Explaining John 1:1 – “the Word was God”

2 Corinthians 2:3-4:

“And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”

The god of this world has blinded the minds of Jehovah’s Witnesses from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ.

The JW’s have masterminded a translation (the “New World Translation”) of John 1:1 that is quite novel, referring to Jesus as “a god”:

“In [the] beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.”

This is the Arian heresy of 325 A.D. that is still alive today.  Arius tried to force his belief that the Son of God was a subordinate entity to God the Father.

The KJV, NKJV, NIV, ASV, NASB, RSV, NRSV, NCV, YLT, Wey NT, Holman NT, Darby, and Douay-Rheims translate this verse as follows:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

The fundamental principle from a translation perspective is this:  the presence or absence of the definite article in Greek does not correlate to the presence or absence of a definite article in English.

“The” is the definite article in English (“the car”, “the apple”).

“A” or “an” are indefinite articles (“a car”, “an apple”).

Greek has a definite article (“the”) but does not have an indefinite article.

The interlinear Greek and English texts of John 1:1:

Ἐν     —          ἀρχῇ        ἦν                         ὁ    λόγος,

In     the      beginning was (to be verb) the Word (the whole sphere of knowledge, the ology or study),

καὶ   ὁ   λόγος  ἦν   πρὸς    τὸν  θεόν,

and the word  was   with    —  God,

καὶ  θεὸς   ἦν     ὁ      λόγος

and God   was   the   Word.

We supply the definite article where it makes sense.  For example, we put “the” in front of “beginning”, even though it does not appear in the Greek text.

Even though we have the definite article “τὸν” (the), we say, “and the word was with God”, not “the God.”

In the context of John 1:1-18 (in the New World Translation), where theos is found without the article on six occasions (1,2,6,12,13,18), it is only rendered as “a god” or “god” twice (vv. 1,18).  The Jehovah’s Witnesses won’t replicate the translation approach they took in verse 1!

Due to space, we’ll just look at verse 6:

“There came a man who was sent as a representative of God; his name was John.”

Note that they don’t put “a” in front of God, yet we see the same construction in verse 1: “καὶ (no article here, but the supply the indefinite article “a”) θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος”…
as we see in verse 6:  “Ἐγένετο ἄνθρωπος, ἀπεσταλμένος παρὰ (no article here, but they did indeed supply one in their translation) θεοῦ”

In verse 8, they leave the definite article out of their translation (“He was not that light…”).  If they followed the line of thinking they used in verse 1 (adding the article before λόγος), they would have to say, “He was not that the light” because of the “τὸ” (the).

There is no reputable greek scholar that has supported the JW rendering.  Greek is not magic; it can be analyzed and translated using sound rules.

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