If the Gospel of John in the Jehovah’s Witnesses New World Translation (hereafter NWT) opened with the first verse reading, “In the Beginning was Michael,” almost everyone, including most Jehovah’s Witnesses, would know there was something seriously wrong there. But few people, even some in ministry to reach JWs, realize that is – at least implicitly – what the WTBTS (Watchtower Bible and Tract Society) teaches.
John 1:1 in the JW’s NWT reads:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.
We can become so involved with refuting their “a god” mistranslation that we miss a golden opportunity to point out how the verse should read to be true to the current theology of the WTBTS. We say current, because the Watchtower’s governing body – their collective “Pope,” if you will – changes even their core theology as the mood strikes them, calling the new teaching “new light.”
For example, the founder of the Watchtower, Charles Taze Russel, did not believe, as JWs teach today, that Jesus was Michael the archangel:
His position is contrasted with that of men and angels, as he is Lord of both, having, “all power in heaven and earth.” Hence it is said, “Let all the angels of God worship him: [that must include Michael, the chief angel, hence Michael is not the Son of God] and the reason is, because he has “by inheritance obtained a more excellent Name than they.” (“The Name of Jesus”; The Watchtower, Nov. 1879, p 4)
But the Watchtower’s current view is that Jesus is in fact Michael, and the person being spoken of in John 1:1 is “divine” or “godlike” but not God. They believe that God merely used Michael to create everything else after God created him. However, John 1:3 reads:
All things came into existence through him, and apart from him not even one thing came into existence.
So logically, if not even one thing came into existence apart from him, the creature Michael would have had to create himself.
To arrive at this confusion, they appeal to Proverbs 8:30 which they translate:
Then I was beside him as a master worker. I was the one he was especially fond of day by day; I rejoiced before him all the time;
Here the WTBTS makes the personification of Wisdom in this proverb to be the master worker, Michael – who God used to create everything – excepting himself of course.1In the marginal references of their study Bible they link John 1:1 & 1:3 to this passage.
In Colossians 1:16-17 the Watchtower carries on this theme of Jesus as Jehovah’s “Junior partner” in creation, rather than creator of everything as the unaltered text clearly teaches. They translate the verse thus:
because by means of him all other things were created in the heavens and on the earth, the things visible and the things invisible, whether as they are thrones or lordships or governments or authorities. All other things have been created through him and for him. Also, he is before all other things, and by means of him all other things were made to exist,(underlining added)
Notice the word “other” was inserted into the text 4 times! It is not in the original manuscripts, but they need it there to support their theology. In their teaching, “the Word,” the “wise master builder” was created and in turn all “other things” were created “through” him. The WTBTS also tells us this “wise master builder” was initially created as Michael the Archangel. In the December 15, 1984 Watchtower, after they pose the question, “Who is Michael?” they write:
For many years Jehovah’s Witnesses have taught that Michael is a heavenly name for the only-begotten Son of God, who was named Jesus while on earth. However, most other religions view Michael as one of several archangels, as if there were more than one archangel. In view of this, Is the teaching of Jehovah’s Witnesses correct? What does the Bible say about Michael?2‘Michael the Great Prince’—Who Is He?; The Watchtower, December 15, 1984, page 26
According to today’s WTBTS, our Lord was Michael, who then became Jesus while on earth. Let that settle into your thinking for a moment or two because it gets even more convoluted as we go. The Society’s teaching on human existence is that we are composed of three distinct components. We have:
- A physical body
- Another component they refer to as a “life-force.” Sometimes they refer to it as “the breath of life,” although it is merely an energy source. The “life-force” is like electricity which merely powers things it is plugged into – but does not take on any of its personality, characteristics, or memories.
- Lastly, we are created with some mysterious and wholly unbiblical thing they refer to as a “life-pattern.” The “life pattern” is not any sort of living or self-aware component of us, but merely consists of data about us – our memories, experiences, and personality. This information is stored in our physical body and physical brain.
