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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?

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    Commented Mar 5, 2020 at 16:59

2 Answers 2

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Summary of Jehovah's Witness 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

Here is an extract from The Watchtower—1970 April 15 page 255 – Questions from Readers:

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.”

https://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1970285#h=6

That explains why the New World Translation has added the word "other" in Colossians 1:15-17.

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  • 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
    Commented Apr 9, 2020 at 9:22
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    @Thomas Palmieri - I am familiar with the Bible Teach book and its contents. Problem is, the Bible does not support the J.W. view that Jehovah's only creation was the mighty spirit creature known in heaven (before and after he came to earth as Jesus) as Michael the Archangel. Because this is what they assert, they have had to insert the word "other" into Scripture. Square pegs into round holes do not fit.
    – Lesley
    Commented Dec 27, 2020 at 17:52
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    @User14 - By claiming Jesus was created by Jehovah as the mighty spirit creature known in heaven as Michael the Archangel, Jehovah’s Witnesses deny the plain meaning of Colossians 1:15-17. They have added the word “other” to support their view that Jesus was created by Jehovah. That makes Jesus a little “god” who is not co-equal and co-eternal with God the Father. It is an attempt to undermine the Trinity, but does not deal with the third person within the Godhead – the Holy Spirit.
    – Lesley
    Commented Aug 24, 2023 at 13:38
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    @User14 The edit quoting from the official J.W. source is valid because it is specifically about Colossians1:15-17. However, I will remove the final sentence. Readers can draw their own conclusions.
    – Lesley
    Commented Aug 25, 2023 at 7:47
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I like the accepted answer by @Lesley, but will add a few things from non-JW sources that may show why their choice of adding "other" multiple times in Colossians 1:15-17 is actually common practice among Bible translators, and the Apostle Paul clarified a similar wording himself. In Hebrews 2:8, Paul says that God "put all things in subjection under his [Jesus'] feet.” For in that He [God] put all in subjection under him [Jesus], He [God] left nothing that is not put under him [Jesus]." One would probably conclude, that if God left nothing that is not put under Jesus, then Paul meant nothing - no exception! That would mean that God subjected himself under Jesus!

Yet, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 2:17 that "when He [God] says 'all things are put under Him,' it is evident that He [God] who put all things under Him is excepted." So it was apparently common language that all did not necessarily mean all without exception, nor that nothing necessarily meant nothing without exception!

The omission of words that express the notion 'other' is particularly common with the Greek word pas (all). This may be seen by comparing verses in the New International Version where a form of the Greek word pas is translated by 'all other(s)' or some similar phrase. In the following listing, none of the verses cited use any of the Greek words traditionally translated 'other'. The word is merely implied by the context.

Matt. 26:35 - And all the other disciples said the same.

Mark 12:43 - this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.

Luke 3:19 - And all the other disciples said the same.

Luke 11:42 - you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs

Luke 13:2 - Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way?

Luke 13:4 - do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem?

Acts 16:32 - Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house.

1 Cor. 6:18 - All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.

2 Cor. 9:13 - your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.

1 Thess. 3:12 - May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else

1 Thess. 5:15 - always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else

In all of the above occurrences, the New International Version (NIV) has used words such as 'other' or 'else' to complete the sense in English. This does not mean that they are adding to God's word, they are simply making explicit or clear what was already there in the Greek text. Thus, it is by no means wrong to translate pas as 'all other,' where that is what is implied by the context.

The currently accepted answer by @Lesley already explains why JWs think that 'all other' is implied in Colossians 1:15-17.

In NWT the use of "all other" four times in Colossians 1 cannot be viewed as bias, and it is not interpolation, since the very words of 1:15 reveal that Jesus Christ is a part of creation, which then implies the word "other" in these four places.

In view of the statement in verse 15 that Christ is the "firstborn of all Creation", the New World Translation has a very strong case indeed for its translation. I get that the trinitarian interpretation of Jesus being the "firstborn (prototokos) of creation" is taken in a figurative sense, in that Jesus is the 'pre-eminent' over all creation.

The problem I see here is that there is a koine Greek word used two times by Paul in the bible (1 Corinthians 2:1; 1 Timothy 2:2) that denotes pre-eminence, being ὑπεροχή (huperoché). It's used to describe authority, superiority or pre-eminence - I wonder why Paul doesn't use this term in connection with Jesus' role in creation, if it was this that he wanted to convey. That firstborn was meant literally is corroborated by scripture in Revelation 3:14 (compare to Colossians 1:18), where Jesus as the 'Amen' is called "the beginning of the creation of God".

