SoundWitness lighthouse logo

A Christian apologetics ministry dedicated to keeping the "false" out of doctrine

The Watchtower’s Inadequate Ransom

Part 1 of a 4-part series refuting the Watchtower's inadequate view of Christ's ransom

[Quotes from Watchtower publications, including their New World Translation, are in blue.]


The Feb. 15, 99 Watchtower article, Christ’s Ransom, God’s Way of Salvation, presents a view of the ransom that is at odds with Scripture and with the Christian Church, a ransom that is inadequate to save us.

The subject is introduced with the familiar promise of John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”.  The WT asks, “What would it take to eliminate sin and ...death?  Clearly, something more than any human can provide”, which they support with Psalm 49:8,9 in Today’s English Version.  We give it here in the NIV and include verse 7 as well:  “No man can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for him--the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough--that he should live on forever and not see decay.”

The article relates the story of the fall of Adam and Eve and the consequence of death for their offspring.  The WT then applies the OT Law regarding murder, “life should be given for life”, to the human dilemma of death caused by the fall:  “So if ‘life should go for life,’ what type of life would have to be given to satisfy justice in this case?  Logically, it would have to be a perfect human life… If offered as a sacrifice, a perfect human life would not only balance the scales of justice but also make possible the complete elimination of sin and its consequence, death.” 

The Watchtower, relying on human logic, argues that Jesus, the Lamb of God, had to be “nothing more, nothing less” than the exact equivalent to Adam, a perfect human.

Throughout it’s history the WT has held that Jesus Christ is only a human like Adam, and his ransom nothing more than a human ransom.  In this article and others like it the WT is insistent:  “the ransom must precisely fit that which it is supposed to cover - Adam’s perfect human life”; “the loss of a perfect human life would require the payment of a perfect human life - nothing more, nothing less”;  “Jesus.... possessed what Adam had lost - perfect human life.  Finally a human who could cover the cost of sin”; “a corresponding ransom”.[1]

But Greek language authorities all agree that the meaning of the Greek word for “ransom” simply involves the idea of “substitution” and not a strict ‘no more/no less” rule.

Incidentally, the WT has never explained this:  if all God needed was a perfect man why didn’t he create one, rather than sending his own Son? Even if we were to go with the WT’s logic, how could one human life be equivalent to the billions that needed to be ransomed? 

The WT anticipates this question and in paragraph 13 attempts to  respond to it.  We are indebted to Peter Barnes for the following comments:

In para.13 the Society raises the question:  “how though, could the death of just one man cover the sins of so many?”  They then offer the following illustration:

 “In an article some years ago, we illustrated the ransom this way:  Imagine a large factory with hundreds of employees.  A dishonest factory manager bankrupts the business:  the factory closes its doors.  Hundreds are now out of work and unable to pay their bills.  Their marriage mates, children, and yes, creditors all suffer because of that one man’s corruption!  Then along comes a wealthy benefactor who pays off the company’s debt and reopens the factory.  The cancellation of that one debt, in turn, brings full relief to the many employees, their families, and the creditors.”

This illustration is inadequate and misleading.  To correctly parallel the biblical situation, the factory workers would have to belong to the same ethnic group as the manager (we humans are all related to Adam) and the workers would follow the factory manager’s bad example and themselves steal from the company, thus sharing in the manager’s responsibility.  But in the Jehovah’s Witness example, the factory workers are already viewed as innocent victims.  Nowhere in the Holy Bible does God view us as innocent victims.

Nowhere in the Bible does God view us as innocent victims!  Two Scriptures, out of multitudes, will suffice:

Rom 3:10-12:  “As it is written: ‘There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.  All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.’”

Rom 5:12:  “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned

Eph 2:1, 3b:  “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, …Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.”

Humans are not innocent but are under the wrath of God apart from Christ.  So the situation wasn’t simply one man for one man.  The ransom had to be sufficient for the entire human race, not just for one man.  The WT’s analogy of the factory manager and his employees fails utterly!

Furthermore, the sins that needed to be atoned for were not committed simply against other men, but against an infinitely Holy God!


The ransom had to have infinite value to cover an infinite violation against an infinite God.


One more thing:  The sacrifice had to have infinite value because it had to ransom mankind not only from temporal death (separation from the body) but from eternal death (separation from God).[2] 

“No man can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for him..”  Only Jesus Christ could provide that ransom.  Listen to Who He is:

Rev 17:14  “The Lamb.. is Lord of lords and King of kings..”  Jesus the Lamb of God is true God as well as true Man.

In The WT’s Inadequate Ransom, Part 2, we will look at additional weaknesses and effects of the WT’s inadequate ransom.


Written by Greta Olsoe


Emphasis added.


Jump to Part 2

[1] Peter Barnes comments: The Witnesses try to support their false teaching by using their New World Translation at 1 Timothy 2:5-6, “... Christ Jesus, who gave himself a corresponding ransom...” and they assert that Christ’s ransom corresponded to the value of Adam’s life! …. Apart from the fact that the major English translations do not use the word “corresponding”, if there is the idea of corresponding, in 1 Timothy 2:6 it is between the value of the life Christ offered with all those who benefit through faith.


[2]  Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words,  p 149, “Death: a. The separation of the soul (the spiritual part of man) from the body (the material part of man), the latter ceasing to function and turning to dust...  b. The separation of man from God.”