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Monday, February 16, 2009

Was the Word “God” or “a god”?

Additional Reading: Also See:

THAT question has to be considered when Bible translators handle the first verse of the Gospel of John. In the New World Translation, the verse is rendered: “In the beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.” (John 1:1) Some other translations render the last part of the verse to convey the thought that the Word was “divine,” or something similar. (A New Translation of the Bible, by James Moffatt; The New English Bible) Many translations, however, render the last part of John 1:1: “And the Word was God.”—The Holy Bible—New International Version; The Jerusalem Bible.

Greek grammar and the context strongly indicate that the New World Translation rendering is correct and that “the Word” should not be identified as the “God” referred to earlier in the verse. Nevertheless, the fact that the Greek language of the first century did not have an indefinite article (“a” or “an”) leaves the matter open to question in some minds. It is for this reason that a Bible translation in a language that was spoken in the earliest centuries of our Common Era is very interesting.

The language is the Sahidic dialect of Coptic. The Coptic language was spoken in Egypt in the centuries immediately following Jesus’ earthly ministry, and the Sahidic dialect was an early literary form of the language. Regarding the earliest Coptic translations of the Bible, The Anchor Bible Dictionary says: “Since the [Septuagint] and the [Christian Greek Scriptures] were being translated into Coptic during the 3d century C.E., the Coptic version is based on [Greek manuscripts] which are significantly older than the vast majority of extant witnesses.”

The Sahidic Coptic text is especially interesting for two reasons. First, as indicated above, it reflects an understanding of Scripture dating from before the fourth century, which was when the Trinity became official doctrine. Second, Coptic grammar is relatively close to English grammar in one important aspect. The earliest translations of the Christian Greek Scriptures were into Syriac, Latin, and Coptic. Syriac and Latin, like the Greek of those days, do not have an indefinite article. Coptic, however, does. Moreover, scholar Thomas O. Lambdin, in his work Introduction to Sahidic Coptic, says: “The use of the Coptic articles, both definite and indefinite, corresponds closely to the use of the articles in English.”

Hence, the Coptic translation supplies interesting evidence as to how John 1:1 would have been understood back then. What do we find? The Sahidic Coptic translation uses an indefinite article with the word “god” in the final part of John 1:1. Thus, when rendered into modern English, the translation reads: “And the Word was a god.” Evidently, those ancient translators realized that John’s words recorded at John 1:1 did not mean that Jesus was to be identified as Almighty God. The Word was a god, not Almighty God.

Additional Reading:

November 1, 2008 Watchtower, Published by the WTB&TS

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Is Jesus Christ Michael the Archangel?

Angels as Jehovah's Representatives - Is Jesus Christ Michael the Archangel?
by Chuck McManigal:

Also: And:

The Holy Scriptures are clear and consistent in showing that at times an angel, or angels, represented and spoke for Jehovah—and often in the “first person”. The following are several examples of this, but certainly not all. When an angel speaks for Jehovah in the first person (as if the angel were actually God Himself), the angel was neither presumptuous nor blasphemous since Jehovah God Himself dispatched the angel as an agent to act in His name. As Jehovah’s agents, any angel sent by Jehovah was obeying Him in accomplishing what Jehovah sent the angel to do. As Jehovah’s representative, the sent one was authorized to speak for Jehovah, which explains why in so many of the following accounts, an angel is speaking, but the angel speaks in the first person as though it were Jehovah Himself.

Since Jesus Christ is referred to as the Logos (the Word or “spokesman”), no doubt the angel Jehovah sent as his “messenger” (for that is what angel means), was, in many cases, none other than Jesus himself. This is not a popular notion among Trinitarians because, if Jesus is a sent-one/messenger/angel, this would indicate that Jesus, as the “Logos” in heaven, was a created being, which the Bible clearly teaches he is. (Rev. 3:14; Col. 1:15; Prov. 8:22-30 as “Wisdom” personified). We will also discuss that—not only has Jehovah used Jesus as a messenger angel, but in heaven Jesus is none other than Michael the Archangel!

Gen. 16:7,9,10,11: “Later Jehovah’s angel found her [Hagar] at a fountain of waters in the wilderness, at the fountain on the way to Shur. …And Jehovah’s angel went on to say to her: “Return to your mistress and humble yourself under her hand.” Then Jehovah’s Angel said to her: ‘I shall greatly multiply your seed, so that it will not be numbered for multitude.’ Further Jehovah’s angel added to her: ‘Here you are pregnant and you shall give birth to a son and must call his name Ishmael; for Jehovah has heard your affliction.’ ”

Four times in the above verses we see “Jehovah’s angel” speaking for Jehovah. Please note that the angel spoke in the first person saying “I shall greatly multiply your seed…” Now, please note chapter 17, verse 20, Jehovah says [either directly, or possibly through that same angel]: “But as regards Ishmael I have heard you. Look! I will bless him and will make him fruitful and will multiply him very, very much. …” Now, who is the One that actually multiplied Ishmael’s seed? Was it the angel who was speaking for Jehovah in the first person, or was it Jehovah himself? I think the answer to that question is obvious. To show that the angel speaking for Jehovah as if he were Jehovah Himself was neither presumptuous nor blasphemous, Jehovah acted in harmony with what the angel said and actually did multiply Ishmael’s offspring “very, very much”.

Gen. 19:1,13: “Now the two angels arrived at Sodom by evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot caught sight of them, then he got up to meet them and bowed down with his face to the earth. …’For we are bringing this place to ruin, because the outcry against them has grown loud before Jehovah, so that Jehovah sent us to bring the city to ruin.’ ”

Now, looking at V.14 we read: “…and he [Lot] kept on saying: ‘Get up! Get out of this place because Jehovah is bringing the city to ruin!’…” And V.24 and 25 states: “Then Jehovah made it rain sulphur and fire from Jehovah, from the heavens, upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah. So he [Jehovah] went ahead overthrowing these cities…”

Was it Jehovah or the two angels who actually brought the city to ruin? It could have been the angels through Jehovah’s authority and power that did it, or perhaps the angels were only speaking in Jehovah’s name for him, and Jehovah Himself actually took the action. In either case, the point is clear that these two angels were speaking in Jehovah’s name, and in the first person (plural), regarding the destruction of these wicked cities. They weren’t being either presumptuous or blasphemous, but were speaking in Jehovah’s name as Jehovah’s representatives.

Gen. 21:17,18: “At that God heard the voice of the boy, and God’s angel called to Hagar out of the heavens and said to her: ‘What is the matter with you, Hagar? Do not be afraid, because God has listened to the voice of the boy there where he is. Get up, lift up the boy and take hold of him with your hand, because I shall constitute him a great nation.’ ”

Again, we see the angel speaking for Jehovah in the first person as the angel says: “I shall constitute him a great nation” when it was actually Jehovah that fulfilled that promise.

Gen. 22:1,2 says that “God” put Abraham to the test. Yet, V.11 states “But, Jehovah’s angel began calling out to him: ‘…for now I know you are God-fearing in that you have not withheld your son, your only one, from me’ ”

Once again we see Jehovah’s angel speaking for Jehovah in the first person, as if the angel were Jehovah.

