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Chapter 15: What Kyrios Means to Me

    In the Overview, the reader was told that this book began as a personal study. Explaining more now will help you understand why this book was written and the effect of the study on my life.

God sent two Witnesses

    In 1983, two Witnesses came to our home. They were gracious and articulate gentlemen, well-informed and knowledgeable concerning their beliefs. They favorably represented the Watch Tower Society, and expressed a willingness to maintain contact through study.

    At the time, I had been active in Christian churches for many years. However, I knew little of the Jehovah's Witnesses' doctrine. At first, I was primarily interested in learning about Witnesses. (Of course, as any Witness who has spent time in field service understands, I also wanted to defend my "evangelical Protestant" point of view.)

    In our early discussions, we went through a familiar process of exchanging theological opinions, each of us attempting to persuade the other with our favorite verses. The conversations were enjoyable, but neither they, nor I, were convincing the other.

Two personal decisions

    At this point, I made two decisions which completely altered the way I responded to these two Witnesses as well as the subject itself.

  1. First, I decided that I would learn from Witnesses themselves. That meant that I would study from the New World Translation, I would read other Watch Tower publications, I would occasionally attend Kingdom Hall meetings, and, above all, I would not find my answers in books written to criticize the teachings of the Watch Tower Society.

  2. Secondly, and most importantly, I decided that I would be open to God and allow him to direct me into truth. That was a frightening—yet liberating—decision. I decided that if, after my study, I discovered that Jesus was who the Watch Tower Organization claimed him to be, then I would acknowledge him as such.[1]

[1] Simply stated, I believed with less certainty then—as I believe now with great assurance after my study of the biblical information associated with the Greek word Kyrios—that Scripture fully identifies Jesus with Jehovah God himself. Witnesses merely believe that Jesus is God's first and highest creation. The contrast is immense when one considers that, in salvation, we have God's righteousness through Jesus. (See Romans 4:24-5:2 and 2 Corinthians 5:20b-21.) The difference is whether, because of Christ's death and resurrection, the one who believes receives merely the righteousness of the highest of God's created beings, or infinitely greater, the full righteousness of Jehovah God himself. In the first instance, that righteousness would cover only the sin of Adam, because Jesus' righteousness would be the righteousness of one who was also created. In the latter, the gift of Jesus' righteousness is the righteousness of "the Lord God Almighty," which assures a secure eternity with him requiring no additional saving work on the believer's part.

The Tetragrammaton study begins

    Through reading the Watch Tower literature given to me, I realized that the Society's teaching concerning the Tetragrammaton was of paramount importance. I obtained a copy of the Kingdom Interlinear Translation and began an exhaustive study of each occurrence of the word Kyrios (Κύριος) in the entire Christian Greek Scriptures. The initial study took almost two years. Much additional study on Tetragrammaton-related material was done after that.

    The initial study from the Kingdom Interlinear Translation was guided by its footnote references which are shown in Appendix A. I then located all the Kyrios (Κύριος) verses with the help of J20. (Appendix G shows only the יהוה entries from J20. The actual Kyrios references from J20 are reproduced in Appendix C.) J20 also gave me the information identifying the Hebrew Scripture quotations which used the divine name. Finally, the entire list of Kyrios verses (and the remaining Theos verses included in the 237 Jehovah references) was organized in the form of Appendix B. After the Kyrios study was completed, I examined other areas relating to the Tetragrammaton such as the writings of the patristics (the material in Chapter 10), the George Howard paper (Appendix D), and studies of actual ancient Greek manuscripts themselves (Chapter 8, Appendix E, Appendix F, Appendix H, Appendix I, and others). In addition, a considerable amount of time was spent reading in the area of textual criticism and related subjects dealing with the Greek text and its manuscripts.

    My first area of concentration, however, was the Kyrios study which has been described in Chapters 3 and 4, with the resulting entries reproduced in Appendix B. For almost two years I spent as much as an hour a day, three or four days a week, locating and cross-referencing verses from the Kingdom Interlinear Translation and the New World Translation. Week after week as I located each Kyrios reference, I began to see a pattern develop. This was particularly true in those verses with a cross reference to the Hebrew Scriptures in the column entitled Hebrew Scripture quotation using the divine name or the following column Hebrew Scripture quotation referring to the divine name (Appendix B). A trend was becoming unmistakably clear. The Hebrew Scripture quotation was clearly talking about Jehovah. Yet, when a Christian Greek Scripture writer used the same passage, he often ascribed the verse to Jesus[2] using the title Lord. For example, Isaiah 45:22-24 says:

    For I am God, and there is no one else. By my own self I have sworn...that to me every knee will bend down, every tongue will swear, saying 'Surely in Jehovah there are full righteousness and strength.'

