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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
    – 007
    Commented 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
    Commented Nov 1, 2023 at 17:49
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The following is taken straight from NWT Study Notes on Colossians 2:9:

it is in him that all the fullness of the divine quality dwells bodily: The context shows that having this “divine quality” does not make Jesus Christ equal to God Almighty, as some claim. In the preceding chapter, Paul states: “God was pleased to have all fullness to dwell in him,” that is, in Christ. (Col 1:19) So the Father is the one who caused Christ to have “the fullness of the divine quality.” At Col 1:15, Paul says that Jesus “is the image of the invisible God,” not God himself. Col 1:19-22 describes the reconciliation that God brings about through Christ, and Col 2:12 shows that God raised him from the dead. Furthermore, Paul later says that “Christ is seated at the right hand of God.” (Col 3:1) These statements show that possession of this “fullness” does not make Jesus Christ identical with God, the Almighty.

of the divine quality: Or “of the divinity.” The “divine quality” includes all the excelling qualities of Jesus’ heavenly Father and God, and these also dwell in Christ. The Greek word (the·oʹtes), which occurs only here in the Christian Greek Scriptures, is derived from the Greek word for “god,” the·osʹ, but is different in meaning. Many lexicons give such definitions as “divine character; divine nature; divinity.” The term was used by ancient Greek writers to describe a quality or condition that could be obtained or lost as a result of one’s behavior. Obviously, then, such a term was applied to created beings and not exclusively to the almighty and eternal God, Jehovah. So there is solid basis for rendering the·oʹtes to refer to a divine quality rather than to God himself.

Jehovah‘s Witnesses believe that Jesus as the Word (John 1:1-3) or Wisdom (Proverbs 8) was only begotten (John 1:18) or brought forth/born (Proverbs 8:22). While this could be called a creative act by God Almighty, it differs from all (other) creation, in that everything else was created by GOD through the Word/Wisdom/Jesus as God‘s „master workman“ (Proverbs 8:30; Colossians 1:15,16).

It could be argued that God who begat Jesus in the beginning, does not consider Jesus as part of creation, but as his only-begotten Son/God, which is why Jesus is excluded from the created things mentioned in John 1:3 and Colossians 1:16. Jehovah’s Witnesses in this context add „other“ in between „all things“ as Jesus is called „the firstborn of all creation“ in Colossians 1:15. This is not impossible, for Paul clarified a similar wording in 1. Corinthians 15:27 when he says: „For he [God] has subjected everything under his [Jesus‘] feet; but, when it says ‚everything‘ is subjected, evidently exclusive of him who subjected everything to him.“

Being God Almighty‘s only begotten Son, means that Jesus is the only person brought forth (or created) by God Almighty alone. „Begotten“ conveys the meaning of „reproduction“, such as is made clearly evident in Matthew 1:2-16 (KJV) where „begat“ is used multiple times in the sense of „human reproduction“.

Now God Almighty did not have a partner to mix genes, which could be interpreted that he produced a copy of Himself resulting in Jesus. This is a biblically acceptable interpretation as Jesus is called „the perfect image“ of God, the „perfect representation of [God‘s] being“. When a perfect Almighty God reproduces Himself, wouldn‘t you expect an exact and perfect copy/representation as a result?

Wouldn’t you expect „all the fullness of deity“ to dwell in that perfect representation?

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