What About John 1:1?

by Mike Ratliff

εν αρχη ην ο λογος και ο λογος ην προς τον θεον και θεος ην ο λογος (John 1:1 Textus Receptus)

εν αρχη ην ο λογος και ο λογος ην προς τον θεον και θεος ην ο λογος (John 1:1 Tischendorf New Testament)

εν αρχη ην ο λογος και ο λογος ην προς τον θεον και θεος ην ο λογος  (John 1:1 Wescott and Hort New Testament)

Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος, καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν, καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος (John 1:1 Nestle-Aland 27 Edition)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God , and God was the Word. (a personal, word for word translation of John 1:1 from the NA27 Greek text)

In yesterday’s post, Why It is Vital that We Become Mature in Christ, I used the example of the hypocrisy and dishonesty of those responsible for The New World Translation Bible, which is the Jehovah Witness “bible”  in their deliberate mistranslation of John 1:1 saying, “In [the] beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God and the Word was a god.” When confronted with the overwhelming textual evidence that there is no “article a” in v1 in any of the valid texts, their response was that the translation was from the “oldest manuscripts,” which cannot be proven. The facts are that this translation came from the German by Johannes Greber in 1937. He was a former Catholic priest turned spiritist who claimed the translation came from God’s spirits. These are objective, provable facts whereas their claims are easily proven false. However, I did receive a comment today from a Jehovah Witness apologist about this example. 

Here is the content of his comment:

Regarding Jehovah’s Witnesses’ “New World Translation” Bible and its rendering of John 1:1, it may interest you to know that, in support and explanation of their wording of this verse (especially within the third clause with “a god”), there is soon to be published a 19+ year study (as of 7/2011), a thoroughly researched reference work – an historical analysis & exhaustive annotated bibliography – it will be entitled, “What About John 1:1?”

To learn more of its design and expected release date, you are invited to visit:

http://www.goodcompanionbooks.com

When finally published, apart from discussing many of the other topics and scriptures often related to the man-made Trinity doctrine, you will also discover that we have collected information on about 430+ scholarly reference works (mostly Trinitarian) which, throughout the centuries, had opted to say something other than, “and the Word was God,” and that, included among them are over 120 which had chosen to use “a god” within the third clause of their renderings.

As you might expect, we are very excited at the opportunity to share our findings with others.

Agape, JohnOneOne.

The fellow was cordial and did no name calling or anything like that. However, if you follow that link to his site, you will see that it is anti-Trinitarian and so all scripture is interpreted by those with that view of God from that presupposition. Instead of letting God’s Word speak for itself, they look for everything they can that seems to back up their presuppositions. That is dishonest. We run into the very same thing with those who try to disprove the sovereignty of God in salvation for instance.

In any case, carefully examine the four Greek examples I placed at the top of this post. The first one is from the Textus Receptus, which is the Greek behind the KJV. The next two are from the middle of the 19th century with Tichendorf’s New Testament predating Wescott and Hort’s by about 9 years or so. The last example is of the Nestle-Aland 27th Edition, which is what I use here. I pray that you noticed that there is no differences in the text other than the NA27 used a capital eplison at the beginning of the verse and the rest did not.

Here is the Greek text from the NA27. Let’s look at this closely, “Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος, καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν, καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος”

The first two words are Ἐν ἀρχῇ or en archē, which we translate as “In the beginning.” The noun ἀρχῇ means both “beginning” and “ruler.” This double meaning in Greek is derived from the idea that something long ago put the world into motion and established the rules by which the world itself is obligated to obey. This philosophy explains why ἀρχῇ is used in the New Testament to denote both the beginning of something and the person or thing that exercises authority over others. In this context (John 1:1) as well as in John 1:2; 1 John 1:1; 2:7, 13, 14, 24) John is talking about the beginning. What is he telling us? This “in the beginning” is referring to the beginning of the time-space-material universe.

