Biblical Monotheism Examined:
Trinitarian or Henotheistic in Nature? (Part 1)

By Sam Shamoun

From its inception, the Church has always affirmed a belief in the fact that there is only one true God, and that this one God is an infinite Tri-personal Being. Based on the inspired biblical record the Church has both defended and declared its belief that the God of holy Scripture eternally exists as three distinct, yet inseparable Persons or centers of consciousness, namely Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.


The Church has also affirmed and defended the biblical teaching that the second Person of the Godhead took upon himself a human nature for the salvation of man and is now known as Jesus of Nazareth. Hence, the orthodox and historical Christian position has been that the historical Jesus is one divine Person with two natures and two wills; perfect God and perfect humanity inseparably united, not fused, in the one Person of Christ.


This belief is not without its detractors and the Church has been forced throughout the centuries to define its beliefs as well as refute the heretical sects that have sprung forth to challenge and question the Church’s understanding of biblical teaching. This aspect of the Church’s teaching, the Trinity, is perhaps the most constantly attacked doctrine; calling for both precision and clarity in adequately presenting the biblical evidence and the Church’s explanation of the data.


One such group attacking the doctrine of the Trinity today is the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. This particular sect, founded in the late 19th century by Charles Taze Russell, proclaims that the God of Scripture, Jehovah, is not triune nor is Christ Jesus Jehovah but the first and only direct creation of Jehovah. Their belief in Jesus is that he was God’s first creation through whom he created all other things. Christ in both his pre-human existence and post-resurrection is actually the archangel Michael, the captain of the heavenly host of Jehovah. He is also viewed as a mighty god, but not the almighty God who is Jehovah.


Jehovah’s Witnesses (from now on called JW) do believe that the Holy Bible is the inspired, inerrant, and infallible word of God and as such is viewed as the sole rule of faith in matters of doctrine and Christian living. Hence, all teaching must find support in God’s holy Word, and if it does not originate from the holy writings it is to be discarded completely.


JW’s believe that the Trinity doctrine finds no biblical support and as such must be discarded completely since it is no more than a doctrine promoted by Satan to deceive people from the true worship of Jehovah. Yet, amazingly in denying the Trinity the JW’s have been forced to adopt a polytheistic interpretation of the Holy Bible in order to maintain the clear biblical teaching that in some sense Jesus is called God.


For instance, JW’s believe that although Jehovah is the only true God there are other beings which are also gods but in a lesser sense. These gods include Jesus, angels, the devil, and demons. The only difference is that only Jehovah is sovereign and is to be worshiped, with the rest deriving their existence and power from him.


This belief is not monotheism, the belief in only one God, but henotheism, the belief in a host of deities with only one who is to be worshiped.


In this study we will examine the biblical data and demonstrate that there is but one true God and that the others who are referred to as gods are not (using JW terminology) “godlike ones” in any sense. From there we will briefly examine the way Scripture calls Jesus God, whether it is to be understood in the orthodox Trinitarian sense or in the henotheistic sense of JWs.


We will present the biblical evidence in a three point outline, illustrating the different ways the term “God” is used in the inspired writings:


          1. True Gods


          2. False Gods


          3. Figurative Gods


In doing so, it will become apparently clear that the Bible knows of only one true God leaving no room for a henotheistic type of monotheism, which in itself is an oxymoron.




Both JWs and Trinitarians agree that Jehovah alone is the true God:


“For a long time Israel was without the true God, without a priest to teach and without the law.” 2 Chronicles 15:3 NIV


“But Jehovah is the true God; he is the living God, the eternal King ...” Jeremiah 10:10


“Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”  John 17:3 NIV 


“... They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God” 1 Thessalonians 1:9 NIV


“We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true-even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.” 1 John 5:20 NIV


It would seem that these verses are sufficient in refuting any possibility of having gods in a lesser sense, yet such is not the case. One JW writer indicates,


“The Greek word translated ‘true’ (... alethinos) can have one of several meanings, depending on the context and usage of the author or speaker. According to BAGD, alethinos can mean: ‘genuine, real ... Of God in contrast to other gods, who are not real... true in the sense of the reality possessed only by the archetype, not by its copies.’ “ (Greg Stafford, Jehovah’s Witnesses Defended-An Answer To Scholars And Critics [Huntington Beach, CA; Elihu Books, 1998], p. 196)


The author goes on to give examples where Jesus is called the true light (to phos to alethinon) in John 1:9, whereas in Matthew 5:14 Christ states that his disciples were “the light of the world.” Hence, the disciples were not false lights but reflectors of the one true light, Jesus Christ.


Or in another place where Jesus claims to be “the true bread from heaven” (ton arton ek tou ouranou ton alethinon) in contrast to the manna God had given Israel in the desert for forty years (John 6:32-33). This obviously cannot mean that the manna was fake, but a shadow or type of that which was to come, namely Jesus Christ.


By citing these examples, Stafford hopes to prove the possibility that whereas Jehovah is the source of divinity, the others are but copies which merely reflect the rays of the divine nature. (Ibid., pp. 197-200)


Unfortunately for Stafford, and the JWs for that matter, there are several problems with this logic. Firstly, Stafford overlooks the very lexicon he cites to prove his assertion.  His citation from Bauer’s A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, states precisely that alethinos in relation to God is used to demonstrate that “in contrast to other gods”, they “are not real.” Therefore, the only way for others to be called “God” is either figuratively or in a false sense.


