You are currently viewing Why You Should Believe In The Trinity: Responding To The WatchTower (Part 3)

Why You Should Believe In The Trinity: Responding To The WatchTower (Part 3)

In the previous 2 articles, we’ve been responding to an evangelistic tract/booklet from The Watchtower Society called “Should You Believe In The Trinity?” In Part 1 of this series, we looked at the claim that The Trinity is logically incoherent at best and confusing at worst. I took the time to show that there are models which make sense out of the doctrine that there is 1 God who eternally consists of 3 persons. The specific model I defended was a Social Trinitarian model I learned about in Dr. William Lane Craig’s philosophical work. I then moved on to refute the idea stemming from the previous idea that God would never teach the Trinity because it is supposedly too confusing, and even if it were a coherent idea, God wouldn’t put it in The Bible because you’d have to be a “theologian” to understand it. I refuted the idea that there is no concept of a Godhead in The Old Testament by providing several examples, and then I went on to defend The Trinity from The New Testament scriptures as well. God consisting as more than one person is firmly established in both testaments.

In Part 2 of this series, we surveyed church history. The Watchtower Society tried to claim that all of the early church Fathers (those who preceded The Council Of Nicea anyway) explicitly disavowed The Trinity. We saw that the Watchtower misrepresented the early church fathers. They quote mined them at every turn, ignored other parts of their writings where they explicitly, clearly, in no uncertain terms, called Jesus God, distinguished the person of Jesus from The Father, credited Jesus as being the Creator of all things, eternally co-existent with the Father, etc. When one reads the Ante-Nicene church fathers objectively, no honest reader could walk away not thinking they were Trinitarians. We then moved on to their claim that the Trinity had its roots in pagan origins. We saw that the best they could do was conjure up trios of entirely separate deities (as in Mesopotamia) or a god who changes between three faces (the Trimutri of Hinduism), which would be an analog to Modalism a.k.a Saballianism, not Trinitarianism! And I said that even if that portion were conceded, it wouldn’t do anything to damage justification for the doctrine of The Trinity, as the argument would be a genetic fallacy.

In this blog post, we will continue examining the booklet “Should You Believe In The Trinity?” Our survey of the so-called historical development of the doctrine is over. Now, we move back to exegeting God’s word.

God Is One, Not Three – (1) Monotheism In Its Purest Form?

The booklet says \\“THE Bible teaching that God is one is called monotheism. And L. L. Paine, professor of ecclesiastical history, indicates that monotheism in its purest form does not allow for a Trinity: “The Old Testament is strictly monotheistic. God is a single personal being. The idea that a trinity is to be found there . . . is utterly without foundation.”\\ –

But this quote merely asserts that “Monotheism in its purest form does not allow for a Trinity”. No argument is made. As we’ve seen, this is a habit of the tract; to quote from supposedly scholarly sources and simply stand on their assertions as gospel. Paine is simply wrong. Moreover, as I went into at length in Part 1 of this series, the claim that “The idea that the Trinity is to be found there [that is, The Old Testament] is utterly without foundation.” is a false claim. We saw several places in The Old Testament where Yahweh manifests himself as two persons; usually a disembodied voice from Heaven and a humanoid “Angel Of The Lord” on earth (e.g Genesis 19:24, Zechariah 3:1-7), or A humanoid angel blurs his own identity with Yahweh’s (Genesis 22:1-9) swapping third and first-person pronouns in a way that tells the reader the angel is Yahweh and yet, somehow, is not Yahweh. See part 1 for more info. While two persons is not a Trinity per se (It’s more of a Binity), it is a Godhead nonetheless and it lays crucial conceptual foundations which can easily be built upon by later inspired authors (i.e The New Testament authors). And what I talked about in Part 1 of this series barely even scratched the surface. I go into several more examples in my YouTube presentation “The Angel Of The Lord and a Two Person Godhead In The Old Testament”. Moreover, I pointed to the dissertation of a Jewish scholar named Allan Segal who historically documents recognition of this “Two Powers In Heaven” theology in second temple Judaism. It was is merely Christians after the writing of The New Testament who are noticing these Godhead prooftexts in The Old Testament, even non-Christian Jews like Philo in the first century picked up on it. Commenting on Genesis 9:6, Philo poses the question, “Why is it that he speaks as if of some other god, saying that he made man after the image of God, and not that he made him after his own image?” His answer? “No mortal thing could have been formed on the similitude of the supreme Father of the universe, but only after the pattern of the second deity ( deuteros theos ), who is the logos of the supreme Being” [1]Questions on Genesis 2.62. What does this mean? He sums this up in another place, saying, “And even if there be not as yet anyone who is worthy to be called a son of God, nevertheless let him labour earnestly to be adorned according to his first-born logos, the eldest of his angels, as the great archangel of many names; for he is called, the authority, and the name of God, and the Word [logos], and man according to God’s image, and he who sees Israel … Even if we are not yet suitable to be called the sons of God, still we may deserve to be called the children of his eternal image, of his most sacred logos; for the image of God is his most ancient word [logos].” [2]Philo, Confusion of Tongues 146

This is important not to miss. Since this is a new article, allow me to take some time to bring up just two more Old Testament examples I didn’t have space to go into in Part 1 of this series.

1: Exodus 23:20-33 – Yahweh Switches Between First and Second Person Plurals When Talking About Himself and His Angel

In Exodus 23:20-33, we read

“See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared. Pay attention to him and listen to what he says. Do not rebel against him; he will not forgive your rebellion, since my Name is in him. If you listen carefully to what he says and do all that I say, I will be an enemy to your enemies and will oppose those who oppose you. My angel will go ahead of you and bring you into the land of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hivites and Jebusites, and I will wipe them out. Do not bow down before their gods or worship them or follow their practices. You must demolish them and break their sacred stones to pieces. Worship the Lord your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you, and none will miscarry or be barren in your land. I will give you a full life span.

I will send my terror ahead of you and throw into confusion every nation you encounter. I will make all your enemies turn their backs and run. I will send the hornet ahead of you to drive the Hivites, Canaanites and Hittites out of your way. But I will not drive them out in a single year, because the land would become desolate and the wild animals too numerous for you. Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land.

I will establish your borders from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, and from the desert to the Euphrates River. I will give into your hands the people who live in the land, and you will drive them out before you. Do not make a covenant with them or with their gods. Do not let them live in your land or they will cause you to sin against me, because the worship of their gods will certainly be a snare to you.” (NIV)

Of this passage, Matt Foreman and Douglas Van Dorn write “This angel is described in terms intimately connected with Yahweh himself. In vs. 21, God tells the people, ‘Pay careful attention to him and obey his voice; do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgression. The people are to obey the voice of the angel … because, amazingly, God says that this angel holds the prerogative over forgiveness, has authority to ‘pardon’ or ‘not pardon’ their sins an authority that usually belongs to God alone (see Mark 2:7, ‘Who can forgive sins but God alone?’)! …The angel has this amazing authority, God says, because ‘my name is in him.‘ This is a remarkable statement! … God’s name is a powerful expression of his being and character. When God first appeared to Moses in the burning bush, God had revealed his special name. …. Throughout the Old Testament, God’s name becomes a representation of God himself, almost a personification of God himself. God’s name was an expression of his Person. Then, in vs. 22, it says, ‘But if you carefully obey his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries.’ There is a unified connection between the voice of the angel and what God says. …” (emphasis in bold underlining added) [3]Van Dorn, Douglas,Foreman, Matt. The Angel of the LORD: A Biblical, Historical, and Theological Study (Kindle Locations 401-423). Waters of Creation Publishing. Kindle Edition. Foreman and Dorn go onto say “As the text continues, God continues ‘to move back and forth between what he will do and what the angel will do,’ as Ryken explains. It goes on in vs. 23, ‘When my angel goes before you and brings you to the Amorites and the Hittites and the Perizzites and the Canaanites, the Hivites and the Jebusites, and I blot them out…’ Vs. 25 is most remarkable, ‘You shall serve the LORD your God, and he will bless your bread and your water, and I will take sickness away from among you.”’ Notice the change of subjects! Amazingly, the angel is now apparently called ‘Yahweh your God’! In other words, there is a blurring here of identity. The way the angel is described becomes virtually inseparable from Yahweh himself.” (emphasis in bold underling added). [4]Van Dorn, Douglas,Foreman, Matt. The Angel of the LORD: A Biblical, Historical, and Theological Study (Kindle Location 423). Waters of Creation Publishing. Kindle Edition.

2: Judges 6:2-24 – Gideon Meets Two Yahwehs

In Judges 6:2-24, we read

The angel of the Lord came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, ‘The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.’ ‘Pardon me, my lord,’ Gideon replied, ‘but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.’”’ The Lord turned to him and said, ‘Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?’

‘Pardon me, my lord,’ Gideon replied, ‘but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.’ The Lord answered, ‘I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.’ Gideon replied, ‘If now I have found favor in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really you talking to me. Please do not go away until I come back and bring my offering and set it before you.’ And the Lord said, ‘I will wait until you return.’ Gideon went inside, prepared a young goat, and from an ephah of flour he made bread without yeast. Putting the meat in a basket and its broth in a pot, he brought them out and offered them to him under the oak.

The angel of God said to him, ‘Take the meat and the unleavened bread, place them on this rock, and pour out the broth.’ And Gideon did so. Then the angel of the Lord touched the meat and the unleavened bread with the tip of the staff that was in his hand. Fire flared from the rock, consuming the meat and the bread. And the angel of the Lord disappeared. When Gideon realized that it was the angel of the Lord, he exclaimed, ‘Alas, Sovereign Lord! I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face!’ But the Lord said to him, ‘Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die.’ So Gideon built an altar to the Lord there and called it The Lord Is Peace. To this day it stands in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.” (NIV, emphasis in bold underlining added)

Old Testament scholar Michael Heiser comments on this passage saying;

“This is a fascinating passage. In verse 11 the angel sits down under the oak tree for the conversation. He makes his visible presence known to Gideon in verse 12. There is no indication that Gideon considers his presence at all strange. Gideon’s disgruntled reference to Yahweh in verse 13 makes it clear he doesn’t know the man is Yahweh. The reader, however, knows that, since the narrator has Yahweh taking part in the conversation (vv. 14–16). The scene is reminiscent of the burning bush except that both Yahwehs have speaking roles. This serves to put the two characters on the same level to the reader. That tactic is by now familiar—putting both figures on par to blur the distinction. But in the case of Judges 6, the writer also makes them clearly separate. That there are two clearly separate Yahweh figures becomes more dramatic after verse 19. Gideon asks the man (who is logically the angel of Yahweh) to stay put while Gideon makes a meal for him. The stranger agrees. When Gideon returns, he brings the meal to the tree (v. 19). The narrator has the Angel of God receiving it. Again that’s logical, since the angel had sat there at the beginning of the story. Now comes the shocker. The angel of Yahweh burns up the sacrifice and then leaves (v. 21). But we learn in verse 23 that Yahweh is still there and speaks to Gideon after the Angel’s departure. Not only did the writer blur the distinction between the two figures, but he had them both in the same scene.” [5]Michael, S. Heiser, “Who Is the Angel of the Lord and What Is the Name of Yahweh?”, November 22, 2017 —

This is the same section of The Bible that emphatically states, as we’ll see in a moment, that there is only one God worthy of worship.

