Are Jesus and Jehovah Not the Same?
How the Divinity of Jesus Christ is Linguistically Hidden by the Bible of the Watchtower Society
Ref.: Syntax of John 1:1-3
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made" JOHN 1:1-3.
In these introductory sentences of his Gospel, John states the following four things about the Word, or (in order to be able to better use the male pronoun) - the Logos.
- He is eternal
- He is divine
- He is a person Himself
- He created everything
The fact that this Logos is none other than Jesus Christ, God's own Son, is clearly stated in verse 14. The first verses of the Gospel of John teach us that the Lord Jesus Christ is the eternal God, the Creator of all things. This central Christian truth has been attacked by numerous parties throughout the millenniums, be it by the prophet Mohammed and his followers or by the "Jehovah's Witnesses" (or, more precisely: The Witnesses of the Watchtower-Society) - naming only two of them. These two groups especially have twisted the clear content of the Greek text to suit their needs, and translated it accordingly in order to justify their opinions which are not according to the Bible. We are going to examine the syntax of the Greek text; or in other words, the rules of the Greek tense system and its constellation of words.
a) The Logos is Eternal
The first two verses of John’s Gospel use the word was four times (In Greek = än). This is the Imperfect tense (expressing continued or habitual action in past time), as it is called traditionally in Latin grammar. Linguistically, a more accurate term is the durative, present tense. "Present tense" here means past; and "durative" is the term for the kind of action and mostly stands for a state or frequently occurring action. Here, of course, the kind of action chosen by John expresses a continuing state.
This must be important, because John consciously changes the kind of action in the following verse (JOHN 1:3), and uses Aorist (a Greek tense expressing simple past time, with no implications of continuance, repetition, or the like), egeneto, twice, and once perfect, gegonen. That way he has produced what is called "opposition" in semantics (science concerning the meaning of words): Everything, we ourselves, and everything surrounding us, "came into existence" once: egeneto. It had a beginning. But the Logos was already there, when nothing had come into being yet - it does not have a beginning.
This is of such high importance to John that he uses the verb was four times, in order to contrast it to the "was" and "came into being" or "became" from verse 3. These four sentences, with each of them having the "was" are so-called nominal sentences, meaning not only the subject, but also the predicate is a noun. Nominal sentences do not need the auxiliary verb "to be", the so-called copula, in the Greek language. Thus, it would have been enough to say: "en archä ho logos" = "in the beginning the Word." However, the fact that John uses the copula än every time is because he wanted to emphasise the difference between the continuing state of being of the logos and, in contrast, things that came into being once in the past (egeneto).
Indeed, the New Testament repeatedly teaches that the Son of God is eternal, which means He never "became/came into being", which is clearly shown in HEBREWS 1:8-12; HEBREWS 13:8; REVELATION 1:8,17,18; and REVELATION 22:13. The Gospel of John, after the introduction, also testifies repeatedly of the fact that the Son of God is eternal. Following are a few examples:
In JOHN 1:18 we read of the Son who is in the Father's lap, which in the Greek is expressed with the durative past participle (traditionally the 'present participle'), on, which means "being". This is a timeless, eternal fact. Thus there has never been a time when the Son was not in the Father's lap.
In JOHN 3:13 (KJV), Jesus states (while talking in a house in Jerusalem with Nicodemus) that He is in heaven at the same time. Again the same participle on is used in the Greek.
In JOHN 8:58, we read the following words directly from Jesus:
"Before Abraham was, I am." As in the introduction, there is a contrast between the aoristic "became", egeneto, and the durative "I am", eimi. If the Lord had only wanted to refer to His relative older age (which is the Watchtower Society's explanation), he would have said egenomän, "I became". But this cannot be the case, because He is not a creature, which means he never became, but is eternal / timeless.
b) The Logos is God
After John told us that the Logos is eternal and that He is with, pros, God, which means, facing God, he says eventually that the Logos is God. The sentence in Greek, theos än ho logos, translated word for word is: "God was the Word." Now there is no article in front of theos, which the "New World Translation" (NWT) Bible of the Jehovah's Witnesses used as a reason to translate: "And the Word was a God." Thus, it implies that Jesus Christ is only one of many other gods, or is a creature like an angel and so on. The syntax alone - let alone the theological nonsense - does not allow this translation. If the sentence stood alone, there might be a possibility to understand it in this way, but in the given context this is impossible.
In the four statements John made about the Logos, "He Himself", is always the subject, or the theme (lit. "the appointed"). There are three subsequent statements about this theme: it was in the beginning; it was with God; and it was God. The statement in these nominal sentences is called the Rhema (lit. "the stated"). Such sentences, where something is stated about the theme, are called predicative nominal sentences. In these, there is no article before the Rhema, only before the theme. The article indicates which part of the sentence is the theme. Further examples of the predicative nominal sentence are: pneuma ho theos,
"God is spirit" (JOHN 4:24), where God is the theme, and the statement (Rhema) is that He is spirit. There is no article before the word "spirit". It is the same case with
"God is light" and
"God is love" in 1 JOHN 1:5, and 1 JOHN 4:6.
