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From what I understand, Jehovah Witnesses believe in a form of Arianism that claims Jesus is “the son of God”, but he is inferior to “God the Father”, as he is usually understood as “God’s first creative act”. Then this spiritual entity was sent to earth, where he “became flesh” in the “incarnation”.

I’m not a Trinitarian myself, but it does include words like “human nature” and “hypostatic union” to describe how Jesus can be a “real human”, while “consubstantially” existing as something much different than a human.

According to Jehovah Witnesses, in what way is Jesus human? Was he a spiritual entity cloaked in human biology, or would they agree with the Trinitarian idea of a hypostatic union?

  • As far as I know, Arius was pretty much orthodox except for teaching that the Son was at least created at some distant past, before creation, you might say in eternity; but created very much really—was not eternal, but was divine; God. I think people read Jehovah's Witness (and such) views back into Arianism, but if I'm not mistaken everyone believed He was God, it was just a difference on how: 'From all eternity?' 'From before any and all creation, but nonetheless a product/creature of the Father?' As such, I don't think the Incarnation doctrine differs from the orthodox view. – Sola Gratia Nov 8 '18 at 16:54
  • @SolaGratia That’s interesting. I think you’re right, but I’m not sure if Jehovah Witnesses use terms like “incarnation” or “hypostatic union”. Arianism seems to be the default position for most who don’t believe Jesus is God Almighty, so surely this has been addressed before. – Cannabijoy Nov 9 '18 at 17:04
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    @anonymouswho Indeed, Jehovah's Witnesses don't use any philosophical terms like those to describe their beliefs on Jesus. What the Bible teaches isn't complicated. – 4castle Nov 11 '18 at 5:57
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    When you discuss Arianism, you need to define which type. There are "Arians" and "Semi-Arians" with a number of sub-variants. Each has a slightly different idea of the incarnation and the extent to which (if at all) Jesus was God or a kind of semi-god. In any case, Arianism in most forms, ends up a type of ditheism because it believes in two distinct gods - one less than the other. Then there is Binitarianism … (and other variants). – user43409 Nov 11 '18 at 9:28
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    @Lesley your answer was fine. I was pointing out another reason why OP should have asked a separate question instead of editing this one – Kris Nov 23 '18 at 12:51
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The Jehovah’s Witness religion teaches that there was a time when God was utterly alone and decided to create, as his first creation, a being known in the Bible both as the Word of God, and Michael the Archangel. Then the Word / Michael created all the other angels plus this universe and planet earth and all life on it. He is said to have been subordinate to God in this vast project, only God never having been created. So, the first point to grasp in order to see what they believe about the Word becoming flesh (John 1:14) is that this created Son of God later became Son of Man, born to the virgin Mary as a perfect human being.

This is what their ‘Bible Teach’ book says about Jesus and Michael the Archangel (pages 218-219 in the Appendix) followed by a quote from their ‘Insight on the Scriptures’ Vol. 2 p394:

"The Bible indicates that Michael is another name for Jesus Christ, before and after his life on earth… It is logical to conclude that Michael is none other than Jesus Christ in his heavenly role." “In his prehumen existence Jesus was called ‘the Word.’ (Joh 1:1) He also had the personal name Michael. By retaining the name Jesus after his resurrection (Ac 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.”

They claim that it was the spirit of Michael that entered into Jesus when he was born and that the body of Jesus was never resurrected. Instead, what came out of the tomb was a spirit creature (who transformed himself into human form to make the disciples think he was human although he was actually, in their belief system, a freshly created spirit). And it is Michael the Archangel who is coming back at Armageddon, they say.

This leaves us with the question as to who they say Jesus was, humanly speaking. Given all that pre-human angelic status, was he half-human, fully human or more than human? The same ‘Insight’ book says, p56:

“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 transferal of the life of his firstborn Son from the spirit realm to earth. (Ga 4:4) Only in this way could the child eventually born have retained identity as the same person who had resided in heaven as the Word, and only in this way could he have been an actual son of Mary… It is likely, therefore, that the child born resembled its Jewish mother in certain physical characteristics… it would appear that the perfect male life-force (causing the conception) canceled out any imperfection existent in Mary’s ovum, thereby producing a genetic pattern (and embryonic development) that was perfect from its start. Whatever the case, God’s holy spirit at the time guaranteed the success of God’s purpose… he was perfect in physical form… Hence he had not simply materialized a human body as angels had previously done; he was not an incarnation but was actually a ‘son of mankind’ through his human mother. (p 1002)”

This shows that they believe Jesus to have been fully human, and a perfect, physical man, not just appearing to be human (except at his resurrection when he had been re-created as a spirit who had the ability to appear to be physically human.) But was he more than human? Apparently not given what they say about denying he was an incarnation, and also claiming Jesus was an exact equivalent of the man Adam, prior to him sinning. Again, quoting from that ‘Insight’ book (p 736):

“The related word antilytron appears in 1 Timothy 2:6. Parkhurst’s Greek and English Lexicon to the New Testament says it means:,'a ransom, price of redemption, or rather a corresponding ransom. …So Aristotle uses the verb [antilytro’o] for redeeming life by life.” (London, 1845, p. 47) Thus Christ “gave himself a corresponding ransom for all.”

In their book You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth, p 62, they claim that Jesus is the only man who ever lived that was equal to Adam as a perfect human son of God, and on the next page they have an illustration of a pair of balanced scales, Adam on one dish, and Jesus on the other. Given that Adam was never in heaven nor was an angel, the question remains as to how Jesus could correspond exactly to the man Adam (before he sinned) if Jesus somehow also (simultaneously) had the personality of the angel Michael right from conception. But that is up to the Jehovah’s Witnesses to deal with. I have simply quoted from their literature to offer an answer to, ‘in what ways was Jesus human’. It is very clear that they would never agree with the Trinitarian view of a hypostatic union.

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To answer this question properly, we must begin by clarifying the terms of discussion. The doctrine of the Trinity, properly speaking, does not touch upon the subject of the incarnation (i.e. the Word of God having become flesh - John 1:14) or of anything relating to Christ's human nature. It only deals with the nature of the Godhead per se, and teaches that God is one divine substance, essence or nature existing as three distinct divine persons or hypostases (subsistences) of Father, Son and (Holy) Spirit.

