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Jehovah's Witnesses,

Jesus Christ,

and Michael the Archangel


Steve Lagoon

Link to: Michael, Michael Who is Michael?

...another way to examine this subject.


Witnessing to Jehovah's Witnesses can be a frustrating experience for the Christian who wants to share his faith, but can't seem to get anywhere.

The purpose of this article is to offer information on how to be a more effective witness to the "Witnesses," especially in the vital area of the person and work of Jesus Christ. I want to share with you an approach that has been effective in showing Jehovah's Witnesses the impossibility of their claims concerning Jesus Christ. Along the way, I will offer some witnessing tips that have been helpful to me.

  • What the Bible Teaches about Jesus


We begin by reminding ourselves what the Scriptures teach about Jesus Christ. God has revealed to us in His word that Jesus Christ is both God and man (Romans 1:3-4). As God (John 1:1, 20:28), Jesus has existed forever (Micah 5:2), with the Father (John 17:5, 1 Corinthians 8:6), and the Holy Spirit (Hebrews 9:14, Romans 8:26) within the triune nature (Matthew 29:19, 2 Corinthians 13:14) of the one being of God (Deuteronomy 6:4, 1 Timothy 2:5). The Scriptures also teach that the Son of God became incarnate in the person of Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:23, John 1:14, Colossians 2:9). So Jesus was unique in all of history, being truly God and man at once.

Furthermore, Jesus died on the cross for our sins, was buried, and rose from the dead after three days (1 Corinthians 15: 1-6). After his resurrection, he ascended bodily into heaven (Acts 1:9-11) where he is now seated at the right hand of the father (Hebrews 1:3).

  • What the Watchtower Teaches about Jesus

In contrast to the clear teaching of Scripture, the following is the teaching of Jehovah's Witnesses concerning Jesus Christ. They deny that Jesus Christ was God, but instead, believe he was a created angel. In fact, the Watchtower says that in Jesus' pre-existence, he was Michael the Archangel. The Watchtower teaches that Michael the Archangel was the first and highest of all the beings that God created, and that once God created him, Michael the archangel created everything else.

Then, according to the Jehovah's Witnesses, Michael the Archangel gave up his existence as an angel, and God transferred Michael's Spirit (life-force) down to earth where he became Jesus Christ. While on earth, Jesus was a man and a man only. Later, Jesus was crucified on an upright stake, died, and was buried in a tomb.

However, the Watchtower does not believe that Jesus rose from the dead in his body, but rather only his spirit (life-force) was raised and transferred to heaven where he again took up his existence as Michael the Archangel (no longer human). For documentation see Reasoning From the Scriptures, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, Brooklyn, New York, 1985, pp. 209-220, 405-426.

  • The Correct Identity of Jesus Christ is Essential

Now these are two very different pictures of our Lord Jesus Christ. One is Biblical, and the other is a heretical fairy tale. The consequences of the Jehovah's Witnesses error are very serious indeed. The apostle Paul said:

"But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!" (Galatians 1:8-9, all Biblical quotations are from the Holy Bible, New International Version, International Bible Society, Colorado Springs, 1984).

So it is of the utmost importance that we help Jehovah's witnesses escape the trap of the Devil and find the real Jesus.

Why it is Difficult to Witness to Jehovah's Witnesses

Now to us, the truth about Jesus seems so clear. Perhaps you wonder why you can't just show Jehovah's Witnesses the Scriptural support concerning Jesus Christ, and they will see whom the real Jesus is. Oh, that it were so easy, but something more is going on in the mind of most Jehovah's Witnesses. They have been conditioned to believe that there is only one source of truth in all the world, and that source it the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, and more specifically the "Faithful and Discreet Slave" and the literature they provide (i.e. the Watchtower and Awake Magazines etc.) at the direction of the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses.

