The first leader was Charles Russell, born 1852 in the USA. He found problems with organized religion or
mainstream churches, and was influenced early by teachings of the Seventh Day Adventists. From these
he borrowed such doctrines as: the extinction of the soul at death, the annihilation of the wicked, the denial
of an eternal hell, and a modified form of the investigative judgment. For the sake of brevity in this overview, I
will skip detailed references to source material. Yes, there are problems with some features of mainstream
denominations, but proving some details wrong does not prove that the Jehovah’s Witness system is
anywhere near right.
Source of authority. Although it is claimed to be the bible, the volumes called “Studies in
the Scriptures” by Russell and Rutherford are claimed to be more than mere commentary, “they are
practically the bible itself”. So said Russell in 1910. When the JWs refer to the bible, they refer to their own
version, New World Translation, published first in 1950. This version has many key words changed to
reflect their leaders’ theology. More on this later.
The Trinity. They emphatically deny the three persons of the godhead. They believe that
God is only Jehovah of the Old Testament. They use Deuteronomy 6:4 as proof of their view. Now let us
use the divine names accurately: “Hear, O Israel: Jehovah our God is one Jehovah”. Those who know
Hebrew say that the word translated “one” here is not an absolute unity, but a composite unity. The same
word used in Genesis 2:24 to describe the husband and wife becoming “one flesh”. Further, in Genesis 2:4
and to the end of chapter 3, the references to the “Lord God” in the KJV are really “Jehovah Elohim”.
“Elohim” is the plural Hebrew word “judges”. This is consistent with “Let us make man in our image, after
our likeness”, in Genesis 1:26, etc.
In speaking to a JW person on the subject of baptism, he quoted the end of Matthew, “baptizing them to the
name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”. He realized that he had exposed a huge flaw in
their doctrine. Each had a name. Belief in the trinity does not imply belief in three Gods. God is one but
exists in three persons. Water takes the form of ice, water and steam – three manifestations of the one
substance. It is not a perfect illustration but I submit it as a quick example without going into deeper
God has pleased to reveal himself in various ways over time: to Abraham as the Almighty God (El Shaddai)
see Genesis 17:1, later to Israel as Jehovah – the I AM, the ever existent one - and to believers in this period
of grace, as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Israel was to be a witness to Jehovah but they failed. The church
was formed to be a witness to Christ glorified – the Holy Spirit given after his ascension, uniting the church
to the Head in heaven. The JWs are not even in the right dispensation or era of God’s dealings with
The Person of Christ. They deny that Jesus is God. They say that he is a god. In John
1:1, their translation states that “the Word was a god”, whereas the original has no “a” (the indefinite article).
It is accepted by all translators as “the Word was God”. Colossians 1:16,17 states: ”Because by him were
created all things, the things in the heavens, and the things upon the earth, the visible and the invisible… all
things have been created by him and for him. And he is before all, and all things subsist together by him”.
This is another statement that shows that he is God, but the JW New World Translation inserts “other” in
front of “things” four times in those verses despite the fact that it is not in the original Greek. This is an
attempt to support their argument that Jesus was created by Jehovah. It is reported that this addition did not
appear in the early NWT version. Isaiah 40:3 states: “Prepare ye the way of Jehovah, make straight in the
desert a highway for our God!” We all know that this points to John the Baptist going ahead of the ministry
of the Lord Jesus. Indeed, in Matthew 3:3, quoting Isaiah 40:3, a good translation says “prepare ye the way
of [the] Lord” - “the” is used to make good English. The footnote states: “’Lord’ without ‘the’, signifies, as
often, ‘Jehovah’.” Similarly, their own translation shows that Jesus is Jehovah.
Jehovah’s Witnesses will quote references to the Lord speaking of himself as man, to “show” that he was
not God. He does this because he became man and accepted a subordinate role. He was truly a man, but
not a mere man. He was ever God. The Jews knew that the title ‘Son of God’ involved him being equal with
God, for which claim they wanted to stone him – see John 5:18.
