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The New World Translation of John 1 seems to indicate that Jesus was a separate god from the Father.

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

2 This one was in [the] beginning with God.

3 All things came into existence through him, and apart from him not even one thing came into existence.

How does the concept of the trinity fit with this concept of Jesus being a separate God?

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It might be a good idea in this very case to indicate which translation you used. –  ℝaphink Aug 24 '11 at 14:00
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Note that this passage is from the New World Translation, a version funded and published by Jehovah's Witnesses. As far as I know, it is the only translation of the bible that translates John 1:1 this way. –  Jeff Aug 24 '11 at 14:06
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And to be clear again, The Jehovah's Witnesses do not subscribe to the concept of the Trinity, so they don't need to make it fit at all. –  DJClayworth Aug 29 '11 at 17:59
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This question is unclear. It's tagged jehovahs-witnesses. The answer accepted is not from a Witness perspective. In fact, none of the answers so far given are from a Witness perspective. (For the record, Witnesses are not polytheists.) –  TRiG Jan 7 '12 at 19:30
    
For a neutral analysis of John 1:1, see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_1:1#Grammar –  user1216 Jan 26 '12 at 19:41

8 Answers 8

up vote 36 down vote accepted

The verse in question is:

Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος, καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν, καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος.

That bold part is, somewhat literally, "God the word was".

The issue here is the lack of the indefinite article in Greek. They had no word for "a, an". Depending on context, it is acceptable and even necessary to insert those words into a translation. The question is whether or not it is appropriate here.

I think not, for lots of reasons. John and all the apostles were Jews, monotheists, and if they were teaching some new polytheism, wouldn't it have shown up in more places than an ambiguous Greek sentence?

edit in response to @Sotiris' comment:

Greek usually uses the definite article in front of proper nouns, which is probably what you're getting at. But in this case the lack of the article before θεὸς is easily explainable. A word-by-word translation would be "God was the word". Word order is flexible in Greek, and since both θεὸς and λόγος are in the nominative case, it would be impossible to determine which is the subject and which is the predicate nominative except for the placement of the article. ὁ λόγος clearly identifies λόγος as the subject, but ὁ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος would be ambiguous (God was the word, or the word was God?).

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+1 for the lack of indefinite article! Love that. –  Richard Aug 23 '11 at 21:36
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The absence of definite article "oh" (something very important in Greek language [in English "the"]) before god in the third part of the verse make the translation "a god" most appropriate than "was God". –  user14 Aug 24 '11 at 13:54
    
It could also be adjectival, that is, "divine was the Word" –  Narnian Sep 8 '11 at 17:58

Also remember that even Satan is referred to as a god. We don't worship Satan, but he is referred to in 2 Corinthians 4:4 as "The god of this system of things". God simply means having more power than what a human does or superhuman. Jesus was a god, but when the bible talks about YHWH it magnifies his god-ship with almighty and so on.

Another example of this is 1 Corinthians 11:3. It shows the hierarchy of Jehovah's arrangement. The woman submits to the man, the man submits to the Christ, and the Christ submits to god.

John 1:14 shows the relationship between Jesus and god. It says he is the "only begotten son from a father". That is Jehovah is the father of Jesus.

So to directly answer your question yes Jesus was a separate god from Jehovah or YHWH. We don't worship Jesus, but we do recognize and respect his sacrifice to save us.

If you do some research on triad gods you see that they existed even before the bible was finished being written. The largest example being Babylon. Some quick places to look at. jw.org--- Trinities before Abraham---Hard to read long history lesson

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Joh 1:1

εν......A primary preposition denoting (fixed) position (in place, time or state)

αρχη....1) beginning, origin 2) the person or thing that commences

ην......the first person singular present indicative; to be, to exist

ο.......the definite article, “the”

λογος...a word, uttered by a living voice, embodies a conception or idea

........reason, the mental faculty of thinking, meditating, reasoning, calculating

και.....And, used simply joining single words and clauses

ο.......the definite article, “the”

