Watchtower Bible and Tract Society’s
In light of the JWs’ biblical translation (NWT) perverted rendering of John 1:1 (“a god”); 8:58 (“I have been”); and the addition of “other” in Col. 1:16-17 and Phil. 2:9.
Keep in mind:
1) In spite of the “new” found nonstandard so-called scholarship of the JWs (and other unitarians) pertaining to the NWT’s renderings of these particular passages, the Christian church has used these (and others) to positively affirm the deity of Christ. Also, most JWs have no real (even basic) knowledge of Greek, but repeat or merely copy and paste the works of others or read some technical assertion from a WT book.
2) A grammatical Greek rule used correctly or misused/misapplied to a passage(s) does not erase an entire context.
For example, regarding John 8:58 and the NWT’s rendering “I have been.” It seems that many folks (Christians and non-Christian) appeal to the Greek here unnecessarily (and without a solid understanding of Greek grammar).
First, the Greek is not in isolate. It is the entire *context* of John's literature that defines the verb's (EIMI, “am”) import as a clear affirmation of deity (and also the verb's contrast with EGENETO-- "before Abraham came to be" and the response of the Jews in v. 59).
So, when 8:58 is seen in the contextual light of 1:1, 3, 18; 5:17-18; 8:24, et al; 20:28; Rev. 22:13; for example, is the interpretation of EGŌ EIMI, "I am," that is, I am YHWH the eternal One. In other words, context always wins.
In 1950 the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society produced a revised translation of the Bible called: New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (hereafter NWT). The entire work was originally released in six volumes, from 1950 (starting with the New Testament) to 1960. However, the NWT went through a series of revisions: 1961, 1970, 1971, and 1984. Extraordinarily naive in the area of textual study, the JWs bolster as to the scholarship of the NWT. They point out that in the forward of the NWT, the names of the translators are not mentioned, "due to their humility." Although, the reason being, is that the translators were anything but scholarly.
But, we do know who they were. They included, Nathan H. Knorr (president of the WT at that time) Frederick W. Franz (who was the next president) Albert D. Schroeder, George Gangas, and Milton G. Henschel (current president). In point of fact, none of these men had a Greek or Hebrew education, except Franz who left school after two years, never completing even an undergraduate degree.1 Besides Franz, their education did not exceed high school!
What is interesting is that in 1984 the Watchtower produced a Greek interlinear called: The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures (hereafter KIT). A Greek interlinear of the New Testament has Greek on one side and the English translation on the other side. In spite of the translational contamination that flows through the pages of the NWT, the KIT is a fairly accurate representation of the Greek text.2 However, what I find extremely problematic, is that in the KIT, the English side (NWT), disagrees with the WT's own Greek translation at many places! (e.g., Matt. 25:46; John 1:1; 8:58; Col. 1:16-17; 2:9; etc.; as shown below). Therefore, it is wise to use the KIT when dialoguing with the JWs. You can pick one up at your local Kingdom Hall. Just kindly ask for one (but do this before you engage in dialogue with them.
As we will see clearly the NWT recklessly deviates from the Greek and Hebrew text. They deceptively change, omit, and add, only to force in its distinct prior theological commitments, hence making sure that the devotees of the Watchtower are "correctly taught." A full treatment of the NWT will not be necessary at this time, but I would like to analyze key significant passages that specifically deal with the deity of Jesus Christ. Whereby evaluating the way in which the NWT changes the text to make fit the distinctive doctrines of the Watchtower.
The following texts will be analyzed grammatically, contextually, and of course, in its proper historical setting as well. Then, we can draw-out (i.e., exegesis) the intended meaning of the New Testament authors. This is what Christians are supposed to do. What I have found in my many years of study and research in dealing with the theology of non-Christian cults is that they all have one unchangeable commonality: In their method of interpretation, they always read into the text (i.e., eisegesis) to support their prior-theological commitments, never letting the text read for itself.
Go here: JOHN
Note: In spite of the technical discussion presented below, as mentioned regarding the NWT’s rendering “I have been” here, the Greek is not in isolate. It is the entire *context* of John's literature that defines the verb's (EIMI, “am”) import as a clear affirmation of deity (and also the verb's contrast with EGENETO-- "before Abraham came to be" and the response of the Jews in v. 59).
So, when 8:58 is seen in the contextual light of 1:1, 3, 18; 5:17-18; 8:24, et al; 20:28; Rev. 22:13; for example, is the interpretation of EGŌ EIMI, "I am," that is, I am YHWH the eternal One. In other words, context always wins.
To circumvent the plain reading of the text: Jesus claiming to be the "I AM,"12 the NWT changes the reading from the Greek to read:
In his gospel and epistles, the Apostle John clearly and cogently presented the Person and finished work of Jesus the Christ. The Jesus that John passionately preached was God the eternal Word who became flesh. In the New Testament (primarily in John’s gospel), Jesus made seven (possibly eight) “absolute”13 egō eimi (“I AM”) declarations. These would be Mark 6:5014;14 John 8:24; 8:28; 8:58; 13:19; 18:5; 18:6; and 18:8.
