I thought this might be a good place to reprint one of Cofty's excellent studies:
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Early Christians Viewed the person of Jesus
Early Christians were WITNESSES of Jesus.
his last evening with his disciples Jesus promised to send the Holy
Spirit who would;
witness about me, and you in turn are to bear witness, because you
have been with me from when I began."(Jn.15:26,27)
prior to his ascension Jesus told them ;
will be witnesses of me..to the most distant part of the
said that the minds of unbelievers had been blinded so that:
glorious good news about the Christ, who is the image of God, might
not shine through. For we are preaching not ourselves but Christ
Jesus as Lord." (2Cor.4:4,5)
Revelation the dragon goes off to wage war with those who:
the work of bearing witness to Jesus."
harlot is seen to be;
with the blood of the holy ones and with the blood of the witnesses
John falls down before the angel he receives the rebuke:
careful do not do that. All I am is a fellow slave of you and of your
brothers who have the work of witnessing to Jesus."
contrast to the practice of early Christians, no Jehovah's Witness
would ever identify themselves as a witness of Jesus.
Early Christians BELONGED to Jesus.
introduced himself to the Romans as;
slave of Jesus Christ" (Rom.1:1)
described them as those who are;
to belong to Jesus Christ" (Rom.1:6)
further told the Corinthians that;
that is called when a freeman is a slave of Christ." (1Cor.7:22)
who belong to the Christ" (1Cor.15:23)
would be resurrected during his parousia.
his second letter to the Corinthians he said that God guarantees
and we belong to Christ." (2Cor.1:21)
reminded the Galatians that;
am carrying on my body the brand marks of a slave of
admonished the Colossians to;
for the master Christ." (Col.3:24)
the most emphatic statement of all was made by Jude when he accused
ungodly men of;
false to our only owner and Lord, Jesus Christ."
Witness do not think of themselves as belonging to Jesus. It would be
unthinkable for them to describe Jesus as their "only owner and
Lord." Early Christians had no such inhibitions. This is not
simply a difference in custom. It is not just that a Witness is not
in the habit of using this kind of language. Anyone using such terms
would be viewed, not just as unconventional but as doctrinally
Jesus was the focus of the BAPTISM of early Christians.
the day of Pentecost Peter told the crowds to;
baptized in the name of Jesus Christ." (Acts2:38)
a result of Philip's preaching Samaritans were;
in the name of the Lord Jesus." (Acts8:16)
commanded Cornelius and his household to;
baptized in the name of Jesus Christ." (Acts10:48)
Paul found disciples in Ephesus who had not yet receive the Holy
Spirit, he told them that they should be;
in the name of the Lord Jesus." (Acts19:5)
also reminded the Galatians that;
of you who were baptized into Christ have put on Christ." (Gal.3:27)
Jehovah's Witness is aware of the command to be baptized in the "name
of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." It would
be unthinkable however to speak only about being baptized in the name
of the Lord Jesus. In the early church this was evidently common
practice. Again it is not a sufficient answer to suggest that this is
only a cultural difference.
Early Christians wished Jesus' BLESSING on each other.
concluded his first letter to the Corinthians with the words;
our Lord come. May the undeserved kindness of the Lord Jesus be with
you. May my love be with all of you in union with Christ
at the end of his second letter to Corinth he said;
undeserved kindness of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and
the sharing in the Holy Spirit be with all of you."(2Cor.13:14)
concluded his letters to the Galatians, Philippians and both epistles
to the Thessalonians with slight variations of the phrase;
undeserved kindness of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you."
kind of blessing was not unique to Paul. John ends the book of
Revelation with the words;
the undeserved kindness of the Lord Jesus Christ be with the holy
it is not the custom of Jehovah's Witnesses to wish God's blessing on
one another, this could be explained as simply a cultural difference.
However it can hardly be overstated how unthinkable it would be for
one Jehovah's Witness to wish the blessing of Jesus one another. Even
to cite any of the above texts at the end of a letter would seem more
than strange to the recipient. To early Christians it was the most
natural of things to say, and entirely in keeping with their
understanding of God.
