Jehovah’s Witnesses, Latter-day Saints (Mormons) & the Titles of God: Almighty God, mighty god, Jehovah, Elohim

MormonMissionaries

This is a continuation of an earlier GFTM mini-series addressing Jehovah’s Witnesses, but let’s include another religious group that may come knocking on your door…

Was Jesus “a god”? Answering Jehovah’s Witnesses: John 1:1

How Can Jesus Be “Firstborn of All Creation” Yet Eternal God? Answering Jehovah’s Witnesses: Colossians 1:15-19.

If Jesus is “Only-Begotten,” How is He Eternal God? Answering Jehovah’s Witnesses: John 3:6 (& 1:18)

KNOCK, KNOCK. J.W., WHO? ALMIGHTY GOD VS. MIGHTY GOD

Sometimes more savvy Jehovah’s Witnesses will point out that theos and the Hebrew equivalent elohim, which are usually translated “God,” are titles that can be also applied to powerful humans or spiritual beings. They’ll appeal to Jesus’ words in John 10:34-36 about Psalm 82:1, 6-7 (“Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’?”) to show that some beings that aren’t the one-and-only God can be called (lower-case-“g”) “gods.” They’ll point out that within Christian scripture the apostle Paul even calls the evil spiritual being Satan “the god [theos] of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4).

The Jehovah’s Witnesses are correct that “god” (theos, elohim) is a title, not God’s personal name. (And don’t forget we can’t look for capitalization in the Greek and Hebrew to denote proper names.) And where I would agree with Jehovah’s Witnesses that every use of theos and elohim don’t necessarily refer to the one-and-only God of the Bible (though this is plainly the exception rather than the norm), there are still three big challenges to trying to use these passages to justify the Jehovah’s Witness view of Jesus as a special creation who is higher than the angels but lower than God.

The first challenge can be brought into the light by simply asking Jehovah’s Witnesses a question: Are Satan and these other “gods” false gods or true gods? I’d be surprised if any Jehovah’s Witness would answer, “True gods.” Thus, according to Jehovah’s Witness thinking, Satan and these others are false gods. An interesting follow up question is, “Is Jesus a false god or true god?” The Jehovah’s Witness should answer, “True.” Now, doesn’t that mean Jehovah’s Witnesses believe in two Gods — Jehovah and Jesus? Yet, Jehovah’s Witnesses insist they believe in only one God.

The second challenge has to do with how Jehovah’s Witnesses may respond to this first set of questions. Jehovah’s Witnesses make a distinction that Jehovah is the “Almighty God” and Jesus is the “mighty god.” Again, I would spotlight the issue with a question: If Jesus is “mighty god,” how is he different from Satan and these other false “mighty gods”? Clearly, according to Jehovah’s Witnesses’ own beliefs, Jesus is unique from God, but also unique from these other “gods.” So, it appears the Jehovah’s Witnesses have invented a category to place Jesus in that doesn’t exist in the Bible. 

If your Jehovah’s Witness friend doesn’t find this convicting, you can simply point him or her to passages that show this sharp distinction between Jehovah as “Almighty God” and Jesus as “mighty god” isn’t in the Bible, because “Jehovah” is sometimes called “Mighty God.”

When you see “the LORD” in all caps in the English Old Testament, the Hebrew originally reads YHWH or “Yahweh,” which is God’s proper name. The Jehovah’s Witnesses’ version of the Bible, the New World Translation, replaces all of these with “Jehovah.” It’s not a bad idea to show them these verses in their own Bible, but I’ll continue to use the ESV translation here:

In that day the remnant of Israel and the survivors of the house of Jacob will no more lean on him who struck them, but will lean on the LORD [“Jehovah”], the Holy One of Israel, in truth. A remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the mighty [gibbor] God [el].  (Isaiah 10:20–21)

…I prayed to the LORD [“Jehovah”], saying: “Ah, Lord [adonai] GOD [“Jehovah”]! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you. You show steadfast love to thousands, but you repay the guilt of fathers to their children after them, O great and mighty [gibbor] God [el], whose name is the LORD [“Jehovah’] of hosts…” (Jeremiah 32:16–18)

Yes, the LORD (“Jehovah” in the Jehovah’s Witnesses New World Translation, but “Yahweh” in the Hebrew) is also called “mighty God.”

 

KNOCK, KNOCK. L.D.S., WHO? WHO’S JEHOVAH ANYWAY?

Please allow me to address our LDS (Latter-day Saint a.k.a. Mormon) friends. Afterall, I don’t want our Jehovah’s Witness friends to feel like I’m picking on them by only signaling them out. Jehovah’s Witnesses put a lot of religious significance in knowing the name of the one true God, which they say is “Jehovah.” Since they deny the Trinity, they distinguish Jesus from Jehovah, making Jesus a lower-case “god” — not Jehovah, but an elohim. Interestingly, Latter-day Saints do the exact opposite: According to LDS beliefs, Jesus is “Jehovah” and God the Father is Elohim.