To understand the full theological significance of the phrase egō eimi the Old Testament background must first be considered. Most commentators and well meaning Christians seize John 8:58 and then hastily connect it with Exodus 3:14. However, the JWs (and other Arian and unitarian groups) will quickly appeal this so-called correlation. They will correctly note that the Septuagint (hereafter LXX) of Exodus 3:14 reads, Egō eimi ho ōn (“I am the Being” or “Existing One”). And hence it is not the same as Jesus’ statement in John 8:585 But this type of argumentation is, of course, special pleading.
There is, though, a solid connection between Jesus’ divine claim in John 8:58 and Exodus 3:14. However, to envisage the full theological impact of Jesus’ divine declarative, egō eimi should be contextually juxtaposed with the Hebrew phrase ani hu (“I am He”). The import of the phrase egō eimi is directly connected to the Hebrew phrase ani hu. This phrase was a frequent title for Yahweh (esp. in Isa.), in which the LXX renders as egō eimi, “I AM” (e.g., Deut. 32:39; Isa. 41:4; 43:10; 46:4). Thus, the Jews understood clearly that egō eimi was a title reserved for Yahweh alone. I will expand on this point shortly.
Egō eimi: Eternal God or pre-Abrahamic Angel
The NWT to renders the present active indicative eimi (“am”) as a past tense, “I have been.” In order to justify the NWT’s rendering the JWs assert that eimi should be seen as a “historical present” or (less frequently) a “perfect indicative” verb. But before dealing with these two assertions, it should be noted that the 1950 edition of the NWT posited a deceptively different argument. On page 312, there is a footnote referring to the “I have been” rendering which says:
This sounds legitimate to the grammatically unschooled. However, Greek does not provide such a rendering as a “perfect indefinite.” In truth, the WT made up a phony tense in order to deceive the doctrinally dependent JWs.
Dealing first with the main assertion that eimi is a “historical present.”16 The WT explains that “The verb ei·mi’, at John 8:58, is evidently in the historical present, as Jesus was speaking about himself in relation to Abraham’s past” (emphasis added).17 It is in this sense then that the JWs see Jesus as merely claiming that He preexisted Abraham. This, according to the JWs, enraged the Jews to the point of wanting to stone Him (cf. v. 59):
The question of the Jews (verse 57) to which Jesus was replying had to do with age, not identity. Jesus’ reply logically dealt with his age, the length of his existence (emphasis added).18
However, as I will show, the assertion that eimi is a “historical present” is grammatically and contextually flawed. First, a historical present tense occurs primarily in narrative literature and only in third person.19 And in this context, Jesus was arguing with the Jews—He was not narrating. Second, the equative verb eimi is not used as a historical present. Wallace exegetically amplifies the major defects of the JWs historical present view:
The weight against the historical present view is massive. The reason for this assertion is of course glaringly obvious. And the far less used assertion that eimi is a “perfect indicative” can be promptly dismissed. As the WT dishonestly fabricated a phony tense (i.e., “perfect indefinite”), they dishonestly misrepresented yet another tense. Even though there is a “perfect indicative” in Greek, there is no such form of eimi. This should not be a surprise, for the WT has no Greek scholars or grammarians involved in their organization.
There is also a significant contextual feature that the JWs do not consider. In John 8:58, egō eimi (“I AM”) is set in sharp contrast to genesthai (“was born”). Jesus drew a shining contrast between Abraham, who had a beginning (“was born”),21 and Himself, who eternally existed (“I AM”).22 Hence Jesus distinguished Abraham’s origination with His unoriginate existence. The same contrast can be seen in the prologue of John (vv. 1-14). The imperfect verb ēn (“was”), which denotes eternal existence,23 is exclusively applied to the Word in verses 1, 2, 4, 9, and 10. And egeneto (“became”)24 refers to all things that came into existence or had a starting point (e.g., the creation, vv. 3, 10; John the Baptist, v. 6). It is not until verse 14 that egeneto is applied to the Word (pertaining to His incarnation): Kai ho logos sarx egeneto (“And the Word flesh became”). The always-existing Word, as John declares, “became flesh.”25 The contrast supplied in John 8:58 (eimi vs. genesthai) clearly distinguishes Abraham’s origin and Jesus’ timeless existence.26
eimi and the LXX
As seen above, the JWs take issue with the LXX rendering of Exodus 3:14:
However, the deception of the WT is quite see-through. For in the NWT Exodus 3:14 reads:
Of course, this rendering exists in translational solitude. There is no justification to translate the Hebrew Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh28 as “I shall prove to be what I shall prove to be.” To circumvent the theological relationship between John 8:58 and Exodus 3:14 a footnote is provided in the NWT at Exodus 3:14:
The WT carefully suppressed the latter phrase in the LXX, as if God only said, ho ōn. The LXX renders God Himself as saying: kai eipen ho theos pros Mōusēn egō eimi ho ōn (“and said the God to Moses I AM the Being”; emphasis added). Unquestionably, I see Jesus’ statement of egō eimi as a pointed parallel to the LXX rendering. Considering as well that the LXX was a practical corresponding translation of the Hebrew Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh. Hence, the Exodus 3:14 (LXX) to John 8:58 correlation is quite compelling. In John 8:58 Wallace positively sees Jesus drawing from the LXX and the observable reason for the WTs denial of it:
Egō eimi: Absolute Deity
As briefly discussed, the Old Testament background plays a most vital role in accurately determining the meaning of egō eimi. The Hebrew phrase ani hu which was translated as egō eimi in the LXX was an exclusive and recurring title for YHWH (cf. Deut. 32:39; Isa. 41:4; 43:10; 48:12). Again, Jesus claimed to be the egō eimi (“I AM”) in the absolute seven (or eight) times (cf. Mark 6:50; John 8:24; 8:28; 58; 13:19; 18:5; 6, 8). In fact, in John 13:19 Jesus’ words are identical (minus the extraneous words) with Isaiah 43:10 (LXX):
“that you may believe . . . that I am [hina pisteuēte .
