Composite Christ

Those Jehovah’s Witnesses who claim to be of the 144,000 refer to themselves by many titles: the remnant, the faithful and discreet slave, and the anointed to name a few. I say that they refer to themselves by these titles because the governing body of Jehovah’s Witnesses who claim to be the spokesman for the 144,000 teaches that it is the remnant of the 144,000 in their role as the faithful and discreet slave who are responsible for the teachings put forth in the pages of The Watchtower and other publication of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. So when Watchtower publications speak of the faithful and discreet slave or the remnant or the anointed, the writers are referring to themselves.

Knowing that the words “Christ” and “Messiah” mean “anointed” and having taken this title on themselves certainly puts those self-proclaimed “anointed” Jehovah’s Witnesses in quite an elevated position. In fact they at one time, taught that they themselves plus Jesus Christ constituted a composite Christ:

“Messiah’s kingdom once established, Jesus and his glorified church constituting the great Messiah, shall minister the blessings to the people they have so long desired and hoped for and prayed might come.” – Millions Now Living Will Never Die, 1920, p 88

“The word Christ signifies anointed. Anointing means designation to official position in God’s arrangement. The Christ is the instrument or channel for the blessing of mankind. The Christ is composed of Jesus the great and mighty head, and 144,000 members.” – The Harp of God, 1921, p 187

“The new creation is The Christ. The Christ is a composite body made up of many members. The Head of The Christ is Jesus Christ, God’s beloved Son. Those who are taken from amongst men, justified, begotten and anointed by the spirit of Jehovah, and who then continue faithful unto death, will constitute the members of The Christ complete.” – Creation, 1927, p 192

While they no longer claim to be part of a “composite Christ”, in more recent times, this self-styled ‘anointed’ have proclaimed that in order to keep in a good relationship with God, one must remain united with them.

“To keep in relationship with ‘our Savior, God,’ the ‘great crowd’ needs to remain united with the remnant of spiritual Israelites.” – The Watchtower, November 15, 1979, p. 27

And finally they tell the other sheep that that attitude toward them (the “anointed”) and how they treat them will be the determining factor in their judgement by Christ.

“Your attitude toward the ‘wheatlike anointed brothers’ of Christ and the treatment you accord them, will be the determining factor as to whether you go into ‘everlasting cutting-off’ or receive ‘everlasting life’.” – The Watchtower, August 1, 1981, p. 26)

Notice in these quotes from the Watchtower that the “anointed” soften the blow of their words by referring to themselves in the third person. If you take the third-person speech out of that last quote, these who claim to be the ‘faithful slave’ are really saying:

“Your attitude toward the US and the treatment you accord US, will be the determining factor as to whether YOU go into ‘everlasting cutting-off’ or receive ‘everlasting life’.”

I Am With You Always

I’ve been thinking, reading, meditating and praying about the subject of God’s omnipresence and His presence in us a lot lately. This was started by an ongoing online discussion between some Jehovah’s Witnesses and some ex-Witnesses. A person who is studying with Jehovah’s Witnesses wrote the following on a forum during a discussion of Jesus’ presence.

You know, my Mom died a few years ago. At every family gathering, we always comment how she is there with us. Is she there in a literal way? Of course not. But we speak about her, and talk about how the way she raised us, and taught us is still guiding our life today.

Isn’t this the same sense in how Jesus is with you? If you would have thought about the scripture you listed as cross references, this may have become clear. Let’s look at one of them – Matthew 28:19,20.

“Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded YOU. And, look! I am with YOU all the days until the conclusion of the system of things.”

When Jesus told them to go and teach, didn’t he ask them to teach what he himself taught them? His teachings are passed on. His commandments we still follow! THAT is how Jesus is with us until the very end of the age. That is how he is present within all of us. It’s not a literal omnipresence.