Gen. 22:15-18 says: “And Jehovah’s angel proceeded to call to Abraham the second time out of the heavens and to say: ‘By myself I do swear’ is the utterance of Jehovah…due to the fact that you have listened to my voice.’ ” Compare Gen. 26:3b-5 where this time it says that Jehovah [or, possibly the same angel] says the same thing to Abraham: “…and I will carry out the sworn statement that I swore to Abraham your father, ‘And I will give to your seed all these lands; and by means of your seed all nations of the earth will bless themselves,’ due to the fact that Abraham listened to my voice and continued to keep his obligations to me, my commands, my statutes, and my laws.”

Who is it that Jehovah’s angel swears by? Himself, or due to the fact that he speaks in Jehovah’s name, is it then, Jehovah that he swears by, or—does Jehovah simply speak through the angel, as His messenger, or spokesman?

Gen. 31:11-13: “Then the angel of the [true] God said to me in the dream, …‘I am the [true] God of Bethel…where you vowed a vow to me. …’ ” Did Jacob vow a vow to the angel, or to Jehovah? Here we have another occasion of the angel speaking in the first person, as if he were Jehovah.

Gen. 32:24: “Finally Jacob was left by himself. Then a man began to grapple with him until the dawn ascended.” V.28 says: “…for you have contended with God and with men so that you at last prevailed.” Then V.30 says: “…I have seen God face to face and yet my soul was delivered.” How do we harmonize this with scriptures such as John 1:18 which says that “No man has seen GOD at any time.”? Clearly, the angel served as the representative of Jehovah, and God allowed this angel to be seen, so that Jacob could say, “I have seen God face to face and yet my soul was delivered.” Obviously, had Jacob actually seen the very Almighty God Himself, his soul [life] would not have been delivered, since Exodus 33:20 says very clearly: “…You are not able to see my face, because no man can see me and yet live.” These words are specific and clear.

Ex. 3:2,4: “Then Jehovah’s angel appeared to him [Moses] in a flame of fire in the midst of a thornbush…” God at once called to him [Moses] out of the midst of the thornbush…” Here we have another case of Jehovah’s angel speaking in the first person for Jehovah. And the Scripture says “God at once called to him…” This is neither presumptuous, sacrilegious, nor was it blasphemous because “Jehovah’s angel” was sent by Jehovah Himself to do his will in the matter, and as Jehovah’s representative, the angel was authorized to “speak in Jehovah’s name”. Acts 7:30-32 recounts the above and says: “And when forty years were fulfilled, there appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai an angel in the fiery flame of a thornbush. Now when Moses saw it he marveled at the sight. But as he was approaching to investigate, Jehovah’s voice came, ‘I am the God of your forefathers, the God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob.’ ” Both the Hebrew Scriptures (OT) and the Greek Scriptures (NT) agree that the angel represented Jehovah and spoke for Jehovah in the first person!

The following account expresses very well the relationship the angel(s) has as “representative(s) of Jehovah, and the “authority” Jehovah gives them to speak for him in the “first person”—because “my name is within him.”

Ex. 23:20-23: “Here I [Jehovah] am sending an angel ahead of you to keep you on the road and to bring you into the place that I have prepared. Watch yourself because of him [the angel] and obey his voice. Do not behave rebelliously against him for he [the angel] will not pardon your transgression; because my name is within him. However, if you strictly obey his voice and really do all that I shall speak then I shall certainly be hostile to your enemies and harass those who harass you. For my angel will go ahead of you …”

I like the way The Living Bible expresses this same account: “See, I am sending an Angel before you to lead you safely to the land I have prepared for you. Reverence him and obey all of his instructions; do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgression; he is my representative—he bears my name. But if you are careful to obey him, following all my instructions, then I will be an enemy to your enemies. For my Angel shall go before you …” The Contemporary English Version and Today’s English Version also express these verses very well and very clearly, showing that the angel was Jehovah’s representative, and as such, had the authority to speak in the first person for Jehovah. (“he bears my name” ).

Judges 2:1-4: “Then Jehovah’s angel went up from Gilgal to Bochim and said: ‘I proceeded to bring you up out of Egypt and to bring you into the land about which I swore to your fathers. Furthermore, I said “Never shall I break my covenant with you. And for your part, you must not conclude a covenant with the inhabitants of this land. Their altars you should pull down. But you have not listened to my voice. …” ’ And it came about that as soon as Jehovah’s angel had spoken these words…”

Who was it that brought the Israelites “up out of Egypt” and brought them “into the land about which I swore to your fathers.”? Who was actually the partner in the covenant with the Israelites, the angel, or Jehovah Himself? Yet the angel speaks for Jehovah in the first person again. Jehovah’s angel had the authority from Jehovah to speak for him and the angel speaks in the first person as if he were Jehovah Himself!

Judges 6:11-24 Rather than to write out the entire account, please note that V.11 identifies the speaker as Jehovah’s angel at verses 11,12,20,21 and 22. Yet the account shows Gidean addressing Jehovah at verses 15 and 22, and Jehovah speaks through the angel at verses 14,16 and 23.

Judges 13:3-22 This account is also too long to write out, but the account repeatedly refers to Jehovah’s angel and “a man of the true God.” Verse 21 and 22 are especially of interest: “And Jehovah’s angel did not repeat appearing to Manoah and his wife anymore. Then it was that Manoah knew that he had been Jehovah’s angel. Consequently Manoah said to his wife: ‘We shall positively die, because it is God that we have seen’ .”

Obviously, it wasn’t actually God that they had seen, but instead they saw Jehovah’s representative, the angel, who they equated with their human thinking the same as seeing Jehovah Himself. Obviously, it wasn’t the same as “Seeing” Jehovah Himself, as they did not die! (Ex. 33:20; John 1:18).

That Jehovah Himself is not the angel is clear by noting Zech. 1:12, which reads: “So the angel of Jehovah answered and said: ‘O Jehovah of armies, how long will you yourself not show mercy to Jerusalem…” (See also V.13 to the end of the chapter).

Matt. 2:13: “After they had withdrawn, look! Jehovah’s angel appeared in a dream to Joseph, saying: ‘Get up, take the young child and its mother and flee into Egypt, and stay there until I give you word; …’ and he stayed there until the decease of Herod, for that to be fulfilled which was spoken by Jehovah through his prophet, saying: ‘Out of Egypt I called my son’. ”

Here we have Jehovah’s angel “saying: ‘Get up, ...stay there until I [the angel] give you word.’ And then we read: “for that to be fulfilled which was spoken by Jehovah…saying: ‘Out of Egypt I called my son.’ ”

Here we have Jehovah’s angel, his representative, speaking to Joseph in the first person, as if Jehovah Himself were speaking. And the account shows clearly that it was Jehovah who spoke through his prophet [at Hosea 11:1] saying “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

Luke 2:9-11: “And suddenly Jehovah’s angel stood by them, and Jehovah’s glory gleamed around them, and they became very fearful. But the angel said to them: ‘Have no fear, for, look! I am declaring to you good news of a great joy that all the people will have, because there was born to you today a Savior, who is Christ the Lord, in David’s city.’ ”

There are times when Jehovah’s angel is none other than Jesus Christ prior to his coming to earth. But then there are times when it is obvious, such as the above verses that this angel was not Jesus, as Jesus had already been born there in Bethlehem. Neither was the angel “Jehovah” Himself, but another representative of His. V. 9 states that “Jehovah’s glory gleamed around them”. Isaiah 42:8 says of Jehovah: “…and to no one else shall I give my own glory…” Yet, “Jehovah’s glory gleamed around them”. This is another indicator that this angel represented Jehovah and as such, Jehovah’s glory was there—much like angels in the past spoke for Jehovah in first person, as if they were actually Jehovah. Because this angel represented Jehovah, He allowed his own “glory” to gleam around them. This was not presumptuous or blasphemous on the part of the angel, as the angel himself could not, in his own power, usurp Jehovah’s “glory”, but Jehovah Himself sent it, or allowed “His glory” to be present.

