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In the Old Testament, God is identified by many things. Among these are His name, His UNIQUE attributes and characteristics, his role or office relative to His creation, and His UNIQUE abilities and actions. Sometimes these are combined in scripture when referring to God.

One such combination is God's totally unique abilities and actions and His role as the judge of men's hearts and His authority to reward them according to His own findings. This identifies God as omniscient (an attribute UNIQUE to God) and as the judge of their hearts (a role or authority UNIQUE to God alone). Jeremiah 17:10: "I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give each man according to his ways, According to the results of his deeds."

Please answer this simple question: who is it that Jeremiah addresses as the one that sees the hearts of men and Himself tries the reins and hearts? Who does the Old Testament repeatedly identify as this ONE who is so omniscient as to judge the hearts of men? (See 1 Samuel 16:7, 1 Chronicles 28:9, 29:17, 2 Chronicles 6:30, Psalm 7:9, 139:1, and others.)

I ask this question because this is what Jesus Christ stated in Revelation 2:23: "And I will kill her children with pestilence; and all the churches will know that I am He who searches THE MINDS AND HEARTS; and I will give to each one of you ACCORDING TO YOUR DEEDS."

So you suppose that in writing this passage where Jesus identifies Himself as the one who searches the hearts of men and rewards them according to His judgment that John might have had reason to think that Jesus is the SAME ONE as the one who so identifies Himself throughout the Old Testament?

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    – Ken Graham
    Commented Mar 18 at 22:41
  • Can you tell us why you insist that only an almighty omniscient eternally existing God could read the hearts of men?
    – 007
    Commented Mar 19 at 0:07

2 Answers 2

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All the quoted Bible verses in the original question to compare to Revelation 2:23 were taken from the Old Testament, where evidently, God had not yet exalted his servant Jesus (Isaiah 11:2-3; 42:1; 52:13; Matthew 12:15-18; Philippians 2:5-10).

During Jesus' earthly ministry, Jesus displayed godly power and authority, such as forgiving sins, expelling demons, bringing people back from the dead, and healing the sick. However, Jesus later showed that all this power came through God's holy spirit, as his Apostles were later able to do the same things through said Spirit. God's holy spirit empowered both Jesus and the Apostles as well as other 1st-century Christians. The measure of power given to Jesus after his death and resurrection must have been unfathomable, as he could say that "All authority has been given me in heaven and on the earth." (Matthew 28:18)

Note that Jesus could only say this after his resurrection, which implies that he did not have such authority before. Still, even without all this power, Jesus was able to look into people's hearts and know their thoughts (John 2:25; Matthew 9:4).

How much more so after being exalted. The "God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory...according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all." (Ephesians 1:17-23 NKJV)

As the Almighty God created men through Jesus, in their image (Genesis 1:26), why would Jesus not have the power and necessary ability to exactly know how a human brain works, and thus be able to examine the most inner thoughts of a person, especially as the power and authority to do so has been given to him by God Almighty? Omniscience is attributed to God in scripture when Paul wrote in Hebrews 4:13: "And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him [God] to whom we must give account." - I don't see why this power of Omniscience couldn't be given to Christ Jesus, especially after his exaltation in heaven. He certainly didn't have omniscience while on earth (Mark 13:32; Luke 8:45-46). In any case, doesn't an all-powerful God have the power to share parts of his power with other beings, especially when they have a unilateral divine origin - and to an extent: divine nature - such as Jesus has?

Jehovah God is accountable to no one, but Jesus is accountable to Jehovah: "For “[God] has put all things under [Christ's] feet.” But when [God] says “all things are put under [Christ],” it is evident that [God] who put all things under [Christ] is excepted. Now when all things are made subject to [God], then the Son Himself will also be subject to [God] who put all things under [Christ], that God may be all in all." (1 Corinthians 15:27,28)

Hence the reconciliation: Jesus' ability to look into hearts and discern other men's thoughts does not make Jesus omniscient. That doesn't mean that it is impossible for Jesus to be omniscient after him being exalted, and God "putting all things under his feet". If Jesus is omniscient, it is so by God's will and power, and not of his own initiative, and Jesus uses it to do "the will of the Father" (John 5:30). It doesn't make Jesus God Almighty.

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Please answer this simple question: who is it that Jeremiah addresses as the one that sees the hearts of men and Himself tries the reins and hearts? Who does the Old Testament repeatedly identify as this ONE who is so omniscient as to judge the hearts of men?