Even though he is new to Jehovah’s Witnesses, this fellow’s view is quite consistent with Jehovah’s Witness teaching. There are several of their teachings that lead to their conclusion that Jesus is not literally present with all believers. They teach there is no Trinity, that Jesus is a created being (Michael the archangel) and that the Holy Spirit is not a person or being, but an impersonal force. They also teach that since the Father and the Son have spirit bodies, they are not omnipresent, but are confined to being in one place at any given point in time. This line of reasoning can be seen in the following quote from a 1981 issue of The Watchtower:

Actually, by teaching that God is omnipresent Christendom has confused matters and made it more difficult for God to be real to his worshipers. How could God be present everywhere at the same time? God is a spirit Person, which means that he does not have a material body, but a spiritual one. A spirit has a body? Yes, for we read, “If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual one.” (1 Cor. 15:44; John 4:24) God being an individual, a Person with a spirit body, has a place where he resides, and so he could not be at any other place at the same time. Thus we read at 1 Kings 8:43 that the heavens are God’s “established place of dwelling.” Also, we are told at Hebrews 9:24 that “Christ entered . . . into heaven itself, now to appear before the person of God for us.” – The Watchtower, 2/15/1981 p. 6 “How Real Is God to You?”

Since they have come to the conclusion that Jesus cannot be omnipresent, how do they deal with Matthew 28:20? As with so many other verses of Scripture, they take it figuratively rather than literally. In 2002, The Watchtower made the following comment regarding Matthew 28:18-20:

2 Jesus not only assigned his disciples the life-saving work of making more disciples but also promised to be with them. The history of early Christianity, as recorded in the Bible book of Acts, shows beyond a doubt that Christ used the authority given him to lead the newly formed congregation. He sent the promised “helper” “the holy spirit” to strengthen his followers and to guide their efforts. (John 16:7; Acts 2:4, 33; 13:2-4; 16:6-10) The resurrected Jesus employed angels at his command to support his disciples. (Acts 5:19; 8:26; 10:3-8, 22; 12:7-11; 27:23, 24; 1 Peter 3:22) Moreover, our Leader provided direction to the congregation by arranging for qualified men to serve as a governing body. Acts 1:20, 24-26; 6:1-6; 8:5, 14-17. – The Watchtower, 3/15/2002 p. 13 para. 2 “Christ Leads His Congregation”

This article then went on to explain how Jesus is also present with Jehovah’s Witnesses through His leadership as expressed through their elders. So rather than Jesus presence being literal, The Watchtower teaches that Jesus is present with Jehovah’s Witness by proxy. They are teaching that Jesus is “present” with JWs through the leadership exercised by angels, the governing body of Jehovah’s Witnesses and through their local elders. On one level, I am glad the prospective Witness wrote his views on Matthew 28:20. It spurred me to reflect on my own relationship with Christ. On another level, I found it profoundly sad and disturbing. For me, it highlighted the extreme contrast between my relationship with Christ years ago and what it is today. Years ago, I would have agreed with that view of Christ’s presence with those whom I viewed at the time as the only true Christians. I was a Jehovah’s Witness for over two decades.

In recent years, however, I have realized that this view of the nature of Christ’s presence takes all the power out of Jesus’ statement at Matt 28:20. Look at the context in which Jesus told his disciples that He would be with them. In verse 18, Jesus said that all power in heaven and on earth had been given Him. In verse 19 and the first part of verse 20, Jesus gave His disciples the Great Commission. Then, Jesus tells them He will be with them until the end of the age.

Here is some more of my reply post:

I think it is significant that Jesus placed the Great Commission between His telling the disciples of His power and of His continued presence with them. It is the power and the presence of Jesus that gave Christ’s disciples the ability to fulfill the Great Commission in their day and does the same for Christians today. Jesus telling them, and by extension us, of His power and presence builds us up for the work that He gave them and us to do. While the memory of Christ and His teachings is obviously important, it is His literal power and presence in the lives of Christians that really empowers them.

Today there are Neo-Nazis who still remember and follow the teachings of Adolph Hitler, there are Muslims that remember and follow the teachings of Mohammed and there are Buddhists who remember and follow the teachings of Buddha. Since these followers continue in the memory and teachings of their now dead leaders, those leaders are with them in the same sense that you feel both Christ and your mother are with you. Is Jesus no more with you than Hitler is with the Neo-Nazi, or Mohammed is with the Muslim or Buddha is with the Buddhist? Is the presence of Christ in your life no more than the memory of the teachings of a person who is now dead?