The Watchtower booklet then says \\“Was there any change from monotheism after Jesus came to the earth? Paine answers: ‘On this point there is no break between the Old Testament and the New. The monotheistic tradition is continued. Jesus was a Jew, trained by Jewish parents in the Old Testament scriptures. His teaching was Jewish to the core; a new gospel indeed, but not a new theology. . . . And he accepted as his own belief the great text of Jewish monotheism: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one God.’‘\\ –

Indeed, The Two Powers doctrine was recognized in Jesus’ day (see the quotations from Philo above). This is probably why The New Testament writers and their audience were able to accept The Trinity so easily. There was already this two-person Godhead in Jesus’ time, all The Trinity does is just slap on a third person so that you have a trio of persons rather than a duo, and the second power is identified as Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah of whom the Old Testament prophesied, that this “second Yahweh” became a true blue human being in the womb of Mary. There was no break indeed. The Trinity, contrary to what many people believe, was only a minor modification to pre-existing Jewish belief. Again, this isn’t simply me as a 21st century Christian proof-texting the Old Testament, as Dr. Allan Segal points out in his doctoral dissertation, Jewish writers around the time such as Philo also picked up on this. [6]To read Alan Segal’s doctoral dissertation, you can access it at by clicking here –> (PDF) Alan F. Segal. Two Powers in Heaven: Early Rabbinic Reports about Christianity and … Continue reading

God Is One, Not Three – (2) The Argument From Monotheism Proof Texts

The Watchtower tract/booklet then says \\“‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one God.’\”Those words are found at Deuteronomy 6:4. The Catholic New Jerusalem Bible (NJB) here reads: ‘Listen, Israel: Yahweh our God is the one, the only Yahweh.’ * In the grammar of that verse, the word ‘one’ has no plural modifiers to suggest that it means anything but one individual.”\\ –

This is inconsequential. All Deuteronomy 6:4 is affirming is monotheism, which is exactly what Trinitarians affirm! We also agree that there is only one God [7]Only one God worth worshipping anyway. Several passages in both the Old and New Testament seem to affirm that there are lowercase g gods, elohim who are created entities who either serve in … Continue reading The doctrine of the Trinity is that the sum total of Gods is 1, but the sum total of persons is 3. A passage of scripture asserting that there is one God is hardly a proof text against The Trinity.

The booklet then says \\“The Christian apostle Paul did not indicate any change in the nature of God either, even after Jesus came to the earth. He wrote: “God is only one.”—Galatians 3:20; see also 1 Corinthians 8:4-6.”\\ – Again, the doctrine of The Trinity asserts that there is 1 God who exists as 3 persons. Nothing here undermines that notion. However, since the Watchtower brought it up, let’s take a close look at 1 Corinthians 8:4-6, “

“So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that ‘An idol is nothing at all in the world’ and that ‘There is no God but one.’ For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many ‘gods’ and many ‘lords’), yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.” – 1 Corinthians 8:4-6 (NIV)

Yes, very good. A strong assertion of Monotheism, which Trinitarians agree with. But look at how Paul describes God The Father and Jesus in verse 6; “yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.” (emphasis in bold underlining added)

Paul says there is one God. Who is this one God? The Father. It is the Father from which all things came into being. Now, does Paul identifying “The Father” as the one God negates Jesus being the one God? It can’t be. For if that were so, then Jesus being identified as the “One Lord” would mean that God The Father is no longer The Lord! It would mean that God was stripped of his title as “Lord”! So, if Jesus being the “one Lord” does not negate The Father also being the “One Lord”, then The Father being identified as the “One God” should not disqualify Jesus from being God. Moreover, The Father and Jesus are also spoken of as being responsible for creating all things. “One God, The Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live;” is paralleled with “One Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.” Remember from Part 1 in this series that passages like Job 9:8 and Isaiah 44:24 assert that God alone is responsible for the creation of the universe. Job 9:8 and Isaiah 44:24 preclude Yahweh from having any helping hands in creation. So if Jesus is the one through whom all things came, and this is also true of The Father, then either The Bible contradicts itself, modalism is true, or Trinitarianism is true. Given that The Bible is God’s word (2 Timothy 3:16) including The New Testament (2 Peter 3:16), and given the repeated distinctions between Jesus and His Father throughout The New Testament, the best explanation is that the doctrine of The Trinity is true.

Reread this section of scripture again! It’s almost as if Paul is trying to assert that there is only one God, that The Father is God, that Jesus is God, but that The Father and the Son are not the same person. It’s almost as if Paul is trying to assert monotheism and the deity of Jesus without accidentally making a statement that sounds like Modalism! It almost sounds like Paul is a good Trinitarian! So, as we can see, one of the very prooftexts The Watchtower Society attempts to use to disprove The Trinity actually ends up supporting it.

The Watchtower booklet then says \\“Thousands of times throughout the Bible, God is spoken of as one person. When he speaks, it is as one undivided individual.”\\ – As we saw in Part 1 of this series, and above, this is simply false. Sometimes you have two figures in The Old Testament who are distinguished, yet identified as Yahweh, and sometimes both figures even speak in the same scene (e.g Judges 6:2-24)! But granted, the norm is that one person of The Trinity seems to be speaking at a time. Unless otherwise clarified, I most often assume it’s the Father, or even The Holy Spirit [8]This is because of how Hebrews 1:1-2 is worded, it seems to imply The Son didn’t do that much speaking in the OT as the norm..

The Watchtower booklet then says \\”The Bible could not be any clearer on this. As God states: “I am Jehovah. That is my name; and to no one else shall I give my own glory.” (Isaiah 42:8) “I am Yahweh your God . . . You shall have no gods except me.” (Italics ours.)—Exodus 20:2, 3, JB.”\\ –

Ok. And? This is supposed to disprove the doctrine of The Trinity… exactly? Again, it is an essential ingredient to The Trinity that there is only one God (lit. Maximally Great Being). Astonishingly, this booklet started out accurately describing The Trinity as “generally the Trinity teaching is that in the Godhead there are three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; yet, together they are but one God. The doctrine says that the three are coequal, almighty, and uncreated, having existed eternally in the Godhead.” [9]The WatchTower Society, “Should You Believe In The Trinity?” — Should You Believe It? ( and yet now they seem to have forgotten that like them, we also affirm that there’s only one God! Now, this author, almost like a bait and switch, seems to be implying that The Trinity is a denial of only one God! Now, the author seems to be characterizing The Trinity as a belief in three gods! I don’t know if this is an unfortunate unconscious accident on the part of the writer, or if it’s a purposeful bait-and-switch tactic. Either way, this is not a good critique. It’s a straw man argument. Now, perhaps the author thinks that The Trinity logically entails a form of polytheism. He’s free to think that, but I think I’ve done a good job in Part 1 of this series that it is quite coherent to affirm that one God can exist as three persons. God is one soul with three distinct sets of cognitive faculties each sufficient for personhood. If The Watchtower wishes to maintain, perhaps, an argument from logical entailment, then they need to put forth an argument for that. They must also deal with the best Trinitarian models that Christian philosophers like Dr. William Lane Craig have put forth.

What about Isaiah 42:8? Is God giving His glory to another? Only if Jesus were a separate deity entirely or a creature! If God The Father and Jesus are one and the same divine essence (as Jesus said they were in John 10:30), then God is not sharing His glory with another deity! God is The Trinity and The Trinity doesn’t share its glory with another. Moreover, not only did Jesus claim to be one with the Father (John 10:30), but Jesus also claimed to share The Father’s glory! In John 17:5, Jesus said “And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.” (NIV) Interestingly, this very verse comes after John 17:3, which is another proof text the booklet author tries to use against The Trinity. So, if Isaiah 42:8 says that God won’t share His glory with another, and in John 17:8, Jesus says The Father shared His glory with Him before the world began, then we have some interpretive options. One is that either Jesus is blaspheming, another option is to affirm modalism, or we could affirm that the doctrine of The Trinity is true. The first option is untenable, Jesus is not blaspheming. Blasphemy is a sin, and The Bible teaches that Jesus was sinless (see John 8:46, Hebrews 4:15). The second option doesn’t work because the distinction between The Father and The Son as persons can be found all over The Bible. Indeed, John 17:8 is one of them (Is Jesus talking to Himself?) So, modalism is off the table. So, it seems that The Trinity is once again the best explanation.

\\”Why would all the God-inspired Bible writers speak of God as one person if he were actually three persons? What purpose would that serve, except to mislead people?”\\ – I suppose if the premise that they spoke of God as if he were only one person, then it would indeed be misleading. However, hopefully by now the reader can see that the concept of the Godhead can clearly be found in both testaments.

\\“Surely, if God were composed of three persons, he would have had his Bible writers make it abundantly clear so that there could be no doubt about it.”\\ — Well, He did.

\\“At least the writers of the Christian Greek Scriptures who had personal contact with God’s own Son would have done so. But they did not.”\\ — Yes, they did.

\\“Instead, what the Bible writers did make abundantly clear is that God is one Person—a unique, unpartitioned Being who has no equal: ‘I am Jehovah, and there is no one else. With the exception of me there is no God.’ (Isaiah 45:5) ‘You, whose name is Jehovah, you alone are the Most High over all the earth.’—Psalm 83:18.”\\ — Again, citing verses asserting monotheism does nothing to The Trinity, since Monotheism is assumed in The Trinity. Now, again, if the JW thinks the doctrine of The Trinity logically entails a sort of polytheism, such that verses like these would become relevant, then fine. However, he must show how the Trinity entails a denial of monotheism, not just assume it.

