Favorite Verses of the Jehovah's Witnesses

  1 John 5:7  
  1 Corinthians 15:44  
  Deuteronomy 12:16  
  Revelation 20:10  
  Ephesians 1:17  
  Love Poetry  
  Beginning of His Way  
Return to Answering the Jehovah's Witnesses...
Thriceholy Radio

1 John 5:7

This is, not a favorite, but a verse the Jehovah's Witnesses love to hate. It's not in modern Bibles because it's lacking from Greek manuscripts, inspiring the Watchtower to invent conspiracy scenarios to make Oliver Stone dizzy.  Where did this verse really come from? Was it fabricated by a pope?

It would seem to have been part of the Old African Latin Bible. Tertullian and Cyprian, North African churchmen, quote this verse as scripture in the third century A.D.:

"The Lord warns, saying, 'He who is not with me is against me, and he who gathereth not with me scattereth.' He who breaks the peace and the concord of Christ, does so in opposition to Christ; he who gathereth elsewhere than in the Church, scatters the Church of Christ. The Lord says, 'I and the Father are one;' and again it is written of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, 'And these three are one.' And does any one believe that this unity which thus comes from the divine strength and coheres in celestial sacraments, can be divided in the Church, and can be separated by the parting asunder of opposing wills? He who does not hold this unity does not hold God's law, does not hold the faith of the Father and the Son, does not hold life and salvation." (Cyprian, Treatise I, On the Unity of the Church, Section 6.)

Given that Cyprian introduces this quote with "it is written", it is difficult to imagine he's not quoting what, in his mind, is scripture.  The Latin as quoted by Tischendorf is: "Dicit Dominus, Ego et Pater unum sumus (Joann. x. 30); et, iterum, de Patre, Filio, et Spiritu Sancto, scripture est, Et tres unum sunt."

Another quote from Cyprian:

"If he was sanctified, he also was made the temple of God.  I ask, of what God? If of the Creator; he could not be, because he has not believed in Him.  If of Christ; he could not become His temple, since he denies that Christ is God.  If of the Holy Spirit; since the three are one, how can the Holy Spirit be at peace with him who is the enemy either of the Son or of the Father?" (Cyprian, Epistle LXXII To Jabaianus, Concerning the Baptism of Heretics).

Tertullian says, in Against Praxeas,

"Thus the connection of the Father in the Son, and of the Son in the Paraclete, produces three coherent Persons, who are yet distinct One from Another.  These Three are, one [essence], not one [Person], as it is said, 'I and my Father are One,' in respect of unity of substance not singularity of number. [Qui tres unum sunt, non unus, quomodo dictum est, Ego et Pater unum sumus, etc.]" (Tertullian, Against Praxeas, Chapter XXV.)

Whether this counts as a quote or a random remark must be determined by context, since modern conveniences like sliced bread and quotation marks were unknown to the ancients.  Personally I think he offers these words, 'tres unum sunt', in the expectation they'll be accepted as authoritative; i.e., it's a quote of scripture. (The 'essence' and the 'Person' are the translator's helpful additions to mark the difference between 'unum' and 'unus'.)

(These texts may be found at http://www.ccel.org.)

Where did this text come from, given that it's not found in our earliest surviving Greek manuscripts? Could it be a marginal note which migrated into the text? It's easy enough for that to happen, without any ill intent; people of the day wrote notes in the margin, like we do. They also put corrections in the margin. If, upon proof-reading, the scribe was found to have skipped a line, that missing line was copied in the margin.  So it was easy, the next time that manuscript was copied, for a note to be mistaken for omitted text.

It's also possible, on the other hand, that these words were found in the Old African Latin Bible because the translator found them in his Greek copy. Speaking of 1 John 5:7, R. A. Knox says, "This verse does not occur in any good Greek manuscript. But the Latin versions may have preserved the true text; scribes often omitted, by error, the former of two sentences which had deceptively similar endings.  In this very chapter, two important manuscripts omitted the first six words of verse 15, for the same reason." (The New Testament in English, R. A. Knox).