Another major weakness in the argument is that it leaves JWs with a serious problem. In the Old Testament, Jehovah is pictured as the Light:


Jehovah is my light and my salvation... “ Psalm 27:1


“... for Jehovah will be your everlasting Light... Jehovah will be your everlasting Light...” Isaiah 60:19-20


“... Though I sit in darkness, Jehovah will be my light.” Micah 7:8


If, as JWs assume, Jesus is not Jehovah this implies that Jehovah is not the true light but a copy of the true one. Using Stafford’s reasoning, Jesus as the one true light is the one reality and source from which others can only reflect, but never possess. Therefore, since Jesus is the true light and Jehovah is not Jesus, then Jehovah’s light is not “true in the sense of the reality only possessed by the archetype alone,” but one of its derivative copies. The only way to resolve this problem is to affirm that Jesus is Jehovah, since what is true of Jehovah is true of Jesus.


Finally, in the examples given where alethinos is used in reference to Jesus as the source and ”reality possessed by the archetype alone”, the Scripture does not deny the possibility of persons or things being reflections of that reality. Yet, Scripture does emphatically state that no other so-called gods do or can possess deity in any sense whatsoever. Hence, not only does the Bible positively affirm that Jehovah alone is the true God, but states this in the negative sense as well. This leads us to the second category.




“But then, indeed, when you did not know God, you served those who by NATURE are not gods.” Galatians 4:8 NKJV


Hence, to assert that Jehovah is the source while the others are copies cannot be substantiated in light of just this passage alone.


“Has a nation ever changed its gods? (Yet they are not gods at all.) But my people have exchanged their Glory for worthless idols.” Jeremiah 2:11 NIV


“How shall I pardon you for this? Your children have forsaken Me and sworn by those that are not gods...” Jeremiah 5:7 NKJV


“Will a man make gods for himself, which are not gods?” Jeremiah 16:20 NKJV


“See now that I myself am He! There is no god besides me. I put to death and I bring to life, I have wounded and I will heal, and no one can deliver out of my hand.” Deuteronomy 32:39 NIV


“You are my witnesses,” declares Jehovah, “and my servant whom I have chosen so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me.” Isaiah 43:10


“This is what Jehovah says-Israel’s King and Redeemer, Jehovah Sabaoth: I am the first and I am the Last, apart from me there is no god ... Do not tremble, do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago? You are my witnesses. Is there any God BESIDES me? NO, there is no other rock; I know not one.” Isaiah 44:6, 8 


“I am Jehovah, and there is no other; apart from me there is no god. I will strengthen you, though you have not acknowledged me, so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting man may know there is none besides me. I am Jehovah, and there is no other.” Isaiah 45:5-6


“Declare what is to be, present it- let them take counsel together. Who foretold this long ago, who declared it from the distant past? Was it not I, Jehovah? And there is no God apart from me, a righteous God and a Savior; There is none but me.  Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.” Isaiah 45:21-22


“Among the gods there is none like you, O Jehovah; no deeds can compare with yours… For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you ALONE are GOD.” Psalm 86:8, 10


These passages make it difficult for anyone to believe that although Jehovah is the true God, there are gods of a lesser kind since Scripture clearly states that no gods have ever been formed at all.


The typical JW response to these passages is that God is not denying the possibility of other godlike beings, but is refuting the notion that the pagan idol gods of the nations are real. Therefore, to use these verses to refute the belief in other divine beings is quoting out of the intended context to which these statements were made.


Far from disproving our point, this fact actually reinforces it. Even though idols in and of themselves are nothing there is an actual spiritual presence behind these images that Scripture clearly attacks:


“What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything? Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrificed they sacrificed to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons.” 1 Corinthians 10:19- 20 NKJV


“They made him jealous with their foreign gods and angered him with their detestable idols. They sacrificed to demons which are not God- gods they had not known, gods that recently appeared, gods your fathers did not fear.” Deuteronomy 32:16-17 NIV


“They worshiped their idols, which became a snare to them. They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to demons.” Psalm 106:36-37 NIV


Not only does Scripture attack idols, but also attacks demons that are behind these images as false gods. Keeping in mind that demons are nothing more than fallen angels, serves to discredit any attempts of attributing deity to angels in general. Thus, Stafford is simply wrong when he asserts that “The angels are not true gods, nor are they false gods; rather, they are ‘copies’ (derivative images) of the true God, and receive their authority and power from Him in order to carry out His word...”    (Stafford, J.W.D., p. 200)


They are neither true nor false, nor derivative copies but messengers created to do the will of God; no more, no less. Which leads us to our third point.




So far we have seen that the term “God” is used to refer to both true Gods, of which there is only one, and of false gods. We have also established that the Bible views fallen angels, more commonly referred to as demons, as being wrongly addressed as gods since apart from Jehovah there are no other gods. Yet we are left with another way in which the Bible uses the term “God”, namely in a figurative sense. This is clearly demonstrated in the following citations:


“He (Aaron) will speak to the people for you, and it will be as if he were your (Moses’) mouth and as if you were God (elohim) to him.” Exodus 4:16 NIV


 “Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘See, I have made you like God (elohim) to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron will be your prophet.” Exodus 7:1 NIV


Moses is called God since he is acting on God’s behalf as his spokesman and prophet, not that he was divine in any sense.


“But if the servant declares, ‘I love my master and my wife and children and do not want to go free,’ then his master must take him before the judges (elohim-gods). He shall take him to the door or the doorpost and pierce his ear with an awl. Then he will be his servant for life.” Exodus 21:5-6 NIV


“If the thief is not found, then the master of the house shall be brought to the judges (Heb. Elohim/ gods) to see whether he has put his hand into his neighbor’s goods.”  Exodus 22:8 NKJV


God (Elohim) stands in the congregation of God (El); he judges among the gods (elohim). How long will you judge unjustly, and show partiality to the wicked?… I said, ‘You are gods, and all of you are children of the most High. But you shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes’.” Psalm 82:1-2, 6-7


These passages call Israelite judges gods, even though they are mere men, since they execute God’s judgment having the power to proclaim life and death.