What is important is that with nominal sentences the two parts, theme and Rhema, are not simply exchangeable - in no way. It is the same as changing say: ho theos agape = "God is love" to hä agapä theos = "The love is God." The first one testifies of Christianity, the latter, for instance, of the Hindu-guru Sattya Sahi Baba.
Now there are nominal sentences in which the two parts can be swapped, without changing the meaning of the statement. Such can be called identifying nominal sentences. One example of this is:
are the teacher of Israel (Rhema)" (compare with JOHN 3:10). Or
are the king of Israel (Rhema)" (JOHN 1:49); here the article can stand. Indeed, theme and Rhema can also be swapped: "The king of Israel (theme) are you (Rhema)." With this kind of nominal sentence the point is to make the two parts equal, to identify them.
Let's go back to our sentence. If John purposely does not say, "The Logos was ho theos", which means "the God we know" and who was just mentioned, but writes without the article: The "Logos was theos". Thus the point is not about the identity of Logos with Theos, but about the character of Logos. It could not be clearer: He is eternal; He is facing God; He is God; He is Creator.
But it is not possible to say, God is the Word, just as one could not say, God is Christ. No, Christ is God; and the Word is God. Why is it wrong to say "God is Christ" or "God is the Son"? God is one, but in His fullness He is revealed in three persons. Thus, God is not only the Son; but, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. This way John's simple syntactical measure has got a double effect; he testifies of Jesus Christ's divinity, but he also testifies that Christ alone is not God, but that God is revealed in more than one person.
Of course we could argue from the other side: John continues from the Old Testament. The Israelites only knew one person of the divinity. John continues and says, the Creator who has created everything, of whom the first chapter of the Bible is concerned with, is God, but He is a separate person with God; deity comprises several persons. Thus the introduction does not only prepare the reader for the clearly taught divinity of the Gospel of John, but also, for the crystal clear teaching of divinity in the New Testament.
Another comment concerning the word order in the sentence. Normally the subject comes first in Greek, but it is a lot freer in word order when compared to modern European languages. Thus, the Rhema can come first, as in our case: theos was the Word. This way it is emphasised more. So John says accordingly: "The Word was God, yes God!"
Finally I will show how arbitrary it is to translate theos without an article. It is not correct to use "a God", as if the mere fact that there is no article would justify that. In the Gospel of John theos is used without article in the following places; JOHN 1:12,18; 3:2-21; 8:54; 9:16,33; 10:33; 13:3; 16:30; 19:7; 20:17. If the "New World Translation" of the Watchtower Society translates "a God", this proves two things: That its understanding of the peculiarities of the Greek language is very limited and that they translated in order to advance their cause.
If one translates "a God", one insinuates Polytheism to the New Testament, indicating that besides the "Highest God" there is a "little god". Against such an accusation the Watchtower-Witnesses defend themselves in vain, using the Hebrew 'Elohim, which indeed does not only mean God, but very generally, leading high persons, like angels or judges (the word contains the Semitic 'ul, to be strong, which also occurs in the Arabic ordinal number 'awwal, first). But in Greek, theos, without exception, means God. The reference to JOHN 10:34 does not carry any evidence, because this is a literal translation from the Hebrew Old Testament and, moreover, the word stands in plural, theoi.
In the New Testament, Theos (singular), is always the one and solitary God (except when the word is used by heathens as in ACTS 28:6 or with the expression "god of this world", which refers to the devil). And John thought of none but the eternal God when he wrote, inspired by the Holy Spirit: "And the Word was theos."
In this verse the Lord testifies of His eternal being. First, He said that Abraham had already seen the day of Christ and was happy, which caused the Jews to make the remark that He was not even 50-years-old, how could it have been possible for Him to know Abraham. Jesus Christ's answer to that one:
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am."
The NWT translates: "Most truly I say to you, Before Abraham came into existence, I have been." With this it wants to say that Jesus had a "pre-human existence", but in no way has an eternal existence.
Now the reader of the Greek text notices that, as in JOHN 1:1-3, John consciously uses Aorist once and Durative once. Characteristic for Abraham is genesthai, which can be considered as infinitive-Aorist from einai (to be) or ginesthai (to become). Abraham has a beginning; he once became, he came into being. But Jesus Christ has no beginning; that's why He does not say, He 'became' before Abraham. No, He is before Abraham; He is when nothing has come into being, as we have already seen in JOHN 1:1-3.
Linguistically, the way Jesus says it is surprising, because it is extraordinary. One chooses an extraordinary way of expression if one wants to put great emphasis on something. That is why it is totally out of the question that Jesus simply wanted to say that He had existed even before Abraham, contrary to the Jew's opinion, because then än, was, would have been enough, or a lot more would have been expected. But now Jesus wants to testify of His timeless being, and that is the reason He confesses: prin Abraham genesthai, ego eimi, before Abraham was, I am. We have to allow the present tense to have its full significance. In other words: Jesus Christ calls Himself the Eternal. He never became, He always is.
