What are Jehovah’s Witnesses Taught About Jesus?


Ankerberg: Our guests are the former Jehovah’s Witnesses that we have done a series with before, Mr. and Mrs. Bill Cetnar. Bill and Joan were part of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Brooklyn. Bill answered the questions for the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Watchtower organization for quite a few years, and answered all the questions south of the Mason-Dixon Line all the way to Texas. You were on the radio for them. You wrote things, you taught, you trained people and then you left and we are going to find out some of the reasons why and how we can witness ourselves to another Jehovah’s Witness that might come to our door. Also we have Dr. Robert Countess who has written a book on the Watchtower translation of the New Testament, the New World Translation. And Bob has his Ph.D. in Greek. Bob, we are glad that you are with us tonight.
Let’s jump right to it. Bill, what were you taught as a Jehovah’s Witness about, first of all, God?
Bill Cetnar: Jehovah’s Witnesses have ten doctrines that are very, very interesting. And the reason they are interesting is because a demon mentioned the same doctrines to a spirit medium.
Ankerberg: Most Jehovah’s Witnesses tuning in would say, “Come on now, a demon?” Where do you find that?
Bill Cetnar: If you will take your Make Sure of All Things, which they have rewritten three times. They can’t get it to come sure.
Ankerberg: What is that, for these that do not know?
Bill Cetnar: It is the official publication of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and they all carry it in either their hip pocket or in their purse. And all the doctrines the Jehovah’s Witnesses believe are in here. And this publication is identical to a book that was printed by a spirit medium. Johannes Greber. Jehovah’s Witnesses quote Johannes Greber and the ten doctrines are identical.
Ankerberg: What are some of those doctrines?
Bill Cetnar: The apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 4 said that the Holy Spirit expressly says that in the last days there are going to be doctrines of demons issued out or promulgated by hypocritical liars. Now, the ten doctrines the Jehovah’s Witnesses teach:
l. Jesus is not God.
2. Jehovah alone is God the Father.
3. Jesus Christ is a created being.
4. Michael is a god.
5. Christ’s body was not resurrected.
6. The body of Jesus was dematerialized.
7. There is no eternal hell.
8. Higher powers of Romans 13 are not the earthly government.
9. The Bible is not inspired or dependable.
10. The Christian church today is not preaching the Gospel.
Now I read those from the doctrines of demons. Now, here’s what Jehovah’s Witnesses say in the book Make Sure of All Things.
1. Jesus Christ is not God.
2. Jehovah alone is God the Father.
3. Jesus Christ is a created being.
4. Michael is a god.
5. Christ’s body was not resurrected.
6. The body of Jesus was dematerialized.
7. There is not eternal hell.
8. Higher powers of Romans 13 are not earthly government.
9. The Bible is not inspired – and that’s right in the front of their “green phantom” [New World Translation – so called because of its green cover, and because the translators were anonymous] or their “purple people eater.” [Kingdom Interlinear Bible – referring to the purple cover, and the mistranslations that led its readers away from the Truth]
10. And then they say that the Christian church today is not preaching the Gospel. In fact, in the year 1918 God destroys all the churches wholesale (He hasn’t even destroyed them retail), and church members by the millions, it shall be then that the people will turn to Charles T. Russell and worship at his feet.
Ankerberg: Alright, if you were a Jehovah’s Witness before, why did you believe that Jesus Christ was not God?
Bill Cetnar: There is an interesting Scripture in John 14:28. There Jesus says to the disciples that He must leave. He is going to leave and they should be happy about this, because He is going to the Father who is greater than He. Now, it doesn’t seem very difficult. You didn’t need years in a seminary to understand that. That seems so clear that the Trinity must be wrong because Jesus said His Father is greater than He. Then how could they be equal as all the churches teach? Therefore, if God is equal, then this Scripture is wrong, and I would rather go with this Scripture than I would with the doctrine that some men put together. That Scripture was really stuck in wherever you get stuck.
Ankerberg: Okay, so if a Jehovah’s Witness comes by our way and they give us exactly what you say, what have you learned that changed your mind?
Bill Cetnar: Well, there is another Scripture that says, “I will be with you always.” [Matt. 28:20] Now, how can He leave and be with you always? In other words, what I didnt realize was that in Isaiah 9:6, “Unto us [that’s flesh] a child is born and the Son is given.” So there’s two parts now to Jesus. Jesus is who? He is Son of Man and Son of God. He is the Christ who is the man Christ and the Son of God. Now the physical body is going to leave. The Son of Man is going to leave, but He is always going to be with them. How? As he is the Son of God, in the spirit, which is equal to the Father.