Further evidence that Moses and the Israelite judges are called gods simply in a figurative can be seen from the following citations:


“On the day the LORD gives you relief from suffering and turmoil and cruel bondage, you will take up this taunt against the king of Babylon: How the oppressor has come to an end! How his fury has ended!… ‘How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’ But you are brought down to the grave, to the depths of the pit. Those who see you stare at you, they ponder your fate: ‘Is this the man who shook the earth and made kingdoms tremble, the man who made the world a desert, who overthrew its cities and would not let his captives go home?’ All the kings of the nations lie in state, each in his own tomb. But you are cast out of your tomb like a rejected branch; you are covered with the slain, with those pierced by the sword, those who descend to the stones of the pit. Like a corpse trampled underfoot, you will not join them in burial, for you have destroyed your land and killed your people. The offspring of the wicked will never be mentioned again. Prepare a place to slaughter his sons for the sins of their forefathers; they are not to rise to inherit the land and cover the earth with their cities. I will rise up against them,’ declares the LORD Almighty. I will cut off from Babylon her name and survivors, her offspring and descendants,’ declares the LORD.” Isaiah 14:3-4, 12-22 NIV


“The word of the LORD came to me: ‘Son of man, say to the ruler of Tyre, “This is what the Sovereign LORD says: ‘In the pride of your heart you say, “I am a god; I sit on the throne of a god in the heart of the seas.BUT YOU ARE A MAN AND NOT A GOD, though you think you are as wise as a god. Are you wiser than Daniel? Is no secret hidden from you? By your wisdom and understanding you have gained wealth for yourself and amassed gold and silver in your treasuries. By your great skill in trading you have increased your wealth, and because of your wealth your heart has grown proud.’” Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: “Because you think you are wise, as wise as a god, I am going to bring foreigners against you, the most ruthless of nations; they will draw their swords against your beauty and wisdom and pierce your shining splendor. They will bring you down to the pit, and you will die a violent death in the heart of the seas. Will you then say, ‘I am a god,’ in the presence of those who kill you? You will be BUT A MAN, NOT A GOD, in the hands of those who slay you. You will die the death of the uncircumcised at the hands of foreigners. I have spoken, declares the Sovereign LORD.”’” Ezekiel 28:1-10 NIV


Both the king of Babylon and the king of Tyre believed that they were gods and could be like the Most High, a belief that was detestable in the eyes of the true God. Therefore, the only way for any man to be a god is either figuratively or falsely.


Other references to gods include:


“… And let all the gods worship him.” Deuteronomy 32:43 Dead Sea Scrolls


“ ... Worship him, all you gods.” Psalm 97:7b NKJV


Both the Greek Old Testament Septuagint (LXX) and the book of Hebrews understood these passages as referring to angels:


“But when He again brings His firstborn into the world, He says: ‘Let all the angels of God worship Him.’ “ Hebrews 1:6 NKJV


The context of both these passages which the author of Hebrews alludes to refers to idols, and hence to the demonic angels behind them:


“They provoked Him to jealousy with foreign gods; with abominations they provoked Him to anger. They sacrificed to demons, not God; to gods they did not know, to new gods, new arrivals that your fathers did not fear.” Deuteronomy 32:16-17 NKJV   


“Let all be put to shame who serve carved images, who boast of idols. Worship him, all you gods.” Psalm 97:7 NKJV


Therefore, even if it were angels that were being addressed they cannot be deities in any sense since both demons and angelic messengers are classified in the same category of gods; which Scripture indicates are neither true nor copies of the true.


Yet it seems that the author of Hebrews’ whole point is not to classify these particular angels as false gods, since elsewhere he views them as God’s servants:


“And of the angels He says: ‘Who makes His angels spirits and His ministers a flame of fire.’” Hebrews 1:7 NKJV


Hence, it seems likely that angels are being referred figuratively as gods in the same sense that Moses and the Israelite judges are viewed as gods, i.e. God’s servants speaking on his behalf and faithfully doing his will:


“Now I, John, saw and heard theses things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed theses things. Then he said to me, ‘See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.’ “ Revelation 22:8-9 NKJV


Two more possible references to angels as gods include:


“I will praise you, O LORD, with all my heart; before the ‘gods’ I will sing your praise.” Psalm 138:1 NIV


“You made him little lower than God (elohim) and crowned him with glory and honor.” Psalm 8:5


Both the LXX and the NT understood the elohim of Psalm 8:5 to be referring to angels:


“You made him a little lower than the angels...” Hebrews 2:7 NIV


Yet some scholars are of the opinion that Psalms 8:5 is actually referring to God who in his love made man a little lower than him positionally, allowing man to rule over all of his earthly creation. This is derived from the fact that this particular Psalm seems to be echoing Genesis’ description of man being made in God’s image and likeness, crowning him with greater honor than all of God’s creatures. (Cf. Genesis 1:26-30)


The only problem with this interpretation is that it seems to neglect the inspired New Testament view that angels, not God, are being contrasted here with man in general, and with Jesus Christ as the Son of Man in particular. (Cf. Hebrews 2:5-18)


It seems more likely that this is another time where angels are being addressed figuratively as gods.


