THE DEITY OF CHRIST
The Full Deity of the Angel of the Lord
(A major problem for Jehovah’s Witnesses)
This study is written by George Zeller and provides some help with respect to the erroneous teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Jehovah’s Witnesses deny that the Lord Jesus Christ is God and they deny that He is Jehovah. They teach instead that He is a mere creature, an exalted angel that God created. They wrongly teach that He was the first creature that God created, and then God, through Him, created everything else.
Bible-believing Christians have recognized the angel of the LORD to be none other than the pre-incarnate Christ who appeared to men at certain times during the Old Testament period. As we shall see, the Bible clearly identifies the angel of the LORD as Jehovah and as God. This poses a serious problem for Jehovah’s Witnesses and others who deny the deity of Christ and who deny the Trinity.
Jehovah’s Witnesses cannot identify the angel of the LORD as Christ because He is identified as Jehovah, and they deny that Christ is Jehovah. But if He is not Christ, then who is He? He is said to be Jehovah but He is also said to be a separate Person from Jehovah because He is said to be Jehovah’s messenger (the term “angel” means messenger). If He is Jehovah’s messenger then He must be distinct from Jehovah, and yet the Bible also identifies Him as Jehovah! This apparent dilemma is not a problem for those who understand the triune nature of God.
Analogous to this is Christ’s title as “the Word” in John 1:1-3. “The Word was with God” (John 1:1-2), thus He is distinct from God, and yet “the Word was God” (He is identified as God). As God’s Son He is distinct from God the Father. But the Bible identifies God’s Son as God (Heb. 1:8 etc.). So also Jehovah’s messenger is distinct from Jehovah and yet Jehovah’s messenger is also identified as Jehovah. This is a problem that Jehovah’s Witnesses and others that deny the Trinity cannot solve.
Let us now consider the abundant evidence which identifies the angel of the LORD as God (or as Jehovah). The reader is encouraged to read through each of these passages thoughtfully.
1. Genesis 16:7-13
The angel of the LORD promised to do something that only God can do (see v.10). Hagar knew that it was Jehovah who spoke to her (v.13) and she identified the angel of the LORD as God: “Thou God seest me” (v.13).
2. Genesis 21:17-20
The angel of the God promised to do something only God can do (see v.18). This angel is identified as God (v.19).
3. Genesis 22:15-18
The angel of Jehovah is speaking (verses 15-16) and yet verse 16 makes it clear that it is Jehovah who is speaking (“saith the LORD”)! In verses 17-18 the angel of Jehovah promises to do what only God can do.
4. Genesis 31:11-13
The angel of God (v.11) identifies Himself as God: “I am the God of Bethel” (v.13).
5. Exodus 3:2-7
The angel of Jehovah appeared to Moses out of the midst of a burning bush and identified Himself as God (verses 4 and 6) and as Jehovah (verses 4 and 7). See also Acts 7:30-32 where the angel of the Lord is identified as the Lord God.
6. Exodus 14:19-21
The angel of God does what only God can do (verses 19-20) and is identified with the glorious manifestation of God in the pillar of the cloud (verses 19-20). In verse 21 this angel is identified as “the LORD” (Jehovah).
7. Exodus 23:20-23
This passage makes it clear that Jehovah’s angel is much more than a mere angel; this angel is closely identified with God: Jehovah’s “name is in Him” (v.21, “name” referring to Jehovah’s nature and character) and God’s people must “obey His voice” (v.21). Indeed, He has the authority to “pardon your transgressions” or not to pardon them, and who can forgive sins but God alone? Notice that the angel is distinct from God and sent by God. The LORD said, “Behold, I send an angel before thee.” We are reminded of New Testament parallels as the Son was distinct from the Father and sent by the Father (John 3:17; etc.) and yet equal to the Father (John 5:18; John 10:30).
8. Judges 2:1-3
The angel of Jehovah says things that only God could say. God is the One who brought them into the land which He swore to give unto their fathers (v.1). God is the One who promised to never break His covenant (v.1).
9. Judges 6:11-24
As you follow this passage, pay close attention to who is speaking to Gideon: in verse 12 the angel of Jehovah is speaking; in verse 14 Jehovah is speaking; in verse 16 Jehovah is speaking; in verse 20 the angel of God is speaking. Jehovah and the angel of Jehovah are one and the same.
10. Judges 13:3-23
Note especially verses 17-18. Manoah said to the angel of Jehovah, “What is Thy Name?” (v.17) and the angel of Jehovah said, “Why asketh thou thus after My Name, seeing it is secret?” The word “secret” may be translated “wonderful.” It is the same Hebrew word found in Isaiah 9:6 – “His Name shall be called wonderful.” In Isaiah 9:6 the term is used as a name of Christ who is also called “the Mighty God.” The fact that Jehovah’s angel was God was certainly known by Manoah. After the angel of Jehovah appeared to him Manoah said, “We have seen God!” (v.22).
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Another passage which could have been listed with the examples given above is 1 Chronicles 21:12-27. In this passage we learn that the angel of the LORD is a Person who is distinct from Jehovah (see verse 15 where Jehovah God sent the angel and spoke to the angel, and so also in verse 27). In verses 16-17 David sees the angel of the LORD and calls him “God.”
Note: There are two other passages where the angel of the LORD is obviously identified as God: 1) Psalm 34:7 (it is God who delivers His people, see Psalm 34:4,6,17,19 and it is God that we are to fear, see Psalm 34:9,11) and 2) Isaiah 63:9 (an obvious reference to God).
See C. I. Scofield’s excellent note summarizing what the Scripture teaches concerning the angel of the LORD (pages 289-290 in the New Scofield Bible, his note under Joshua 2:1).
Conclusion: The angel of the Jehovah is distinct from Jehovah and yet is identified as Jehovah, even as the Lord Jesus Christ is distinct from God the Father (as a distinct Person of the Trinity) and yet is identified as God. He is both the Son of God and God the Son. To Him be glory and honor both now and forever more! Amen,.
Rev. M. C.