Here one of Jesus' disciples and witnesses of His ascension testifies:
"My Lord and my God!"
Interesting, again, is the question of the article. In JOHN 1:1 the NWT concluded from the missing article, that theos may not mean God Himself, but some other God. Now here stands the article: "ho theos mou" = my God. Do we not have to draw the logical conclusion from this that Thomas really addresses his Lord as the only God?
Even stronger than the grammar are the theological implications: If Christ is not the only God, then He Himself tempted a disciple to break that law of God, which He had held against Satan once:
"Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve" (MATTHEW 4:10). Nobody is allowed to worship another god other than the Eternal God! That's why Jesus Christ must be the Eternal God, or it would have meant He had sat back and watched Thomas breaking the first of the Ten Commandments.
"...and they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge."
Here, Stephen prays to his Lord and Saviour. May one also say that, in doing this, he prayed to his God? Yes, we have to say it, Jesus Christ is God Himself, to whom the Believer prays and who can forgive sins.
Now the NWT goes so far as to put "Jehovah" instead of Lord in verse 60. (The NWT has replaced the Greek word kyrios with Jehovah in 237 places.) Where does it take this from? Luke wrote Acts in Greek; he did not write anything else but Lord, in Greek: kyrios. And, of course, he wrote it consciously. If Stephen first says "Lord Jesus", kyrios JESUS, and then "Lord", of course he addresses the same person both times.
With its "improvement" to "Jehovah", the NWT only creates problems for itself: either Stephen prays to two different persons, or, the firstly named Lord Jesus is in actual fact "Jehovah", the God of Israel who is revealed as Jahweh in the Old Testament. Which of the two does the NWT want to say? That you can pray to other helpers and saviours apart from the only God, or else, is Jesus Jahweh? We know the answer:
"...and thou shalt call his name Jesus (= "Jahweh saves")
for he shall save his people from their sins" (MATTHEW 1:21). He, who is born, will have this name, because it is He who saves His people. Yes, He who revealed Himself to Moses as Jahweh, has appeared in human nature in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.
"...the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood" is how the translators of the King James Bible translated this verse. Elberfelder translates: "...which he purchased with the blood of his Son", with which it obviously means God's own Son.
The NWT adds (which is forbidden by God) what is not there:
"...the congregation of God, which he purchased with the blood of his own [son]." This is, apart from the question of whether it is factually correct or not, an interpretation, not a translation, which of course, is in accordance with the well-known interests of the Watchtower Society. This, of course, is unlikely to build up any trust in the NWT, which wants to be recognised as an especially reliable translation.
The appendix to the NWT tries to justify itself. So it refers to the critical remarks of the text from Westcott and Hort, who presume that the orthographically almost identical hyiou and idiou may have stood after this one, which would justify adding "son". This is pure conjecture, which is not supported by a single manuscript. It is allowed to give conjectures in essays or interpretations, but they are not acceptable in the Greek and in the translated Bible text.
Then it is stated that after, "His own", a noun in the singular is to be the object. This is supposed to be supported by the following (given by Moulton in his grammar) Bible passages: JOHN 1:11; 13:1; ACTS 4:23; 24:23. There is indeed always the word idios, own, which is always used with "relative" or "entrusted ones" or "brethren". The only thing is that idios, unlike in ACTS 20:28, is always written as the plural in these passages. Ta idia (neutral plural) and hoi idioi (masculine plural) in the Greek are terms for "their own, personal matters", or "their own people" = "their relatives". When idios is in the singular, almost always the corresponding noun is next to it; for example, in MATTHEW 9:1 and many other scriptures.
Only twice in the NT idios is used in the singular without this referring word - in JOHN 15:19 and ACTS 4:32 - but remarkably both times are in the neutral, and what the scripture means is clear each time: "own" meaning in the sense of own possession. Ho idios (which is masculine singular) never occurs without referring words.
In the above-mentioned scriptures, Moulton drew attention to the language in the Greek papyri in which idios is used repeatedly in letters as a salutation, and means "Beloved", "dear friend" or similar. This is why, he states, idios in ACTS 20:28 is to be understood this way; that is, as a description for God's "Beloved", for His Son.
Two reasons speak very clearly against this explanation, which at first sight is very appealing:
1. It would be an absolute first in the New Testament. Paul, who speaks here, never calls the Son of God just the idios of God. In ROMANS 8:32 he says: ho idios hyios autou,
"His own Son".
2. The language of the above-mentioned Greek papyri is known to be common, even unkempt. There, expressions such as the one mentioned from Moulton are to be expected. Luke, however, writes in first-class Greek and uses, without being artificial or mannered, a language and a style, which are expected of a first-class historian of his calibre (see LUKE 1:1-4 and ACTS 1:1). Where necessary, his choice of words and syntax are refined. In the sophisticated law terminology of the Roman Empire he is very particular and exact, which is evident in the fact that he always names the areas administered by the Romans with the corresponding titles of the officers correctly. He would therefore never use an expression of the vulgar tone and style of the papyri. That's why the expression dia tou haimatos tou idiou written by Luke could not mean anything other than "by His own Blood", whereby idiou is put to the end of the phrase with the repeated article to give it extra emphasis: "God, our Saviour-God Jesus Christ, has redeemed His assembly with His own, yes, own, Blood!"