Another verse that shows that Jesus was not always Jehovah’s angel, is Luke 22:43, which states: “Then an angel from heaven appeared to him [Jesus] and strengthened him.”

The Bible shows that at times even humans, as representatives of Jehovah, are credited with actions that Jehovah actually performed. For example, at Jeremiah 1:9,10 we read: “At that Jehovah thrust his hand out and caused it to touch my [Jeremiah’s] mouth. Then Jehovah said to me: ‘Here I have put my words in your mouth. See, I have commissioned you this day to be over the nations and over the kingdoms in order to uproot and to pull down and to destroy and to tear down, to build and to plant.” Who was it that actually was responsible for the destruction of Jerusalem and other cities of Judah? Lamentations [written also by Jeremiah] 2:2 is one of several places in the Bible that shows the destruction took place at Jehovah’s hand, not Jeremiah’s: “Jehovah has swallowed up, he has shown no compassion upon any abiding places of Jacob. In his fury he has torn down the fortified places of the daughter of Judah.

We have another example of an act credited to Ezekiel, as Jehovah’s representative, but actually performed by Jehovah Himself. At Ezekiel 43:3 we read: “And it was like the appearance of the vision that I had seen, like the vision that I saw when I came to bring the city to ruin.” Who actually brought the city [Jerusalem] to ruin? Ezekiel or Jehovah? Yet the action was credited to Ezekiel. Ezekiel spoke of himself in the first person as a representative of Jehovah in foretelling Jerusalem’s destruction. This is like the angels spoke in the first person, as for example, at Genesis 19:13, (seen earlier) which reads: “For we are bringing this place to ruin, because the outcry against them has grown loud before Jehovah, so that Jehovah sent us to bring the city to ruin.” Yet verse 24 shows clearly that it was actually Jehovah who accomplished this: “Then Jehovah made it rain sulphur and fire from Jehovah, from the heavens, upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah.” This is, too, very much like what Jesus said at John 2:19. Here Jesus, as Jehovah’s representative, credits himself for an action that Jehovah actually did. “In answer Jesus said to them: ‘Break down this temple, and in three days I will raise it up’”
No less than 20 different verses show clearly that in reality, Jehovah God raised Jesus from the dead. Obviously, if Jesus was truly “dead” he couldn’t raise himself up, but he, like angelic and human representatives before him, could speak for Jehovah in the first person!

So, even when Jesus was a perfect man on earth, he was Jehovah’s representative, or “sent one”, always in subjection to his Father, Jehovah God, who sent Jesus. How Jesus quickly refuted his enemies who accused Jesus of trying to make himself “equal to God” such as at John 5:18. John 5:19 says, in answer to them: “Most truly I say to you, The Son cannot do a single thing of his own initiative, but only what he beholds the Father doing.” And again in V.30 Jesus said: “I cannot do a single thing of my own initiative; just as I hear, I judge; and the judgment that I render is righteous, because I seek, not my own will, but the will of him that sent me.” And again, at John 7:16, Jesus said: “…what I teach is not mine, but belongs to him that sent me.” And at V. 28b-29 we read: “…Also, I have not come of my own initiative, but he that sent me is real, and you do not know him. I know him because I am a representative from him, and that One sent me forth.” Again at John 8:28b-29 we read: “…I do nothing of my own initiative, but just as the Father taught me I speak these things. And he that sent me is with me; he did not abandon me to myself, because I always do the things pleasing to him.”

The position of Jehovah’s Witnesses (and others as we shall see) is that Michael the Archangel is one of the heavenly names of none other than Jesus Christ. Consider the following.

The first mention of “Michael” in this context is at Daniel 10:13 where we read: “But the prince of the royal realm of Persia was standing in opposition to me for twenty one days, and, look! Michael, one of the foremost princes, came to help me. …” In that same chapter, V.21b says: “…and there is no one holding strongly with me in these [things] but Michael, the prince of you people.”

What we learn from the above is that Michael is a “foremost” prince and that he is both “strong” and “the prince of you people”.

Daniel 12:1 continues concerning “Michael”: “And during that time Michael will stand up, the great prince who is standing in behalf of the sons of your people. And there will certainly occur a time of distress such as has not been made to occur since there came to be a nation until that time. And during that time your people will escape, every one who is found written down in the book. And there will be many of those asleep in the ground of dust, who will wake up, these to indefinitely lasting life and those to reproaches [and] to indefinitely lasting abhorrence.”

From the above we can see that when the time comes when “Michael, the great prince” stands up—or takes his power, there would be “a time of distress such as has not been made to occur since there came to be a nation until that time.

Now, comparing those words with Matt. 24:21 in one of the chapters dealing with events to occur in the last days, and particularly when Jesus “stands up” from sitting at the right hand of God—or takes his power, “for then there will be great tribulation such has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now, no, nor will occur again.”

Clearly, Michael the great prince, and Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, who is also the “great prince” since he is the Son of the King of Eternity, Jehovah God, both take their power, or “stand up” at the very same time of distress/tribulation never before seen—no—not even at the time of the flood, until that time. Now, there are not two princes, namely Michael and Jesus Christ, who are both sons of a king, who “stand up” together at that same time.

Daniel 12:2 states: And there will be many of those asleep in the ground of dust, who will wake up, …” While John 5:28,29 quotes Jesus Christ as saying: “Do not marvel at this, because the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice [referring to himself as the “Son of man” at V.27] and come out, those who did good things to a resurrection of life, those who practiced vile things to a resurrection of judgment.” Both of these accounts are referring to the resurrection when the dead will hear the voice of Jesus, or Michael the Archangel, and come forth out of their graves.

Notice how Jesus Christ and Michael are joined as One in the following from 1 Thess. 4:16: “because the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a commanding call, with an archangel’s voice and with God’s trumpet, and those who are dead in union with Christ will rise first”—again referring to resurrection. It is not difficult to see that if Jesus Christ has an archangel’s voice, that he is also that archangel!

Now, let’s consider Rev. 12:7 carefully. “And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels battled with the dragon, and the dragon and its angels battled, but it did not prevail, neither was a place found for them any longer in heaven. So down the great dragon was hurled, the original serpent, the one called Devil and Satan, who is misleading the entire inhabited earth; he was hurled down to the earth, and his angels were hurled down with him.”

Who else but the glorified Jesus Christ should have the privilege of ousting Satan from heaven? Wasn’t it Jesus Christ who proved to be the “seed of the Woman” (Gen. 3:15) who was going to have the privilege of crushing Satan’s head? Being cast out of heaven was the first stage of Satan’s eventual complete destruction, (Heb. 2:14) symbolized by the “crushing” of Satan’s head (Gen. 3:15).

Interestingly, Jehovah’s Witnesses are not the only ones who believe that Michael the Archangel is in reality none other than Jesus Christ.