Not A Plural God – (1) Appeal To John 17:3, Jesus Never Talked About The Trinity, And More Appeals To Monotheism Proof Texts

The Watchtower booklet then says \\“JESUS called God ‘the only true God.’ (John 17:3) Never did he refer to God as a deity of plural persons. That is why nowhere in the Bible is anyone but Jehovah called Almighty. Otherwise, it voids the meaning of the word ‘almighty.’ Neither Jesus nor the holy spirit is ever called that, for Jehovah alone is supreme. At Genesis 17:1 he declares: ‘I am God Almighty.’ And Exodus 18:11 says: ‘Jehovah is greater than all the other gods.'”\\ –

There are three different claims to respond here. [10]Yes, claims. There are certainly no arguments put forth here. First is the appeal to John 17:3 and the assertion that “Never did her refer to God as a deity of plural persons”. While not parsed in this way in this portion, unitarians often appeal to John 17:3 because Jesus is speaking to the Father and says “This is eternal life; that they might know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent”. And the claim is that “Well, Jesus says The Father is the only true God and distinguishes himself from him, so Jesus can’t also be the only true God”. However, would this really be a problem for the Trinitarian? I see how it would be a problem for the modalist. Jesus is clearly distinguishing himself from The Father. Indeed, by the very act of carrying on a conversation with His Father and addressing Him in second person terms, a distinction of the persons is assumed. Otherwise, we’d be forced into the absurd notion that Jesus is literally talking to Himself as though He were another person. Moreover, remember that the doctrine of The Trinity asserts that “The Father is God”. If The Trinity were true, of course, Jesus would say to His Father “You are the only true God!” The Father would also say that of the Son. Does He? Well, in Hebrews 1:8-10, we read “But about the Son he says, ‘Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.’ He also says, ‘In the beginning, Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands.'” (NIV) In John 17, The Son asserts the divinity of The Father. In Hebrews 1, The Father asserts the divinity of The Son and credits Him with the creation of the cosmos! And both talk to the other as if they were a distinct person. Exactly what we would expect to find in our Bibles if the doctrine of The Trinity were true! Moreover, it is extremely unlikely that the biblical author, John, would record this statement of Jesus if he thought it conflict with his explicit high Christology as found in John 1. We must interpret scripture in light of scripture. If John 1 clearly asserts the deity of Jesus, The Father, and Jesus’ distinction from The Father (and it obviously does), then it is highly unlikely that the authorial intent of John 17:3 contradicts that theology. This isn’t even interpreting cross-canon (which is entirely appropriate given the God-Breathed nature of the biblical books), this is just interpreting across one book from one human author.

Now, Jesus never asserts that God is a Trinity in the same way that, say, Nicea does. None of The Biblical authors do. And yet Jesus claims to be God yet talks about The Father and The Holy Spirit as if they were distinct persons. Such claims can be found, for example, in Mark 14:60-64, John 8:58, John 10:30, and John 15:26. [11]See part 1 of this series if the significance of what Jesus said in the Mark 14 reference is unclear. To assert that Jesus didn’t go around making explicit Nicene-Creed-Sounding statements is no more theologically significant than the fact that he didn’t utter the three specific words “I am God”.

Finally, we again see more appeals to monotheistic proof texts. I don’t think anything more needs to be said about why passages like Genesis 17:1 and Exodus 18:11 aren’t strikes against Trinitarianism. To repeat what has already been said would be to beat a dead horse.

Not A Plural God – (2) Discussion About The Hebrew Word “Elohim”

The booklet author states \\“In the Hebrew Scriptures, the word ʼelohʹah (god) has two plural forms, namely, ʼelo·himʹ (gods) and ʼelo·hehʹ (gods of). These plural forms generally refer to Jehovah, in which case they are translated in the singular as “God.” Do these plural forms indicate a Trinity? No, they do not. In A Dictionary of the Bible, William Smith says: ‘The fanciful idea that [ʼelo·himʹ] referred to the trinity of persons in the Godhead hardly finds now a supporter among scholars. It is either what grammarians call the plural of majesty, or it denotes the fullness of divine strength, the sum of the powers displayed by God.‘\\ –

They also say \\”ʼElo·himʹ means, not “persons,” but “gods.” So those who argue that this word implies a Trinity make themselves polytheists, worshipers of more than one God. Why? Because it would mean that there were three gods in the Trinity. But nearly all Trinity supporters reject the view that the Trinity is made up of three separate gods.“\\ –

Since I plan on Part 3 of this series to be the final part of this series, I won’t take up too much time on a discussion of the word “Elohim”. [12]I go into a deep dive in places such as my essays “Genesis 10-11: The Tower Of Babel, The Fall Of The gods, And The Divine Council Worldview” and “In Defense Of The Divine Council … Continue reading The author of this piece of Watchtower Apologetics says that the term Elohim generally refers to Yahweh, and that it doesn’t indicate a Trinity. I don’t disagree on this point. That Yahweh is described as “elohim” which, in Hebrew, is a plural form, does not necessarily mean that God is a plurality of persons. Thus, I would find myself among those biblical scholars who do not use this grammatical argument. However, two important things should be noted; (1) the word doesn’t exclude the idea that God is Trinity either. (2) All this means is that Christians shouldn’t appeal to this plural form name of God to argue that He is more than one person.

The JWs are right to think that nothing follows from God’s name being in the plural form in the Hebrew. However, if they think that the failure of this one argument for The Trinity means that the doctrine of The Trinity is false, then they’d be guilty of what is known as “The Fallacy Fallacy”. This logical fallacy is committed when one concludes that X is false if an argument for X is fallacious. There can be bad arguments for true conclusions.

Jesus A Separate Creation

\\“WHILE on earth, Jesus was a human, although a perfect one because it was God who transferred the life-force of Jesus to the womb of Mary. (Matthew 1:18-25)”\\ – Well, that’s one way to read that text.

\\“But that is not how he began. He himself declared that he had ‘descended from heaven.’ (John 3:13) So it was only natural that he would later say to his followers: ‘What if you should see the Son of man [Jesus] ascend to where he was before?’—John 6:62, NJB. Thus, Jesus had an existence in heaven before coming to the earth. But was it as one of the persons in an almighty, eternal triune Godhead? No, for the Bible plainly states that in his prehuman existence, Jesus was a created spirit being, just as angels were spirit beings created by God. Neither the angels nor Jesus had existed before their creation.”\\ — Yeah, let’s just forget that John 1, John 17:5, Hebrews 1, and Colossians 1 are in The Bible for a second. Ok, now that we’ve erased those passages from our minds, this claim now becomes plausible. However, we can’t pull a Thomas Jefferson and start ripping out portions of our Bible, so I guess I’m going to have to reject this claim. Jesus did pre-exist creation with The Father. The aforementioned passages say this in no uncertain terms.

\\”Jesus, in his prehuman existence, was “the first-born of all creation.” (Colossians 1:15, NJB) He was “the beginning of God’s creation.” (Revelation 3:14, RS, Catholic edition). “Beginning” [Greek, ar·kheʹ] cannot rightly be interpreted to mean that Jesus was the ‘beginner’ of God’s creation. In his Bible writings, John uses various forms of the Greek word ar·kheʹ more than 20 times, and these always have the common meaning of “beginning.” Yes, Jesus was created by God as the beginning of God’s invisible creations.”\\ –

The problem with using Colossians 1:15 as a proof text for Jesus as a proof text is twofold; (1) in the very chapter this verse is taken from, the deity of Christ is made explicit. (2) The cultural context behind the term “first born” is ignored.

Colossians 1:15-17 says “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (emphasis in bold underlining mine)

The passage says that Jesus is “the image of the invisible God”. Some translations say “the visible image of the invisible God”. The passage says that in Christ, all things were created. ALL things, whether they be the visible things or the invisible things, whether thrones powers or rulers. The author is emphatic that if it exists, Christ is the reason it has its being. He not only says that Christ is the agent of creation, but asserts that all things “hold together” because of him. In other words, Christ is the glue that keeps the universe from falling apart! Christ not only brought it into existence, but keeps it in existence! This can only be said to be the work of God, not some mere angel! And yet it is in the context of such high Christological claims that the claim that Christ is “the firstborn of all creation” is to be found. Responsible exegesis suggests we interpret this phrase in such a way that it does not conflict with the claims that it is sandwiched between.

That brings me to the second point, how is the term “firstborn” to be understood if not the first of God’s creatures?

David is called “first born” In Psalm 89:27, yet he was neither the first king of Israel nor was he literally the first born in his family. He was actually the youngest! (see 1 Samuel 17:14), and yet in Psalm 89:27, God says that he will make David to be the first born. Most commentators agree that first born doesn’t always literally mean the first to come into physical existence. It doesn’t in Psalm 89, and based on how Paul talks about Jesus in the surrounding verses of Colossians 1, I don’t think it means that there either. Rather, in both cases, it refers to the preeminence of the person spoken of (David and Jesus respectively). The firstborn was the one that inherited all the good stuff in Ancient Near Eastern culture. Even in the OT, we see that as Jacob basically has to steal the blessing of the firstborn (Esau) by trickery. As only begotten God (John 1:18), we would expect the eternal Son, the heir of all things (Hebrews 1:2) and the one seated on God’s throne (Mark 14:62, Acts 7:56) to be preeminent indeed. He’d be a very important figure to put it mildly!

\\“Notice how closely those references to the origin of Jesus correlate with expressions uttered by the figurative “Wisdom” in the Bible book of Proverbs: ‘Yahweh created me, first-fruits of his fashioning, before the oldest of his works. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills, I came to birth; before he had made the earth, the countryside, and the first elements of the world.’ (Proverbs 8:12, 22, 25, 26, NJB) While the term Wisdom is used to personify the one whom God created, most scholars agree that it is actually a figure of speech for Jesus as a spirit creature prior to his human existence.”\\ —

The argument from Proverbs 8 has several problems. First is that, while a good case can be made that the Wisdom of Proverbs 8 is the pre-existent Jesus, the reason many scholars make this connection is that Jesus is said to be the Logos of John 1, who was “with God” and “Was God” and then created everything that existed! And John 1 clearly asserts that Jesus is God, the Creator of all things! I don’t think we’d think anything Christological was going on in Proverbs 8 at all were it not for a passage like John 1.

Secondly, while Wisdom is said to be “created” in this passage, Wisdom is also described as a woman. Would the Jehovah’s Witnesses say that Jesus is some transgender being? Or would they say (rightly) that the femininity of Lady Wisdom is a metaphor? But if the femininity of Wisdom is a metaphor, then why should we take Wisdom as being a created thing literally? [13]Indeed, it is a metaphor for the desirability of Wisdom. Romantic or sexual overtones are given when describing the relationship of the reader and his choice of Lady Wisdom versus Lady Folly in this … Continue reading

Thirdly, if God’s Wisdom/Logos was literally created, does this imply that there was a time when God was without His wisdom? Was God like a lobotomy patient prior to creating Jesus? How would that even work? Wouldn’t God have to have some level of cognitive reasoning in order to decide to create His Logos? To say that God’s wisdom was literally created just doesn’t make any logical sense. [14]One of the early church fathers made more or less this same argument. In Against Praxius 6, Tertullian wrote “Before all things God was alone … He was alone because there was nothing external … Continue reading

The Watchtower booklet then says \\“As ‘Wisdom’ in his prehuman existence, Jesus goes on to say that he was ‘by his [God’s] side, a master craftsman.’”’ (Proverbs 8:30, JB) In harmony with this role as master craftsman, Colossians 1:16 says of Jesus that ‘through him God created everything in heaven and on earth.’”’—Today’s English Version (TEV).