The next three words are ἦν ὁ λόγος, or literally, “was the Word.” The verb ἦν is the imperfect, indicative, active of εἰμί or eimi. This verb refers to continuous or linear action in the past. We also have the word λόγος preceded by the definite article ὁ, which is the same thing as referring to the Stature of Liberty in New York by calling it “THE” Statue of Liberty. Here we have the same thing. John is referring ὁ λόγος not some generic λόγος. What is ὁ λόγος? This is “the Word.” John borrowed the use of the term Word not only from the vocabulary of the Old Testament but also from Greek Philosophy, in which the term was essentially impersonal, signifying the rational principle of “divine reason.,” “mind.” or even “wisdom.” However, John imbued the term entirely with Old Testament and Christian meaning. For example in Genesis 1:3 God’s Word brought the world into being. Then in Psalm 33:6; 107:20; and Proverbs 8:27 we have God’s Word as His powerful self-expression in creation, wisdom, revelation, and salvation. John took all of this and made it refer to a person, our Lord Jesus Christ.

The next phrase is καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν, which literally says, “and the Word was with [the] God.” I do a great deal of translation and I often ignore the definite article τὸν in the text when it precedes God or “Lord” et cetera. If you read the literal translation with it in place and without it, the meaning does not change. In any case, it is imperative that we understand what John is telling us in the phrase. The Word was πρὸς God. The Word, as the second person of the Trinity, was in intimate fellowship with God the Father throughout all eternity. Yet, although the Word enjoyed the splendors of heaven and eternity with the Father, He willingly gave up His heavenly status, taking the form of a man, and became subject to the death of the Cross. Think of our word studies from John 9 through John 17 as our Lord dialogued with those who opposed His ministry then as it came to and end, He started explaining things to His disciples. What did He repeat over and over again? He was sent from the Father and the Father loved Him and He loved the Father and the Father gave Him all who believed and those who believed were loved by both of them, et cetera. Those passages were full of that love and working together and how often did our Lord talk about sending the Helper, the Holy Spirit after His Resurrection. There we have the Trinity. Those like the fellow who sent that comment refuse to see that and call the Trinity a man-made doctrine. Tell that to John. Tell that to Jesus.

The last phrase in v1 is καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος, which literally says, “and God was the Word.” The word construction emphasizes that the Word had all the essence or attributes of deity. Jesus the Messiah was fully God. Even in His incarnation when He emptied Himself, He did not cease to be God, but took on a genuine human nature and body and voluntarily refrained from the independent exercise of the attributes of deity.

Now, John specifically told us in the very first verse of His account of the Gospel that Jesus Christ is the Word and the Word was with God in the Beginning and the Word is God. That word construction makes it clear that there are two beings being discussed here, not one and as I said earlier, Jesus talked about the Holy Spirit coming in the very same passages where He talked about how He and the Father had worked together to save His people. If you still have issues with this then read John 9-17 as you ask God to show you the truth.

Soli Deo Gloria!

15 thoughts on “What About John 1:1?

  1. Dear Mike,

    Wow! This really struck home. I was brought up going to church and clearly understood Jesus being born and that He was the baby that was destined to be our substitute for sin. But being around others Christians was always a little off and it seemed as if “something” was missing. It wasn’t until at 25 that the Spirit convicted me that I was never willing to turn over my WILL to the Lord. Why? I was terrified of what might be required to truly follow in the footsteps of my Savior.

    Honestly the most astounding immediate change was the next morning after my will was turned over was reading the Bible and literally the words FLEW off the page. No kidding! Reading the Bible was suddenly completely understandable and completely different. In retrospect I praise God for the later conversion inorder to definatively realize the difference.

    “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God.” Romans 8:16

    God is the Word, and His Son is the Redeemer, and He lives in us as the Holy Spirit that guides us into all Truth.

    This is delightful!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! In His ever amazing grace, charisse

  2. Charisse, you are not alone in this my sister. :-) So many of us were graciously rescued by God from the smothering doubts of religiosity. God does it all!

  3. Good post! I suppose the JW refuse Jesus’ miracles being proof of His divinity because the apostles also did miracles. But if Jesus is not God, how is it that he read men’s thoughts?

  4. Charles Taze Russell was a snake oil salesman. He sold some “miracle wheat” which was debunked, he sold a cancer cure which also was untrue, and when Russell sued the newspapers for libel about the wheat he lost. And on the stand he had to admit he did not even know the Greek alphabet. He was a narcissist and he has led many astray.