From: Christology of the Old Testament and a Commentary on the Messianic Predictions, 1836-9, Vol. IV, pp. 304-5, by Ernst Wilhelm Hengstengerg, we read: “The two passages in the NT in which Michael is mentioned serve to confirm the result already arrived at. That the Michael referred to in Rev. 12:7 is no other than the Logos, has already been proved in my commentary upon that passage. …the name Michael [Who is like God?, that is, ‘Who dares to claim that they are like God?’] contains in itself an intimation that the work referred to here, the decisive victory over Satan, belongs to Christ, not as human, but rather as divine [compare 1 John 3:8]. Moreover, this name forms a connecting link between the Old Testament and the New. Even in the OT, Michael is represented as the great prince, who fights on behalf of the Church (Dan. 12:1). The conflict there alluded to was a prediction and prelude of the one mentioned hero.”

The following is a rather lengthy quote from: The Bible Doctrine of God, Jesus Christ, The Holy Spirit, Atonement, Faith and Election; NY: H.R. Piercy, 1829, pp.152-5, by William Kinkade, a copy to be found in the library of Harvard University. “I am not alone in this opinion; most of the principal writers of the Trinitarian school have advocated the same doctrine. Brown’s dictionary of the Bible on the words Michael, and Angel says, that both these words do sometimes refer to Christ; and also affirms that Christ is the archangel. Woods Spiritual Dictionary teaches nearly, if not exactly, the same on this subject that Brown’s does. The former was a Calvinist, the latter a Methodist. Buck in his Theological Dictionary says, under the article Angel, d) that Christ is in scripture frequently called an Angel. Butterworth, Cruden, and Taylor in their concordances, assert that Michael and Angel are both names of Christ. Doctor Coke, a Methodist bishop, in his notes on the Bible, acknowledges that Christ is sometimes called an Angel. See his notes of that passage where the Angel of the Lord spake to the people at Bochim. Winchester has taught the same doctrine in the 152nd page of the first volume of his lectures on the prophecies. Whitefield, in his sermon on the bush that burnt and was not consumed, says that the Angel that appeared to Moses in the bush was Christ. Pool, in his Annotations, explains those passages where the Lord appeared to the Patriarchs under the character of an Angel, as referring to Jesus Christ. Bunyan makes the pilgrim ascribe his deliverance from Apollyon to Michael. He says, “Blessed Michael helped me.” Pilgrim’s Progress, Cincinnati edition, page 54. Guyse in his Paraphrase on the New Testament, on Rev. 12:7, acknowledges that many good expositors think that Christ is signified by Michael; and also gives it as his opinion.

“Doctor Watts in his Glories of Christ, pp. 200-202, 218,223, and 224, teaches the same doctrine. Watts, Dodridge and some others have called this Angel of the covenant, or Angel of God’s presence Christ’s human soul, whom they think was the first Being that God ever created. I agree with them that Christ is the first Being that God created, but I cannot see the propriety of calling the pre-existent Christ a human soul, seeing he did not descend from humans but existed before the human family was created.

“Thomas Scott, in his notes on the Bible, says the Angel that appeared to Hagar when she fled from her mistress, one of the three Angels that appeared to Abraham in the plains of Mamre, the Angel that appeared to Moses in the bush, and the Angel that spoke to the Jews at Bochim, was Jesus Christ: and also asserts that Michael the Archangel is Jesus Christ.

“I could mention many other writers who have advocated this doctrine, but these are sufficient to prove that it has long been believed among the most eminent Trinitarians. I forbear to quote the words of all these authors on the subject, because it would swell this work unnecessarily; and as those books are very common, the reader can examine them for himself.

“Little did many of these great and good men think that when they were teaching that Christ is an Angel, that he is the Angel of the covenant, the Angel of God’s presence, and Michael and Archangel, they were thereby undermining Trinitarianism; yet they actually were, because, if he was the Angel of God, and as Moses says, the Angel that God sent to bring the Jews out of Egypt, he cannot be God in the highest sense of the word.

“As the text which says Melchisedec was the Priest of the most high God, proves that Melchisedec was not the most high God, so the passages which say Christ is the Angel of God, prove that he cannot be that God, whose Angel or Messenger he is. [Christ is called ‘apostle and high priest.’ (Hebrews 3:1) This shows he is serving someone above him!]

After commenting on a text that some use to disprove that Jesus was not an angel, the author goes on to say: “The other text that I have heard urged to prove that Christ never was an Angel, is Heb. 1:5: ‘For unto which of the Angels said he at any time, thou are my Son, this day have I begotten thee.’ Although this text abundantly proves that Christ is exalted above all other Messengers, it by no means proves that he never was a Messenger himself. If I should say of General Washington that he was made superior to all the officers of the Revolutionary army for to which of the officers said Congress at any time, thou shalt be commander-in-chief, and again when they brought him into the army, they said, let all of the officers obey him, and of the officers it is said that the government gave them commissions and appointed them wages, but to Washington it said, thou hast loved thy country, and hated treachery, therefore the government, even thy government, hath exalted thee to honor and office, above thy fellows; such conversation would go just about as far to prove that I thought Washington never was an officer in the army of the Revolution, as the first chapter of Hebrews goes to prove that Christ never was a Messenger of God. In fact the above text taken in its connexion [connection] goes rather to prove, then to disprove, that he is one of God’s Angels, or Messengers, because the writer, after speaking of him in connexion [connection] with the Angels several times, finally asserts that he was anointed with the oil of gladness above his fellows, by which he must mean his fellow messengers [angels] for there are no others mentioned in this connexion [connection].

“The drift of the writer in the first chapter of Hebrews, was not to show that Christ was no Messenger, but to show that he was made greater than all the Messengers of God: Therefore, when the above text is brought to prove that Christ never was an Angel, that is, a Messenger of God, it is pressed into a service for which it was never designed by the writer.”

This is also an interesting quote from The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, 1930, Vol. III, p.2048, by John A. Lees. He states: The earlier Protestant scholars usually identified Michael with the preincarnate Christ, finding support for their view, not only in the juxtaposition of the ‘child’ and the archangel in Rev. 12, but also in the attributes ascribed to him in Daniel.”

Scriptural evidence indicates that the name Michael is applied to God’s Son before he left heaven to become Jesus Christ, and also after his return. Michael is the only one said to be the “archangel,” meaning ‘chief angel’ or ‘principal angel’. The term occurs in the Bible only in the singular. This seems to imply that there is but one whom God has designated chief or head of the angelic host. At 1 Thess. 4:16 the voice of the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ is described as being that of an archangel, suggesting that he is in fact, himself the archangel. This text depicts him as descending from heaven with a “commanding call.” It is only logical, therefore, that the voice expressing this commanding call be described by a word that would not diminish or detract from the great authority that Christ Jesus now has as King of kings and Lord of lords. (Matt. 28:18; Rev. 17:14). If the designation “archangel” applied not to Jesus Christ, but to another angel, then the reference to an “archangel’s voice” would not be appropriate. In that case it would be describing a voice of lesser authority than that of the Son of God.

There are also other correspondences establishing that Michael is actually the Son of God. Daniel, after making the first references to Michael (Dan. 10:13), recorded a prophecy reaching down to “the time of the end” (Dan. 11:40), and then stated: “And during that time Michael will stand up, the prince who is standing in behalf of the sons of ‘Daniel’s] people. (Dan. 12:1). Michael’s “standing up” was to be associated with “a time of distress such as has not been made to occur since there came to be a nation until that time.” (Dan. 12:1). In Daniel’s’ prophecy, “standing up” frequently refers to the action of a king, either taking up his royal power or acting effectively in his capacity as king. (Dan. 11:2-4, 7, 16b, 20, 21). This supports the conclusion that Michael is Jesus Christ, since Jesus is Jehovah’s appointed King, commissioned to destroy all the nations at Har-Magedon.—Rev. 11:15; 16:14-16.