The doctrine of the Hypostatic Union, on the other hand, has to do with the mystery of the incarnation, of the Word of God having become flesh (Jn 1:14) for the sake of our salvation. It seeks to explain how the Son of God, who "exists in the form of God" (Phil 2:6), had been "made in the likeness of men" (Phil 2:7), and had become one in whom "the fullness of Godhead dwells bodily" (Col 2:9). In Greek philosophical discourse, "hypostasis" refers to "subsistence", or to "an individually subsistent thing". Therefore, the doctrine of the Hypostatic Union holds that the Lord Jesus Christ as the Word of God made flesh subsists as a single hypostasis, that is to say, as a single, individually subsistent being, or person (i.e. the Son of God), even though he possesses two natures, to wit, those of God and of man, which nevertheless were united within his unique divino-human personage while remaining distinct from one another.

Whereas the doctrine of the Trinity teaches that God from eternity is one divine nature existing as three distinctive persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the doctrine of the Hypostatic Union teaches that in the fullness of time one of the three divine persons, namely, the Son of God, had united himself to our human nature in the womb of a virgin and had become man for the sake of our salvation, not as though he were two persons, the Son of God and the man Jesus of Nazareth, but as one person only, the Son of God united to a human nature in the man Christ Jesus.

Now that we have made the necessary theological distinctions, we can assess how the Christology (i.e. understanding of Christ) of the Jehovah Witnesses compares or contrasts with the doctrines of the Trinity and the Hypostatic Union as taught by other Christian communions.

The Witnesses generally avoid setting forth their teachings in terms of abstract theological discourse. They believe that such language obfuscates rather than illuminates the teachings of the Holy Scriptures. Therefore we will have to do some translating when comparing the doctrines of the Witnesses with those of other Christian communions.

To begin with, the Witnesses reject the doctrine of the Trinity out of hand. The Watchtower Society states forthrightly that “the trinity doctrine is of pagan origin…there is absolutely no Scriptural grounds for believing in the trinity.” [“Why Do You Believe in the Trinity?”, Watchtower 2/1/1960, p. 94] Moreover, the Witnesses deny that the Son of God belongs to the eternal and uncreated Godhead, or is of the same substance or essence as God. The Witnesses maintain, rather, that "God created him [i.e. the Son-ed.] before everything and everyone else" (What Can the Bible Teach Us?, Ch 4, Who Is Jesus Christ?, 11). They base this teaching primarily upon their reading of Colossians 1:15, wherein Jesus is referred to as “the firstborn of all creation". The Witnesses further affirm that "Jesus is...precious to Jehovah because he is the only one Jehovah created directly"[What Can the Bible Teach Us?, Ch 4, Who Is Jesus Christ?, 11]. They also maintain that "the Bible says that Jesus was created, which means that Jesus had a beginning. But Jehovah, who created all things, had no beginning," and furthermore, that "only Jehovah is 'God Almighty'” (Ibid., 12). If the Son of God is not the eternal uncreated God, as the Witnesses affirm, who, then, is he? The Witnesses claim that the Son of God, properly speaking, is the Archangel Michael, who came to earth as the man Christ Jesus. Indeed, they teach that “Michael the archangel is Jesus in his prehuman existence”, and that “after his resurrection and return to heaven, Jesus resumed his service as Michael, the chief angel” (Watchtower, 4/1/2010, p. 19).

The Witnesses state forthrightly that “it is important to note that the human birth of Jesus was not the beginning of his life” (Ibid.). How do they support this teaching? The Witnesses link Colossians 1:15 with Daniel 12:1, Revelation 12:7, Jude 1:9 and 1 Thessalonians 4:16, which they use to support their teaching that the Son of God existed in heaven as Michael the Archangel prior to having become flesh.

Colossians 1:15 identifies Jesus Christ as “the firstborn of all creation”. Now Colossians 1:15 refers to the Son who 'redeemed us through his blood' (Col 1:14); in other words, to Jesus Christ according to his manhood, who only began to exist when he was formed in the womb of Mary a little over 2000 years ago, and not to the Son of God per se, according to his pre-existence in heaven. How, then, do the Witnesses tie this scripture to the Archangel Michael? The Witnesses believe that Daniel 12:1 identifies the Archangel Michael as Jesus Christ in his pre-existent state, for they observe that “at Daniel 12:1, we learn that in the time of the end, ‘Michael will stand up, the great prince who is standing in behalf of the sons of your people’ (Ibid.). They further observe that “a further mention of Michael occurs at Revelation 12:7, which describes ‘Michael and his angels’ as fighting a vital war that results in the ousting of Satan the Devil and his wicked angels from heaven” (Ibid.). Upon the basis of these considerations they conclude that “in each of the above-mentioned cases, Michael is portrayed as a warrior angel battling for and protecting God’s people, even confronting Jehovah’s greatest enemy, Satan” (Ibid.).

How do the Witnesses tie Daniel 12:1 and Revelation 12:7 back to the man Christ Jesus? They argue that “Jude verse 9 calls Michael ‘the archangel’” (Ibid.), and that “the prefix ‘arch’ means ‘principal’ or ‘chief, and [that] the word ‘archangel’ is never used in the plural form in the Bible” (Ibid.), and furthermore, that “the only other verse in which an archangel is mentioned is at 1 Thessalonians 4:16, where Paul describes the resurrected Jesus, saying: ‘The Lord [Jesus] himself will descend from heaven with a commanding call, with an archangel’s voice and with God’s trumpet.’ So Jesus Christ himself is here identified as the archangel, or chief angel.” [Ibid.] The Witnesses conclude on the basis of these considerations that “Jesus Christ is Michael the archangel” (Ibid.), and furthermore, that in regard to Colossians 1:15 especially, "it is reasonable to conclude that the Son of God is the firstborn of all creation in the sense of being the first of God’s creatures" (Awake, 1979, 4/8 pp. 28-29).

Clearly, then, any Witness doctrine relating to the nature of Christ's person will not have its grounding in the doctrine of the Trinity, nor in the doctrine of the Hypostatic Union, as traditionally conceived, wherein two natures, the divine and the human, are understood as co-existing within the single person or hypostasis of the Son of God, for the Witnesses believe that it was the Archangel Michael, the ‘first of God’s creations’, who had become the man Christ Jesus.

