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What do Jehovah’s Witnesses really mean when they speak of the “anointed” going to heaven as “spirit beings” or  “spirit persons”? What do they mean when they say God raised Jesus as a “spirit being” or  “spirit person”? Do the Jehovah’s Witnesses themselves understand their own teaching?

The Watchtower Society instructs its followers that since 1914, a class of people they call “the anointed” go directly to heaven when they die. However, they do not go in physical bodies. The Society describes them as “spirit beings” or “spirit persons.”  The 1968 Watchtower book THE TRUTH that leads to ETERNAL LIFE asks, “But what about the soul? Is it not a part of man that separates from his body at death and goes on living?” (page 35). The book provides the answer on the next page: “Since the human soul is man himself, THEN IT CANNOT be some shadowy thing that merely inhabits the body or can exist apart from the person…. the human soul possess physical qualities…. that souls have blood traveling through their veins…. Yes, your soul is really you, and all your physical and mental qualities.

This book teaches that “the spirit” is another part of man, defining it this way: “Whereas the human soul is the living person himself, the spirit is simply the life force [breath] that enables that person to be alive. The spirit has no personality, nor can it do the things a person can do. It cannot think, speak, hear, see or feel” (page 39).

This seems to be quite clear, but raises an obvious question.  These “spirit beings” or “the anointed” who go to heaven must be able to think, speak, hear, see and feel. But the Society’s own definition of “spirit” is that it has none of these abilities! When Jesus appeared after His resurrection, He thought, spoke, heard, saw and felt. A “spirit being” should not be able to do these things, if the Watchtower Society is correct!

It helps to take the subject of “spirit persons” or “spirit beings” in very small steps in your efforts to help a Jehovah’s Witness realize that what the Watchtower Society teaches is in contradiction to the Bible. Another one of the Society’s books, You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth (1982 and 1989) only complicates the problem for them. The book states “Also, think how wonderful it will be to have as rulers persons who proved faithful to God on earth, many of them even sacrificing their lives in behalf of the Kingdom. Angels have not faced such kind of testings. Nor have they experienced the problems common to humankind. So they would not fully understand what it is like to be a sinful human and to have the problems we humans do. But the 144,000 will understand because they have had these very problems. Some of them have had to overcome very sinful practices, and they know how hard it can be to do so. Therefore, they will deal with their earthly subjects in an understanding way” (page 125).

So according to the Watchtower Society, the 144,000 who are to go to heaven will remember their earthy life! But the Society also teaches that man has nothing outside of the human body with a memory that lives on after death. And if  “a spirit” has no personality, then where does it get this memory that the 144,000 will have in heaven?

You will have to take the following questions one at a time in order to help a Jehovah’s Witness think about these contradictions. It’s a subject they’ve likely never faced before, so it should cause them to do some serious thinking.

Ask, “I have heard that the Watchtower Society believes that only 144,000 will go to heaven. Will these people have physical bodies? What form will they take?”

Likely answer: “They will not have physical bodies, because 1Cor. 15:50 says, “However, this I say, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit God’s kingdom.” (Later you can point out that when Jesus appeared to the disciples after His resurrection, He said that He was not “a spirit” and He said He had a body of “flesh and bones” Luke 24:36-43. He did not mention ‘blood.’ Therefore, 1 Cor. 15:50 is not talking about the same thing as the resurrected body of Jesus. Save this observation for later)

Ask, “In what form will they go to heaven?

Likely Answer, “They’ll be “spirit beings or persons.”

Ask, “Well, in what form was Jesus raised from the dead?”

Likely Answer, “He was raised as “a spirit,” according to 1 Peter 3:18: “He (Jesus) being put to death in the flesh, but being made alive in the spirit.” (Note that the verse does not say “a spirit.”  To overcome this problem, the Society takes the word “spirit” from this verse and then take the “a” from 1 Cor. 15:44 which says: “raised up a spiritual body,” and come up with the “a spirit.”

Now, in order to provide a good foundation for the questions you want to reach on this subject, ask the following questions first:

Ask, “Would you please explain the Watchtower Society’s interpretation of Genesis 6:1-2? It reads in their translation, “Now it came about that when men started to grow in numbers on the surface of the ground and daughters were born to them, then the sons of the [true] God began to notice the daughters of men, that they were good looking; and they went taking wives for themselves, namely, all whom the chose.” (a footnote in the NWT Bible says “the sons of the [true] God were “angels”). Even though I do not agree with the Society’s interpretation of this verse, you can use their version to illustrate a point.

