REFUTING ANOTHER ANTI-TRINITARIAN RUSE
There are anti-Trinitarian cults that interpret the following words of the Lord as a denial of his being Jehovah by his very nature:
“I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, watch over them on account of your own name, which you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are one. When I was with them, I used to watch over them on account of your own name, which you have given me; and I have protected them, and not one of them is destroyed except the son of destruction, so that the scripture might be fulfilled.” John 17:11-12
These groups understand Jesus to be speaking of God’s covenantal name, represented by four Hebrew consonants which are typically referred to as the Tetragrammaton, namely, Yod-Heh-Vav/Waw-He (YHVH/YHWH).
The Tetragrammaton is variously rendered in English as either Jehovah or Yahweh, as we find in the following translations:
“Then God said once more to Moses: ‘This is what you are to say to the Israelites, “Jehovah the God of your forefathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.” This is my name forever, and this is how I am to be remembered from generation to generation.’” Exodus 3:15
“Again Elohim said to Moses, “This is what you must say to the people of Israel: Yahweh Elohim of your ancestors, the Elohim of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, has sent me to you. This is my name forever. This is my title throughout every generation.” Names of God Bible (NOG)
“Then God said to Moses: ‘I am Jehovah. And I used to appear to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as God Almighty, but with regard to my name Jehovah I did not make myself known to them.’” Exodus 6:2-3
“Elohim spoke to Moses, ‘I am Yahweh. I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as El Shadday, but I didn’t make myself known to them by my name, Yahweh.’” NOG
It is argued that since Christ claims that this name that belongs uniquely to the Father was given to him this implies that he didn’t always possesses it. And since he hasn’t always had the divine name this then proves that he cannot be Jehovah by his nature. Rather, the Father granted the Son the status and honor of Jehovah without this making Christ Jehovah ontologically, i.e., Jesus is not and has not become Jehovah as to his very Being and essence.
In this post I will primarily be using the 2013 edition of the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (Study Edition) to demonstrate that the God-breathed Scriptures proclaim that Jesus has eternally existed as the one true God, and has therefore always been Jehovah by his very nature. I will then establish from this divinely revealed fact that this is a misreading of John 17:11-12 since Jesus has always possessed the very name, e.g., the essence, characteristics, honor, glory, etc., of Jehovah.
THE ETERNAL CREATOR AND SUSTAINER OF ALL CREATION
The Holy Scriptures teach that the prehuman Christ was the Word who was there with God from before the beginning of creation, and who was existing as God:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was theos.” John 1:1
I left the Greek word for God untranslated since the NWT decided to render it as “a god,” signifying the belief of [J]ehovah’s [W]itnesses’ that Jesus is a secondary, inferior, created divinity. This translation is not possible since the inspired author goes on to describe Jesus as having produced all creation from nothing and who gives creation its very life, being the true Light that grants enlightenment to a world that is plunged into darkness:
“This one was in the beginning with God. ALL THINGS came into existence through him, and apart from him NOT EVEN ONE THING came into existence. What has come into existence by means of him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light is shining in the darkness, but the darkness has not overpowered it… The true light that gives light to every sort of man was about to come into the world. He was in the world, and the world came into existence through him, but the world did not know him… So the Word became flesh and resided among us, and we had a view of his glory, a glory such as belongs to an only-begotten son from a father; and he was full of divine favor and truth.” John 1:2-5, 9-10, 14
Christ himself affirms that he is the Light and Life that grants believers immortality and who is the very One that raises all the dead at the last day to judge them:
“For just as the Father raises the dead up and makes them alive, so the Son also makes alive whomever he wants to… Most truly I say to you, the hour is coming, and it is now, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who have paid attention will live. For just as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted also to the Son to have life in himself… Do not be amazed at this, for the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his [the Son’s] voice and come out, those who did good things to a resurrection of life, and those who practiced vile things to a resurrection of judgment.” John 5:21, 25-29
