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The NWT explicitly states in John 1:1 that Jesus Christ is "a god," yet Colossians 2:9 states, "For (or because) in Him all the fulness of Deity/Godhead dwells in bodily form."

This is backed up by Colossians 1:19, "For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fulness to dwell in Him." "Godhead" is defined in Strongs Lexicon: https://www.blueletterbible.org/lexicon/g2320/kjv/tr/0-1/

In Greek, the word is "theotes" and Strongs #G2320. So how do Jehovah's Witnesses reconcile their claim that Jesus Christ is "a god" with the Greek meaning that Jesus Christ is actually God in nature or essence?

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Jehovah's Witnesses teach that in Colossians 2:9 their translation is based on interpreting the Greek word 'theotes' as "all the fulness of the divine quality". It is pointed out (as in the one JW answer given so far) that this allows for a description of "a quality of divinity" without evidencing all the fulness of the deity of God the Father. The Greek word "all" cannot be disputed, so that requires the argument to be based on what 'theotes' means (when sticking purely to the text in question.)

The basic argument is that divine quality is not confined to the Father, so that the Son of God can also have divine quality without that either infringing on the divine quality of the Father or implying that the Son of God is equally as divine as is the Father.

There is a Greek word that lends itself nicely to that idea. It is 'theiotes', which means "That which is of God", and "divine quality". That word is used in Romans 1:20 which speaks of 'godship'. However, that is not the word used in Colossians 2:9. It is 'theotes' which means "that which God is".

The only way to argue that it is only a quality of deity Christ has and not all the deity of God equally being all the deity of Christ, is to invoke the other meaning of this other word and to argue that it applies here, to Christ. That is what the Jehovah's Witness translation of Colossians 2:9 is fundamentally based upon.

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  • Re: “ The Greek word "all" cannot be disputed”. What are you saying here? Are you saying All means all and thats all all means? If so I have a list of places where scripture uses all and a modification is implied but not provided. christianity.stackexchange.com/a/78402/23657
    – Kris
    Nov 1, 2023 at 17:09
  • @User 14 Smiles. If "all the fulness" could be argued (from the Greek) to mean not literally all, but just a very large proportion, then the JW case could perhaps be made. As it is, the only case claimed for that verse has to depend on a particular meaning of 'theotes' which turns out to be a case dealing with a particular meaning of 'theiotes'. Not many people spot the difference in those two words.
    – Anne
    Nov 1, 2023 at 17:49
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Jehovah's Witnesses' publications address your question in numerous places.

Your assertion that Colossians 2:9 means that Jesus is God is a dogmatic statement that Trinitarians frequently use.

However, theotes is just as capable of expressing quality as it is identity. See the extensive reasoning at "The Fullness of the Divine Quality" in Colossians 2:9.

In part that site states about the words used in KJV and other bibles to translate theotes:

Straight away, two things should be apparent: Firstly, none of the above-mentioned words - Godhead, deity, divinity - necessarily mean that Christ is Almighty God. True, they could all be interpreted to mean that. But, then again, they can all be used to mean having the nature of a god rather than Almighty God. Secondly, all of these terms refer first and foremost to character, quality, state, nature and then, by extension, to identity.

Additionally, you can look at official JW reasons for how Colossians 2:9 is rendered:

Colossians 2:9 NWT

because it is in him that all the fullness of the divine quality dwells bodily.

Like John 1:1, Colossians 2:9 references the qualities of the son of God. Jehovah's Witnesses are in agreement with translations of John 1:1 that say “the Word was Divine.”

Specific commentary on the verse in question is found in Reasoning from the Scriptures:

KJ reads: “In him [Christ] dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead [Greek, the·oʹte·tos] bodily.” (A similar thought is conveyed by the renderings in NE, RS, JB, NAB, Dy.) However, NW reads: “It is in him that all the fullness of the divine quality dwells bodily.” (AT, We, and CKW read “God’s nature,” instead of “Godhead.” Compare 2 Peter 1:4.)

Admittedly, not everyone offers the same interpretation of Colossians 2:9. But what is in agreement with the rest of the inspired letter to the Colossians? Did Christ have in himself something that is his because he is God, part of a Trinity? Or is “the fullness” that dwells in him something that became his because of the decision of someone else? Colossians 1:19 (KJ, Dy) says that all fullness dwelt in Christ because it “pleased the Father” for this to be the case. NE says it was “by God’s own choice.”

Consider the immediate context of Colossians 2:9: In verse 8, readers are warned against being misled by those who advocate philosophy and human traditions. They are also told that in Christ “are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” and are urged to “live in him” and to be “rooted and built up in him and established in the faith.” (Verses 3, 6, 7) It is in him, and not in the originators or the teachers of human philosophy, that a certain precious “fulness” dwells. Was the apostle Paul there saying that the “fulness” that was in Christ made Christ God himself? Not according to Colossians 3:1, where Christ is said to be “seated at the right hand of God.”—See KJ, Dy, TEV, NAB.

According to Liddell and Scott’s Greek-English Lexicon, the·oʹtes (the nominative form, from which the·oʹte·tos is derived) means “divinity, divine nature.” (Oxford, 1968, p. 792) Being truly “divinity,” or of “divine nature,” does not make Jesus as the Son of God coequal and coeternal with the Father, any more than the fact that all humans share “humanity” or “human nature” makes them coequal or all the same age.

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