Jehovah’s Witnesses Distortions Concerning the Deity of Jesus Christ
|By: Joan Cetnar, Bill Cetnar; ©1991|
|The best place to start when trying to sort out the different ideas about Jesus is to get to know the real thing! What does the Bible say about Jesus, then how have the Jehovah’s Witnesses distorted the biblical picture?|
Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Distortions Concerning the Deity of Jesus Christ: Who is the Real Jesus?
The information in this program was taped live at the Ankerberg Theological Research Institute’s Apologetics Conference in Orlando, Florida. Our two instructors for this session were Bill and Joan Cetnar.
Bill and Joan were both once devout Jehovah’s Witnesses. Bill has had a responsible position as a correspondent in the Watchtower Headquarters right in Brooklyn, New York. Joan was raised in the Watchtower Society and was an heir to the S. S. Kresge fortune. But Joan was disinherited when she put her trust in the real Jesus. They are now Christian authors and apologists. The Cetnars’ special interest is examining the Watchtower Society’s publications and witnessing to its followers. Bill and Joan have been program guests on The John Ankerberg Show and they’ve also sponsored apologetics conferences and written numerous books and tracts designed to win Jehovah’s Witnesses to Jesus Christ. Bill and Joan Cetnar’s topic for this session is “Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Distortions Concerning the Deity of Jesus Christ.” As you listen to this information, it will be my prayer that God will increase your faith and draw you closer to our Lord Jesus Christ. [Ed. Note: Biographical information is valid as of when this program was taped in 1991.]
Joan Cetnar: Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Distortions of the Deity of Jesus Christ. Before we can consider distortions, it’s a good idea to know what is the real thing, isn’t it? As the announcer said, we now believe in the real Jesus. Well, if you talk to a Jehovah’s Witness, he’ll say he does know the real Jesus; you’re the one that has the wrong Jesus. So where do we want to go to find out who the real Jesus is? Let’s go to the Word of God—that’s the best place—and find out who is the real Jesus.
Well, John 1:1 is probably the one we’d go to first, one most people know: “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” No problem with that, is there? John 20:28, the plain statement by the apostle Thomas or the disciple Thomas, when he saw Jesus and he was convinced that he was God.
Now, in the Kingdom Interlinear, a copy of which I have with me today, this is a Watchtower production, and on one side you have the Greek with the word-for-word English, and in the other column you have their New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures. And you will see that in that Scripture, John 20:28, it says, “the Lord of me and the God of me,” not “a God.” This is going to become a little more clear to you that do not know a whole lot about what they’ve done to the Bible when you see that they don’t believe that Jesus is the God. But this was a plain statement by Thomas of who Jesus is: He is God, okay. Jesus is God. Jesus is the Son of God. This is another problem Jehovah’s Witnesses have of defining who the Son of God is. I’ll get to that in a minute. But the Bible says that in John 5:18, “You make yourself equal with God by calling yourself the Son of God.” So the Bible makes it very clear that the Jews understood that when Jesus called himself the Son of God, he was making himself equal with the Father.
John 1:18 calls him “the only begotten God,” even in the New World Translation. “The only one, or unique one,” God by nature, not by creation; therefore, the God. He is Lord of lords and King of kings. Now, how much higher can you get than Lord of lords? The Lord of the Old Testament is Jehovah, according to Jehovah’s Witnesses. The Lord of the New Testament is Jesus and he is Lord of lords. And when you go to 1 Timothy 6:15 it says, “the only sovereign King of kings and Lord of lords who only possesses immortality.”
In John 8:58 he calls himself “the I am.”
So this is the Jesus of the Bible; this is the real Jesus.
Now, what do you mean, “The real Jesus?” There isn’t any other Jesus, is there? Well, Paul said there was, that we had to watch out for this other Jesus. And in the New World Translation in 2 Corinthians 11:4 it says, “if someone comes and preaches a Jesus other than the one we have preached, you easily put up with him.” Now, that’s not the fullness of that Scripture, but that’s what we’re dealing with here today. But he said another gospel and another spirit. But we’re talking about another Jesus.
Okay, who is the Jesus of Jehovah’s Witnesses? Well, I like to get it right straight from the horse’s mouth. This is their publication, a photocopy of the page 58 from You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth. That is a current book that they’re studying with people today to indoctrinate them into their teachings. In explanation of who Jesus is on page 58, he is also called God’s firstborn, as well as his only begotten Son, and then they cite John 1:14 and John 3:16, Hebrews 1:6. This means that he was created before all other spirit sons of God and that he is the only one who was directly created by God. That is what “only begotten” and “firstborn” mean to a Jehovah’s Witness: that he is the first and only direct creation of the Father, Jehovah God.