Likely Answer: “The ‘sons of God’ were fallen angels, and they came down to earth and took on human bodies, marrying women and producing the Nephilim, as mentioned in Gen. 6:4.”

Ask, “What happened to these ‘sons of God’ who took upon themselves physical bodies when the flood came?”

Likely Answer: “The ‘spirit beings’—fallen angels, left those human bodies and went back to the heavens. The physical bodies were drowned in the Flood.”

Asking these questions will help you show that according to Watchtower teaching, these “spirit beings” left the human bodies they had inhabited during the Flood, and went back to the form they were in before. The important thing to establish is that the “spirit persons,” or fallen angels, were never incorporated as part of the physical bodies they possessed, but remained independent.

You will follow this line of Watchtower teaching to clarify that they believe a “spirit being” existed before Jesus’ birth, entered into Him at His conception or birth, and then departed from the body at His death. The Society teaches that this “spirit person” in Jesus went back to the form it was before it entered His body. Therefore, the WT Society has no real resurrection of Jesus! Your goal will also be to connect the fact that this “spirit being” in Jesus was in reality the “Son of God.” The Society teaches that Jesus was only a man and so it does not have the “Son of God” dwelling in Jesus.

Ask, “Could we please read Mark 5:1-14? Do you think the “devil spirits,” or “spirit persons” described here, who entered into this man, existed before?

Likely Answer: “Yes.”

Ask, “Well, did they become an actual part of the man? When Jesus cast them out and they left, was the man still a “whole man”?  If not, what were these demons, really?”

Likely Answer, “The ‘evil spirits,’ or ‘spirit persons’ were something distinct and separate from the man.”

Now you want to show that this “spirit person” they believe dwelled in Jesus was not the same type of “spirit” that the Society says is in humans. The human “spirit,” they teach, “has no personality, nor can it do the things a person can do. It cannot think, speak, hear, see or feel.”  Note that this description of “spirit” could not apply to the 144,000, either.

The purpose for this next section is to get the Witnesses you are dealing with to see that the “spirit” in man, which is only “breath” according to the above quoted article, is not the same as the “spirit person” who appeared after the resurrection of Jesus. Jehovah’s Witnesses just pass off the words, “Jesus was raised as ‘a spirit,’” but they never stop to think about what they are saying. Your goal is to make them think.

The scripture passages that describe Jesus’ appearances after His resurrection make it obvious that He was more than just breath! What the Watchtower Society actually believes is that the Father created a “Son of God,” but that he was inferior to the Father. It teaches that this “Son of God” was actually the archangel Michael, who gave up his “life force” at the time of Jesus conception, or birth, and that Michael ceased to exist for 33 ½ years. Therefore, nothing in Michael existed in Jesus!

Then the Society teaches that when Jesus died, His body went “back into the elements” within three days; on the third day Michael, a “spirit being,” was “recreated.” So after the third day, Michael the “spirit being” inhabited different bodies; the Society believes this explains the fact that the disciples sometimes did not recognize Jesus during His post-resurrection appearances. The Society teaches that Michael really entered into a number of different bodies, but at times used one that looked exactly like the body Jesus had on earth after His crucifixion.  It teaches that this “spirit being” Michael was telling the disciples that he was the resurrected Jesus, when in actuality he was a “spirit person” impersonating Jesus!

Then, the Society says, the body that the “spirit person” Michael indwelled ascended into the clouds after 40 days. This presents a problem, since the Watchtower Society does not believe physical bodies can enter heaven. The Society solves the problem by teaching that when Michael reached the clouds, he discarded the body! Their explanation is puzzling to say the least, since those on earth couldn’t see what happened in the clouds, and the Bible does not make such a statement!

Ask, “Could we read Luke 24:13-35? It seems to be describing the appearance of someone who had a personality, and could “think, speak, hear, see or feel.” This isn’t the same “spirit” that dwells in man, is it?”

Likely Answer: “No, it’s not” (although the Witness you are speaking with does believe the person making the appearances was really Michael, impersonating Jesus).