Now we have proof of that because in Philippians 2 the apostle Paul tells us that Jesus lowered Himself, or He emptied Himself from His high position, [Phil. 2:7] to become what? Lower than angels. In Hebrews 2 he says, “For a little while” He’s going to become a little lower than the angels. [Heb. 2:7] So I am glad he said “a little lower.” He didn’t want to hurt our feelings I think, because we are little lower than angels, not a lot lower, but Jesus said that He was going to become human. And that’s why He had no earthly father. And now when He is going to leave, He’s going to leave bodily. He’s going to leave in the flesh. That part of Him is not equal to the Father, the man part is not equal to the Father. But the Son of God is equal.
Ankerberg: Okay.
Bill Cetnar: That’s why He said, “My Father and I are one.” [John 10:30]
Joan Cetnar: That helps to answer a lot of the Scriptures that they use to try to prove that Jesus is less than God; that He prayed to His Father and to His God.
Ankerberg: Right. Lots of Jehovah’s Witnesses have written in and said, “Well, how could He if He is God, actually pray to Himself? Because on the cross He prayed to the Father.”
Bill Cetnar: As the Son of man praying to the Father.
Joan Cetnar: Right.
Ankerberg: Okay.
Joan Cetnar: They are talking about His humanity in all of those cases. Another one is where He said, “Nobody knows, not even the Son,” when He is coming back. [Mark 13:32] Well, as the Son of Man, as the Christ in His humanity He did not know.
Ankerberg: Well, that’s exactly where the fight is. They would say that’s what we have got to debate. That might be an explanation for that verse, but to say that He is just as much God as His Father, just as much a man as you or I in one person, now we have got to figure that out. Where did you get that from?
Joan Cetnar: Well, that’s where the “only begotten” comes in. That is His origin because He is of that nature. God is His nature. They say God is a title. God is not a title, it is His nature.
Ankerberg: Okay, let’s go back to what you would say as a Jehovah’s Witness concerning John 1? What did you use to tell people when you used to go door to door and on the radio and then what’s come to change your mind about John 1:1?
Bill Cetnar: John 1:1 is the number one text that God gives us as Christians to know who He really is. He says, “In the beginning,” whenever that was, which is a long time ago, He already was. And He was with God and He was God. Now, all of their presidents have had a real difficult time with John 1:1, so what they did was they went to this Diaglott which was printed by a do-it-yourselfer, who was a Christadelphian and did not believe that Jesus was God, and inserted an “a”. Now Jehovah’s Witnesses printed a Bible because the Diaglott didn’t get it right. He had an “a” in the Greek and he took it out in his translation so it wasn’t good enough for Jehovah’s Witnesses, but for Mr. Franz. So Mr. Franz rewrote the Bible himself; and then he forgot to put it in the Greek and he stuck it in the New World Translation. So they are both deficient. They can’t even mistranslate right. But in any case they were deluding us by saying that they are Greek scholars and they are not. They create Greek tenses that even the Greeks don’t know about.
Ankerberg: Such as.
Bill Cetnar: In John 8:58 they say that the “I Am” should be “I have been,” and that’s according to the perfect indefinite tense.
Ankerberg: Which there is none?
Bill Cetnar: No Greek has ever heard of one. They have been trying to find that perfect indefinite tense ever since. But we were told that we have Greek scholars. In fact, Mr. Freddie Franz said that he was a Rhodes scholar and that he sat for an examination to become a Rhodes scholar. Did anybody ever hear of anybody sitting for an exam to become a Rhodes scholar? And he also thought he could go with a Rhodes scholarship to Cambridge. Now that really created suspicion in my mind so I wrote to the Rhodes Scholarship Trust and they said they never heard of Freddie Franz. But most Jehovah’s Witnesses think they have scholars and that Freddie Franz is a Rhodes scholar. He is a liar.
Ankerberg: You knew the men on the New World Translation committee because you worked there.
Bill Cetnar: I knew the first, last and middle name.
Ankerberg: Tell us, where they Greek scholars?
Bill Cetnar: Not one of them graduated from any college.
Ankerberg: Can you name them?