Okay, let’s go to page 40 of the same book, You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth, and we have another explanation of who the Jesus of the Jehovah’s Witnesses is. It says that—and they’re quoting John 1:1—“The Word was with God and the Word was divine or was a God,” that is, “the Word was a powerful, God-like one.” and they will be very quick to point out that Jesus is a mighty God; he’s not the Almighty. And that’s what it goes on to say. Clearly, Jesus is not Almighty God, he is a mighty God to Jehovah’s Witnesses.
What else is Jesus to Jehovah’s Witnesses? From their book, Aid to Bible Understanding, now known as Insights Into the Scriptures, we have this definition of Jesus under the title “Michael.” “Scriptural evidence indicates that the name Michael applied to God’s Son before he left heaven to become Jesus Christ and also after his return. Michael is the only one said to be the archangel, meaning chief angel or principal angel.” And then they quote a scripture, at 1 Thessalonians 4:16, the voice of the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ is described as being that of an archangel. So Jesus is Michael to Jehovah’s Witnesses as well.
I turned to 1 Thessalonians 4:16 in the New World Translation in their study Bible and also in their Kingdom Interlinear. They have a footnote. It reads in verse 16, “because the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a commanding call.” Now, who did they say in their Insights Into the Scriptures is that Lord? Jesus, right? Well, look what the footnote says in 1 Thessalonians 4:16: “The Lord”—and then they have a lot of little abbreviations from the Latin Vulgate and different other manuscripts, and then it says—“Jehovah.” Now, I have a little problem here. Who is Michael, Mr. Jehovah’s Witness? Is he Jehovah or is he Jesus? That’s a good question to ask one sometime when they come by. This is in their own publication.
So now we know who the Jesus of Jehovah’s Witnesses is. He is—going over this very quickly—the only direct creation, first and only direct creation of Jehovah God the Father; he is a powerful, God-like one; a mighty God; and is Michael the archangel. This is obviously another Jesus spoken of by Paul.
They have attacked the deity of Jesus Christ from their very beginning—their first president, Charles Taze Russell—right down to the present day. And I would say they are becoming more sophisticated in their attack on the deity of Jesus Christ, attempting to be more sophisticated by quoting more scholars. And we’ll be getting into that a little more later. And this looks good unless you do some digging for yourself. But Jehovah’s Witnesses are not encouraged to do that, to look into these publications that are quoted. They’re supposed to believe what they are told, as quoted there, without checking it out. So we have to do a little bit of checking for them.
Because they had a problem for years in not having a translation of their own, they had to deal with a lot of the Scriptures in the King James Version and in the American Standard Version and other versions which didn’t read and agree with their doctrines so they had to do a lot of explaining to get rid of what it really said there. But in 1950 they came out with the New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures, “the most accurate translation” —and I’m quoting the Watchtower magazine—“that has ever been printed.” Of course, we as Jehovah’s Witnesses believed this because we believed everything that the Watchtower told us, so this had to be the best translation. And I can remember going from door to door to sell this translation to my neighbors and people in my territory and showing them and comparing it to the King James Version. “Look how much easier it is to understand because it’s written in modern English” —and it was before many of the translations that were written in modern English—and never seeing the distortions in the New World Translation.
Now you say, “Why do they use the term ‘Christian Greek Scriptures’ and not the New Testament and the Old Testament?” I think that’s because “Testament” means covenant: and the Old Testament is under the Old Covenant; the New Testament is under the New Covenant. Ninety-nine percent of Jehovah’s Witnesses cannot be under the New Covenant because they’re not one of the 144,000. They do not have Jesus as their Mediator. He is only the Mediator for the 144,000, and the only way that they can receive any kind of connection with God is by being in the organization. So they’re going to get away from terms that are going to make questions pop into Jehovah’s Witnesses’ minds. So by using “Christian Greek Scriptures” instead of “New Testament” or “New Covenant Scriptures,” they’re going to keep away from that kind of connection.
Now, in the front of their Kingdom Interlinear they make a promise to us about what they are not going to do. And this is on page 9, “We offer no paraphrase of the scriptures. Our endeavor throughout has been to give us as literal a translation as possible with a modern English idiom allows for it or where the thought content is not hidden due to any awkwardness in the literal rendition.”