So it was by means of this master worker, his junior partner, as it were, that Almighty God created all other things. The Bible summarizes the matter this way: “For us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things . . . and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things.” … —1 Corinthians 8:6, RS, Catholic edition.”\\ —

Colossians 1:16 does not say that Jesus created “all other things”. Oh, sure, it does in the distorted New World Translation but literally every other translation renders it as follows; (emphasis mine in bold)

NIV – “For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.”

NLT – “for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see— such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him.”

ESV – “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.”

NKJV – “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.”

KJV – “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:”

The Greek translated into “all things” is “panta” which means “All, the whole, every kind of. Including all the forms of declension; apparently a primary word; all, any, every, the whole.” [15]From Strong’s Greek Concordance, as cited on –> This means Jesus is the agent from which ALL THINGS came into being, and this would logically exclude Jesus Himself. It is noteworthy that The Watchtower’s own Greek Interlinear of The New Testament shows that pantas means “all things”, and that the word “other” was added. Click here to read the passage on the JW website if you don’t believe me. –>

A screenshot from “The Kingdom Interlinear Translation Of The Greek Scriptures”

The booklet author then says \\“It no doubt was to this master craftsman that God said: “Let us make man in our image.” (Genesis 1:26) Some have claimed that the “us” and “our” in this expression indicate a Trinity. But if you were to say, ‘Let us make something for ourselves,’ no one would normally understand this to imply that several persons are combined as one inside of you. You simply mean that two or more individuals will work together on something. So, too, when God used “us” and “our,” he was simply addressing another individual, his first spirit creation, the master craftsman, the prehuman Jesus.”\\ –

Well, while I’d agree with the author that Genesis 1:26 is not a good proof text for the Trinity, I also don’t think this is God talking to his little junior God either. As I have said in some of my content here on Cerebral Faith concerning Genesis 1 and the divine council worldview, I think this is God speaking to His divine council. [16]See, for example, my article “In Defense Of The Divine Council Wordview: A Response To Marcia Montenegro”, under the sub header “In The Image Of The Divine Council?” for more … Continue reading So I would disagree both with Trinitarians who use Genesis 1:26 as a proof text as well the Jehovah’s Witness who wrote this pamphlet.

Could God Be Tempted?

In this section, the author argues that we read about Jesus being tempted by the devil in Matthew 4. And in James 1:13, Jesus’ brother James states clearly that “God cannot be tempted”. Therefore, if God cannot be tempted, and Jesus was tempted, then it follows that Jesus is not God.

However, before we get to an explanation, let’s remember all the support for the deity of Christ and the Trinity elsewhere in scripture. That biblical support doesn’t just vanish. We need to interpret scripture in light of scripture, the unclear in light of the clear. In light of the over abundance of support for the deity of Christ in scripture, we must look for an interpretation that doesn’t cause a contradiction within God’s inspired and inerrant word.

Now, how could someone with a high Christology, such as Trinitarians, understand James 1:13? Well, I see two interpretive options. The first is that James is using “God” not to refer to the entire divine nature, but simply of The Father. As philosopher and theologian Dr. William Lane Craig writes “In the pages of the New Testament, then, we find the raw data which the doctrine of the Trinity later sought to formulate in a systematic way. The New Testament church remained faithful to its heritage of Jewish monotheism in affirming that there is only one God (Mk 12.29; Rom. 3.29-30a; I Cor. 8.4; Jas. 2.19; I Tim. 2.5). In accord with the portrayal of God in the Old Testament (Is. 63.16) and the teaching of Jesus (Mt. 6.9), Christians also conceived of God as Father, a distinct person from Jesus His Son (Mt. 11.27; 26.39; Mk. 1.9-11; Jn. 17.5ff). Indeed, in New Testament usage, ‘God’ (ho theos) typically refers to God the Father (e.g., Gal. 4.4-6). Now this occasioned a problem for the New Testament church: If ‘God’ designates the Father, how can one affirm the deity of Christ without identifying him as the Father? In response to this difficulty, the New Testament writers appropriated the word for God’s name (Yahweh) in the Old Testament as it appears in Greek translation in the Septuagint (kyrios = Lord) and called Jesus Lord, applying to him Old Testament proof-texts concerning Yahweh (e.g., Rom. 10.9, 13). Indeed, the confession ‘Jesus is Lord’ was the central confession of the early church (I Cor. 12.3), and they addressed Jesus in prayer as Lord (I Cor. 16.22b).” (emphasis mine in bold) [17]Dr. William Lane Craig, “A Formulation and Defense Of The Doctrine Of The Trinity”, — … Continue reading In other words, to walk the fine-line between affirming Jesus is God yet not making modalistic sounding statements, they typically referred to the Father as “God” and affirmed the deity of Jesus by calling Him “Lord”, crediting Him with the creation of the universe, applying OT texts about Yahweh and basically saying “This is about Jesus”, etc. Although as Craig himself later points out in his essay, sometimes they threw caution to the wind and explicitly called Jesus God (e.g John 1:1). Given this, there is a good chance that James is just referring to The Father. And if that’s the case, then of course God The Father cannot be tempted! God The Father doesn’t have a human nature! It was not the Father who longed to fill His stomach with bread, but The Son!

A second way of reading this is to say that God cannot feel the force of the temptation. This is what I put forth in my very old blog article titled “Does James 1:13 Contradict Jesus’ Deity?” In that article, I said that there are two senses in which God could be said to be tempted, one of which would be possible, and the other impossible. It would be impossible to make God feel the force of the temptation. But you could still tempt God in the sense of trying to persuade him to commit such an act. I could try to persuade God to sin, but He would not feel the pull of temptation throughout my persuasion efforts. For example, you might hate ice cream, and I could try to persuade you to buy some. In this sense, I’m “tempting” you to ruin your diet. But because you hate ice cream, you don’t feel the force of the temptation. Likewise, Satan could tempt Jesus by trying to persuade him to turn rocks into bread, throw him off the temple roof, and bow to him, but that doesn’t mean he felt the force of that temptation.

Since I wrote that article, I’ve come to favor the first of the two options, as I don’t want to say that Jesus just scoffed at all the devil’s temptations and blew them off like smoke. If that were so, then the words of Hebrews 4:15 would be of little comfort. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.” (NIV)

How Much Was The Ransom?

This section took me by surprise. In this section, The Watchtower the argument that if Jesus were a member of The Godhead, then he wouldn’t be able to pay the ransom for our sins on the cross! Because, they reason, sacrificing God’s own son would be paying a price infinitely higher than what God’s own law required. They write \\“It was only a perfect human, Adam, who sinned in Eden, not God. So the ransom, to be truly in line with God’s justice, had to be strictly an equivalent—a perfect human, ‘the last Adam.’ Thus, when God sent Jesus to earth as the ransom, he made Jesus to be what would satisfy justice, not an incarnation, not a god-man, but a perfect man, ‘lower than angels.” (Hebrews 2:9; compare Psalm 8:5, 6.)”\\

This surprised me because Orthodox Christian preachers and theologians typically argue in the other direction; that the price for sin is infinitely high and therefore, Jesus had to be God to pay that price. If Jesus wasn’t God, the atonement doesn’t work. I guess one man’s modus ponens is another man’s modus tollens?

There are a couple of things I can say in response. First is that while I think some version of the ransom theory is correct [18]Jesus died to ransom the gentiles from the fallen divine council members allotted to the 72 nations in Deuteronomy 32:8-9 cf. Deuteronomy 4:19, Psalm 82, I think the primary point of the atonement is penal substitution. That is, Jesus suffered the penalty for our sins in our place, thus satisfying the wrath of God. Support for Jesus being a penal substitutionary atonement can be found in passages like the messianic prophesy in Isaiah 53:5 “But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” Now, if Jesus were just a mere man, provided he was perfectly sinless like Adam, he could perhaps pay for someone’s sin in their place. I don’t see anything particularly metaphysically absurd about that idea, but it would be for only one person. To pay for the sins of all people who ever lived, is living, and will live (as John 3:16, 1 Timothy 2:4-6, 1 John 2:2, and Hebrews 2:9 say), he would have to be a person of infinite worth. He had all the sins of the world laid on His shoulders! One man, living a perfectly righteous life could take the place of another man and atone for his sins. But one man is only one man, and can’t take the place of twenty men, much more the totality of all people who ever lived. Only the righteousness of an infinite God could cover that much sin and that many people

How The “Only-Begotten Son”?

In this section of Watchtower apologetics writes \\”THE Bible calls Jesus the “only-begotten Son” of God. (John 1:14; 3:16, 18; 1 John 4:9) Trinitarians say that since God is eternal, so the Son of God is eternal. But how can a person be a son and at the same time be as old as his father?”\\ –

In the case of Jesus being God’s son, to say Jesus is the son of God is to say He is the son of The Father. Jesus is God’s Son in a special sense. Different than the Bene Elohim of the OT (Genesis 6:1-4, Job 1:6, Job 2:1) or Christians (John 1:12). The church fathers talked about His eternal procession from The Father [19]I quoted Tertullian in Part 2 of this series saying exactly this. Tertullian wrote “The Son became incarnate, being as such God and man. The Son is, as it were, a ray from the Father, and ‘this … Continue reading I think this is an example of divine accommodation. [20]For a discussion of the concept of divine accommodation, see Episode 169 of The Cerebral Faith Podcast; “Episode 169: What Evan Minton Thinks About The Bible – Part 2” It fits within our categories to talk about Jesus as “The son of God (The Father)” It’s just easier to say that than to wax philosophically about the eternal procession of The Son from The Father. Although we certainly can do that. And, moreover, “Son Of God” can just be a sort of shorthand for that. But in our experience, when we talk about one person proceeding from another, it is usually the case that the one proceeding is the offspring of the one we are proceeding from, either father or mother. And given the gendered nature of God, which is yet another act of divine accommodation [21]See ibid for a discussion on that as well., it is best to describe Person 1 as the “Father” of Person 2 (who is literally male in his human nature). I think the “How can a son be as old as his father?” objection just overextends biblical metaphors.