If the Lord Jesus was merely a holy, created being (as the JWs claim}, he would not have accepted the
worship of the man to whom he had given eyesight in John 9 - see John 9:38. In Revelation, the angel
rebuked the apostle John for attempting to worship him on two occasions. The angel’s word was: “Worship
God”, see Rev. 19: 10, and 22:9. Here is further proof that Jesus was God. He is entitled to worship.
The Holy Spirit. JWs deny that the Holy Spirit is a person and is described as God’s
“invisible active force” which moves God’s servants to do his will. Scripture tells us that he is a member of
the godhead, doing things that only a person can do – interceding for believers (Romans 8:26,27), joins help
to our weakness (Romans 8:26), can be grieved by us (Ephesians 4:30), teaches (John 14:26), “he shall
bear witness concerning me; and ye too bear witness, because ye [the apostles] are with me from the
beginning” (John 15:26,27), and in John 16:-15 “he shall guide you into all the truth…he shall speak… he will
announce to you what is coming… He shall glorify me”, etc. We could go on and on.
The Resurrection. The book “Let God Be True” denies the manhood of Christ in
resurrection by stating that he was raised “as a glorious spirit creature”. On one occasion when Jesus
appeared to the disciples in resurrection, they thought they saw a spirit, so he said to them “Handle me and
see, for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see me having”. He is a man for ever, praise his name.
Salvation. They teach that works are part of the requirements of salvation, rather than the
outcome of obtaining salvation, or that eternal life will be for those who have faith and who work, rather than
works being the result of having life. “For ye are saved by grace, through faith; it is God’s gift: not on the
principle of works, that no one might boast” – Ephesians 2:9.
This truth shines through in the JW translation. Surely faithfulness now will be rewarded then in the coming
kingdom. When Jesus suffered on the cross for sin, and gave up his life – the shed blood a witness to that –
he satisfied (propitiated) God’s righteousness. The resurrection was the proof of God’s satisfaction with that
work. So now, all who place their faith in Christ, get all the benefits of that work attributed to them – they are
justified, declared righteous before God. “...Jesus our Lord, who has been delivered for our offences and
has been raised for our justification” – Romans 4:25. There is much more that could be said about what we
gain through his death, but it is outside the scope of this article. They are not sure of salvation and do not
expect to know until a time of judgment! That is not worthy of our God. Where is the peace of God in that?
No eternal punishment. The word “everlasting” or “eternal” I am told is used some 72
times in the New Testament. If the word is acceptable for heaven, or life, why should it suddenly change its
meaning for hell? If hell is not permanent, then Christ’s sufferings as the sin bearer, and his death, were
unnecessary. It is a necessity of God’s love that evil be confined forever. Might I suggest that people are
making their own hell now. Their deeds and words, both of omission and commission, will be gnawing at a
conscience undimmed by forgetfulness, as it says: “where their worm dies not and the fire is not
quenched”. The JW teaching is that the wicked are annihilated. An honest reader who lets the scriptures
teach him will see the truth. A person who dislikes the idea of eternal punishment, who feels it is not a nice
thing and does not want to believe in it, will then try to “force” scripture to support his conclusion.
Prophecy. Their many predictions and attempts at date setting have all proved false. So
says a former JW member who examined all the predictions of the Watchtower Society back to 1877.
I trust that this thumbnail sketch is enough to warn the unwary. If you deny the deity of Christ and the person
of the Holy Spirit, you have lost Christianity completely.
MM March 2007
A reference book (paperback) that proved helpful when writing the above –
“What They Believe” by Harold J. Berry, Back to the Bible, Lincoln, Nebraska 68501 USA.
This organization is represented in Australia by: Christianityworks.com PO Box 608, Beecroft, NSW Australia 2119.
This book provides an insight into 14 leading counterfeit sects and cults in Christendom.