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Years ago I read the following simple but effective illustration from Greg Koukl on how to use a napkin, a pen, and a Bible verse to show a Jehovah’s Witness that Scripture teaches (even in their own translation) that Jesus must be God. Greg, who is the president of Stand to Reason and the author of one of my favorite books on reasoning with unbelievers, kindly granted permission to reprint the explanation below. I hope you find it helpful.


Understanding the Trinity may be impossible, but proving that the Trinity is scriptural is not an especially difficult task. One needs only to define the Trinity accurately, then show that the Bible teaches the details of the definition. It makes no difference whether the word “Trinity” appears in the text or not. It only matters if the doctrine is taught there.

The definition of the Trinity is straightforward: there is only one God and He subsists as three distinct persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. One God in three persons. Simple.

How to Prove the Trinity

If you want to prove the Trinity, then, all you need to do is show that three specific truths are taught in Scripture. First, there’s only one God. Second, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are truly distinct persons. Third, each has the essential attribute of deity. That’s it.

The first item–the oneness of God–is virtually uncontested by those challenging the Trinity on Scriptural grounds. Almost all who hold Scripture in high regard acknowledge the famous Shema of Deuteronomy 6:1, “”Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! ”

The second, that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are truly distinct persons, is denied by modalists like Oneness Pentecostals. They hold there is one God who manifests Himself in different “modes” at different times, sometimes as the Father and sometimes as the Son. The popular illustration of the Trinity that a man can be a father to his son yet, in other modes, a husband to his wife and a brother to his siblings is a fine illustration of this second-century heresy, and not the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity. In this view the Father and the Son are both fully God, but there is no genuine distinction between the persons, only a linguistic distinction.

The third, that the distinct persons are each fully God, is denied by Arians like Jehovah’s Witnesses. Jesus and the Father are distinct persons, they say, but do not share the essential attribute of deity. Only the Father is God. Jesus is a lesser, created “god.”

The Irrefutable Argument

My purpose is to answer the Arian challenge by giving an airtight, scriptural proof for the deity of Jesus Christ. This technique is so simple you should be able to sketch it out on a napkin from memory the next time someone knocks on your door. Remember, you don’t have to master every counter-argument to every verse thrown at you. All you need is one unequivocal textual proof to make your case. Here it is. It comes from the Gospel of John.

Most discussions of this nature focus initially on John 1:1. It says,

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

That’s the way your Bible reads.

But the Jehovah’s Witness’s New World Translation renders the verse this way:

“In the beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.”

The heated discussion that follows is almost never productive. Don’t waste your time wrestling with Greek grammar neither of you understand.

Just drop down two verses. Verse three says,

“All things came into being by Him [the Word], and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.”

The NWT is virtually the same:

“All things came into existence through him, and apart from him not even one thing came into existence.”

Have your visitor read the verse out loud. Then take out a napkin or a piece of scratch paper and draw a large box. Explaining that this box represents everything that exists. Run a line right through the middle of the box, dividing everything that exists into two categories. It will look something like this:

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On the left side write “all things that never came into being,” that is, all things that exist but have never been created.

Screen Shot 2014-12-17 at 10.21.01 PM

Ask your friend, “What goes in that box?” If he says “God” he got the right answer. God is the only thing that exists that has never been created. God alone is eternal and uncreated. Put the word “God” in the left-hand side of your box.

Screen Shot 2014-12-17 at 10.21.52 PM

Label the right side “all things that came into being,” that is, all created things.

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Write “all created things” there.

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Everything in this box was created through Jesus, according to verse three. Ask your friend if he understands that.

Now write “created through Jesus” outside the box and run an arrow to the right side. Your box should now look something like this:

Screen Shot 2014-12-17 at 10.26.58 PM

Take a moment to point out to your guest how this illustration is structured. The larger box includes everything there is, was or ever will be. Each particular existent falls into one of two categories: created or not created.

According to the law of excluded middle either a thing was created or it wasn’t created—there is no third option—so the categories are all-encompassing.

According to the law of noncontradiction a thing can’t be both created and not created, so the categories are mutually exclusive. Any particular thing has to be one or the other. It’s very simple.

Next you’re going to determine what category Jesus belongs in. Take a coin out of your pocket.


Tell your guest this coin represents Jesus Christ. Hand him the coin and ask him to place Jesus in the category where He belongs.

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The first impulse of a Jehovah’s Witness, of course, is to place Jesus in the category of “all things that came into being” because that’s what their theology dictates. In keeping with the teaching of Arius in the early fourth century, there was a time “when the Word was not.” Jesus was the first created being and everything else was created by Jehovah through Jesus.

But John 1:3 doesn’t allow that option. Look at the wording carefully. John says,

“All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being,”

or in the NWT,

“…and apart from him not even one thing came into existence” (emphasis mine).