Another line of evidence used by JWs to support the view that angels are actually “godlike ones,” is the Old Testament usage of the phrase “sons of God” in relation to angelic beings:


“When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God (Heb.- beney Elohim) saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose ... The Nephilim were on the earth in those days- and also afterward- when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them.” Genesis 6:1-2, 4 NIV       


“One day the sons of God came to present themselves before Jehovah, and Satan also came with them.” Job 1:6 (Cf. Job 2:1)


“... while the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” Job 38:7


Greg Stafford reasons:


“Further evidence that the angels were considered ‘gods’ or ‘divine beings’ is found in the use of the Hebrew for ‘sons of.’ In the Hebrew Bible, when we read of the ‘sons of’ someone or some group of people, they are typically seen as members of the group or class of whom they are ‘sons.’ For example, in 1 Kings 20:35 the ‘sons of the prophets’ are ‘prophets,’ and in Nehemiah 12:28 the ‘sons of the singers’ are ‘singers.’ Commenting on this use of son Gesenius tells us: ‘There is another use of... [ben, ‘son’] or... [beney, ‘sons’] to denote membership in a guild or society (or of a tribe, and any definite class).


“Thus... [beney elohim, ‘sons of God’]... [beney ha-elohim, ‘sons of (the) God’] Gn 6:2, 4, Jb 1:6, 2:1, 38:7... properly means not sons of god(s) but being of the class of... [elohim].’ Gerald Cooke concludes that ‘the “sons of God(s)” are to be understood without question as lesser divine beings.’ “ (Stafford, J.W.D., p. 190)  


Thus, Stafford’s reasoning is that the term “sons of God” must mean that angels are divine beings since this is the way Scripture uses the phrase “sons of”; to refer to membership or participation in a particular class. What Stafford failed to note is that although the phrase is used at times to denote participation in a given class, it is not always used in this sense. The following citations will help clarify this point:


“As they were enjoying themselves, suddenly certain men of the city, sons of Belial, surrounded the house... “ Judges 19:22


“The sons of Eli were sons of Belial, having no regard for Jehovah.” 1 Samuel 1:12


According to the New Testament, Belial or Baal is another name for Satan. (Cf. Matthew 12:24-27; 2 Corinthians 6:15)


If Stafford’s logic is correct we are then forced to believe that these individuals were also literal devils, albeit in a lesser sense, being copies of the archetype.


The Israelites are also addressed as the sons or children of God:


“You are the children (beney) of the LORD your God.” Deuteronomy 14:1 NIV


“Yet the Israelites will be like the sand on the seashore, which cannot be measured or counted. In the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’ “ Hosea 1:10 NIV


Are we therefore to assume that the Israelites were also “godlike ones” since they too are addressed as the beney YHVH, or beney El?


Both JWs and Trinitarians believe that the author of the Old and New Testaments is One, namely God’s Holy Spirit, even though JWs view this Spirit as an impersonal force. (Cf. 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21) This would imply that the biblical understanding of sonship, as defined by Stafford, must be interpreted the same way for both sections of Scripture since we would expect consistency in God’s usage of biblical terminology. 


This presumably being the case, JWs face further difficulties since Adam is another one who is addressed as God’s son:


“... the son of Adam, the son of God.” Luke 3:38 NIV


If we were to translate this back into Hebrew we would get, “Adam ben Elohim.” Hence, using the logic of JWs we would be forced to understand that the Bible teaches that Adam was another “godlike one.”


A final problem with Stafford’s position is that it views the sons of God in Genesis 6, who according to many biblical scholars and JWs are fallen angels (i.e. demons), as lesser divine beings. For instance, the JW book, Aid to Bible Understanding, defends the view that the sons of God in Genesis 6 are angels by stating:


“The identification of the ‘sons of the true God’ at Genesis 6:2-4 with angelic creatures is objected to by those holding the previously mentioned view (author- namely that Gen. 6:2-4 refers to the godly seed of Seth as opposed to Cain’ s corrupt seed) because they say the context relates entirely to human wickedness. This objection is not valid, however, since the wrongful interjection of spirit creatures in human affairs most certainly could contribute to or accelerate the growth of human wickedness... The mention of a mixing into human affairs by angelic sons of God could reasonably appear in the Genesis account precisely because  of its explaining to a considerable degree the gravity of the situation that had developed on earth prior to the Flood...

Supporting this are the apostle Peter’s references to ‘the spirits in prison, who had once been disobedient when the patience of God was waiting in Noah’s days’ (1 Pet. 3:19, 20), and to the ‘angels that sinned’ mentioned in connection with the ‘ancient world’ of Noah’s time (2 Pet. 2:4, 5), as well as Jude’s statement concerning ‘the angels that did not keep their original position but forsook their own proper dwelling place.’ (Jude 6) If it is denied that the ‘sons of the true God’ of Genesis 6:2-4 were spirit creatures, then these statements by the Christian writers become enigmatic, with nothing to explain the manner in which this angelic disobedience took place, or its actual relation to Noah’s time... There seems to be no valid reason then, for doubting that the ‘sons of God’ of Genesis 6:2-4 were angelic sons...’” (Aid to Bible Understanding, 1971 ed., pp. 1527-1528 emphasis ours)


In fact, the publication goes on to identify these angels as demons:


Demon. An invisible wicked spirit creature, sometimes called a ‘fallen angel,’ having superhuman powers... In Noah’s day these disobedient angels materialized, married woman, fathered a hybrid generation known as Nephilim... and dematerialized when the flood came. (Gen 6:1-4)...” (Ibid, pp. 441-442 emphasis ours) 


In light of the earlier citations, these beings could in no way be gods since the Bible denies the possibility of fallen angels-demons from ever being partakers of Deity.  With this point in mind, the phrase “sons of God” when used of angels presumably means that since they derive their existence from God, God is then viewed as their Father in that he is their Creator. This interpretation bears out in light of Malachi 2:10:


“Have we not all one Father? Did not ONE GOD create us?...”