. . hoti egō
In conclusion, when Jesus Christ claimed to be the egō eimi He purposefully and appropriately applied the divine name to Himself. And the Jews unequivocally knew what He meant: “Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him. . . .” (v. 59). If He were merely claiming that He preexisted Abraham, as the JWs assert, He certainly would not have been a candidate for stoning (cf. John 10:30-33).30 Jesus definitively claimed that He was the Yahweh of the Old Testament.31 Hence, at John 8:58 most meaningful translations render egō eimi correctly as “I AM.” “Undoubtedly,” says Robertson, “here [John 8:58] Jesus claims eternal existence with the absolute phrase [i.e., egō eimi] used of God.”32. Again, the immediate and document context shuts does the arguments against the deity of Christ--The Jews "picked up stones to throw at Him" (same response in John 5:17-18 and 10:30-34 where Jesus made unequivocal claims to be equal wit God).
The JWs err in their struggle to maintain their a priori view of Christ as a created angel. It is of no wonder that the JWs have postulated a variety of reasons as to why egō eimi should be translated as “I have been.”33 The Christian church to demonstrate that Jesus was and claimed to be the eternal God has consistently used this wonderful passage. John Chrysostom (c. A.D. 389) bishop of Constantinople rightly concludes:
As seen clearly the NWT forbids the biblical text to speak for itself. The first allegiance of the NWT is the WT’s a priori theological assumptions. Most textual “adjustments” (from the original) are mainly Christological—denying the deity of Jesus Christ. Pledged to annihilate the deity of Jesus Christ the NWT inserted “other” before “things” four times in Colossians 1:16-17, making Jesus the creator of all “other” things (other than Himself):
The reasons that underlie the textual and translational perversion here were two-fold: (1) The JWs fixed denial of the deity of Christ, (2) An unfamiliarity with the grammatical and historical nuts and bolts of Colossians. But again, here in Colossians (1:15-17) Paul was refuting the Gnostic idea of Jesus not being the Creator of “all things.”
Hence, to say that Jesus merely created all “other” things would have made Paul’s argument completely vacuous. But what makes the NWT’s “other” insertion (also inserted at Phil. 2:10) extra unwarranted is the exact language that Paul used. First, Paul says that Jesus is the very image (eikōn) of the invisible God (v. 15). Only, as true God (ontologically) Jesus can BE the very “image” of the invisible God. No creature can make this claim. Robertson explains:
As perfect God, Jesus is the “exact representation” (charaktēr) of the Father’s “nature” (hupostaseōs; cf. Heb. 1:3). Next, Paul salutes Jesus as “firstborn” of all creation (see above n.). Then in verses 16 and 17 Paul teaches in the strongest way possible that Jesus is the actual Agent of creation. Note the clear and potent way he presents this: “By Him [en auto] all things [panta] were created . . . all things [panta] have been created through Him [di’ autou] and for Him [eis auton]. He is before [autos estin pro panton] all things [panta], and in Him [en autō] all things [panta] hold together.” Note the following grammatical aspects:
1. Paul employs the neuter panta (“all things”), which indicates that in Paul’s mind Jesus was the Creator.
2. Paul utilizes different prepositions to amplify his case: All things were created “by Him” (en + dat.); “through Him” (dia + gen.); “for Him” (eis + acc.); and “in Him” (en + dat.).
3. Paul specifically says that “all things” were created “through” (dia) the Son. The preposition dia followed by the genitive (autou) indicates that Jesus was not merely an instrument but rather the Creator Himself (also dia +gen. at John 1:3; 1 Cor. 8:6; and Heb. 1:2). There is no stronger way in Greek in which Paul could have communicated that the Son was the real and actual Agent of creation. Hence, the NWT’s insertion of “other” cannot stand grammatically; it changes the intended meaning of the text, and it ignores the chief theme of the letter. It should be revealed that in the 1950 ed. of the NWT all the insertions of “other” (e.g., Col. 1:16-17; Phil. 2:9). Did not have brackets around the word “other” to imply that “other” was in the original.