How, then, do the Witnesses explain their teaching that "Michael the archangel is Jesus in his prehuman existence” (Watchtower, 4/1/2010, p. 19), who ‘after his resurrection and return to heaven, resumed his service as Michael, the chief angel’ (Ibid.)? The Witnesses offer the following explanation. "God provided the perfect man whose life could ransom the human race, by transferring the life force of his chief angelic Son in the heavens to the womb of a virgin" (Watchtower 3/1/1960, p.133). What occurred, then, in the Word of God’s having become flesh was a "transferal of the life of his firstborn Son from the spirit realm to earth. Only in this way could the child eventually born have retained identity as the same person who had resided in heaven as the Word." [Aid to Bible Understanding, 1971, p. 920] The Witnesses further explain that "He (i.e. the Son-ed.) had to become a perfect man and yet not lose his continuity of life. His life-force was not to be extinguished but would be transferred to the ovum of the virgin girl, Mary." [Watchtower 2/15/1982, p. 7] However, the Watchtower Society further explains, "this did not mean that one of the heavenly spirit sons of God was sent to crawl into Mary's body...Such a thing is unreasonable and an absurdity." [God's Eternal Purpose Now Triumphing, 1974, p. 137] Rather, "in this transfer of his life to the virgin's womb, Jehovah's God-like Son divested himself of everything spirit and heavenly and became a man." [WT 8/1/1942, p.231] And so we are given to understand that the Son of God known as Michael the Archangel transferred his life force into the womb of Mary, and "divested himself of everything spirit and heavenly" (Watchtower 8/1/1942, p. 231) and truly became man. Therefore, in becoming man, "the heavenly Word of God divested himself of everything as a God-like spirit except his life force" (The Kingdom is at Hand, 1944, p. 49).

What, then, was the nature of this life force that had been made flesh in the womb of Mary, was it angelic, or human, or something else altogether? The Witnesses explain that “all things having life, either spiritual or fleshly, have an organism, or body. Life itself is impersonal, incorporeal, being merely the life principle.” [Insight On the Scriptures, Vol 2, p. 246] On the other hand, the Witnesses also believe that “the Bible teaches that the soul is the entire person, not some part that survives death. (Genesis 2:7, footnote; Ezekiel 18:4) A person who is resurrected is not reunited with his soul; he is recreated as a living soul." [What Is the Resurrection?, online at https://www.jw.org/en/bible-teachings/questions/what-is-the-resurrection/]. Therefore, the soul is the life force united to a body. Indeed, the Witnesses observe that “the Hebrew word ne'phesh and the Greek word ‘psykhe', both meaning ‘soul,’ are...employed to refer to life, not in the abstract sense, but to life as a person or animal.” [Aid to Bible Understanding, 1971, p. 1061]

How, then, and in what sense, did Michael the Archangel become the man Christ Jesus? The Witnesses explain that “this did not mean that, for the Jewish virgin girl Mary to conceive, one of the heavenly spirit sons of God had to be sent to crawl into the microscopic ovum or egg cell in Mary's body and fertilize it. Such a thing is unreasonable, an absurdity! Rather, the Almighty God, the heavenly Father, by means of his holy spirit transferred the life-force of his chosen heavenly son from the invisible spirit realm to the egg cell in Mary's body and fertilized it. In this way Mary became pregnant, and the child conceived in her was ‘holy.’ It was indeed what the angel Gabriel called it, the ‘Son of the Most High.’-Luke 1:32. Who, though, was the son whom God chose to be born as a perfect human creature? It was...Michael the archangel.” [God’s Eternal Purpose Now Triumphing for Man’s Good, 1973, pp. 137-138]

To sum up the Watchtower Society's teaching, it was neither the body nor the soul (as a conjunction of life force and body) of Michael that had transferred into the womb of Mary, but only the 'impersonal life principle' of Michael that had done so. The life principle having been withdrawn from the angelic body of Michael, it would appear that Michael's soul, as a union of body and life principle, had been subject to dissolution. Indeed, the Witnesses state concerning Michael that “his having his life-force transferred to Mary's egg cell by Almighty God's power that overshadowed Mary meant that he...disappeared from heaven" (God’s Eternal Purpose Now Triumphing for Man’s Good, 1973, p. 138). The angelic soul of Michael therefore no longer existed, because "by human birth from Mary, the Jewish virgin, he was to become a human soul” (Ibid.). It would appear, then, from the foregoing statements that it was only the impersonal life force that had continuity of existence between the angelic Michael and the anthropic (human) Jesus. The Witnesses are furthermore of the opinion that it was necessary that "Jehovah God [had] caused an ovum or egg cell in Mary's womb to become fertile...by the transferral of the life of his firstborn Son from the spirit realm" because it was "only in this way [that] the child eventually born [could] have retained identity as the same person who had resided in heaven as the Word" (Aid to Bible Understanding, 1971, p. 920). In other words, it was the “impersonal...life principle” (Insight On the Scriptures, Vol 2, p. 246) of the Son of God which had allowed Jesus to ‘retain identity as the same person who had resided in heaven as the Word’ (Aid to Bible Understanding, 1971, p. 920).

While the Witnesses maintain that Jesus and Michael are the "same person", their teaching that the soul constitutes a union of a particular body with the impersonal life force or life principle appears to indicate that they are in fact two distinctive souls. For they teach that “all things having life, either spiritual or fleshly, have an organism, or body” (Insight On the Scriptures, Vol 2, p. 246). This statement indicates that both the heavenly, spiritual Michael, and the fleshly, human Jesus were each in possession of a body, the former angelic, and the latter anthropic (or human). In what way can the bodies of Michael and Jesus be said to be distinguished from one another? The Witnesses observe that the bodies of men and animals are hierarchically differentiated, as they explain:

“What is the difference between a brute soul and a human soul? The human soul has a higher organization of body and brain, which constitutes him an individual of a higher order...” [Watchtower, 1/15/1913 pp. 23-24].

By the same token, the bodies of men and angels are hierarchically differentiated, as they further explain:

“angels have a greater mental capacity than man” (Insight On the Scriptures, Vol 1, p. 107).

