This is the second in a series of columns addressing Jehovah’s Witnesses and their understanding of Jesus.
Previously, we looked at how the New World Translation – the Bible Jehovah’s Witnesses use – offers a clear example of what happens when you start with doctrine instead of Scripture. Rather than align its teachings with Scripture, the Watch Tower generated an entirely new translation of the Bible, one that attempts to strip the deity of Christ from its pages.
Here are a few examples:
Jesus is “a god”
This verse in the New World Translation (NWT) 2013 reads: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god” (emphasis added). The Watch Tower goes to great lengths to explain why this is an accurate rendering of the Greek, citing grammatical rules and misquoting Greek scholars to support its belief that the Word is “godlike, divine, a god,” but not coequal and coeternal with the Father.
In truth, as the late dean of Talbot Theological Seminary, Charles L. Feinberg, noted, “I can assure you that the rendering which the Jehovah’s Witnesses give John 1:1 is not held by any reputable Greek scholar.”
Compare the King James Version (KJV): “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The New American Standard Bible (NASB), English Standard Version (ESV), and Christian Standard Bible (CSB) read exactly the same.
Jesus is created
The NWT 2013 renders this: “Jesus said to them: ‘Most truly I say to you, before Abraham came into existence, I have been’” (emphasis added). Because Jehovah’s Witnesses deny the deity and eternality of Jesus, their translators had to change the biblical text to match their errant doctrines. In effect, they made Jesus a has-been god.
Compare the KJV: “Jesus said to them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.” Or consider the NASB: “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.” The ESV translates this verse, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”
Here, Jesus harks back to Exodus 3, in which God reveals Himself to Moses in the burning bush as I AM, or YHWH, a unique name Jesus applies to Himself as He speaks to the religious leaders of His day. We’ll come back to this verse in a later column.
Jesus is a secondary creator
The NWT 2013 reads: “because by means of him all other things were created in the heavens and on the earth, the things visible and the things invisible, whether they are thrones or lordships or governments or authorities. All other things have been created through him and for him” (emphasis added).
Jehovah’s Witnesses argue that Jesus is the first of Jehovah’s created beings, who then created all “other” things. Again, the biblical text is bent to match Watch Tower doctrine. The word “other” does not appear in the Greek text. Earlier versions of the NWT bracketed “other” and explained that “other” is implied. But the NWT 2013 boldly includes “other” without brackets, leaving the Watch Tower faithful to believe it comes from the Greek text.
The KJV reads: “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.”
The NASB – “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.”
The ESV – “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.”
No English translation distorts the true meaning of this verse like the NWT.
Finding the real Jesus in the NWT
We could cite other examples – Colossians 2:9, Titus 2:13, and Hebrew 1:8 to name three – but the point is that Scripture must dictate doctrine, not the other way around. And that is the fatal flaw of the six “scholars” who gave us a frightful translation that strips the deity and divine attributes from the eternal Son of God.
Next: Finding the real Jesus in the NWT