[2] This needs to be carefully stated so that it is not misleading. In the strictest sense, the Greek Scripture writers did not usually quote a Hebrew Scripture passage and insert the name of Jesus. (There are exceptions such as Philippians 2:10-11. However, the Philippians passage does not identify Isaiah as the source of quotation.) What the Greek Scripture writers did do was quote a Hebrew Scripture verse which identified Jehovah. Then they used the Greek word Kyrios (which was clearly a Greek title of Jesus) in place of the divine name. This was done repeatedly with no attempt to clarify whether they were referring to Jehovah or the Lord Jesus. It is this dual meaning introduced by the Greek Scripture writers themselves which led me to realize that they were not concerned with making a distinction of substance between Jehovah and Lord Jesus. This was the subject of Chapter 14.

    But when the Apostle Paul quoted these verses at Romans 14:11 according to the Kingdom Interlinear Translation Greek text, he attributed the quotation to the Lord. The passage appears as follows in both Greek and English in the Kingdom Interlinear Translation:

A memorable conversation

    Throughout the time I was involved in the initial parts of my study, the two Witnesses mentioned earlier graciously maintained contact with me.

    A conversation took place in our living room in which an Overseer said that his faith was not dependent on the presence of the Tetragrammaton in the Christian Greek Scriptures. When I heard his statement, I was aware of the remark's inconsistency. I had already learned enough to know that his statement could not be true. Much of my study since then has been cognizant of the seriousness of his lack of understanding. Whether or not he knew it, his faith was absolutely dependent on this single teaching of the Watch Tower Society.

    Without the Tetragrammaton in the original Greek Scriptures, this Overseer must acknowledge that the one bearing the title Kyrios (Κύριος) stands as fully identified with יהוה.

My personal realization

    The pattern was clear. The Hebrew Scripture writers spoke of Jehovah. Yet, when quoting the same passages, the Christian Greek Scripture writers used the Greek word Lord (Κύριος). Ultimately, this left me with only one of two possible options.

    The first option would be to recognize that the Greek text of the Kingdom Interlinear Translation was faulty, but that it could be explained by the removal of the Tetragrammaton in the second or third centuries. Though the thought of a faulty Scripture text was troubling, it was a question which could be answered through a careful search for evidence of the Tetragrammaton in the original Greek documents.

    The second option was that, under inspiration of God, the Kyrios (Lord) of the Greek Scriptures was identified with Jehovah of the Hebrew Scriptures by the original Greek Scripture writers themselves.

    I looked at every possibility which would show me that these verses used the Tetragrammaton, but there was none. However, if these verses did not use the Tetragrammaton, then I was left with only one conclusion. The Jesus of the Christian Greek Scriptures is none other than the One identified with יהוה (Jehovah) in human form. Without any fear of blaspheming the name of Jehovah, the writers of the Christian Greek Scriptures could say of Jesus as Lord exactly what the Hebrew Scripture writers said of Jehovah. The Apostle John could include Jesus as "God, the Almighty" (Revelation 1:8, 4:11, and others).

The Lord's Evening Meal

    I attended a Memorial service during the time I was completing this book. The Elder giving the talk emphasized the symbolism in the bread and the wine. As I saw the emblems passed, however, I could not help but see another symbolism poignantly displayed.

    It was as if each publisher received the bread or wine, then reviewed his life before passing the emblem to the person next to him. Although he knew the answer in advance, it was as if he asked himself the following question in that brief interval:

    I have averaged ten hours a month in field service for many years of my life. I faithfully attend five meetings each week. I have given time for temporary pioneering. I have sacrificed many things to be one of Jehovah's Witnesses; it has cost me much in my education and employment, it has taken much of my life's energy and free time. It has even separated me from dear family members.

    Now, having done all of that, as I look at this bread and wine, has Jehovah God established a covenant relationship with me so that I can joyfully partake of it? Do I know that I am "in union with Christ Jesus hav[ing] no condemnation?" (Romans 8:1)

    No. I cannot say that of myself. I have been left out. I must pass this bread and wine to the person next to me and let him decide if he has a covenant relationship with God.

    What a graphic display of defeat![3]

[3] Interestingly, the Watch Tower Society even publishes the extent of this defeat in its Yearbook. Each year, the "Worldwide Memorial Attendance" is reported in conjunction with the "Memorial Partakers Worldwide." However, because of the large number of visitors to the Memorial service, a more accurate comparison must be made by using the number of "Peak of Publishers in Kingdom Service" with those partaking. If we choose any year as an example (1997 was used for this illustration), and reduce these two numbers to a percentage figure, we find that for this year's memorial service, 99.84 percent of the publishers were defeated followers of Jehovah in spite of their 1,179,735,841 hours spent in field service. (8,795 Memorial Partakers divided by 5,599,931 Peak of Publishers equals 0.16 percent who claim a covenant relationship with God. 100 percent minus 0.16 percent equals 99.84 percent of Witnesses worldwide who have been excluded from this covenant relationship.) (1998 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses, p. 31.) Similar figures are published each year. The Lord's evening meal was given to believers to eat and to drink (not merely to observe and to pass) in celebration of their participation in Christ's victory on their behalf as "Heirs indeed of God, but joint heirs with Christ" (Romans 8:17; see also 1 Corinthians 11:23-26).