John says the same thing two different ways for emphasis and clarity: everything that ever came into being owes its existence to Jesus, who caused it all to happen. If Jesus caused all created things to come into existence, then He must have existed before all created things came into existence. Therefore, the Word could not have been created.

In other words, if Jesus created everything that has come into being, and Jesus also came into being (as they contend), then Jesus created Himself. He would have to exist as Creator before He existed as a created thing, which is absurd. Therefore, Jesus can’t be placed in the square labeled, “all things that came into being.”

Just a side note. Much is made of the Greek word dia, translated “by” in the first phrase, but can also be translated “through.” But it makes no difference whether all things were created “by” Jesus or “through” Jesus with Jehovah as the agency (as the Witnesses suggest). The point is that in either case Jesus is existing before the creation of all things that ever came into being.So, the coin can’t be placed on the right. At this point your visitor may want to place Jesus somewhere on the paper outside the larger box. But, as we’ve seen, you can’t do that. These categories are all-encompassing and mutually exclusive; there’s no “place” outside to put Him.

Everything goes on one side of the larger box or the other.

If Jesus can’t be placed on the right side with created things, then He must go on the left with uncreated things, identifying Jesus as the uncreated Creator. Jesus is God.

Two Rejoinders

I have only come across two rejoinders to this proof for Jesus’ deity. Each is so weak it merely serves to bolster our argument.

Rejoinder #1

The first goes something like this.

“Wait a minute, Greg. You didn’t read the verse carefully. You missed something in the text. Notice the phrase ‘apart from Him.’ The apostle excludes Jesus from the count in this verse. If you said, ‘Apart from Billy, the whole family is going to Disneyland’ you wouldn’t mean that Billy wasn’t part of the family, just that he wasn’t included in the count. Every member of the family is going to Disneyland with the exception of Billy. In the same way, every created thing was created by Jesus with the exception of Jesus Himself. Jehovah created Jesus first, then Jesus created everything else.”

Note that this rebuttal turns on the ability to replace “apart from Him” with the phrase “excluding Jesus.” Allegedly they’re synonymous.

OK, let’s try the replacement and see what happens. The verse then looks like this: “With the exception of Jesus, nothing came into being that has come into being.”

If your brow is furrowed trying to figure this out, I’m not surprised. The reconstructed phrase is nearly nonsense. Strictly speaking, it means that Jesus is the only created thing that exists.

Read it again and see for yourself. Obviously, the phrase “apart from Jesus” can’t mean “with the exception of Jesus.” These phrases are not synonymous.

“Apart from Him” means something entirely different. It means “apart from His agency.” It’s the same as saying, “Apart from me you’ll never get to San Diego. I’ve got the car.” Apart from Jesus’ agency nothing came into being that has come into being. Why? Because Jesus is the Creator. He is God. That makes perfect sense in the context.

Rejoinder #2

The second attempt at refutation comes from a handful of more sophisticated Arians who know better than to lean on the bent reed of the first rejoinder. They go back to the opening phrase “In the beginning” and note that it is anarthrous, that is, it has no article in the original Greek. Since John merely writes “In beginning” he could be meaning “in a beginning.”

Jehovah created Jesus, the story goes, at some indeterminate time in the past. Then after some unspecified second beginning (“a beginning”), He created everything else through Jesus. The details of verse three apply only to what happens after this second beginning. That’s the argument.

This grasping-at-the-wind is an example of what I call “Bedtime Story.” Here the detractor tells a story to put your argument to rest, but like all mere stories there is no foundation in fact. Nothing in the details of the text itself suggests this alternate translation. In fact, even the NWT renders it accurately.

Further, it strains at a gnat and swallows a camel. A focus on the gnat in verse one misses the camel two verses later. The phrases “all things” and “nothing” in verse three admit of no time restrictions. The only alternate “facts” available are found in the wishful thinking of those whose theology demands another reading. It’s clear from the text that Jesus is God.

Parrying the Counter-Attack

Objections that Jesus is distinguished from the Father in other passages (as when He prays to the Father in John 17) merely bolster our defense of the Trinity.

Agreed, Jesus is not the Father. Jesus can talk to the Father because each is a separate person, but as Creator, Jesus shares the same divine essence as the Father. Remember our definition: there is only one God and He subsists as three distinct persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Obviously, then we’d expect to find evidence of personal interaction among each of them.

Remember, don’t let your guest play “What About?” and drag you all over the New Testament. Keep bringing the issue back to John 1:3. All other verses must be understood in light of the unmistakable fact that Jesus is the uncreated Creator.

One parting thought. This exercise also resolves the translation controversy of verse one. Is the Word fully God or merely “a god”? John’s teaching in verse three makes unmistakable the intent of his opening remark:

“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.”

And that settles it.