The Bible reader knows this verse as follows:
"...Whose are the fathers, (the Israelites)
and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen." (King James Translation)
However, in the NWT the Scripture is as follows: "...to whom the forefathers belong and from whom the Christ [sprang] according to the flesh: God who is over all, [be] blessed forever. Amen."
These two different translations are possible linguistically. However, the first one is to be preferred for linguistic reasons. Three important reasons speak against the presumption that Paul added the Greek, on, which in itself is complete doxology, separated from Christ ("God be praised in eternity!"):
1. Wherever such doxologies are used in the Bible, baruk or eulogätos (the Hebrew or Greek equivalent of "praised") are always in front - not like we see in the NWT, which places it at the end. Here are some examples: GENESIS 9:26; PSALM 28:6; 31:22; 41:14; LUKE 1:68; 2 CORINTHIANS 1:3; EPHESIANS 1:3; 1 PETER 1:3. The only exception for the mentioned word order is PSALM 68:20 from the LXX Translation. The Hebrew expression according to regular language is: "baruk 'adonaj" The LXX (which is often unreliable in other respects) has put in a kind of dittography (=repetitious writing) in front of eulogätos kyrios: kyrios ho theos eulogätos, God, the Lord, may be praised.
It also corresponds to Jewish non-biblical texts, such as the so-called "Eighteen-Petitions-Prayer". Generally, for Jewish service the formula "Praised be..." with preceding baruk (Greek: eulogätos), is characteristic.
2. Twice in verses 3-5 the expression "after the flesh" occurs. Paul, at the start of his list of the Jewish privileges of his brethren, says "after the flesh", Greek: kata sarka. Then, at the end of his list about Jesus Christ, who is from Israel "after the flesh", Greek: to kata sarka. We note the difference: firstly without, then with the article, to. This way Paul creates a semantic opposition, which means, he does not want to say exactly the same thing twice: The Jews are Paul's brothers after the flesh, and Jesus is a Jew after the flesh. This is correct, but Paul wants to say more. The expression to kata sarka appears as antithesis to what is said after that. It is the article which prepares exactly for this. The meaning of the expression then is: Jesus may very well be, as far as the flesh is concerned, from Judah, but with all this He is God, who stands above all, and for this reason will always be praised.
3. If Paul simply would have wanted to add a doxology, he would not have started with ho on epi panton theos, but simply would have said ho epi panton theos. The participle on explains itself here by the fact that it inserts a statement, namely an explaining clause. This on is called a participium conjunction, a participle with the function to connect sentence parts. Here it is followed by an explaining clause, which is an expression which states the reason why Christ is being praised: "Because He is God above everything." We can quote the whole sentence as follows: "From which Christ, according to the flesh, is He who, with all this indeed is God, to be praised above all."
Apart from these purely linguistic criteria there are two more points against this text using doxology:
1. What point would a doxology have after the list of Jewish privileges, which show an indirect accusation of their unbelief? It would have not been out of question, but very inappropriate to break into praises to God exactly at this point. This is appropriate at the end of chapter 11, where Paul shows how Israel will also be saved after long periods of unbelief (ROMANS 11:33-35).
2. To dramatically emphasise the greatness of Israel's sin, Paul reminds us that the Messiah, who was a Jew after the flesh, is the Almighty Himself. The Jews then in their unbelief have rejected the Almighty God. This is totally distorted when translated as a doxology.
Finally, we have to refute the only argument which would at least have a glimmer of importance. Nowhere does Paul call Christ theos, that is, God. Sadly in the NWT, the appendix reference to ROMANS 9:5 is wrongly justified by quoting from the 'Theological Comprehensive Dictionary of the New Testament' which is edited by Brockhaus Publishers. However, the sovereign name of God indeed cannot be found in Paul's letter - the most likely explanation for this is that there must be a doxology for God. First of all I will give as an answer the explanation found in 'Cranfield's Commentary of the Book of Romans': "Against the objection that there is no secure, guaranteed, passage, in which Paul describes Christ as theos, one is able to find proof in the following manner:
- the application of sections from LXX, in which kyrios stands for the tetragrammation of Christ, i.e. ROMANS 10:13;
- the acceptance of the legality to call upon Christ in prayer (i.e. ROMANS 10:12-14);
- Paul having put Christ on the same level with God as in ROMANS 1:7b;
- his parallel reference to Christ and God in ROMANS 8:35 and 39;
- his mention of Christ as en morphä theou hyparchon ("being in the form of God") in PHILIPPIANS 2:6 (Cranfield, p.468).
To add the unequivocal passage, in which Paul identifies God and Christ directly:
"God was manifest in the flesh..." (1 TIMOTHY 3:16, KJV) and also TITUS 1:3:
"...his word through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Saviour." (compare with TITUS 2:13).