First, what’s up with the hangup some religious groups have with the name “Jehovah”? It’s been well-established that “Jehovah” is a mispronunciation. Can we move on? 

Secondly, we only have to look at a few passages of the Bible to see that this sharp LDS distinction between “Jehovah” and Elohim is mistaken.

To begin, in Genesis, Jacob refers to Issac’s God (the God of Abraham) as “the LORD your God” — that is, “Yahweh [“Jehovah”] your Elohim” (Genesis 27:20). In Deuteronomy 6:4, we find one of the most important religious confessions of the Jewish people: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD [“Jehovah”] our God [elohim], the LORD [“Jehovah”] is one.”

Next, during the same exact event where God appears to Moses in the burning bush and gives his proper name, we find:

Then Moses said to God [elohim], “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God [elohim] of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God [elohim] said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ ” God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘The LORD [Yahweh, “Jehovah,” literally “I am”], the God [elohim] of your fathers, the God [elohim] of Abraham, the God [elohim] of Isaac, and the God [elohim] of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations. (Exodus 3:13-15)

With this, sometimes we find the name Yahweh (“Jehovah”) paired up with elohim when speaking of the one-and-only God. Isaiah 10:23-24 calls God “the Lord GOD of hosts.” In Hebrew, “the Lord GOD” is “adonai Yahweh.” [1] We see the same exact thing — “adonai Yahweh” — in other examples in Ezekiel 34: 15, 17, and 20.

Finally, LDS will affirm that the famous prophecy in Isaiah 9:6 is about the birth of Jesus, yet in it we find Jesus called “Mighty God,” that is, “Might Elohim” [2]:

For to us a child is born… and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God… (Isaiah 9:6)

So, just like the sharp distinction Jehovah’s Witnesses make between “Almighty God” and “mighty god” doesn’t hold up to biblical scrutiny, neither does the LDS distinction between “Jehovah” and Elohim.

[1]  adon, a form of adonai.

[2] Literally, in Hebrew, “gibbor el.” El is singular for elohim

Was Jesus “a god”? Answering Jehovah’s Witnesses: John 1:1

 

How Can Jesus be “Firstborn of All Creation” yet Eternal God? Answering Jehovah’s Witnesses: Colossians 1:15-19

 

If Jesus is “Only-Begotten,” How is He Eternal God? Answering Jehovah’s Witnesses: John 3:16 (& 1:18)

Confidence in Christ v2

8 thoughts on “Jehovah’s Witnesses, Latter-day Saints (Mormons) & the Titles of God: Almighty God, mighty god, Jehovah, Elohim

  1. Jesus started by addressing his “God and Father” (John 20:17). Then said in v3 “you (not me) the ONLY TRUE GOD. Scripture cannot contradict itself. End of discussion.

    • The apostle Paul writes Jesus is “God over all” Romans 9:5 and “ in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily” Colossians 2:9. Jesus is “Christ, who is the image of God.” 2 Corinthians 4:4. (Where all humans are made in the “image of God,” I would argue there’s a difference between being “made in” the image of God and being the image of God.) He’s “our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” Titus 2:13.
      And don’t forget Paul wrote that Jesus “existed in the form of God [but] did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped.” Philippians 2:6.
      Ironically, Jehovah’s Witnesses, who deny Jesus is God, even recognize what these passages are saying; the same Jehovah’s Witness literature that argues Jesus is not God states Jesus is “just like his Father.” ( What Does the Bible Really Teach?, Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, December 2014 printing.)

      Paul even takes language and ideas about God (Yahweh, “Jehovah”) in the Old Testament and applies them to Jesus.

      In Isaiah, the LORD (Yahweh) says, “For I am God, and there is no other… ‘To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance.’” Isaiah 45:21-23.
      In his letter to the Phillipians, Paul writes, “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Phillippians 2:9-11.

      Also in Isaiah, God says, “Only in the LORD [Yahweh], it shall be said of me, are righteousness and strength” Isaiah 45:24.
      and in a passage about the coming Messiah in Jeremiah, we’re told, “And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The LORD [Yahweh] is our righteousness.’” Jeremiah 23:5-6. Paul writes in his New Testament letter to the Romans, “For as by the one man’s [Adam’s] disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s [Jesus’] obedience the many will be made righteous” Romans 5:19.
      and “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it — the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.” Romans 3:21-22. (Also see 1 Corinthians 1:30 and 2 Corinthians 5:21.)