And again in COMPLETE opposition with the Greek and their KIT, which reads: ...exarisato autō to onoma to huper pan onoma...(lit. "gave to Him the name above every name"). Also the grammatical significance of verses 10 –11 brings out the full import of the term “name” (onomati; v. 10). In verse 10 the Greek literally reads: “in order that in the name Jesus every knee should bend. . . . ” (hina en to onomati Iēsou pan gonu kampsē. . . . ). What the grammar of the text indicates, is that, it is not the mere name of “Jesus” that was the “highest name,” for “Jesus” was a common name in first century Palestine, but rather it was the name that belong to Jesus. Jesus (Iēsou) is in the genitive case, i.e., a genitive of possession, i.e., the name that Jesus possesses. And the name that belongs to Jesus is revealed in verse 11: “Jesus Christ is Lord . . .” (Paul here drawing loosely from Isaiah 45:23), that is, Yahweh, to the glory of the Father. The name that belongs to Jesus is the highest most holy name: YHWH, that is, Jesus Christ is LORD.
Even more, Watchtower apologist Greg Stafford attempts to circumvent the obvious when he states:
The fact that he [Jesus] is excluded from ‘all things’ (ta panta) does not mean he is excluded from ‘all creation’ (pases ktiseos). . . . Thus the genitive pases ktiseos is properly seen as partitive, including Christ in the collective group of created things, but dignified above it as ‘first born.’ (Greg Stafford, Jehovah’s Witnesses Defended [Huntington Beach: Elihu Books, 1998], 100).
That Jesus was excluded “from all things” but in “the collective group of created things” is double-talk. There is no distinction made between “all things” and “all creation.” “All things” is precisely what Paul meant; Stafford here postulates a partitive genitive. Stafford uses technical terms that can be seemly convincing to untrained JWs. However, Stafford errs in his analysis. In verses 15-17 the Son is in comparison to “all things” (including “all creation”), hence, pases ktiseos is a genitive of comparison. Furthermore, commenting on the force of prōtotokos (v. 15) and the comparison of Christ as Creator and “all things,” Robertson remarks:
Moreover in Colossians 1:15 Paul calls Jesus prōtotokos (“firstborn”). JWs erroneously think “firstborn” means “first created.” But this assertion would be totally foreign in a first century Jewish context. The word denotes “supremacy” or “first in rank” (cf. Exod. 4:22; Ps. 89:27) as the context of Colossians indicates. The anarthrous prōtotokos, denotes Jesus as “…having special status associated with a firstborn” (Bauer, A Greek English Lexicon, 894). Reymond extracts the true significance of the term:
Paul’s intention behind his description of Jesus as “the Firstborn of all creation” is a universe away from the Arian interpretation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses that would insist that the word shows that the Son was the “first” of all other created things; the entire context demands the term is to be understood in the Hebraic sense as an ascription of priority of rank to the firstborn son who enjoys a special place in the father’s love. (Reymond, Systematic Theology, 251).
If Paul wanted to convey that Jesus was “first-created” he certainly could have used the word prōtoktistos meaning “first-created” to do so (cf. 2 Cor. 5:18: kaine ktisis, “new creation”).
Also, in the WT publication Aid to Bible Understanding the WT rightly admits:
David, who was the youngest son of Jesses, was called by Jehovah the "first-born," due to Jehovah’s elevation of David to the preeminent position in God's chosen nation (584).
Preaching the incarnate Christ was a key feature of the Pauline corpus. Paul’s passion in proclaiming the two-natured Person was routinely affirmed and defended (e.g., Rom. 1:3-4; 9:5; Gal. 4:4; Phil. 2:6-7; Col. 2:9). In Colossians 2:9, Paul’s description of God the Son who became flesh was clear and cogent. Consequently, in order to maintain the WT’s God-man denial the NWT had to patently misrepresent the original words of Paul.
Before examining this text, the historical setting of the letter must be comprehensively considered. Historically, the letter to the Colossians was an anti-Gnostic35 polemic. The main characteristic of Gnostic thinking was dualistic: spirit vs. matter. Many Gnostics taught that the supreme God (i.e., “Bythos,” cf. Valentinus) was purely spirit, thus all created “matter” was essentially and inherently evil.
Accordingly, they flatly rejected the idea that Jesus (who was a good god) possessed something as evil as a “fleshly” body. In stinging contrast the Apostle Paul at the beginning of his letter establishes Jesus Christ as prōtotokos (see above) the Agent of creation (1:15ff.). To declare that Jesus Christ was the Creator cuts through the Gnostic position that viewed Christ as a mere aeon, one of many emanating gods but not the supreme Deity. Only by understanding Paul’s chief purpose for writing the letter and the historical situation can correct exegesis be accomplished.