\\”Trinitarians claim that in the case of Jesus, “only-begotten” is not the same as the dictionary definition of “begetting,” which is “to procreate as the father.” (Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary) They say that in Jesus’ case it means “the sense of unoriginated relationship,” a sort of only son relationship without the begetting. (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words) Does that sound logical to you?”\\ — The way I (and Tertullian explained it in the footnote) described eternal procession, keeping in mind that “Son” is metaphorical language, YES!

\\“Furthermore, why does the Bible use the very same Greek word for “only-begotten” (as Vine admits without any explanation) to describe the relationship of Isaac to Abraham? Hebrews 11:17 speaks of Isaac as Abraham’s “only-begotten son.” There can be no question that in Isaac’s case, he was only-begotten in the normal sense, not equal in time or position to his father.”\\ — Nevermind the fact that Abraham “begot” more than one son (did the Watchtower forget Ishameael existed for a second?), Abraham was a mere human as was his son Isaac. If The Watchtower wants to affirm that Jesus had a beginning in time because Isaac had a beginning in time, then why not infer that God The Father is a mere human mortal just like Abraham was? Congrats, you’re no longer a Jehovah’s Witness! Now, you’re a Mormon! [22]Mormons affirm that God began as a man but then became a god. [23]I really wanted to go into a discussion about what it meant for both Jesus and Isaac to be “only-begotten”, but I do want to streamline my response a bit more to keep it confined to three … Continue reading This is clearly just an unjustified transferal of properties based on an equivocal use of a term in both cases.

Moreover, John 1:18 says that Jesus is “The only begotten God”. Some translations unfortunately weaken the Christological force of this passage by rendering it “Only-begotten Son”, but the Greek literally says word for word “Only Begotten God”. And again, even the Watchtower’s own Greek Interlinear New Testament shows this to be true. Again, if you’re a JW and think I’m a lying agent of Satan, you can just click the link and check it out for yourself –>

A screenshot from “The Kingdom Interlinear Translation Of The Greek Scriptures”

This is the same passage that in context asserts that The Word is not only “with God” but also “was God” (John 1:1) and is the Creator of all things (John 1:3). And so, when we interpret scripture in light of scripture, and especially when we consult the Greek, we can see that Jesus is “only-begotten” or mo·no·ge·nesʹ in a special sense. Also, notice how God The Father is described as God without a definite article preceding it in the above screenshot. Interesting.

Is God Always Superior To Jesus?

Because I want to wrap things up in this article, I won’t spend too much time on this chapter of the booklet. Besides, most of what it says has already been debunked so far, or the astute reader can see how what they say isn’t a point against Trinitarianism even when consider. For example, the very first sentence of this section says “Jesus never claimed to be God”. Well, if you’ve followed this series up until this point, you know that that’s false. In Part 1 of this series, I gave my favorite example from Jesus’ response to Caiaphas in Mark 14:61-67. Other examples could be John 10:30 and John 8:58.

Most of the proof texts cited in this section do nothing more than merely distinguish the personhood of Jesus from The Father. The way this entire section reads, it seems as though the author forgot he was arguing against Trinitarians and turned his guns on modalism! However, there are a few proof-texts worth responding to in this section. After I address these, we’ll move onto the portion about The Holy Spirit and Watchtower responses to the positive case for The Trinity.

First is the idea that If Jesus has a God, then he can’t be God. In John 20:17, Jesus tells Mary Magdalene after He’s resurrected “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” Well, there you go, Jesus can’t have a God He is God. I’ll respond to this with a quote from; “Why would God call Himself ‘My God’? It has to do with Christ’s relationship to His Father. Even though Christ is the eternal God Himself incarnate, He is still a different person from the Father. As a man and as man’s representative …, Jesus’ person was dependent on the Father and, like us, looked to the Father for strength, guidance, wisdom, etc. Therefore, God the Father was the God of Jesus. The Father is the God of the Son, but it doesn’t imply inferiority, only a difference in roles.” [24], “If Jesus Was God, Why Did He Call God, ‘My God’?” —

A related argument is Jesus’ cry from the cross “My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me!?” (Matthew 27:46, Mark 15:34). How can God forsake God? Well, while some theologians have come up with some speculative (and even, at times, heretical) explanations, I think the simplest answer is that Jesus was drawing the onlooker’s attention to Psalm 22. Jesus’ cry is the first verse off Psalm 22 ver batim. When you read Psalm 22, it reads like an eyewitness account of Jesus’ crucifixion, yet it was written centuries in advance. No doubt that the Psalm had a historical referent, and any messianic implications were part of a secondary inspired meaning (what theologians call the sensus plenora). In its immediate context, the Psalmist was probably feeling abandoned indeed. If the onlookers recognized “Hey, why is Jesus quoting Psalm 22:1?” and they read the whole passage, they’d be struck by the similarities between what the Psalmist is describing and what Jesus went through.

What about Jesus’ limited knowledge? Here, I would just defer the reader to my older article “Is The Doctrine Of The Incarnation Coherent?” rather than rehash that material here.

Finally, there’s one more argument against deity of Jesus (and The Trinity by extension) that I want to address before moving on. The Watchtower booklet writes \\”Peter and those with him told the Jewish Sanhedrin: ‘God exalted this one [Jesus] . . . to his right hand.’ (Acts 5:31) Paul said: ‘God exalted him to a superior position. (Philippians 2:9) If Jesus had been God, how could Jesus have been exalted, that is, raised to a higher position than he had previously enjoyed? He would already have been an exalted part of the Trinity. If, before his exaltation, Jesus had been equal to God, exalting him any further would have made him superior to God.”\\ –

Again and Again, we see this odd tendency on the part of the Watchtower to try to argue against The Trinity using passages that actually establish it (or at least establish a crucial plank in it, like the deity of Jesus). They did this with John 17:3 (verse 7 says Jesus shared God’s glory before the world began), John 1:18 (John 1:1-3 is pretty clear who Jesus is), Colossians 1 (they plucked out verse 15, but everything surrounding the “firstborn” phrase establishes that Jesus is God!), and now they’re doing it with Philippians 2! Let’s read verse 9 in its context! “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,”
(verses 5-9, bold underlining added for emphasis)

In this passage, Paul explicitly says that Jesus had the very nature of God! Jesus “being in very nature, God”. It could not be more explicit. Jesus had a divine nature. Moreover, Paul distinguishes Jesus from the Father in the same breath in which he asserts that Jesus had the nature of God because he says that Jesus “did not consider equality with God a thing to be grasped”. Yes, Jesus is God (He couldn’t have God’s nature if that weren’t the case) If Jesus and the Father were the same person, this wouldn’t make much sense. Because he goes on to say how Jesus didn’t grasp equality with God, but instead “made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant” and “being found in human likeness”. In no uncertain terms, Paul is asserting the doctrine of the incarnation with a strong Trinitarian flavor to boot! Jesus was fully God, at The Father’s side, but then stepped down from his throne and became a drooling, babbling, peeing, pooping human baby, all for the purpose, as Paul would go onto say, of going to die on a bloody Roman cross! So what does it mean, then, for Jesus to be exalted by God? Well, Jesus was a pooping and crying baby who grew up to be a bloody hanging man on the cross. The latter especially, is the ultimate humiliation for such a lofty person as Jesus the Logos is! In the ascension, Jesus went back to sitting at the right hand of God (cf. 1 Peter 3:22, Hebrews 10:12). That’s it. That’s the exaltation of Christ. This is also why, in John’s gospel, Jesus said “The Father is greater than I” (John 14:28). Jesus never stopped being ontologically equal to the Father, but in the incarnation, there was a demotion of His rank, so to speak. The Father did not have human problems like getting hungry, tired, or needing to find food, because the Father wasn’t incarnate. Yet in the ascension (which is after the death and resurrection), Jesus was, in a sense, restored to his rightful kingly place. No longer a bloody mess on a cross for Jews and Romans to jeer at, now He is on the throne reigning with His Father. Hallelujah! And so, there is no Jesus being exalted to be superior to God in ontology, but merely a restoration of Jesus to the throne. Jesus never stopped being God in His ontology, but He did give up the advantages of being pure deity for a time.

Moreover, in the Old Testament, God is exalted in several places! Even in their own (mis)translation, we can see that this is the case. For example, in Psalm 46:10 (NWT), we read “Give in and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted in the earth.” The Watchtower translators clearly didn’t think that being exalted was a strike against Jehovah’s deity here. Or again, in Psalm 57:5 (NWT), we read “Be exalted above the heavens, O God; May your glory be over all the earth.” Clearly in neither case is the Psalmist implying that Jehovah was somehow an inferior being who then rose even higher in his ontology. In his commentary on the book of Psalms, Derek Kidner writes “Here is the other and chief aspect of God as Most High: not, now, that he is all-powerful (cf. on verse 3), but that he is all-important. David, wonderfully, looks up from his own urgent interests to his overriding concern: that God should be exalted. In such a crisis, this equivalent to ‘hallowed be Thy name’ was both a victory in itself (cf. John 12:27f.) and a weapon against the enemy.” [25]Derek Kidner, Psalms 1–72: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 15, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1973), 224. Interesting that he should connect this to “Hallowed Be Thy Name” from The Lord’s Prayer. I had a good bit to say about this in my book “The Sermon The God Preached: Exegeting Jesus’ Sermon On The Mount”, but for now I’ll just say that the result of my study on that line is that it’s a prayer for the world to recognize the holiness of God. Kidner says that that’s what David is praying in Psalm 57:5. This then, to be “exalted” would be a way to say “be honored”. The Psalmist wants God to be honored above all. In exalting Jesus, God is doing that to His Son.

The Holy Spirit – God’s Active Force?

I’ve spilled a good amount of digital ink over Christology in this 3 part response to the Watchtower. That’s good, but it is not merely the deity of Jesus and His place in the Godhead that Jehovah’s Witnesses deny. They also deny the deity and even personhood of The Holy Spirit. A huge chunk of this section is unobjectional. The author basically just does an overview of the things The Holy Spirit has done and is doing in the world; such as being over the surface of the waters at creation (Genesis 1:2), being the source behind the inspiration of scripture (2 Peter 1:20-21), and being the empowering force of people like Samson in the book of Judges. But then they go on to their denial of the personhood of the Spirit.

Right from the get-go, they anticipated my response that The Holy Spirit is spoken about in personal terms. But, they say, that there are instances in scripture in which clearly non-personal entities are personified. However, the The “sin” that crouched at Cain’s door (Genesis 4:7) wasn’t a personal entity [26]Actually, this example can be disputed. In the Zondervan Illustrated Bible Background Commentary, Old Testament scholar John Walton wrote “Sin Is Crouching At Your Door (4:7). Recent commentators … Continue reading Wisdom is not a personal entity, yet in Luke 7:35 she is said to have children. And so, they take the personal descriptions of The Holy Spirit as metaphorical.