Because they are no longer alive, the presence of Hitler, Mohammed or Buddha in the lives of their followers, as well as your mother’s presence in your life is strictly passive. They have no power to actively participate in the lives of their followers, nor do their followers have any power to participate in their lives, because they have no life in which to participate. On the other hand, due to His resurrection, Christ is alive. He can and does participate in the lives of Christians.

In a verse that I always took to apply only to the written word of God, we see just how powerful and present the risen Christ, the incarnate Word of God, is in the life of the Christian.

(Heb 4:12) For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

We know that this verse is talking about Christ as the Word, rather than the written word from the following verse.

(Heb 4:13) And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. ( “Him to whom we must give an account” in other translations. )

Jesus Christ is a not just a dead, passive presence, but a living, vibrant, active, powerful presence in the life of the believer. I don’t mean any of this to minimize, marginalize or trivialize the virtual presence of this man’s in his life by his memories of her and her teachings; rather it is meant to magnify and glorify the power and presence of the risen Christ in the life of Christians. Here are some more Scriptures that talk about the presence of God, through Christ and the Holy Spirit, in the believer. I think they point to much more than a virtual presence.

 

Matthew 18:20 (New American Standard Bible) 20 “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”

 

 

John 14:17 (New American Standard Bible) 17 that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.

 

 

Romans 8:9 (New American Standard Bible) 9 However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.

 

 

1 Corinthians 3:16 (New American Standard Bible) 16 Do you not know that you are a temple and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?

 

1 Corinthians 6:19 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? 20 For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body. (20 shows that 19 was meant individually, not collectively) 2 Corinthians 6:16 (New American Standard Bible) 16 Or what agreement has the temple with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE.

Galatians 2:20 (New American Standard Bible) 20 “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

Colossians 1:27 (New American Standard Bible) 27 to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

In Jesus’ Name

On whose name did first century Christians focus? As I was leaving Jehovah’s Witnesses, I did a word search in the New World Translation with “Jesus” and “name”. Below are some of the results arranged by subject. This study showed me more than anything else that it was the name of Jesus that was given priority by Christians in the first century and that it should be given the same priority today.

Is Our Salvation Eternal?

The table below came from a handout from Dan Hall at the first Witnesses Now for Jesus conference that I attended back in 1998. I’ve used it here with his permission.

When we are saved,  we are: When we sin,  does God:
Reconciled to God
Romans 5:10 – ” For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more,  having been reconciled,  we shall be saved by His life”
Un-reconcile us?
Justified
Romans 3: 23, 24 – “for all has sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.”
Un-justify us?
Totally forgiven
Colossians 2:13 – “When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions.”
Un-forgive us?
Totally cleansed
1 Cor 6:11 – “Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”Titus 3:5 – “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit”
Un-cleanse us?
Made holy and blameless
Colossians 1:22 – “yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach”
Take back our holiness and blamelessness?
Clothed with Christ
Galatians 3:27 – “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ”
Rip off our “Christ clothes”?
Sealed in Christ
Eph 1:13, 14 – “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation, having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory”
Break the seal of Christ?
Take back the pledge of our inheritance?
Given Christ’s righteousness
2 Cor 5:21 – “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him”
Take away Christ’s righteousness?
Reborn by the Spirit of God
1 Pet 1:3 – “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”
Reverse our being reborn?
Indwelt by the Holy Spirit
Romans 8:9 – “However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him”
Take back the Holy Spirit?
Indwelt, Made into a new creation
2 Cor 5:17 – “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.”
Make us back into an old creation?
Made a child of God
John 1:12, 13 – “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become Children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”
Deny that we are His children?
Adopted into God’s family
Romans 8:15 – “For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out ‘Abba! Father!'”
Un-adopt us?
Made heirs of God
Gal 4:7 – “Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son then an heir through God.”
Take back our inheritance?
In fellowship with God
1 Cor 1:9 – “God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord”
Disfellowship us?
Given every spiritual blessing
Eph 1:3 – “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.”
Take back every spiritual blessing?
Written down in the book of life
Phil 4:3 -” Indeed, true companion, I ask you also to help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also and the rest of my fellow workers, who names are in the book of life.”
Erase our name from the book of life?

