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Compare the wording of the NWT and the NKJV at Colossians 1:15-17

NKJV says

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or [a]principalities or [b]powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.

NWT says

15  He is the image of the invisible God,the firstborn of all creation;16  because by means of him all other things were created in the heavens and on the earth, the things visible and the things invisible,whether they are thrones or lordships or governments or authorities. All other things have been created through him and for him. 17  Also, he is before all other things,and by means of him all other things were made to exist,

How do Jehovah’s Witnesses explain the usage of the word “other” in these verses? And what support for bringing this word into the text is there among Greek language aficionados?

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. No persecuting, please. – Peter Turner Mar 5 at 16:59
  • I'm wondering why the Q is limited to why the word 'other' has been added to the text 3 times in that 1 verse, when the change of word at the start is equally as significant, and relevant to, the matter of translating the verse properly? That relates to Jesus being 'the firstborn OVER all creation' as opposed to him being 'the firstborn OF all creation'. Or perhaps you have that held in reserve for a separate Q? Just wondering! – Anne Apr 7 at 16:03
  • @Anne kingjamesbibleonline.org/Colossians-1-15. Perhaps the reverse is a better question why have translations used over? – Kris Apr 7 at 16:58
  • @Anne in the above link see “how do other translations....,,,” – Kris Apr 7 at 19:25
  • Firstborn is not the same as first created. – Lesley Apr 8 at 13:36
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Long before a single copy of the NWT was printed Jehovah’s Witnesses taught that Jesus is the unique one of a kind direct creation of Jehovah The Almighty God. The verses in Colossians 1:15-17 do not contradict that belief. Translating the word for “all” is dependent on context and there are a lot of instances of it being modified to demonstrate that the original writer did not intend “all” meant absolutely all.

For example Luke 13:2 in the Greek original does not modify the word “all” yet it is modified by the following translations to name a few

"all the other Galileans" - NIV

"all other Galileans" - NASB

"all other Galileans" - NAB ('91)

"all other Galileans" - NRSV

"all other Galileans" - NKJV

"all the other Galileans" - RSV

"anyone else in Galilee" - NEB and REB

"than any other Galileans" - JB

"than all other Galileans" - NJB

"any other Galileans" - AT

"everyone else in Galilee" - CEV.

"all other Galileans" - TEV.

"all other Galilaeans" - BBE

"other people from Galilee" - GodsWord

"all the other Galileans" - ISV NT

"the rest of the Galileans" - Moffatt

Commenting on the reason that NWT adds the word “other” this article in Watchtower said

In considering this matter it is well to note that Bible writers often took for granted that certain things would be understood, just as writers in our day do. For example, the apostle Paul states, as we read at Colossians 1:16 that by means of Jesus Christ all things were created in the heavens and on earth. But since we know from Revelation 3:14 that Jesus himself was also created, the New World Translation adds the word “other,” which clearly is what the apostle had in mind. But even here, it might be added, that, were it not for the prevalence of the trinitarian teaching that Jesus was not created, it would not have been necessary to add the word “other.”

Thus also the apostle Peter at Pentecost quoted the prophecy of Joel 2:28 (RS): “I will pour out my spirit on all flesh,” and applied it to what took place there. However, we note that God’s spirit was not poured out literally upon all flesh at that time. But it was poured out on ‘all sorts of flesh,’ that is, on not just a select few as in times past but on sons and daughters and men- and women-servants. And so the New World Translation reads that the spirit was poured out “on every sort of flesh,” which obviously is what is meant. Acts 2:17, 18

This blog has an extensive discussion on the topic including this example

The Bible writers very often excluded the subject of a clause - or the person speaking/writing the clause when using the term “all” (and “every”). This is a common usage even today. For example, the police sergeant making an arrest of a criminal group might say: “Everyone in this room is under arrest!” - (person speaking excluded.) Obviously the sergeant does not include himself (nor his captain who is with him) even though he says “everyone”! Or “the criminal tied up everyone in the room before stealing the gems.” - (subject of clause excluded.) Obviously the criminal didn’t also tie himself up.

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Summary of JW Teaching: Jehovah God is the Creator (Revelation 4:11). He is without beginning or end, and he is almighty (Psalm 90:2). Jesus, on the other hand, had a beginning (Colossians 1:15- 16). Colossians 1:15 calls Jesus “the image of the invisible God.”

Extracts from the 15 September 2005 Watchtower article (pp. 4-7) ‘Who Is Jesus Christ?’