Only a very small sample of early Greek manuscripts have been preserved, and nobody knows where they came from or who produced them.  Heretics are known to have produced doctored copies of scripture, with material offensive to their cause removed. Marcion, for example, produced a slimmed-down version of the New Testament, with any suggestion that Jesus was of Jewish origin struck out.  Since it's one of the principles of modern-day textual criticism that the short version is to be preferred to the long version, heaven help us all if a copy of Marcion's gospel should turn up -- there goes the New Testament!

1 Corinthians 15:44

"It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body."

Although Paul is talking about the resurrection of the dead, not about God's nature, the Jehovah's Witnesses take this verse as a proof-text that God has a "spiritual body":

"So, then, the great mind responsible for all creation belongs to the great Person, Almighty God. Although he does not have a material body, he has a spiritual one. A spirit person has a body? Yes, the Bible says: 'If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual one.' Since God is a person with a spiritual body, he must have a place to live. [...] But someone may ask, 'If God is a real person who lives at a certain place in heaven, how can he see everything that happens everywhere? And how can his power be felt in every part of the universe? [...] A power plant has a certain location in or near a city. But its electricity is distributed over all that area, providing light and power. It is similar with God. He is in the heavens. Yet his holy spirit, which is his invisible active force, can be felt everywhere, over all the universe." (pp. 36-37, You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1982).

It would seem no one has yet told the Watchtower Society that electromagnetic radiation takes years to travel from the Pleiades (where Charles Taze Russell situated God's throne) to earth...

Catacomb of Commodilla

Deuteronomy 12:16

"Only you shall not eat the blood; you shall pour it on the earth like water."

While willing to sacrifice their children on the altar of this verse, the Jehovah's Witnesses cannot be bothered to drive across town to obey it! Commercial Gentile slaughter-houses do not pour out the blood onto the ground, but use it to enrich other products.  Like they used to say in Chicago, 'They use every part of the pig but the squeal'.

Kosher butchers make a study of draining blood from a slaughtered animal: "Another rule of 'kashrut' ['fitness'] is that a kosher animal must be slaughtered properly, in accordance with ancient ritual practice, in order for Jews to eat its meat. The ritual slaughterer, or 'shohet', is trained in the procedure, which basically requires one swift incision in the jugular vein so that blood gushes out in large volume and the animal is rendered unconscious almost instantaneously...According to the rules of 'kashrut', as much blood as possible must be withdrawn from the meat before it can be eaten, since 'the blood is the life,' and this must return to God rather than be consumed by human beings.  For this reason kosher meat must be salted with a coarse type of salt, either by the butcher in his shop or by the purchaser at home, and then thoroughly washed before it is cooked.  The salting and washing help remove much of the blood that may have remained in the meat." (p. 162-163, The Concise Guide to Judaism, Roy A. Rosenberg).

The Jehovah's Witnesses ignore these considerations right up until the moment when their children require a blood transfusion...then all of a sudden they get 'religion' on blood! Where is the consistency in this?

Revelation 20:10

"The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are.  And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever." (Revelation 20:10).

The Jehovah's Witnesses offer Revelation 20:10, with its guarantee "they will be tormented day and night forever and ever"...as a proof-text that the wicked dead cease to exist and have no continuing conscious existence!: "Jehovah will execute these selfish ones along with Satan and all his demons.  All wrongdoers will then be gone forever - Revelation 20:7-10." (Knowledge that Leads to Everlasting Life, Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, 1995, p. 190). This would seem to be a case of 'interpreting' a verse...to say the exact opposite of what it does say. "And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever" is not quite the same as 'be gone forever.' The same word, 'basanizo,' is used in Revelation 9:5: "And they were not given authority to kill them, but to torment them for five months. Their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it strikes a man."

The Bible promises a lot of "everlasting contempt" for the lost: "And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, Some to everlasting life, Some to shame and everlasting contempt.  Those who are wise shall shine Like the brightness of the firmament, And those who turn many to righteousness Like the stars forever and ever." (Daniel 12:2-3).

According to Jesus, denizens of Hell suffer conscious torments: "And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. Then he cried and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.'" (Luke 16:23-24). "I am tormented" is not the statement of an unconscious non-entity.

