The New World Translation

‘Prove all things’ 1 Thess. 5. 21.

The New World Translation of the New Testament was published in 1950 by the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of New York. This society is the command centre of the Jehovah’s Witness organization. How can a translation of the scriptures into English be described as false scripture? The answer is that if a translation is so biased as to favour preconceived ideas that are contradicted by the scriptures, then that translation is false.

However, we discover an astonishing situation. The Jehovah’s Witnesses have as a main plank of their doctrinal platform the denial of the Lord Jesus Christ. A denial that He is God manifest in flesh, co-equal and co-eternal with the Father and the Holy Spirit. One of the biases of their New World Translation (N.W.T.) is to empty of their meaning New Testament statements of the deity of the Lord. The astonishing thing is that the usually efficient Jehovah’s Witnesses have done this in such an inefficient manner! Some passages are deliberately mistranslated while others are left to stand and clearly proclaim the deity of Christ. Thus presenting us with the amazing situation where their doctrine is contradicted by their own translation of the scriptures!

Some twenty times the original Greek of the New Testament states that the Lord Jesus Christ is God. This is besides all the passages where the equality of the Father and the Son is demonstrated. In the New World Translation many of the passages concerning the deity of the Lord are censored out by devious arguments. The result is false scripture.

All the following quotations of the true scriptures are from the Revised Version for accuracy, unless otherwise stated.

‘The word was a god’ John 1. 1, N.W.T. Instead of ‘The Word was God’. Also, ‘the only begotten god’, John 1. 18, N.W.T. Instead of ‘God only begotten’ (R.V. footnote). Nowhere in the New Testament is the idea of many gods. ‘There is no God but one. For though there be that are called gods … yet to us there is one God’, 1 Cor. 8. 4-6. Also there is no indefinite article ‘a’ in the Greek, and where the absence of the definite article ‘the’ to be consistently translated ‘a’ in John then John the Baptist would be sent from ‘a god’, v. 6, and those who received Christ would become children of ‘a god’, v. 12.

So strongly does the original Greek of the New Testament state the deity of Christ that in John 5. 18 even the efforts of translators of the New World Translation fail as John states that not only did the Lord break the Jewish rules of sabbath-keeping but also claimed equality with the Father. ‘He was also calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God’, N.W.T. And again in verse 23, ‘In order that all may honour the Son just as they honour the Father’, N.W.T.

In John 10. 30 admission is again made by, ‘I and the Father are one’, N.W.T., but an attempt is made to empty this of its meaning in a footnote which reads ‘are at unity’. But in verse 33 the old trick is used again, ‘You, although being a man make yourself a god’. Imagine the fanatical monotheistic Jews speaking of gods!

Once again the Greek breaks through in John 12. 45, ‘He that beholds me beholds him that sent me’, N.W.T. But the similar statement in John 14. 9, ‘He that has seen me has seen the Father also’, N.W.T., has been weakened by the addition of the word ‘also’ which is not in the original Greek.

Then the confession of Thomas, ‘My Lord and my God’, John 20. 28, for which the Lord blessed not only Thomas but all those who concur with his statement of faith, is allowed to stand unaltered!

In Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, ‘Christ, who is the image of God’, 4. 4, is allowed to stand, while, ‘the glorious knowledge of God by the face of Christ’, 6, N.W.T., is weakened by the use of ‘by’ which is admitted in a footnote to be ‘in’. In chapter 5 verse 19, ‘God was in Christ’ is altered to ‘God was by means of Christ’ without any warrant from the original Greek.

In Philippians 2. 6 the N.W.T. has, ‘Christ Jesus, who, although he was existing in God’s form, gave no consideration to a seizure, namely, that he should be equal with God’. The ambiguity of the original word, here translated ‘seizure’ or ‘prize’ in the R.V. or more literally in the R.V. footnote ‘a thing to be grasped’, is this. Does the word refer to something already held and to be retained or to something as yet unpossessed but to be seized? Naturally the N.W.T. opts for the latter as suiting its purpose of denying the deity of the Lord. But this would produce a contradiction in the passage for how could He be in the form of God and not be God? The New Revised Standard Version (1989) captures the meaning of this particular passage, ‘Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself’.

Turning to Colossians we find, ‘He is the image of the invisible God’, 1. 15, N.W.T. unaltered, while ‘In him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily’, 2. 9 is altered to, ‘It is in him that all the fulness of the divine quality dwells for the body’, N.W.T., which is meaningless.

It is the Revised Version which brings out accurately the original Greek in Titus 2. 13 and 2 Peter 1. 1. ‘Our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ’, and ‘the righteouness of our God and Saviour Christ Jesus’. Whereas the N.W.T. separates God and Saviour and so speaks of two persons instead of one. Thus it translates, ‘Of the great God and of our Saviour Jesus Christ’, and ‘the righteousness of our God and the Saviour Jesus Christ’, N.W.T. The second definite article ‘the’ in the second quotation is not in the Greek.

In Hebrews 1. 3 the translation, ‘He (the Son) is the reflection of his (God’s) glory and the exact representation of his very being’ , N.W.T., cannot but speak plainly of the Lord’s deity. Whereas verse 8 is translated, ‘God is your throne for ever’, N.W.T., instead of, ‘Thy throne, O God’, the former translation being meaningless.

In 1 John 5. 20 the translation of the N.W.T. is the same as the R.V., ‘This is the true God’. But no doubt the Jehovah’s Witnesses would argue that it is a reference to the Father, but as He has already (even in their translation) been referred to twice as ‘the true one’, such an argument would make the statement, ‘this is the true God’ superfluous. The original Greek is emphatic, ‘This one (masculine) obviously refers to ‘His Son Jesus Christ’ immediately before it.

The same bias is also shown in the N.W.T. against the personality of the Holy Spirit. This is another denial of Christian teaching by the Jehovah’s Witnesses. If a translation of scripture is so biased as to favour preconceived ideas, then it is false, it is pseudo-scripture.

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