Answering the Witnesses: the Name “Jehovah”

Jehovah’s Witnesses believe they are the only true servants of God in the world today because they use God’s unique, personal name – Jehovah. According to them, this very name appears 7,000 times in the Hebrew scriptures but has been removed.

The fact is, the anglicized word “Jehovah” occurs nowhere in the Hebrew texts. The name that occurred was YHWH or JHVH which no one could exactly pronounce. This name was called the “Tetragrammation” (because of its four letters). The ancient Jews dreaded mispronouncing this name, so they used the name “Adonai” (meaning LORD) instead.

According to the Encyclopedia Judaica (Vol. 7, 680): “The true pronunciation of the name YHWH was never lost. Several early Greek writers of the Christian church testify that the name was pronounced ‘YAHWEH’ … At least until the destruction of the First Temple in 586 B.C.E this name was regularly pronounced with its proper vowels, as is clear from the Lachish letters, written shortly before that date.”

The Encyclopedia Britannica (1985, Micropedia, 12:804) agrees: “After the Exile (6th century B. C.), and especially from the 3rd century BC on, Jews ceased to use the name Yahweh for two reasons. As Judaism became a universal religion through its proselytizing in the Greco-Roman world, the more common noun elohim, meaning ‘god’ tended to replace Yahweh.”

Later in the Middle Ages, “the vowels of Adonai were attached to the consonant YHWH … [and] the word Jehovah resulted” (Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Thomas Nelson, 1995, 503). Therefore, the name “Jehovah” is really a man made term more so since there are no “J” or “V” sounds in Hebrew.

JWs point at the “Jehovah” in Psalm 83:18 and Isaiah 12:2, 26:4 of the King James version. This really proves nothing because the name was first coined circa 13th century A.D. and was not popular until the 16th century. The “Jehovah” name was used in William Tyndale’s translation and this is why it appears in the KJV.

In their brochure, The Divine Name That will Endure Forever, none of the archaeological proofs they presented for the name “Jehovah” date earlier than the medieval period.

JWs quote Exodus 3:15, that God must always be addressed as Jehovah but a study of the Old Testament shows that this was not the only name for God. Many times, God revealed Himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Jesus Christ never addressed God as Jehovah, He began His prayers addressing God as “Our Father…” (Matthew 6:9). He prayed at the cross “Father forgive them…” (Lk. 23:34).

While the Jews accused Jesus of several things, they never accused Him of not using the name “Jehovah.” If God must always be referred to as Jehovah, then Jesus was in error. Christians also address God as “Abba Father” (Rom. 8:15, Gal. 4:16).

Nowhere does the name “Jehovah” occur in all the 5,000 Greek New Testament manuscripts – since it’s not a Greek word – yet JWs have smuggled it into the New Testament of their own New World version!

Granted, their name “Jehovah’s Witnesses” was adopted in 1931, it was not the name their founder gave them. The text they used, Isaiah 43:10 says “You are my witnesses,” declares Jehovah,“Yes, my servant whom I have chosen…”

Reading the whole chapter, however, it’s clear that it refers to the nation of Israel as a collective witness to God’s majesty, faithfulness and truth. To take this verse referring to Israel – 700 years before Christ – and claim it is fulfilled in a modern day religious group 1900 years after Christ is a gross misuse of Scripture.

In the New Testament, the main focus was for Christians to be witnesses of Jesus Christ.

Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the holy spirit comes upon you, and you will be witnesses of me [Jesus] in Jerusalem, in all Ju·deʹa and Sa·marʹi·a, and to the most distant part of the earth.”

Acts 2:32 “God resurrected this Jesus, and of this we are all witnesses.

Acts 4:33 “And with great power the apostles continued giving the witness about the resurrection of the Lord Jesus

JWs desperately latch on to Acts 15:14 that God takes out “a people for his name” and they are the ones. This passage gives no name, so how did JWs arrive at their conclusion? Are they saying that God didn’t have a witness for 18 centuries until they were founded? This also leads us to another fact: there is only one name by which Christians are to be identified and that is the name of Jesus Christ.

a) In whose name should we meet together? Mt. 18:20, 1 Cor. 5:4.

b) Demons are subject to whose name? Lk. 10:19, Acts 16:18

c) Repentance and forgiveness should be preached in whose name? Lk. 24:47

d) By whose name and no other do we obtain salvation? Acts 4:12

e) In whose name are we to pray? John 14:13

f) In whose name did the early disciples heal the sick and expel demons? Acts 3:6, 16:18

g) Whose name is above all other name? Phil. 2:9-11, Eph. 1:21

The answer is Jesus Christ, not Jehovah. God has split the human language and He may not expect us to use the same name for Him all over the world. Aside this, God has revealed Himself not just by name, but more importantly by His Word. “…for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name” Psalm 138:2 (KJV).

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