Early Christians had the SPIRIT of Jesus
informs us that Paul and Silas were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to
speak the word in Asia, but in the next verse he says that they were
unable to enter Bithynia because;
Spirit of Jesus did not permit them." (Acts16:7)
told Christians in Rome that;
are in harmony not with the flesh but with the Spirit if God's Spirit
truly dwells in you. But if anyone does not have Christ's Spirit this
one does not belong to him" (Rom.8:9)
writing to the Galatians about the Spirit of adoption Paul said;
has sent forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts and it cries out
Abba Father." (Gal.4:6)
in prison, Paul assured the Philippians that their supplications for
him would result in;
supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ." (Phil.1:19)
it is not clear from the rendering in the New World Translation it
can be seen from the Interlinear that Peter credited the Spirit of
Christ with directing the minds of the ancient prophets;
what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ which was in them
did signify when it testified beforehand the sufferings of
a Jehovah's Witness the idea of using the expressions, Holy Spirit,
God's Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus and Christ's Spirit interchangeably
is totally foreign. If an elder were to say "Christ's Spirit"
instead of "the Holy Spirit" in public speaking the
congregation would be surprised. If they were to pray for "the
Spirit of Jesus" it would be viewed as shocking. To the early
Christians it was entirely natural.
more it must be stressed that the difference is not simply one of
language it is that the implications behind the phrase is
incompatible with the understanding of Jehovah's Witnesses. In all of
the above examples there would be resistance to using the kind of
language used by the apostles because it appears to elevate Jesus
rather than Jehovah. As will be seen from the following section this
was not something that troubled bible writers.
Early Christians PRAISED and GLORIFIED Jesus.
told the Jews at Jerusalem that he was to be the judge of all;
order that all may honour the Son just as they honour the
when he promised the disciples that he would send them the Holy
Spirit, he said;
one will glorify me because he will receive from what is mine and
will declare it to you." (Jh.16:14)
could therefore tell the Thessalonians that he prayed that;
name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you." (2Thes.1:12)
he closed both his letters to Timothy with similar expressions of
praise directed to Jesus;
him be the honour and might everlasting. Amen." (1Tim.6:16)
him be the glory forever and ever. Amen." (2Tim.4:18)
signed off his second epistle with the words;
on growing in the undeserved kindness and knowledge of our Lord and
Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of
the seven congregations of Asia Minor the apostle John said
to him be the glory and might forever. Amen." (Rev.1:6)
in Revelation John heard myriads of angels say;
lamb that was slaughtered is worthy to receive the power and riches
and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and
this, every creature in heaven and on earth responded;
the one sitting on the throne and to the lamb be the blessing and the
honour and the glory and the might forever and ever."(Rev.5:13)
is completely unknown for Jehovah's Witnesses to openly praise Jesus
in anything like the manner found in these and other verses. There is
nothing remotely like it in any "kingdom song". It is
almost impossible to believe that such expressions could ever be
heard in a Kingdom Hall. If anyone did publicly glorify Jesus in this
way it would be viewed with suspicion. The assumption would be that
all such praise should only be addressed to Jehovah. Early Christians
on the other hand were uninhibited in their praise and adoration of
Early Christians CALLED ON THE NAME of Jesus
Jesus appeared to Ananias, Ananias said to him that Saul had
put in bonds all those calling upon your name." (Acts9:14)
Saul's conversion those who heard him preach were astonished and
this not the man that ravaged those in Jerusalem who call upon this
described the Christians at Corinth as being among those;
everywhere are calling upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ their
Lord and ours." (1Cor.1:2)
Early Christians ADDRESSED PRAYERS to Jesus.
Jesus prepared his eleven faithful disciples for his imminent
departure he promised them;
you ask (me) anything in my name I will do it." (Jn.14:14)
the word "me" has been omitted from the NWT the Interlinear
shows that it was in the original Greek text. It is found in the
oldest and most reliable manuscripts.
tells us that when Stephen was being stoned to death;
made appeal and said, Lord Jesus receive my spirit." (Acts7:59)
the Interlinear shows the more literal translation of the phrase
"making appeal" to be "calling upon." In English
we would always say calling upon, followed by a name, but in the New
Testament it had acquired a specific meaning so that Luke could
simply write that Stephen was "calling upon" the Lord
Jesus. In the context it clearly denotes prayer.
seeking relief from some physical ailment Paul told the Corinthians
that he had;
times entreated the Lord that it might depart from me." (2Cor.12:8)
context of verses 8-10 make the conclusion inescapable that the Lord,
Paul is referring to is the Lord Jesus Christ. The reply to Paul's
prayer is that "my
power is being made perfect in weakness" to
which Paul rejoices that "the
power of the Christ might remain like a tent over" him.
