Christians—First of All Jehovah’s Witnesses
NOT at any time since creation has Jehovah God left himself without witnesses. The very existence of the universe, immense, symmetrical, beautiful and manifesting limitless power, together with the sunshine, rain and fruitful seasons, all bear eloquent though mute witness to the existence of the Supreme Being, Jehovah God, and help us to appreciate, at least to an extent, something of his marvelous attributes or qualities. “For his invisible qualities are clearly seen from the world’s creation onward, because they are understood by the things made, even his eternal power and Godship.”—Rom. 1:20, NW.
In addition to such witnesses to his supremacy, Jehovah has ever had human creatures on earth who, by their course of action and by speech, gave witness to him as the Great Sovereign. “Let all the nations be gathered together, and let the peoples be assembled: who among them can declare this, and show us former things? Let them bring their witnesses, that they may be justified; or let them hear, and say, It is truth. Ye are my witnesses, saith Jehovah, and my servant whom I have chosen; that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am Jehovah; and besides me there is no saviour. I have declared, and I have saved, and I have showed; and there was no strange god among you: therefore ye are my witnesses, saith Jehovah, and I am God. . . . my people, my chosen, the people which I formed for myself, that they might set forth my praise.” “Thus saith Jehovah, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, Jehovah of hosts: I am the first, and I am the last; and besides me there is no God. Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have I not declared unto thee of old, and showed it? and ye are my witnesses. Is there a God besides me? yea, there is no Rock; I know not any.”—Isa. 43:9-12, 20, 21; 44:6, 8, AS.
The apostle Paul, at Hebrews 11, enumerates many of these witnesses: Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses and many others. Then, continuing at Hebrews 12:1, he speaks of them as “so great a cloud of witnesses” which surrounds the Christians. Some would interpret Paul’s words to mean that those faithful men are witnessing what Christians are doing, that they are spectators. However, this could not be, for two reasons. First, those men are still in their graves and therefore could not be watching Christians. (Dan. 12:13; John 3:13) And, secondly, had Paul meant that they were merely spectators of the Christians he would have used either the Greek word autóptes, meaning “eyewitnesses”, as at Luke 1:2; or he would have used the word epóptes, as at 2 Peter 1:16, NW, also rendered “eyewitnesses”. Instead, he used the word mártyres, which means “one who bears witness”, as he did at 1 Corinthians 15:15, where he speaks of those who bore witness to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. See also 1 Timothy 5:19; 6:12; Revelation 11:3.
Nor will it do to say that the references to Jehovah’s witnesses in Isaiah apply only to those pre-Christian servants of God. The apostle Peter quotes Isaiah 43:20, 21 and applies it to Christians, at 1 Peter 2:9 (NW): “You are ‘a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for special possession, that you should declare abroad the excellencies’ of the one that called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” Furthermore, both the apostles Paul and John quote from Isaiah 44, thus showing that it has an antitypical meaning. Compare Revelation 12:12 and Re 18:20 with Isaiah 44:23 as to redeeming Israel from Babylon; and 1 Corinthians 1:20 with Isaiah 44:25. Clearly, “all the things that were written aforetime were written for our instruction,” and “for a warning to us upon whom the accomplished ends of the systems of things have arrived”.—Rom. 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:11, NW.
CHRIST JESUS SET THE PATTERN
Those who object to the name “Jehovah’s witnesses” as applied to Christians and who argue that thereby Christ is belittled and Christianity is being ‘de-Christed’ overlook the fact that Jesus himself was a witness of Jehovah. He speaks of himself as “the Faithful Witness” and as “the Amen . . . the faithful and true witness”. And to Pilate he said: “For this purpose I have been born and for this purpose I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth.” (Rev. 1:5; 3:14; John 18:37, NW) The apostle Paul gives similar testimony: “Christ Jesus, who as a witness made the right public declaration in the audience of Pontius Pilate.” And the prophet Isaiah long ago foretold that God would give Jesus “for a witness to the peoples”.—1 Tim. 6:13, NW; Isa. 55:4, AS.