There is, however, no argument for the Bible-believing Christian of whether Paul ever called Christ, God, or not. The same spirit which inspired Paul, also inspired John; and how clearly he speaks of Jesus Christ as God, we have seen already in JOHN 1:1 and 20. Compare further with 1 JOHN 5:20.
A few words on the argument that in different manuscripts there is a full stop after to kata sarka. The punctuation marks in former manuscripts were so inconsistent and arbitrary that one could prove nothing (or everything) with them. But this is typical of the whole text of the NWT, that in Cranfield's explanations to ROMANS 9:5 it quotes also this argument. I offer one of Cranfield's examples:
"It is not justifiable that one quotes manuscript 'A' as support for a colon after sarka (as Nestle did in 1959), in view of the fact that 'A' shows a similar full stop with a space between Christ and hyper in verse 3 as after sarka in verse 5, and between sarka and hoitines (at the end of verse 3) and between israelitai and hon."
"For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."
In verse 13 Paul quotes the prophet Joel, who naturally wrote that whosoever shall call upon the name of Jahweh (Jehovah) shall be saved. Obviously Paul was convinced - like every true Christian thereafter - that Jesus Christ was nobody else, but Jahweh, as aforementioned by the prophet Joel. A coherent argumentative chain starts from verse 9 to verse 13, in which four times in a row, the next link of the chain starts with "for":
"If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart... thou shalt be saved." Then Paul explains that which has just been said, more accurately and introduces it with "for":
"For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness." This is explained further:
"For the scripture saith (and this was obligatory only for the Jewish receiver of this letter)
, whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed." Then he explained further:
"For there is no difference ... for the same Lord (who is spoken of from verse 9 onwards)
over all is rich unto all that call upon him." And this is also proven through the Old Testament:
"For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord (Jahweh)
shall be saved."
The lord Paul is speaking about is Jesus. He is the Lord, who is rich unto all that call upon Him; and everybody who shall call upon this Lord, shall be saved, as the prophet Joel has already said. So we can actually be very thankful to the NWT, that it clearly shows the identity of Jesus and Jehovah.
1 CORINTHIANS 1:2 (KJV)
"...unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours."
Here the NWT translates practically the same. The same question arises again: Does it mean that one is allowed to pray to other gods apart from the only God, even against His direct commandment to call only upon Him? Surely not, but still it evades the arising consequence: if one prays to Jesus Christ as Lord, then He is the only and Eternal God.
"Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 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: And... he, who is the beginning... that in all things he might have the pre-eminence."
The second sentence which starts with for, explains that which is written in the preceding sentence, how the expressions of
"image of the invisible God" and
"the firstborn of all creation" are to be understood. And it states that Jesus Christ has created everything
"the visible and the invisible", heavenly and earthly. If this is the case, then "the firstborn of all creation" is the Creator Himself. Furthermore, this title means that He came as Creator into His creation, but He, because He took upon Himself the form of a man, necessarily has the pre-eminence in all things (because this is the meaning of the title of honour prototokos; see GENESIS 49:3). By this we have a beautiful confession of both the deity of Jesus Christ and the glorious fact of His being made in the likeness of man. This is all destroyed in the NWT through a mischievous insertion which is unjustified due to a total lack of reference. It translates (actually it doesn't deserve the verb 'translate'):
"...because by means of him all [other] things were created... All [other] things have been created through him and for him. Also, he is before all [other] things... that he might become the one who is first in all things..."
First, this is scandalous. At the same time it shows the desperate helplessness of the editors of the NWT because of the dogged prejudice that Jesus Christ can not be God. In the NWT it simply can not be that He is before all, as you would therefore have to manipulate the text in an irresponsible manner. Certainly they have put the above italicised additions in square brackets in order to show that other is not in the Greek text. Further, the NWT tries to pull the wool over the reader's eyes by justifying in a footnote the false addition: "As in LUKE 11:41-42". This gives the impression of dealing reliably with the text. If you read this passage, no proof is produced which would support the version of the NWT. Obviously the NWT wants to give nothing other than the impression that the absolutely literal translation of this passage reveals linguistic incompetence, because one who clearly understands the Greek language should know the word all should mean everything else. The NWT can certainly count on the fact that first of all only very few will make an effort to look up LUKE 11. Even more so, very few readers of this sorry effort know the Greek language.
This example shows the calculating slyness used by the editors of the NWT.
COLOSSIANS 2:9 (KJV)
"For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily."
If all the fullness of the Godhead can dwell in Christ then He must be God Himself, because who else can take hold of God in His fullness? Once Solomon confessed:
"Behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee" (1 KINGS 8:27). Nothing created is able to contain the Creator, whether it be the house which Solomon built or an angel or any other creature. Only the Creator Himself can contain all the fullness, pan to pläroma. Consequently, the epistle of Paul to the Colossians confesses again unambiguously the Godhead of Jesus Christ.
How can the NWT handle this passage? It translates:
"...because it is in him that all the fullness of the divine quality dwells bodily" and explains then in a footnote: "Divine quality", word-for-word means "Godliness", Greek: theotetos, Latin: divinitatis.