Therefore, inasmuch as the Witnesses teach that an angelic soul has "a greater mental capacity" (Insight On the Scriptures, Vol 1, p. 107) than that of a human, or, in other words, "a higher organization of body and brain" (cf. Watchtower, 1/15/1913 pp. 24) than that of a human, it would appear that the Watchtower Society is teaching that there is in fact a difference between the human soul of Jesus of Nazareth and the angelic soul of Michael the Archangel. Nevertheless, the Witnesses maintain that Jesus “retained identity as the same person who had resided in heaven as the Word” (Aid to Bible Understanding, 1971, p. 920). In other words, it would appear that Michael and Jesus are two souls, but nevertheless the same person, according to the teachings of the Jehovah's Witnesses.

Thus far we have only dealt with the distinction between the pre-existent archangelic Michael and the anthropic (human) Jesus as understood by the Jehovah’s Witnesses. We must also look at what they have to say about the resurrected Jesus. Now with regard to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Witnesses believe that “God did not purpose for Jesus to be humiliated...forever by being a fleshly man forever. No, but after he had sacrificed his perfect manhood, God raised him to deathless life as a glorious spirit creature. He exalted him above all angels and other parts of God's universal organization, to be next-highest to himself, the Most High God.” [Let God Be True, 1952, p. 41] Jesus Christ, then, was resurrected as a “glorious spirit creature” according to the Witnesses. But we may ask, what kind of spirit creature, human, angelic, or something else altogether?

On the one hand, the Witnesses affirm that “angels are spirit creatures” (Aid to Bible Understanding, 1971, p. 1063), and moreover, that “angels have distinct personalities” (“Who or What Are Angels?”, online at https://www.jw.org/en/bible-teachings/questions/what-are-angels/). In other words, the Witnesses believe that angels are ‘spirit persons’. The Witnesses also teach in regard to those humans “who participate in th[e] first resurrection...the 144,000 members of the ‘body of the Christ’” (Let God Be True, 1952, p. 277), that “immortality...is promised to...those who become Christ's spiritual brothers...they become spirit persons” (Aid to Bible Understanding, p. 1063). It appears, then, that the Witnesses identify both human members of the first resurrection (the 144,000) and the angelic host in heaven as ‘spirit persons’.

On the other hand, the Witnesses also teach that “angels are a separate creation of God, not resurrected humans” [ “Who or What Are Angels?”, online at https://www.jw.org/en/bible-teachings/questions/what-are-angels/]. From the foregoing teachings of the Witnesses, to wit, that both humans and angels are ‘spirit persons’, and that angels are not resurrected humans, the question naturally arises: according to the Jehovah's Witnesses, unto which class of ‘spirit persons’ does the resurrected Lord and Savior Jesus Christ properly belong? The human or the angelic?

As we witnessed above, the Witnesses teach in regard to the resurrected Jesus that “after his resurrection and return to heaven, Jesus resumed his service as Michael, the chief angel” (Watchtower, 4/1/2010, p. 19). Furthermore, they believe that at 1 Thessalonians 4:16 “Paul describes the resurrected Jesus, saying: ‘The Lord [Jesus] himself will descend from heaven with a commanding call, with an archangel’s voice and with God’s trumpet.’ So Jesus Christ himself is here identified as the archangel, or chief angel.” [Ibid.]. It would appear, then, from what has been presented to us above, that the Witnesses believe that inasmuch as Jesus ‘calls out with an archangel’s voice’ when he descends from heaven, that he once more possesses the body of an archangel after he has been resurrected from the dead. And this would appear to be confirmed by another statement that has been made by the Witnesses, wherein they affirm that “the angel greatest in both power and authority is Michael, the archangel” [“Who or What Are Angels?”, online at https://www.jw.org/en/bible-teachings/questions/what-are-angels/]. Here the resurrected Jesus, who "resumed his service as Michael, the chief angel” (Watchtower, 4/1/2010, p. 19), is described by the Witnesses as “the angel greatest in both power and authority”.

It would appear, then, from the writings of the Witnesses which have been cited above, that the resurrected Jesus is to be numbered amongst the angelic class of spirit persons, rather than the human class of spirit persons. Inasmuch, then, as the Witnesses believe that “the soul is the entire person, [and] not some part that survives death” (What Is the Resurrection?, online at https://www.jw.org/en/bible-teachings/questions/what-is-the-resurrection/), and furthermore, that “a person who is resurrected is not reunited with his soul; [but] he is recreated as a living soul” (Ibid.), it would appear that the Witnesses are teaching that the human soul (viz. the human body and brain united to the impersonal life principle) that was the man Jesus of Nazareth had not been resurrected to new life from out of the dead, but rather it was the angelic soul (the angelic body and brain united to the impersonal life principle) of Michael the Archangel that Jehovah God had resurrected unto newness of life in heaven.

We further learn in regard to the resurrection of the Son of God from the dead that the Witnesses also teach that "the apostle Paul declares that there is 'one mediator between God and men, a man, Christ Jesus, who gave himself a corresponding ransom for all' — for both Jews and Gentiles. (1 Tim 2:5, 6) He mediates the new covenant between God and those taken into the new covenant, the congregation of spiritual Israel." [Insight On the Scriptures, Vol 2, p. 362]

The Witnesses also state in regard to this matter that "Christ became Mediator in order that the ones called 'might receive the promise of the everlasting inheritance' (Heb 9:15); he assists, not the angels, but 'Abraham’s seed.' (Heb 2:16) He assists those who are to be brought into the new covenant to be ‘adopted’ into Jehovah’s household of spiritual sons; these eventually will be in heaven as Christ’s brothers, becoming a part with him of the seed of Abraham." [Insight On the Scriptures, Vol 2, p. 362]

To sum up this matter (that is, with regard to the resurrection of the Son of God from the dead), the Witnesses teach the following things: "there is 'one mediator between God and men, a man, Christ Jesus, who gave himself a corresponding ransom for all' — for both Jews and Gentiles" (Insight On the Scriptures, Vol 2, p. 362); that "Christ became Mediator in order...[to] assist...not the angels, but 'Abraham’s seed'“ (Ibid.); that "after his resurrection and return to heaven, Jesus resumed his service as Michael, the chief angel” (Watchtower, 4/1/2010, p. 19); and, finally, that "he assists those who are to be brought into the new covenant to be ‘adopted’ into Jehovah’s household of spiritual sons...[who] eventually will be in heaven as Christ’s brothers, becoming a part with him of the seed of Abraham...the total number of those who are...sealed [being] 144,000" (Insight On the Scriptures, Vol 2, p. 362). In other words, the Witnesses teach that "after his resurrection and return to heaven...Michael, the chief angel" (Watchtower, 4/1/2010, p. 19) is actually "part...of the seed of Abraham", along with the 144,000 Jewish and Gentile members of the new covenant.

