Jesus In the Hands of the New World Translation

NWTs

Is the Watchtower Society’s New World Translation Trustworthy?

(This article is taken from a presentation I have done for several classes and other groups.
It is available for download here: Jehovahs Witnesses and the NWT
and in Spanish here: Jehovahs Witnesses and the NWT_Espanol)

Introduction

Jehovah’s Witness (JW’s) have their own version of the Bible that contains several key changes to the English text in order to lend support for their heretical doctrines. The New World Translation (NWT) is defined by the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ parent organization (The Watchtower Society) as “a translation of the Holy Scriptures made directly from Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek into modern day English by a committee of anointed witnesses of Jehovah” (Reasoning from the Scriptures, 276). The NWT is the anonymous work of the “New World Bible Translation Committee.” Jehovah’s Witnesses claim that the anonymity is in place so that the credit for the work will go to God. Of course this has the added benefit of keeping the translators from any accountability for their errors and prevents real scholars from checking their academic credentials.

The question dealt with below is whether or not the NWT is trustworthy. As will be shown, all that is needed to show that it is not trustworthy is found in the NWT’s own pages. If you are following along at home, you will want both a common New World Translation (available at pretty much every used bookstore in America), and a Kingdom Interlinear Translation – the Watchtower’s own presentation of the original Greek vs. the NWT’s English. if you really wnt the goods, a 1950 original NWT (it was published in two volumes – OT and NT) is also valuable, for it contains some of the more embarrassing material that has since been “corrected.”

*Note: A new edition of the NWT was released in 2013, for information on important changes see Jehovah’s Witnesses’ New World Translation 2013 Revision.

Translation Issues

Several differences between the NWT and legitimate translations include the following: The NWT has the Greek term word “staurós” (“cross”) as “torture stake”. It leaves out the words “sheol,” “hades,” “gehenna,” and “tartarus”, where other translations translate some, or all, of these as “hell” (JW’s do not believe in hell). The NWT uses “presence” as for the Greek “Parousia” instead of “coming” (JW’s believe that Christ returned in the early 1900’s). In contrast with the translators’ stated goals, these differences clearly represent “sectarian religious coloration.”

These might be laughable except that the NWT goes much farther with its mistranslation than this. The most imp[ortant of these is how God is treated.

The Divine Name

The most noticeable change in the Watchtower Bible, and one they cite as proving its superiority, is the insertion of the name “Jehovah” over 200 times in the New Testament. This word is allegedly a transliteration of the Hebrew tetragrammaton YHWH– although it does not appear in any Greek manuscripts. They claim that this “restoration” of the divine name (i.e., “Jehovah”) is required to worship God in truth (although Hebrew has no letters that would transliterate to a “J”!).

They excuse this practice by claiming to only do so when the New Testament is quoting from the Old Testament (KIT p.19), yet their own index shows that in hundreds of cases (checked below) this is simply not the case.

Further, although the word “Kurios” occurs over 40 times in 1‐2 Thessalonians alone, it is only replaced with “Jehovah” in six instances. Why? Because all but those six refer to Jesus Christ. As will be shown below, making Jesus out to be a mere man seems to be the most important feature of the NWT.

Is Jesus Christ God?

The more striking (if not the most immediately obvious) feature of the NWT is a consistent effort to remove any references to Jesus Christ as being God. None of these changes, however, arise out of any necessity in the Greek text (as admitted in their own literature – see below), rather they simply reflect the Watchtower’s aberrant theology. Several key problematic “translations” arising from this heretical theology are dealt with below.

JOHN 1 – “God” or “a god”?

The Greek behind John 1:1 clearly states that “the Word was God,” but the NWT of John 1:1 is as follows: “the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.” While modern translations have “the Word was God,” the Watchtower sees fit to translate “theos” as “a god,” thus describing Jesus (the Word) as “godlike” rather than God Himself as the text plainly states.  The Jehovah’s Witnesses’ argument for translating “theos” (God) as “a god” centers on the use of the definite article (Greek “ton” or “the” in English) with the first occurrence of God in the verse and its absence in the second. From this they assert that “ton theon” must refer to the God (Jehovah), while “theos” by itself is only a description of the godlike characteristics of the Word. Below is presented the NWT’s own Interlinear showing the Greek text (highlighted in orange) in question. Two points will show that this is not a matter of correct translation but of reading one’s preconceived theology into the text rather than letting it speak for itself:

  1. There is no indefinite article in Greek (in English – “a” or “an”). So any use of an indefinite article in the English translation must be added in by the translator. This is grammatically acceptable in English, so long as it does not change the meaning of the text.
  2. There are over 20 uses of the definite article in Greek – some have equivalent usage in English (such as identifying one particular among many, i.e. “the man” rather than just any “man”). However, some usages do not have an English equivalent. Therefore the absence of a definite article may or may not have anything to do with what that absence would mean in English.