Ask, “Could we read Luke 24:36-49? It seems like it is another description of this “spirit being,” in a body, being different from the “spirit,” or “breath,” that’s in man, wouldn’t you say? After all, he spoke and thought.”

Likely Answer: “Yes.”

Now you will work on determining the identity of this “spirit person.”

Ask, “Can we read John 6:38-42?  Jesus seems to be saying here that He existed in heaven before He came to earth, and that He came down from heaven.”

Likely answer: “Yes.”

Now you want to decide exactly who came down from heaven!

Ask, “Could we look at John 1:1-3, and 14-18? They seem to be saying that the Creator, the Son of God, who existed as a “spirit being,” left heaven and came down to earth and indwelt the man Jesus Christ.” (The Watchtower Society teaches that the Son of God was created by the Father, so it identifies Jesus as the co-creator and thus inferior. It will be too great a step for a Jehovah’s Witness at this point to see the Son as eternal, so go slowly, and get him or her to admit that it was “the Son of God” who dwelt in Jesus.)

Likely Answer: “Yes.”

Ask, “Well, from the verses we’ve looked at, would you agree that the Son of God, the creator, (or the co-creator, their term) who existed in heaven, came down as a “spirit person” and dwelt in the man Jesus, in the body that started growing in Mary’s womb?”

Likely Answer: “Yes.”  But if the Witness disagrees, ask him or her what logical conclusion they have “what came down from heaven.”

Ask, “So if this is true, wouldn’t it make Jesus both Son of God and a human man at the same time while He was on this earth?”

Likely Answer: “?” This will be an entirely a new concept for a Jehovah’s Witness to consider. He or she might have to think a few seconds before answering. If the Witness disagrees, ask how they solve the problem in harmony with the Scripture you have read.  What is it exactly that came down from heaven?

Ask, “So if Jesus was Son of God and a human man at the same time, wouldn’t it be logical at His death for this “spirit person”/Son of God who left the body to be the one who made these appearances? After all, this “spirit person” could “think, speak, hear, see and feel.”

Likely Answer: “Yes.”

At this point the Jehovah’s Witness will be doing some real thinking!

Ask, “Well now, since the “spirit person”/Son of God never died, why do you think He appeared after His death in different bodies?”

Likely answer: “?” I am not sure the answer you will get but here is the answer that two Witnesses gave: “We don’t know. We suppose it was to accomplish some unknown aspect of God’s will, but we don’t know the specific reason He did that. We don’t think it is something we need to know.”

Ask, “Why do you think He showed up after His death in a human body that resembled the one He had after He was crucified?” (See John 20:24-29)

Likely Answer: “To convince the disciples that He was the same person they had known before, so they would recognize Him.”

Ask, “Do you believe that this “spirit person”/Son of God always appeared in exactly the same body?”

Likely Answer: “?” (The Society teaches that the “spirit person” used different bodies, so I don’t know the answer you will get here. But one Witnesses’ answer was, “We don’t know.”)

Ask, “So there were all these appearance He made after He died, but it wasn’t the same human body Jesus had used on earth, minus the blood? It was a “spirit person” using different bodies, not one that had really been raised up, just to make the impression that it was the original one? Wouldn’t that be a kind of deception?”

Likely Answer, “?”  Here is what two Witnesses answered: “Oh, no. Jehovah is never deceptive. We just don’t know these little details. It could have been the same body the ‘spirit person’ used on earth. We just don’t know. Maybe the ‘light will get brighter in the future on it, just like we learn more things about outer space. Maybe they’ll discover life on other planets. It’s sort of the same thing.”

Ask, “Well, so far we’ve seen that the “spirit person”/Son of God came down and dwelt in Jesus, and then at His death, this “spirit person”/Son of God continued to exist but without a permanent human body. Do I have this right?”

Likely Answer: “Yes.”

Ask, “Then, since the “spirit person” came down from heaven and dwelt in Jesus’ human body and then left when He died, there was actually no resurrection of the spirit person?

Likely Answer: “?” You might get a vague answer.