As a faithful witness of Jehovah Jesus put to the fore the name of Jehovah throughout his ministry. In the prayer he taught his followers the first petition concerns his Father’s name: “Our Father in the heavens, let your name be sanctified.” To the unbelieving Jews he said: “I have come in the name of my Father, but you do not receive me; if someone else arrived in his own name, you would receive that one.” And at the end of his ministry he prayed to his Father: “I have glorified you on the earth, having finished the work you have given me to do. I have made your name manifest to the men you gave me out of the world.”—Matt. 6:9; John 5:43; 17:4, 6, NW.
Throughout his earthly ministry Jesus exalted his Father’s name and primarily bore witness to it. He emphasized that God Jehovah alone was to be worshiped; that his Father alone was good; that he himself did nothing of his own initiative; that his Father was greater than he. And time and again he called attention to his Father’s attributes.—Matt. 4:10; 5:45; Luke 18:19; John 4:24; 5:19; 14:28.
Nor can it be argued that the name Jehovah does not appear in the Septuagint version of the Hebrew Scriptures, the one doubtless used by Jesus and his disciples, and that therefore they were not familiar with it or did not make use of it. That can be said only of the later copies of the Septuagint. One of the oldest fragments of the Septuagint extant today is Inventory 266, in which the tetragrammaton (the four Hebrew letters JHVH standing for the name Jehovah) appears repeatedly. And according to Jerome, who translated the Latin Vulgate, copies of the Septuagint available in his day contained the divine name in the form of the tetragrammaton, which was transliterated instead of being translated as was the rest of the Hebrew text.
But even if it did not appear in the “New Testament” that would be no argument against using it, since the Bible is one book, consisting of the Hebrew Scriptures, wherein the name Jehovah is found 6,823 times, and the Greek Scriptures. Further, whenever Hebrew scriptures containing the name Jehovah are quoted in the Christian Greek Scriptures, the name Jehovah should have been carried over, as was done by the New World Bible Translation Committee, and not changed as practically all other translators have done.
However, the name Jehovah does appear in all versions of the “New Testament” in that Jesus’ own name means “Jehovah is salvation” or “Jehovah the Savior”; so every time the name Jesus appears we have a reminder of the name Jehovah. Besides, in Revelation 19:1-7 (AS) the expression “Hallelujah” occurs four times, which literally means “Praise ye Jehovah” and is so rendered 23 times in the Hebrew Scriptures, such as at Psalm 104:35; 105:45; 106:1, 48, AS.
JEHOVAH COMES FIRST
In bearing witness to Jehovah Christ Jesus set the example which his apostles and disciples followed. (1 Cor. 11:1; 1 Pet. 2:21, NW) Note how Paul and Barnabas witnessed to Jehovah God when some of the pagans began to worship them: “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are human creatures having the same infirmities as you do, and are declaring the good news to you, for you to turn from these vain things to the living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all the things in them.” Paul gave a like witness to the true God to the Athenians on Mars Hill. In fact, the very purpose of God’s having the good news preached to the nations was “to take out of them a people for his name”.—Acts 14:15-17; 15:14; 17:23-31, NW.
Even though the Christian Greek Scriptures deal largely with the life of Christ Jesus, they nevertheless give God’s name first place. Thus we find 1,757 references to the Son of God, in twelve different styles, such as Jesus, Christ, Lord, Son of man, Son of God, etc.; but we find 1,854 references to his Father, Jehovah God, in the three styles, God, Lord and Father.
And though the gospel or good news is termed the good news of Christ Jesus, that does not mean that it is not also the good news of Jehovah God. It is the gospel of Christ because it is the good news about him. But it also is the good news of God because had not God sent his Son into the world in the first place, and then raised him from the dead, there would not have been any good news to preach. (John 3:16; 1 Cor. 15:15-19) So we find that the “New Testament” refers to the good news as being God’s 14 times and as being Christ’s 13 times. It is even as with the Revelation, concerning which we read: “The revelation by Jesus Christ, which God gave him.”—Rev. 1:1, NW.
The Source of all our blessings is greater than the Channel through which they come. Paul identifies both for us: “There is actually to us one God the Father, out of whom all things are, and we for him, and there is one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things are, and we through him.” And that is why we are told that while “in the name of Jesus every knee should bend of those in heaven and those on earth and those under the ground, and every tongue should openly confess that Jesus Christ is Lord”, yet all such is not to have Jesus take the place of God, but “to the glory of God the Father”. (1 Cor. 8:6; Phil. 2:10, 11, NW) Yes, the Christian’s first obligation is to bear witness to Jehovah God.