The “soul,” in their system, does not refer to the inner being of man which survives death, but merely refers to an amalgamation of these components. It does not survive death but dies with the body when it is separated from the “life force” component. They write:
Remember that the sentient creature or soul was produced by the union of the breath of life (life-force) with the earthly organism.3AWAKE!, July 8, 1949, p26 WATCHTOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY OF NEW YORK, INC, Brooklyn New York, USA
We are basically a life-force and an earthly organism,” or physical body. In their booklet, What Hope For Dead Loved Ones?, they write:
Yet someone may ask: Don’t humans have an immortal soul that survives death? Many have taught this, even saying that death is a doorway to another life. But that idea does not come from the Bible. Rather, God’s Word teaches that you are a soul, that your soul is really you, with all your physical and mental qualities.4What Hope For Dead Loved Ones? 1987, p2, WATCHTOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY OF NEW YORK, INC., Brooklyn New York, USA
It is unclear why the JWs would think this is something which provides any hope at all when we read in Good News to Make You Happy what happens at death:
Adam ceased to be “a breather,” or a soul, and went back to the lifeless dust from which he had been taken … No part of him lived on. He went completely into non-existence.5Good News to Make You Happy, 1976, p89, WATCHTOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY OF NEW YORK, INC., Brooklyn New York, USA
So, as we follow the pea what happens in the making of a human being is:
1) The physical body is brought into existence by Jehovah’s (God’s) Junior partner, Michael.
2) A life force (like electricity) is plugged in to give the body the power to move around.
3) The life pattern begins recording personal data on the physical brain.
When you breathe your last, you are “unplugged.” No part of you lives on! In our article “Resurrection: Watchtower-Style” we go into more depth on their teaching of these issues. As it turns out, though, according to their teaching, is that Jehovah God doesn’t actually resurrect anyone – they cease to exist forever! Jehovah eventually creates a new body, though if the WTBTS were to be consistent, it would have to be created by Michael 1.0 or 2.0. since he created everything except himself. This body looks like the body which died. The original “life-pattern,” which you recall was stored in the original body’s physical brain, turns to dust along with the body and is gone forever. But luckily for the dead “person,” God has a copy (not the original but a copy) of the person’s “life pattern” data filed away, from which He makes yet another copy and puts that into the physical brain of the newly created being. (JW Resurrection) He then plugs the electricity (life-force) into the new substitute replacement. The JW’s resurrection hope is to be copied!
This copy, however, is NOT BY ANY MEANS the “person” who died. The dead man or woman stays forever dead, while a mere copy of him or her exists. So, what hope does this phony resurrection offer to the original person who faithfully (fearfully) went door to door on earth to peddle magazines? ZERO HOPE. If you were to die forever right now, what value would it be to you that a copy of you, which has no connection to you, would carry on? NONE. The life force is merely like electricity, which does not carry any personal characteristics, and the life pattern is merely information! Your copy will reap all the rewards for your supposed “good works,” enjoying life in the kingdom with a copy of your wife, and copies of your children. They are all complete strangers to one another, but all have “memories of each other” (data) implanted in them. What’s more, you’ll never meet the Jesus who suffered and died for you, since he no longer exists either.
According to the WTBTS, this is what happened to Jesus when he was crucified:
Jesus was dead, he was unconscious, out of existence. Death did not mean a transition to another life for Jesus; rather non-existence.6Awake!, July 22, 1979, p27 WATCHTOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY OF NEW YORK, INC., Brooklyn New York, USA
The man Jesus is “dead forever dead.” And how does this affect Michael, the original Michael who created everything but himself? Let’s follow the pea here. Master worker Michael’s “life-force” was plugged into the human Jesus at the incarnation. That means original Michael was unplugged and completely ceased to exist. Nothing personal of Michael was transferred into Jesus, merely energy (life force) and data (life pattern). A whole new being, Jesus, was created, who carried the stored memories of Michael, but nothing else. But turnabout is fair play as they say. When Jesus died, he ceased to exist forever, but Jehovah made a third being, and named him Michael (let’s call him Michael 2.0) whose memories were those of the dead man Jesus and dead original master builder Michael. God planted the collected data of both of these dead creatures into Michael 2.0 and pugged in a bit of “life force” to power him up. Michael 2.0 is now in heaven, not Jesus. Jesus, however, the One who suffered, bled, and died for us was never in heaven and never will be. We guess it’s possible that copy JW 2.0 may meet copy Michael 2.0 someday, although that would be completely irrelevant to JW 1.0, Jesus 1.0, and Michael 1.0, because they are still dead!