“We are not going to paraphrase.” Let’s check this out, because that’s number one in checking into this New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures to find out what they have done to the Word of God to make it agree with their understanding or their teaching of who Jesus is.
And the first paraphrase that I want to deal with is, “in him,” “in Christ,” and “in the Lord” as it is shown. In the New Testament over 164 times in the Pauline epistles alone it talks about the believer’s relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, the indwelling of Christ in the believer, which is the omnipresence of God, isn’t it? Here we have Jesus Christ living in us. This is the omnipresence of God which is an attribute of God. And certainly they don’t want to have Jesus have that attribute of God. And so they had to get rid of this phrase in their translation: “In him,” “in Christ,” and “in the Lord.” And what did they do? They paraphrased, “in union with.” And this is in John 15:4-7 where it talks about the vine and the branches and how we are in Christ and he is in us and what a beautiful relationship. And they put “in union with.” Now, this is to them to indicate a unity of idea and purpose, not an indwelling of the living Lord Jesus through the Holy Spirit.
Romans 8, I would like to refer to. And you may want to look this up in your translation first and compare it as I’m reading, because we have a little problem here with their translation. Because they arbitrarily do it where they want to do it where it fits in with what they believe. If it doesn’t matter to them, then they leave it the way it is. In Romans 8:9 it talks about, “If God’s Spirit truly dwells in you,” they didn’t change it there. They left it in the Greek word there. In verse 11 it’s the same thing. “The Spirit of Him who raised up Jesus from the dead dwells in you.” They left it “in you.”
But let’s go back to verse 10 where it talks about Christ Jesus living “in you” and here they had to change it because it says, “But if Christ is in union with you, the body indeed is dead.”
So another illustration of this is Galatians 1:16 where it says in the New World Translation, “to reveal his Son in connection with me” instead of “in me.”
In Galatians 2:20, probably one of my favorite scriptures, “No longer I that live but Christ that lives in me.” Well, there we had to change it. In the New World Translation it reads, “In union with.” Doesn’t that take a great deal away from that beautiful scripture of the indwelling Christ?
Colossians 1:27-28: “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” What did they do with that? The same thing they did in Galatians, “…in union with.” So, this is one of the paraphrases. There are other paraphrases, but this is probably the primary one that deals with our subject today, “The Distortions of the Deity of Jesus Christ,” by saying, “in union with” rather than “in Christ.”
The next thing we want to discuss, number two, is what they’ve done in distorting the Word of God in the New World Translation: Insertion of words not found in the Greek. And this is probably the biggest category of what they’ve done to the New Testament or to the Bible, and mostly to the New Testament. They don’t have a lot of problem with the Old Testament because it talks about their God Jehovah. And so there isn’t a whole lot that they’ve done there to take away or to agree with their translation or their teachings. I can think of one thing that has nothing to do with the deity of Christ, but in Leviticus, I believe, or Numbers, rather, it talks about each one of the tribes or the groups of tribes meeting under his standard or banner in any other translation. And they say “in his three tribe division.” It doesn’t fit, really; it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. But they did that to get away from the fact that the Israelites were allowed to make a degal, which is a flag, standard or banner. And they’re against flags or saluting the flag and so they had to change their translation. So that’s one thing in the Old Testament I can think of. But mostly we’re dealing with the New Testament here because that’s where the deity of Jesus Christ shines forth to us.
So, in insertions of words not found in the Greek, we have John 1:1. And that’s probably the first one we’d want to go to. What have they done to this scripture of plain statement of the deity of Jesus Christ? “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was a God.” That is what the New World Translation reads. Now, I like this Kingdom Interlinear because they have not completely tampered with the Interlinear Greek side. It disagrees in many, many of these places with the New World Translation and this is one of them. The Greek does not have an “a” in it on the Greek side. The New World Translation does. Now, there are so many good books written explaining Jehovah’s Witnesses and what they’ve done to John 1:1 and John 8:58 and the grammar. I’m not a Greek scholar, so I’m not going to go into that, but I would just like to deal with some of the ways that they have tried to explain why they put “a God” in there and the translations that they have gone to that seem to agree with their translation.
What is the scholarship of these people? Now, they quoted for a long time in their old interlinear—what we dubbed “the purple people eater,” [the cover was purple] some of you who know our ministry in the past. Now we’ve got to name it something else because they’ve got a new edition—but in John 1:1 they were quoting for a long time a man named Johannes Greber. And if you’ve seen any of the John Ankerberg shows in the past, you know that Johannes Greber was a spirit medium, that they were quoting a spirit medium. And so they took that out of this new interlinear, so you don’t find Greber in this new edition, this 1981 edition of the Kingdom Interlinear.