The answer to the question, "according to the Jehovah's Witnesses, in what way is Jesus human?," is that the Witnesses believe that the Son of God in becoming the man Jesus of Nazareth had become “a human soul” (God’s Eternal Purpose Now Triumphing for Man’s Good, p. 138), but that as the risen Michael the Son of God had become “the angel greatest in both power and authority” (“Who or What Are Angels?”, online at https://www.jw.org/en/bible-teachings/questions/what-are-angels/). In other words, the Son of God, in rising from the dead, had become an angelic ‘spirit person’ or an 'angelic soul' if you will. Inasmuch, then, as the Witnesses affirm that “angels are a separate creation of God, not resurrected humans” (“Who or What Are Angels?”, online at https://www.jw.org/en/bible-teachings/questions/what-are-angels/), it would appear that they do not believe that the Son of God had risen from the dead as a ‘resurrected human’, but rather, the Son of God had risen from the dead as a ‘resurrected angel’, unlike all of the others whom God has resurrected into heavenly life, viz., the 144,000, who represent “people from all walks of life, men and women, persons who have shared all the varied problems of mankind” [True Peace and Security—How Can You Find It? p. 66]. The 144,000 are referred to by the Witnesses as “resurrected humans” (“Who or What Are Angels?”), but the Son of God is said by them to have been “raised...from the dead, not as a human Son, but as a mighty immortal spirit Son” (Let God Be True, p. 40), that is to say, as “the angel greatest in both power and authority” (“Who or What Are Angels?”); in other words, as an angelic ‘spirit person’ or as an 'angelic soul' if you will.

To sum up matters, the Witnesses' teach that soul (or personality) "refer[s] to life, not in the abstract sense, but to life as a person or animal” (Aid to Bible Understanding, p. 1061). Indeed, they teach that the phrase “'my soul'...clearly means 'myself' or 'my person'" (Insight On the Scriptures, p. 1007). They further teach that soul or “personality...is the result of...hereditary and prenatal influences combined with...[a man’s] experiences" and that it "cannot exist without a body” (Watchtower, 1/15/1913 p. 24); that "angels have distinct personalities" (Who or What Are Angels?”); that "angels...have greater power and ability than humans" (Ibid.); that an angel has "a greater mental capacity" (Insight On the Scriptures, Vol 1, p. 107) than that of a human and "a higher organization of body and brain" (cf. Watchtower, 1/15/1913 pp. 24) than that of a human; that “the angel greatest in both power and authority is Michael, the archangel” (Who or What Are Angels?”); and furthermore, that "by human birth from Mary, the Jewish virgin, he (i.e. Michael--ed.)...[had] become a human soul” (God’s Eternal Purpose Now Triumphing for Man’s Good, 1973, p. 138). In other words, the Witnesses teach that the angelic soul and personality of Michael the Archangel, while differing in hereditary influences and in power and mental capacity from that of Jesus of Nazareth, had nevertheless 'retained identity as the same person' (or soul) when his life force had transferred into the womb of Mary and had become the human soul known as Jesus. They teach, moreover, that it was the “impersonal...life principle” (Insight On the Scriptures, Vol 2, p. 246) which had allowed Jesus to ‘retain identity as the same person who had resided in heaven as the Word’ (Aid to Bible Understanding, 1971, p. 920). That is to say, the Witnesses believe that when the angelic person (or soul) known as Michael became the human person (or soul) known as Jesus, they still 'retained identity as the same person' (Aid to Bible Understanding, 1971, p. 920), because they shared the same 'impersonal life force' (Insight On the Scriptures, Vol 2, p. 246), while differing in power and in mental capacity and in hereditary influences, which are said by them to be distinguishing marks between souls or persons, inasmuch as they affirm that soul or “personality...is the result of...hereditary and prenatal influences combined with...[a man’s] experiences", and that the soul or personality "cannot exist without a body” (Watchtower, 1/15/1913 p. 24).

The answer to the latter part of the question above: 'Was Jesus a spiritual entity cloaked in human biology, or would the Jehovah's Witnesses agree with the Trinitarian idea of a hypostatic union?', is that the Jehovah's Witnesses do not believe either that Jesus was a spiritual entity cloaked in human biology when Michael's life force had been transferred into Mary's womb, or that he existed in anything resembling the Hypostatic Union as set forth by the ancient churches of Christendom. The Witnesses make this very clear when they state concerning the Lord Jesus Christ that “his human birth was not an incarnation making him part man and part spirit person. No; but in this transfer of his life to the virgin's womb Jehovah's God-like Son divested himself of everything spirit and heavenly and became a man.” [Watchtower, 8/1/1942, p. 231]

The Witnesses teach rather that the Son of God is successively angel, and then man, and then angel again, while always remaining the Son of God, according to the unity of the impersonal life force or life principle which is successively transferred between them, which allows them to always be the same person. The Witnesses would also appear to teach that the resurrected Michael the Archangel is "part...of the seed of Abraham" (Insight On the Scriptures, Vol 2, p. 362).