Yours for the truth,

Gregory Koukl
President, Stand to Reason

This technique is so simple you should be able to sketch it out on a napkin from memory the next time someone knocks on your door.

Don’t waste your time wrestling with Greek grammar neither of you understand.

If Jesus caused all created things to come into existence, then He must have existed before all created things came into existence.

Remember, don’t let your guest play “What About?” and drag you all over the New Testament. Keep bringing the issue back to the unmistakable fact that Jesus is the uncreated Creator.

View Comments


42 thoughts on “How to Use the Back of a Napkin to Prove to a Jehovah’s Witness That Jesus Is God”

  1. Sharon Ellis says:

    This is theologically sound, and quite logical, but I would be very surprised if it ever bore fruit with a JW. They don’t come into the cult because they’re interested in sound theology, or for logical reasons. They’re either brought up as a JW or enter because they have a great need to belong and to feel “safe” with an authority that will tell them exactly what to do. I have spent hours and hours talking with JWs in my living room, meeting with them week after week, and I can tell you that the minute you try to challenge one of their beliefs head-on, they get their dukes up. Their minds shut down, and I honestly don’t think they hear your well-reasoned Scriptural arguments. They just wait for you to stop talking so they can give the canned answer they’ve been taught at their Wednesday night training sessions. They actually train through mock arguments, and they LOVE them. I don’t think they’re unreachable, though. Their Kingdom Hall meetings actively discourage them from thinking, and they’re taught to regurgitate prepared answers and arguments. Therefore, I’ve found that a more productive way to detach them from Watchtower theology is to ask questions about what they’ve been taught, but not in a challenging, argumentative way (they love and thrive on arguments). Because I really care about their eternal destiny, I am friendly, curious and un-argumentative about the things they tell me. With a puzzled expression on my face I say I “just don’t quite understand. Could you explain this another way? Maybe I’m dense, but I just don’t get how…” These questions are designed to get them to THINK, which is really, really hard to do if the authority figures in your life actively discourage you from doing so. Here is an example of an exchange I had with two JWs about the resurrection. They told me they believe the resurrection occurred. I said, “Oh, great! So you believe Jesus’ body was raised from the dead?” They said, “Oh, no. We believe his body dissolved into gases.” Puzzled, I say, “Oh, then you believe his spirit died and was resurrected?” They say, “Oh, no, we don’t believe he had a spirit that died and came back to life.” Me, really ‘confused': “Gee, I don’t quite get it. What exactly died and came back to life, then?” They looked at each other and said, “That’s a good question.” One of them said, “In my 35 years of being a JW, no one has ever asked me that.” If you don’t want to try to build a relationship with them, and go through questions like this over a period of time, you could politely and sincerely ask them at your front door, “I’m really curious about one verse in particular. How do you explain John 5:24? I’d really like to know what you think.” Their own translation can’t get around this verse, which contradicts everything the Watchtower Society teaches. In it, Jesus says those who believe God: 1. already have eternal life, 2. will not come into judgment and 3. have “passed over” from death to life. I know that when questions like these are posed in a sincere, gentle manner, it gets them off-guard, and they THINK about it. I know that some JWs have heard questions like this and have pondered them for years, until they leave the cult and find life in Christ. But I really think that if you challenge them head-on, they go into combat mode and stop thinking. I think their eternal souls are worth the extra time and energy this takes.

    1. Art says:

      Great advice, Sharon. I’ve also spoken with quite a few JWs and while I agree the line of reasoning in this article proves the divinity of Christ, it’s not very practical in real-world witnessing encounter. Sometime you don’t have enough time to present this much information. You might not have a napkin.

      I agree with Sharon here that it’s important to challenge their beliefs in a way that isn’t confrontational. I will usually tell a Jehovah’s Witness that I’m a “Christian” which they nearly always respond with “So am I.” I then have the opportunity to tell them as kindly as I can that “I’m a Chrisitan, and I believe in the divinity of Christ. I believe Jesus is Jehovah.” This cuts right to the heart of the matter. They will of course disagree, at which time I ask them to look up Jeremiah 23:5-6, which says that the Father (Jehovah) calls Jesus the “Branch” (prophecy in the OT) and then I point out that verse 6 calls Jesus JEHOVAH! Their own bible calls Jesus Jehovah!

      Then I’ll ask them “What do you think the gospel is?” or something along those lines. Then I’m able to present the gospel (together with the divinity of Christ) and BOOM, they have heard the word of Christ and a seed is planted or watered. May God give the increase.