Since God created us, he is our Father and we are his offspring. Paul quotes Greek poets who had this same idea in mind, namely that since we exist because of God we are therefore his children:


“’For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’” Acts 17:28


The phrase could also be referring to the fact that angels are immortal heavenly beings, as opposed to man who is earthly and prone to corruption and decay.


In light of the biblical data we are left to conclude that Stafford’s position is simply indefensible.


The final place where Scripture calls someone “god” is 2 Corinthians 4:4:


The god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” NIV  


The god of this age is the Devil who is called both “the prince of this world” and “the prince of the power of the air,” being, “the spirit at work in the children of disobedience.” (Cf. John 12:31; Ephesians 2:2)


In light of the previous biblical quotations, this cannot mean that Satan is an actual god since all of God’s fallen angels are viewed as false deities. This includes Satan as well since he also is a fallen angel, being a former cherub of God named Halel (Latin- Lucifer; Cf. Isaiah14:12-20; Ezekiel 28:11-19)


This being the case we may presume that Satan is called god in the sense that in this corrupt age where all men are enslaved by sin he is seen as its master, being the author of evil. Therefore he is the god of this sinful world since all are under his control. As such man is in need of Christ to break this satanic bondage. In fact, the Holy Bible states that Jesus’ whole purpose in coming was to destroy the works of the devil and set men free from sin and death. (Cf. Luke 4:5-6; Jn. 8:34-36, 16:33; Hebrews 2:14-15; 1 John 3:8)  


With this just said, we are still not finished since there is one final issue that needs to be addressed.




After examining all the relevant passages in determining the precise biblical manner in which the term God is used, we are still left to answer in just what sense is Jesus called God? The biblical evidence leaves us with just three possibilities, namely Jesus is the true God, a false god, or god in a figurative sense.


Both JWs and Trinitarians agree that Jesus is neither a false god nor is he god simply in a figurative sense. The only category left is that of true gods, and yet JWs cannot possibly embrace this fact. This is due to what we had noted earlier that to JWs Jesus is not the true God Jehovah, but Jehovah’s first-created Son, Michael. That is why JWs like Stafford must argue for another class of gods that are neither true or false, but derivative copies of the true; allowing for Jesus to be Jehovah’s premiere copy and image in relation to other derivative images.


It is our understanding that the Bible clearly teaches that Jesus is not a lesser god but the true God, Jehovah. The biblical data also teaches that there are more than one person who are addressed as the one true God, namely the Father and the Holy Spirit. (Cf. John 17:3; Acts 5:3, 4) Yet, they are not three Gods but only one true God. (Cf. Deuteronomy 6:4; 1 Corinthians 8:4; Galatians 3:20)


It is precisely these biblical factors that drove the early Church to formulate its belief that God is one infinite personal Being, and that there are three Persons who make up the personality of the one true God. 


This being the case, we would expect to find in the Bible qualities and titles of Jehovah applied to Jesus. Qualities such as immutability, eternality, creatorship should be true of Jesus if indeed the Bible teaches that Christ is truly God. We would also expect to find verses where Jesus is clearly referred to as God, as well as receiving the worship due only to God. If all these factors are present within the inspired writings, we must therefore come to the conclusion that Jesus is Jehovah.





“In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. Like clothing you will change them and they will be discarded. But you remain the same, and your years will never end.”  Psalm 102: 25-27 NIV



“But about the Son he says.... ‘In the beginning, O Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will roll them up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed. But you remain the same, and your years will never end.’” Hebrews 1:8, 10-12 NIV


The astonishing fact about this passage is that the author not only attributes an Old Testament passage of Jehovah to Jesus, but ascribes to Christ both the very same divine function of creation and quality of immutability.


“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8 NIV





“... from everlasting (Olam) to everlasting (Olam) you are God.” Psalm 90:2 


Art thou not from everlasting (Olam), O LORD my God, mine Holy One? we shall not die...” Habakkuk 1:12 KJV



“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from old, from everlasting (Olam). Micah 5:2 (Cf. Matthew 2:1-6)


“In the beginning was (en) the Word, and the Word was with God (ton theon, “the God”), and the Word was God (theos, “God”)… The Word became (egeneto) flesh and dwelt among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:1, 14


The Greek phrase en is the imperfect tense of the verb eimi, denoting continuous past action or existence. John is affirming that Jesus as the Word was already existing before the creation of time, since time itself is created. This is brought out more clearly in John 1:3:


“Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” NIV


Seeing that time would fall under the category of “things” is a clear indication that time itself is part of that which came to exist through Christ. This point is affirmed elsewhere in the NT:


“in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world (aionas, lit. the ages).” Hebrews 1:2


According to the Lexical Aids to the New Testament, compiled and edited by Spiros Zodhiates, Th.D., The Greek word aionas is derived from:


165. Aion; age, refers to an age or time in contr. to kosmos (2889), referring to people or space. Derived from aei (104), always, and on, being. Denotes duration or continuance of time, but with great variety. (1) Both in the sing. or pl. it signifies eternity whether past or to come (Mt. 6:13; Mk. 3:29; Lk. 1:55; Jn. 4:14; 6:51; Acts 15:18; Eph. 3:11, etc.); for ages, of ages (Rev. 1:6,18; 5:14; 10:6; 14:11; 15:7; 20:10). (2) The duration of this world (Mt. 28:20; Jn. 9:32; Acts 3:21); since the beginning of the world (Mt. 13:39, etc.). (3) Pl. hoi aiones, the ages of the world (1 Cor. 2:7; Eph. 3:9; Col. 1:26). (4) Ho aion houtos, this age, generation (Lk. 16:8; 20:34, cf. Mt. 13:22; 1 Cor. 1:20; 2:6; Gal. 1:4; Eph. 2:2; 1 Tim. 6:17; 11 Tim. 4:10; Tit. 2:12). (5) Ho aion ho erchomenos, the age, the coming one, meaning the next life (Mk. 10:30; Lk. 18:30, cf. Lk. 20:35) (6) An age or dispensation of providence (Mt. 24:3, cf. Mt. 12:32; 1 Cor. 10:11; Heb. 1:2; 6:5; 9:26). (7) Aiones, ages, in Heb. 11:3 refers to the great occurrences which took place in the universe. Aion primarily has physical meaning (time) but also ethical. Signifies time, short or long in its unbroken duration, all of which exists in the world under conditions of time, ethically, the cause and current of this world's affairs. It has acquired, like kosmos (2889), an unfavorable meaning (Lk. 16:8; 20:34; Eph. 2:2; Gal. 1:4). (New American Standard Bible Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible [AMG Publishers; Chattanooga, TN 1990], p. 1801)


Strong's gives the following definitions:


Number: 165

ahee-ohn' Noun Masculine


1.for ever, an unbroken age, perpetuity of time, eternity
2.the worlds, universe
3.period of time, age

NAS Word Usage - Total: 95

age 20, ages 6, ancient time 1, beginning of time 1, course 1, eternal 2, eternity 1, ever* 2, forever 27, forever and ever 20, forevermore 2, long ago 1, never* 1, old 1, time 1, world 7, worlds 1


Hence, a plausible interpretation of Hebrews 1:3 is that God created both the universe along with time through the agency of his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.  The NT provides additional evidence for this understanding:


“Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ for the faith of God's elect and the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness - a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time (pro chronon aionion), and at his appointed season he brought his word to light through the preaching entrusted to me by the command of God our Savior,” Titus 1:1-3 NIV


According to Titus 1:1-3 God had promised before the beginning of time that the elect would receive eternal life. This affirms that time was created. It also implies that there was more than one person existing in eternity. The making of a promise points to a subject and an object. There had to have been an object to God’s promise that the elect would be given eternal life. Paul identifies the object of God’s promise:


“who has saved us and called us to a holy life - not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time (pro chronon aionion), but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” 2 Timothy 1:9-10 NIV


Grimm-Thayer’s Greek Lexicon states:


“… without beginning: chronois aioniois, Rom. xvi 25; pros chronon aionion, 2 Tim. i. 9; Tit. i. 2…”  


The fact that Christ appeared to usher in God’s eternal promise of eternal life and immortality implies his preexistence. The fact that God’s eternal promise also demands an object to receive such a promise implies that the Lord Jesus preceded time and is therefore eternal.


John 1:3 also affirms that there is absolutely nothing that did not come into existence without the agency of Christ. This clearly refutes the JW attempt of positing the Lord Jesus within the category of creation. John explicitly places Jesus in the category of Creator. 


In contrast to this, John uses the term egeneto in relation to the Word becoming flesh. This term is an aorist tense implying a point of origin. Thus, whereas the Word was always in existence he was not always flesh, but became man at a specific point in time.


That John’s whole point is to affirm Jesus’ eternal pre-existence is clearly seen in his first epistle:


“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched- this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us.” 1 Jn. 1:1-2 NIV


Hence, in the apostle’s mind Jesus was not a lesser god created by Jehovah but the eternal God, sharing the same divine essence equally with the Father with whom he was. (Cf. John 1:14, 18)


A further illustration of the eternality of Christ Jesus is derived from the following:


“For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him and to whom Abraham apportioned a tenth from all things, is first of all, by translation, “King of Righteousness,” and is then also king of Salem, that is “King of Peace.”  In being fatherless, motherless, without genealogy, having neither a beginning of days nor end of life, but having been made like (Gr.- aphomoiomenos) like the Son of God, he remains a priest perpetually.”  Hebrews 7:1-3 NWT


The author of Hebrews builds upon the mysterious qualities of Melchizedek and ties it in with Christ. (Cf. Genesis 14:17-20)  Melchizedek is pictured as an eternal figure having no recorded birth, death or human descent. 


These points have been deliberately omitted in order that Melchizedek would be made an Old Testament type of Christ.  The Greek term aphomoiomenes comes from aphomoioo.  According to the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament,


Aphomoioo.  This verb means “to copy”, rarely “to compare,” and in the passive “to be or become like” or “make oneself out to be like.”  The only NT instance is in Heb. 7:3, which says that Melchizedek “is like” the Son of God.  The point may be that the Son of God is the prototype, or that the OT text is taken to be a Messianic prophecy, i.e., a sign that points forward to Christ. (Gerhard Kittel & Gerhard Friedrich ed., Abridged in one volume by George W. Bromley [Grand Rapids, Mi., Eerdmans, 1985], p. 684 emphasis ours)


Melchizedek typifies Jesus in that he is made to resemble the eternal aspect of Christ’s being, a mere shadow of the One who was to come.  Jesus is the reality of what was only typified in Melchizedek.  The point that Hebrews is establishing is that Jesus is an eternal being, having no beginning and ending, and continues on as an eternal priest.