In the final analysis, the doctrine set forth by the Jehovah's Witnesses with regard to the being made flesh, death and resurrection of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ would appear to indicate that it is the impersonal life force of the Son of God that was successively united to the angelic, and then to the human, and then again to the angelic biology. That is to say, the Son of God had successively been created as an angelic, and then as an anthropic (or human), and then again as an angelic soul. The Word having become flesh would not be affirmed by the Witnesses as having constituted a Hypostatic Union, that is to say, a union of two natures co-existing within a single personal existence, but they teach rather that the singular impersonal life force of the Son of God is successively united with two distinctive souls or personalities, that of the angelic Michael and that of the anthropic (human) Jesus. The Son of God could only properly be said to be human insofar as his life force had been united to the body of Jesus of Nazareth; otherwise, prior to his having become man, and subsequent to his having been resurrected from the dead, the impersonal life force of the Son of God had been united and had then been reunited with the body of an archangel, and could not be said to be human in any proper sense of the word, for the Witnesses are quite forthright in stating that “angels are a separate creation of God, not resurrected humans" (“Who or What Are Angels?”). The Witness teaching that the impersonal life force of the Son of God had been united in succession with two distinctive bodies, the archangelic and the anthropic (human), would appear to represent an angelic-anthropic union with the impersonal life principle of the Son of God, if Witness teachings relating to the body, soul and spirit as applied to the creation, dissolution and resurrection of the Archangel Michael and the man Jesus of Nazareth were to be translated into the language of abstract theological discourse. Indeed, this angelic-anthropic union with the impersonal life force of the Son of God was of such a nature that the Jehovah's Witnesses alone amongst all of the Christian communions are able to identify Michael the Archangel as "part...of the seed of Abraham" (Insight On the Scriptures, Vol 2, p. 362).

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  • "They appear to believe that the doctrine of the Trinity teaches that two people, the Father and the Son, are both the same person." No, Jehovah's Witnesses are well aware of what the Trinity teaches, but most people that we encounter in our preaching work who profess to be Christian do not have a good understanding of the Trinity, and the publications are written to take into account all the various interpretations that people have about the Trinity. – 4castle Sep 20 at 8:36
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    I cited from "What Can the Bible Teach Us?", Ch 4, Who Is Jesus Christ?, 12, where it is stated that "some people believe that Jesus and God are the same person". "Some people" here refers to Trinitarian believers. If the Witnesses are arguing against a misconception on the part of uneducated Trinitarians, they are not informing their followers as to what the great theologians and doctors of the Church and the ecumenical councils have taught regarding this matter. In effect, the cited work is either misinformed about the doctrine of the Trinity, or it is arguing against a strawman. – Thomas Palmieri Sep 20 at 8:47
  • JWs do have publications which present the Trinity as theologians would, but most people are not theologians. For a study publication designed for people of all religious backgrounds ("What Can the Bible Teach Us?"), it would not be useful to go into the details of disproving every single false idea that people have, instead the publication focuses on teaching Bible truth in a concise and clear way. It's not arguing against a strawman because many people really do believe this way. – 4castle Sep 20 at 9:00
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    The idea that the Father and the Son are the same person first appeared in Christian history as the Sabellian heresy in the third century. As such, the Witnesses are teaching their followers that the doctrine of the Trinity embraces the Sabellian heresy, when it was the Trinitarian fathers of the Church who had identified the erroneus teaching of Sabellius, and had combatted the spread of his ideas within the Church. It is obvious that the Witnesses do not understand the doctrine of the Trinity, because they have identified it with the Sabellian heresy, to which it was mightily opposed. – Thomas Palmieri Sep 20 at 9:19
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    I am familiar with this material, and have written about the many false representations that are made in that work, especially concerning the early Church fathers. Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Hippolytus, & Origen all identified the Son of God as the God of Israel. Clement of Alexandria writes: "our Instructor is the holy God Jesus, the Word...He confesses Himself to be the Instructor: "I am the Lord thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt." (The Instructor Ch VII). Tertullian wrote a work explicating the Trinity (Against Praxaeus) around 215 AD. Read and judge for yourself. – Thomas Palmieri Sep 20 at 13:36
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Arius was a 4th century priest in Alexandria, Egypt. He denied the deity of the Son of God, holding that Jesus was created by God as the first act of creation and that the nature of Christ was anomoios (“unlike”) that of God the Father. Arianism is the view that Jesus is a finite created being with some divine attributes, but He is not eternal and not divine in and of Himself.

“Arius was a senior presbyter in Alexandria. Around 318 he clashed with Bishop Alexander. Arius claimed that the Father alone was really God; the Son was essentially different from his Father. He did not possess by nature or right any of the divine qualities of immortality, sovereignty, perfect wisdom, goodness and purity. He did not exist before he was begotten by the Father. The Father produced him as a creature. Yet as the creator of the rest of creation, the Son existed ‘apart from time before all things’. Nevertheless, he did not share in the being of God the Father and did not know him perfectly. Arius taught that the Son of God was created ‘out of nothing’… that Christ was of a different substance (heteroousios) than the Father, that is, that He is a creature. Source: What Happened at Nicea?” by James R. White, as published in Christian Research Journal, July-August 1997, Vol. 19 No. 4, pp 30 – 34.

A major misinterpretation in Arianism concerns the meaning of firstborn as applied to Christ. Romans 8:29 speaks of Christ as “the firstborn among many brothers and sisters” (see also Colossians 1:15–20). Arians understand firstborn in these verses to mean that the Son of God was “created” as the first act of creation.

This is not the case. Jesus Himself proclaimed His self-existence and eternality (John 8:58; 10:30). In Bible times, the firstborn son of a family was held in great honor (Genesis 49:3; Exodus 11:5; 34:19; Numbers 3:40; Psalm 89:27; Jeremiah 31:9). It is in this sense that Jesus is God’s “firstborn.” Jesus is the preeminent Person in God’s plan and the Heir of all things (Hebrews 1:2). Jesus is the “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).

Semi-Arianism admitted that the Son was “of a similar substance” (homoiousious) as the Father, while rejecting that He was “of the same substance” (homoousious). A “similar” essence is still a “different” essence. In the Bible, Jesus is presented as both fully human and fully divine. If He is fully divine, then He is also eternal and cannot be a created being of God the Father. Jesus’ nature is not simply “like” the Father’s; He shares the Father’s exact nature (John 10:30; Colossians 2:9).

Semi-Arianism is not a theologically sound compromise between Arius’s position and orthodoxy. On the issue of Jesus’ divinity, there is no true compromise. Either Jesus was created, or He was not; He is either God in the flesh, or He is not. The Council of Nicaea in AD 325 rejected both Arianism and Semi-Arianism as heresy.

Edit: I realise I have failed to address your question, in what way is Jesus considered to be human according to Arianism. Please allow me to come back with a response as to whether they agree with the Trinitarian concept of the hypostatic union.

The hypostatic union is the term used to describe how God the Son, Jesus Christ, took on a human nature, yet remained fully God at the same time. At the incarnation Jesus, the Word, became a human being, adding human nature to his divine nature:

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14).

