1 John 2:23 says: "No one who denies the Son has the father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also."

We know there are many scriptures revealing that Jesus is God.

I have a friend who is a Jehovah's Witness. He doesn't believe that Jesus is God.

In light of 1 John 2:23, do you believe that a Jehovah's Witness, who holds to their teaching, "denies the Son"?

And if so, do they forfeit salvation in Christ Jesus? For only those who are "in Christ Jesus" have no condemnation (Rom 8:1).

I always thought that many Jehovah's Witnesses would be saved because of their faith in Christ. But this scripture suggests that our acknowledgement of Jesus's deity is fundamental for salvation.

  • It looks to me as though you have answered your own question.
    – Nigel J
    Jan 25 '21 at 5:02
  • "this scripture suggests that our acknowledgement of Jesus's deity" How does this scripture relate to "Jesus's deity"?
    – agarza
    Jan 25 '21 at 5:14
  • agarza - I'll put the question another way to you: If Jesus claimed to be God, and a person rejects this claim, does he "deny" the Son?
    – AlphaOmega
    Jan 25 '21 at 5:45
  • @AlphaOmega for the sake of clarity, could you share a few of 'many scriptures revealing that Jesus is God'? I don't know of any, but plenty that say otherwise - like John 20:17 and Rev 3:12 which say that Jesus HAS a God - the same God we do.
    – steveowen
    Jan 25 '21 at 9:25
  • AlphaOmega :1 Cor. 11:3, RS:(reads) “I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a woman is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.” (Clearly, then, Christ is not God, and God is of superior rank to Christ. Please supply your verses that Jesus claims to be God. Jan 25 '21 at 19:04

The answer is: maybe. JW deny the standard trinitarian view of God (Jesus is an elevated spiritual being, the highest of all angels https://bibleask.org/jehovahs-witnesses-believe-jesus/ - this is perhaps similar to the views of Arius https://www.britannica.com/biography/Arius and Arianism seemed fairly common in early Christianity), but they don't deny Jesus was very important, and in some sense our Lord and Saviour (as @Dottard summarizes it).

I would approach this another way. Are they incorporating the teachings of Jesus into their daily life? Are they growing in holiness? Are they developing spiritually? Are they manifesting the fruits of the Holy Spirit ("But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.")? "By their fruits ye shall know them" - in other words, we can really only make judgments about a person's spiritual state by their acts.

Addendum: the term 'Son' doesn't obviously mean 'God the Son', which is a trinitarian addition. It rather means 'Son of God'. This denotes some privileged relationship with God, but it gets vague beyond that. So when Jesus is talking about the Son in the above passage, there's no clear imputation that the Son is, in some sense, God. Rather, what is clear is that the Son has a privileged relationship to God.


The operative verb here is ἀρνέομαι (arneomai) which occurs 33 times in the NT. BDAG lists four basic meanings of this word, of which the third is relevant here, namely:

(3) to disclaim association with a person or event, deny, repudiate, disown (verbally or nonverbally)

Within this meaning, BDAG goes on to list seven sub-meanings classified by what or who is being repudiated. Of these the second is relevant - of repudiating Christ in which several references are listed as follows:

  • Matt 10:33 - But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father in heaven.
  • Luke 12:9 - But whoever denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God.
  • Acts 3:13, 14 - The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His servant Jesus. You handed Him over and rejected Him before Pilate, even though he had decided to release Him. You rejected the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you.
  • Jude 4 - For certain men have crept in among you unnoticed—ungodly ones who were designated long ago for condemnation. They turn the grace of our God into a license for immorality, and they deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
  • 2 Peter 2:1 - But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.
  • 1 John 2:23 - Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father, but whoever confesses the Son has the Father as well.

Then there is the group of texts, in all four Gospels discussing the incident when Peter denied knowing Jesus in Matt 26:70, 72, Mark 14:68, 70, Luke 22:57, John 13:38, 18:25, 27.

Note the consistent pattern here - people who actually knew who Christ was, denied knowing Him, or, refused to affirm or confess that Jesus is Lord and Savior.

[Important note - A person cannot deny Christ if the person does not know Christ in the first place.]

From the above pattern, we may summarize the act of "denying Christ" as either:

  1. Denying the we know Christ when we actually do (as did Peter), or,
  2. Denying Jesus' status and position as Lord and Savior, as taught in the Scripture

According to Jesus (Matt 10:33), denying Him as Christ is equivalent to denying the only means of salvation available to men (Acts 4:12); thus, if a person denies Jesus, that person has refused their salvation.

[Second Important Note: Peter denied his Lord, but was later forgiven when Peter confessed.]

John also summarized the situation this way in 1 John 5:11, 12 -

And this is that testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

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