The Jehovah's Witnesses assert that the Hebrew word 'Sheol' means only the grave. In some cases it does seem primarily to mean the grave:

“And all his sons and all his daughters arose to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted, and he said, 'For I shall go down into the grave to my son in mourning.' Thus his father wept for him.” (Genesis 37:35).

It is interesting that the Vulgate has here, "descendam. . .in infernum." At other times a conscious experience of misery is ascribed to those in hell or Sheol, which is not plausibly ascribed to the body moldering in the grave.

The Jehovah's Witnesses allege that the pagans invented Hell. Some pagan poets, like Virgil, do portray a detailed road map of Hell, erupting with lurid volcanic imagery. Here is a sampler of this detailed topography, with which the Christian poet Dante did not scruple to supplement the Bible basics:

"Now of a sudden Aeneas looked and saw
To the left, under a cliff, wide buildings girt
By a triple wall round which a torrent rushed
With scorching flames and boulders tossed in thunder,
The abyss's Fiery River.  A massive gate
With adamantine pillars faced the stream,
So strong no force of men or gods in war
May ever avail to crack or bring it down...
From the interior, groans
Are heard, and thud of lashes, clanking iron,
Dragging chains. Arrested in his tracks,
Appalled by what he heard, Aeneas stood.

"'What are the forms of evil here? O Sister,
Tell me.  And the punishments dealt out:
Why such a lamentation?'

"Said the Sibyl:
'Light of the Teucrians, it is decreed
That no pure soul may cross the sill of evil."
(Virgil, Aeneid, Book VI, 735-760).

It is interesting to speculate where the pagans got this information: near-death experiences? When New Testament authors used terms like 'Hades' and 'Tartarus' (2 Peter 2:4), this is what contemporary readers understood them to be talking about,-- and with good reason; the fire and brimstone are Biblical: "Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, 'If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.'" (Revelation 14:9-11). One cannot eject this information from the Bible on grounds that some pagans felt intimations of it.

Speaking of God's marvellous plan of salvation, Paul says,

“But as it is written: 'Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.'”

If it is true that the delights of the blessed are beyond our present experience, it is also true that the sufferings of the doomed exceed what we now see and hear. Fire gives light; yet the realm of "everlasting fire" is a realm of darkness not light: "These are wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest, for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever." (2 Peter 2:17). Fire as we know it consumes and exhausts its fuel thus putting itself out of business; what is "everlasting fire?" Go to Tahiti and tell people about 'snow.' This is like recounting to the living the experiences of the damned; what they experience, both before the resurrection and in eternity, is not in our photo album of present experiences. But one cannot leap from the uncanny and unfamiliar nature of hell to the conclusion that such experiences cannot occur.

Ephesians 1:17

"I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him..." (Ephesians 1:17).

God the Father is "the God of our Lord Jesus Christ." How can God have a God? Let us ask a question the Bible answers explicitly: When did God the Father come to be "the God of our Lord Jesus Christ"? The Bible answer is, from the time of the incarnation:

"On you I was cast from my birth, and since my mother bore me you have been my God." (Psalm 22:10).

There has been fellowship between God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ since before the world was: "...you loved me before the foundation of the world." (John 17:24). But worship only came to be characteristic of this fellowship, according to Psalm 22, "...since my mother bore me...": since Jesus Christ "humbled Himself" in becoming incarnate.

He Humbled Himself

He humbled Himself


Holy, Holy, Holy

Love Poetry

In the mood for a little love poetry?:

"The superlative song, which is Solomon's: 'May he kiss me with the kisses of his mouth, for your expressions of endearment are better than wine...The king has brought me into his interior rooms!'...'Look! You are beautiful, O girl companion of mine.'" (Song of Solomon 1, New World Translation).

Like Diana Trilling said about Jean Harris, you either have this prose, or you don't...


Beginning of His Way

"The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth: While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world. When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth: When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep: When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth: Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him;  Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights were with the sons of men." (Proverbs 8:22-31).