The hypostatic union expresses the orthodox Christian view that at the incarnation Jesus Christ was one Person, fully God and fully man. Jesus is God’s Son in that He was conceived by the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35). When Jesus was conceived, He became a human being in addition to being God (John 1:1, 14). Jesus is both fully human and fully divine, there is no mixture or dilution of either nature, and He is one united Person, forever.

You ask, was Jesus a spiritual entity cloaked in human biology, or would they (those who follow Arianism) agree with the Trinitarian idea of a hypostatic union? Arius taught that the nature of Christ was unlike that of God the Father, and that Christ was of a different substance than the Father. Semi-Arianism admitted that the Son was “of a similar substance” as the Father, while rejecting that He was “of the same substance”. Either way, neither Arianism nor Semi-Arianism is compatible with the hypostatic union which declares that Jesus shares the Father’s exact nature.

Jesus (the eternal and uncreated Word of God) became flesh to dwell with us. He was God incarnate – one Person, fully God and fully man. Arianism rejects that view.

Second Edit: You now ask: According to Jehovah’s Witnesses in what way is Jesus human? Jehovah’s Witnesses do not deny that Jesus was born as a human and was fully human, up until his death. They acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God, the Christ and the Messiah. However, there are some important differences with regard to who they say Jesus was before he came to earth as a human and who Jesus is now after his resurrection:

Jesus himself said that he lived in heaven before being born as a human... He was God’s first creation... He is the “only-begotten Son.” This means that Jesus is the only one directly created by God. Jesus is also the only one whom God used when He created all other things... [Jehovah] transferred the life of his first-born Son from heaven to the womb of a Jewish virgin named Mary. No human father was involved. Mary therefore gave birth to a perfect son and named him Jesus.

However, on the third day after Jesus died, his heavenly Father resurrected him back to spirit life. Source: Jehovah’s Witness publication ‘What Does the Bible Really Teach’ Chapter 4, paragraphs 10 to 14, pages 41 to 42; paragraph 21 page 46

At times, individuals are known by more than one name... Likewise, the Bible indicates that Michael is another name for Jesus Christ, before and after his life on earth... This scripture (1 Thessalonians 4:16] suggests that Jesus himself is the archangel Michael. Source: Jehovah’s Witness publication ‘What Does the Bible Really Teach’ Appendix pages 218 to 219

Although fully human, Jehovah’s Witnesses believe the pre-mortal Jesus was created by Jehovah God and is not equal to God. His body was not resurrected and what came out of the tomb was a spirit creature who took on the appearance of a man before returning to heaven as a spirit.

To answer the second part of your edited question: Would Jehovah’s Witnesses agree with the Trinitarian idea of a hypostatic union?

Trinitarian Christians understand that Jesus always had been God (John 8:58, 10:30), but at the incarnation Jesus became a human being (John 1:14). The addition of the human nature to the divine nature is Jesus, the God-man. This is the hypostatic union, Jesus Christ, one Person, fully God and fully man. The Trinitarian view of the hypostatic union declares that Jesus shares the Father’s exact nature. The divine nature was united with the human nature in the person of Jesus Christ.

In light of the above, it is clear that Jehovah’s Witnesses must disagree with the hypostatic union.

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    OP edited this question after this answer was given. Originally it asked for Arianism view not JWs – Kris Nov 23 '18 at 2:53
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The Jehovah's Witnesses believe that Jehovah God has existed from eternity past, and that around a few billion years ago he created a Son, a god (Jn 1:1 NWT) named Michael the Archangel (Is Jesus the Archangel Michael? Watchtower 10 4/1 p. 19), who existed in God's form (Phil 2:6 NWT) as the exact representation of Jehovah's very being (Heb 1:3 NWT). Jehovah and his firstborn Son enjoyed close association for billions of years — long before the starry heavens and the earth were created. (What Does the Bible Really Teach?, Chapter Four. Who is Jesus Christ?). At the time when he was first created, Jehovah gave Michael the nickname of "the Word", because he was going to speak for God, delivering messages and instructions to the Father’s other sons, both spirit and human (Ibid.). However, he would not assume that office for another several billion years or so (see above). Jehovah created his only begotten Son as a master craftsman (What Does the Bible Say About God and Jesus? from Should You Believe in the Trinity?), who would create all other things (Col 1:16 NWT) according to his Father's instructions. Michael would one day be known as the firstborn of all creation, not because he was to be resurrected as the firstborn from out of the dead, and was to inherit his Father's everlasting kingdom after he had ascended into heaven and had been seated at the right hand of his Father's favor, as some Christians think, but because he was the only one directly created by Jehovah God himself (What Does the Bible Really Teach?, Chapter Four. Who is Jesus Christ?).

Michael was willing to leave heaven and to be born on earth as a human (Who Is Jesus Christ? from What Can the Bible Teach Us? Ch 4). And so Jehovah sent his only begotten Son to earth by transferring his life force from heaven into the womb of a virgin named Mary (Ibid.). In transferring his life force into Mary's womb, the heavenly Word of God divested himself of everything as a God-like spirit except his impersonal life force, including his body and personality (AWAKE! 8-8-72, p.27; Aid to Bible Understanding, 1971, p.1061), and so Michael existed no more, because when the life force was withdrawn from him, the being or existence of Michael had ceased, because the principle of life pervades and is an essential element of all being, including that of angels, and death is the dissolution, or separation of the things which combined, constitute being - namely life and body (Watchtower, April 1881 p.1). The newly created human inside of Mary's womb was named Jesus, and he would have his own personality distinct from that of Michael, because Michael had not been sent to crawl inside of Mary's body (God's Eternal Purpose Now Triumphing, 1974, p.137). Now Jesus was to be called the Son of the Most High, and Jehovah God would give him the throne of David his father, and he would rule as King over the house of Jacob forever, and there would be no end to his Kingdom (Lk 1:32-33 NWT). And having been born of a virgin, Jesus went on progressing in wisdom and in physical growth and in favor with God and men (Lk 2:52 NWT).