    2. Dan says:

      I agree, Sharon. Quite simply, we cannot convince anybody of anything without the help of the Holy Spirit. The World and its god do not hear, no matter how sound the logic, because they have been taken captive by the wicked one. This is a problem, I think, with modern Christianity. We truly believe we can win someone over with our argumentation. The Bible plainly tells us to avoid vain disputations and to declare Christ crucified. If they do not hear us, then we are to shake the dust off of our feet and move on. Shaking the dust off of our feet is for our benefit; it helps us not to be offended at their rejection, or take it personally. They are not rejecting us; they are rejecting God and his salvation.

      1. Sharon Ellis says:

        It’s interesting that you make that point about how we think that we are the ones who can convince them, Dan. It was a monumental “revelation” to me one day when I was sharing with them, that indeed, without realizing it, I’d had this idea in the back of my head all along! This is the point at which I really, really learned to depend on Him, knowing that it would never be my clever arguments, but the power of the Holy Spirit that would bring them to conversion. From that point on, week after week, I experienced each encounter with them as a time in which I saw spiritual warfare played out right before my eyes. I happily did my best, but in dependence on Him! Building a relationship with these lost souls and offering God’s truth and love to them was one of the most spiritually rewarding experiences I’ve ever had–exhausting, but rewarding!

    3. Cathie Lockwood says:

      Thank you for your answer! I have JW’s in my family and I too have noticed when you ask questions it’s met with humility and love is received rather than the need to combat. After all Jesus asked questions to unbelievers. Thank you again.

  2. David Moore says:

    Hey Justin,

    Thanks for posting this. Much to commend here, but I don’t think Greg’s description of “each has the essential attribute of deity.” Using attributes of deity is confusing at best and inaccurate at worst. Deity is addressing essence whereas attributes connote one particular characteristic or quality. On a related note it is why some theologians don’t like saying God is sovereign as it is like saying God is God.

    1. David Moore says:

      Slight edit:

      Thanks for posting this. Much to commend here, but I don’t think Greg’s description of “each has the essential attribute of deity” is the correct description. Using attributes of deity is confusing at best and inaccurate at worst. Deity is addressing essence whereas attributes connote one particular characteristic or quality. On a related note it is why some theologians don’t like saying God is sovereign as it is like saying God is God.

      1. Justin Taylor says:

        Yes, but God’s being is identical his “attributes” (the historic doctrine of divine simplicity), so I think it still works.

    2. Edwin hernanes says:

      I find this too funny. The way he says “there is only one god. He is made of three different entities. That’s it.”

      The level of explanation there is too funny. I’m glad you’re “that’s it” reasoning was so thorough and explanatory. I’m sure everyone will agree with that deep level of insight. “That’s it” is surely a statement of significant magnitude to explain the composition of a deity. I mean it’s only a question people have been asking like forever, I’m sure “that’s it” is more than enough to answer one of the oldest questions in history.

      1. Justin Taylor says:

        You’re not quoting what he actually said. “That’s it” modifies how you show the scriptural doctrine, and he’s saying it requires scripturally demonstrating the truth of those three propositions.

    3. Nicholas says:

      Sovereign is an attribute of God

  3. David Moore says:

    Hey Justin,

    Actually, I think Greg’s description makes the “simplicity” of God more confusing. As you well know, the simplicity of God is used to highlight that God is not composed of various character qualities. Using attribute language makes one think of God containing several compositional parts. Attribute descriptors for God is popular among us Evangelicals, but I think it gives the impression of God having various qualities, and therefore clouds the simplicity of God.

  4. John Botkin says:

    Justin, I like this. But I’m reading it and thinking about walking my kids through this as a way of building their confidence in the doctrines of the Bible. “Preemptive apologetics” you might say. Thanks for posting.

  5. Nicholas says:

    Show Jehovah Witness Isaiah 44:6 . Then show them Revelation 1:8 and Revelation 22:13 – Who is speaking? GOD ALMIGHTY is speaking. The one who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.

    God declares Himself, First and Last … Alpha and Omega. ETERNAL GOD. YHWH.

    Don’t even bother with the context of who’s speaking in Rev. 22:13. We all know who it is, for Jesus states, “Behold, I come quickly multiple times in Reveleation(Rev. 3:11, 22:7, Rev. 22:12). He also is to give to each man according to his deeds (Rev. 2:23).

    … As you have established to the JW that the FIRST AND THE LAST is JEHOVAH GOD and that FIRST AND LAST means Alpha and Omega, beginning and end, Almighty … the one who is and who was and who is to come.
    Only Jehovah is First and Last .

    Once you establish that fact go straight to Revelation 1:17: “Do not be afraid, I am the First and the Last. I am he who was dead and behold I am alive for all eternity. Amen.”

    . When did Jehovah God ever die?

    … Nonetheless I agree with the first comment on this article. Even if you prove Jesus is God from the Bible, they are so set on what they believe in, they still won’t leave. Got to be the hardest thing ever. We as Christians must pray before we witness to them. We must do so lovingly and we must actually really care about them. All our job is to do is love them and to share the truth in love. That’s vital!
    Trust me … a vice of mine is actually to argue with cults. It is fun to me and there has been only a few times where the Spirit of God has been with me.

