Part 12 Answering objections: John 17:3 and John 20:17

I will continue to examine some of the Biblical passages Jehovah’s Witnesses use to refute the Trinity.

  • John 17:3 In a prayer to God (the Father), Jesus said, “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”

PROBLEM:  Jehovah’s Witnesses say this shows that Jehovah is the one true God and Jesus is not; he is a lesser god.

SOLUTION:  Nothing in this passage says that Jesus is not God or that He is a lesser god; they read that into the passage.  The majority of the time when we see the word “God” [theos in the Greek] it is referring to the Father.  The passage connects eternal life with knowing the Father and the Son.  The focus here is equality of the two persons of the Triune God.  Plus, if there is only one true God then all other gods must be false.  We read in Galatians 4:8 However at that time, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods.”  Paul was writing to the believers and reminding them they used to be servants of false gods.  How do we know they were false gods?  They didn’t have the divine nature.  Only the one God has a divine nature and they didn’t know Him.  If Jehovah’s Witnesses are right about the Father being the one true God then John 17:3 implies all other gods have to be false.  Therefore, Jesus is a false god.  A Jehovah’s Witness will not agree with this statement. However, if they contend there is only one true God and Jesus is a lesser god, then the conclusion follows logically.  The Trinity solves this problem because Jesus is distinct from the Father subsisting as the 2nd person of the one true God.

  • John 20:17 Jesus speaking to Mary Magdalene:   Jesus said to her, “Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren, and say to them, ‘I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.' ”

 PROBLEM:  Jehovah’s Witnesses sayJesus cannot be Jehovah because he calls the Father “my God.”  They say how can the Father be Jesus’ God and He still be God?

 SOLUTION:  In context the word “God” here in 20:17 is referring to the Father.  John focuses on the human aspect of Jesus’ identity.  In His humanity Jesus was identifying himself with his “brothers” (Disciples).  Jesus as God does not have brothers.  Notice he uses the words “My Father and My God.”  He taught others to say “Our Father” (Matt. 6:9-13) instead of “my Father.”  By using these words Jesus was saying He was equal to the Father.  How do we know this?  In John5:17-18 Jesus says, But He answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.” 18 For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.” Jesus calling God “My Father” was a way to proclaim equality with God and the Jews knew this and wanted him dead.  In Jewish law it was blasphemy to say you are equal with God.  So in John 20:17 Jesus claimed to be equal with the Father.

One of the problems is the Jehovah’s Witnesses have is they assume God could not enter into human form.  If the 2nd person of the Trinity enters into human flesh, how would such a divine person act?  Would He be an atheist?  Would He refuse to acknowledge those divine persons who had not entered into human existence?  Of course not!  Yet when we see the Lord Jesus doing exactly what we would expect, worshipping God the Father and saying a phrase like “my Father and my God,” the Jehovah’s Witnesses cry foul and say Jesus is a lesser god.  They lack the understanding of how Jesus can be fully God and fully man.[1] This is why they struggle with John 20:17.

Go to part 13 here

[1] White, James, “The Forgotten Trinity,” Bethany House Publ., Minnesota, 1998, pg. 71

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{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Cody June 29, 2015, 8:23 am

    You literally made no sense at all, you trying to use word play as a means to disregard the facts, trinitarians are the most blind people I’ve ever seen

  • Steve Bruecker June 29, 2015, 11:51 am

    Your reply literally made no sense. You used word play as a means to disregard any facts and only attacked me personally. If you have an intelligent argument, I’d love to hear it.


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