There is a perfectly good explanation for why “theos” has no definite article in this passage that does not result in the Watchtower’s conclusion. There are three general rules we need to understand to see why:

  1. In Greek, word order does not determine word usage like it does in English. We are used to the Subject – Verb – Predicate style sentence and we learn to recognize these parts of speech by their position in the sentence. Thus, “Harry called the dog.” is not equivalent to, “The dog called Harry.” But in Greek, a word’s function is determined by the case ending found attached to the word’s root. In this verse, we see two case endings for the root “theo” . . . one is “s” (theos), the other is “n” (theon). The “s” ending normally identifies a noun as being the subject of a sentence, while the “n” ending identifies a noun as the direct object.
  2. When a noun is functioning as a predicate nominative (in English a noun that follows a “being” verb such as “is”) its case ending must match the noun’s case that it modifies so that the translator will know which noun it is describing. Therefore, “theo” must take the “s” ending because it is modifying “logos” (the subject, as “logo” has the “s” ending). Therefore the sentence transliterates to: “kai theos en ho logos” See the problem here? Is “theos” the subject or is “logos”? Both have the “s” ending. The answer is found in the next rule.
  3. In cases where two nouns appear, and both take the same case endings, the author will often add the definite article to the word that is the subject in order to avoid confusion. John put the definite article on “logos” (the Word) instead of “theos.” So “logos” is the subject, and “theos” is the predicate nominative. In English we would read this verse as: “and the Word was God” (instead of “and God was the word”).

The most revealing evidence of the Watchtower’s bias is their inconsistent translation technique – just 3 verses down they translate another case of “theos” without the indefinite article as “God”. (Note that case endings such as “ou”, “on”, or “os” have to do with case usage in the sentence not whether or not “God” should be capitalized). [See The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scripturespg. 417.] (Note: the true Greek was not followed in the earlier version of the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ interlinear, the Emphatic Diaglott.)

And this is not the only example of translating other cases of “theos” without the indefinite article as “God.” In Jn. 1:18 they translate the same term as both “God” and “god” in the very same sentence. [See The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures pg. 418-19].

The Watchtower, therefore, has no hard textual grounds for their translation – only their own theological bias. While Watchtower defenders might succeed in showing that John 1:1 can be translated as they have done, they cannot show that it is the proper translation nor can they explain the fact that that they do not translate the exact same Greek phrases in the very same book in like manner. It is only their pre-conceived heretical belief that forces them to inconsistently translate the Greek text into their own particular English version thus allowing their error to gain some semblance of legitimacy to those ignorant of the facts.

John 8:58 – “I am” or “I have been”?

In what must have been an incredibly embarrassing admission, the 1950 NWT claimed in a footnote that that their translation was based on the “perfect indefinite tense.” However, scholars quickly pointed out that, as any first semester Greek student would know, there is no such tense in Koine Greek!  In 1961 the footnote was changed to “the perfect tense,” but apparently this was also discovered to be incorrect – for the 1971 footnote says, “the perfect tense indicative.”

“Ego eimi” is the ‘present active indicative first person singular’ (“I am”), not the ‘perfect active indicative first person singular’ (“I have been”) as their own interlinear reports.  [See The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures pg. 467]. It is clear that the Watchtower Soceity is not very well versed in Greek, and that they are simply desperate to get the clear declaration of Jesus that He is Yahweh (as the Jews recognized, see Ex. 3:14) out of this passage.

What is frightening about this attempt is that it is in a passage that directly seals with salvation. What one believes about Jesus’ statement here is determinative for eternal life. The Watchtower’s false understanding is inexcusable, therefore, on both linguistic and theological grounds.

Hebrews 1 

“Worship” or “Obeisance”?

In Hebrews 1 the Son is worshiped – obviously a problem for the Jehovah’s Witnesses. So they changed it. The Greek term is from “proskuneo” which Bauer, Arndt, and Gingrich’s A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (the authoritative source on Koine Greek) gives this definition:

‘to kiss’ (used to designate the custom of prostrating oneself before persons and kissing their feet or the hem of their garment, the ground, etc.; the Persians did this in the presence of their deified king, and the Greeks before a divinity or something holy.) to express in attitude or gesture one’s complete dependence on or submission to a high authority figure, (fall down and) worship, do obeisance to, prostrate oneself before, do reverence to, welcome respectfully . . .