They have been taught to trust the Watchtower, even when it appears to them that the Watchtower is wrong. When a Christian tries to witness to a member of Jehovah's Witnesses, they have to overcome this huge barrier. Even though you may make an airtight case from the Scriptures concerning who Jesus Christ is, it may have little impact, because the Witnesses' first allegiance is to the Watchtower, and not the Scriptures (despite their protests to the contrary).

  • Setting the Stage for the Discussion

There are many methods for witnessing to Jehovah's Witnesses and each have their merits. I want to share one approach that has been very effective for me. One of my goals when witnessing to Jehovah's Witnesses is to be on the offense. I don't have time to be on the defence. I may not have this opportunity again, so I want to make the most of it. I must not let the Witness guide the discussion, or he is likely to preach his false doctrine as long as he can, and then call it quits just about the time I want to share my information.

That is, instead of letting the Jehovah's Witnesses spend the time hitting me over the head with their favourite attacks on Christianity (which I am already aware of), I want to make sure they leave having heard the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

In setting the stage for the discussion, I like to keep Jehovah's Witnesses off balance, while at the same time building a good relationship with them. I do this by focusing on them as real people. I don't mind spending a half hour just talking to them about their backgrounds. Here are some suggested topics of conversation for this point in the discussion.

"Are you married?" "Where did you grow up?" "What is your line of work?" "How did you become a Jehovah's Witness?" "Do you have any brothers or sisters?" "Is your whole family in the Jehovah's Witnesses?" "If not, how do they feel about your involvement?" "What is it that drew of draws you to the Jehovah's Witnesses?" "Is there anything you don't like about Jehovah's Witnesses" (watch them squirm as they answer this one!)? You get the idea. All the while, you will be answering the same questions, which will give you a quick opportunity to share how you came to faith in Christ.

  • Which Jesus Do You Believe In?

Now once you get down to business, I start with a question like this; "Do you believe in Jesus Christ?" A normal Jehovah' Witness response would be to answer "yes" with a watered-down version of their beliefs in Jesus Christ thrown in for good measure. At this point I surprise them with this question; "Which Jesus do you believe in?" This is usually greeted by a confused look while fumbling for an answer. I'll say, "Let me explain myself. In 2 Corinthians 11:4 (which I read to them), the apostle Paul chastised the Corinthian Christians for putting up with a different Jesus. All through the New Testament (which they prefer to call "The Christian Greek Scriptures"), Christians are warned about false teachers and their distortions concerning Jesus Christ. So you see there is the real Jesus, but there are also "false Jesus'" out there as well (you might point to another cult's teaching's concerning Jesus). So what I am asking you is this; "Are you sure that the Jesus you believe in is the real Jesus?" I follow that up with this. "Would you agree that the only way to know the truth about who the real Jesus is, is by a careful study of God's Word?" This they are glad to agree with.

  • Getting Down to Business

With all the preliminaries out of the way, we can begin to show them that their "Watchtower Jesus" is an impossibility, and help them to see the real Jesus!

At this point you want them to help you understand what they believe about Jesus by clarifying some things about their view that don't make sense to you.

  • Was Jesus Michael the Archangel in his Pre-existence?

For instance, the Watchtower teaches that before his human existence, Jesus existed as Michael the Archangel.

"Scriptural evidence indicates that the name Michael applied to God's Son before he left heaven to become Jesus Christ and also after his return. . . In his prehuman existence Jesus was called 'the Word.' (John1:1) He also had the personal name Michael. By retaining the name Jesus after his resurrection (Acts 9:5), the 'Word' shows that he is identical with the Son of God on earth. His resuming his heavenly name Michael and his title (or, name) 'The Word of God' (Rev. 19:13) ties him in with his prehuman existence" (Aid to Bible Understanding, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, Brooklyn New York, 1971, p. 1152).


"So the evidence indicates that the Son of God was known as Michael before he came to earth and is known also by that name since his return to heaven where he resides as the glorified spirit Son of God" (Reasoning from the Scriptures, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, Brooklyn New York, 1985, p. 218).