“‘All those whom the Father gives me will come to me, and I will never drive away the one who comes to me; for I have come down from heaven to do, not my own will, but the will of him who sent me. This is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose none out of all those whom he has given me, but that I should resurrect them on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who recognizes the Son and exercises faith in him should have everlasting life, and I will resurrect him on the last day.’ Then the Jews began to murmur about him because he had said: ‘I am the bread that came down from heaven.’And they began saying: ‘Is this not Jesus the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, “I have come down from heaven”?’ In response Jesus said to them: ‘Stop murmuring among yourselves. No man can come to me unless the Father, who sent me, draws him, and I will resurrect him on the last day.’… So Jesus said to them: ‘Most truly I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in yourselves. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has everlasting life, and I will resurrect him on the last day;’” John 6:37-44, 53-54
“Then Jesus spoke again to them, saying: ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will by no means walk in darkness, but will possess the light of life.’” John 8:12
“We must do the works of the One who sent me while it is day; the night is coming when no man can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the world’s light.” John 9:4-5
“Jesus said to her: ‘Your brother will rise.’ Martha said to him: ‘I know he will rise in the resurrection on the last day.’ Jesus said to her: ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who exercises faith in me, even though he dies, will come to life; and everyone who is living and exercises faith in me will never die at all. Do you believe this?’ She said to him: ‘Yes, Lord, I have believed that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.’” John 11:23-27
“So Jesus said to them: ‘The light will be among you a little while longer. Walk while you still have the light, so that darkness does not overpower you; whoever walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light, exercise faith in the light, so that you may become sons of light.’ Jesus said these things and went off and hid from them… However, Jesus called out and said: ‘Whoever puts faith in me puts faith not only in me but also in him who sent me; and whoever sees me sees also the One who sent me. I have come as a light into the world, so that everyone putting faith in me may not remain in the darkness.’” John 12:35-36, 44-46
“Jesus said to him: ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” John 14:6
John’s Gospel isn’t the only inspired writing that describes Jesus as the ternal Creator and Sustainer of all creation. Note what some of the inspired [N]ew [T]estament documents state:
“who delivered you out of the jurisdiction of darkness and transferred you into the kingdom of the Son of his love, in whom we have redemption, the pardon of sins,—Who is image of the invisible God, firstborn of all creation, because IN HIM everything was created in the heavens and on earth, the visible and the invisible, be it thrones or lordships or governments or dominions—everything has been created THROUGH HIM and to come to him, and before everything HE IS, and IN HIM everything holds together. And he is the head of the body, the church, he who is the beginning, the firstborn out of the dead, in order that he may take the first place in every respect,” Colossians 1:13-18 The Bible in Living English (BYINGTON)
“has at the end of these days spoken to us by means of a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the systems of things. He is the reflection of [his] glory and the EXACT REPRESENTATION (charakter) of his very being, and he sustains all things by the word of his power; and after he had made a purification for our sins he sat down on the right hand of the majesty in lofty places… But when he again brings his First-born into the inhabited earth, he says: ‘And let ALL God’s angels worship to him.’” Hebrews 1:2-3, 6 (New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures Rendered from the Original Languages by the NEW WORLD BIBLE TRANSLATION COMMITTEE – Revised A. D. 1961)
Not only is the Son said to be the Agent of creation who is actively preserving all things by his powerful word, he is even described as being the EXACT imprint/representation/copy of God’s infinite, uncreated essence. This would be an impossibility if Jesus were a mere creature since no created being is the exact duplicate of God’s uncreated essence. After all, God by his very nature is infinite, beginningless, omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent, everything that a finite, temporal creature is not and cannot become.