Evidently, the NWT’s rendering of Colossians 2:9 thoroughly downgrades God the Son to merely “godlike” or “divine” (as in John 1:1c “a god”). To support the rendering “divine quality” the WT booklet Reasoning from the Scriptures explains:
Admittedly, not everyone offers the same interpretation of Colossians 2:9. But what is in agreement with the rest of the inspired letter to the Colossians? Did Christ have in himself something that is his because he is God, part of a Trinity? Or is “the fullness” that dwells in him something that became his because of the decision of someone else? Colossians 1:19 (KJ, Dy) says that all fullness dwelt in Christ because it “pleased the Father” for this to be the case. NE says it was “by God’s own choice.”36
The booklet connects 1:19 with 2:9. Though in 1:19 Paul speaks of an undefined fullness whereas in 2:9 the fullness is clearly defined: pleroma tes theotētos (“fullness of the Deity”). The WT publication Insight on the Scriptures emphasizes further that Christ only possessed “divine quality” without of course being God Himself:
“The Word was itself of divine being.” By Menge: “And God (= of divine being) the Word was.” And by Thimme: “And God of a sort the Word was.” All these renderings highlight the quality of the Word, not his identity with his Father, the Almighty God. Being the Son of Jehovah God, he would have the divine quality, for divine means “godlike.”—Col 2:9. . . . 37
In one WT magazine, there was a section entitled “Questions from Readers.” Wherein the questioned was asked:
Why does the New World Translation
at Colossians 2:9 state that in Jesus “all the fullness of the divine
quality dwells bodily,” where as other translations state that in
Jesus dwells the fullness of Deity or the Godhead?38
The answer was then given but according to WT theology:
At Colossians 2:9 the word in the Greek that the New World Translation renders “divine quality” is theótes, and this is the only use of the word in the Christian Greek Scriptures. The same is true of a similar Greek word, theiótes, which appears only at Romans 1:20, and which the New World Translation there renders “Godship.” The way these two words have been rendered in the New World Translation has given rise to the charge that the New World Bible Translation Committee let their religious beliefs influence them. That charge is true, but they did not do so wrongly, or unduly. The meaning that is to be given to these two Greek words depends upon what the entire Bible has to say about Jehovah God and Jesus Christ. . . . Thus those who believe in the trinity will attach personality to these words, whereas those who do not will render them as qualities in view of the way God and Christ are described in the Scriptures and so as to harmonize the words with the rest of God’s Word. . . . Thus the New World Translation is fully justified in rendering Colossians 2:9 to show that Christ has in him all the fullness, not of God himself, the Deity, the Godhead, but of the divine quality dwelling bodily. . . . To get an objective view of the matter, in exploring questions such as these it is best to use the nonsectarian and nonreligious Hebrew-English and Greek-English dictionaries, instead of those that have been produced by some religious denomination (emphasis added).39
Unquestionably, it is the WT’s pre-committed theology and not the exegesis of Scripture that determines who Christ is.
or “divine quality”
In Colossians 2:9 the NWT translates theotetos, as “divine quality.” However, as I will demonstrate, the NWT purposefully disregards the lexical meaning of the term theotētos (the gen. of theotēs). First, the phrase “divine quality” would be derived not from theotētos but rather from the term theiotes. This term does carry the meaning of “godlike” or “divinity” (cf. Rom. 1:20).40 However, there is a marked lexical difference between these two Greek terms. They do not bear the same meaning. Dr. Edmund Gruss, Professor of History at the Master’s College and a former JW points out:
The word theotēs is here translated “divine quality” which is not a literal or correct rendering. . . . The word for "divinity" or "divine character" is found in Romans 1:20 and is theiotēs which is rendered by Grimm-Thayer as “divinity divine nature.” Cremer gives “the Godhead” as the meaning of theotēs and then says that the two words are to be distinguished: “theotes—that which God is, theiotes—that which is of God.”41
Moreover, recognized Greek lexicographer Joseph Thayer (as concurred by the WT)42 defines theotetos as: "the state of being God.”43 As well, he comments on the clear and discernible distinction between theotetos and theiotes:
Therefore, theotetos should not be rendered merely as “divine quality,” as if theiotes and theotetos are synonymous in meaning. Lexically, there is a distinct qualitative difference in which honest scholarship bears out. It was the pre-committed WT Christology, which decided how the NWT was to translate theotētos. That theotētos means anything other than “the state of being God” goes against the mass of objective scholarship.
In Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christian apologist Ron Rhodes mentions several scholars who substantiate the meaning of theotētos: Joseph B. Lightfoot: “The totality of the divine powers and attributes”; Richard C. Trench: “all the fullness of absolute Godhead . . . He was, and is, absolute and perfect God”; John A. Bengal: “not merely [to] the Divine attributes, but [to] the Divine Nature itself”; H. C. G. Moule: “as strong as possible; Deity, not only Divinity”; Robert Reymond: “the being of the very essence of deity”; Benjamin B. Warfield: “the very deity of God, that which makes God God, in all its completeness.”45
Against the Gnostic version of Christ, Paul straightforwardly presents Jesus Christ as God—fully God. “In Him,” says Paul, “all the fullness [plērōma]46 of Deity [theotētos] dwells [katoikei]47 in bodily form [somatikos].”48 Nevertheless, the NWT has altered God’s Word by removing the theotetos from the Person of Jesus Christ. Conversely, the Christ that Paul preached was ho theos49 who possessed two natures: theos (“God”) and anthōpos (“man”). Reformed theologian John Piper rightfully concludes:
In the end, the NWT delivers a barefaced Christological heresy to millions of sincere men and women who are JWs. The above examples of translational and textual distortions are but a few of the numerous changes from the original. Sadly, the JWs trust that the NWT is in fact God’s written Word.
word of God is tested; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.
Do not add to His words Or He will reprove you, and will be proved a
liar (Prov. 30:5).
The NWT contains plenty of textual and translational alterations from the Old Testament as well. Example, Zechariah 12:10: “they will look to the One whom they pierced. . . . .”