This ball of confusion has an impact on end times passages as well. 1 Thessalonians 4:16 in the NWT reads:
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.
But wait! That cannot be Christ! He is dead – forever dead. That would be copy Michael. Michael 2.0. will descend from heaven and a copy of those JWs who are dead in union with Michael will rise up to meet him. It seems like it might be kind of a weird “reunion,” really. Hey, don’t I know you from somewhere? Nah, you probably “remember” the old me, but he’s dead as a doornail these days…and so are you.
In contradiction to this nonsense, the English Standard Version of Revelation 1:1 reads:
The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place.
Evidently, the Apostle John never got the memo and only believed he was seeing the Jesus Christ he knew personally and intimately. He didn’t have the benefit of knowing Governing Body teaching that Jesus is dead forever, and thus this guy with the revelation had to be Michael 2.0. Sadly, John did not know that Jesus Christ never made it to heaven at all! If the Watchtower is to be believed, the book of Revelation is really the revelation of Michael the archangel 2.0, which God gave Michael 2.0 to show to Michael 2.0’s servants the things that must soon take place.
Strangely enough, the New Testament (even the JWs unfortunate Bible “version”) very often refers to Jesus Christ as if he still existed! He told the thief on the cross next to him that they – presumably, this Jesus and this man – would be together that very day in paradise! Was He lying to the poor man? And of course, the Bible tells us all that Jesus met and fellowshipped with his disciples after his crucifixion, still exhibiting the wounds of his crucifixion, and ascended to heaven in the sight of all. And even more strangely, the WTBTS still often refers to Jesus in their literature, as if He was still alive, though they teach He is dead forever. Jesus Christ, who suffered unimaginable pain and indignity on the cross, and bore the sins of the world, lived a few short years on Earth and was never rewarded for what He did and never met nor ever will meet most of those He died for. It is all a sad lie.
The WTBTS is teaching another Jesus, another spirit, and a different gospel. (2 Corinthians 11:4). Their ardent followers do not even know they have been fatally deceived. Ω
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|↑1||In the marginal references of their study Bible they link John 1:1 & 1:3 to this passage.|
|↑2||‘Michael the Great Prince’—Who Is He?; The Watchtower, December 15, 1984, page 26|
|↑3||AWAKE!, July 8, 1949, p26 WATCHTOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY OF NEW YORK, INC, Brooklyn New York, USA|
|↑4||What Hope For Dead Loved Ones? 1987, p2, WATCHTOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY OF NEW YORK, INC., Brooklyn New York, USA|
|↑5||Good News to Make You Happy, 1976, p89, WATCHTOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY OF NEW YORK, INC., Brooklyn New York, USA|
|↑6||Awake!, July 22, 1979, p27 WATCHTOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY OF NEW YORK, INC., Brooklyn New York, USA|
Look at you judging and criticizing someone else’s religious beliefs. How very Christian of you.
I appreciate your comment. First, it is obvious you do not believe what you have written unless you are not a Christian. For, here you are criticizing our beliefs 😀 However, I do think it is correct to challenge beliefs and teachings and it is biblical. In this case it might be helpful to note that Jesus warned to beware of false prophets who come pretending to be true believers. (Matthew 7:15 – 23) The criteria is outlined in Deuteronomy and includes their teaching on God and salvation. The Apostle Paul warns the Ephesian elders to guard the flock from false teachers who would try to sneak in from the outside and from those who would arise from within (Acts 20:28-30) We welcome critique but that would require demonstrating from Scripture what we said is incorrect or that we have misused what the Watchtower teaches.