    Be careful to preach Christ in vain conceit just to be right. Firmly be convicted in your heart that Jesus is God Almighty, set out to obey his commands in John 15: 12-13 and preach in His name unto all the earth.

    1. David Kyriacou says:

      48 times the adjective Almighty is used in the New and Old Testament. ALL of them are in Reference to Jehovah, Yahweh or the Tetragrammaton. Its never used in connection with Jesus Christ or any other title or name designated for him. John 1:1 does not refer in anyway to the Word as the Almighty God and The Word nowhere in any Bible is referred to as The Almighty.That therefore explains 1 Corinthians 11:3 which context shows level of authority when it says “the Head of Christ is God”. Why ? Because Jehovah is a higher authority than his Son Jesus Christ and is the ultimate authority. Jesus was the one through which all things were created as Proverbs 8 shows in verse 30. He was the Son of God and a Master Worker but NOT with his own power but only with the creative power of the infinite one Jehovah God The Almighty. Daniel 7:9-13 refers to the Son of Man gaining access to the Ancient of Days and GIVEN rulership. Jesus referred to himself as the Son of Man numerous times. That passage of verse shows he is GIVEN his Kingship as King of Gods Kingdom.

      The writer of this article says not to allows yourself to use the Bible and scriptures as a whole in context.
      Only a evil person would suggest that in order to twist and manipulate thought. The Bereans researched ALL the Scriptures to see “if things were so”.

      1. David Kyriacou says:

        The worst thing about this article is that it assumes that most if not all who do not believe in the Trinity
        are likely Jehovah’s Witnesses. I am not one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Neither was Michael Servetus or John Huss or Issac Newton or John Adams or Joan Bocher or Thomas Jefferson or Arthur Weigall or Yale University Professor E. Washburn Hopkins or John Milton or Will Durant or Albrecht Ritschl or Justin Martyr or S. H. Hooke or Thomas Paine and on and on. They were historians, scientists, writers and educated yet they did not believe in the Trinity doctrine simply put.
        I have studied and read Servetus’s writing since I was a child. He was very intelligent man even discovering the human circulatory system. Polycarp a well know church father called the Almighty God Jehovah the God of Jesus in his writings. NONE of those famous historians or scientists or leaders believed in the Trinity in fact many of them wrote against the belief in it. To discredit anyone
        who does not believe in the Trinity doctrine is simply insane.

        1. David says:

          You are right on. I applaud your addition of truth and reason to this confused conversation. Thank you.

  6. J.J. says:

    I’m a trinitarian, but I find it unhelpful that an author would ever say:

    “don’t let your guest play ‘What About?’ and drag you all over the New Testament. Keep bringing the issue back to Book x:x. All other verses must be understood in light of the unmistakable fact in Book x:x.”

    Almost any argument–regardless if right or wrong, orthodox or heretical–could be made using that kind of claim to certain, specific passages.

  7. Nicholas says:

    listen to this 10 times.

    then this 10 times:

    It is a heart issue. We need to believe Scripture and enthrone Christ in the heart as sovereign! We will have no fruit witnessing to cults until He is LORD.

    … these videos will help you adopt the eternal truth of the Trinity. Just listen to them over and over again.

    God bless.

  8. David says:

    Hey Justin,

    Thanks for posting this. I actually had a nearly identical conversation with two high school JW’s yesterday. They came by the house and I took them to Thomas’s confession in John 20, this passage in John 1, and Paul’s similar confession in Colossians 1. If his agency is required prior to creation, then he must exist prior to creation, and that entails his having not been created, but simply being.

    Of course, the most important aspect has to go beyond being correct and extend to praying that the Holy Spirit would open the eyes of these blinded children, that our Trinitarian God of mercy and grace would open the eyes of their hearts and save them into our family.

    Thank God for men like Mr. Koukl whose efforts are strong and good to help us wisely address foundation laying and yet not forget the goal of love toward those whom we’re sharing/engaging with.

  9. David says:

    John 20:31 — But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

    Deuteronomy 6:4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:

    Isaiah 44:24 — Thus saith the LORD, thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the LORD that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself;

    Numbers 23:19 — God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?

    Luke 3:38 Which was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God.

    Genesis 3:15 — And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

    1 Corinthians 15:45 — And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.

    Proverbs 30:4 — Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? who hath gathered the wind in his fists? who hath bound the waters in a garment? who hath established all the ends of the earth? what is his name, and what is his son’s name, if thou canst tell?

    Luke 9:35 — And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him.

    John 10:36 — Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?

    Mark 12:29 — And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:

    Luke 22:70 — Then said they all, Art thou then the Son of God? And he said unto them, Ye say that I am.