And this is precisely what the God-breathed Scriptures proclaim, namely, there is nothing in creation that is equal to Jehovah, and there is absolutely no heavenly being who is exactly like the true God and can do the works that the true God Jehovah does in the same manner that Jehovah does them:
“There is none like you among the gods, O Jehovah, There are no works like yours. All the nations that you made Will come and bow down before you, O Jehovah, And they will give glory to your name. For you are great and do wondrous things; You are God, you alone.” Psalm 86:8-10
“The heavens praise your marvels, O Jehovah, Yes, your faithfulness in the congregation of the holy ones. For who in the skies can compare to Jehovah? Who among the sons of God is like Jehovah? God is held in awe in the council of holy ones; He is grand and awe-inspiring to all who are around him. O Jehovah God of armies, Who is mighty like you, O Jah? Your faithfulness surrounds you.” Psalm 89:5-8
The foregoing poses a problem for JWs and other anti-Trinitarian cults.
The [O]ld [T]estament emphasizes the fact that Jehovah alone created and preserves all creation, and that he is the light that illuminates mankind:
“You ALONE are Jehovah; you made the heavens, yes, the heaven of the heavens and all their army, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. And you preserve all of them alive, and the army of the heavens are bowing down to you.” Nehemiah 9:6
“He spreads out the heavens by himself, And he treads upon the high waves of the sea.” Job 9:8
“With you is the source of life; By your light we can see light.” Psalm 36:9
“This is what Jehovah says, your Repurchaser, Who formed you since you were in the womb: ‘I am Jehovah, who made everything. I stretched out the heavens by myself, And I spread out the earth. Who was with me?” Isaiah 44:24
Therefore, since neither Trinitarians or anti-Trinitarian cult groups believe that the NT contradicts the OT writings, this means that the only way to harmonize the inspired witness of the Holy bible is to affirm that this one true God who alone created all things,
“and should make everyone see the administration of the sacred secret that has been hidden through the ages in God, who created all things.” Ephesians 3:9
“You are worthy, Jehovah our God, to receive the glory and the honor and the power, because you created all things, and because of your will they came into existence and were created.” Revelation 4:11
Having created mankind all by himself,
“This is a history of the heavens and the earth in the time they were created, in the day that Jehovah God made earth and heaven. No bush of the field was yet on the earth and no vegetation of the field had begun sprouting, because Jehovah God had not made it rain on the earth and there was no man to cultivate the ground. But a mist would go up from the earth, and it watered the entire surface of the ground. And Jehovah God went on to form the man out of dust from the ground and to blow into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living person.” Genesis 2:4-7
Is not a singular Person or Hypostasis, but eternally exists as a multi-Personal Being:
“Then God said: ‘Let US make man in OUR image, according to OUR likeness, and let them have in subjection the fish of the sea and the flying creatures of the heavens and the domestic animals and all the earth and every creeping animal that is moving on the earth.’ And God went on to create the man in HIS image, in GOD’S IMAGE HE created him; male and female HE created them.” Genesis 1:26-27
Ironically, even anti-Trinitarians like the JWs acknowledge that the Father was speaking to his Son here, proving that the Son is just as much responsible for the creation of all things, and is therefore just as much the Creator and Life-giver as the Father is!
- Who are meant by “us” in his words, “Who will go for us”? Why?
4 Jehovah links someone else up with him at the temple when he adds: “And who will go for us?” The pronoun “us” here includes the same ones as are meant when God spoke at creation and said: “Let us make man.” Also: “The man is become as one of us.” And at Babel: “Let us go down, and there confound their language.” (Gen. 1:26; 3:22; 11:7) So by the plural pronoun “us” Jehovah was meaning, not himself and the seraphim at the temple, but himself and his only-begotten Son who became the man Christ Jesus and by whom He had created all things. Hence the glory which Isaiah saw at the temple represented primarily the glory of Jehovah and secondarily that of his Son. This glory the Son shows forth when Jehovah sends him as His “messenger of the covenant” to the temple for judgment work. As it is written: “The Lord, whom ye seek, will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant, whom ye desire, behold, he cometh, saith Jehovah of hosts. And he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi, and refine them as gold and silver; and they shall offer unto Jehovah offerings in righteousness.” (Mal. 3:1, 3, AS) At his glorious coming to the temple in 1918 he took up the work of judging and cleansing his devoted remnant upon the earth, that these might go for him and for Jehovah with the “pure language”. (Commissioning of Witnesses in the Time of the End, “The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom”—1951, p. 215 https://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1951243; bold emphasis mine)
- What question does Jehovah propound, and whom does he include when he says “us”?