  • Michael's Life-force Transferred to Mary

Furthermore, the Watchtower teaches that Michael the Archangel set aside his angelic existence in order that his "spirit" or "life-force" could be transferred to the womb of Mary and become Jesus Christ. For instance,

"Since actual conception took place, it appears that Jehovah God caused an ovum, or egg cell, in Mary's womb to become fertile, accomplishing this by the transferral of the life of his firstborn Son from the spirit realm to earth. (Gal. 4:4) Only in this way could the child eventually born have retained identity as the same person who had resided in heaven" (Insight on the Scriptures, Volume 1, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, Brooklyn New York, 1988, p. 56).


"He has rightly been called Michael the Archangel. His life-force having been transferred to Mary's egg cell by Almighty God's power that overshadowed Mary meant that he, Michael, disappeared from heaven. By human birth from Mary, the Jewish virgin, he was to become a human soul" (God's "Eternal Purpose" Now Triumphing For Man's Good, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, Brooklyn New York, 1974, pp. 137-138).

When the Watchtower says that Michael "disappeared from heaven," we can only conclude that Michael died, because his "body" is gone and his life-force sent to Mary's womb.

  • Life-force Impersonal?

We have established that the Watchtower view is that Jesus pre-existed his life on earth as Michael the Archangel. Further, they say that when God the Father sent Michael to earth, that Michael gave up his existence as an angel, and that it was only his "life-force" or "spirit" that was transferred to the womb of Mary, to become the human Jesus Christ. One very big problem for the Watchtower is their teaching concerning what the "life-force" or "spirit" is, and is not. They teach that the life-force is impersonal; that it does not carry personality.

In other words, if the "Life-force" is impersonal, and that is all that was transferred from Michael the Archangel to the womb of Mary, then how can it be maintained that Jesus is the same person as Michael the Archangel?

The following quotes from Watchtower literature show their view concerning the "impersonal" nature of the "Life-force" (spirit).

For instance,

"So, then, God's Word shows that man is not superior to the animals insofar as the spirit or life-force is concerned. The same invisible spirit is common to both. Thus the spirit could not have personality but must be an impersonal force. The invisible spirit or life-force active in both man and the animals might be compared with electricity, also an invisible force. Electricity may be used to run various types of machines and appliances. Stoves can be made to produce heat, fans to produce wind, computers to solve problems and television sets to reproduce figures, voices and other sounds. The same invisible force that produces sound in one appliance can produce heat in another. The electric current, however, never takes on the characteristics of the machines or appliances in which it functions or is active.

Likewise, the spirit or life-force that makes it possible for man to carry on functions of life in no way differs from the spirit that enables animals to carry on functions of life. On leaving man's body at death, the spirit does not retain any of the characteristics of the cells . . .

That the spirit or life-force is impersonal is evident in the case of persons that were resurrected from the dead. Nowhere do we read of their remembering a conscious existence during the period of their death . . .

Thus even the Son of God provided testimony to the effect that the spirit is an impersonal life-force" (Awake, 8/8/1972, pp. 27-28).


"The word 'spirit' is translated from the Hebrew word ru'ach, meaning the life-force that animates all living creatures, human and animal. (Ecclesiastes 3:18-22) However, the important difference is that ru'ach is an impersonal force; it does not have a will of its own or retain the personality or any of the characteristics of the deceased individual." (Mankind's Search for God, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, Brooklyn New York, 1990, pp.153-154).

So the Watchtower teaches that Michael the Archangel gave up everything in his existence except his life force, and also teaches that the life-force is impersonal. In this view, there is simply no way to maintain a personal identity between the pre-existing Michael (an angel by nature), and Jesus Christ (a man only by nature, according to the Watchtower).

  • Was the Life-force the only part of Michael transferred to Earth?