The book of Revelation 12:7,10,12 mentions Michael in connection with the establishment of God’s kingdom and links this event with trouble for the earth: “And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels battled with the dragon, and the dragon and its angels battled. And I heard a loud voice in heaven say: ‘Now have come to pass the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ, because the accuser of our brothers has been hurled down. …On this account be glad, you heavens and you who reside in them! Woe for the earth and for the sea.” Jesus Christ is later depicted as leading the heavenly armies in war against the nations of the earth. (Rev. 19:11-16). This would mean a period of distress for them, which would logically be included in the “time of distress” that is associated with Michael’s standing up. (Dan. 12:1). Since the Son of God is to fight the nations, it is only reasonable that he was the one who with his angels earlier battled against the superhuman dragon, Satan the Devil, and his angels.

As a man with a tenor voice is identified as a tenor, and a man with a bass voice is identified as a bass; why would it be strange for a person with “an archangel’s voice” to be identified as the Archangel Michael? Who is said to have the archangel’s voice in Scripture? None other than Jesus Christ. At 1 Thess. The phrase “the voice of an archangel” (literally, ‘the voice of archangel’) the “an” in English renderings, (or course there is no ‘an’ in the Greek) does not suggest that there are a group of such beings with that type of voice, nor are there more than one Archangel and Christ is one of them; any more than saying of a great operatic tenor: “he has the voice of a Caruso.” There was only one Enrico Caruso. What is being described is the type of voice possessed by the one described as “having a Caruso type of voice.”

To conclude: Fairbairn’s Imperial Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Patrick Fairbairn, D.D., editor, Grand Rapids, Zondervan Publishing, 1957, Vol. IV, pp.238,239; Revised 1997, Vol. Seven, p. 800. (originally published as The Imperial Bible Dictionary, 1891), states this: “But we have not only this, that Michael is here [Daniel 12:1], not ‘one of the chief princes,’ nor even ‘the first of them;’ but ‘the chief prince,’ because no other prince is worthy to be named in the same breath with him; as in fact he is that unlimited and everlasting ruler of whom the whole book of Daniel prophesies, at the coming of whose kingdom all its rivals were swept away, and no place was found for them.

“A dispassionate consideration can scarcely fail to convince us that this being whom Daniel saw is the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God. …There is nothing strange and unprecedented in the view that this prince of his people, this great prince, this effective helper superior to men and angels even when he stood alone; should be a person about whom there was indeed a great mystery in the Old Testament, but who had been known throughout the whole course of revelation to Daniel’s people, as standing in some very close relation at once to Jehovah and to them.

“To deny that the Angel of the Lord is the Son of God is to introduce confusion into the whole of the record of God’s dealings with his ancient people; if, on the contrary, we affirm their identity, when the supposition that he and Michael are one and the same is the simplest and most natural imaginable, as will appear all the more if we attempt to construct a different theory.”

If you consider all of the above, there must be only one conclusion from the Scriptures and reason itself—that Michael the archangel is none other than our Lord Jesus Christ! Also See:

“You, O Jehovah, are good and ready to forgive.”

“You, O Jehovah, are good and ready to forgive.”—PSALM 86:5.

KING DAVID of ancient Israel knew how heavy the burden of a guilty conscience could be. He wrote: “My own errors have passed over my head; like a heavy load they are too heavy for me. I have grown numb and become crushed to an extreme degree; I have roared due to the groaning of my heart.” (Psalm 38:4, 8) David, however, found comfort for his troubled heart. He knew that while Jehovah hates sin, he does not hate the sinner—if that one is truly repentant and rejects his sinful course. (Psalm 32:5; 103:3) With full faith in Jehovah’s willingness to extend mercy to repentant ones, David said: “You, O Jehovah, are good and ready to forgive.”—Psalm 86:5.

When we sin, we too may carry the crushing burden of a painful conscience as a result. This feeling of remorse is normal, even healthy. It can move us to take positive steps to correct our mistakes. Some Christians, though, have become overwhelmed by guilt. Their self-condemning heart might insist that God will not fully forgive them, no matter how repentant they are. “It is a terrible feeling when you think that Jehovah may not love you anymore,” said one sister, reflecting on a mistake she had made. Even after she repented and accepted helpful counsel from congregation elders, she continued to feel unworthy of God’s forgiveness. She explains: “Not a day passes by when I don’t ask Jehovah for his forgiveness.” If we become “swallowed up” by guilt, Satan may try to get us to give up, to feel that we are not worthy of serving Jehovah.—2 Corinthians 2:5-7, 11.

But that is not at all how Jehovah views matters! His Word assures us that when we manifest genuine heartfelt repentance, Jehovah is willing, yes ready, to forgive. (Proverbs 28:13) So if God’s forgiveness has ever seemed unattainable to you, perhaps what is needed is a better understanding of why and how he forgives.
Why Is Jehovah “Ready to Forgive”?

We read: “As far off as the sunrise is from the sunset, so far off from us he has put our transgressions. As a father shows mercy to his sons, Jehovah has shown mercy to those fearing him.” Why is Jehovah disposed to show mercy? The next verse answers: “For he himself well knows the formation of us, remembering that we are dust.” (Psalm 103:12-14) Yes, Jehovah does not forget that we are creatures of dust, having frailties, or weaknesses, as a result of imperfection. The expression that he knows “the formation of us” reminds us that the Bible likens Jehovah to a potter and us to the vessels he forms. (Jeremiah 18:2-6) A potter handles his clay vessels firmly yet delicately, ever mindful of their nature. So, too, Jehovah, the Great Potter, tempers his dealings with us according to the frailty of our sinful nature.—Compare 2 Corinthians 4:7.

Jehovah understands how powerful sin is. The Scriptures describe sin as a potent force that has man in its deadly grip. Just how strong is sin’s grasp? In the book of Romans, the inspired apostle Paul explains this in graphic terms: We are “under sin,” as soldiers are under their commander (Romans 3:9); it has “ruled” over mankind like a king (Romans 5:21); it “resides,” or is “dwelling,” within us (Romans 7:17, 20); its “law” is continually at work in us, in effect trying to control our course. (Romans 7:23, 25) What a difficult battle we have to resist sin’s powerful hold on our fallen flesh!—Romans 7:21, 24.

Hence, our merciful God knows that perfect obedience is not possible for us, no matter how much our hearts may want to give it to him. (1 Kings 8:46) He lovingly assures us that when we seek his fatherly mercy with a contrite heart, he will extend forgiveness. The psalmist David said: “The sacrifices to God are a broken spirit; a heart broken and crushed, O God, you will not despise.” (Psalm 51:17) Jehovah will never reject, or turn away, a heart that is broken and crushed by the burden of guilt. How beautifully that describes Jehovah’s readiness to forgive!

Does this mean, though, that we can presume on God’s mercy, using our sinful nature as an excuse to sin? By no means! Jehovah is not guided by mere sentiment. His mercy has limits. He will by no means forgive those who hard-heartedly practice malicious, willful sin with no repentance. (Hebrews 10:26-31) On the other hand, when he sees a heart that is “broken and crushed,” he is “ready to forgive.” (Proverbs 17:3) Let us consider some of the expressive language used in the Bible to describe the completeness of divine forgiveness.