 

“What Assurance of Salvation Does For Us”

“The Holy Spirit assures us that God is our Father and loves us. God has poured out his love into our hearts. (Rom. 5:5) Romans 8:15-16 says that when we cry “Abba, Father,” the Holy Spirit is witnessing to our spirit that we are God’s children. Few experiences can provide more power in our lives than to have the assurance of salvation. Think of what it could do for us:

  • We would be joyous in our service for God, but not driven in our works, or mistaken in the notion that our works would save us.
  • We would be delivered from frantic preoccupation with taking our spiritual temperature minute by minute.
  • We would be free and spontaneous in our witness, exercising patience, and understanding as well as speaking with conviction and challenge.
  • We would not get overwrought with our friends about future security, for we would be assured of our present relationship with Christ – who loves us with an immeasurable love.

“This We Believe” pp 201,202

Our Adoption

Here is a quote from the February, 2017 Study Edition of the Watchtower, page 12, paragraph 15 that I found very disturbing. I’ve quoted the whole paragraph.

The door to complete forgiveness opens to us when we exercise faith in the ransom. God’s Word assures us that our sins can be “blotted out.” (Read Acts 3:19-21.) As we considered earlier, on the basis of the ransom, Jehovah adopts his spirit-anointed servants as his children. (Rom. 8:15-17) As to those of us who are of the “other sheep,” it is as though Jehovah has drawn up an adoption certificate with our name on it. After we have reached perfection and have passed the final test, Jehovah will be delighted to sign the certificate, as it were, and adopt us as his beloved earthly children. (Rom. 8:20, 21; Rev. 20:7-9) Jehovah’s love for his precious children is everlasting. The benefits of the ransom last forever. (Heb. 9:12) This gift will never lose its value. No person or power can take it away from us.

Imagine being a child, a broken, desperate, orphaned child, a child in dire need of a Father. In your brokenness, you’ve acted out, in fact badly enough that you are now in detention.

Now imagine you are introduced to someone who, despite your behavior and incarceration is interested in adopting you into his family. In fact, interested enough that he has sent his son to bail you out of detention and he has drawn up the adoption paperwork that has your name on it. Your heart is stirred with hope. Hope of being released from “the system,” hope of being adopted into a family that will love you, a family that you can love, hope of a real life.

But then, imagine that he now reminds you that your behavioral issues still need to be dealt with. He says he will help you, but that he will only finally adopt you once you have not only behaved yourself for an extended amount of time, but also have become perfect and then passed a final test.

Then he tells you that he has already adopted some other children that had the same behavioral issues as you, but because they were his ‘chosen ones’ he adopted them right away, before they exhibited good behavior for many years, had attained perfection and had passed the same test that you must undergo. What kind of a father is this?

This is the kind of father portrayed in this quote from the Watchtower.

But it is not the kind of Father we read about in the Bible. The Father we read about in the Bible not only sent his Son to pay for our bad behavior, but when we receive that Son, He give us the right to become children of the Father. John 1:12,13 tells us:

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God

Not only that, but the Father gives us “the spirit of adoption”, the assurance that we are His children, and not just his children, but His heirs. At Romans 8:15-17 we read:

15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

And again, at Galatians 4:4,5:

4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

The Bible does not teach us that God adopts some of his children now, but waits until others have behaved themselves for a thousand years, attained perfection and then successfully passed a test before He adopts them.

The Watchtower has hurled the accusation against “Christendom” that they have dishonored God by the teaching of the Trinity. My response to that has been – What discredits God more? Teaching that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all diety, co-equal, co-eternal, omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent OR teaching that the Father is only conditionally omniscient and not omnipresent, the Son who is none of the above and the holy spirit that is not even a person, but an impersonal force?