It is not this version of this passage which is a Jehovah's Witness favorite, although it hews quite closely to the sense of the Hebrew. . .or should I say, 'because it hews quite closely. . .'. They prefer the Septuagint, the old Greek translation of the Old Testament: "κυριος εκτισεν με αρχην οδων αυτου εις εργα αυτου," "The Lord made me the beginning of his ways for his works." (Brenton Septuagint, Proverbs 8:22), or as it could be rendered, 'the Lord created me.'

The Septuagint's rendering of this passage perplexed the early church authors who correctly understood, from plain Bible teaching, that Jesus Christ is Creator, not creature. They realized that 'Wisdom' is a Bible type of the Messiah, a stand-in for the Logos. Since many in the early church thought that the Greek translation of the Old Testament was independently inspired, this passage was very much at issue in the fourth century discussions about the trinity. However, when all is said and done, it is a translation. While some modern translators speculate about an otherwise unknown Hebrew root meaning 'create,' in fact the traditional translation of 'qanah' as 'possess' is entirely defensible: "The general word qanah has the idea of possessing something, regardless of the means of or reason for the possession (get, acquire purchase, etc.). . .The Authorized Version translates the word as 'possess,' purchase,' or 'buy,' all of which make perfectly good senses in the respective contexts." (Beginning at Moses, Michael P. V. Barrett, Kindle location 3255).

Trisagion Seraph Archive!
      Too much to see in one sitting? Download the entire Thrice Holy Web-Site!

To English ears, 'beginning' sounds like the first of a series, but to Greek ears, 'beginning,' arche, can mean 'origin' or 'first principle.' One of the few early church writers the Jehovah's Witnesses care for, Origen, was quite willing to say that "God" is the "beginning" of creation:

"This meaning of the term” beginning,” as of origin, will serve us also in the passage in which Wisdom speaks in the Proverbs. “God,” we read, “created me the beginning of His ways, for His works.” . . .One might assert, and with reason, that God Himself is the beginning of all things, and might go on to say, as is plain, that the Father is the beginning of the Son; and the demiurge the beginning of the works of the demiurge, and that God in a word is the beginning of all that exists." (Origin, Commentary on the Gospel of John, Book I, Chapter 17).

As to 'created,' that remains an unfortunate translation. While the Septuagint, snippets from which occur in the New Testament, deserves vast respect, it is not the original text, and that must remain the final word:

  • Pro. 8:22 The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way,.... Not "created me", as the Targum and the Septuagint version; which version Arius following gave birth to his pernicious doctrine; who from hence concluded Christ is a creature, and was the first creature that God made, not of the same but of a like nature with himself, in some moment or period of eternity; and by whom he made all others: the Word, or Wisdom of God is never said to be created; and if as such he was created, God must have been without his Wisdom before he was created; besides, Christ, as the Word and Wisdom of God, is the Creator of all things, and not created, John 1:1; but this possession is not in right of creation, as the word is sometimes used, Gen. 4:1; it might be more truly rendered, "the Lord begat me", as the word is translated by the Septuagint in Zech. 13:5; it denotes the Lord's having, possessing, and enjoying his word and wisdom as his own proper Son; which possession of him is expressed by his being with him and in him, and in his bosom, and as one brought forth and brought up by him; as he was "in the beginning of his way" of creation, when he went forth in his wisdom and power, and created all things; then he did possess his Son, and made use of him, for by him he made the worlds: and "in the beginning of his way" of grace, which was before his way of creation; he began with him when he first went out in acts of grace towards his people; his first thoughts, purposes, and decrees concerning their happiness, were in him; the choice of their persons was made in him; God was in him contriving the scheme of their peace, reconciliation, and salvation; the covenant of grace was made with him, and all fullness of grace was treasured up in him: the words may be rendered, "the Lord possessed me, the beginning of his way"; that is, who am the beginning, as he is; the beginning of the creation of God, the first cause, the efficient of it, both old and new; see Col. 1:18. So Aben Ezra, who compares with this Job 40:19. This shows the real and actual existence of Christ from eternity, his relation to Jehovah his Father, his nearness to him, equality with him, and distinction from him. . ."
  • (John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible, Proverbs 8:22).

Jesus Christ is the Creator!