With this problem in mind, you will occasionally find some sort of vague reference to Michael's "personality pattern" being transferred to Mary's womb on earth. For instance,

"God did not send some angel to rescue mankind. He made the supreme sacrifice of sending his only-begotten Son, 'the one he was specially fond of.'Proverbs 8:30; John 3:16. By his willing participation in the divine arrangement, God's Son 'emptied himself' of his heavenly nature. (Philippians 2:7) Jehovah transferred the life-force and the personality pattern of his firstborn heavenly Son to the womb of a Jewish virgin named Mary" (Watchtower, 2/15/1991, p. 14).

To begin with, this contradicts the Watchtower teaching that it was only his Life-force (spirit) that was transferred.

"That the heavenly Word of God divested himself of everything as a God-like spirit except his life-force . . ." (The Kingdom Is At Hand, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, Brooklyn New York, 1944, p. 49).

Also, what is this mysterious "personality pattern"? If it is not part of the life-force, then why transfer the life-force? If it does indeed carry the personality of the person (in this case Michael the Archangel), then the Watchtower is admitting that the personality can survive apart from the body, the very thing they criticizse orthodox Christianity for.

Furthermore, if Michael's personality was transferred into the person of Jesus Christ, then Jesus has the personality of an angel since that is what Michael was.

  • The Watchtower View of the Nature of Jesus while on the Earth

The next phase of Jesus Christ's existence, according to the Watchtower, was as a man and a man only, while on the earth, as the following quote indicates.

"The man who could be the ransom had to be a perfect human of flesh and blood the exact equal of Adam. (Romans 5:14) A spirit creature or a 'God-man' would not balance the scales of justice. Only a perfect human, someone not under the Adamic death sentence, could offer 'a corresponding ransom,' one corresponding perfectly to Adam (1 Timothy 2:6)" (Watchtower, 2/15/1991, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, Brooklyn New York, p. 13).

It is important to note what the Watchtower teaches concerning the nature of human beings. The historic position of the Christian Church, based on the Word of God is that man is composed of two basic elements, the material (the physical body), and the immaterial (soul/spirit).

However, the Watchtower rejects this understanding of man. They define the nature of man as follows: Man is a soul. A soul is composed of two elements: the physical body and the life-force (spirit). As shown above, the Watchtower teaches that the life-force (spirit) is impersonal and operates like an electric charge, which energises the physical body, but in no way has personal existence. So the Watchtower believes that while on earth, Jesus Christ had a physical body, and an impersonal life force, and that is all (they deny he was an incarnation of an angel in any sense).

  • The Watchtower Definition of a Human Soul

The following quotations from Watchtower literature define their view of the human soul.

"How much clearer is the Biblical idea as expressed at Genesis 2:7: 'The LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.' (JP) The combination of the body and the spirit, or life-force, constitutes 'a living soul.' (Genesis 2:7; 7:22; Psalm 146:4)" (Mankind's Search for God, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, Brooklyn New York, 1990, p.224).


"In a special act of creation, God made man a complete, whole person. When God blew into man's nostrils the 'breath of life,' man's lungs were filled with air. But more than that was accomplished. God thereby gave life to the man's body. This life-force is sustained, or kept going, by breathing.

Notice, however, that the Bible does not say that God gave man a soul. Rather, it says that after God started man breathing 'The man came to be a living soul.' So the man was a soul, just as a man who becomes a doctor is a doctor. (1 Corinthians 15:45) The 'dust from the ground,' from which the physical body is formed, is not the soul. Nor does the Bible say that the 'breath of life' is the soul. Rather, the Bible shows that the putting together of these two things is what resulted in 'man's becoming a living soul.'" (You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, Brooklyn New York, 1982, pp. 72-73).


"A living human soul has two vital constituents: fleshly body plus life-force . . . Separate the life-force from the body, and there is no living soul" (Victory Over Death, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, Brooklyn New York, 1986, p. 12).

  • The implication's of the Watchtower's views on Christ's Resurrection

Establishing the Watchtower's position on the definition of what a human soul is becomes important when we turn to the question of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. When you ask a Jehovah's Witness if he believes in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, he will answer in the affirmative. But they have redefined the word resurrection to mean something very different than it meant in the Scriptures.