The JW’s little apologetic text Reasoning from the Scriptures gives the same basic quote and admits that the term can be used for worship toward God. So neither view can simply argue from the word itself. However, their view is still mistaken and there are some easy ways to show it – using their own materials no less.

If one looks up the verse in the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ own “Kingdom Interlinear” one can see the Greek and English together. In it, Hebrews 1:6 is translated “worship” (in the 1969 edition at least – sometimes they catch their “mistakes” and “fix” them later – they at least missed this one on their first pass!). [See The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures pg. 965].

Second, even without the Greek it is easy to show that the Jehovah’s Witnesses interpretation is false. Hebrews 1:6 is a quote of Ps. 97:7 (as their own NWT footnotes will show), so whatever the phrase means in Ps. 97:7 it also means in Heb. 1:6. Ps. 97 is talking about Jehovah (that’s what it says). Oddly, the NWT’s own footnote cross references Hebrews 1:6 here (it is letter “Y” in my copy). This shows, in fact, that Jesus is Jehovah! Yet another fun thing happens when we look at Heb. 1:6’s footnotes in the NWT. They were clever enough not to reference the Psalm that it comes from – instead they reference Dt. 32:43 (where the same Greek term for “worship” is used in the LXX). But guess what? This is referring to Jehovah too (start reading from Dt. 32:36 and you will see this).

“Christ’s Throne”

Another verse in Hebrews 1 that might sound odd to those familiar with standard translations is 1:8 in which Yahweh says to Christ, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever.” The NWT has “God is your throne forever and ever.” This translation is possible (both “thronos” and “theos” could be substituted for the subject in Greek). The NWT version is quite doubtful, however. In Hebrews Christ the Son is being shown to be better than any competitor for worship. In chapter 1 Christ is being shown to be better than the angels. God being His throne sounds odd, but could be seen as God the Father being the Son’s authority. But in what sense would this not also be said of the angels? This would not advance the thesis of the chapter. It would be like me saying that my brother is better than my sister because he is under my parent’s authority. Well, so is my sister.

“Christ’s Creation”

In verse 10 Jesus is said to be the one who laid the foundation of the earth. But this verse is a quote from Psalm 102:24-25 which says that God (Jehovah) laid the foundations of the earth. In yet another instance of Watchtower inconsistency they correctly translate “kurios” as “Lord” here instead of “Jehovah” (which they do in all cases where they believe it refers to God the Father). So from the NWT itself we can see that Christ is Lord (“Jehovah” to JW’s) and did what only God could do (cf. Isa. 44)! [See the NWT Translator’s explanation about translating “Kurios” (“Lord”) as “Jehovah” in The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures pg. 18, and the translating of “Kurios” (“Lord”) as “Jehovah” in Hebrews 12:6 versus NOT translating Kurios (“Lord”) as “Jehovah” in Hebrews 1:10 although it IS a quote from an OT text (Ps. 102) addressing Jehovah.]

Colossians 1

“All things” or “All other things”?

The NWT has “By means of him all [other] things were created . . . ” in Colossians 1:16. here, and in other verses they insert, without justification from the Greek, the word “other. In the first chapter of Colossians Paul glorifies Christ by telling of His creative activity, thus showing that Jesus is God incarnate. This Biblical teaching flies in the face of Watchtower theology which teaches that Christ was Jehovah’s first creation – and thus not God. Not able to abide the text in question, the Watchtower has seen fit to add the word “other” into this section not once, but 5 times (1:16-20). They do this without warrant, as their own interlinear demonstrates. [See The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures pg. 896].

[Update: The 2013 NWT once again does not put the words “other” in brackets! See  see Jehovah’s Witnesses’ New World Translation 2013 Revision.]

Is there any good reason to think that this addition is correct? The Watchtower attempt to escape the obvious implication of this passage is one of the plainest examples of  reading into the text rather than from the text that could be offered. To purposefully add a word that changes the meaning of a Biblical text is so obviously wrong it is difficult to imagine how the Watchtower could defend itself, and their explanation shows that they recognize this. In Reasoning from the Scriptures, the JW apologetic handbook, they essentially point to “everything else the Bible says regarding the Son” for their justification. This is a perfect example of circular reasoning. They remove or distort the numerous passages that clearly show Jesus to be God and then point to those passages and say, “See? He’s not God!”