The NIV Study Bible, compiled by the world’s leading biblical scholars, notes:


“... contrary to the practice elsewhere in the early chapters of Genesis, does not mention Melchizedek’s parentage and children, or his birth and death.  That he was a real, historical figure is clear, but the author of Hebrews (in accordance with Jewish interpretation) uses the silence of Scripture about Melchizedek’s genealogy to portray him as a prefiguration of Christ.  Melchizedek’s priesthood antiquates Christ’s eternal existence and his unending priesthood...  


W.E. Vine indicates,          


“He was made ‘like unto the Son of God,’ and the similarity lay in this, that he had ‘neither beginning of days nor end of life.’  Accordingly it was as the Son of God that Christ was without beginning of days.  His Sonship was therefore unoriginated and eternal.” (Vine, The Divine Sonship of Christ [rp. Minneapolis; Klock & Klock, 1984], pt. 2, pp. 16-17 emphasis ours)


George W. Zeller & Ronald Showers conclude:


“The strong testimony that this verse presents for the eternal Sonship of Christ must not be missed.  The blessed Spirit of God guided the pen of Moses in such a way that the biography of Melchizedek says nothing about his parents or his birth or his age or his death.  These deliberate omissions were for the purpose of presenting Melchizedek as a type of the Son of God... As the ‘Son of God’ He was without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life.’  (Zeller & Showers, The Eternal Sonship of Christ - A Timely Defense of this Vital Doctrine [Loizeux Brothers, Inc.; 1993 by George Zeller], p. 48 emphasis ours)


The final witness to the eternal nature of Christ includes:


“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners--of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.” 1 Timothy 1:15-17 NIV


The only referent within the context is the Lord Jesus Christ. The passage not only claims that Christ is both eternal and immortal but also calls the Lord Jesus the only God. Interestingly, the JW book Aid to Bible Understanding actually applies 1 Timothy 6:15-16 to the Lord Jesus:




Jehovah is the “happy God” and his Son Jesus Christ is called “the happy and only Potentate” (1 Tim. 1:11; 6:15)… (Ibid., p. 711)


Let us look at the manner in which the NWT renders 1 Timothy 6:15, also including vv. 13, 14 and 16 for the context:


“In the sight of God who preserves all things alive, and of Christ Jesus, who as a witness made the fine public declaration before Pontius Pilate, I give you orders that you observe the commandment in a spotless and irreprehensible way until the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ. This [manifestation] the happy and only Potentate will show in its own appointed times, [he] the King of those who rule as kings and Lord of those who rule as lords, the one ALONE having immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom not one of men has seen or can see. To him be the honor and might everlasting. Amen.”


According to the Watchtower, it is the Lord Jesus who alone possesses immortality, who exists as the only Potentate or Ruler, being sovereign over all authorities and who also dwells in unapproachable light that no one can ever see. Either the JW must now deny the absolute sovereignty and immortality of the Father since it is Jesus alone who is sovereign and immortal. Or the JW must come to conclusion that the one true, eternal, immortal, invisible and supreme God of all creation exists in more than one person.


In light of the clear biblical witness to the eternal person of Christ the JW assertion that Jesus is the first of God’s creation cannot be sustained.





“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1


“You alone are Jehovah. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.” Nehemiah 9:6


“This is what Jehovah says- your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb: I am Jehovah, who has made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself.” Is. 44:24



Through him all things were made. And without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men.” Johnn 1:3-4 NIV 


“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created, things in heaven and on the earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and FOR him. He is BEFORE all things, and in him all things consist.” Colossians 1:15-16 NIV   


“... but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of the Father and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.” Hebrews 1:2-3 NIV


“Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything.” Hebrews 3:3-4 NIV


The Old Testament clearly indicates Jehovah alone created all things, and yet in the New Testament it is Jesus who created all things for himself. This logically makes Jesus Jehovah God.  Consider the following syllogism:


A. Jehovah alone created all things

B. Jesus created all things

C. Therefore, Jesus is Jehovah


Troubled by this fact, JWs attempt to weaken the validity of this conclusion by offering two primary responses. The first argument presented is the presumption that the term “firstborn” in Col. 1:15 actually means that Jesus is the first creation of Jehovah through whom he created everything else. This is why the JWs insert the word other in their translation, giving the impression that Jesus created “all (other) things.”


This interpretation cannot be sustained for the following reasons. Firstly, Jesus is said to be “before all things”, with all things being understood as all of creation. This becomes apparent when we realize that “all things” are categorized as all of that which Jesus created. If Jesus existed before all of creation, then by necessity he must be the eternal God since only God was in existence before anything ever came into being. Secondly, in relation to “firstborn,” the term in and of itself need not imply the first one created. Scripture also uses it to show preeminence and exalted status.


For example in Psalm 89:27 David is called God’s firstborn, being “the most exalted of the kings of the earth.” This in spite of the fact that David was the youngest of Jesse’s eight sons. Jeremiah 31:9 calls Ephraim the firstborn son of God when in reality Ephraim was Joseph’s second child, with Manasseh being the firstborn. (Cf. Genesis 47:14, 17-18)


Furthermore, in light of its Old Testament background, the firstborn received a double portion and was the heir of the estate. (Cf. Deuteronomy 21:15-17) Hence, Jesus is called the firstborn in relation to creation due primarily to his being the heir of all things belonging to the Father:


“… Last of all, he sent his son to them. ‘They will respect my son,’ he said. But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill and take his inheritance.’ So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.” Matthew 21:37-39 NIV


All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.” John 16:15 NIV


“All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them” John 17:10 NIV      


“But in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe.” Hebrews 1:2 NIV


Hence, Jesus is called firstborn due to the fact that he is preeminent over all things and the heir of creation. Therefore, a legitimate way of paraphrasing the thought behind the phrase “firstborn of all creation”, is to say that Jesus is “the heir of all creation.”  Colossians 1:15 has nothing to do with him being created, since the context clearly presents Jesus as the Creator and Sustainer of the universe.