Further, to stress that Christ was created, in Proverbs 8:1-3 and 9:1-3 the NWT changed the Hebrew feminine pronouns (“her,” “she”) to the neuter “it.” Hence, they prevent the normal contextual meaning of “wisdom” being personified as a woman. By this alteration, the NWT can slot-in Christ (who is male) into 8:22ff.:
The NWT can be summed up by the late Greek scholar Dr. Mantey, as he pointedly referred to the JWs as:
2, Not until 1969 that the WT published a new Greek interlinear (KIT). One importance difference though: the Greek representation of the KIT is fundamentally unaltered. The Greek text that was used was the Westcott and Hort (1881) text, which was based on the ? and B. And because of its accurate rendering of the Greek at John 1:1; 8:58; Colossians 1:16-17; and 2:9, the KIT can be a “thorn in the flesh” for those who strive to defend the distinct Christology of the WT on the basis of the Greek text.
3, W. Gary Crampton, Biblical Hermeneutics, 8.
4, Sabellius was a second century heretic who taught and popularized the teaching that Jesus was the Father Himself. This doctrine is also called Modalism because it asserts that God is unipersonal (one Person) whereby successively appears in different modes, manifestations or offices hence clearly rejecting the Trinity (i.e., three distinct coequal coeternal Persons). However when the is doctrine first emerged (Noetus and Praxes were two of the earlier teachers of Modalism) the early Christian church resisted it as a "doctrine of demons" because it taught that Jesus' life started in Bethlehem, thus implying that He was created. Modalism teaches that it was the Father who came down and took flesh. They deny the distinction of Persons of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit See my articles on Oneness Pentecostals (Modalism).
5, Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament, 268.
6, The noun theos (in John 1:1c) is an anarthrous (noun without the article) pre-verbal (before the verb) predicate nominative (both the subject and the predicate are in the same case: nominative case).
7, Wallace, GGBB, 269.
8, Ibid., 267.
9, See note 6 above.
10, Wallace, GGBB, 267.
11, The word "was" (ēn) is very significant as to the nature of the Word (Jesus). Grammatically the verb "was" is an imperfect tense indicating continued existence in this context. Hence, the Word was eternal, without origin. A point that should be communicated, since the JWs teach that Jesus was created at some point in time.
12, Jesus claimed to be the I AM in an absolute sense (egō eimi at the end of the clause) eight times in the New Testament (see Mark 6:50; John 8:24, 28, 58; 13:19; 18:5, 6, 8; see also my article: Jehovah's Witnesses and the Deity of Jesus Christ).
13 “Absolute” meaning that the phrase egō eimi (“I AM”) comes at the end of the clause without supplying a predicate (cf. Robertson, Word Pictures, 5:146). JWs often point to passages like John 14:9 and John 15:27 where most translators render, eimi with an expression of past time: “have been [este] with me” (John 15:27 NIV; et seq., NWT; KJV; NKJV; NRS; NASB; NET; etc.). However, the verb ei)mi/, eimi in John 8:58 differs entirely from this (and others) example provided by the JWs, namely, it possesses no predicate
14 Some do not see Mark 6:50 (cf. John 6:20) as an absolute egō eimi statement (e.g., D. A. Carson, “‘I AM’ Sayings” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology [Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1984], 541). However others such as Protestant theologian Robert Reymond see it as a potential “I am usage” (although he cites the parallel passage in John 6:20; Reymond, Systematic Theology, 231).
15 For example, appendix 2F of the KIT reads:
Of course the assumption that the Christian proclamation that Jesus is God means that Jesus IS the same Person of the Father demonstrates (a) the sheer ignorance of the JWs as to the biblical doctrine of the Trinity and (b) the JWs theological starting point: unitarianism
16 “The historical present is used fairly frequently in narrative literature to describe a past event” (Wallace, Greek Grammar, 526).
17 The Watchtower, 1 September 1974, 526-27.
18 Reasoning from the Scriptures, 418; cf. Watchtower, 15 February 1957, 126-27.
19 Cf. Wallace, Greek Grammar, 526, 528, 530.
20 Ibid., 530.
21 The verb genesthai is the aorist middle infinitive of ginomai. This verb clearly denotes origin (i.e., Abraham’s): “To come into being through the process of birth or natural production, be born be produced” (Walter Bauer, A Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd ed., ed. and rev. Frederick W. Danker [Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000], 197).
22 As seen, the verb eimi is a present active indicative denoting an ongoing action with no indication of origin.
23 Previously discussed (see n. 11) the verb ēn is the imperfect tense of eimi, which indicates a continuous action normally occurring in the past. Hence, the Word always existed. The author of Hebrews likewise affirms the eternality of Jesus Christ. Drawing from Psalm 102:25-27 (LXX) which refers to Yahweh’s eternal unchangeable existence as the Creator, the author of Hebrews applies these passages directly to Jesus Christ in 1:10-12.
24 Egeneto is the aorist indicative form of ginomai. The aorist indicative indicates a punctiliar action normally occurring in the past.
25 The same contrast (created vs. eternal) is found in Psalm 90:2: "Before the mountains were born Or You gave birth to the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God" (emphasis added).