Amazingly, in their booklet titled Should You Believe in the Trinity? the Watchtower does not even treat this verse under the section dealing with Trinitarian proof-texts. They then use their own distorted version of Col. 3:15 as evidence that Jesus is not God! (pg. 26, also see pp. 23-28).

“In Him” or “By Means of Him”?

An additional issue is important here. Paul clearly states that all of creation was made in Christ (“en auto” – literally “in Him”). Everywhere else in this passage “en” is translated “in”. Yet once again this does not fit with Watchtower theology so they change it when it refers to Christ’s role in creation. Suddenly “in” becomes “by means of”. Why? Because the proper translation shows that Christ Himself was the creator. Watchtower theology tries to lessen the impact of verses like this by asserting that God merely created “through” or “by means of” Christ. For example, in John 1:3 “panta” is correctly translated. Why? Because the preposition “dia” is used with reference the Christ (which the Watchtower thinks saves their position).

Poor translation and grasp of creation theology notwithstanding, there is still a huge problem for the Watchtower. Yahweh specifically states in Isaiah 44:24 that He was all alone at creation. Thus, if Christ was there at creation then he must be Yahweh. (JW’s might quote Job 38 where “the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy” at God’s creation, but this gets them nowhere unless angels are not part of creation! Clearly creation was a process and angels were created prior to the earth. This is why the NWT must change Colossians, for it clearly states that Christ created the angels too – thus He was present prior to the first moment of creation and was therefore not part of it).

That “other” does not appear in the original document is without question. The phrase “ektisthe ta panta” literally translates: “it was created the all” or, to put it into proper English grammatical format, “all things were created.” This not only does justice to the original text, but allows the clear message of Christ’s deity to shine forth (in fact, Colossians was written as an attempt to stop the very heresy the Watchtower espouses! See vss. 1:15, 17, 18, 19, 2:9, 10, etc. which clearly point to Christ’s deity).

When Does “All” Mean “Some”?

The best the Watchtower can do is point to instances in the NT where “panta” is translated into English along with the word “other.” They may cite Luke 13:2 which reads, “all other Galileans.” It is interesting to note first that in the NWT the word “other” is inserted in this verse without brackets meaning that it is not considered to be an added word, but only one of clarification. This is acceptable here of course, because the word “other” does not affect the meaning of this sentence at all. Its presence or absence only makes the sentence (in English) more or less clear grammatically. But this is not the case with Colossians chapter 1. The insertion of the word “other” 5 times in this passage completely changes the meaning of the text.

It is also noteworthy that prior to the 1960’s the NWT did not enclose the word “other” in brackets in the this passage. Their dishonesty was pointed out and they were forced to admit their insertion. This has not stopped them from continuing the practice though, as can be seen from the deliberate insertion without brackets in Philippians 2:9 where “other” must be inserted to avoid Jesus’ name being higher than all. [See The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures pg. 885.]

Another problem for the Watchtower arises from a verse the editors missed while inserting terms needed to make their interpretation look more plausible. In Revelation 5:13 we are told that every (“pan”) creature in heaven and on earth bowed to Christ (here pictured as the Lamb of God). If Christ is a creature then how could every creature bow to Him? (Notice also that the same glory given to God the Father is given to Christ – although God will share His glory with no other! [Isa. 42:8]). [See The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures pg. 1090.]

Conclusion

It is the Watchtower’s pre-conceived theological errors that force them to dishonestly and inconsistently translate the Greek text into their own particular English version (otherwise why would they need it?). This attempt is not only illegitimate, but embarrassingly obvious to anyone with an ounce of sense and understanding of how languages work. Without knocking down the Watchtower’s authority, biblical arguments are usually not going to get you very far and Jehovah’s Witnesses are not allowed to read non-Watchtower literature. But showing things from their own Bible cannot be denied as easily.

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18 thoughts on “Jesus In the Hands of the New World Translation

  1. Regarding Jehovah’s Witnesses’ “New World Translation” Bible and its rendering of John 1:1, it may interest you and your readers to know that, in support and explanation of their wording of this verse (especially within the third clause with “a god”), there is soon to be published a 20+ year study (as of 3/2012), a thoroughly researched reference work – an historical analysis & exhaustive annotated bibliography – it will be entitled, “What About John 1:1?”

    To learn more of its design and expected release date, you are invited to visit:

    http://www.goodcompanionbooks.com

    When finally published, apart from discussing many of the other topics and scriptures often related to the man-made Trinity doctrine, you will also discover that we have collected information on about 430+ scholarly reference works (mostly Trinitarian) which, throughout the centuries, had opted to say something other than, “and the Word was God,” and that, included among them are over 120 which had chosen to use “a god” within the third clause of their renderings.