How Completely Does Jehovah Forgive?

Repentant King David said: “My sin I finally confessed to you, and my error I did not cover. I said: ‘I shall make confession over my transgressions to Jehovah.’ And you yourself pardoned the error of my sins.” (Psalm 32:5) The expression “pardoned” translates a Hebrew word that basically means “lift up,” “bear, carry.” Its use here signifies ‘to take away guilt, iniquity, transgression.’ So Jehovah lifted up David’s sins and carried them away, as it were. (Compare Leviticus 16:20-22.) This no doubt eased the feelings of guilt that David had been carrying. (Compare Psalm 32:3.) We too can have full confidence in the God who pardons the sins of those who seek his forgiveness on the basis of their faith in the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ. (Matthew 20:28; compare Isaiah 53:12.) Those whose sins Jehovah thus lifts up and carries away need not continue to carry the burden of guilt feelings for past sins.

Jesus drew on the relationship of creditors and debtors to illustrate how Jehovah forgives. For example, Jesus urged us to pray: “Forgive us our debts.” (Matthew 6:12) Jesus thus likened “sins” to “debts.” (Luke 11:4) When we sin, we become “debtors” to Jehovah. The Greek verb translated “forgive” can mean “to let go, give up, a debt, by not demanding it.” In a sense, when Jehovah forgives, he cancels the debt that would otherwise be charged against our account. Repentant sinners can thus take comfort. Jehovah will never demand payment for a debt he has canceled!—Psalm 32:1, 2; compare Matthew 18:23-35.

At Acts 3:19, the Bible uses another vivid figure of speech to describe God’s forgiveness: “Repent, therefore, and turn around so as to get your sins blotted out.” The phrase ‘get blotted out’ translates a Greek verb that, when used metaphorically, can mean “to wipe out, obliterate, cancel or destroy.” According to some scholars, the image expressed is that of erasing handwriting. How was this possible? The ink commonly used in ancient times was made of a mixture that included carbon, gum, and water. Soon after working with such ink, a person could take a wet sponge and wipe the writing away.

Therein is a beautiful picture of the completeness of Jehovah’s forgiveness. When he forgives our sins, it is as though he takes a sponge and wipes them away. We need not fear that he will hold such sins against us in the future, for the Bible reveals something else about Jehovah’s mercy that is truly remarkable: When he forgives, he forgets!

- Published by the WTB&TS in 1998

Can Anything “Separate Us From God’s Love”?

WHO of us does not need to be loved? Indeed, we thrive when we feel loved by family and friends. Sadly, though, human relationships can be very fragile and uncertain. Loved ones may hurt us, abandon us, or even reject us. Yet, there is someone whose love is unfailing. The love that Jehovah God has for his worshippers is beautifully described at Romans 8:38, 39.

“I am convinced,” says the apostle Paul. Convinced of what? That nothing can “separate us from God’s love.” Paul speaks not just for himself but also for “us”—that is, for all who serve God loyally. To emphasize his point, Paul lists a number of things that cannot prevent Jehovah’s love from reaching his devoted servants.

“Neither death nor life.” Jehovah’s love for his people does not cease when they die. In proof of his love, God keeps such ones in his memory, and he will restore them to life in the righteous new world to come. (John 5:28, 29; Revelation 21:3, 4) Meanwhile, God’s love for his loyal worshippers remains constant no matter what life in this system of things may bring them.

“Nor angels nor governments.” Humans can be susceptible to the influence of powerful individuals or authorities, but not so with Jehovah. Mighty spirit creatures, such as the angel who became Satan, cannot persuade God to stop loving his worshippers. (Revelation 12:10) Neither can governments, which may oppose true Christians, alter God’s view of his servants.—1 Corinthians 4:13.

“Nor things now here nor things to come.” God’s love does not fade with time. There is nothing that can come upon his servants now or in the future that will cause God to stop loving them.

“Nor powers.” Paul has referred to heavenly and earthly forces—“angels” and “governments”—but now he mentions “powers.” The Greek word used here is broad in meaning. Whatever the precise meaning, one thing is certain: No power in heaven or on earth can keep Jehovah’s love from reaching his people.

“Nor height nor depth.” Jehovah loves his people regardless of the circumstances—high or low—in which they find themselves.

“Nor any other creation.” With these all-inclusive words, Paul is saying that absolutely nothing can separate loyal worshippers from Jehovah’s love.

Unlike the love of a human, which can change or fade, God’s love for those who keep looking to him in faith is unalterable; it is everlasting. Knowing this surely moves us to draw closer to Jehovah and to try our best to prove our love for him.

- August 1, 2008 Watchtower, WTB&TS

Their Modern Development and Growth

THE modern history of Jehovah’s Witnesses began more than a hundred years ago. In the early 1870’s, a rather inconspicuous Bible study group began in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, U.S.A., which is now a part of Pittsburgh. Charles Taze Russell was the prime mover of the group. In July 1879, the first issue of the magazine Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence appeared. By 1880 scores of congregations had spread from that one small Bible study into nearby states. In 1881 Zion’s Watch Tower Tract Society was formed, and in 1884 it was incorporated, with Russell as president. The Society’s name was later changed to Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. Many were witnessing from house to house offering Bible literature. Fifty persons were doing this full time in 1888—now the average number worldwide is about 700,000.

By 1909 the work had become international, and the Society’s headquarters was moved to its present location in Brooklyn, New York. Printed sermons were syndicated in newspapers, and by 1913 these were in four languages in 3,000 newspapers in the United States, Canada, and Europe. Books, booklets, and tracts had been distributed by the hundreds of millions.

In 1912 work began on the “Photo-Drama of Creation.” By slides and motion pictures with sound, it covered from earth’s creation to the end of Christ’s Thousand Year Reign. Showings started in 1914, with 35,000 seeing it daily. It was a pioneer in motion pictures with sound.


A crucial time was drawing close. In 1876 the Bible student Charles Taze Russell contributed the article “Gentile Times: When Do They End?” to the Bible Examiner, published in Brooklyn, New York, which said on page 27 of its October issue, “The seven times will end in A.D. 1914.” The Gentile Times is the period referred to in another Bible translation as “the appointed times of the nations.” (Luke 21:24) Not all that was expected to happen in 1914 did happen, but it did mark the end of the Gentile Times and was a year of special significance. Many historians and commentators agree that 1914 was a turning point in human history. The following quotations illustrate this:

“The last completely ‘normal’ year in history was 1913, the year before World War I began.”—Editorial in the Times-Herald, Washington, D.C., March 13, 1949.

“Increasingly, the 75-year period from 1914 to 1989, covering two world wars and the cold war, is being seen by historians as a single, discrete epoch, a time apart in which much of the world was fighting war, recovering from war or preparing for war.”—The New York Times, May 7, 1995.

“The whole world really blew up about World War I and we still don’t know why. Before then, men thought that utopia was in sight. There was peace and prosperity. Then everything blew up. We’ve been in a state of suspended animation ever since . . . More people have been killed in this century than in all of history.”—Dr. Walker Percy, American Medical News, November 21, 1977.

More than 50 years after 1914, German statesman Konrad Adenauer wrote: “Security and quiet have disappeared from the lives of men since 1914.”—The West Parker, Cleveland, Ohio, January 20, 1966.