Λογος....a word, uttered by a living voice, embodies a conception or idea

.........reason, the mental faculty of thinking, meditating, reasoning, calculating

ην.......the first person singular present indicative; to be, to exist

προς.....1) to the advantage of 2) at, near, by 3) to, towards, with, with regard to

Τον......the definite article, “the”

Θεον......God

και......and

Θεος......God

ην........the first person singular present indicative; to be, to exist

ο.........the definite article, “the”

λογος......a word, uttered by a living voice, embodies a conception or idea

...........reason, the mental faculty of thinking, meditating, reasoning, calculating

εν αρχη ην ο λογος και ο λογος ην προς

In beginning was the word and the word was to the advantage (with)

τον θεον και θεος ην ο λογος

the God and God was the word

It is not that hard look at the meaning and translate the words.

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Good start, can you put this together into an actual answer? You've given us a definitions list, let's get some interpretation on what we can conclude from these definitions. –  wax eagle Aug 13 '12 at 20:58

A good way to think of the Trinity is three persons sharing one infinite nature. That is, the way in which God is one is not the same as the way in which he is three; not that he is somehow three of one thing and at the same time one of that same thing, but that he is three of one thing and one of a completely different thing.

As humans, we're used to being one person and having one nature unique from other persons so it's hard, but not impossible, for us to conceive of a single nature shared by three people.

A great treatise on the Trinity can be found in the first part of Frank Sheed's "Theology and Sanity".

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a good analogy would be an egg –  Muad'Dib Mar 14 '12 at 15:09

This question does a good job at explaining part of your question, especially the answer with a lot of references: Biblical basis for the doctrine of the Trinity

Some verses shed some light on Christ as a/the God:

  • Hebrews 1:2-4- Christ help make the world (universe in NIV), sat on right hand of God, and was made 'better than the angels' (KJV) (compare to Genesis 1)
  • Isaiah 9:6- Generally accepted as a prophecy of Christ, it mentions calling Christ these names: "The Mighty God", "The Everlasting Father", among other holy names
  • Acts 4:12- no salvation by any name other than Christ's (compare with Hosea 13:4, "no god but me: for there is no saviour beside me", KJV)
    • Either this suggests Christ and the God of the Old Testament were the same being OR
    • Christ has the same "name" (or status, title) as God the Father

There are plenty others, but these seem to me to be the most clear in support of a Jesus is God stance.

The Bible does not, however, seem to teach God and Christ as sharing the same physical body. Here is some basic evidence to refute that assumption:

  • John 17:21- In the intercessory prayer, Jesus explains the meaning of "one-ness"
  • Baptism of Jesus (voice of God heard)
  • Vision of Stephen (Acts 7:55-56, as mentioned in the other question)
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You're reading from the Jehovah Witnesses' version of the bible. The Witnesses preach that Jesus is a separate God.

Jesus IS GOD. There's a thousand verses that back this up, but the Witnesses deny Jesus of His deity. They actually try and teach that Jesus is a created angel, which the Bible states the exact opposite. Jesus IS GOD.

John 5:16-18 Therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day. But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.

Colossians 1:16 For by him [Jesus] were all things created.

Colossians 2:9 For in him [Jesus] dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.

1 Timothy 3:16 God was made manifest in the flesh.

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Wait.. If Jesus is God, how can he be the son of himself, and send himself to earth, then talk to himself about it... I am so confused now... Do I have it all wrong? –  Jenny Thomson Sep 2 '11 at 11:43
    
Hey @JennyThomson, come join chat and we can talk more. chat.stackexchange.com/rooms/1265/hello-jenny –  Jonathon Byrd Sep 2 '11 at 14:14
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@Shog9: That addition is not true. They believe that he is a son of God, but not equal to or a unity with God. –  Ikke Sep 27 '11 at 13:20
    
@Ikke: Jonathon's words, not mine (I screwed up an edit and rolled back). –  Shog9 Sep 27 '11 at 14:42
    
@Shog9 Oh, My bad. –  Ikke Sep 27 '11 at 14:46

The concept of "Trinity in Unity," where the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost are a mysterious 3-in-1 composite being, is not Biblical and has no actual justification anywhere in scripture. Aside from the introduction to John, look at the baptism of Jesus, where Jesus is shown to be in the water, the Father in Heaven, and the Holy Ghost descending upon Jesus in the form of a dove, as three separate and distinct entities. See also the Crucifixion, where Jesus cries out in anguish at the Father "forsaking" him, leaving him to suffer alone.