This is clearly the most natural reading of the text.
his first epistle John assures those who put their faith;
the name of the Son of God. And this is the confidence that we have
toward him that no matter what it is that we ask according to his
will he hears us." (1Jhn.5:13,14)
faith or confidence of Christians is said by John to be in the Son of
God who hears their requests and answers accordingly. With an obvious
allusion to Jesus own words at Jhn.14:14 quoted above John continues;
if we know he hears us respecting whatever we are asking, we know we
are to have the things asked since we have asked them of
would seem to be no doubt that the normal pattern of prayer in the
New Testament is that which is addressed to the Father in the name of
the Son. However these other examples of prayer addressed to Jesus
directly cannot be ignored or explained away, and are a significant
part of a study of how early Christians viewed Jesus.
Early Christians rendered WORSHIP to Jesus.
Greek word rendered worship is proskenyo.
Depending on the grammatical context different forms of the same word
are used in scripture. For simplicity we will substitute the simple
form proskenyo in
each case. Whenever it is used in connection with Jehovah the NWT
translates it accurately as worship. However when it is used with
reference to Jesus the word "obeisance" is used instead.
While it is true that proskenyo can
denote an act of respect which falls short of worship there are a
number of instances in the New Testament where the context clearly
demands the stronger translation.
Jesus walked on the sea of Galilee and calmed the storm, the apostles
were astonished at his power;
those on the boat 'proskenyo' him saying you are really God's
Jesus identified himself to the man he had cured of blindness, the
do put faith in him Lord. And he 'proskenyo' him." (Jhn.9:38)
the two Marys met the resurrected Jesus in the garden;
approached and caught him by his feet and 'proskenyo'
Jesus was ascending back to heaven he blessed his disciples and they;
'proskenyo' him returned to Jerusalem with great joy." (Luke24:52)
each of these examples it is not simply an act of respect that is
being described but an act of worship. That it involved more than the
physical act of bowing is particularly clear in the account involving
the two Marys where the scripture, having told us that they caught
him by the feet goes on to add that they proskenyo him.
In these and other examples it is noteworthy that Jesus never once
offers a word of reproof to anyone involved. It is enlightening to
compare this with three other occasions where the word proskenyo is
used in the New Testament.
Peter entered, Cornelius met him, fell down at his feet and
'proskenyo' him. But Peter lifted him up saying, Rise I myself am
also a man." (Acts10:25,26)
John was so overcome with the awesome visions of Revelation that
twice he fell down at the feet of the angel who was showing him these
that I fell down before his feet to 'proskenyo' him. but he tells me,
Be careful do not do that. All I am is a fellow slave of you and of
your brothers." (Rev.19:10)
Revelation, John heard every creature in heaven and on earth say;
lamb that was slaughtered is worthy to receive the power and riches
and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and blessing. To the one
seated on the throne and to the lamb be the blessing and the honour
and the glory and the might forever and ever. And the four living
creatures went saying Amen." (Rev.5:12-14)
an outpouring of adoration can not be interpreted as anything less
than worship. Immediately after these things John tells us what he
the elders fell down and worshipped." (Rev.5:14)
this graphic description of an event that involved every one of God's
creatures there is no distinction at all between the worship and
adoration given to the one seated on the throne and that offered to
we begin with the assumption that worship is not be give to Jesus
then we are forced to explain all the falling at his feet, that the
gospel writers were careful to record for us, as simply gestures of
respect. This despite the fact that elsewhere Cornelius and John are
reprimanded for the same thing. We also have to invent the unbiblical
notion of relative worship and contradict the most fundamental of Old
Testament truths by allowing for worshiping God through someone else,
a kind of legalized idolatry. Even all of this is not enough to deal
with the amazing scenes described at Rev.5:11-14.
view of this sample of texts quoted above, it would seem reasonable
to say that Jehovah's Witnesses do not speak about Jesus in the same
manner as early Christians did. The apostles described themselves as
witnesses of Jesus, they called him their only owner and Lord, and
the one to whom they belonged. They were baptised in his name, led by
his Spirit, rejoiced in his blessing and overflowed with praise for
him. All of these statements are incompatible with the beliefs and
practice of Jehovah's Witnesses. Even if an individual Witness may
feel comfortable with such expressions they could never voice such
sentiments in the hearing of others. There can be no doubt that if a
Jehovah's Witness were to go back to a meeting of early Christians
they would feel profoundly out of place.
if as a JW you allow that the trinity is a false doctrine and that
Jesus was created by the Father, how
do you explain this gulf in the way you view Jesus as compared to the
place he had in the lives and worship of the New Testament Church?