Most importantly they deny the physical bodily resurrection of Christ, and claim he was only raised a "spirit creature." After being raised as a spirit, he ascended to heaven, resuming his existence as Michael the Archangel (for documentation see: Reasoning from the Scriptures, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, Brooklyn New York, 1985, pp. 217-218, 334).

  • The Watchtower Denies the Bodily Resurrection of Christ

There are a number of problems with this view, which we will address. To begin with, the Watchtower denies the bodily resurrection of Jesus:

"It follows that Christ could not take his body back again in the resurrection, thereby taking back the sacrifice offered to God for mankind" (Aid to Bible Understanding, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, Brooklyn New York, 1971, p. 1396).

  • Was Jesus "spirit" raised?

From the Watchtower's own definition then, all that is left to raise of their human-only Jesus is his life-force (spirit).

"As a spirit Son of God, Jesus Christ was able to ascend back to heaven on the fortieth day from his resurrection from the dead" (God's "Eternal Purpose" Now Triumphing for Man's Good, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, Brooklyn New York, 1974, p.155).

However, as we noted before, the Watchtower says that the life-force is impersonal.

For instance,

"Thus, after a person dies, his spirit does not exist as an immaterial being that can think and carry out plans apart from the body". (Reasoning from the Scriptures, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, Brooklyn New York, 1985, p. 385).


Despite the quote above that say's "As a spirit Son of God, Jesus Christ was able to ascend back to heaven. . . "("Eternal Purpose, 1974, p. 155), the Watchtower also says:

"When that Ru'ach, or active life-force, leaves the body, the person's thoughts perish; they do not continue in another realm" (Reasoning from the Scriptures, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, Brooklyn New York, 1985, p. 383).

So if it was not his body that was "resurrected," and the life-force carries no personality (and hence cannot be resurrected), then what was resurrected?

  • Resurrection or Recreation?

When confronted with this information, Jehovah's Witnesses will sometimes respond by arguing that Jesus was not actually resurrected, but rather was retained in God's memory and later "recreated."

For instance,

"Resurrection involves a reactivating of the life pattern of the individual, which life pattern God has retained in his memory. According to God's will for the individual, the person is restored in either a human or a spirit body and yet retains his personal identity, having the same personality and memories as when he died" (Reasoning from the Scriptures, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, Brooklyn New York, 1985, p. 333).

But here they run into some more problems. If, as they suggest, God retained a perfect memory of Jesus Christ, and "recreated" him just as he was, then Jesus would still be a human being because that is what he was!

At this point, some Jehovah's Witnesses will counter that it was Jesus in his pre-existence that God recreated, and since he was Michael the Archangel in his pre-existence, when God recreated him, he resumed his existence as Michael. This argument may escape the problem just mentioned, but creates another. For if God recreated Michael the Archangel, then he did not recreate or resurrect the crucified and buried Jesus Christ.

What is truly amazing however, is that since the Watchtower denies that it was Jesus' physical body that rose, and yet believe that his Spirit was raised (containing his personality), they actually believe the very thing they attack historic Christianity for: believing that man has an immaterial and personal existence that survives the death of the body! Wow!

  • Closing Thoughts

In truth, the Watchtower denies the resurrection of Christ, and has a false Jesus and a false gospel (1 Corinthians 15:12-19). We do well to point these things out to Jehovah's Witnesses in a loving manner (Eph. 4:15). Now there is much good material to combat the Watchtower's teaching concerning the person and work of Jesus Christ. We carry many good titles on the subject at Religion Analysis Service, which are available for those who are interested in pursuing this issue further.

Steve Lagoon May 20, 2001

Any comments regarding this article should be sent to: Steve Lagoon sslagoon@juno.com

Link to: Michael, Michael Who is Michael? ...another way to examine this subject.

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