The Society’s first president, C. T. Russell, died in 1916 and was succeeded the following year by Joseph F. Rutherford. Many changes took place. A companion magazine to The Watchtower, called The Golden Age, was introduced. (Now called Awake!, with a circulation of more than 20,000,000 in over 80 languages.) Door-to-door witnessing received greater emphasis. To distinguish themselves from the denominations of Christendom, in 1931 these Christians embraced the name Jehovah’s Witnesses. This name is based on Isaiah 43:10-12.

The radio was used extensively in the 1920’s and 1930’s. By 1933 the Society was using 403 radio stations to broadcast Bible lectures. Later, the use of the radio was largely replaced by increased house-to-house visits by Witnesses with portable phonographs and recorded Bible talks. Home Bible studies were started with anyone who showed interest in Bible truth.


During the 1930’s and 1940’s, there were many arrests of Witnesses for doing this work, and court cases were fought in the interest of preserving freedom of speech, press, assembly, and worship. In the United States, appeals from lower courts resulted in the Witnesses’ winning 43 cases before the Supreme Court of the United States. Similarly, favorable judgments have been obtained from high courts in other lands. Concerning these court victories, Professor C. S. Braden, in his book These Also Believe, said of the Witnesses: “They have performed a signal service to democracy by their fight to preserve their civil rights, for in their struggle they have done much to secure those rights for every minority group in America.”


J. F. Rutherford died in 1942 and was succeeded in the presidency by N. H. Knorr. A concerted program of training began. In 1943 a special training school for missionaries, called the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead, was established. From that time onward, graduates from this school have been sent to lands all over the earth. New congregations have sprung up in countries where there had been none, and branches established internationally now number more than 100. From time to time, special courses have been established for training congregation elders, voluntary workers at branches, and those engaged full time (as pioneers) in the witnessing work. A number of specialized types of schooling for ministers have been offered at an educational center operated in Patterson, New York.

N. H. Knorr died in 1977. One of the last organizational changes in which he shared before his death was the enlargement of the Governing Body, located at the world headquarters in Brooklyn. In 1976 administrative responsibilities were divided up and assigned to various committees made up of members of the Governing Body, all of whom have many decades of experience as ministers.


Additional Reading:

The history of Jehovah’s Witnesses in modern times has been filled with dramatic events. From the one small Bible study in Pennsylvania back in 1870, the Witnesses by the year 2000 grew to some 90,000 congregations worldwide. All literature was, at first, printed by commercial firms; then, in 1920, the Witnesses produced some literature in rented factory buildings. But from 1927 on, much more literature was turned out in the eight-story factory building in Brooklyn, New York, owned by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc. This has now expanded into other factory buildings and an office complex. There are additional buildings nearby in Brooklyn to house the ministers who volunteer to operate the publishing facilities. In addition to this, a combination farm and printery is operated near Wallkill, in upstate New York. It handles printing of the Watchtower and Awake! magazines and produces some of the food for the ministers serving in the various locations. Each volunteer worker receives a small monthly reimbursement to cover incidental expenses.


In 1893 the first major convention was held in Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A. It was attended by 360, and 70 new ones were baptized. The last big single international convention was held in New York City in 1958. It used both Yankee Stadium and the then-existing Polo Grounds. Peak attendance was 253,922; new ones baptized numbered 7,136. Since then international conventions have been held as a series in many countries. In all, such a series may involve a thousand conventions in lands around the globe.

- Published by the WTB&TS in 2000

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

No Claim of Inspiration

Jehovah’s Witnesses do not claim to be inspired prophets. They have made mistakes. Like the apostles of Jesus Christ, they have at times had some wrong expectations.—Luke 19:11; Acts 1:6.

Additional Reading:

The Scriptures provide time elements related to Christ’s presence, and Jehovah’s Witnesses have studied these with keen interest. (Luke 21:24; Dan. 4:10-17) Jesus also described a many-featured sign that would tie in with the fulfillment of time prophecies to identify the generation that would live to see the end of Satan’s wicked system of things. (Luke 21:7-36) Jehovah’s Witnesses have pointed to evidence in fulfillment of this sign. It is true that the Witnesses have made mistakes in their understanding of what would occur at the end of certain time periods, but they have not made the mistake of losing faith or ceasing to be watchful as to fulfillment of Jehovah’s purposes. They have continued to keep to the fore in their thinking the counsel given by Jesus: “Keep on the watch, therefore, because you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.”—Matt. 24:42.

No Claim of Inspiration

Additional Reading:

Not to be overlooked is the larger context of the role of the Watch Tower publications. Whereas Watchtower writers undoubtedly pray for God’s blessing on their work and sincerely believe that God answers these prayers, they make no pretensions of being inspired, infallible or perfect. Consider the following extracts from Watch Tower publications, which prove that this is the case. (This is just a small selection of examples. Many more could be cited, but care has been taken to include at least one example for every decade since The Watchtower began to be published.)

The ex-JWs and other Watchtower faultfinders, might not want you to read these Watchtower statements. Because these antagonists will only use whatever suits their purpose and ignore the rest, they will try anything to make the Watchtower Society look bad.

1870s: We do not object to changing our opinions on any subject, or discarding former applications of prophecy, or any other scripture, when we see a good reason for the change,—in fact, it is important that we should be willing to unlearn errors and mere traditions, as to learn truth.... It is our duty to "prove all things."—by the unerring Word,—"and hold fast to that which is good."

1880s: “We have not the gift of prophecy.”

1890s: Nor would we have our writings reverenced or regarded as infallible, or on a par with the holy Scriptures. The most we claim or have ever claimed for our teachings is that they are what we believe to be harmonious interpretations of the divine Word, in harmony with the spirit of the truth. And we still urge, as in the past, that each reader study the subjects we present in the light of the Scriptures, proving all things by the Scriptures, accepting what they see to be thus approved, and rejecting all else. It is to this end, to enable the student to trace the subject in the divinely inspired Record, that we so freely intersperse both quotations and citations of the Scriptures upon which to build.

1900s: It is not our intention to enter upon the role of prophet to any degree, but merely to give below what seems to us rather likely to be the trend of events—giving also the reasons for our expectations.

Someone may ask, Do you, then, claim infallibility and that every sentence appearing in "The Watch Tower" publications is stated with absolute correctness? Assuredly we make no such claim and have never made such a claim. What motive can our opponents have in so charging against us? Are they not seeking to set up a falsehood to give themselves excuse for making attacks and to endeavor to pervert the judgments of others?

1910s: However, we should not denounce those who in a proper spirit express their dissent in respect to the date mentioned [1914] and what may there be expected . . . We must admit that there are possibilities of our having made a mistake in respect to the chronology, even though we do not see where any mistake has been made in calculating the seven times of the Gentiles as expiring about October 1, 1914.

1920s: Many students have made the grievous mistake of thinking that God has inspired men to interpret prophecy. The holy prophets of the Old Testament were inspired by Jehovah to write as his power moved upon them. The writers of the New Testament were clothed with certain power and authority to write as the Lord directed them. However, since the days of the apostles no man on earth has been inspired to write prophecy, nor has any man been inspired to interpret prophecy.

1930s: We are not a prophet; we merely believe that we have come to the place where the Gentile times have ended.