The problem though is that while it is possible that the biblical authors could be metaphorically personifying an impersonal Active Force, what reason is there to adopt such an interpretation? We know that the other examples are personifications because things like sin, death, wisdom, et. al. are impersonal both in our experience and because of how The Bible talks about these things elsewhere. The rule of thumb is that is X is described in personal terms, we de facto take it as a person. So, what reasons are offered by The Watchtower?

Well, one argument is what I like to call “The Argument From Filling”. They write \\”In harmony with this is the Bible’s general usage of “holy spirit” in an impersonal way, such as paralleling it with water and fire. (Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:8) People are urged to become filled with holy spirit instead of with wine. (Ephesians 5:18) They are spoken of as being filled with holy spirit in the same way they are filled with such qualities as wisdom, faith, and joy. (Acts 6:3; 11:24; 13:52) And at 2 Corinthians 6:6 holy spirit is included among a number of qualities. Such expressions would not be so common if the holy spirit were actually a person.”\\

The problem with this argument is that Jehovah in the New World Translation of The Bible [27]and actual translations too, don’t worry. is said to fill things. So that to be logically consistent, the Jehovah’s Witness would have to say that Jehovah God is not a person! Jeremiah 23:24 (NWT) for example, says “‘Can any man hide in a concealed place where I cannot see him?’ declares Jehovah. ‘Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?’ declares Jehovah.” In case it was unclear, Jeremiah says twice that is Jehovah who is the one declaring. He fills Heaven and Earth, an expression of His omnipresence. And yet surely Jehovah God is not an impersonal force like fire or water, right? Psalm 72:19 (NWT) says “May his glorious name be praised forever, And may his glory fill the whole earth. Amen and Amen.” Sounds like Jehovah God is going to do an awful lot of filling! And yet, he is a person. Moreover, just logically, is there anything incompatible with a personal entity filling something? If my house were packed for a Bible study, might I not say something like “And all the seats were filled.”? In fact, Christians speak of the Spirit “filling” all the time and we don’t think twice. This is because we understand that language to mean the power and grace flowing from a person. At the resurrection, I might say “My mom filled me with joy” because seeing her face again after being long dead resulted in that emotional response. Yet she is still a person. “The chef filled all our bellies” means the thing the cook gave you filled you.

Now, moreover, although sometimes impersonal objects are personified in scripture, I think the specific way in which The Holy Spirit is talked about precludes him logically from being an impersonal force. For one thing, in 1 Corinthians 6:9 (NWT) we read “Do you not know that your body is the temple of the holy spirit within you, which you have from God? Also, you do not belong to yourselves” I don’t know if you knew this, but gods dwell in temples. Temples are not dedicated to impersonal forces. I’ve never read about any temple dedicated to gravity or electromagnetism. The Holy Spirit dwells in us as Jehovah did in the Jerusalem temple.

In Ephesians 4:30 (NWT), it says “Also, do not be grieving God’s holy spirit, with which you have been sealed for a day of releasing by ransom.” How can you grieve an impersonal force? Can you make gravity sad? Can you upset electromagnetism? This doesn’t make any sense unless The Holy Spirit is a person. Now, the JW might say “That’s just a metaphor”. Ok, but a metaphor for what? You can’t just slap “metaphor” over passages that contradict your theology like a convenient band-aid. There are literal realities behind metaphors.

Finally, in Acts 16:6, The Holy Spirit spoke! Do impersonal forces speak? Now, maybe you can respond “Well, wisdom can’t literally give birth. Sin can’t literally crouch”, but again, we have reasons for thinking those examples are non-literal. What reasons can be given for thinking The Holy Spirit is not literally grieving, speaking, willing, etc.? Oh, because of the argument from filling which I debunked above?

In John 15:26-27 (NWT), we read “When the helper comes that I will send you from the Father, the spirit of the truth, which comes from the Father, that one will bear witness about me; and you, in turn, are to bear witness,c because you have been with me from the beginning.”

While non-personal objects can be said to bear witness like the stones that “cry out” in Luke 19:40 or the heavens that declare God’s glory in Psalm 19, the parallelism between the witnessing of the Helper and that of the disciples is strongly indicative of a personal being literally speaking truth. Just as The Holy Spirit bore witness about Jesus, so the disciples will also in turn bear witness about Jesus. How will the disciples bear witness about Jesus? By being motionless objects or by actually conveying propositional content? Obviously, the latter is the case.

There is a lot more that I can say, but space does not permit me to say anymore. For a much more in-depth defense on both the deity and personhood of The Holy Spirit, check out Pastor Mike Winger’s talk on YouTube titled “The Theology Of The Holy Spirit Explained and Defended”.

What About Trinity “Proof Texts”?

We now come to the final section in the Watchtower pamphlet’s case against The Trinity.

\\”IT IS said that some Bible texts offer proof in support of the Trinity. However, when reading such texts, we should keep in mind that the Biblical and historical evidence does not support the Trinity.”\\ – As we’ve seen in this response series, this statement is false.

They write \\“Any Bible reference offered as proof must be understood in the context of the consistent teaching of the entire Bible. Very often the true meaning of such a text is clarified by the context of surrounding verses.”\\ — Except they don’t do that. We can see they absolutely did not do that with John 1, Colossians 1, Philippians 2. In fact, most of the anti-Trinitarian proof texts they’ve presented up until this point were embedded in chapters that firmly established the deity of Christ and his distinction from The Father. Colossians 1:15 and Philippians 2:9 were such examples. If someone just bothered to look at the wider paragraph in which these verses were plucked, one would see that they were verses taken out of context!

Proof Texts 1-3: 1 Corinthians 1:13, 1 Corinthians 12:4, and Matthew 28:19

They write \\“Second Corinthians 13:13 (14) puts the three together in this way: ‘The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.’ First Corinthians 12:4-6 says: ‘There are many different gifts, but it is always the same Spirit; there are many different ways of serving, but it is always the same Lord. There are many different forms of activity, but in everybody it is the same God who is at work in them all.’ And Matthew 28:19 reads: ‘Go, therefore, make disciples of all nations; baptise them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.’

Do those verses say that God, Christ, and the holy spirit constitute a Trinitarian Godhead, that the three are equal in substance, power, and eternity? No, they do not, no more than listing three people, such as Tom, Dick, and Harry, means that they are three in one.”\\ —

No Christian Apologist uses these verses to establish the Trinity on their own. If this booklet author had bothered to do just a little bit of research, he might not have committed such a gross straw man fallacy. Again, I want you to remember how I, a Trinitarian, have presented the positive biblical case for The Trinity thus far, particularly in part 1. At no point did I offer a silver bullet proof-text to establish that The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three persons yet one God. As I said, the doctrine of The Trinity is like vegetable soup. Theologians (chef) made the soup (i.e formulated the doctrine) but the biblical authors (the farmers) provided us with all of the essential ingredients. The ingredients are (1) There is only one God, (2) The Father is God, (3) The Son is God, (4) The Holy Spirit is God, (5) The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are distinct persons. To defend all 5 teachings, one cannot appeal to a single scripture. Often times, biblical passages that establish (2) also go to establish (5) as well, like John 1 which says in one breath that the Word was “with God” and “Was God”. 2 Corinthians 13:13 and 1 Corinthians 2:4-6 are most often used to establish the distinction of the persons, typically in discussion with modalists like the Oneness Pentecostals, not Jehovah’s Witnesses. After all, it makes little sense to mention one person three times consecutively. As for Matthew 28:19, one could also simply appeal to this to argue “They’re not all the same person” against the modalists, but some apologists take it a step further noting that we are to baptize in one singular “name”. And that name is shared by The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, suggesting unity in essence but distinction in persons. Whether that’s a sound argument or not, I don’t know. I never appeal to it because I’m not completely sure how sound it is. I’m just rehashing this point to note that the Watchtower booklet didn’t interact with the actual argument that is usually put forth by Trinitarians.

Proof Text 4: Matthew 3:16

Thus to remark that “This type of reference …’proves only that there are the three subjects named, . . . but it does not prove, by itself, that all the three belong necessarily to the divine nature…” misses the entire point Trinitarians make when appealing to these verses in the first place.

\\”When Jesus was baptized, God, Jesus, and the holy spirit were also mentioned in the same context. Jesus “saw descending like a dove God’s spirit coming upon him.” (Matthew 3:16) This, however, does not say that the three are one. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are mentioned together numerous times, but that does not make them one.” \\ — This Watchtower Booklet author attacks yet another straw man argument. If you’ve read this series up until this point, you’ll have noticed that I also appealed to Matthew 3:16. Yet, what kind of argument did I make from this verse? That “The three are mentioned, therefore the three are one” as the Watchtower claims? No! I used it to argue for the distinction of the persons, not their oneness. You have three persons mentioned in the passage doing different things. And unless God is performing some deceptive ventriloquist act, the most natural reading is that the three are distinct persons, not all the same person. Distinguishing the persons is one essential part of defending the doctrine of the Trinity. The Watchtower should do well to know that isn’t just their heresy we’re arguing against, but modalistic heresies like those of the Oneness Pentecostals as well. Depending on who we’re engaging, we may have to put more emphasis on one facet of Trinitarianism than the other. I for one would never use Matthew 3:16 in a conversation with JWs because they already assume the distinction of the persons.

Proof Text 5: “I and The Father are One”

“THAT text, at John 10:30, is often cited to support the Trinity, even though no third person is mentioned there.” – From “Should You Believe The Trinity?”

Another straw man argument, unfortunately. No one uses John 10:30 to support a full blown doctrine of The Trinity! John 10:30, where Jesus says “I and The Father are one” is used to support one crucial ingredient of The Trinity, i.e the deity of Christ! Does this author even listen to the people he visits when he goes door to door? And so, the absence of a third person is absolutely irrelevant. No Trinitarian apologist makes his case from singular silver bullet proof texts. The Trinity is a systematic theological conclusion from teachings like that there is one God, that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all the God of Israel, yet they’re distinct persons. When you put these teachings together, what do you have if not The Trinity?