Bill Cetnar: Yes, Mr. Knorr was the president of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mr. Franz, the real translator, Mr. Henschel, Mr. Gangas and Mr. Schroeder. Not one of these men graduated from any college and none of them know Greek at all. That’s why I am so happy for our distinguished doctor who has studied Greek, who has spent his life learning the language that Jesus spoke and took the time to help us, Jehovah’s Witnesses, to really see what it is in the Greek and to destroy that perversion, that “green phantom,” that rewriting of God’s Word.
Ankerberg: Alright, Dr. Countess, we are going to ask you for a comment on John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was….” what? One of the things that the Jehovah’s Witnesses will say is, “Listen, the Greek says you ought to translate John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was a god,” not God.” Dr. Countess, what would you say about that translation?
Dr. Countess: If I may offer a little background, I’d say when a person makes a dogmatic assertion about the original language in the New Testament that any of us has the right to ask that person to tell us about his or her background of study in it. I have found that Jehovah’s Witnesses over the years know enough Greek to be dangerous but not enough to be knowledgeable. I think most of you in the audience on TV or here tonight have a pastor who probably in college or seminary has studied enough Greek to deal with the problems that are raised, and you should encourage your pastor to continue.
Ankerberg: But for we who don’t know that much Greek, what would be some tip-offs that you could give to us that shows that we shouldn’t believe what they say?
Countess: In my book I devote a whole chapter to the matter of John 1:1. And the New World Translation basically goes like this in the edition I used, their 1951 edition: “and the Word was with God and the Word was a god.” Now, what I did tonight is to make a little chart. Right up here I had the last part of the verse “Kai theos en ho logos,” John 1:1: “And God was the Word.” New World Translation assumed that because the word “god”, theos, does not have a little Greek particle in front of it, which we call an article like “the” in English, they assumed that because that was not there like in front of the word logos, the word, they assumed that this word theos must mean a god. Of course, the reason they assumed it was because their theology mandated that assumption.
Ankerberg: Before they opened the book they were going to find that no matter what.
Countess: Right. They did not approach the Greek New Testament saying, “Let’s see what John believed and then we’ll decide what we believe.” They approached John’s text saying, “Jesus is a God. Now we are going to show people that John actually said that.” I went on the show this that the word theos for God in the New Testament in all its various forms and in Greek we have 24 uses of the article, masculine, feminine, neuter, throughout five cases, and singular and plural number. In all forms we have 1,305 times plus or minus 1, 2, or 3. 1,023 of these times we find theos with the article, 282 times without the article, for a total of 1.305. Therefore, New World Translation should have 282 times, a god, in their translation. Right?
Ankerberg: Okay. That would be logical.
Countess: Wrong! What we find out in practice is that the New World Translation, in fact, uses “a god” only 16 out of the 282 times. Now, we take our computers and we say that they are only 6% consistent or 94% dishonest in their approach.
Ankerberg: In other words, wherever it grabs them, wherever they need it to fit their theology, they make up the rules.
Countess: Right.
Bill Cetnar: This is not just one scholar. Dr. Julius Mantey, president of international Greek research, said this about John 1:1, “A grossly misleading translation. It is neither scholarly nor reasonable to translate John 1:1 ‘the word was a god.’” But of all the scholars in the world, so far as we know, none have translated the verse as Jehovah’s Witnesses have done. Bruce Metzger of Princeton University says, “It is a frightful translation.” And that is if you do not believe that Jesus is God, you’re going to die in your sins. If you say that Jesus is a god, you just created another false god. Greek thought says that it can’t be done. Dr. Eugene Nida, he’s the head of the translation department at American Bible Society. Dr. William Barclay, Westcott. Caldwell, F.F. Bruce, all the Greek scholars except one.
Ankerberg: Who’s that one?
Bill Cetnar: That one is Johannes Greber and he got his information directly….
Ankerberg: Who’s this Johannes Greber you keep bringing up?
Bill Cetnar: Johannes Greber was a spirit medium and he translated a New Testament that Jehovah’s Witnesses quote in Make Sure of All Things and in Aid to Bible Understanding.
Ankerberg: So this is their scholar that they quote.
Bill Cetnar: “In the beginning was the Word.” But why was he misquoted? That’s what I want to know. There is only one translation that agrees with Jehovah’s Witnesses and that is the translation via a spirit medium with words from a demon.