13 Let us listen with Isaiah. “I began to hear the voice of Jehovah saying: ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ And I proceeded to say: ‘Here I am! Send me.’”(Isaiah 6:8) The question propounded by Jehovah is clearly designed to elicit a response from Isaiah, as no other human prophet appears in the vision. It is unmistakably an invitation for Isaiah to be Jehovah’s messenger. But why does Jehovah ask, “Who will go for us?” By switching from the singular personal pronoun “I” to the plural pronoun “us,” Jehovah now includes at least one other person with himself. Who? Was this not his only-begotten Son, who later became the man Jesus Christ? Indeed, it was this same Son to whom God said, “Let us make man in our image.” (Genesis 1:26; Proverbs 8:30, 31) Yes, alongside Jehovah in the heavenly courts is his only-begotten Son.—John 1:14. (Isaiah’s Prophecy–Light for All Mankind 1, 8 Jehovah God is in His Temple, pp. 93-94 https://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1102000028; bold emphasis mine)
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.” (Italics ours.)—1 Corinthians 8:6, RS, Catholic edition.
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. (Should You Believe in the Trinity?, What Does the Bible Say About God and Jesus?, p. 15 https://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1101989304; bold emphasis mine)
Jehovah’s first creation was his “only-begotten Son” (Joh 3:16), “the beginning of the creation by God.” (Re 3:14) This one, “the firstborn of all creation,” was used by Jehovah in creating all other things, those in the heavens and those upon the earth, “the things visible and the things invisible.” (Col 1:15-17) John’s inspired testimony concerning this Son, the Word, is that “all things came into existence through him, and apart from him not even one thing came into existence,” and the apostle identifies the Word as Jesus Christ, who had become flesh. (Joh 1:1-4, 10, 14, 17) As wisdom personified, this One is represented as saying, “Jehovah himself produced me as the beginning of his way,” and he tells of his association with God the Creator as Jehovah’s “master worker.” (Pr 8:12, 22-31) In view of the close association of Jehovah and his only-begotten Son in creative activity and because that Son is “the image of the invisible God” (Col 1:15; 2Co 4:4), it was evidently to His only-begotten Son and master worker that Jehovah spoke in saying, “Let us make man in our image.”—Ge 1:26.
After creating his only-begotten Son, Jehovah used him in bringing the heavenly angels into existence. This preceded the founding of the earth, as Jehovah revealed when questioning Job and asking him: “Where did you happen to be when I founded the earth . . . when the morning stars joyfully cried out together, and all the sons of God began shouting in applause?” (Job 38:4-7) It was after the creation of these heavenly spirit creatures that the material heavens and earth and all elements were made, or brought into existence. And, since Jehovah is the one primarily responsible for all this creative work, it is ascribed to him.—Ne 9:6; Ps 136:1, 5-9. (Insight on the Scriptures, Volume 1, p. 527 https://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1200001061#h=8; bold emphasis mine)
If the estimates of modern-day scientists as to the age of the physical universe are anywhere near correct, Jesus’ existence as a spirit creature began thousands of millions of years prior to the creation of the first human. (Compare Mic 5:2.) This firstborn spirit Son was used by his Father in the creation of all other things. (Joh 1:3; Col 1:16, 17) This would include the millions of other spirit sons of Jehovah God’s heavenly family (Da 7:9, 10; Re 5:11), as well as the physical universe and the creatures originally produced within it. Logically, it was to this firstborn Son that Jehovah said: “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness.” (Ge 1:26) All these other created things were not only created “through him” but also “for him,” as God’s Firstborn and the “heir of all things.”—Col 1:16; Heb 1:2…