\\”But Jesus himself showed what he meant by his being ‘one’ with the Father. At John 17:21, 22, he prayed to God that his disciples ‘may all be one, just as you, Father, are in union with me and I am in union with you, that they also may be in union with us, . . . that they may be one just as we are one.’ Was Jesus praying that all his disciples would become a single entity? No, obviously Jesus was praying that they would be united in thought and purpose, as he and God were.”\\ –

Ok, so in all fairness to the author, at face value this does sound like a decent rebuttal against the claim that John 10:30 has Christological significance. Indeed, I know of some Trinitarians who won’t use this passage because they would agree with The Watchtower at this point. However, the problem is that when you keep reading past verse 30, it’s pretty clear in what sense Jesus claimed to be one with the Father. Actually, even before he made the claim “I and the Father are one”. Jesus didn’t just randomly blurt this out. This came at the tail end of Jesus’ teaching about the distribution of eternal life.

“Jesus answered, ‘I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” – John 10:25-30 (NIV)

Jesus says when given eternal life, no one can snatch them out of The Father’s hand. He then says no one can snatch them out of His (Jesus’) hand! The reason is that he and The Father “are one”, and so, in a sense, it’s the same hand. [28]I am not interested in getting into the question of whether or not this passage supports Eternal Security. For our purposes here, it is enough to show that whatever it means to be unable to be … Continue reading Set aside the idea that a mere human could give someone eternal life anyway when God is the one from whom all things have their being (Acts 17:28), Jesus said “I and the Father are one” after essentially saying that to be in the Father’s hand is to be in Jesus’ hand. Now, if we read past verse 30, we read “Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, ‘I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?’ ‘We are not stoning you for any good work,’ they replied, ‘but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.'” (John 10:31-33, NIV)

Jesus’ opponents understood him as claiming to be God! Now, of course, maybe they were mistaken. After all, if Jesus’ own disciples often misunderstood him, how much worse would his enemies misunderstand him? However, Jesus never corrects them. Instead, he cites Psalm 82 which is a doubling down on his claim to deity. Put aside debates of whether the “gods” of Psalm 82 are human judges or members of the divine council, the point is the same either way. Jesus is comparing the religious leaders to those “gods” who ruled over peoples’ corruptly. If Jesus is the one judging in John 10 and God is the one judging in Psalm 82, and authorities are the ones being judged in both cases, then in what position that place Jesus? And clearly, we can see that Jesus didn’t take back or correct their misunderstanding that He claimed to be God because in verse 39, we read that they’re still so angry that they want to kill him. And so, I for one think that this is an excellent “proof text” for the deity of Jesus Christ, especially when you look at it in context! Jesus and The Father are one in a way that is far more ontologically significant than the way in which Jesus and His disciples were one!

Proof Text 6: John 5:18

\\“ANOTHER scripture offered as support for the Trinity is John 5:18. It says that the Jews (as at John 10:31-36) wanted to kill Jesus because “he was also calling God his own Father, making himself equal to God.”

But who said that Jesus was making himself equal to God? Not Jesus. He defended himself against this false charge in the very next verse (Joh 5:19): “To this accusation Jesus replied: . . . ‘the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees the Father doing.’”—JB.

By this, Jesus showed the Jews that he was not equal to God and therefore could not act on his own initiative.”\\ –

I disagree than what Jesus said in John 5:19 is a walking back of the charge. If Jesus were God, a member of The Trinity, we would expect complete cooperation between the members of the Godhead. Of course, Jesus would be unable to do anything The Father doesn’t do! If they are one in essence, then why would you expect Jesus to say anything or do any act or behave in any way that isn’t God-The-Father-Like? Indeed, in John 14:9, Jesus says “If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen The Father”, and while modalists will use this passage to try to argue that Jesus and The Father are the same person, I’ve always taken it to mean that because Jesus is a member of the Trinity, to know what He is like is the same as to know what The Father is like. Far from showing that “he was not equal to God”, I think John 5:19 establishes just the opposite. At the very least, it is not inconsistent with a high Christology. Moreover, if you look at the passage in context, the reason they thought Jesus was making Himself equal to God wasn’t simply that he claimed to be God’s Son (which, in and of itself would not set off any alarm bells in Jewish ears), is precisely because he justifies healing on the Sabbath because God The Father works on the Sabbath (verses 16-17).

Proof Text 7: Philippians 2:6

If you remember, this is the passage that says that while Jesus had the very nature of God, he didn’t hold onto it, but made himself into a human servant. The Watchtower basically says “Hey, you ought to look at more accurate translations.” However, when you read the verse inthe translations they provide (i.e The New Testament by Greg R. Noyes, Das Neue Testament, revised edition, by Friedrich Pfäfflin, La Bibbia Concordata, et. al) none of which I have ever heard of before or seen listed in a credible source of translation, they still make it sound like Jesus is God, equal to the Father. The Watchtower Pamphlet author seems to have anticipated that I would say this, for he writes “Some claim, however, that even these more accurate renderings imply that (1) Jesus already had equality but did not want to hold on to it or that (2) he did not need to grasp at equality because he already had it.” Well, that is partly what I would say. However, I would say that in context, Paul is mentioning that Jesus didn’t feel the need to grasp at it because in the incarnation, he abandoned it. While still ontologically God, Jesus essentially stepped down from His throne and became a drooling pooping baby who would grow up to be a bloody mess hanging on a cross. He disavowed all the advantages of being God. It would be analagous to a human king setting his crown to the side to go live with peasants for 3 decades until the queen reestablishes him at her side. The king would still have blue blood running through his veins, but he would not be living like a king. He who was rich became poor for our sakes.

It is unfortunate that they quote from Ralph Martin, for I have his commentary on Philippians (I obtained it as part of my Bronze Logos Bible Software package)). And in his commentary on this verse, he gives away the game from the very first sentence. “‘Being in very nature God’ looks back to our Lord’s pre-temporal existence as the second person of the Trinity. The verbal form translated being, hyparchōn, need not necessarily mean this, but it seems clear that this sense is the only satisfactory one in the context. rv margin translates ‘being originally’, and this must refer to the pre-incarnate state to which Paul elsewhere makes reference (see Rom. 8:3; 1 Cor. 10:4; 2 Cor. 8:9; Gal. 4:4). ‘The form of God’ (niv margin) may be taken in two ways. The older commentators (e.g. Gifford, Lightfoot, followed by Hawthorne) interpret the term in its philosophical sense as here meaning the essential attributes of God ‘in a sense substantially the same which it bears in Greek philosophy’. A newer view suggests that there is a connection between ‘form’, morphē, and the term ‘glory’, doxa. When this fact is applied to the apostle’s teaching on the person of Christ there is ample attestation that he saw in the pre-existent and glorified Christ both the image (i.e. ‘form’) and glory of God (2 Cor. 4:4; Col. 1:15); and these terms are rooted in the Old Testament tradition of Adam as created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26–27; cf. 1 Cor. 11:7) and reflecting the divine kabōd or splendour (Ps. 8:5 hints at this) which he subsequently forfeited at the fall.” [29]Ralph P. Martin, Philippians: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 11, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1987), 105.

Insofar as the “Something to hold fast to”, Martin himself doesn’t seem to take a position, for in the same commentary, he writes “This verse has given rise to such diverse opinion that it seems presumptuous to state baldly an interpretation and pass over in silence much that has been suggestively and plausibly written.” [30]Ralph P. Martin, Philippians: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 11, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1987), 107. But don’t miss the point, although Martin may be uncertain how to interpret the part about grasping or clinging to equality with God, he is not uncertain about what it means for Jesus to be “in very nature, God”. Indeed, he said that it was the only explanation that made sense in context. Whatever Jesus was thinking about grasping his equality with The Father, he was equal to him.

The Watchtower then proceeds to try to make an argument “from the context”. They argue that the point of the verse in its context is for us to be humble, and to consider others as better than ourselves. \\“To ‘think it not robbery to be equal with God’? No, that would be just the opposite of the point being made! Rather, Jesus, who ‘esteemed God as better than himself,’ would never ‘grasp for equality with God,’ but instead he “humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death.”\\ —

What exactly do they think the incarnation was? A humbling of the second person of the Trinity! Jesus, God Almighty, cherished us so much that he stepped down from his throne and became one of us. He did not take advantage of His position as God. He didn’t tightly cling to it at all costs. Rather he stepped down. The king left the palace to live with the peasants, all for the ultimate purpose of dying to save them. A humiliating death on a cross no less! There is no greater act of self humbling than that which Jesus had! Paul tells us to emulate Christ in this way.

If you think about it, depending on the situation, this would be to have a false view of reality. Should I think a 5 year old with an illustrated storybook about Jesus is better than me at knowing the biblical text? Should Usain Bolt think I’m faster than him? Should Albert Einstein consider me smarter than him? All these would be absurd. I think my cousin’s boyfriend is a better chef than I am, but if he were to think that about me, it would be absurd. The amount of dishes I know how to prepare can be counted on one hand! Having a false view of reality is not Christlike. The NIV renders Philippians 2:3-4 as saying “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” The ESV renders it as “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (emphasis mine in bold) It is clear that what is being said is not to consider others ontologically superior beings, or to think other people are more skilled than me in every area (though I should if that happens to be the case), rather, Paul is saying that I should have the interests of other people as my top priority. Their wants and needs should be a higher priority than my own. And then Paul goes on to give Jesus as the prime example of this. And clearly, Jesus had our best interests so at heart that, despite being God and equal to the Father, incapable of being harmed by human beings or being in need, he nevertheless became fully human. The Creator became a part of the creation, and he was later killed on a cross! That’s a radical example of “not looking to your own interests…but to the interest of others!” Paul couldn’t have thought of a better example if he tried!

Proof Text 8: John 1:1

I have skipped over their discussion of John 8:58 and I will just be dealing with the final proof text in their counter case. There are two reasons for this; (1) Even if they were right that John 8:58 doesn’t establish the deity of Christ, so what? The rest of the biblical canon loudly drowns out their low Christology. (2) This article is running a bit long and I need to wrap things up. John 1 is a passage I have repeatedly appealed to, so I need to respond to how the JWs take this verse.

In a nutshell, they take John 1, re-translated it, and make it say “In the beginning was the Word. The Word was with God, and the Word was a god” (NWT). Their reason for doing so is that the second instance of the word for “God” is not preceded by a definite article. In response to this, let me just extensively quote from an article that Johnny Sakr contributed to this website;

JW’s typically argue that the definite article – ὁ – should be inserted before the last appearance of the word θεὸς in order for the text to be properly translated as ‘and the word was God’ – as rendered by the copious majority of English translations (as outlined above). The Greek text should, therefore, read as follows: Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος, καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν, καὶ * [ ὁ] * θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος They believe that * [ ὁ ] * should have been inserted (as presented above) for John 1:1c to be correctly translated as ‘and the Word was God’. John did not insert a definite article before the word θεὸς because if he did, the text would have been understood as ‘what God was the Word was’ [NEB], it would be circular. John’s refusal to insert * [ ὁ ] * renders θεὸς as a ‘Predicate Nominative’ noun.[1] John wanted to make the λόγος the Subject of the verse, for this reason, he placed – ὁ – before it. Placing – ὁ – before λόγος and not θεὸς indicates there are two separate persons. The emphasis here is that the Word was God.