Note the striking parallel between this passage above and John 8:58: Abraham “was born” (created) is contrasted with Jesus as the “I AM” (eternal). And the same in Psalm 90:2: the mountains “were born” (created) is contrasted with God, “You are” (eternal).
26 Robertson sees the grammatical contrast in both John 1:1 and 8:58:
[John 1:1a] Was (ēn). Three times in this sentence John uses this imperfect of eimi to be which conveys no idea of origin for God or for the Logos, simply continuous existence. . . . See the distinction sharply drawn in 8:58 “before Abraham came (genesthai) I am” (eimi, timeless existence) (Robertson, Word Pictures, 5:3).
27 Watchtower, 1 September 1974, 526-27
28 LXX: e)gw\ ei)mi/ o( w)/n, “I am the [Eternal] One.”
29 Wallace, GGBB, 531.
30 According to Hebrew Law there were five reasons, in which stoning was legal: familiar spirits (cf. Lev. 20:27); blasphemy (cf. Lev. 24:10-23); false prophets (Deut. 13:5-10; 18:20); a stubborn and rebellious adult son (cf. Deut. 21:18-22); and lastly, adultery and rape (cf. Deut. 22:21-24).
31 The New Testament authors clearly envisaged Jesus Christ as the Yahweh of the Old Testament. Hence, they often cited Old Testament passages referring to Yahweh and applied them to Christ (e.g., Ps. 45:6-7 with Heb. 1:8-9; Ps. 102:25-27 with Heb. 1:10-12; Isa. 6:1, 10 with John 12:40-41; Isa. 8:12-13 with 1 Peter 3:14-15; Isa. 43:10 with John 8:24 and 13:19; Isa. 45:23 with Phil. 2:10; Joel 2:32 with Rom. 10:13).
32 Robertson, Word Pictures, 5:158-59.
33 I.e., as a “perfect indefinite,” “perfect indicative,” “historical present,” and even, at rear and isolated occasions, correctly acknowledging eimi as a “present active indicative” (cf. KIT, app. 2f, 1145.).
34 John Chrysostom Homilies on the Gospel of St. John and the Epistle to the Hebrews, ed. Philip Schaff, in Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers, vol. 14, 1st series (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1953).
35 I am using the term “Gnostic” (from gnōsis, meaning “knowledge”) broadly to describe the various first and second century sects who share the same basic doctrinal characteristics: spirit vs. matter. Because formal Gnosticism had not yet been developed, critics attack the Pauline authorship of Colossians. It was not, however, the fully developed system that Paul (and John; cf. 1 & 2 John) dealt with. Rather Paul grappled with the main theological predilections of Gnostic philosophy. Despite of philosophical dissimilarities, all Gnostics at least shared one common thread: spirit was good and matter was evil. This system was also described later as “Doceticism” (from dokein, “to seem,” which was first expressed by Serapion of Antioch, c. A.D. 200). Though, both generally held to the spirit vs. matter dualistic system. So accordingly, they did not believe that Jesus (a good god [or “aeon,” cf. Cerinthus]) would ever become something as evil as material flesh. The mere thought of Jesus becoming and remaining in human flesh was utterly repugnant to them.
36 Reasoning from the Scriptures, 420.
37 Insight on the Scriptures, vol. 2 (Brooklyn: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1988), 1203.
38 Watchtower, 1 August 1962, 479-80.
40 Commenting on Romans 1:20, competent Greek scholar Kenneth S. Wuest says:
The Greek word translated “Godhead” [KJV] needs some study. It is theiotes . . . Vincent says, “Godhead expresses deity (theotes). Theiotes is godhood, not godhead (Kenneth S. Wuest, Romans in the Greek New Testament for the English Reader [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1955], 30-31).
See also Robertson, Word Pictures, 4:328-29. Dealing specifically with Colossians 2:9 Robertson further expands on the well defined differences between the two terms:
There dwells (at home) in Christ not one or more aspects of the Godhead [qeothtoj, theotētos] (the very essence of God, from theos, deitas) and not to be confused with theiotes in Rom. 1:20 (from theios, the quality of God, divinitas). . . . (ibid., 491).
Cf. Joseph H. Thayer, Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (1896, reprint, with Strong’s numbering added by Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody: Hendrickson, 1996), 288.
41 Edmund Gruss, Apostles of Denial: An Examination and Exposé of the History, Doctrines and Claims of the Jehovah’s Witnesses (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1976), 15-16.
42 The WT has cited Thayer no less than forty-two times since 1997. The WT said he was “a theologian and scholar who worked on the American Standard Version” (Should You Believe in the Trinity?, 28).
43 Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon, 288.
45 Ron Rhodes, Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Jehovah’s Witnesses (Eugene: Harvest House, 1993), 81-82.
46 The term translated “fullness” is pleroma. This term was especially familiar in Gnostic theology. In Gnostic thinking the supreme God dwelled in the pleroma and “aeons” (as they saw Christ) emanated from Him (cf. n. 62):
From this one true God flows a long series of “emanations” known to the Gnostics as aeons. These aeons are godlike, often identified as angels when Gnosticism encountered Jewish or Christian beliefs (possibly alluded to in Colossians 2:18). All of the aeons, taken as a group, comprised the “pleroma,” the Greek work for “fullness” (James R. White, The Forgotten Trinity, Recovering the Heart of Christ Belief [Minneapolis: Bethany House, 1998], 108).