I know that the trinitarian explanation here is to say that the "beginning" (koine Greek: arché) is to be understood figuratively, as it would denote rulership or Jesus being the "architect", but that is misleading as the word for "ruler" is "archón", and the word "architect" (architektón) also already existed in biblical times (it being used in 1 Corinthians 3:10). My objection to that is the same than with "firstborn" apparently (or conveniently) meaning "pre-eminence" when the actual meaning doesn't fit the trinitarian narrative - why would the common literal word "beginning" which is used in the vast majority of cases in the literal sense denoting the starting point, conveniently mean something different, namely 'ruler' or 'architect' when there are terms used at the time, that much better fit those definitions?

In view of the statement in Colossians 1:15 and Revelation 3:14 that Christ is the "firstborn of all Creation" and "the beginning of God's creation", the New World Translation has a very strong case indeed for its translation.

Of course, it is true that some would render the phrase in Colossians 1:15 as "firstborn over all creation" (New International Version) or even to paraphrase it - incorrectly - as "firstborn son, superior to all created things" (Good News Translation). This is referred to by some as the "genitive of subordination".

It is true that prototokos can at times figuratively refer to supremacy. However, leaving Colossians 1:15 aside, there is no instance of prototokos being used anywhere in the NT or the LXX with a 'genitive of subordination'. Furthermore, even if one accepts the extremely dubious conclusion that Colossians 1:15 has a genitive of subordination, that does still not rule out the possibility of Christ's being a created being. Indeed, in view of the information cited previously in this response, there is no reason why prototokos pases ktiseos could not be translated as 'firstborn over all other creation'!

Jason Beduhn makes an further point in his book Truth in Translation:

So what exactly are objectors to "other" arguing for as the meaning of the phrase "all things"? That Christ created himself (v. 16)? That Christ is before God and that God was made to exist by means of Christ (v. 17)? That Christ, too, needs to be reconciled to God (v. 20)? When we spell out what is denied by the use of "other" we can see clearly how absurd the objection is.

The point is obvious: pas (all) does not always necessarily mean every person, human or spirit, who is living, has ever lived in the past or will ever live in the future. Common sense must be applied.


For a more thorough discussion on the subject, checkout the article Does the New World Translation Add Words to Colossians 1:16, 17? and the YouTube video Jesus - by means of him all other things were created | Colossians 1:16.

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    @007 Your wrong, the word "other is in the Greek according to Stong's Lexicon: # 243. allos al'-los a primary word; "else," i.e. different (in many applications):--more, one (another), (an-, some an-)other(-s, -wise). So why did not your organization use this Greek word "allos" at Colossian 1:16? Can you answer that question? Btw, "pas" does not mean "other." Look it up in Strong's Lexicon number 3956 as to how "pas" is used. You are allowed to read outside sources like Lexicon's, or other Bible translations, right 007?
    – Mr. Bond
    Commented Jun 13 at 0:54
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    @007. I know pas means all, which is my point. You inserted the word "other" at Colossians 1:16. The word "other" does not mean "all." Two different words with two different definitions. Why did you not use the actual Greek word "allos" which in Greek means "other?" I'm still waiting after 50 decades what these "other" things Jesus created that was already created by God alone and by Himself at Isaiah 44:24.
    – Mr. Bond
    Commented Jun 13 at 1:16
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    Btw 50 decades is 500 years. That explains a lot.
    – 007
    Commented Jun 13 at 1:34
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    @Mr.Bond - Go lookup “allos” and see if it is ever used in combination with “pas”. You won’t find a single occurrence. Now go and compare the Hebrew Interlinear and LXX interlinear of Esther 3:8 which says in most translations “Their customs are different from those of all other people”. I took Esther as an example- there are dozens if not hundreds I reckon where this choice was made by Bible translators. The use of “pas” warrants the translation of “all other(s)” if the preceding subject is part of the group/class /type that is in the “pas”/all mentioned.
    – Js Witness
    Commented Jun 13 at 6:03
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    @Mr.Bond - first, I didn’t help produce any bible translation, so I didn’t add anything. I mentioned 13 bible verses in my answer and comments here proving your objection wrong, showing that ALL trinitarian bible translations found sufficient linguistic reasons to add other to pas/panta. I‘ve checked 10 minutes and found 5 other such occurences in the NIV, KJV, NKJV . I‘m confident I will find more. I get it that you don’t like it, as it in fact obliterates your criticism of the NWT for Colossians 1:16. You‘re free to ignore the facts, but ignoring it won’t make it better.
    – Js Witness
    Commented Jun 13 at 20:49

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