    1 Timothy 2:5 — For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;

    Romans 10:9 — That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

  10. Brian says:

    notice that “Christians” are to use this dazzling teaching aid … When the JWs show up at their door. Why don’t you seek them out if you care so much for them. If love is not your motive, then what’s the point of all this?

  11. Brian says:

    They will also direct you to Col. 1:15-16 which states that Jesus created all “other” things. That’s a key text for JWs and almost all of them will bring it up if your conversation lasts long enough. The word “other” was in brackets in the previous edition of the NWT, but the 2014 (13?) edition omits them. Bold move…

  12. Andy says:

    I liked this Justin but I’m still having a hard time trying to wrap my mind around:

    “Don’t waste your time wrestling with Greek grammar neither of you understand.”


    “According to the law of excluded middle”


    “According to the law of noncontradiction”

    I just kind of chuckled. It’s not only that I have a hard time spelling or couldn’t use proper grammar to save my life how in the world does it follow that if I don’t know even the most basic points of Greek that I or my JW guest will have any idea what these two laws are? (which I don’t).

  13. Justin Taylor says:

    Good point, Andy! Yeah, I don’t think you are to bring up the names of laws of logic in a conversation, but the concepts themselves are fairly simple. The law of non-contradiction simply means that two things can’t be both true and false at the same time and in the saw way. The law of excluded middle simply means that something must be either true or false (there’s no middle option). So take something like “George W. Bush was president of the US” and “George W. Bush was NOT president of the United States.” Those statements are either true or false, and they contradict each other, so they both can’t be true. Hope that helps!

  14. BJBates says:

    I got into a discussion with a couple of Jws and ended up painting them into a corner with Isaiah 9. It accomplished nothing but to end the conversation early. This was not about love but about my flesh desiring a victory.

    A couple of years ago, I was reading my ESV Study Bible when I felt prompted to turn to the article on Mormonism. I frequently have JWs come to my door, but never a Mormon. It seemed like one of those distractions that come up during a devotional….until I heard a knock at my door and their stood two young Mormon missionaries.

    I asked the Lord why He was orchestrating this since there was no time to read the article. Instead of waiting for His instructions, I launched into my own apologetic and got bogged down in it and lost my train of thought. At that point, I turned it over to Him. I was also having a bad day with my chronic fatigue and couldn’t think clearly.

    I simply presented the Gospel, talked about our inability to please God through our works and asked them if I could pray that God would open our hearts to receive the truth (I need that, too, so I prayed for the three of us). They said it was very interesting and they enjoyed it. Not once did they present their own views. I don’t know what happened to them after that.

    God was in charge and He wanted me out of the way.

  15. Mark says:

    This is a helpful concrete argument. It is unlikely that nobody will get converted from a napkin or any other specific argument, but I think these are helpful in exposing the true issue. The rejection of Christ is a moral matter, not primarily an intellectual one. Sometimes these intellectual arguments expose the reality of the moral rejection in the lives of those who think their opposition is intellectual. Similarly, asking an atheist a few questions can usually expose that they hate God, which proves they don’t reject his existence. Getting to these heart issues through intellectual arguments is helpful, just don’t expect the intellectual argument to win the day.

    1. Mark says:

      *unlikely that ANYBODY, not nobody. Nice grammar, right? ;)

      1. Jose Saldana says:

        Jesus means – Jehovah is salvation So the meaning of his name points to Jehovah for salvation. Isaiah 42:8 God says that his name is Jehovah! If your bible says LORD it replaced Jehovah’s name. Where ever LORD in capital letters is written in your bible that’s where the name of God belongs, JEHOVAH! As for Jesus in John 10:36, 11:4 Jesus says that he is the son of God not God! In John 1:1 In the beginning Jesus has a beginning Jehovah doesn’t. In Proverbs 8:22 Jesus was created by Jehovah as his first creation. In John 14:28 Jesus says that the father is greater than him. 1 Corinthians 15:28 Jesus subjects himself to Jehovah in heaven. In Revelation 3:12 Jesus says my God 4 times, so he has a God which is Jehovah. In Matthew 4:10 Jesus tells Satan that Jehovah is God. IN Matthew 3:16,17 Jesus is baptized and Jehovah speaks from heaven calling Jesus his son. If you don’t understand that Jehovah is the only true God like Jesus says in John 17:3 than your heart is not receptive to the truth. Pray to Jehovah to cleanse your heart and help you understand the truth. (Deuteronomy 30:6) You probably think that Jesus was born December 25th also, guess what he wasn’t!

  16. David says:

    If the law of excluded middle is true then doesn’t that mean that Jesus was either God, or a man? And that he cannot be the middle option: both/Godman.

    The middle option would seem to be a Modalism in denial of its own definition.