  5. So Jesus was A god? So how many gods do the JW’s believe in? There are lots and lots of contradictions in that NWT. If we know the contradictions and can point them out in the NWT itself, we can show that even the NWT couldn’t hide all the references to Jesus as God…not just A god.

    The NWT states this about Jesus: All things came into existance through him.

    John 1

    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.

    The NWT states this about Jehovah: He was the creator…and then Jehovah says He won’t give His glory to another.

    Isaiah 42

    5 This is what the [true] God, Jehovah, has said, the Creator of the heavens and the Grand One stretching them out; the One laying out the earth and its produce, the One giving breath to the people on it, and spirit to those walking in it:

    …8 “I am Jehovah. That is my name; and to no one else shall I give my own glory, neither my praise to graven images.

    So I’m confused. Who created everything???? Jesus or Jehovah? Since there are no contradictions in the scripture we must come to the conclusion that Jesus and the Father are one. Looks like they forgot to hide the creator aspect in John 1 and Isaiah 42. I also see that they missed one in Isaiah 44.

    Isaiah 44:

    24 This is what Jehovah has said, your Repurchaser and the Former of you from the belly: “I, Jehovah, am doing everything, stretching out the heavens by myself, laying out the earth. Who was with me?

    In addition, there are texts in the NWT that flat out say Jesus is the first and the last, alpha and omega…and verses where they say Jehovah is the alpha and omega. So then? Who is the first and the last? More contradictions.

    John 1:3

    Revelation 1:17 NWT I AM THE FIRST AND THE LAST, Jesus is speaking.

    Revelation 2:8 The FIRST AND THE LAST, Jesus.

    Isaiah 44:6 NWT I AM THE FIRST AND THE LAST AND BESIDES ME THERE IS NO GOD

    Revelation 22:12 NWT IAM THE ALPHA AND THE OMEGA THE FIRST AND THE LAST THE BEGINNING AND THE END

    Revelation 1:7 NWT I AM THE ALPHA AND THE OMEGA SAYS JEHOVAH GOD THE ONE WHO IS AND WHO WAS AND WHO IS COMING THE ALMIGHTY.

  6. Dawn Marie, what you stated is absolutely true. I was just listening to a podcast from the White Horse Inn about this very thing. When doing aplogetics with Mulims, LDS, and JW, et cetera, it is very common for these inconsistencies to be simply overlooked and shrugged off by them. They know they are there.Those who have been converted out of those false religious systems are unanimous in saying that they were in darkness and then they could suddenly see the truth of the Gospel. What is that? That is God drawing them to believe . It is irresistible. Once that quickening happens these lies of the devil are repugnant and all we want is the pure unadulterated truth of God’s Word, but before the washing of regeneration, we are blind and dead in our tresspasses and sins and can see nothing.

  7. Whenever JWs would come to my door, I would talk with them. After about 15 minutes, they were clearly exhausted and would excuse themselves. They were always very nice. They would listen to my reasoning from the Bible, become perplexed, then try to bring up a different “proof” for their positions. After all of their proofs were refuted, they gave up. Every year, at least twice a year, they would show up, but they haven’t come by in a couple of years now. I see them out in the neighborhood, but they no longer stop here.

    I would always pray after speaking with them that the confusion they experienced would penetrate their hearts, that God would use this dissonance to show them the truth. It seems God has placed a particular burden in my heart for LDS and JWs because, so often, they have been raised in it and don’t know anything different. They’ve been brainwashed.

  8. Mike, it’s so humbling to remember what it was like when I was in darkness. So often, it’s easy to forget. Now that I know the truth and have discernment, I often find myself wondering how people could be so blind. I have to keep reminding myself that I have been so graciously given a gift. There was a day when the lights came on and my world changed. I have to keep in the forefront of my mind what it was like in the darkness. Thank God for His grace and mercy!

  9. Just ask them to pray with you BEFORE anything is discussed…it will save you the 15 minutes, because they won’t pray, but they will turn tail and depart.

  10. Mickey, this is what my husband would do when they would come to the door.
    They would usually turn-tail and almost run….. :)

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