Robertson notes on Paul’s usage of the term pleroma:
Paul here asserts that “all the pleroma of the Godhead,” not just certain aspects, dwell now in Christ and in bodily form (sōmatikōs. . . .), dwells now in Christ in his glorified humanity (Phil. 2:9-11), “the body of His glory” (toi sōmati tes doxēs). The fullness of the Godhead was in Christ before the Incarnation (John 1:1, 18; Phil. 2:6), during the Incarnation (John 1:14, 18; 1 John 1:1-3) (Robertson, Word Pictures, 4:491).
47 The word translated “dwells” is katoikei, which is the present active indicative of katoikeo. The present tense indicates that the “fullness” of absolute “Deity” dwells in Christ permanently and continuously. Hence, there was no beginning of the theotētos of Christ. In contrast to the aorist egeneto (“became”) referring to His incarnation, which had a beginning: Kai ho logos sarx egeneto (“And the Word flesh became”). Reymond observes the grammatical impact of what Paul was communicating:
Putting these two words [katoikei and theotētos] together, Paul is speaking of the “totality of all that is essential to the divine nature.” Concerning this “totality of divine essence” Paul affirms that it “dwells [permanently]” (for that is the force of the preposition kata, kata, prefixed to the verb and the present tense of the verb katoikeō) in Jesus (Reymond, Systematic Theology, 252-253).
48 The Greek term somatikos (“bodily”) denotes Jesus’ physical body. Hence, the fullness of “Deity” (which was always subsisting in Him; cf. Phil. 2:6) permanently and continuously dwells now in the physical body of Jesus Christ. Robertson sees clearly Paul’s presentation of Christ as the God-man and Paul’s refutation of the Docetic brand of Gnosticism that attacked the very Person of Christ:
Paul here disposes of the Docetic theory that Jesus had no human body as well as the Cerinthian separation between the man Jesus and the aeon Christ. He asserts plainly the deity and the humanity of Jesus Christ in corporeal form (Robertson, Word Pictures, 4:491).
49 In the entire Pauline corpus the apostle taught implicitly and explicitly the full deity of Jesus Christ. To be sure, this was his “teaching priority” (e.g., Rom. 1:3-4; 9:5; 10:13; 1 Cor. 16:22; Phil. 2:6-11; 2 Col. 2:9; 2 Thess. 1:12; 1 Tim 3:16; Titus 2:13). Perhaps Paul’s high Christology was due to the convicting words of Christ, which may have rung continuously in his mind: ean gar me pisteusete hoti egō eimi apothaneisthe en tais hamartiais humon, “for if you should not believe that I AM, you will die in your sins” (John 8:24; trans. mine).
50 John Piper, The Pleasures of God: Meditations on God’s Delight in Being God (Portland: Multnomah, 1991), 32.
51 Before the NWT, the WT had printed the KJV and distributed it to its followers. However being that the KJV (and every meaningful translation) contradicted distinctive WT theology (esp. at Matt. 25:46; John 1:1; 8:58; Col. 1:16-17; 2:9; Heb. 1:8; etc.) the WT produced its own NWT, which of course is in doctrinal harmony with the JWs.
52 There is no phrase such as: “everlasting cutting-off” in the Greek. Note the parallel: “eternal life,” and “eternal punishment,” just as the life in Christ is eternal; the “punishment” of the wicked is eternal as to its duration. Only one who is conscious can experience punishment (kolasin).
53 The word “Jehovah” does not appear in any of the 5000 + Greek manuscripts of the New Testament. The burden of proof is on Jehovah’s Witnesses to produce the evidence. Don’t let them side-step this issue. Also ALL pronouns following verse 9 have Jesus Christ as its referent: "Whoever calls on the name of the Lord ["Yahweh"; Joel 2:32]," that is, Jesus Christ "will be saved."
54 The grammar in the Greek tells us plainly that at death Christians are immediately with Christ. According to the aorist infinitive “to depart” (analusai) and the present infinitive “to be” (einai) connected by the single article “and.” Scripture does not teach the idea of soul-sleep.
55 Only when “worship” (proskuneō) is applied to Jesus does the NWT replace it with the word “obeisance” (e.g., Matt. 2:8, 11; 28:9; John 9:38). Interestingly, the NWT uses the same word ("worship") when it is applied to the Father (e.g., Luke 4:8; John 4:23-24; Rev. 19:4 etc.). The 1961 edition of the NWT however, retains the word “worship” when it’s applied to Jesus. See Revelation 5:13-14 where the Father and the Son ("the Lamb") are the objects of divine worship. That Christ was worshipped as God is truly hidden from the JWs, by the NWT.
56 Literally: “The throne of thee the God” (ho thronos sou ho theos). Notice that Jesus is called “the God,” “God” with the definite article, “the.” The NWT rendering of the verse follows the Arian and Unitarian renderings. However, both the Septuagint and the Hebrew (from Ps. 45:6) are in direct address: “Your throne” and not the NWT’s “God is your throne.” The groups that deny the deity of Christ ignore the direct address; the Father addressing the Son as ho theos, that is, “THE GOD.”