    What do you think?

    1. Andrew says:

      Not quite, David. The Law of excluded middle deals specifically with a proposition and its negation, like the law of non-contradiction. Since ‘God’ and ‘man’ are different categories, being in one category does not automatically exclude Jesus from being in the other as well. On the other hand, if the categories under consideration were ‘God’ and ‘not-God,’ then non-contradiction and excluded middle apply since what is under consideration is a single category and its negation, not two separate categories.

    2. Rick says:

      Hi David, no, the law of excluded middle would not mean that Jesus was either God or man. It would mean that he must be either God or not God, and that he must be either man or not man. In either case the options are limited to two; there is no third option. It also does not mean that he could not be BOTH God and man. As it could be affirmed that he is God and that he is man. These are not logically exclusive of each other if we understand that he has two natures. Being theanthropos (God/man) he is not a third order of being, but a Person having two natures – both God and man – not mixed, confused or compromised.

      In the author’s argument from the text, he shows that a thing must be either created or not created – that exhausts all possible options. Excluded middle indicates the logical impossibility of a third option. It shows the possible EXTENT of the options – that they are limited to two. The law of non-contradiction looks at the possible options and recognizes that CONTRADICTORY options cannot both be true – in this case that a thing cannot be both created and not created at the same time and in the same relationship. The wording and logic of the text does not allow any other option than that Jesus was not created, and that he created all things that were created.

  17. TBG says:

    I feel my approach is much simpler.
    I ask them to answer one question to my satisfaction – if they can then I will talk further.
    My question: “Look at John 20:28. Why, if Jesus is not God, did Jesus allow Thomas to say ‘My Lord and My God’ about Himself and not deny it?” The usual response is well Thomas meant “a god” and not “the God”. I then follow with why then did the angel at the end of Revelation so vehemently tell John to get up on his feet and only worship God alone? Rev 22:8-9. If the angel in revelation denied worship why didn’t Jesus also do so? The only possible explanation can be that Jesus didn’t deny it because He knew it to be true and accepted it as an act of worship. I’ve never yet had a Jehovah’s Witness (including my relatives) give an acceptable answer that made logical sense. I thing say if we can’t agree on this point there really isn’t anything else they can talk to me about that I will accept as valid. I have the infinite riches of being an heir of the king and I’m not about to trade it for the counterfeit fool’s gold that they are offering.

    1. Jose Saldana says:

      Just because Thomas said My lord and my god that makes Jesus God, now that’s crazy! Psalms 82:6 Says that angels are referred to as god’s as well and it doesn’t make them Almighty God. Satan is referred to as the god of this system of things he is still not thee Almighty God. There’s only one Almighty God and that’s Jehovah! In 1 Corinthians 8:5, 6 it says “just as there are many “gods” and many “lords,” 6  there is actually to us one God, the Father, from whom all things are and we for him; and there is one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things are and we through him.” Just like the angels are referred to as sons of God in Job 1:6 it doesn’t mean that they are Jesus the son of God. It’s common sense that if Jesus is God how in the world could he be tempted by Satan in Matthew chapter 4 that wouldn’t be any challenge because God cannot be tempted he is God! Plus Jesus got slapped, hit, spit on and killed now that’s crazy someone thinking that this could be done to God, then he wouldn’t be God!!! There’s no way that God can possibly die! (Habakkuk 1:12) If Jesus is your God then my God Jehovah is more powerful because my God never dies and he raised your God from the dead. Plus my God Jehovah created Jesus (Colossians 1:15, Proverbs 8:22)

      1. TBG says:

        And yet you still didn’t answer the question – why didn’t Jesus deny Thomas’ statement?

        1. Jose Saldana says:

          I’m sorry that you’re having a hard time understanding that Jesus is not Jehovah the Almighty God! Thomas’ calling Jesus “God” does not in any way conflict with the teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses, nor does it make Jesus equal to Almighty God. Jesus did not have to correct Thomas because he knew Thomas was not calling him “Almighty God” but was just using the title “God” as the Bible consistently had used it of God’s representatives. Today, when we use the word God we are usually referring to the one true almighty God. This was not the case in Bible times. In the Bible this title was used of humans and angels (Ex. 4:16; 7:1; Ps. 8:5/Heb. 2:8; Ps. 82:1,6; Jn.10:34). Any Bible dictionary will give you the same meaning of the word “God” that Strong’s Lexicon does: “mighty ones, rulers, judges, divine ones, angels.” The BDB Hebrew lexicon: “rulers, judges, either as divine representatives or as reflecting divine majesty and power…angels.” So while humans and angels are correctly called “god,” they still have Jehovah God over them. The term “god” simply means someone who is over others in some capacity. So, Thomas would know that in the Scriptures kings and angels were properly called God without according them the status of Almighty God. He would certainly be aware that the Messiah was to be called “mighty God” as the greatest “servant” and representative for Jehovah (Isa.9:6; 52:13; 53:11; Ac.3:13; 3:26). At seeing the risen Christ Thomas recognized that Jesus was now the divine king and so the designation “My God and my Lord” was entirely appropriate. Yet, this in no way meant Thomas thought Jesus was Jehovah God any more than Israel’s human kings were Jehovah just because they were also addressed as “God.” I would be glad to give you and Justin Taylor a bible study so that you guys could learn the truth about Jehovah and his son Jesus Christ… P.S. There’s Jehovah’s Witnesses in all parts of the world if you’d like a free home bible study you can request for one on JW.ORG