Even though the Witness doesn’t see Jesus as eternal at this stage, there are two very important points to show here about the actual Son of God:

· He came down and dwelt in Jesus

· Jesus was therefore both human and divine

So far there has been no resurrection, and the Bible speaks quite clearly about it. Therefore, the next step has to do with helping the Jehovah’s Witness realize that the Bible teaches there was an actual resurrection, but not in accordance with the Watchtower’s teachings. The Society teaches that within three days of His death, Jesus’ physical body went back into the elements or the “gases,” never to be seen again. And you have also demonstrated that the Society teaches this “spirit person”/Son of God in Jesus never died so the “spirit person” can’t be what was resurrected! The only thing that could be resurrected would be Jesus’ physical body. But to show this you will have to take small steps.

There are many verses on the physical resurrection of Jesus, and you can read all of them with the Witness you are trying to reach. It is important to go through at least part of the following list, and don’t let them take you to other verses:

  • Matthew 16:21, 17:22-23, 20:19
  • Luke 24:46
  • Acts 10:40
  • 1 Cor. 15:4
  • 1 Peter 3:18

After going through all these verses very slowly,

Ask, “All these verses seem to stress the idea that something died and then was raised up on the third day.  What do you think it was?”

Likely Answer: “?”  Two Witnesses once answered, “Hmmm. Maybe it was the same body. Jehovah could do anything He wanted. It makes sense that it would be the same body, doesn’t it?”

Ask, “Well, if it wasn’t the actual body of Jesus that He had on earth, a body of ‘flesh and bone,’ then what do you think it was?”

If they don’t give a positive answer,

Ask, “As a Jehovah’s Witness, what exactly do you think it was that died and came back to life on the third day?”

Likely Answer: “?”

It’s important not to let the Witness get you onto another subject, or evade the question here. Keep them on the point until they come up with something that lived and actually rose from the dead. They believe the “spirit person”/Son of God didn’t die and come back to life, so the only thing that could have met both these criteria was the actual human body of Jesus. This completely destroys the teachings of the WT Society, which denies the bodily resurrection of Christ; the Bible shows so clearly that it did happen, however.

But for the Jehovah’s Witness, this is not the end of the problem! The Watchtower Society teaches that human bodies cannot enter into heaven. The Bible teaches differently!

Ask, “Could we look at 1 Timothy 2:5-6?” It reads in their New World Translation: “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and man, the MAN, Christ Jesus, who gave himself a corresponding ransom for all—[this is] what is to be witnessed to at its own particular times.” Then go back and read what I quoted from the Paradise book on page 125. The one who is the mediator (they say it is the 144,000) had to have an earthly existence as a man; 1Timothy says this man had to return to heaven and be the mediator.

Ask, “I wonder if Hebrews 4:14-16 has the answer for us?” Read the verses together. Their translation reads, “Seeing, therefore, that we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold onto [our] confessing [of him]. For we have as high priest not one who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tested in all respects like ourselves, but without sin. Let us, therefore, approach with freeness of speech to the throne of undeserved kindness, that we may obtain mercy and find undeserved kindness for help at the right time.”

Ask, “Since these verses state that Jesus Christ is the mediator in heaven, and that He is a ‘man,’ isn’t the Bible showing that humans can exist in heaven? This couldn’t apply just to the “spirit person”/Son of God, could it? Wouldn’t it have to include the human part of Jesus?”

Here I will quote an actual conversation a Christian had with two Jehovah’s Witnesses when discussing this subject. The Christian’s questions are in black and the Witness’s answers are in red:

“Well now, did I hear you correctly last week when you said that human bodies can’t enter heaven?” Yes.”  “Then how are we to understand 1 Tim. 2:5-6, those verses we looked at last week, because it seems to me, just from reading the verses, that the mediator is a man. Wouldn’t there have to be a physical body—a flesh-and-bone body in heaven for the mediator to be a man?” In my 35 years of being a JW and preaching the Good News, nobody has ever asked me that question…. That’s a very good question…. That’s an interesting question…. Hmmm… 1 Timothy 2:5-6 is cross-referenced with Romans 5:15 and Heb. 9:2-25 in our Bible.