The notion of the Trinity comes from Greek philosophy, which was greatly in vogue in the Roman empire during the early Christian period. The Holy Trinity as "Trinity in Unity" bears a much closer resemblance to some of Plato's notions about Deity than it does to anything in the Bible.

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+1 That's very well said. Lots of interest pieces of knowledge in there. –  Richard Aug 23 '11 at 21:18
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+1 To John's baptism, I would also add the great intercessory prayer (John 17, especially verses 20-21 biblegateway.com/passage/…) in which Christ prays to the Father that the apostles might become one, like He and His Father are one. The unity and "one-ness" of God and Christ does not refer a 3-in-1 unity, any more than John 17 refers to a 12-in-1 unity. And this in no way takes away from Christ's divinity. –  Daniel Standage Aug 23 '11 at 21:22
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Gotta -1, sorry. That flies in the face of the doctrine hyperstatic union (Jesus is fully man and fully God). Jesus didn't say "I AM the way the truth and the light" for no reason. My wife had a rep of the Jehovah's Witnesses come to her last week and I thought the beginning of John was a perfect refutation to some passage in Isaiah that he was using to prove God was separate from Jesus. I'll warn her not to bring that up now. –  Peter Turner Aug 23 '11 at 21:32
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I'd bet people are downvoting, because they have a different belief. Personally, I think downvotes should be reserved for when someone can directly refute you in the comments. edit: As @Peter Turner did. –  a_hardin Aug 23 '11 at 21:33
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@Mason, consubstantial is in the Nicene Creed (will be changed from "One in being with" in the new translation of the Mass starting Advent 2011). If you want to debate by what authority the council of Nicea was convened, that's nice fodder for another question. Also, Greek philosophy is the underpinning of tons and tons of Christian philosophy, just because something sounds Greek to you doesn't mean it's wrong. Also, why would John 4 be read in the context of John 17? –  Peter Turner Aug 24 '11 at 12:58

According to this article, the New World Translation translated this incorrectly. http://carm.org/religious-movements/jehovahs-witnesses/john-11-word-was-god

The New World translation is incorrect in its translation of this verse for several reasons. First of all, the Bible teaches a strict monotheism. To say that Jesus is "a god" is to suggest that there is another god besides YHWH, which is contrary to scripture (Isaiah 43:10; 44:6,8, etc.). Of course, the Jehovah's Witnesses will respond that Jesus is not the Almighty God, but a "lesser" kind of God.

I believe this was actually translated in this way to support their beliefs, rather than basing their beliefs on accurate translations.

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The New World Translation is not aimed at properly translating and building a sane theology on top of it, but rather to build the JW's theology first, and then translate in order to back it up... Wrong motives bring wrong results... –  ℝaphink Aug 24 '11 at 14:01
    
I have some experience with CARM. I wouldn't trust them further than I could throw them. The way they moderate their forums has to be seen to be believed. –  TRiG Aug 30 '11 at 23:27
    
@TRiG Interesting. I'll keep that in mind when they come up in future research. –  a_hardin Aug 30 '11 at 23:58
    
@TRiG - I agree, Matt Slick is extremely pompous and arrogant, and his handling of moderation on his site is extremely ridiculous. However, from what I've seen, most of his research and writings are pretty much dead on. –  Nathan Wheeler Sep 8 '11 at 15:14
    
Never had a problem on CARM. When I violated rules, they gave me infractions. And those infractions were well deserved. I can honestly admit that they have a fair forum. –  H3br3wHamm3r81 Dec 6 '12 at 3:16

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