ARE that person. He had spent eons of time alongside his Father prior to coming down to the earth so there would be no better person to represent his Father exactly. This is why it uses the word 'representation' .... Jesus represented his Father, not that he was him.

    As I said... nowhere in the scriptures does it say that Jesus actually said "I am God." If he was/is God, then he would have left us in no doubt... he would have definitely stated it so that we can see it.

    Jesus does not claim to be the Alpha & Omega in Revelation 22:13. This is referring to the Father, Jehovah. The whole passage of scripture you referenced is clearly talking about two persons, Jehovah & Jesus.

    If you look at Revelation 1:1 (the beginning of the revelation) you will see that it says "A revelation by Jesus Christ, which God gave him, to show his slaves the things that must shortly take place...."

    We can see here that this is talking about two persons because it shows that God (1 person) gave the revelation to Jesus (2nd person). If they were both the same personality then one would not need to give it to the other.

    Remember, when this was written Jesus was back in heaven, this was not while he was on the earth

    There is only one Alpha & Omega .... Jehovah.

    No one else can claim that title, because Jehovah is the only one without a beginning/end. Jesus, on the other hand, is clearly shown to have had a beginning - Colossians 1:15-18

    He was part OF creation... being created himself as the first of Jehovah's creations (Proverbs 8:22)

  • Elaine
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    Jehovah's Witnesses DO believe that "Jesus Christ has come in the flesh." But the verse does not say that "God has come in the flesh." To interpret it that way is to go beyond what the verse says: "Jesus Christ has come in the flesh." Jehovah's Witnesses do believe that Jesus is the divine Son of God, the "only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." But John 1:1 in the King James and similar Bible versions is not at all the "clearest sense possible" of that verse, and many translations do not say "the Word was God" there. That is because the Greek of John 1:1 is said by scholars to have a qualitative sense: "the Word was divine" or even "the word was a god," rather than "the Word was God." Noted Bible scholar William Barclay wrote: "John is not here identifying the Word with God. To put it very simply, he does not say that Jesus was God." (Many Witnesses, One Lord, pages 23 and 24) "God is supreme over Christ." (1 Corinthians 11:3, Good News Bible)

  • 10 years ago

    I haven't read all the Bible just bits and pieces. I think if a person took on board everything in the Bible and believed it they would be totally confused. There are a lot of contradictions and a number of instances that suggest Jesus referred to God in the third person, indicating he was not or did not consider himself God.

    To maintain their faith Christians have to only consider certain texts not the ones that contradict their belief.

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  • Ack!!
    Lv 5
    10 years ago

    Because like most Christians that only quote partial verses, interpret everything differently, and take everything out of context...why should JW's be any different?

    But I do find your JW obsession hysterical.

  • 10 years ago

    I don't know either.

    http://www.christianfamilytube.com/?c=users_video&...

    The scriptures show that Jesus Is God and God is Jesus.

    Source(s): ref: The Trinity www.godsguis.com
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