Since all created things had a beginning, there was a time when God was alone. Countless ages ago, however, God became a Creator. Who was his first creation? The last book of the Bible identifies Jesus as “the beginning of the creation by God.” (Revelation 3:14) Jesus is “the firstborn of all creation.” That is so “because by means of him all other things were created in the heavens and upon the earth, the things visible and the things invisible.” (Colossians 1:15, 16) Yes, Jesus was the only one directly created by God himself. Therefore, he is called God’s “only-begotten Son.” (John 3:16) The firstborn Son also bears the title “the Word.” (John 1:14) Why? Because before being born as a human, he served in heaven as one who spoke for God.

“The Word” was with Jehovah God “in the beginning,” when “the heavens and the earth” were created. He was the one to whom God said: “Let us make man in our image.” (John 1:1; Genesis 1:1, 26) Jehovah’s firstborn Son was there at his Father’s side, actively working with him. At Proverbs 8:22-31, he is represented as saying: “I came to be beside [the Creator] as a master worker, and I came to be the one he was specially fond of day by day, I being glad before him all the time.” https://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/2005681

Jehovah's Witnesses view Jesus as the instrument of Jehovah God, the Creator:

Not a co-Creator. The Son’s share in the creative works, however, did not make him a co-Creator with his Father. The power for creation came from God through his holy spirit, or active force. (Ge 1:2; Ps 33:6) And since Jehovah is the Source of all life, all animate creation, visible and invisible, owes its life to him. (Ps 36:9) Rather than a co-Creator, then, the Son was the agent or instrumentality through whom Jehovah, the Creator, worked. Jesus himself credited God with the creation, as do all the Scriptures.—Mt 19:4-6; see CREATION. Source: Insight on the Scriptures volume 2, Jesus Christ - https://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1200002451?p=par#h=7

Because they see Jesus as a created being, they have added the expressions “by means of him” and “all other things” and “created through him” into the text of Colossians 1:15-16.

It is my understanding that the Christian Greek Scriptures of the New World Translation is based on the Westcott & Hort Greek text. The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures acknowledges the fact that the NWT of the Christian Greek Scriptures is “a translation of the Westcott and Hort Greek Text, first published by them in the year 1881.” Dr. Hort [1] had leanings towards Unitarianism as is made very clear by his associations and his avid support for Dr Vance Smith, the renowned Unitarian scholar on the Revision Committee of 1881. [2]

I am unaware of any other source that would justify the additions made to Colossians 1:15-16 that appear in the New World Translation.

[1] With regard to the Revision Committee, there were two opposite schools of biblical criticism: on the one side Drs Westcott and Hort, and on the other Dr Scrivener. https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=bwkIAwAAQBAJ&pg=PA502&lpg=PA502&dq=Dr+Hort+Dr+Vance&source=bl&ots=tNaIqD89lF&sig=ACfU3U0PgmTidS1zBS5XSwe-MFpPpLrUUw&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjX0Lufw9boAhUSY8AKHbdFCCgQ6AEwA3oECAwQNw#v=onepage&q=Dr%20Hort%20Dr%20Vance&f=false

[2] Dr Vance Smith, Unitarian scholar was (controversially) invited to join the revisers. https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=pZceAAAAQBAJ&pg=PA88&lpg=PA88&dq=Dr+Vance+Unitarianism&source=bl&ots=PTdj-RFSi_&sig=ACfU3U0r2riTnZfW8sQmpJ4exyhIjqTiKg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiI1Jr-xNboAhV_QEEAHeTBC0kQ6AEwB3oECAsQQQ#v=onepage&q=Dr%20Vance%20Unitarianism&f=false

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  • Unconvinced and unimpressed. – Lesley Apr 8 at 13:34
  • Can you demonstrate that Westcott and Hort Greek text included the word “other” in Colossians ? – Kris Apr 8 at 14:14
  • This does not answer the question. Instead it speculates that because dr Hort allegedly had Unitarian leanings JWs might have added a word that did not appear in his Greek text? – Kris Apr 8 at 22:46
  • The quotes from Jehovah's Witness literature explain why they word Colossians 1:15-17 the way they do in the NWT. It's because they say the pre-mortal Jesus was created by Jehovah God, and that Jesus was the instrument of Jehovah in creation. That is why the NWT has inserted "other" into the text. I'm still looking for any credible scholastic consensus to support the changes made in the NWT. The FACT that the NWT used the work of Westcott and Hort in the "Christian Greek Scriptures" is the best I can come up with. Sorry to disappoint. – Lesley Apr 9 at 9:22

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