But let’s go over just quickly the ones that they do quote. One of them reads: “And the Word was a God.” Just like theirs. It’s a New Testament in an improved version upon the basis of Archbishop Newcome’s New Translation in London. Well, we checked this out and found out that this “improved version” of Newcomb’s translation was done by a man named Thomas Belsham, a Unitarian. Well, they went to a Unitarian source, someone who is not a Christian, who does agree with the Watchtower’s stance on Jesus being not God, not the true God. So that really isn’t a good source to go to. In fact, it’s a tampered with translation.
The next is in The Logos Was a God from The Montessaron, The Gospel History, by a man named John S. Thompson of Baltimore. Well, we did a little research into who John Thompson is, and found out that he started out seemingly with a Christian background by being a Calvinist first; then he became an Arminian; then he became a Unitarian; and then he turned to the spirit world, much the same as Greber did.
And from the American Quarterly Review of September 1930—because this man goes way back; they don’t seem to be able to get any so-called scholars from the modern time that are going to agree with them, they’ve got to go dig up all of these old people who are dead and can’t even defend themselves—this is in the Quarterly Review, September 1830. John Thompson had connection with spirits, “…who told him to be careful to represent Jesus as only the instrument of God in all that he does.” I didn’t put the full quote down here. There’s a lot more in that volume 8, pages 227 to 245 of the Quarterly Journal which explains his involvement with the spirit world. So now they’ve gone from Greber to Thompson, so they have not gotten away from their occult connection.
The Emphatic Diaglott is one that was done by a Christadelphian, Benjamin Wilson. That was the first one. What’s interesting about The Emphatic Diaglott is that on the Greek side he put the “a” in, on his English translation, took the “a” out. And still they quote The Emphatic Diaglott.
The Bible: An American Translation by Goodspeed says, “And the Word was divine.” We really don’t have a problem with that. That’s saying the same thing in different words, is that the Word was God; he was divine. It’s not an accurate translation, but it does really not support their teaching of “a God.”
Then, their own New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures. And then they quote three translations in German.
Now, we did a little bit of research on these German men. One of them is a Schulz whose translation is “a God.” Let’s go to what Schulz said. Does he agree when he said “the Word was a God” with the Watchtower’s teaching that the Word was a creation, or that He was less than God? Here are his own words from his commentary, pages 18 and 19: “And a God or of a divine kind was the Word” is the way the Kingdom Interlinear put it in here. He said actually in his commentary on his translation “a God or God by nature was the Word.” And then he goes on to say, “Nevertheless, the Logos is God by nature, a godly Being, identical in essence with God” so that the appropriate translation is “and of godly nature was the Word.” So he’s not saying that Jesus was a God or another God; he was just trying to explain really what that Scripture is trying to explain: that what God is, the Word is. They are of the same nature.
Now, the next one they quote is a man named Schneider and his is “a godlike sort.” He was a Baptist. This isn’t saying that Jesus is a God either. You have to understand that these men are liberal theologians. They were trying to, they said, explain that the Father and the Son were two different people here, which we can understand. But they were not saying that he was a God or a creation.
The next one that they quote is a man named Jurgen Becker in their appendix and when writing to Mr. Becker to find out, he is a professor of New Testament at the Kiel University. He said, “With regard to your discussion with the Jehovah’s Witnesses, I can therefore confirm that the Jehovah’s Witnesses incorrectly cite me as their source. In my view, John 1:1 does not speak of the creation of the Logos but rather the Logos was already in existence at the time of creation.” So, none of these men actually agree with the Watchtower’s stance that Jesus is a creation, an “a God.”
So, they have really no scholarship for adding “a.” In fact, there are hundreds of scholars—and as I said, you can get any number of good books that deal with the Watchtower’s distortion of John 1:1. That’s why I’m not going into it in detail. There’s a lot of good books in your Christian bookstore on this.
The next one I’d like to deal with is John 8:24, John 8:28 and John 13:19 where Jesus takes on the title of “the I Am.” Now, what’s interesting is, before 1981 “he,” “I am [he],” which they have in their translation, the “he” was not in brackets. Now, they put brackets around where they add a word. That’s supposed to indicate additions. Most translations have it italicized to indicate the “he” has been added. But they had no indication at all that there was an addition there before 1981. Now, they finally put it in every edition after that. But this, according to A. T. Robertson in his Grammar of the Greek New Testament is an absolute. It does not need an object or a predicate nominative. This was a plain statement of Jesus that he was the I Am. These are beautiful “I Am” statements.
