Jehovah Witness Faulty Translation on the Deity of Christ - Part 1

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The Jehovah Witnesses Faulty Translation
on the Deity of Christ - Part 1

The Jehovah Witnesses (hereafter, JW) hold that Jesus Christ was not God but a god. It is their teaching that God is one person not three. He and He alone has existed eternally. Jesus Christ, on the other hand, was God’s first creation and he was created prior to the “beginning” of Gen. 1:1 and John 1:1. In the JW teaching, Jesus was given the task to create everything else that exists at the time of “the beginning.” This is clearly reflected in their New World Translation (hereafter, NWT) of Col. 1:16-20 where they add the word “[other]” when describing the creative work of Christ. It should be noted that the word [other] is not found nor is it implied by the original text.

Col. 1:16-20, “because by means of him all [other] things were created in the heavens and upon the earth, the things visible and the things invisible, no matter whether they are thrones or lordships or governments or authorities. All [other] things have been created through him and for him. Also, he is before all [other] things and by means of him all [other] things were made to exist, and he is the head of the body, the congregation. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that he might become the one who is first in all things; because [God] saw good for all fullness to dwell in him, and through him to reconcile again to himself all [other] things by making peace through the blood [he shed] on the torture stake, no matter whether they are the things upon the earth or the things in the heavens.

This is only one example of how the JW’s knowingly twist the text of Scripture in order to support their false doctrine concerning the deity of Jesus Christ. I say knowingly because in January 2013 I had a conversation by phone with a JW professor who teaches the original languages of the Bible in one of their schools. The man was well taught and he sought to prove that the JW’s NWT was the only correct translation regarding the deity of Christ. It was a profitable time for me for it forced me to go back to the original texts to compare them with the NWT to see if what he said had merit. After examining texts both in the Old and New Testament, it was clear the NWT does mistranslate many passages of Scripture in order to conceal the biblical doctrine of the deity of Christ. For this segment, let me illustrate my point by selecting one of the best examples of the NWT mistranslation, John 1:1. I first give the New King James Version (hereafter NKJV) which reflects the reading of the Greek text in order to compare it to the mistranslation of the NWT.

NKJV, "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God,"

NWT, "Originally the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god,"

It is clear from comparing the translations that there is a great deal of variation between the two. Let us examine this difference one phrase at a time.

a) First Phrase: the NWT avoids the translation of the Greek words ”en archee”, “in the beginning,” even though this is clearly the intended idea of the writer as indicated by the major Greek Lexicons and almost all English translations. The reason the NWT avoids this translation is because it identifies the Word as the God of Gen. 1:1 who created all things from nothing in the “beginning.” Interestingly, the JW Greek scholar I spoke with agreed that this phrase is a reference to Gen. 1:1.

It should be also noted that the Word “was” (past tense) in the beginning indicating existence prior to the “beginning.” Only God existed before the “beginning” (creation) therefore declaring that Jesus, the Word, existed eternally as God. It should be also noted that the phrase, “the beginning,” addresses a point in time when all that exists other than God was brought into existence. If Christ had been created by God prior to “the beginning” as the JW assert, then the phrase “in the beginning” would not be an appropriate term to describe the event of Gen. 1:1. If Christ had been created before Gen. 1:1 as the JW teach, then Christ’s creation would be “the beginning” point of time and the events of Gen. 1:1 would be a “continuation” of what God had originally started in creating Christ. However the Scriptures are clear God’s creative work began with Gen. 1:1 and Jesus, as God, was the One who created all things out of nothing. This is clearly declared in the correct translation of Col. 1:16-17 which speaks of Christ’s work of creation.

“For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.” NKJV

b) Second Phrase: the NWT agrees with the other translations, “The Word was with God” but they do not take it to mean what the original language conveys. The preposition “with” means to “dwell on a level equal to someone or something else.” As applied to Jesus it declares Jesus dwelt on a level equal with God or in essence was God, equal with the Father and the Holy Spirit. No Creation can ever hope to dwell on a level equal with its Creator God. Clearly John is seeking to drive home the point that Jesus, the Word, was every bit God.

c) Third Phrase: The NWT translates “the word was a god.” They argue that this is the correct translation because the Greek article is not associated with the word “God.” When the article is associated with a proper noun it speaks of a particular thing or person and in the English we demonstrate this by either capitalizing the noun or adding the word “the.” However, with the article absent, the noun takes on a generic sense. This would be the difference between a president or the president. In response to this argument let me share some facts

1) Every first year Greek student learns that a proper noun in Greek does not have to have a Greek article in order to be understood as a proper noun. Normally the article is used but not always. It is not a hard and fast grammatical rule. Even the Jehovah Witness translation recognizes this fact in their translation of “God” in John 1:2, 6, 12 where it translates God with a capital G even though there is no Greek article. In other words, they do not follow the very rule they claim must govern the translation of John 1:1.

2) The absence of the article from a proper noun is sometimes done to emphasize the character of the individual. This is the case in this phrase. John purposefully avoided adding the article to God because he desired to emphasize the character of the Word. Thus John was saying that in essence Jesus was deity, part of the Triune God.

Please note that John could not use the article with God without conveying a faulty idea about God. If the article had been include the Greek text would have read, “God was the Word.” Such a statement fallacy implies that God was solely made up of only the Word, Jesus. This is clearly not in John’s thinking as he stated in the previous phrase that the Word “dwelt with God.” This previous statement indicates that God is made up of more than Jesus. God is made up of Jesus plus the other two persons of the Trinity with Whom Jesus dwelt.

The JW, in order to support their translation of “a god,” for a time used a portion of the Greek Grammar written by one of the greatest Greek experts who ever lived, Dr. Julius R. Mantey. Dr. Mantey, upon learning of this fact wrote a response in which he totally disavowed the mistranslation of the JW. If you would like to read what Dr. Mantey wrote click here.

Therefore, we must conclude that the JWs have twisted this passage to take away from deity of Christ not because His deity is absent in the text, but because they cannot comprehend how One God could be made up three persons. Anyone who studies what the Scriptures declares about God has to conclude that such a great being cannot be fully understood by a finite mind. There are many things about God that we are told that are beyond our ability to understand. For example, that God had no beginning nor ending, that God is omniscient, that God is able to create things out of nothing, and the list could go. In the next segment, I plan to cover some additional passages that further illustrate how twisted and distorted is the Bible of the Jehovah Witness.