“Oh, well, let’s look at those verses you have there…. Hmmmm. I see that Rom. 5:15 specifically uses the expression “man Jesus Christ,” and those verses in Hebrews also refer to Jesus as the High Priest, which leads me back to Heb. 4:14-16—those are the verses that talk about Jesus as the High Priest, and stress that He was “tested’ in all things like we are. Did I understand you correctly last week that you said it was only the “spirit person” who was the mediator?” Yes.” “But here it says the mediator was “tested.” How could that apply to a ‘spirit person’?” That’s an interesting question.” “I mean, it seems as if the verses are saying that part of the identity of the mediator was that He was human! Right?” Well, He was human while He was on earth, but that part of Him died.” “But 1 Tim. 2:5 is in the present tense: “There is one God and one mediator between man and God, the man Christ Jesus.” And then Heb. 4:15 is also in the present tense: “We have a high priest… one who has been tested.” It seems like it’s careful to establish that He’s currently our high priest because he was tested at a time in the past, and passed the test! How could that apply to a ‘spirit person’ who couldn’t be tested like we as humans are tested?” We don’t know, but we’ll write all these verses down and your questions, and research it.”

So far we have learned about this “spirit person” or “spirit being” the Watchtower Society says appeared after the death of Christ. We’ve also considered Christ’s resurrection, and Him being the mediator as both God and man. But there is another problem that needs to be dealt with along this line, and that is the Society’s teaching about the form of the “144,000 anointed” who supposedly are the only ones who go to heaven.  The Society teaches that these “anointed” go to heaven as “spirit beings.” Let’s examine this.

I quoted above from the Paradise book, page 125. Your goal will be to help the Jehovah’s Witness to see that the teachings of the Watchtower Society are not Scriptural. The Society teaches that those in heaven who live and reign with “Jesus” (actually Michael) will remember the experiences they had on earth.

We showed from the Paradise book that the Society teaches there is a “spirit=breath” in man that has no personality and cannot do the things that a person can do. So when the Witnesses speak about the 144,000 going to heaven as “spirit beings” or “spirit persons,” they have to be something different from just the “spirit-breath” they believe is in humans.

Ask, “Do I understand correctly that the Watchtower Society teaches that the 144,000 who go to heaven will go as ‘spirit beings’ or ‘spirit persons’?”

Likely Answer: “Yes. That is correct.”

Ask, “In light of the two articles from Watchtower publications (quoted above) it would seem impossible that just the “spirit=breath” dwells in humans. Some of the memory and experiences that the 144,000 had on earth must go with them, or they wouldn’t be able to do what the book says they will do in the Paradise book. Where do these “spirit persons” or “spirit beings” come from?”

Likely Answer: “?”  You are going to get a very vague answer if you get one at all, but your purpose in asking these questions is to get them to think!

Ask, “Could we look at Romans 8:1-18? If I understand the Watchtower Society’s teachings correctly, these verses apply only to the “anointed,” especially v. 16, don’t they?”  (Jehovah’s Witnesses always read this passage once a year at their “Memorial=Lord’s Supper” to show who can partake and who can’t. The “anointed” supposedly have “the spirit that witnesses to them that they are of the anointed class” and so they are able to partake.)

Likely Answer: “Yes.”

Ask, “Well, I see that verse 11 says, ‘If, now, the spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwells in YOU, he that raised up Christ Jesus from the dead will also MAKE YOUR MORTAL BODIES ALIVE through his spirit that resides in YOU.’ This verse says clearly that the mortal bodies of the “anointed” will be raised up.  You say they are the ones who will be in heaven, so doesn’t the Bible teach here that the physical bodies of the ‘anointed’ will be in heaven? And I still don’t understand who these ‘spirit beings’ are.”

Likely Answer: “?”  Since this is an entirely new thought for a Jehovah’s Witness, I am not sure what answer he or she will give. Keep them to the point and don’t let them take you to any other verses. They will often try to divert you to l Cor. 15:50, which says, “flesh and blood cannot inherit God kingdom.”  But this verse does not say that glorified human bodies are blocked from heaven. The Bible teaches that the human bodies we have now will be changed to glorified bodies like the one that Christ has [Phil. 3:20-21]. God makes these glorified bodies, like Christ’s, adaptable for heaven. And two verses later, in verse 52, we learn that we will be “changed.” This is the glorified body that will go to heaven. You can also take the Witness to Luke 24:39 and show that that Jesus’ resurrected body was make up of flesh and bone; the glorified body is clearly different than the one spoken of in 1 Cor. 15:50, which cannot enter heaven.


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