    As you might expect, we are very excited at the opportunity to share our findings with others.

    Agape, JohnOneOne.

  2. I wonder how long it will take to come out with a study that overturns all of the relevant Bible verses as well as 2,000 years of orthodox teaching? I’m going to guess “never.”

  3. Dear Mr. Beaumont,

    Actually, I believe the following are a number of good websites which do, indeed, address most every issue you (and others) might have, particularly in those areas where they touch on the subject of the “Trinity.”

    “Examining the Trinity”
    http://examiningthetrinity.blogspot.com/2009/10/index_15.html

    “Scripture Index”
    http://searchforbibletruthsscriptureindex.blogspot.com/

    “Exposing the False Reasoning Behind Trinity Proof Texts”
    http://examiningthetrinity.blogspot.com/2011/03/exposing-false-reasoning-behind-trinity.html

    “Index of Links and Pages that Defend the New World Translation”
    http://defendingthenwt.blogspot.com/2010/12/index-of-links-and-pages.html

    Agape, JohnOneOne.

  4. On Colossians 1 the first link says, “Yes, all Bible translators supply needed words in accordance with their own under-standing of what meaning the Bible writer actually intended.” Um – yes, this is MY point though. The NWT’s claims to avoid sectarian translations and stick to the literal text are simply false. I’m not going to read through the other 3,000 website links on these pages because I have read the relevant literature of the Watchtower and seen their attempts to justify these changes to Holy Scripture and they all beg the question. If you think there is something in all these links that beats the Watchtower’s arguments feel free to send thee argument – I don’t have time to evaluate link sites.

    But I will leave you with this thought: Even if I were to grant that the original biblical text only gave a 50/50 possibility that the trinitarian interpretation was the correct one, the fact is that the issue of the Trinity was settled even before the canon of Scripture was determined – and both were settled by the same Church (i.e., NOT the Watchtower). Neither modern scholars nor 19th Century “Bible students” have a legitimate (or logical) right to try to use the Church’s Scriptures to prove the Church is in error. If you do not trust the Church that gave you your Bible then how can you trust the Bible either?

  5. Pingback: Martin Luther and Faith Alone | Soul Device

  6. Pingback: Jehovah’s Witnesses’ New World Translation 2013 Revision | Soul Device

  7. Doug are you aware that all Bibles in English actually add words to the text is order yo make the text read correctly in English? Look through the JKV and you will see many words in italics. These are added words In the Book of JOHN the JKV adds the indefinite article to qualitative nominative predicate that preceded a verb (just as in the case John 1:1c) However they fail to do it at John 1:1

    The texts to look at are

    John 4:19
    John 6:70
    John 8:44 (2 times)
    John 9:17
    John 10:1
    John 10:13
    John 10:33
    John 12:6

    In all these cases including John 1:1 the qualitative nominative predicate nouns relate back to the subject of the discution and describe a characteristic about the subject. The fact that most Bibles do not insert the indefinite article at John 1:1 shows religious biases. The rendering of the NWT at John 1:1 fits with ALL the context of the Bible

    Now in Colossians 1 the word “other” is added to complete the sense in English. You say you have read many JW publications on this well here is one aspect that is not in any JW publication. If the word other is not inserted int the text and one reads the whole chapter to get the context, then the chapter is telling us that Jesus created the father. Consider this verse from the KJV and take notice of the words in capitals

    “16 For by him WERE ALL THINGS CREATED, that ARE IN HEAVEN, and that are in earth, visible and INVISIBLE, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:”

    Now ask yourself is The Father in Heaven? Is the Father invisible? The obvious answer is yes. Now did you notice that Jesus created “ALL THINGS… that ARE IN HEAVEN” with the emphasis on the word ALL. Therefore according to that Jesus created the Father. Now how can that be if as the trinity teaches the Father and the Son are co-eternal?

    Go back one verse to 15, we are told that Jesus “is the IMAGE of the invisible God, the FIRSTBORN OF EVERY CREATURE”

    The Greek word rendered image is eikon (English = icon) which in the Greek language means “a likeness, i.e. (literally) statue, profile, or (figuratively) representation, resemblance: —  image. ” (Strongs Greek word number 1504) so Jesus is a representation of the Father

    Next “FIRSTBORN” (Greek prototokos) Its main meaning is literally firstborn of man or beast. Now, it is true that this can in some cases mean a pre-emanate one. What we have to keep in mind though that in all cases where the Greek word is used the “prototokos” – FIRSTBORN – or pre-emanate one, the one being refered to by that word is ALWAYS A PART OF THE GROUP that he/she is the “prototokos” of. Now look at the KJV and see what it says “the FIRSTBORN OF EVERY CREATURE” with the emphasis on the word “OF”. So the KJV is saying Jesus is a part of the group known as creation.