    Yet, at Romans 8:2, 10-11, and 14-17, God's Word says,

    For the law of that spirit which gives life in union with Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death…But if Christ is in union with YOU, the body indeed is dead on account of sin, but the spirit is life on account of righteousness. 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…

    For all who are led by God's spirit, these are God's sons. For YOU did not receive a spirit of slavery causing fear again, but YOU received a spirit of adoption as sons, by which spirit we cry out: "Abba, Father!" The spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are God's children. If, then, we are children, we are also heirs: heirs indeed of God, but joint heirs with Christ, provided we suffer together that we may also be glorified together.

    Nothing Paul wrote in the book of Romans leads us to believe that these wonderful truths apply only to a special class of Christians. Rather, these truths are a reality for all who place their faith in Christ Jesus.[*] (Carefully read the entire book of Romans. Pay particular attention to chapters 3 through 8.)

[*] Romans 9:1-33 is certainly addressing Jehovah's right to determine whom He will choose. But notice that the choice is between those who will receive his ultimate blessing and those who will be rejected by him. The first 16 verses contain Paul's lament for Israel's refusal to acknowledge Messiah. Thus, "not all who [spring] from Israel are really 'Israel.'" (vs 6) resulting in "the children in the flesh [who] are not really the children of God." (vs 8) In verse 17 Paul uses Pharaoh as an example of one Jehovah has chosen to demonstrate his power, "For this very cause I [Jehovah] have let your remain, that in connection with you I may show my power, and that my name may be declared in all the earth." (vs 17) From these two examples, Paul establishes two categories; those to whom mercy is shown and those who remain obstinate. "So, then, upon whom he wishes he has mercy, but whom he wishes he lets become obstinate." (vs 18) Paul then elaborates the theme showing that Jehovah may choose like a potter between "vessels of wrath made fit for destruction" and "vessels of mercy, which he prepared beforehand for glory, namely us." (vss 22-23) Verses 24-29 again apply Jehovah's choice to Israel in contrast to Sodom and Gomorrah. The chapter concludes by applying Jehovah's choice to the "people of the nations, although not pursuing righteousness, caught up with righteousness, the righteousness that results from faith." (vs 30)

    This entire passage is dealing with Jehovah's choice between those who will be either rejected or those who will receive righteousness through faith. There is no suggestion of any kind from this passage that Jehovah is choosing between two classes of Christians.

    The power of salvation is in the person of the Savior himself. If Jesus is fully identified with Jehovah God in all his attributes and power, then the salvation he offers gives to us the righteousness of Almighty God himself.

    The one who did not know sin he made to be sin for us, that we might become God's righteousness by means of him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Wonderful changes in my life

    In the years following the completion of my Kyrios study, two marvelous changes began to take place in my life from this Scriptural understanding of Jesus. First, I began to experience a life in which the power of Jesus in me was, in reality, the power of Jehovah God himself. It is the One who is fully identified with Jehovah God, and who lived in human form who says to me, "I am with you all the days until the conclusion of the system of things" (Matthew 28:20).

    A second change began, and continues to grow with new delights each day of my life. Jesus gave me a great love for himself. I love him deeply. It has been the most moving experience of my life. I spend much time with him because I love him. I trust him implicitly because I love him. I can love and trust him because I know who he truly is.[4] What a joy it is to know him and to serve him because I love him. I am not compelled to serve him merely to secure a future reward.

[4] Of course, I will never know everything about Jesus. I am simply attempting to communicate that, until I understood his identity with Jehovah, I could not fully appropriate his greatness and blessing in my life.

    As I write the paragraph above, I want you to know that I have no sense that this great love for Jesus is anything which I deserve or have earned. Nor is it anything which I am capable of producing by my own effort. It is a love which he has given to me by his undeserved kindness. I do not deserve it, yet he has given it to me as a free gift.[5]

[5] You also need to understand that this love for Jesus in no way replaces my love for the Father. In fact, as Jesus has given me a love for himself, he has also given me a deeper love for the Father. Notice what John 14:21 really says: the Father loves me precisely because I love Jesus.

    O the depth of God's riches and wisdom and knowledge! How unsearchable his judgments [are] and past tracing out his ways [are]! (Romans 11:33)

    Has your faith as a Witness led you into a deep love for Jesus? Do others in your Kingdom Hall serve him because they truly love him?

    Do you long to have a relationship with Jehovah based on a deep mutual love; an unshakable assurance of his compassionate love for you, and a daily joy in your love for him?

    May I suggest, that you simply ask him for that which he truly wants you to have?

    "Jesus, show me who you really are. I don't deserve it, but I want you to give me a deep love for yourself. I want to enjoy loving you."

    Ask him daily for his gift. He wants to give this great love for himself to you. In fact, he wants this for you so much that he died and came back to life so that you might have it.[6]

[6] Do you realize that when Jesus was asked to state the greatest commandment in the law he did not tell the Pharisee asking the question that the greatest commandment involved doing Kingdom ministry? Instead, Jesus said, "'YOU must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind'" (Matthew 22:34-40). Is a deep love for Jehovah your greatest area of service?

"In turn he that loves me will be loved by
my Father, and I will love him and
will plainly show myself to him."

John 14:21
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