John 10:33—I’m just going to go down through here and give you some of the additions—this is another case where they made Jesus an “a God.” New World Translation says, “We are stoning you not for a fine work but for blasphemy even because you, although being a man, make yourself a God;” not God, but “a God.” And there are no brackets around “a” there.
Colossians 1:16-18. I’d like to really go into this one because this is a very beautiful Scripture. In fact, when you go into looking into the reason why Paul wrote Colossians 1, you will see that he was running into the same problem that we have with Jehovah’s Witnesses and others like them today—not believing in the deity of Jesus Christ. Here we have all of these Scriptures where it says he created all things; under the ground, over the ground, everything. He created all things. What did they do to get away from Jesus being the Creator of all things? What do they believe? He was the first and only direct creation of God. That means, according to that Scripture he would have had to create himself, didn’t he? And they’re not going to buy that one, and so they had to add a word and they added the little word “other.” Now, once again, in the 1950 edition, the first edition of the New World Translation, there were no brackets around “other” to indicate an addition to the Scripture there.
Now, they will argue with you, “Well, we’re allowed to add that word there because it just makes it easier to understand.” Easier for whom? For them. But it does not make it easier to understand, and it doesn’t even agree with their translation of John 1:3 because they didn’t put “other” in there where it says, all things came into existence through him. They didn’t put “other” in there. And it doesn’t even agree with that translation of theirs, and so it completely changes the meaning.
1 Timothy 2:6: “A man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a corresponding ransom.” And there are no brackets in there around “corresponding.” And you say, “Well, what’s wrong with that? Corresponding?” Well, it doesn’t say “corresponding” in the Scripture, it just says that Jesus Christ gave himself “a ransom for all.” And in their book, again I go to You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth, on page 62 it explains what they’re talking about. “By his disobedience the perfect man Adam lost perfect life on a Paradise Earth for himself and all his children. Jesus Christ gave his own perfect life to buy back what Adam lost. Yes, Jesus Christ gave himself a corresponding ransom for all.” And this is the explanation. This is because Jesus is the only man who ever lived that was equal to Adam as a perfect human son of God. Remember, he was only a man when he was here on the earth, he was not the incarnation. So they even have a picture of a balance scales with Jesus in one balance and Adam in the other and it’s a perfect balance, a corresponding ransom, a perfect man for a perfect man. That is their ransom.
And so they had to add that word “corresponding” in 1 Timothy 2:6 to agree with their translation of, their understanding of, how the ransom takes place.
Titus 2:13. Here’s another plain Scripture of the deity of Jesus Christ. The proper translation is, “Looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of the great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” Well, now they can’t let that go by and so they had to add “the great God and of the Savior. “ They put it in brackets, but it’s there, “and of the Savior of us, Christ Jesus.”
2 Peter 1:1 is a very similar Scripture. However, in 2 Peter you have an interesting parallel there that I think we ought to turn to that they’re not consistent with. In the 2 Peter 1:1, because it talks about the deity of Jesus Christ once again, it says, “by the righteousness of our God and the Savior Jesus Christ.” In the Kingdom Interlinear in the New World Translation you have in verse 11 an identical construction but it doesn’t say “God,” it says “Lord.” “The kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” and they didn’t do a thing with that; didn’t put “the” in there. They had no problem with that one. But where it says he is “God,” “Our God and Savior,” they had to put “the” in.
And the same goes with 2 Peter 2:20 where it also says, “our Lord and Savior.” They didn’t have to change that, and they didn’t change it. And the Greek does not agree. You look into the Greek side and “the” is not there. And in most cases all of these illustrations I’m giving you, their addition is not in the Greek. And so it’s been put there to distort the deity of Jesus Christ.
Now, a man named Granville Sharp, a Greek scholar, made a rule dealing with this, and the rule is, “when the copulative kai,” which is the word “and” in English, “connects two nouns of the same case.” And here we have God and Savior in Titus 2:13. “If the article ho,” which is “the” —the great God—“or any of its cases precedes the first of the said nouns” —in this case, God—“or participle, the latter always relates to the same person that is expressed or described by the first noun or participle. It denotes a further description of the first named person.” So they have no rule for putting “the” in the second time to make it look like two persons are being spoken of instead of a description of the one person, Jesus Christ.
