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Recently I was listening to a lecture by Reformed theologian Robert Cara, in which he mentioned how frequently NT writers connect and apply OT Yahweh references to Jesus. A number of examples could be given, but one of the stronger ones is Ephesians 4:7–10, which reads:

7 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ's gift. 8 Therefore it says,

    “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives,
        and he gave gifts to men.”

9 (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? 10 He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) [ESV]

Paul seems to be clearly talking about Jesus here, talking about his descent to the earth and his subsequent ascent into heaven, paralleling the quoted OT passage. That passage is Psalm 68:18, which reads:

You ascended on high,
   leading a host of captives in your train
   and receiving gifts among men,
even among the rebellious, that the LORD God may dwell there. [ESV]

From context, the "You" of Psalm 68:18 seems to be Yahweh – the entire chapter interchangeably uses God, Lord, and LORD, and verses 22–26 seem to describe God/Yahweh "leading a host of captives" in more detail.

Thus, the argument goes, Paul is clearly applying an OT description of Yahweh to Jesus, indicating that he believes Jesus is truly the God of the Old Testament (Yahweh).

How do Jehovah's Witness's explain this? Do they interpret Ephesians 4 differently, or Psalm 68 differently, or have some other explanation?


Lecture 06 Acts 1–2, starting 39:20

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Jehovah's Witnesses agree that Ephesians 4:8 refers to Jesus and that Psalm 68:18 refers to Jehovah God (Yahweh). They also agree that it equates Jesus' actions with God's actions, but they disagree that it equates Jesus with God.

Jehovah's Witnesses believe Jesus is God's Son and God's representative, and as God's representative, it's Jesus' responsibility to imitate God. Ephesians 5:1 tells us to "become imitators of God, as beloved children." Jesus, being God's Son, gave a perfect example for the rest of God's children in imitating God.

Those favored with assignments of service by God’s undeserved kindness are also called “gifts in men,” and Jesus Christ, as God’s representative and head of the congregation, has given these to the congregation in order that its members individually might be built up and attain maturity. (Eph 4:8, 11, 12)

Insight, Vol. 1, pg. 937 "Gifts of Service and 'Gifts in Men.'"


To confirm that Paul didn't equate Jesus with God, Jehovah's Witnesses could cite the verses directly above at Ephesians 4:4-6, where it says in the ESV:

4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

This verse says the Father is "God and Father of all." If the Father is the Father of the Son, then according to this verse that would mean the Father is also the God of the Son. Therefore, the Son isn't God. He has a god: the same God and Father everyone else has.

  • Given what Ephesians 4:4-6 says, which agrees with 1 Corinthians 8:6, this must mean that Jehovah's Witnesses never call Jehovah 'Lord' and only ever call Jesus their Lord. However, when it comes to Romans chapter 10, they seem happy to admit to two Lords. Can you confirm that they never call Jehovah 'Lord' as 1 Corinthians 8:6 requires them (given their theology), or have they missed the point of Ephesians 4:4-6? Most Christians don't take Ephesians 4:4-6 the way Jehovah's Witnesses seem to. – Anne Mar 21 '18 at 17:46

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