The emphasis here is that the Word was God.


(a) God was the word; or

(b) What the word was God was and what God was the word was.

If, as the JW’s claim, a definite article should have appeared before the word λόγος and θεὸς for a proper rendition to be ‘and the word was God’ – John would have taught Sabellianism. Sabellianism is Patripassianism. It is the position that there is only one true God, that the Father, Son, and Spirit are fully God, however, it denies that the Bible differentiates between the persons. Instead, advocates of this position either believe that the Father is the Son, and the Son is the Spirit, and the Spirit is the Father or they make the Son merely the ‘Human nature’ of Christ (thus, denying His eternal nature). John wanted to illustrate the different persons in the Godhead and that is why he did not add the * [ ὁ ] * before the word ‘God’ in John 1:1c.”

[31]Johnny Sakr, “Why Does John 1 Lack The Definite Article”, Cerebral Faith, September 7th 2018,

Moreover, as I pointed out earlier in this article, there are places where “Theos” refers to Jehovah God indisputably (to The Father), and it does not have a definite article preceding it. John 1:18 is one of those places. And here’s the thing; their own Greek Interlinear shows this! For those who don’t know, the definite article is that O thing with a cow lick. Perhaps the Definite article is not as big of a deal as they want to make it out to be.


There is one more section of the article, but it reads more as an epilogue than as part of the case against the Trinity. The section titled “Worship God On His Own Terms” basically goes on to talk about how The Trinity dishonors God, it’s a sign of apostasy, how Trinitarians have sometimes persecuted non-Trinitarians (as if that had any bearing on the truth or falsehood of the doctrine) and they urge readers to reject The Trinity.

If you’ve taken the time to read the 3 articles in this series, I commend you. When I began this response, I didn’t originally think it would be this extensive, but I’m glad I’ve taken the time to write this. Hopefully you can see that The Trinity has overwhelming support from The Old Testament, The New Testament, and the early church fathers, such that there is an unbroken thread from Abraham to Nicea. Was The Trinity always explicitly spoken about in Nicene terms? No. But neither did Old Testament readers have a complete and fully orbed understanding of the Messiah either. We have repeatedly seen that this Watchtower author cherry picks Bible verses that might seem to make Jesus a creature, but the very passages in which these these verses are found unabashedly proclaim the deity of Christ and his distinction from The Father. We’ve seen them quote mine (i.e quote out of context for propaganda purposes) the early church fathers. When one actually reads the Ante-Nicene Church Fathers, no one with even a basic level of reading comprehension can walk away thinking they weren’t Trinitarians. Moreover, at times, the author of this booklet made arguments that weren’t even pertinent to Trinitarianism, such as verses emphasizing that there is only one God (Trinitarians are monotheists) or pointing out the clear distinction between the persons of Jesus and God The Father (Trinitarians are not modalists – we affirm that Jesus is not God The Father). At times it felt like this author forgot who he was arguing against and turned his guns on polytheists and modalists! They’re good arguments when aimed at those groups, but they essentially amount to straw man arguments when being attempts at refuting The Trinity. Overall, I found this biblical and historical case against The Trinity to not just be unpersuasive, but underwhelming.

The Bible teaches The Trinity. As a result, we ought to affirm it, because that is what God is. To believe otherwise is to believe heresy.

I’ll end this series as I ended my Gospel Reliability series; with a quote from a hymn praising our Lord.

“Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
All thy works shall praise thy name, in earth and sky and sea.
Holy, holy, holy! Merciful and mighty,
God in three persons, blessed Trinity.
[32]“Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty”, The United Methodist Hymnal Number 064

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1 Questions on Genesis 2.62
2 Philo, Confusion of Tongues 146
3 Van Dorn, Douglas,Foreman, Matt. The Angel of the LORD: A Biblical, Historical, and Theological Study (Kindle Locations 401-423). Waters of Creation Publishing. Kindle Edition.
4 Van Dorn, Douglas,Foreman, Matt. The Angel of the LORD: A Biblical, Historical, and Theological Study (Kindle Location 423). Waters of Creation Publishing. Kindle Edition.
5 Michael, S. Heiser, “Who Is the Angel of the Lord and What Is the Name of Yahweh?”, November 22, 2017 —
6 To read Alan Segal’s doctoral dissertation, you can access it at by clicking here –> (PDF) Alan F. Segal. Two Powers in Heaven: Early Rabbinic Reports about Christianity and Gnosticism. Studies in Judaism in Late Antiquity 25. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1977. xxiv, 313 pp | Shaye Cohen –
7 Only one God worth worshipping anyway. Several passages in both the Old and New Testament seem to affirm that there are lowercase g gods, elohim who are created entities who either serve in God’s divine council or who rebelled against Him and became the pagan gods that Israel’s neighbors worshipped. See Genesis 10-11, Deuteronomy 32:8-9, and Deuteronomy 4:19. We read in Psalm 82 that the gods in the divine council ruled the nations unjustly and, as a result, Yahweh has sentenced them to “die like men and fall as any prince”. To read more about this idea, you can check out the following resources; “Genesis 10-11: The Tower Of Babel, The Fall Of The gods, and The Divine Council Worldview”, “What Is The Divine Council and Is It Biblical?” , and the late Dr. Michael Heiser’s book “The Unseen Realm: Recovering The Supernatural Worldview Of The Bible”. When I say “There is only one God”, I mean that “There is only one Maximally Great Being”. There is only one divine entity who is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, morally perfect, uncreated, the Creator of all things other than Himself, and is worthy of worship. There’s only one of those. Any other divine entity was created by the former, and is therefore a finite creature undeserving of worship. 1 Corinthians 10:20 also picks up on the idea that the pagan gods are real, but that they’re demons behind the physical ideals. Paul says that when pagans sacrifice to their idols, they’re sacrificing to demons.
8 This is because of how Hebrews 1:1-2 is worded, it seems to imply The Son didn’t do that much speaking in the OT as the norm.
9 The WatchTower Society, “Should You Believe In The Trinity?” — Should You Believe It? (
10 Yes, claims. There are certainly no arguments put forth here.
11 See part 1 of this series if the significance of what Jesus said in the Mark 14 reference is unclear.
12 I go into a deep dive in places such as my essays “Genesis 10-11: The Tower Of Babel, The Fall Of The gods, And The Divine Council Worldview” and “In Defense Of The Divine Council Worldview: A Response To Marcia Montenegro”.
13 Indeed, it is a metaphor for the desirability of Wisdom. Romantic or sexual overtones are given when describing the relationship of the reader and his choice of Lady Wisdom versus Lady Folly in this section of Proverbs. See Tremper Longman III’s book “How To Read Proverbs” published by IVP Academic for a more in-depth discussion on this.
14 One of the early church fathers made more or less this same argument. In Against Praxius 6, Tertullian wrote “Before all things God was alone … He was alone because there was nothing external to him but himself. Yet even then was he not alone, for he had with him that which he possessed in himself—that is to say, his own Reason. … Although God had not yet sent out his Word, he still had him within himself …I may therefore without rashness establish that even then, before the creation of the universe, God was not alone, since he had within himself both Reason, and, inherent in Reason, his Word, which he made second to himself by agitating it within Himself.”
15 From Strong’s Greek Concordance, as cited on –>
16 See, for example, my article “In Defense Of The Divine Council Wordview: A Response To Marcia Montenegro”, under the sub header “In The Image Of The Divine Council?” for more information.
17 Dr. William Lane Craig, “A Formulation and Defense Of The Doctrine Of The Trinity”, —
18 Jesus died to ransom the gentiles from the fallen divine council members allotted to the 72 nations in Deuteronomy 32:8-9 cf. Deuteronomy 4:19, Psalm 82
19 I quoted Tertullian in Part 2 of this series saying exactly this. Tertullian wrote “The Son became incarnate, being as such God and man. The Son is, as it were, a ray from the Father, and ‘this ray of God, then, as it was always foretold in ancient times, descending into a certain virgin, and made flesh in her womb, is in His birth God and man united. The flesh formed by the Spirit is nourished, grows up to manhood, speaks, teaches, works, and is the Christ.’” — Tertullian, from p.170 n.2 Apologeticus, c. 21.
20 For a discussion of the concept of divine accommodation, see Episode 169 of The Cerebral Faith Podcast; “Episode 169: What Evan Minton Thinks About The Bible – Part 2”
21 See ibid for a discussion on that as well.
22 Mormons affirm that God began as a man but then became a god.
23 I really wanted to go into a discussion about what it meant for both Jesus and Isaac to be “only-begotten”, but I do want to streamline my response a bit more to keep it confined to three parts. One part for each person of The Trinity….because poetry! If the reader is interested, they can check out the article “What Does It Mean To Say Jesus Is God’s Only Begotten Son”?
24, “If Jesus Was God, Why Did He Call God, ‘My God’?” —
25 Derek Kidner, Psalms 1–72: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 15, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1973), 224.
26 Actually, this example can be disputed. In the Zondervan Illustrated Bible Background Commentary, Old Testament scholar John Walton wrote “Sin Is Crouching At Your Door (4:7). Recent commentators have preferred repointing the participle ‘crouching’ (Heb robes) to rabis And seeing it as a reference to a well-known Mesopotamian demon (rabisu) Lingers around doorways. ‘Sin’ Is then portrayed as a doorway demon waiting for its victim to cross the threshold. From the Old Babylonian. On in Mesopotamia, such demons were considered evil and were thought to Ambush their victims.”, page 38. However, this isn’t a rabbit trail I’d like to chase down. For one, it’s a disputed interpretation, not a solid undeniable fact. And for another, there would still be undeniable examples of personified impersonal objects in scripture, such that it wouldn’t help my case anyway.
27 and actual translations too, don’t worry.
28 I am not interested in getting into the question of whether or not this passage supports Eternal Security. For our purposes here, it is enough to show that whatever it means to be unable to be plucked from The Father’s hand, THAT hand is Jesus’ hand.
29 Ralph P. Martin, Philippians: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 11, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1987), 105.
30 Ralph P. Martin, Philippians: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 11, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1987), 107.
31 Johnny Sakr, “Why Does John 1 Lack The Definite Article”, Cerebral Faith, September 7th 2018,
32 “Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty”, The United Methodist Hymnal Number 064

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