    The KJV adds the word other in italics at Acts 5:29 to clarify the text “Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.” The word other is not in the Greek text. Look it up in the KJ and you will see it is in italics.

    Without the word other the texts says that Peter was not one of the apostles It excludes him from that group. ” Then Peter and the apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.”

    Is the KJV wrong for clarifying that text for a reader that many not have read other parts of the Bible that identify Peter as an apostle?

  8. When Does “All” Mean “Some”?

    In the Bible it is it is rarely that “all” means all people, taken individually. Bellow are three examples.

    1) The fist one is speaking of John the Baptist and people coming to him to be baptised.
    Mt 3:1 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,
    Mt 3:5 Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan,
    Question – Was all Judea, or all Jerusalem baptised in Jordan? NO. but people from all over the county come to be baptised NOT all individuals

    2)The next instance is of the Paraphrases complaining about Jesus

    Joh 12:19 The Pharisees therefore said among themselves: Do you see that we prevail nothing? Behold, the whole world is gone after him.

    Question – Did ALL the world individually go after Jesus? We know that they did not happen.

    3) The next text indicates that all the world is of Satan
    1Jo 5:19 And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.

    Question – Does “the whole world” there mean everyone? If so, how was it, then, that there were some who were “of God?” (1Jo 4:4 “ Ye are of God, little children,”)

    Of Luke 13:2 you say Quote – “in the NWT the word “other” is inserted in this verse without brackets meaning that it is not considered to be an added word, but only one of clarification. This is acceptable here of course, because the word “other” does not affect the meaning of this sentence at all. Its presence or absence only makes the sentence (in English) more or less clear grammatically. “ – That is EXACTLY the point of Colossians 1

    Now in Colossians 1 the word “other” IS ADDED TO COMPLETE THE SENSE IN ENGLISH. If the word other is not inserted into the text and one reads the whole chapter to get the context, then the chapter is telling us that Jesus created the father. Consider this verse from the KJV and take notice of the words in capitals

    “16 For by him WERE ALL THINGS CREATED, that ARE IN HEAVEN, and that are in earth, visible and INVISIBLE, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:”

    Now ask yourself is The Father in Heaven? Is the Father invisible? The obvious answer is yes. Now did you notice that Jesus created – “ALL THINGS… that ARE IN HEAVEN” – with the emphasis on the word ALL. Therefore according to that verse, Jesus created the Father. Now how can that be if as the trinity teaches the Father and the Son are co-eternal?

    Go back one verse to 15, we are told that Jesus “is the IMAGE of the invisible God, the FIRSTBORN OF EVERY CREATURE”

    The Greek word rendered image is eikon (English = icon) which in the Greek language means “a likeness, i.e. (literally) statue, profile, or (figuratively) representation, resemblance: —  image. ” (Strongs Greek word number 1504) so Jesus is a representation of the Father

    Next “FIRSTBORN” (Greek prototokos) Its main meaning is literally firstborn of man or beast. Now, it is true that this can in some cases mean a pre-emanate one. What we have to keep in mind though that in all cases where the Greek word is used the “prototokos” – FIRSTBORN – or pre-emanate one, the one being referred to by that word is ALWAYS A PART OF THE GROUP that he/she is the “prototokos” of. Now look at the KJV and see what it says “the FIRSTBORN OF EVERY CREATURE” with the emphasis on the word “OF”. So the KJV is saying Jesus is a part of the group known as creation.

    The insertion of the word other does not change the meaning it clarifies completely into English what the context of the chapter says. In translating the full context must be considered. The is no such thing as an understandable literal word for word translation of the Bible into English. All translators have to add words at times to clarify the meaning of a passage. Without the word other in Colossians the meaning of the chapter becomes distorted.

  9. Ben,

    OK so let’s say that Firstborn can mean “preeminent” or “first of a kind,” that Heavens could mean “God’s dwelling place” or “the cosmos,” and that Other can be inserted when it clarifies inclusion within a referential group or when it is used to exclude from said group.

    Now what?

