Questions From Readers
▪ How could Jesus be “a god” who was created by Jehovah when in Isaiah 43:10 Jehovah says: “Before me there was no God formed, and after me there continued to be none”?
It is well known that Jehovah’s Witnesses teach from the Bible that Jesus is the created Son of God and is subordinate to his Father. (John 14:28; 1 Corinthians 11:3) Still, as a powerful One who serves as God’s Spokesman, or Logos, he may well be designated “a god.” A number of Bible versions render John 1:1 as saying that the Logos was “a god.” For example, Das Evangelium nach Johannes (1979) by Jürgen Becker reads: “ . . . und der Logos war bei dem Gott, und ein Gott war der Logos.” (English translation: “ . . . and the Logos was with the God, and a god the Logos was.”)*
As the questioner indicates, though, this might seem to conflict with Isaiah 43:10, 11, which says: “‘You are my witnesses,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘even my servant whom I have chosen, in order that you may know and have faith in me, and that you may understand that I am the same One. Before me there was no God formed, and after me there continued to be none. I—I am Jehovah, and besides me there is no savior.’”
A sincere Bible student is helped by noting carefully the context of those words. The Almighty God Jehovah was contrasting himself with the man-made idols in nations surrounding Israel. Jehovah asks: “To whom can you people liken God, and what likeness can you put alongside him?” Certainly not an image made by a metalworker or carved from a tree. (Isaiah 40:18-20; 41:7) Such “gods” could not ‘stretch out the heavens like a gauze,’ as Jehovah did. (Isaiah 40:21-26) Further, Jehovah is able to predict the future; surely the idols of the nations cannot ‘tell the things that are to come afterward, that we may know that they are gods.’ (Isaiah 41:23) This thought is repeated at Isaiah 43:9, where Jehovah states: “Let national groups be gathered together. Who is there among them that can tell this? Or can they cause us to hear even the first things? Let them furnish their witnesses.” Rightly, the Almighty says: “I am Jehovah. That is my name; and to no one else shall I give my own glory, neither my praise to graven images.”—Isaiah 42:8.
So the context establishes that the Almighty is hurling a challenge at the so-called gods of the nations. Being mere idols with no divine power, they certainly are not gods to be worshiped; they are really nothings. Jehovah continues: “Does there exist a God besides me? No, there is no Rock. I have recognized none. The formers of the carved image are all of them an unreality, and their darlings [cast from metal or carved from wood] will be of no benefit.” (Isaiah 44:8-17) Consequently, the context of Isaiah 43:10 makes it clear that Jesus is not being considered; the “gods” under consideration are the impotent idols of the nations.
The word “God” or “god” is commonly used regarding a superhuman object of veneration. Thus, in the minds of many people, “god” means either (1) the Supreme Being, the Almighty, or (2) a false god, such as an idol. However, the Bible allows for other usage. We can see this from Psalm 82:1, 2. There the Divine One (Jehovah God) is distinguished from human judges whom the psalmist terms “gods.” Jesus himself later referred to this passage. Because he had spoken of Jehovah God as being his Father, some Jews wanted to stone him. To their accusation that he was ‘making himself a god,’ Jesus responded: “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said: “You are gods”’? If he called [those human judges] ‘gods’ . . . do you say to me whom the Father sanctified and dispatched into the world, ‘You blaspheme,’ because I said, I am God’s Son?”—John 10:31-36.
Unquestionably there is only one Almighty God, even as the apostle Paul wrote: “For even though there are those who are called ‘gods,’ whether in heaven or on earth, just as there are many ‘gods’ and many ‘lords,’ there is actually to us one God the Father, out of whom all things are, . . . and there is one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things are, and we through him.” (1 Corinthians 8:5, 6) The Lord Jesus Christ is no false god, no demon god, no mere idol. He ‘is the reflection of Jehovah God’s glory.’ (Hebrews 1:3) Thus it is fitting for John 1:1 to acknowledge Jesus as “a god,” or “godlike” (Johannes Schneider).
“The title ho theos [the God, or God], which now designates the Father as a personal reality, is not applied in the N[ew] T[estament] to Jesus Himself; Jesus is the Son of God (of ho theos). . . . Jn 1:1 should rigorously be translated ‘the word was with the God [=the Father], and the word was a divine being.’”—Dictionary of the Bible (1965), by John L. McKenzie, S.J.