Ankerberg: What do Jehovah’s Witnesses say when you point out Johannes Greber right in the introduction of his text, his translation, said that he got his information from spirits?
Bill Cetnar: Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t know who Johannes Greber is, and when you write to the Watchtower they won’t tell you. In fact, I wrote to them under a pseudonym and they sent me a letter and they said that they have no idea where we could get a copy of the Johannes Greber Bible. They sent me to an address, 88 N. 4th Avenue in New York. Now, the building there was torn down 40 years ago. They were pretty sure that I couldn’t get a translation there. I happened to find Johannes Greber Memorial Foundation. It’s 139 Hillside Avenue. Every Jehovah’s Witness ought to write to them or to me and you can get a copy. In Teaneck, New Jersey, and there I spotted a letter from the people who do not know where Johannes Greber is. Here’s the letter from the Watchtower to Johannes Greber and they are ordering four copies of the Johannes Greber translation.
Ankerberg: And that’s in your book Questions for Jehovah’s Witnesses who Love the Truth. You’ve got it all documented.
Bill Cetnar: And you can go to the Watchtower in 1956, February 15, 1956, and there they say very plainly, “The spirits which ex-priest Greber believes helped him in his translation.” So there you have a Watchtower that says, “Greber got help from spirit mediums” and then they quote him and he’s the only support that they have for their a god doctrine.
Ankerberg: We’ve got a question here.
Audience: In light of the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ translation of John 1:1, I would like to know if they are polytheists.
Bill Cetnar: Absolutely.
Audience: Do they believe in more than one God?
Bill Cetnar: If you’re serious about translation and you have an “a god” and you have “a the God,” you’ve got to have two Gods.
Ankerberg: And yet they claim that they only believe in one God.
Joan Cetnar: That’s right.
Ankerberg: Because they would quote Deuteronomy where it says, “God is one.’’ [Deut. 6:4]
Bill Cetnar: Well, they are not serious about what they’re saying then.
Ankerberg: What do they do with Isaiah where, first of all, God says that He is the only one that’s out there; there are no other Gods that have been formed; there’s nobody else there, period? [Isa. 43:10; 44:6] What do they do with that when they come along and then say, “Well, Jesus is a god”?
Bill Cetnar: Well, they say, “There are lots of gods. There are many gods.” And they misquote 1 Corinthians 8:5-6 where there are “many gods and many lords; but to us there is one God.” To the Christian there is only one God and He is Yahweh, and that means “I am” in Hebrew. That is Jesus who says He is: the I AM.
Ankerberg:Let’s take some other material here in terms of proving that Jesus is God. Let’s start in the Old Testament. Let’s take Isaiah where the prophecy “Unto you is born and given, a son and his name shall be called wonderful counselor, the mighty God.” [Isa. 9:6] Now, they come back with an answer on that. What is that?
Bill Cetnar: Which is goofy.
Ankerberg: What is the answer that they come back with?
Bill Cetnar: Well, they say that, “It says there the mighty God” and we’re taught Yahweh or “Jehovah” (mistranslated) is the almighty God. Except they never read the Goodspeed translation, because Goodspeed says there that He is “The Almighty God and Everlasting Father”. They’ve got a real problem with that and they’ve never come up with an answer. They just read it fast or close the Bible and do not pay attention. But if they go to Jeremiah 32:18, it says that Yahweh is the mighty God. So, you’ve got two “mighty Gods,” Mr. Jehovah’s Witness and you can’t have two.
Ankerberg: Bob, about that verse, going into Matthew 1, what do we find in the Greek New Testament that goes back to that verse in Isaiah?
Countess: Matthew 1:21 where we have the announcement to Joseph, the angel says, “You shall call His name Jesus,” which is Greek for Yeshua or Joshua, and then the angel goes ahead and gives an explanation for the name Jesus, “for He Himself shall save His people from their sins.” And the Hebrew word Yeshua or Joshua means, “Yahweh saves.” And so Jesus is Greek for “Yahweh saves.” And so if Jesus is called “Yahweh saves,” then a person should be very careful to say that He is not also God.
Ankerberg: What do most Jehovah’s Witnesses say when you point that out to them?
Countess: They like to go to a different verse somewhere else.
Ankerberg: How about Philippians 2?