And Dr. Robertson commented on 2 Peter 1:1, “The presence of a genitive our with the group of words does not materially alter the construction, the genitive may occur with either substantive and apply to both.” That’s page 785 of his Grammar of the Greek New Testament.
So, they have no rule. They just did it; just put “the” in there because that agreed with theirs. There’s no grammatical justification for the rendering of 2 Peter 1:1 in the New World Translation.
The third section that we want to deal with in the distortion of the Greek New Testament by Jehovah’s Witnesses to agree with their teaching is the erroneous rendering of Greek words. And this is where we get the John 8:58, where Jesus said to the Jews, “Before Abraham was” —or came into existence—“I am.” What did the New World Translation do to this one? The Watchtower Society said, “I have been.” Now, like John 8:24, this is another case of an absolute; it does not need an object or a predicate nominative. It stands alone. Dr. Mantey said this; Dr. Robertson said this; that this is an absolute.
Now, you go to the footnote and in the 1950 edition of their New World Translation they had this footnote, that this is “properly rendered in the perfect indefinite tense”. Well, we started writing letters to the Watchtower to find out where they got this perfect indefinite tense, because Dr. Mantey says there is no such animal in the Greek. And so they came up, well, they said, “It’s a historical present.” And then they finally came down to saying, “It is in the perfect tense indicative” and that’s what they have it here. It is none of these. It is the present tense indicative. It is “I am.”
They have also quoted several people that they feel agree with their translation. Now, only one says, “I have been” and that’s their own translation. All the rest are from Syriac and from other translations which actually—and they’re very old, once again—and they are not translations directly from the Greek into the English but from the Greek to the Syriac to the English by Muslims who also do not believe that Jesus is God. And those are the men they’re quoting. And they’re from the fourth and fifth century, and the rest from the fifth century and the last one from the sixth century. They can’t find any scholarship, good scholarship, that agrees with their translation of John 8:58 that Jesus says “I have been.” They try to say Jesus is a “has been.”
We see from the next verse that the Jews recognized immediately that he was claiming the deity of Jesus Christ because it says they picked up stones to throw at Him. They wanted to stone him for blasphemy.
Now, they also went into the Old Testament, in Exodus 3:15, to take the “I am” out of the Old Testament. In Exodus 3:15 we have Yahweh identifying himself to Moses at the burning bush and telling him who he is. And he says to Moses’ question: “Who should I say is sending me?” God said, “Tell them I Am sent you. I Am that I Am.” Or “I Am who I Am.” What did the New World Translation do to this Scripture? They say, “I shall prove to be what I shall prove to be.” The word “prove” in Greek is a different word than God used here. It’s the Hebrew word nasah. “I Am” is Ehyeh. It’s a different Hebrew word. God didn’t say “prove” there, he said “I Am.” “I Am who I Am.” So, they have no right to put “prove” in there to say that’s what God said. So I think it was to destroy the connection between the “I Am” of the New Testament that Jesus said and the “I Am” of the Old Testament that Yahweh said he was.
Colossians 2:9, another beautiful scripture that is the plain statement of the deity of Jesus Christ. “For in him all the fullness of the godhead dwells in bodily form.” Boy, how much clearer can you get it? Well, in Greek it can be “deity” also, but “godhead” is also acceptable. In Greek the word is spelled theotes for godhead. They have used a different Greek word for their translation. In the New World Translation it says, “In all the fullness of divine quality dwells bodily.” It’s a different Greek word for “divine quality” and it does not appear in Colossians 2:9. And it is spelled in Greek theiotes, and it is the word for “divine quality” but that is not the word in Colossians 2:9.
Let’s go to some Greek scholars to find out what they say. Richard Trench in Synonyms of the New Testament, pages 7-10, says, “In Colossians 2:9 Paul is declaring that in the Son there dwells all the fullness of absolute Godhead, theotes. They were no more rays of divine glory which gilded him, lighting up his person for a season and with a splendor not his own, but he was and is absolute and perfect God and the Apostle uses theotes to express this essential and personal godhead of the Son.”
Vine’s Expository Dictionary renders that Greek word godhead. Grimm-Thayer also says, “The state of being God.” So there’s no doubt about what Paul was saying in Colossians 2:9.
Hebrews 1:6. Because Jesus is “a God” to Jehovah’s Witnesses, they can’t worship him, because if they did, they would be polytheistic—they are anyway, by having an “a God” and a “the God,” they’ve got two Gods anyway—but they’re certainly not going to be guilty of worshipping their “a God.” And so everywhere that the word worship in Greek, I think it’s pros kenau, appears, they paraphrased once again: “do obeisance to” instead of “worship.”