      Paul also states in his letter to the Romans, “…if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” and “For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’” Romans 10:9, 13.
      Clearly, Paul considers Jesus the Lord who saves. What’s interesting is that Paul is quoting the prophet Joel from the Old Testament, who wrote:

      And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD [Yahweh] shall be saved. (Joel 2:32)

      Peter, another apostle, does the same thing. He quotes this sentence from Joel 2:32 and then goes into a lengthy explanation about how Jesus of Nazareth is the Lord that saves, Acts 2:21-36 concluding with, “Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God [the Father] has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” Acts 2:36.

      Both Paul and Peter are applying this verse from Joel that is about the one-and-only God of the Jews (Yahweh) to Jesus. (We also see how the Trinity is the only solution to all the data we get in these short passages that show Jesus as Yahweh while also distinguishing between God the Father and Jesus as Lord.)

      Elsewhere, Peter calls Jesus “our God and Savior Jesus Christ,” 2 Peter 1:1.
      and in Acts, Peter tells the men of Israel, in shockingly ironic terms, “You killed the author of life.” Acts 3:15.
      His Jewish audience would undoubtedly understand “the author of life” to be God.

      If that’s not clear enough, Jude (Jesus’ own brother) writes in his New Testament letter that Jesus is the one “who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, [and] afterward destroyed those who did not believe.” Jude 5. Jews would most assuredly know this is a reference to the Old Testament book of Exodus, which tells about God (Yahweh) freeing Israel from slavery in Egypt with (often terrifying) signs and wonders. Jude is saying it was Jesus who did that. Jesus is Yahweh.

      Matthew writes that Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14: “God with us.” Matthew 1:13. The author of the Book of Hebrews says Jesus “is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being” Hebrews 1:3. and ascribes Psalm 45:6 to Jesus: “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever.” Hebrews 1:8. And let’s not forget that Matthew, Mark, Luke, Jesus, and John the Baptist all applied Malachi 3:1 and Isaiah 40:3 about a messenger preparing the way for the LORD (Yahweh) to John the Baptist, who prepared the way for Jesus. (John 1:23; Luke 7:27; Matthew 3:3; Mark 1:2-3; Luke 3:4-6)

      John, in his Gospel, writes of Jesus’ “signs” (miracles). He then quotes passages from Isaiah and writes, “Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him.” John 12:41. But when did Isaiah see Jesus’ glory? That seems like a pretty crazy question because Isaiah was written about 700 years before Jesus’ birth! When we search throughout the entire book of Isaiah, there’s really only one possible option; John must be referring to Isaiah’s vision of the throne room of God:

      …I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim… And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD [Yahweh] of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” …And I said: “… for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD [Yahweh] of hosts!” (Isaiah 6:1-11)

      In John’s record of his divinely-given visions (called the Book of Revelation), he quotes “the Lord God… the Almighty” saying, “I am the Alpha and the Omega” (the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet) Revelation 1:8. Then, just after this, Jesus calls himself “the first and the last” (not once, but twice), Revelation 1:17, 2:8 which means the same as calling oneself “the Alpha and the Omega.” If there’s any doubt, later John reports Jesus saying, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” Revelation 22:13. And if there’s still any doubt, turn to Isaiah in the Old Testament: God — the LORD (Yahweh) — says, “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god.” Isaiah 44:6.

  2. Jesus started by addressing his “God and Father” (John 20:17). Then said in v3 “you (not me) the ONLY TRUE GOD. Scripture cannot contradict itself. End of discussion.

  3. Hi, My name is Daniel and I’m one of Jehovah’s people. As far as Jesus being a false or true God, lets just stick to the scriptures. He is known as A Mighty God. Isa. 9:6, John 1:1. John 1:1c is a Anarthous theos (quality; Divine, or a god) If he were worshiped he would be a false god, but he called someone else “The Only True God”. John 17:3

    • Thanks for the comment, Daniel. Yes, let’s stick to Scripture (which I did) but we must take ALL Scripture into account. I find my JW friends neglect to do this. When we take all Scripture into account, we must conclude Jesus is God incarnate and God is a Trinity.

      Jesus is worshipped before his death and resurrection (in his presence)(Matthew 14:33; John 9:37); after his death and resurrection (in his presence)(Matthew 28:9, 17); and after his ascension in Heaven (Luke 24:52.).

      Also, I address John 1:1 in an earlier blog: https://godfromthemachine.blog/2019/07/31/was-jesus-a-god-answering-jehovahs-witnesses-john-11/

      • I have. Please make sure you have a proper understanding of Trinitarian theology. John 17:3 has to be taken into account with all the Scripture which speak of Jesus’ full divinity (as well as the Holy Spirit’s).

  4. Pingback: Jehovah’s Witnesses, Latter-day Saints (Mormons) & the Titles of God: Almighty God, mighty god, Jehovah, Elohim — god from the machine | Talmidimblogging

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