THE DEITY OF CHRIST

Jehovah’s Witnesses Violate their own Translation Rule.


This study is written by George Zeller and provides some help with respect to the erroneous teachings of Jehovah's Witnesses.  Jehovah's Witnesses deny that the Lord Jesus Christ is God and they deny that He is Jehovah.  They teach instead that He is a mere creature, an exalted angel that God created.  They wrongly teach that He was the first creature that God created, and then God, through Him, created everything else.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses have their own translation of the Bible which is called New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures. In this translation the New Testament word "Lord" (kurios) is translated "Jehovah" 237 times. One example would be Luke 2:22-24, "...they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to Jehovah, just as it is written in Jehovah’s law, ‘Every male opening a womb must be called holy to Jehovah,’ and to offer sacrifice according to what is said in the law of Jehovah..." (New World Translation).

On the other hand, when the word "Lord" refers to Jesus Christ they are very careful never to translate it by the name Jehovah because they deny that Jesus is Jehovah. They deny His full deity, and they rightly understand that the name "Jehovah" can refer to none but God alone. Here are two examples where they do not translate "Lord" as "Jehovah" for reasons that are obvious: "...nobody can say: ‘Jesus is Lord!’ except by holy spirit" (New World Translation of 1 Cor. 12:3). "For if you publicly declare...that Jesus is Lord, and exercise faith in your heart that God raised him up from the dead, you will be saved" (New World Translation of Rom. 10:9). They refuse to acknowledge that Jesus is Jehovah! Such an admission would destroy their whole system of theology.

One of their rules of translation involves places where the New Testament quotes from the Old Testament. Here is their rule: "In places where the Christian Greek Scripture writers quote the earlier Hebrew Scriptures, the translator has the right to render the word κυριος (kurios) as ‘Jehovah’ wherever the divine name appeared in the Hebrew original."  [This rule is found in an official Watchtower publication entitled, The Divine Name That Will endure Forever (1984), pages 26-27].  In other words, if the New Testament is quoting from the Old Testament and if the Old Testament passage used the Hebrew name "Jehovah" then the New Testament quotation should also use the name "Jehovah." An example of this is found in Romans 10:13 which is a quotation of Joel 2:32 where the name "Jehovah" is found: "And it shall come to pass that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD (Jehovah) shall be delivered" (Joel 2:32,KJV). "And it must occur that everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will get away safe" (New World Translation of Joel 2:32). Since the Old Testament passage contained "Jehovah" so should the New Testament quote: "Everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will be saved" (New World Translation of Romans 10:13). In this case they faithfully followed their own rule.

There are at least two examples where they violated their own rule. Let us now consider these: 

1. Philippians 2:10-11

"That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Phil. 2:10-11, KJV, emphasis mine)

These verses are based on Isaiah 45:23 even though this Old Testament passage is not quoted word for word. There is no question that Paul had this passage in mind. In Isaiah 45:23 it is JEHOVAH GOD who is speaking (see the context in verses 21-22): "I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear" (Isa. 45:23 KJV). This verse teaches that "UNTO ME" (unto Jehovah, the one true God) every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. Paul in Philippians 2:10-11 declares that it is at the name of Jesus that every knee should bow and every tongue should confess.

Isaiah said that every knee would bow to Jehovah God. Paul, referring to this same passage in Isaiah, said that every knee would bow to Jesus Christ.

Paul said in verse 11 that every tongue will someday confess that Jesus is Lord (kurios), that is, everyone will someday acknowledge that Jesus is Jehovah, the true and living and only God! But Jehovah’s Witnesses refuse to translate "Lord" as "Jehovah" even though it is obvious that Jehovah is the One referred to in the context of Isaiah 45:23. The New World Translation renders it this way: "and every tongue should openly acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father." This Bible Translation is eager to translate "Lord" by the name "Jehovah" whenever possible (237 times in the N.T.), but in this case they cannot do it because it would force them to acknowledge that Jesus is Jehovah.

There is another place in the New Testament where Paul quotes from Isaiah 45:23. It is found in Romans 14:11, "For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God" (Rom. 14:11 KJV, emphasis mine). Notice how the Jehovah’s Witnesses translate this passage: "for it is written: ‘As I live,’ says Jehovah, ‘to me every knee will bend down, and every tongue will make open acknowledgment to God.’" (New World Translation of Rom. 14:11, emphasis mine). By using Jehovah in their translation of Rom. 14:11 the Jehovah’s Witnesses are acknowledging that the Isaiah 45:23 passage does indeed refer to Jehovah God. But when Paul in Philippians 2:11 refers Isaiah 45:23 to Christ, they refuse to translate "Lord" as "Jehovah." In this case following their own rule would result in a translation that would destroy the very foundation of their cult. Their faith is based on the faulty foundation of a defective and blasphemous view of Christ, that Christ is a mere creature (an exalted angel) and not the Creator-God. They deny the eternal deity and the eternal Sonship of our Lord and Saviour. They deny that the name "Jehovah" ever applies to Him.

2. 1 Peter 2:3

"If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious" (1 Peter 2:3).

Bible scholars agree that Peter was borrowing from the language of Psalm 34:8 – "Oh taste and see that the LORD (Jehovah) is good" (KJV). Those familiar with Greek can compare the Septuagint translation of Psalm 34:8 with the Greek of 1 Peter 2:3 and they will find that the language used is nearly identical. For example, the word for "good" or "gracious" is the same Greek word: crhstoV". The Psalmist gave the invitation: "Oh taste and see that the LORD is good (gracious)." Peter’s point was this (to paraphrase him): "If you have really tasted that the Lord is good (v.3) then you will desire His Word (v.2)."

Remember the translation rule that the Jehovah’s Witnesses claim to follow: If the divine name appears in the Hebrew original (and it does appear in Psalm 34:8), then the translator has the right to render the word "kurios" as Jehovah. But in their translation of 1 Peter 2:3 they violate their own rule: "provided you have tasted that the Lord is kind" (1 Pet. 2:3 New World Translation). Why did they fail to translate "Lord" (kurios) as "Jehovah"? This is another case where they have chosen not to follow their own rule because the following verses (verses 4-6) make it clear that Peter was referring to the Lord Jesus Christ and the Jehovah’s Witnesses do not want anyone to think that Jesus is Jehovah. They must break their own rule or else they would be denying their own doctrine by calling Christ "Jehovah" and thus affirming His full deity.

                             

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