Theotäs means not only "godly nature", but also "Godhead". The word appears in the New Testament only in this place. It comes from theos, God, which you can recognise easily. Another word which is also derived from theos, used only once and very similar, is theiotäs, which is used in ROMANS 1:20. The last one is obviously indirectly derived from theos, but directly from theios which means "Godly", "identical with God". It is used by Paul in his famous speech at Mars' Hill in Athens where he tells the people that they should not think that to theion, the godly, is equal to any kind of work of art from human beings. In ROMANS 1:20 we read that man is able to perceive the eternal power and godliness of the Creator because of the creation, also without revelation. The creation is a transmission of the Creator's godliness.
However, Paul does not say in COLOSSIANS 2:9 that Christ has the same transmission of godliness (theiotäs), that you can conclude from His person to God. No, all the fullness of the Godhead (theotäs) dwells in Him; everything which is God is He. In order to emphasise this Paul mentions first the fullness and secondly the Godhead which dwells in Him, not the godliness as in ROMANS 1. I quote at this stage from W. E. Vines 'Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words':
"In ROMANS 1:20 the apostle shows how much you can perceive of God because of Him being revealed in nature, in view of these traits of Him, which human beings can see in their surroundings. But through this help nobody can get to know the personal God (as Saviour). He can only be known through the revelation of Himself in His Son... But in the second chapter (COLOSSIANS 2:9) Paul says that all the fullness of the Godhead dwells in the Son. These were not only rays of God's glory, which surrounded Him and which illuminated His body for a certain time. Rather, He was and is the absolute and perfect God. The apostle uses theotäs to show this nature and the personification of the Godhead."
1 TIMOTHY 3:16
"And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory."
Most newer translations of the Bible leave "God" out and say: "He (=Christ) is manifest in the flesh..." The NWT also translates the passage in this manner. The teaching of the New Testament is that Jesus was nobody else but God in the flesh as already taught in JOHN 1:1-3,14. I believe that Paul is also saying the same thing, as a couple of manuscripts, and therefore the older translations of the Bible (e.g. King James, Luther, Elberfelder) prove. The syntax urgently requires a subject like ho theos. To begin the sentence with a relative pronoun hos, "who", without speaking of Christ in this context is syntactically almost impossible.
One wanted to explain it as if Paul would speak about a well-known credo in the form of a hymn. Therefore, he can begin with this relative pronoun hos without any problem, as it can refer syntactically to anything. One does not know why this must be a hymn or an official creed. Linguistically, nothing forces you to this point of view, as Paul uses such enumeration quite often (cf. ROMANS 11:33-36). What is much more important is the dislike of the belief and service in the New Testament, of formalism, and rituals. Therefore, it seems as if a formal credo does not fit to the nature of the New Testament.
Another note concerning the text: in the manuscript theos, God, is very often written in the short version as ths, which differs in the Greek orthography from hos, who, only through the addition of an extra line. Therefore, it is probable that whoever copied theos understood it to be hos. So it came into the text unintentionally.
TITUS 1:3 and 2:13 (KJV)
In TITUS 1:3 KJV, we read:
"...through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Saviour." Here, Paul speaks about Jesus Christ, because it was the Son who sent Paul, not the Father. Therefore, Jesus says to His disciples after the Resurrection:
"...as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you." (JOHN 20:21), then:
"Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel" (MARK 16:15). He sent Paul with the words:
"Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles" (ACTS 22:21), etc.
The epistle of Titus uses the title "Saviour" repeatedly:
"Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour" (TITUS 1:4);
"...that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things" (TITUS 2:10);
"Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ" (TITUS 2:13);
"...through Jesus Christ our Saviour" (TITUS 3:6). There is only one Saviour, Jesus Christ (compare with MATTHEW 1:21). Only in His Name is there salvation; in the Name of Jesus Christ (compare with ACTS 4:12). The Old Testament teaches this Saviour is God Himself:
"I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no Saviour" (ISAIAH 43:11). Exactly the same is found in TITUS 2:13:
"Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ." Our God and Saviour Jesus Christ will appear in power and glory one day.
How hard does the NWT try to cover the inevitable? It translates as follows:
"While we wait for the happy hope and glorious manifestation of the great God and of [the] Saviour of us, Christ Jesus..." When one expresses himself in such an artificial manner, one must have an explicit intent. What is the intent of the ponderous expression "of the great God and of [the] Saviour", which is not required in the Greek. And why is this added article used, which is in brackets, because it is not in the Greek? In an appendix the NWT gives us an answer. The appendix tries to explain that the Greek text can have this meaning in spite of the article missing in front of "Saviour". It explains afterwards: "Therefore in TITUS 2:13 two different persons, Jehovah God and Jesus Christ, are mentioned. In the entire Holy Bible Jehovah cannot be equated with Jesus Christ as if they were one and the same person." A theological prejudice caused the translation, not linguistic accuracy.
In addition, the appendix operates in a manner using quotations from Greek grammar, along with a statement from the Bible, as if to persuade us of its trustworthiness concerning the Greek text.