The second argument relates to Isaiah 44:24's declaration that Jehovah alone created all things. Trying to establish the fact that Jesus as the created Wisdom of God in Proverbs 8:22-31 was the Agent through whom Jehovah made everything, Stafford reasons,


“Also, in Isaiah 44:24 Jehovah is revealing the absurdity of worshiping idols, as they are ‘all of them an unreality’ (Is. 44:9; see also verses 8-17), while He is the True God, the Creator, ‘who stretching out the heavens by myself, laying out the earth. Who was with me?’ (verse 24) This statement is not to be taken as contradictory to the teaching of Prov. 8:25-27: ‘Before the mountains had been shaped, before the hills, I was brought forth; before he had made the earth with its fields, or the first of the dust of the world. When he established the heavens, I was there (RSV, emphasis added) There was someone with God when He founded the earth, but not an idol god of the nations. Isaiah 44:24 does not in any way conflict with the biblical teaching that God’s ‘Wisdom,’ His Son, was with Him when He ‘stretched out the heavens.’ Why, even the angels were present at that time and ‘shouted in applause’! (Job 38:7) Jehovah alone created all things through the agency of the Logos, His ‘master worker.’” (Stafford, J.W.D., p. 172; bold emphasis ours)


Stafford is well aware that to say Jesus created the universe would contradict the clear statement of Isaiah that it was Jehovah by himself who made the heavens and earth; otherwise Stafford would be forced to admit that Jesus is Jehovah.


To avoid this, Stafford must argue that the verse is not denying that some other being was there to assist Jehovah in creation, but that no idols were there. Therefore, he must interpret the passage as saying that in relation to idols Jehovah was alone.


Unfortunately for Stafford, his reasoning cannot be sustained in light of Job 9:8-9:


“... who alone stretches out the heavens, and tramples down the waves of the sea; who makes the Bear, Orion, and Pleiades, and the chambers of the south... “ NASB


Job echoes Isaiah without the context of idols, reaffirming that it is Jehovah alone who stretches out the heavens. Hence, we are still left with the fact that if Jehovah alone stretches out the universe, and yet creation is attributed to Jesus, Jesus must therefore be Jehovah. This also implies that Proverbs 8:22-31 cannot be referring to Jesus as God’s created Wisdom, as Stafford wrongly assumes, since Jesus is described as the eternal Creator.


In fact, Stafford personally and indirectly affirms that Jesus is the Creator God:


“God was addressing the Word when He said: ‘Let Us make in Our image.’ (Genesis 1:1, 26)” (J.W.D, p.165)


What Stafford does not tell his readers is that in light of the verse which immediately follows and Malachi 2:10, this proves that Jesus is Jehovah:


“So Go created man in HIS OWN IMAGE, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27 NIV


The plural pronouns “us” and “our” are equated with the image of the one God. This affirms that the Godhead which created man is multi-personal. If Jesus is not the true God, it could not be said that man was made in God’s personal image and likeness. Instead, man would have been made in the image of Jehovah and his junior partner, the archangel Michael (a.k.a. Jesus).


“Have we not all one Father? Did not ONE GOD create us?...” Malachi 2:10 NIV


The fact that one God created man reaffirms that the Father and His Word, through whom he made man, are both the one true God Jehovah. Jesus cannot be a lesser god created to be Jehovah’s agent in creation.


Stafford also assumes, albeit erroneously, that the Bible teaches that the angels were existing before God created the heavens and the earth. (see above)  He sites Job 38:7 as proof:


“When the morning stars sang together, and the sons of God shouted for joy?” NASB


This he hopes will serve as further evidence that Isaiah had idols in mind, as opposed to Isaiah denying the existence of other beings alongside Jehovah during the creation of the universe.


Far from proving his point, the passage serves to discredit it. When read in context the verse is speaking of God fashioning the earth. No mention is made of God creating the heavens and the earth:


“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding, who set its measurements, since you know? Or who stretched the line on it? Or what were its bases sunk? Or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” Job 38:4-7 NASB


This interpretation is consistent with the Genesis account of creation. There we read that after God had created the heavens and the earth, he then turned to the earth in its pre-biotic state and began fashioning it for man to inhabit. (Cf. Genesis 1:1-3)


Presumably, the term “heavens” in Genesis would include both the physical and spiritual realms, not just to the physical universe. Hence, it is quite possible that the angels were brought into existence along with both the heavens and the earth in its pre-biotic state. From there, they witnessed the Triune God fashioning the earth for the crown of his creation, man.


Furthermore, Trinitarians do not deny the possibility of angels existing during the formation of the universe. The Trinitarian point is that Scripture ascribes creation to Jehovah alone, not that Jehovah was by himself when he alone created the universe.


In concluding this section, we must reiterate the point that the New Testament ascribes to Jesus the divine prerogative of the creation of ALL things, an ascription that equates him with Jehovah God.  


We now proceed into an examination of biblical titles given to Jehovah which are also applied to Jesus.


Part Two of Biblical Monotheism Examined: Trinitarian or Henotheistic in Nature?

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