1940s: This pouring out of God's spirit upon the flesh of all his faithful anointed witnesses does not mean those now serving as Jehovah's Witnesses are inspired. It does not mean that the writings in this magazine The Watchtower are inspired and infallible and without mistakes. It does not mean that the president of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society is inspired and infallible, although enemies falsely charge us with believing so.... But we confess with the Scriptures that the day of such inspiration passed long before 1870, as the apostle Paul showed it would. . . . Inspired speaking and writing passed away with the last of the twelve apostles, by whom the gifts of the spirit were imparted to others. Yet God is still able to teach and lead us. While confessing no inspiration for today for anyone on earth, we do have the privilege of praying God for more of his holy spirit and for his guidance of us by the bestowal of his spirit through Jesus Christ.

1950s: The Watchtower does not claim to be inspired in its utterances, nor is it dogmatic. It invites careful and critical examination of its contents in the light of the Scriptures.

1960s: The book [Life Everlasting in Freedom of Sons of God] merely presents the chronology. You can accept it or reject it.

Our chronology, however, ... is reasonably accurate (but admittedly not infallible).

1970s: In this regard, however, it must be observed that this “faithful and discreet slave” was never inspired, never perfect. Those writings by certain members of the “slave” class that came to form the Christian part of God’s Word were inspired and infallible, but that is not true of other writings since. Things published were not perfect in the days of Charles Taze Russell, first president of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society; nor were they perfect in the days of J. F. Rutherford, the succeeding president. The increasing light on God’s Word as well as the facts of history have repeatedly required that adjustments of one kind or another be made down to the very present time.

1980s: It is not claimed that the explanations in this publication are infallible. Like Joseph of old, we say: “Do not interpretations belong to God?” (Genesis 40:8) At the same time, however, we firmly believe that the explanations set forth herein harmonize with the Bible in its entirety, showing how remarkably divine prophecy has been fulfilled in the world events of our catastrophic times.

1990s: Those who make up the one true Christian organization today do not have angelic revelations or divine inspiration. But they do have the inspired Holy Scriptures, which contain revelations of God’s thinking and will. As an organization and individually, they must accept the Bible as divine truth, study it carefully, and let it work in them.

2000s: Although the slave class is defined as “faithful and discreet,” Jesus did not say that it would be infallible. This group of faithful anointed brothers still consists of imperfect Christians. Even with the best of intentions, they can be mistaken, as such men sometimes were in the first century.

It’s therefore quite clear that Jehovah’s Witnesses make no claim to divine inspiration for their publications. Thus, the critics' assertion that “the Watch Tower claims to be an inspired prophet” is manifestly false.

Does official court testimony claim that The Watchtower is God's Word?

Additional Reading:

Jehovah’s Witnesses, in their eagerness for Jesus’ second coming, have suggested dates that turned out to be incorrect. Because of this, some have called them false prophets. Never in these instances, however, did they presume to originate predictions ‘in the name of Jehovah.’ Never did they say, ‘These are the words of Jehovah.’ The Watchtower, the official journal of Jehovah’s Witnesses, has said: “We have not the gift of prophecy.” (January 1883, page 425) “Nor would we have our writings reverenced or regarded as infallible.” (December 15, 1896, page 306) The Watchtower has also said that the fact that some have Jehovah’s spirit “does not mean those now serving as Jehovah’s witnesses are inspired. It does not mean that the writings in this magazine The Watchtower are inspired and infallible and without mistakes.” (May 15, 1947, page 157) “The Watchtower does not claim to be inspired in its utterances, nor is it dogmatic.” (August 15, 1950, page 263) “The brothers preparing these publications are not infallible. Their writings are not inspired as are those of Paul and the other Bible writers. (2 Tim. 3:16) And so, at times, it has been necessary, as understanding became clearer, to correct views. (Prov. 4:18)”—February 15, 1981, page 19. - March 22, 1993 Awake, published by the WTB&TS


Why have there been changes over the years in the teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses?

The Bible shows that Jehovah enables his servants to understand his purpose in a progressive manner. (Prov. 4:18; John 16:12) Thus, the prophets who were divinely inspired to write portions of the Bible did not understand the meaning of everything that they wrote. (Dan. 12:8, 9; 1 Pet. 1:10-12) The apostles of Jesus Christ realized that there was much they did not understand in their time. (Acts 1:6, 7; 1 Cor. 13:9-12) The Bible shows that there would be a great increase in knowledge of the truth during “the time of the end.” (Dan. 12:4) Increased knowledge often requires adjustments in one’s thinking. Jehovah’s Witnesses are willing humbly to make such adjustments. - Reasoning from the Scriptures, WTB&TS - 1985


Nathan the prophet encouraged King David to go ahead with what was in his heart regarding the building of a house for Jehovah’s worship. But later Jehovah told Nathan to inform David that he was not the one who would build it. Jehovah did not reject Nathan for what he had said earlier but continued to use him because he humbly corrected the matter when Jehovah made it plain to him.—1 Chron. 17:1-15

And it came about that as soon as David had begun dwelling in his own house, David proceeded to say to Nathan the prophet: “Here I am dwelling in a house of cedars, but the ark of the covenant of Jehovah is under tent cloths.” 2 Upon that Nathan said to David: “Everything that is in your heart do, for the [true] God is with you.”3 And it came about on that night that the word of God came to Nathan, saying: 4 “Go, and you must say to David my servant, ‘This is what Jehovah has said: “It will not be you that will build me the house in which to dwell. 5 For I have not dwelt in a house from the day that I brought Israel up until this day, but I continued from tent to tent and from one tabernacle [to another]. 6 During all the time that I walked about in all Israel, did I speak a single word with one of the judges of Israel whom I commanded to shepherd my people, saying, ‘Why have YOU men not built me a house of cedars?’”’7 “And now this is what you will say to my servant David, ‘This is what Jehovah of armies has said: “I myself took you from the pasture ground from following the flock to become a leader over my people Israel. 8 And I shall prove to be with you wherever you do walk, and I shall cut off all your enemies from before you, and I shall certainly make for you a name like the name of the great ones that are upon the earth. 9 And I shall certainly appoint a place for my people Israel and plant them, and they will indeed reside where they are and no more will they be disturbed; and the sons of unrighteousness will not wear them out again, just as they did at the first, 10 even since the days that I put judges in command over my people Israel. And I shall certainly humble all your enemies. And I tell you, ‘Also a house Jehovah will build for you.’11 “‘“And it must occur that when your days have come to the full [for you] to go [to be] with your forefathers, I shall certainly raise up your seed after you that will come to be one of your sons, and I shall indeed firmly establish his kingship. 12 He is the one that will build me a house, and I shall certainly establish his throne firmly to time indefinite. 13 I myself shall become his father, and he himself will become my son; and my loving-kindness I shall not remove from him the way I removed it from the one that happened to be prior to you. 14 And I will cause him to stand in my house and in my kingship to time indefinite, and his throne will itself become one lasting to time indefinite.”’”15 According to all these words and according to all this vision was the way that Nathan spoke to David.


Jehovah's Witnesses—Who Are They? What Do They Believe?

Jesus said: “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were part of the world, the world would be fond of what is its own. Now because you are no part of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, on this account the world hates you.” (John 15:18, 19; see also 1 Peter 4:3, 4.) The Bible shows that the whole world lies under Satan’s control; he is the principal instigator of the persecution.—1 John 5:19; Rev. 12:17. Jesus also told his disciples: “You will be objects of hatred by all people on account of my name.” (Mark 13:13) The word “name” here means what Jesus officially is, the Messianic King. Persecution comes because Jehovah’s Witnesses put his commands ahead of those of any earthly ruler.