And to this I would add – or teaching that the Father only adopts some of His children until have they have behaved for a thousand years, become perfect and passed a final test.

The Watchtower and Johannes Greber

Much has been said and written in recent years regarding Jehovah’s Witnesses reliance on Johannes Greber’s “The New Testament—A New Translation and Explanation Based on the Oldest Manuscripts” to support their rendering of John 1:1 and Matthew 27:52,53 in their “New World Translation.” In reality, the writers of The Watchtower have only referred to Greber a handful of times over the years. But, I think the timing and context of those references is interesting. Let’s start with the most recent reference to Greber and his translation that I could find.
From the 4/1/1983 issue of “The Watchtower”, page 31, “Questions from Readers”
■ Why, in recent years, has The Watchtower not made use of the translation by the former Catholic priest, Johannes Greber?
This translation was used occasionally in support of renderings of Matthew 27:52, 53 and John 1:1, as given in the New World Translation and other authoritative Bible versions. But as indicated in a foreword to the 1980 edition of The New Testament by Johannes Greber, this translator relied on “God’s Spirit World” to clarify for him how he should translate difficult passages. It is stated: “His wife, a medium of God’s Spiritworld was often instrumental in conveying the correct answers from God’s Messengers to Pastor Greber.” The Watchtower has deemed it improper to make use of a translation that has such a close rapport with spiritism. (Deuteronomy 18:10-12) The scholarship that forms the basis for the rendering of the above-cited texts in the New World Translation is sound and for this reason does not depend at all on Greber’s translation for authority. Nothing is lost, therefore, by ceasing to use his New Testament.
So here, The Watchtower tells us that they had ceased using Greber’s translation because they came to realize that it had come about, at least partially, as a result of spiritism. Interesting that The Watchtower quotes from the forward from the 1980 edition rather than earlier printings of Greber’s translation. A cursory reading of this might leave the reader with the impression that the writers of The Watchtower had only recently discovered Frau Greber’s relying on “God’s Spiritworld” to convey “the correct answers from God’s Messengers to Pastor Greber”, and having discovered it, immediately stopped making use of Greber’s translation. Their statement could hardly have been better worded to give that impression.
This is hardly the case however.  The writers of The Watchtower knew about Greber being a spiritualist as early as 1955. This is from the 10/1/1955 Watchtower, page 603, para. 33:
It comes as no surprise that one Johannes Greber, a former Catholic clergyman, has become a spiritualist and has published the book entitled “Communication with the Spirit World, Its laws and Its Purpose.” (1932, Macoy Publishing Company, New York)
Then in 1956, The Watchtower makes reference to Greber’s 1937 translation of the New Testament, again highlighting Greber’s spiritism. The following is from the 2/15/1956 Watchtower, pages 110-111, para 10, “Triumphing Over Wicked Spirit Forces”:

Says Johannes Greber in the introduction of his translation of The New Testament, copyrighted in 1937: “I myself was a Catholic priest, and until I was forty-eight years old had never as much as believed in the possibility of communicating with the world of God’s spirits. The day came, however, when I involuntarily took my first step toward such communication, and experienced things that shook me to the depths of my soul. . . . My experiences are related in a book that has appeared in both German and English and bears the title, Communication with the Spirit-World: Its Laws and Its Purpose.”(Page 15, ¶ 2, 3) In keeping with his Roman Catholic extraction Greber’s translation is bound with a gold-leaf cross on its stiff front cover. In the Foreword of his aforementioned book ex-priest Greber says: “The most significant spiritualistic book is the Bible.” Under this impression Greber endeavors to make his New Testament translation read very spiritualistic.