Therefore, it gives a couple of quotations from the Bible, which supposedly confirm its translation of TITUS 2:13. But if you really look into them and a lot of others - which the publishers don't expect - one sees the NWT is unfounded and, according to the usage of the New Testament, intolerable. Unfortunately a few other translations follow the NWT in this matter.
It is mentioned in this certain appendix: "In this place we find two nouns, which are connected with each other through kai, 'and'. In front of the first noun is the definite article tou, 'which'. The second noun is without a definite article... If two different persons are connected with each other through kai and in front of the first person is a definite article then it is not necessary to repeat the definite article in front of the second person."
Our sentence in Greek is the following: tou megalou theou kai sotäros hämon Jesou Christou. It is correct that the article comes before God, whereas there is none in front of "our Saviour Jesus Christ". The missing article in front of the second noun shows the identification of both. We find a lot of examples of this. A fixed formula is "God and Father", where the article is always missing in front of "Father" (See ROMANS 15:6; 1 CORINTHIANS 15:24; 2 CORINTHIANS 1:3; 11:31; GALATIANS 1:4; EPHESIANS 5:20; PHILIPPIANS 4:20; 1 THESSALONIANS 1:3; 3:11,13; JAMES 1:27; REVELATION 1:6).
In a short essay, A. T. Robinson refers to a monumental examination by Granville Sharp in 1798. Sharp finally stated: "If kai connects two nouns in the same case... and the article ho (in any kind of case) stands in front of the first of both nouns and if it is not repeated in front of the second one, then it always refers to the person of the first noun, e.g. it is a further description of the first person."
After Sharp's examination of thousands of examples of the type "the Apostle and High Priest" (HEBREWS 3:1; the article is also only in front of the first noun) he could not find one single exception. At the same time he stated that the rule did not apply to nouns in the plural or for proper names. (Therefore, the examples: MATTHEW 21:12 and ACTS 13:50 and 15:22 given from the NWT as counter examples are not relevant.)
Now, the New Testament shows a few other examples, which are syntactically and objectively identical with TITUS 2:13. Therefore, we read in 2 PETER 1:11,
"...our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ" which is identical with 2 PETER 2:20. Nobody would think that there are two different persons, even though the article is missing in front of the second noun. Therefore, it is also out of the question for 2 PETER 1:1, when Peter speaks
"of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ".
Now the NWT quotes the grammar of Blaß/Debrunner (para. 276:3) in order to give the impression that the translation is supported by this rightly respected work. The quotation firstly does not refer to the translation which is required by the NWT. Secondly, Blaß/Debrunner declare themselves against the remarks of the NWT in the same paragraph (which is only partly quoted from the NWT). We read: "On the contrary there exist enough cases, where the repetition of the article is necessary or is more appropriate with the same gender and number. See ACTS 26:30: ho basileus kai ho hägemon (different persons)."
Then the NWT refers also (indirectly) to the grammar of Winer, who is an authority on grammatical terms in the English-speaking world. Winer has in fact interpreted TITUS 2:13 according to the NWT. The interesting point here though is that he, as he admits himself, did this not for linguistic, but for theological reasons. In his publicised grammar, edited by Moulton, he writes in the footnote: "With the above notes I did not want to deny that sotäros, as far as grammar is concerned, can be seen as a second predicate which is dependent on the article tou. But the dogmatic conviction, which is based on Paul's scriptures, that this apostle could not have called Jesus Christ the Great God leads me to show you that, as far as grammar is concerned, nothing can prevent us from regarding the sentence kai sotäros... Christou as an isolated statement belonging to a second subject."
When you argue linguistically then obviously you must not allow your personal theology to prejudice grammar. Therefore, Schmiedel spoke openly of Winer's error in his edited revision of Winer's grammar. In reference to 2 PETER 1:1 he said: "Grammar requires that a person is meant." (The same applies obviously for TITUS 2:13 and 2 THESSALONIANS 1:12).
"For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? And again, when he bringeth in the first begotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows."
The summary from the statements (of these verses), that the Son of God in contrast to the angels, is not a creature but God Himself, is too obviously proven through repeated comparison. Verse 5 talks about the inner relationship between the Father and Son, a relationship that no creature has with God, not even an angel. Verse 6 says then, that all the angels have to worship God; also a statement that emphasises His Divinity: whom except God are angels allowed to worship? Therefore, verse 7 talks about angels that are servants. Following this, verse 8 says that the Son has a throne, and that He is also the Master of these servants.
Verses 11 and 12 continue on from this and show that the Son - who is continually spoken of - is the Lord who created everything in the beginning (i.e. GENESIS 1:1 and JOHN 1:1-3); and this is the reason He remains, He is Eternal (i.e. HEBREWS 13:8), while all created things will decline and are transitory. Verses 13 and 14 repeat that the angels are servants, but that God said to His Son to sit on His right hand. Consequently, the Son is the Master. And finally: The angels are standing before God and are continually there for His service; but He sat Himself as the only person in the universe upon the throne. For the Jewish receivers of the letter this last reference was likely to be the most impressive. They were accustomed from the Old Testament to think that only God sits in heaven. All His servants - either the angels in heaven or the people on earth - stand before Him (1 KINGS 22:19; JOB 1:6; PSALM 117; ISAIAH 6:1-2).