To give an answer from the understanding of one group that denies the deity of Christ, would require using their own official literature, but would not necessarily mean that the answerer (me) fully agrees with that explanation. Here is what I have gleaned from quarter of a century of knowledge about one particular group. Although you asked that the answer be kept simple, and this will not be an exhaustive answer, yet it needs to show how and when their doctrines about the divine status of Jesus changed, for there was a long period of time when the Jehovah's Witnesses had no problem with the Jeremiah 17 and Revelation 2 verses in question. They attributed deity and worship both to Jehovah God and to Jesus Christ until around 1950, but not many Jehovah's Witnesses today know this. They were worshipping Jesus in the 1930s as these quotes show:

'During the Millennium, "the princes will lead the people in their worship of Jehovah and of Christ".' (Vindication Volume 3, p295, J. F. Rutherford, 1932)

'Jehovah God commands all to worship Christ Jesus because Christ Jesus is the express image of his Father, Jehovah, and because he is the Executive Officer of Jehovah always carrying out Jehovah’s purpose (Heb.3-6).' Watchtower 1939 Nov. 15 p.339 click for scan http://www.jwfacts.com/images/watchtower-1939-nov-15-p339 [Read Only]

They were still worshipping Jesus in 1945 as this quote shows:

'Now, at Christ’s coming to reign as king in Jehovah’s capital organization Zion, to bring in a righteous new world, Jehovah makes him infinitely higher than the godly angels or messengers and accordingly commands them to worship him... Since Jehovah God now reigns as King by means of his capital organization Zion, then whosoever would worship Him must also worship and bow down to Jehovah’s Chief One in that capital organization, namely, Jesus Christ, his Co-regent on the throne of The Theocracy.' 5 October 1945 Watchtower

The 1945 Yearbook includes the Charter in full. Part of the then current charter stated as follows:

“…maintain and send out to various parts of the world Christian missionaries, teachers and instructors in the Bible and Bible literature and for public Christian worship of Almighty God and Christ Jesus; to arrange for and hold local and world-wide assemblies for such worship...” Yearbook 1945 Click here to scan http://jwfacts.com/images/watchtower-yearbook-1945-page-32.jpg

But the first clear statement that Jesus must not be worshipped was around 1954:

'Should we worship Jesus? ...Consequently, since the Scriptures teach that Jesus Christ is not a trinitarian co-person [sic] with God the Father, but is a distinct person [which the Trinity agrees with!] the Son of God, the answer to the above question must be that no distinct worship is to be rendered to Jesus Christ now glorified in heaven. Our worship is to go to Jehovah God. 1 January Watchtower, page 31

Yet it wasn’t till 1999 that the Charter was changed, to confine worship to Jehovah alone, according to this link! http://www.jwfacts.mobi/watchtower/worship-jesus.php

Now that all Jehovah's Witnesses are adamant that Jesus Christ must never be worshipped, this is only because they believed the previous stance to be flawed. From then on, official literature argued against those verses in Jeremiah 17 and Revelation 2 proving Christ to have the same omniscient powers of being able to read hearts and minds, as does Jehovah. Prior to then, they were used to argue the opposite.

This is an immensely important point that cannot be swept under the carpet: from the start of this religious movement in the late 1800s, through to around 1950, the verses in question were used to say Jesus should be worshipped as God the official Charter not being changed till many years later.

Now, in light of that, all arguments the Jehovah's Witnesses use to say Jesus was merely a conduit for 'holy spirit' operating through, giving him those powers when on earth, and that now he's resurrected to glory in heaven, of course he can read hearts and minds of humans who he helped to create, but that still doesn't mean he is to be worshipped... well, I leave it to others to arrive at conclusions.

On 18/03/2020 a Stack question was asked here, seeking clarification as to what the Jehovah's Witnesses meant when saying Jesus created, and this point was made:

'...they speak of him as the MAIN agent of creation, but that the Father created Christ first, so that the Father is the initiating agent of creation, choosing to then use this one, whom they also call Michael the Archangel, as an instrumentality, yet without him deserving the title of "co-creator".' According to the Jehovah’s Witnesses, if Jesus Christ is not God why is He presented as the agent of creation?

This truly inferior role of Christ in creation the Jehovah's Witness claim helps explain why here it is said that "Jesus' ability to look into hearts and discern other men's thoughts does not make Jesus omniscient. That doesn't mean that it is impossible for Jesus to be omniscient after him being exalted, and God "putting all things under his feet". If Jesus is omniscient, it is so by God's will and power, and not of his own initiative, and Jesus uses it to do "the will of the Father" (John 5:30). It doesn't make Jesus God Almighty." [sic - no trinitarian claims Jesus is the Almighty.]

The simple answer you seek is that in Jeremiah and the O.T. it is Jehovah God the Father, and in Revelation 2 it is the risen Christ.

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  • "sic - no trinitarian claims Jesus is the Almighty." - Isn't that what the Athanasian Creed is saying: "So likewise the Father is Almighty; the Son Almighty; and the Holy Ghost Almighty. And yet they are not three Almighties; but one Almighty." - one of the hallmarks or trinitarian doctrine? Also - it wasn't asked what were former beliefs of a denomination, nor how they have changed overtime, but how do you reconcile (not how did or didn't you reconcile). Hence, the response in great parts misses the mark, and is mostly irrelevant. It doesn't matter what JWs believed 70 years ago.
    – Js Witness
    Commented Jun 10 at 16:01
  • @JsWitness I should have added, "in and of himself." Sorry. The point is made in the Creed that there are not three Almighties; only the one. It takes all three persons in the Godhead to have the one Almighty God. They are equally almighty, in unity of Being. But if the ancient Athanasian Creed is not irrelevant to you, why should you object if I find what JWs believed 70 years ago to still be relevant to this question?
    – Anne
    Commented Jun 10 at 16:39

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