Jehovah's Witnesses and New Testament Canon

I’ve been meeting with JW on a weekly basis for several weeks. I respond with scripture to show that Catholics aren’t anti-scriptural, but I’ve really been pressing the issue of the NT canon and asking why they accept it. They are coming back next Friday, and the topic will be how we can know what should be in the bible.

Anyone have some helpful tips to share regarding what they might bring up? Any advice? I have very little time to do deep research right now. Thanks!

They accept it because the early church community “accepted it”. They will say, as most non-Catholics will say, "it (the NT) was already settled by the church community before the councils of Carthage, Hippo, and Rome. This will be their fall back statement no matter how logical your argument is.

1963 Watchtower

Page 302 of this document from the Watchtower 1963 shows a chart of the early church fathers’ agreement/disagreement on which books they consider to be included in their canon. I say “agreement/disagreement” because they will use this document to show how all the early fathers agreed on the 27 books but if you examine the document you will notice that there was not complete agreement on the 27 book. They will try to gloss over this vital piece of information.

Furthermore, this document does not address the many other books such as the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Barnabas, and the 1st letter of Clement, Shepherd of Hermas… that were being used in the liturgy at the time. If you extend this document out to include the other books and the church fathers opinion on them, the chart would be too big to publish because there were so many other books “the community” thought should be included in the canon. This confusion had to be dealt with in some way and they (JW’s and most non-Catholics) would rather gloss over this important historical fact than to face its implications.

If in fact, the church community had already settled the 27 books of the NT why, 300 years later, was there so many “other” books still being used in the liturgy and if the councils did not make declarations concerning the canon, what was the purpose of those councils?


I never got to this point with them. There’s enough to worry about without wondering why some books were accepted; others not and why they accept the N.T.

First of all, you must know that their bible is different.
Secondly, they’re following the O.T. so I don’t know what difference all this makes.

What does make a difference is how they view Jesus. You’ve been through that already??
That’s the important difference.

Who cares if catholics are scripturally savy or not? Most of them aren’t and that’s the reason they close the door in the face of JW.

I think they’re just trying to derail you.
Tell them you believe in the bible but not the one Russell wrote!

They might try to tell you that they’re following Jesus. But they don’t believe He’s God.
Tell them they’re following a crazy man in that case. He either was God, or…

Hope I’m not simplifying - sorry if I am.

Stick to The “Man”, not The Book.


I asked the Jehovah Witnesses who came to my door the same question: How did they know which books belong in the Bible? They told me the Bible was put together “by people just like you and me.”

Well, if they were “people just like you and me,” then I’m just like them, right? Wouldn’t that give me the same authority they had? So may I decide for myself which books go into the Bible?

They haven’t rung my doorbell since.

Thanks! I am actually the one pressing this issue, not them. I doubt they would have brought it up. Without another authority, it’s too easy to turn into verse slinging, but I wanted them to encounter a Catholic who is familiar with Scripture and cares about it. (They told me they aren’t used to it.)

This next session will determine whether I choose to end further meetings, and if so, will give my testimony to Christ and the Eucharist then. We’ve discussed the soul, hell, the kingdom, and other things.

God has a sense of humor. I had been praying for a deeper relationship with the Trinity, and then I get a knock on the door.

Ask them why they believe St. Mark wrote the gospel of Mark…and have point to you the verse where St. Mark claims authorship of the Bible…as a starter.

They can’t…because there is no such verse, and the table of contents is not part of Scripture…or the title.:smiley:

Then you can go on about how the Bible came about.

I’d say that giving your testimony and telling them about John 6 and how the Eucharist is important to you is your best bet. You won’t be convincing them and they won’t convince you. You do, though, always hope to say something that’ll make them THINK.

I have a couple that comes to my house when they pass this way. I invite them in and make them coffee. It’s a couple in their 70’s. Nice people. You’ve gotta give 'em that. Always well dressed and polite.

Too bad they’re not christian.

Used to be easy to talk to them when they’d say Jesus was an angel. Then they decided Jesus was a prophet. Still easy. Now they say Jesus IS the son of God, but not THE SON OF GOD. So it’s become harder now to discuss with them.


I’ve often heard this is a good question, but it’s never been explained to me why. Is it because nowhere in the gospel of Mark does it say he wrote it? It’s taken on authority?

Oh well. I suppose they would just say it’s because there’s been a small faithful remnant throughout history. Point still remains though–it was the apostate church (in their eyes), that was already defending the doctrine of the Trinity, which gave us our NT canon. There’s no evidence to the contrary.

Yes, nowhere does Mark claim authorship…and besides, how do we know who is Mark and and not just any Mark?

And you are right, it is taken on authority…we trust those “apostate Catholic bishops” (:D) to tell us that it is indeed Mark, a disciple of Peter, who wrote it, and that it should be in the Bible. Otherwise, why believe it is?

How did you make out? Did they show up? My experience is that they will stop coming if they don’t see a strong chance for your conversion.

I always try, as you are doing, to not discuss verses and to try to stick to the big picture.

Why does your organization tell you not to read other literature?

If the church went into apostasy after the death of the apostles, why do you trust the gospels of Luke and Mark who were not apostles?

We can read writings of others who were taught directly by the apostles. Are their writings heretical? Why?

Why would you believe Charles Taze Russell, but reject those that were taught directly by the apostles.

If Jesus is “a” god, then isn’t he a false god ?

All this being said, I have never gotten anywhere with them, always goes like a Monty Python skit.

I’ll get back to you in a bit when I have access to my desktop and not my phone.

I called it off this last time. We had reached our point of mutual disagreement regarding history. They then steered the conversation to the dark times of Church history. I finally said that I wished we were judged by our saints as often as we were by our sinners, and that I wouldn’t want to leave Jesus and Peter because of Judas. I challenged them to reexamine their history, especially regarding Catholics and the Holocaust. (Just Google it.) I also said that I took Jesus at his word regarding his body and blood, and that he didn’t tell the people who left him that they had misunderstood him.

Yes. Never the twain shall meet. I’ve had the same experience.

But it’s good you said what you did. It’s really difficult for them to leave their church and thus it’s unlikely: but you never know when something you say will sink in.


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