Despite having already acknowledged Greber’s being a spiritist, The Watchtower then turned around and used his rendition of Matthew 27:52, 53 to support their own translation of it. In the 1/1/1961 issue of The Watchtower, page 30 they quote Greber’s translation without attribution as follows:
Nor is the New World Translation alone in rendering these verses thus. A modern German translation reads quite similarly: “Tombs were laid open, and many bodies of those buried were tossed upright. In this posture they projected from the graves and were seen by many who passed by the place on their way back to the city.”—Matt. 27:52, 53.
Next, in their issue of 9/15/1962, page 554 in the article “The Word” – Who is He? According to John, they quote Greber with attribution in a footnote to support their translation of John 1:1:
Similar is the reading by a former Roman Catholic priest: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god. This was with God in the beginning. Everything came into being through the Word, and without it nothing created sprang into existence.” (John 1:1-3)
And the footnote to the previous quote reads:
The New Testament—A New Translation and Explanation Based on the Oldest Manuscripts, by Johannes Greber (a translation from German into English), edition of 1937, the front cover of this bound translation being stamped with a golden cross.
The 1965 edition of The Watchtower’s book Make Sure of All Things, Hold Fast to What is Fine quotes Greber’s translation of John 1:1; the 1953 and 1957 editions of the same book, do not.
In their encyclopedic Aid to Bible Understanding (1971), page 1134, after mentioning earthquakes in Ecuador and Columbia where corpses were heaved out of tombs by earthquakes, they quote Greber, again with respect to Matthew 27:52,53, writing:
The translation by Johannes Greber (1937) of these verses reads as follows: “Tombs were laid open, and many bodies of those buried were tossed upright. In this posture they projected from the graves and were seen by many who passed by the place on their way back to the city.”
Later, in the same Aid book, on page 1669, they cite Greber in connection with John 1:1:
A translation by a former Roman Catholic priest, Johannes Greber (1937 ed.) renders the second appearance of the word “god” in the sentence as “a god.”
Then in The Watchtower of 10/15/1975, page 640, “Questions From Readers”, they again refer to Greber’s translation to lend support to their rendering of Matthew 27:52, 53:
“Without wresting the Greek grammar, a translator can render Matthew 27:52, 53 in a way that suggests that a similar exposing of corpses resulted from the earthquake occurring at Jesus’ death. Thus the translation by Johannes Greber (1937) renders these verses: ‘Tombs were laid open, and many bodies of those buried there were tossed upright. In this posture they projected from the graves and were seen by many who passed by the place on their way back to the city.’”—Compare the New World Translation.” 
And again in The Watchtower of 4/15/1976, page 231, “Insight on the News”, they again use Greber’s translation to support their own.
“The recent Guatemalan earthquake affected even some of those already dead. “Time” magazine reports that “several mourners who went to bury their dead in family plots found that the coffins of long-dead relatives had been uncovered by the quake.” Something similar occurred during an earthquake in the Jerusalem area at Jesus’ death. At that time, dead bodies were customarily placed in vaults or chambers cut from Palestine’s soft limestone rock, often in hillsides. A report in the Bible, as translated by Johannes Greber, says that when Jesus died, “the earth quaked, and the rocks were shattered. Tombs were laid open, and many bodies of those buried there were tossed upright. In this posture they projected from the graves and were seen by many who passed by the place on their way back to the city.” Hence, rather than a resurrection, as some Bible translations imply, there appears to have been merely an exposure of the dead to observers, as in Guatemala.
A search on JW.ORG for “Greber” returns no results, but in their note on Matthew 27:52 in their online version of The New World Translation (Study Edition) they state: “Evidently, the earthquake was so powerful that the tombs were broken open and corpses were thrown out of them.”
So, to summarize, after recognizing Greber as a spiritist in 1955 The Watchtower from 1961 to 1976, used Greber’s translation to support their New World Translation’s renderings of John 1:1 and Matthew 27:52,53. Then in 1983 they explained that they had stopped using Greber’s translation when they realized he was a spiritist, giving the impression that their realization was much more resent than it really was. While the writers of The Watchtower appeal to other translations to support their rendering of John 1:1, Greber’s is the only other translation that they use to support their rendering of Matthew 27:52, 53.
So, I think to say that The Watchtower got their rendering of John 1:1 from Greber may be a bit of a stretch. The same cannot be said for their dependence on Greber for support of their translation of Matthew 27:52,53.