Hebrews 1:6 is an interesting place where this word appears, because up until 1980 they left the word worship in their New World Translation. And in fact, when they were asked about it in a “Questions From Readers” they said, “Are you an angel? If you’re not an angel, you don’t have anything to worship or worry about because you’re not being asked to worship.” But I think they realized how ridiculous that explanation was and so in their 1980 edition they took out the word worship and put “do obeisance to.” So everywhere that you see in your Bible it says “worship Jesus” they have put in “do obeisance to.”
Hebrews 1:8, we have another scripture that is just a beautiful one. It’s where the Father calls the Son God. The God, not a God. And do you know what their Kingdom Interlinear says there? I’m reading it word for word: “The throne of you, the God, into the age of the age.” But on the New World side they sure messed it up. It says, “God is your throne.” That doesn’t make any sense at all, does it? “God is your throne.” In most translations it says, “Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever.” So but look to the Interlinear. There it’s clear that “the throne of you, the God, into the age of the age.”
Revelation 1 and Revelation 3:14 we have two cases of where they just changed a little bitty word, but what a difference it makes in the understanding of that scripture. Revelation 1:1 says, “This is the revelation of Jesus Christ.” The unveiling, the revealing of who Jesus is in this Book of Revelation. They have changed it by saying this is the revelation by Jesus Christ.
Revelation 3:14. He is “the beginning of the creation of God.” In the New World Translation it says “he is the beginning of the creation by God,” because this is one of their scriptures that they use to prove that Jesus is a created being. “Beginning” there means by explanation, “source” or “origin.” This is saying that He, the One spoken of here, who is obviously Jesus, is the source or origin of all of God’s creation.
Revelation 1:8 says “Lord” in every other translation. “I am the Alpha and the Omega, says the Lord, the one who is, who was, and is coming, the Almighty.” They couldn’t leave that in there. Somebody might mistake that for Jesus. And so they arbitrarily stuck in “Jehovah God.” No reason at all for putting it in there except that it agrees with their understanding of who God is.
You might be interested in some other little points about the Kingdom Interlinear that you can use. By the way, I don’t suggest you buy one of these because you would probably give them a lot more for this book because it looks like it’s worth a lot more than it is to them. You would probably give them about $4 or $5 for this one because they’re not allowed now to tell you what it costs for a book. They’ll say, “We’ll take a contribution for it.” And you would say, “It looks like it’s worth about $2, $3 or $4, or $5, I don’t know.” And that’s probably what you would give them. I don’t know what it costs them to print this now, but I know that in the 1950s a book like this would have cost them seven cents to print because they have people working at headquarters for practically nothing. We worked for $14 a month and room and board and a $75 a year clothing allowance. Now, I know they’ve upped that I believe by $25, and they still get their room and board and so forth. So to them, this book probably costs no more than about 50 cents to print. So they can give it to you, though, but this is really a neat witnessing tool because you can use things.
Now, I’d like to show you a few things in here. Let’s go to Romans 10. You can go in your Word and I’ll tell you what it says in here. In Romans 10:9 it says in the Kingdom Interlinear, “If you publicly declare that word in your own mouth that Jesus is Lord.” And then you go to the footnote, it says, “Ha Adon” in Hebrew. Now, I went to one of the appendices of the New World Translation in the 1971 edition and it says about ha adon or about the Lord—using the word Lord in the New World Translation—it says, “Prefixing of the definite article ha before the title adon limits the application of the title to Jehovah God.” What does Romans 10:9 say again? “If you publicly declare the word in your own mouth that Jesus is Lord” and you go to the footnote, they have footnoted it “ha adon”? Who is Ha Adon? Jehovah. Jesus is Jehovah, Mr. Jehovah’s Witness. By your own 1971 edition in the appendix and their Kingdom Interlinear footnote.
1 Peter 3:15 is another one. It says, “Sanctify the Christ as Lord.” You go to the footnote, it says “Jehovah God.” And then we have 1 Thessalonians 4:16.
They have done a lot of other erroneous renderings in the Bible in their Kingdom Interlinear, in their New World Translation, that agrees with their teachings in other things, and I want to tell you those briefly. Kolasin in the Greek, which means punishment—talking about eternal punishment. They don’t believe in that, therefore they have rendered it “everlasting cutting off” because they believe in annihilation for the wicked, not punishment. Everywhere that the word cross appears in any other Bible, it’s “torture stake” in the New World Translation. Everywhere the word crucify appears in any other Bible, it’s “impale” in the New World Translation. So they’ve gotten away from everything they dislike about Christianity; they’ve changed it.