  18. Joanne says:

    I’ve studied with the Witnesses for many, many years, and although I’ve since departed from them, I personally share a majority of their beliefs.
    I agree with the JW’s argument regarding the beginning in question being a second beginning. Moreso, I would say that the beginning would be specifically referring to the beginning of the Earth we live in, or the creation that we are a part of which is described in Genesis. The bible never talked about the universe as a whole, just about our creation, so I believe that’s the context in which we should be reading the verses from John.
    In that case, all things created in the account in Genesis were created by Jesus. That then gives room for the belief that Jesus was a direct creation and this completely separate from Jehova God in every way.

  19. Chris says:

    But . . . but . . . I DO understand the Greek grammar. Now can I argue with him about it?

  20. Ben says:

    In John 1:1 what is ‘the beginning’ referring to?
    There’s no need to look for any answer in Greek grammar etc. The bible always provides an answer. God’s word should be interpreted using God’s word. In a good translation of the bible little phrases like that can be followed through the bible like bread crumbs.

    Proverbs 8:
    22 “Jehovah himself produced me as the beginning of his way, the earliest of his achievements of long ago. 23 From time indefinite I was installed, from the start, from times earlier than the earth.

    So is this talking about Jesus? Is the Creation of The Word ‘the beginning’. Notice it says ‘from time indefinite I was installed’
    Micah 5:2 is a very well known messianic prophecy. It says ‘“And you, O Bethʹle·hem Ephʹra·thah, the one too little to get to be among the thousands of Judah, from you there will come out to me the one who is to become ruler in Israel, whose origin is from early times, from the days of time indefinite.’

    So Jesus is the beginning, and also the first created thing! Later in Proverbs 8:30 it calls him the master worker.

    To back up that Jesus had a beginning in the New Testament,
    Col 1:15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation;
    Re 3:14 “And to the angel of the congregation in La·o·di·ceʹa write: These are the things that the Amen says, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation by God,

    I would like to say thankyou for this article and the comments though. It’s made me think things through and strengthened my faith in Gods word as a result :)

  21. Don says:

    I live in Watchtower Central. Hardly a week goes by when I don’t have a jw knocking on my door. Over the years I’ve developed many “methods” of trying to reach them. All of my efforts have been met with either them turning and walking away while I’m in mid sentence (some have literally run away) or they simply tell me “I didn’t come here to listen to YOU preach”… end of conversation. Years ago I purchased one of their bibles “The New World Translation” at a thrift store. And I began to examine it closely. I happened upon a pretty significant contradiction inside that so far whenever I’ve used it, it has managed to fluster the jw and presumably get them to question what they are being taught. Two verses, one Old Testament and one New.

    First ask them to look in their own bible at John 1:18 In their bible it is mistranslated as: No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten god who is in the bosom with the Father is the one that has explained Him. (Yes, their bible has it rendered “only begotten god”. Interestingly whenever I’ve had a jw read this they actually read it as “only begotten son” I tell them to look more carefully and it’s quite an eye opener for them to see that it is written that way. But we’re not done yet. Now have them turn to Isaiah 43:10 and read this: 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.

    As you can see. In the watchtower’s attempt to remove Jesus from the Godhead but still somehow explain why he has powers just like God. They have had to rewrite scripture so much that eventually something slipped through the cracks so to speak and it leaves them with these two contradictory verses.

    If they don’t want to “listen to me preach” I usually just tell them. I believe in the risen Lord, Jesus Christ who rose BODILY from the grave. Please go away, your false doctrine is not welcome here. 2 John 1:10

  22. Carol Fights says:

    This is great! We met with JW’s over a period of months and they would just refer to the same verses over and over and not hear us at all. I can’t wait to use this method.

  23. Jason says:

    As an ex-JW, I’ve been enlightened by a lot of these verses. Reading the JW responses, they are just regurgitating explanations from their literature. I would love to see them use their own power of reason rather than succumb to the reason of an unknown writer. Let’s pray that they will one day be able to use the mind that God gave them.

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Justin Taylor, PhD

Justin Taylor is executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher for Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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