Countess: Philippians 2, we have what’s often called the Kenosis passage where Jesus empties Himself. And the entire passage I think is very instructive, but I’ll only touch upon part of it, particularly verse 9. Philippians 2:9, “Wherefore, also God lifted him up and freely gave to him [talking about Jesus] the name which is beyond every name.” Now, to anyone who is schooled in a Judeo-Christian background there can only be one name which is above every name: that has to be in some form or fashion or pronunciation Yahweh. So God now says here, Paul says, God gives the name above every name to Jesus. Why? In order that in connection with the name of Jesus “every knee [the idea of worship is involved here] might bend of heavenly things, earthly things and beneath earthly things, and every tongue [confession in worship] shall confess that Kurios Iesous Christos, Jesus Christ is Yahweh,” which is literally what Paul is saying. Why? “Unto the glory of God the Father.” [Phil. 2:10-11] So in some form or fashion you have what Christians call the Trinity; even though the word “Trinity” is not used, you have the concept here very clearly.
Ankerberg: Bob, Joan and Bill, we have had people that have written in and talked to me about this word “Lord.” And they say sometimes it just refers to the master of the house. How do you know that when the word Kurios is used in the New Testament that it is applied to Jehovah God in the Old Testament Yahweh, how can you tell?
Joan Cetnar: That’s their rule. They made this rule in their Kingdom Interlinear.
Ankerberg: What’s the rule?
Joan Cetnar: That when they quote the Old Testament in the New Testament and when that quote is made and the name “Jehovah” is used, that it can be used then in the New Testament.
Ankerberg: Okay.
Joan Cetnar: Except where it says “Jesus is Jehovah.” And that one place is 1 Peter 3:15.
Ankerberg: Read it for us would you? Here we have a quote going right back to the Old Testament and the Old Testament quote uses Yahweh’s name, Jehovah’s name, and you have the exact quote in 1 Peter and there the word Kurios is used, but it is applied to Jesus. Read it for us.
Joan Cetnar: “But sanctify the Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense.” And then in their own footnote they say, “Sanctify Jehovah God.”
Bill Cetnar: They mistranslated…
Joan Cetnar: They say it is a quote of Isaiah 8.
Bill Cetnar: Their own translation admits that Jesus is Jehovah in the footnote.
Ankerberg: In a footnote?
Bill Cetnar: In a footnote. So if a Jehovah’s Witnesses thinks that we are creating doctrine, we are just reading their mistranslation.
Joan Cetnar: Not only that, but they refer you to the “J-Documents,” and they should know what those are, J-7 and 8 where it says, “Sanctify Jehovah God who is the Messiah in your heart.”
Ankerberg: So there should be no doubt that Jesus Christ is Yahweh?
Bill Cetnar: Now they are misquoting the J-14 document. It doesn’t say Jehovah at all, because Jehovah is a false translation. What it does say in J-14:8, 9, is YHWH. It’s the tetragrammaton. Now, if Jehovah’s Witnesses would always say YHWH of the Hebrew every time that is quoted in the New Testament and would put it in every time, it would be perfect. But they can’t do it every time because it would destroy their theology. And the example is in 1 Corinthians 12:3. If you go to 1 Corinthians 12:3 it says, “No one can say Jesus is YHWH without the influence of the Holy Spirit.” There is no Jehovah’s Witness that has the Holy Spirit, and that’s why there is no Jehovah’s Witness that can say Jesus is Yahweh. And it is in J-14 and we have the Hebrew of 1 Corinthians 12:3 and it says, “No one can say Jesus is Yahweh without the Holy Spirit.”
Ankerberg: Thank you for this. Next week we are going to talk about blood transfusions. What the Jehovah’s Witnesses are saying and what the Bible has to say. Thanks for being with us this week.

About our Guests:

Bill Cetnar. For more than 25 years he was a Jehovah’s Witness. He worked in the Brooklyn headquarters of the Watchtower Society and used to answer all the questions for the Jehovah’s Witnesses in our country south of the Mason-Dixon Line.
Joan Cetnar. Wife of Bill Cetnar. She too was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness and has worked at the Watchtower Society.
Dr. Robert Countess. He is a military chaplain; has a Ph.D. in Greek; has a published work, Jehovah’s Witnesses’ New Testament.

Read Part 3


  1. […] How To Witness to a Jehovah’s Witness – Program 2 By: Dr. Bob Countess, Joan Cetnar, Bill Cetnar […]

Leave a Comment