And when he came of age, Jesus began his saving ministry, preaching repentance and the good news of Jehovah's coming kingdom (Mk 1:15 NWT). And after he had chosen his disciples and performed many good works in Jehovah's name, the time had come at last for him to obediently offer himself on the torture stake (Mk 15:15 NWT) to Jehovah as a ransom sacrifice in payment for the sin of disobedience that the first man Adam had committed in the Garden of Eden. And when he had been nailed to the stake (Mt 27:35 NWT), and had suffered awhile, Jesus called out with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit to his Father Jehovah (Mt 27:50 NWT).

And so it came to pass that Jesus was dead, forever dead (Studies in the Scriptures, Vol. 5, 1899, p. 454). And many tombs were opened, and many bodies of the holy ones who had fallen asleep were raised up, and their dead bodies became visible to many people (Mt 27:52-53 NWT). And after three days Jehovah raised his beloved Son from the dead, and he prevented his Son’s fleshly body from seeing corruption in the grave (Insight On the Scriptures, Vol. 1, p. 1197), for his body had been disintegrated without passing through the process of decaying (Insight On the Scriptures, Vol. 1 p. 349). And Mary Magdalene and the other Mary appeared before the tomb, and saw that it had been opened, and that the body was not inside. And they beheld an angel, who told them that Jesus was not there, for he had been raised up by Jehovah from the dead. And then the angel told the women to go and tell his disciples that he had been raised up from the dead, and that he would be going ahead of them all into Galilee (Mt 28:6-7 NWT). Now before he had ascended into heaven as a mighty, immortal spirit person, Christ materialized fleshly bodies of various kinds for the purpose of giving his disciples visible, palpable evidence of his resurrection (Insight On the Scriptures, Vol. 1, p. 841). And on his last day on earth, he appeared before his disciples, and said unto them: "you will receive power when Jehovah's holy spirit comes upon you, and you will be witnesses of me in Jerusalem, in Judea and Samaria, and unto the most distant parts of the earth. After he had said these things, while they were looking at him, he was lifted up and a cloud caught him up from their sight (Acts 1:8-9 NWT). And the Lord Jesus was taken up to heaven and sat down at the right hand of God (Mk 16:19 NWT Longer Version). And so it came to pass that the Son of God who was known as Michael before he had come down unto earth was known once more by that name after he had returned unto heaven (Reasoning From the Scriptures, 1985, p.218). God's Son had died as the man Christ Jesus, and Jehovah had disintegrated his dead body, and the life force that Jehovah had transferred from Michael unto Jesus had been transferred once more unto Michael, whom Jehovah had recreated (resurrected) body and soul.

It would appear, then, that the Jehovah's Witnesses believe that Jesus had his own distinctive body and personality, and that Michael had his own distinctive body and personality. What was common to them both was the impersonal life force that Jehovah had transferred between them. And since it was this impersonal life force, and not the individual body and personality, which had made either of these persons the Son of God, the body and personality of the man Christ Jesus was the only one among the whole human race which had no hope of the resurrection, because his life force had been vouchsafed unto the Archangel Michael. And this is confirmed by their saying that "Jesus was dead, forever dead" (Studies in the Scriptures, Vol. 5, 1899, p. 454). The Witnesses appear to believe, then, that the man Jesus of Nazareth was human, fully human, in both body and personality, except that he alone among all of the human race had no hope of the resurrection, because he could not be resurrected as the Son of God, whose impersonal life force had been transferred once more unto the recreated body and personality of Michael the Archangel.

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2 more cents from a JW:

We believe that there is only one God, The Father. Jehovah. Period. No exceptions or complications.

We believe that Jesus is "The Word" that was with God since the beginning of creation, as he was the firstborn of creation, God's only-begotten son. A spiritual, heavenly being, but not the infinite, single almighty God. This being was sent to be humbled, reduced to the body of a human, to be born, and live a life without sin to die as our Messiah and savior. He gave his body, and the scripture commonly translated as "gave up the ghost" is more accurately translated that he "sacrificed his very soul." Fully dying for 3 days before God resurrected him from the dead, glorified back into his previous heavenly body, free from human limitations (which is why he could walk around with wounds that were previously mortal). He then ascended to heaven, where flesh can not go to sit at the right hand of his Father and our Father, his God and our God.

So, we believe they are two distinct individuals. No "Fully this, yet fully the opposite of this yet perfectly both, yet neither, in divine mystery..." We just believe Jesus simply was who he said he was.

John 17:3: "And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent."

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  • @curiousdannii As I am not an Arian I do not quote him, but I have updated my post now I have time to do so. ethos – user43190 Dec 6 '18 at 13:05
  • JWs do not believe that Jesus walked around with wounds that were previously mortal after his resurrection. Rather that he was resurrected in spirt form and materialized in various human forms to his followers on earth like angels materialized into human form in the Hebrew Scriptures. To walk about in the same flesh and bones that he had as a human would require him to die again in order to return to his father in Heaven Yet scripture says he died once for all time. – Kris Dec 6 '18 at 15:52
  • It may beunclear exactly how it happened, but Thomas was able to put his hand in the holes. He could have had anew bodyand just replicated those holes, or just like he was humbled to come to earth as a human, his body could have been gloified when he was resurrected. Whether those were lasting wounds or not or real wounds, Thomas physically inspected wounds that would have been mortal to any human. – Rey Kabrom Dec 11 '18 at 2:51
  • jw.org/en/bible-teachings/questions/jesus-body. See this link for official viewpoint of Jehovah’s witnesses concerning the bodies that Jesus materialized when appearing to his followers after his resurrection. Also it is better to offer just one answer per question Use the edit feature under your answer to add information or official sources that support the answer you provide – Kris Dec 11 '18 at 18:59
  • "We just believe Jesus simply was who he said he was." If you have seen me, you have seen the Father. "God's only-begotten son". What does God beget? – Mike Borden Sep 14 at 12:10
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Short answer from a JW- 1 Corinthians 8:6. There is for us only one God, the Father... and one lord, the Son.

Jehovah, the Father is the only infinte almighty God. Jesus is his son, firstborn of creation. He was then humbled to the limitations of humanity, lived a perfect life and paid the price he didn't owe to pay our debt (giving his life and forfeiting his very soul) by dying. God resurrected him 3 days later, glorified to his true form.

We don't see any biblical reason to use any specialty language, fully one thing, yet fully some mutually exclusive term. We believe he simply was exactly what he described himself as. No more complications necessary.

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