What does the Scripture say about what’s to be done with the Word of God? Well, in 2 Timothy 2:2 Paul instructed Timothy to entrust his words to “faithful men” who will be able to teach others. Are these men faithful in what they did to the Word of God? I don’t believe so.
We’re also warned in Deuteronomy 12:32, Proverbs 20:6 and Revelation 22:9—boy, have you read Revelation 22:9? If you read that and you want to tamper with the Word of God, I sure wouldn’t want to have what God said would come upon me come upon me. I fear for those men at Brooklyn who did what they did to the Word of God, because it says there in Proverbs: “Lest he prove you and you be proved a liar.” Especially it is important if we know who Jesus really is. Who is it that wants to distort the Word of God? In John 8:24, let’s go back to that Scripture. Let’s look it up. This is so important that we know who Jesus is, and that’s why I believe this has been tampered with, this Word of God, and especially relative to the deity of Christ. Jesus said, “I say therefore to you that you shall die in your sins.” Who wants us to die in our sins? Satan, right? In fact, he repeated it. “For you will die in your sins unless you believe that I am.” He wants us to believe that he is God. God, the Son. That’s what the Son of God means. Sure, the word God the Son never appears in the Word, but it says “the Son of God.” It’s the same thing; the same nature. And so it’s Satan that wants to take away our eternal life; to have us die in our sins and not die in the Lord. And if he can keep away the real Jesus from us by blinding us and changing the Word of God, that’s what he’s going to do. So it’s a matter of life and death as to whether we know who the real Jesus is. And the Watchtower has gone to great lengths to take away that blessed truth from us.
I believe we have a few minutes that we can take brief questions.
- Audience: Regarding Philippians 2:5, where they have changed their rendering.
- Cetnar: “Who, although he was existing in God’s form, gave no consideration to a seizure.” Now, once again, you go over to the Greek side and it doesn’t have the word seizure there. I’m going to read it literally. “Who in form of God existing not snatching.” See, he didn’t hang on to it or snatch it or try to hold on to this but he gave it up willingly. And when you go and you see how that later on he says that he emptied himself and took on a slave’s form while he was existing in God’s form. But anyway, they have added that word seizure there, too.
- Audience: Why isn’t John 8:24 like John 8:58? In John 8:58 it is “I have been.”
- Cetnar: Because they could put the “he” in there and not have any problem with “I am he.” I am who? Well, I could be anybody, see? But they couldn’t do that. It wouldn’t make any sense to do that in John 8:58 say that “before Abraham was I am he.” So that’s why they didn’t do it there.
- Audience: If Jesus is Michael to a Jehovah’s Witness, why now that he has already ascended into heaven and he’s Michael, why don’t they call him Michael instead of Jesus?
- Cetnar: Well, I don’t know that they have ever explained why and I don’t think they would. But my explanation would be is that they want to appear Christian and so they’re going to keep using Jesus because they are accused enough of not using Jesus. And so they’re going to continue to call him Jesus but explain that he’s not Jesus, he’s Michael. By the way, Seventh-day Adventists also still teach that Jesus is Michael, although they are trying to say that he is also God and they believe in the Trinity. Now, you can’t have both. Can’t have both.
- Audience: What was the Greek text that they used?
- Cetnar: They claimed they used the Westcott & Hort Greek Text. And there is an indication that they might have done that. But, see, you’ve only got one man there who has had any teaching at all in Greek. Well, one is born in Greece on the translation committee which doesn’t really, I mean, I’m born English and I wouldn’t call myself an English scholar. He knows modern Greek. He’s not schooled in New Testament Greek. And it’s just as different as the English has changed in years, so has the Greek. And when you talk to a Greek scholar you know that those words about to be put in what they call their zeitgeist, in their time frame to have understanding of it. And so these men, the main translator, only had two years of classical Greek and he’s self taught in Hebrew. So this is the reason why I believe they won’t let anybody know who the translation committee is is because if they ever checked up on them, they would find out that they do not have the qualification. And that’s why we went to a Greek scholar, Dr. Julius Mantey, while he was still living, and handed him a whole list of questions regarding the New World Translation and asked, you know: “Did they do it right here? Did they do it right here? Etc.” “No,” he said, “they didn’t. It’s a distortion.” And he’s got all kind of good names for the New World Translation.