Doubtless on many occasions during his prehuman existence as the Word, Jesus acted as Jehovah’s Spokesman to persons on earth. While certain texts refer to Jehovah as though directly speaking to humans, other texts make clear that he did so through an angelic representative. (Compare Ex 3:2-4 with Acts 7:30, 35; also Ge 16:7-11, 13, 22:1, 11, 12, 15-18.) Reasonably, in the majority of such cases God spoke through the Word. He likely did so in Eden, for on two of the three occasions where mention is made of God’s speaking there, the record specifically shows someone with Him, undoubtedly his Son. (Ge 1:26-30; 2:16, 17; 3:8-19, 22) The angel who guided Israel through the wilderness and whose voice the Israelites were strictly to obey because “Jehovah’s name was within him,” may therefore have been God’s Son, the Word.- Ex 23:20-23; compare Jos 5:13-15. (Insight on the Scriptures, Volume 2, p. 57 https://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1200002451; bold emphasis mine)
And here is what one prominent and leading Arian cultist wrote in respect to Gen. 1:26:
“God was addressing the Word when He said: ‘Let Us make in Our image.’ (Genesis 1:1, 26)” (Greg Stafford, Jehovah’s Witnesses Defended: An Answer to Scholars and Critics [Huntington Beach, CA; Elihu Books 1998, first edition], p. 165 http://elihubooks.com/content/books_media.php)
The above explains why the epistle to Hebrews has the Father attributing the following description of Jehovah as the immutable Creator and Sustainer of all creation,
“A prayer of the oppressed one when he is in despair and pours out his concern before Jehovah. O Jehovah, hear my prayer; Let my cry for help reach you… But you remain forever, O Jehovah, And your fame will endure for all generations… Long ago you laid the foundations of the earth, And the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you will remain; Just like a garment they will all wear out. Just like clothing you will replace them, and they will pass away But you are the same, and your years will never end.” Psalm 102:1, 12, 25-27
To his beloved and glorious Son!
“But about the Son, he says: “God is your throne forever and ever, and the scepter of your Kingdom is the scepter of uprightness… And: ‘At the beginning, O Lord [the Son], YOU laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the works of YOUR hands. They will perish, but YOU will remain; and just like a garment, they will all wear out, and YOU will wrap them up just as a cloak, as a garment, and they will be changed. But YOU are the same, and YOUR years will never come to an end.’” Hebrews 1:8, 10-12
And since the Father himself identifies Jesus as that one eternal, unchangeable Creator and Sustainer of all things, this helps us appreciate why every created being in all of creation worships and glorifies the Son in the exact same manner that they worship the Father:
“When he took the scroll, the four living creatures and the 24 elders fell down before the Lamb, and each one had a harp and golden bowls that were full of incense. (The incense means the prayers of the holy ones.) And they sing a new song, saying: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and open its seals, for you were slaughtered and with your blood you bought people for God out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,and you made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God, and they are to rule as kings over the earth.’ And I saw, and I heard a voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders, and the number of them was myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, and they were saying with a loud voice: ‘The Lamb who was slaughtered is worthy to receive the power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing.’ And I heard EVERY CREATURE in heaven and on earth and underneath the earth and on the sea, AND ALL THE THINGS IN THEM, saying: ‘To the One sitting on the throne and to the Lamb be the blessing and the honor and the glory and the might forever and ever.’ The four living creatures were saying: ‘Amen!’ and the elders fell down and worshipped.” Revelation 5:8-14
The fact that Jesus is distinguished from every created thing in the entire creation proves that the Son is no mere creature. Rather, like the Father he is the uncreated, eternal God who is worthy of receiving the exact same honor that his Father receives since he is equal to him in essence, glory and majesty.
And since Jesus has eternally existed as this one true God in union with the Father and the Holy Spirit, this means he has always been Jehovah by his very nature.
With the foregoing in perspective, I shall have more to say about the name given to Jesus in the next segment of my discussion: HAS JESUS ALWAYS BEEN JEHOVAH GOD? PT. 2.