    At best all this shows is that there are more possible ways to translate the Greek text into English than that which reflects orthodox Christian theology. How does one choose? By applying theological bias – which the Watchtower specifically claims to not do! Where there are two legitimate translation choices, the Watchtower fairly consistently chooses the one that reflects their heretical doctrine which they seem to think everyone missed for 1,800 years. So they are biased. Maybe all translations are biased and that’s fine – when the text itself cannot adjudicate the translation issue, theological bias is all one can go off. But theological bias can be true or false.

    The Church that wrote the Scriptures, that defined orthodoxy in authoritative councils, laid out the basics of Christian faith in creeds and definitions, and which used these same methods to define the collection of writings known as the Bible, taught theological truth long before a single drop of New Testament ink hit papyrus. And that Church does not agree with the Watchtower’s choice of translations (even where they are linguistically possible).

    If the Watchtower would just be honest enough to say, “At every place in Scripture that agrees with the historical, orthodox Christianity that Jesus is God, we have been careful to choose any possible translation – even making up Greek tenses that do not exist – to make sure our heretical bias appears justified,” then I’d happily concede that the NWT is no more biased than any other!

    This whole discussion just shows that wrangling over vocabulary and grammar is not how Christian theology is to be done.

  10. Hi Doug

    First I want to say thank you for allowing my comments to be shown. It is nice to have the opportunity to set matter straight. So thank you for being willing to let your audience see another side of the topic. Well done.

    Second I want to apologise for repeating the same thing on the same page. I though I was posting a response under 2 different articles that you had written

    You said quote – “At best all this shows is that there are more possible ways to translate the Greek text into English than that which reflects orthodox Christian theology” – That is absolutely correct. there are many ways of rendering and understanding some Greek words. That is why it is so important to look at the complete context of not just the verse, but the chapter, the book and then the whole Bible. There is a need to look at who the original audience was, and what they knew or understood of a subject to determine what the writer was referring to.

    Jesus warned that false teachers will enter the congregation Matthew 7:15 “ Beware of false prophets, who come to you in the clothing of sheep, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” (Douay Rheims Version)

    Paul warned the Thessalonians that there would be an great apostasy – falling away that would come 2 Thessalonians 2:3 “ let not any one deceive you in any manner, because—if the falling away may not come first, and the man of sin be revealed—the son of the destruction,” (Youngs Literal Translation)

    We also need to look at what happened after the passing of the apostles. The apostles were able to rectify mistaken thoughts that had started creeping into the congregations. When the apostles died that check and balance was no longer there. Acts 20:29 “ For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. (JKV)

    The apostle Peter also warned “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.” 2 Peter 2:1 (The Revised Standard Version)

    [I have purposely used different Bibles and not the NWT in the above. I use about 20 different English Bible versions in my study as well as different ancient Greek and Hebrew texts]

    That is exactly what happened. Starting early in the second century there arose disagreement among different congregations over some matters. The first of note that I have found is when to remember the death of Jesus. Polycarp wanted to remember it on the date of Nisan 14 each year no matter what day that date occurred Just as the followers of Jesus had done in the first century whom Polycarp evidently knew personally. In another congregation Anicetus wanted to do the observance on the Sunday, and only on the Sunday, closest to the full moon of Nisan 14.

    Then came Justin Martyr, who had a very strong preoccupation with Greek philosophy as he was schooled in them, He started mixing in the ideas of Greek philosophy with what he was learning as a Christian. More and more these ideas were introduced to the Christian ideology.

    By the time of Constantine the Christian faith was very fragmented among the Eastern and Western style of the church. That is the main reason why he called the council of Nicea in order to bring some resemblance of order to his empire.

    The trinity, for example, was not formulated in its entirety at that council in 325 c.e. That council only acknowledged the Father and the Son. The controversy over the complete identity of the the trinity lasted another 60 years or so. The holy ghost (spirit) was added to the formula later on.

    Many of the church fathers disagreed as to what the relationship was between the Father and Son until 392 when the idea was formally adopted by Emperor Theodosius 1.

    Over the centuries there have been many many groups that have from their study of the bible disagreed with the trinity and. The NWT is not the first Bible to render John 1:1 as “a god” nor is the last.

    The NWT is NOT biassed in its renderings, the Bibles that say “and the Word was God” are the biassed Bibles. The NWT rendering is an accurate word for word rendering into English according to rules of Greek Gramma and translation principles. The fact that the John uses the same grammatical sentence construction in other places and translators are happy to insert the indefinite article shows their bias in not doing it at John 1:1. The NWT is consistant in its rendering of the Greek Gramma and using translation principles. In one of your presentations to try to say that the NWT is inconsistent, you point out Verse 6 and Verse 18 of chapter 1. They have not been inconsistent at all. The sentence construction is quite different to John 1:1c and the other texts I in John that I mentioned where the indefinite article is used. I would be happy to show you the difference in the grammatical construction of those texts.