Now how does the NWT cope with these statements? First of all they try to weaken verse 6: "And let all God's angels do obeisance to him." This should already be enough to prove the divinity of Jesus Christ; they choose the weaker and more vague expression "do obeisance", because under certain circumstances, one might think that you can do obeisance to a creature, which cannot be said of worshipping.
In reference to the Son: "God is your throne forever and ever..." This is now obvious nonsense; does it mean that God is the throne of His Son? Should the Son sit on top of God? But only a few of the Witnesses of the Watchtower Society will think that far. The NWT translators are confident enough to disguise the biblical testimony of the divinity of Jesus Christ through whatever grammatical tricks, or mistakes, are possible with the contents.
One wanted to object to the point that in the Greek there should have been a vocative (the personal form of address). If verse 8 really means, that God the Father talks to His Son and says,
"Thy throne, O God..." We have to say two things to that:
1. The vocative in the New Testament Greek, as opposed to classical Greek, is often replaced with the nominative. MARK translates the Lord's call on the cross, from Hebrew to Greek, as ho theos mou, ho theos mou. It also appears in HEBREWS 1:8 and 10:7, where the article, ho, is in place of the vocative, where normally the personal participle o should be (See also LUKE 18:11). The nominative is in place of the vocative. Our Lord also referred to His mother simply with the word gynai, woman, thus omitting the o needed for the personal participle as is needed in the classical Greek vocative (JOHN 2:4).
In addition, HEBREWS 1:8, as in 10:7, is an Old Testament quotation taken from the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament). In the Septuagint Greek the vocative seldom appears, hence the nominative is used here. Therefore, we are not allowed to translate this verse other than as presented, either for the reason of the missing vocative article o, or for the missing vocative endings for linguistic causes - not to mention the strong factual reasons.
1 JOHN 5:20
"And we know that the Son of God is come, and has given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life."
The Jehovah's Witnesses' Bible translates this as, "But we know that the Son of God has come, and he has given us intellectual capacity that we may gain the knowledge of the true one. And we are in union with the true one, by means of his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and life everlasting."
Here the Greek text is misrepresented. Both expressions
"in him that is true", and
"In his Son" are parallel and are identically structured. If en to aläthino means "Him that is true," (the word union "with Him that is true" is a false addition of the NWT. The word "union" never appears in the Greek text.) Therefore, en te hyio autou means "in His Son," never "through His Son." If the latter were to be the correct meaning, then the preposition en should be replaced by dia; or if need be, simply by a dative (to hyio outou). The intention behind this corrupt manipulation is evident; if we translate what the Greek text requires the only allowable result would be: "That we have known Him that is true, and we are in Him that is true, even in the Son of God. This is the true God and eternal life."
This, next to JOHN 1:1-3, is probably the most unambiguous testimony of the Godhead of Jesus Christ.
That John wanted to say exactly this is confirmed by the phrase, "the True One", and "eternal life." In all, John refers three times to the Son of God as "the True One", ho alethineos in Greek, except in JOHN 1:1-3; REVELATION 3:17 and REVELATION 19:11. However, he never calls God the Father simply the "True One". Once, John uses the phrase the "True God", in place of the Father (JOHN 17:3, KJV), and another time Paul talks about the
"living and true God" (1 THESSALONIANS 1:9). Nevertheless, "the True One" always describes the Son. Therefore, to recognise
"the True One" and to be
"in the True One" always means to recognise and to be in the Son.
Therefore, it is not the Father that is the eternal life, but very distinctly the Son. It is testified of Him;
"In Him was life" (JOHN 1:4). He says of Himself,
"I give them eternal life" and
"I am the resurrection and the life" (JOHN 11:25). Finally,
"I am the way, the truth and the life." Therefore, the sentence,
"This is the True God, and eternal life" cannot refer to any other than the Son.
"These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God."
Because of this verse, some wanted to say that Jesus Christ was the first creation. Nevertheless, this is not stated here, He is the beginning = the author of creation, which means the Creator.
If a man asks where the creation came from and what was at the beginning, the Bible answers contrary to today's "spirit of the times"; not from matter, not from primeval substance, but God. Jesus Christ is the beginning of all creation.
The word used in the Greek is arché. This is exactly the term the Greek philosophers used when they discussed the basis of all existence. Now, if the Greek (and paganism today) say that the arché of all things, is water, for example (according to Thales or the old Egyptians), or air (according to Anaximenes), then the Bible answers: a person is the arché, the beginning and the origin of all creation: Jesus Christ. He created everything we see around us. Yes, He even created all things unseen, as stated in the epistle to the Colossians (see above).
by Benedikt Peters
Translated from the German: 'Ist Jahweh nicht Jesus?'
Source: 'Factum', February 1989