The Jehovah’s Witness deny the deity of Jesus Christ.
On the contrary, I am very convinced the Bible teaches that Jesus is God. One of the clearer passages in the Bible that teaches Jesus is divine is John 1:1.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God” (John 1:1).
The Jehovah’s Witness attempt to get around this passage by having their own translation of the Bible, known as the New World Translation. In the New World Translation, John 1:1 is translated as “…the Word was ‘a’ god.” Their alleged argument comes from the Greek language. They reason that since there is no definite article (“the”) in the Greek before the word “God” in John 1:1, then that means that Jesus wasn’t “the God,” but that He was “a god.” Is there any validity to their argument?
Analyzing their argument from Greek.
The problem with the Jehovah’s Witness argument from Greek is that it is overstated. Sentences of this form in Greek (two nouns joined by a form of the verb “to be”) normally placed the article only before the subject of the sentence, regardless of the word order. This simply means that the traditional translation, “The Word was God,” is the preferred translation among practically all Greek scholars and authorities.
To name just a few, this includes Dana & Mantey’s A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament (p.140, 149-151), Robertson & Davis’ A New Short Grammar of the Greek Testament (p. 279), A. T. Robertson’s The Minister and His Greek New Testament (p. 67), and Wallace’s Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics (p. 266 ff.)
The Jehovah’s Witness also abandon their own argument in the very same context. Let me explain what I mean. If we were to follow their translation principle consistently in John 1:1, then “the beginning” should be “a beginning” (Jn. 1:1) life should be “a life” (v.4) and John should be “a John” in 1:6 (Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, 267).
Furthermore, the noun theos (God) is found some 1,343 times in the Greek Testament (Smith, Greek-English Concordance to the New Testament, p.173). In 282 of these texts, theos is without the article (Countess, The Jehovah’s Witnesses’ New Testament: A Critical Analysis of the New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures, 54-55).
If the Jehovah’s Witness were to apply their argument consistently, then every single one of these verses should be translated as “a god” in each of these passages in the New World Translation. However, there are only sixteen instances (6% of the time) where the New World Translation is consistent with their own alleged argument by translating these instances as “a god,” “god,” “gods” or “godly.” To put it another way, this means that 96% of the time the Jehovah’s Witness violate the very rule they believe should be enforced in John 1:1 (Countess, The Jehovah’s Witnesses’ New Testament: A Critical Analysis of the New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures, 54-55).
It will probably come as no surprise that the only time they enforce their rule is in locations where the nature of Jesus is at stake. This clearly indicates a translational bias. As Charles Feinberg said,
“I can assure you that the rendering which the Jehovah’s Witnesses give John 1:1 is not held by any reputable Greek scholar” (Rhodes, 99).
Context alone settles the issue.
While the Jehovah’s Witness have no legitimate argument that can be made from the Greek language, one doesn’t even have to appeal to the Greek to refute their argument. Contextually, one should reject the Jehovah’s Witness understanding of John 1:1.
If Jesus was just “a” god, then this would mean there are many gods. Yet, the Bible teaches that there is only one God (Isa. 43:10-11; 44:6, 8; 1 Cor. 8:6; Deut. 6:4; Eph. 4:6). So how do the Jehovah’s Witness respond? The Jehovah’s Witness argue that Jesus was only “a god” in a figurative sense. They reference Moses to allegedly prove their point. Consider the following passages that speak of Moses:
“Moreover, he shall speak for you to the people; and it shall come about that he shall be as a mouth for you, and you shall be as God to him” (Ex. 4:16).
“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘See, I make you as God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet’” (Ex. 7:1).
The problem with this argument is that the Bible never says that Moses was God, or even “a god” for that matter. As the text says, Moses was going to be “like God” in the sense that he was given the authority and power to display powerful miracles that would prove God’s power over Egypt. Being “as God” or “like God” with regard to the power given to perform miracles over Egypt is not the same thing as being called “a god” or “God.” Therefore, this argument fails because this cannot be considered a fair parallel.
Furthermore, in Isaiah 9:6, Jesus is even called, “Mighty God.” This is a title and description reserved only for deity (And Moses was certainly never called, “Mighty God”).
“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us, and the government will rest on His shoulders, and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6; Both Jesus & the Father are called Mighty God. See: Jer. 32:18; Isa. 10:21; etc.).
In conclusion, and based upon the aforementioned, John 1:1 should be accurately translated as, “…the Word was God.” This can be sustained linguistically and contextually. For further reasons that prove Jesus is God, please see the article entitled, “Is Jesus God?”
– Kevin Pendergrass
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