    Most scholars (not all) that put down the NWT rendering of John 1:1 have just parroted the words of the first scholar to do so, Bruce Metzger. The problem that they had is that at times different scholars abused, misused or misunderstood what is known as Colwell’s rule about when to add the indefinite article.

    In Colossians 1:15 trinitarinas argue that the word “firstborn” does not mean first born there but pre-eminent one. So they argue that Jesus was not a literal first born which would make him have a different age to the Father. That is why I mention in the previous post that no matter if it refers to pre-eminent one or literal to first born in ALL cases it refers to some one as being part of the group that they are the pre-eminent one or first born OF the group called creation.

    Another text that many abuse is Revelation 3:14 where we are told Jesus is “the Beginning of the creation of God:” (NJKV) Most Bibles do not capitalise the “B” for the word beginning. A study of the use of this Greek word “arche” as used in the Bible shows that Jesus is the first one, first part of, the starting point of creation. That is where creation started with Jesus. Would you like to see a complete grammatical break down of the word “arche” as used in the New Testament?

    Do you start to get the idea here? First there was a slow and gradual departing of what Jesus and the apostles taught until after there was no unity the Catholic church was formed and the doctrines were enforced by the Government of the day. Many people over the centuries have spoken up against what was established by the Catholic Church. None of the “doctrines” that JWs hold are new and peculiar to them. They have all been taught over the centuries by others, many who were put to death for speaking pout against “the Church”

    The NWT is one of the least Biased Bibles available today. The truth of the Bible is being restored.

  11. This narrative is adopted because it must be by any group that came along centuries after the Christian Church began. But it flies in the face of the nature of the Church. Jesus founded the Church and promised it would not be overcome. Yes, there were false beliefs circulating here and there – even before the apostles died. But how did they deal with it? Not by dragging out their Hebrew lexicon and arguing off of the OT. Rather, the leaders of the Church met in authoritative councils (e.g., Acts 15) and settled matters as they arose. This is why the early Church was not terribly concerned over the canon – they had tradition handed down directly from the apostles. Thus, they could have done just fine without any Scripture at all, and certainly did not need to argue Scriptural translations with heretics. However, as heresies arose and various apostasies had to be put down, the Church dealt with them the same way it had since Acts 15 – it met in authoritative councils and made binding, Holy Spirit led decisions.

    One of these decisions was the contents of the Bible itself. If this “apostasy” the Watchtower (and all Christian cults) relies on to justify its existence was real, then the Bible they use to criticize Christian orthodoxy was given to them by an apostate Church! But an apostate Church isn’t the Church, and Jesus said it would never be overcome. It is this visible, apostolic Church that is entrusted with teaching true Christianity – not some scattered heretics peppered here or there throughout history that just happen to match the teachings of some late 19th Century apocalyptic cult founded by known false prophets. If there is apostasy, it is the falling away from the Church Christ founded and which produced the Holy Scriptures. JW’s are simply the logical result of a downward slide which began when private interpretation started being trusted more than apostolic succession.

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  14. Ben, The arguments that you use are clearly the same arguments that the Watchtower Society uses to defend their position. Your comments about how the Trinity was developed and distributed has been rendered nulified by ALL of the evidence that we currently have available to us. I repeat, there is ABSOLUTELY NO EVIDENCE to support the claims that you are making. Since you are such an avid reader, I recommend that you do an extensive study of the ANTI NICENE FATHERS, of whom Justin Martyr was. Your comments about him bringing in pagan beliefs into the church are a completely FALSE. Justin Martyr defended Christian beliefs, and refuted Pagan beliefs. All of the ANTI NICENE FATHERS defended what was understood to be the Trinity of THE FATHER, THE SON, AND THE HOLY SPIRIT. This is a fact that cannot be refuted. All you have to do is read. The Church leaders, some of which were in the presence of the actual Apostles themselves attest to the validity and meaning of the scriptures that we know posses. You yourself can go to the writings of the Church Leaders, and read dicussions about the very scriptures that you are referring to above, including John 1:1. If you do so, you will see that ALL OF THE ANTI NICENE FATHERS, refute the translation that you and many others have tried to defend. They did it Hundreds of years before you indicated above.
    Ben, In all honesty…………..there should be no more discussion without direct proof of your claims. You offer opinions. Lets see the documents that back up your claims. Here’s a clue………THERE ARE NONE!

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