New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures

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New World Translation

The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (NWT) is a modern-language translation of the Bible published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc. and the International Bible Students Association of Brooklyn, New York (corporations in use by the religious organization commonly known as Jehovah's Witnesses). It was not the first, nor the last translation to be published by them, but it was their very first original translation of the original Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic texts.



In October 1946 the president of the Watch Tower Society, Nathan H. Knorr, proposed a fresh translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures. Work got under way on December 2, 1947 when the New World Bible Translation Committee was formed. On September 3, 1949, Knorr convened a joint meeting of the board of directors of both the Watch Tower Societie’s New York and Pennsylvania corporations to announce that the work on a modern-language English translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures was completed, and had been turned over to the Society for printing. It was assigned to the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania for publication, with the request that the names of the translators not be published. Their stated intent was: "to honor Jehovah God, the Divine Author of his inspired Word." This fact is very frequently cited by critics of the translation in order to suggest that its scholarship is of inferior quality, as the identities of the translators and hence their credentials could never be conclusively verified.

The New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures (New Testament) was released at a convention of Jehovah's Witnesses in Yankee Stadium, New York, on August 2, 1950, to 82,075 present, fresh from the presses in Brooklyn, New York. The translation of the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) originally appeared in five volumes in 1953, 1955, 1957, 1958, and 1960, a single edition being produced in 1963.

The translation does not contain any of the Apocryphal books, as the translators believe that any claim for canonicity on the part of these writings is without any solid foundation. The Apocryphal writings were never included in the Jewish canon of inspired Scriptures and do not form part of it today. (See Insight on the Scriptures - Vol. 1, pages 121-2, published by the WTB&TS)

Since the original New World Translation was published in 1950, it has undergone minor revisions on a number of occasions, most recently in 1984. It is a goal to make the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures accessible to as many people as possible. To that end, the English translation has served as a basis for translations of the NWT into several other languages and editions, including a pocket-sized edition, a standard edition with cross-references, a reference edition with footnotes and appendix material, a four-volume large-print edition for the visually impaired. It is also available in Grade Two English Braille, audiocassettes, and CDs (in MP3 format).

Why a New Translation Was Commissioned

From the publication of the first issue of The Watchtower magazine in 1879, until the release of the NWT in 1950, Jehovah's Witnesses in English-speaking countries generally used the King James Version or the American Standard Version. In the literature they have produced, Jehovah's Witnesses have quoted liberally from the King James Version and many other editions of the Bible over the years. Here follow some reasons for the publishing of a new translation:

Firstly, when the new translation was commissioned in the mid-20th century, the majority of Bible versions in common use employed archaic language. The English language has undergone significant changes since 1611, when the Authorised (King James) Version was first published and many words in the KJV are no longer in common use today, or are used in a sense different from that in which the translators intended them. The intention was to produce a fresh translation, free of archaisms.

Over the centuries since the King James version was produced, more copies of earlier manuscripts of the original texts in the Hebrew and Greek languages have become available. Better manuscript evidence has made it possible to determine with greater accuracy what the original writers intended, particularly in more obscure passages. (The Hebrew Scriptures as found in New World Translation is based on Codex Leningradensis B 19A as found in Rudolf Kittel's Biblia Hebraica [7th, 8th, and 9th ed.] and the Greek Text is based on Westcott and Hort's The New Testament in the Original Greek. Considered was also texts by Bover, Merk, and Nestle. Newer editions make use of newer texts, for example Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, or BHS, by Kittell, Kahle, Alt and Eissfeldt, from 1967/1977, for the part of the Hebrew Scriptures, and Novum Testamentum Graece, by Aland, Black, and Metzger etc. from 1983, as well as newer lexicons and dictionaries, such as Zorell's Lexicon Hebraicum Veteris Testamenti from 1984 and Würtwein's Der Text des Alten Testaments from 1988.) Additionally, certain aspects of the original Hebrew and Greek languages are perhaps better understood by linguists today than they were previously. Critics of the New World Translation sometimes say that the work is biased, but one of the main reasons Witnesses cited for publishing a new translation was to get rid of what they and many other critics saw as biased expressions and doctrinal views in the KJV text, as well as the aforementioned archaisms of language.

Critics of the Jehovah's Witnesses and The New World Translation argue that the new translation was commissioned not so much to bring the language up to modern use but to remove the strongest evidence of the deity of Jesus Christ from the Christian Scriptures. As such they contend that it was designed specifically to support their theology and doctrine.

Characteristics of the Translation

The New World Translation is intended to be a literal rendering rather than a paraphrase. To a very great extent, one English word has been selected for each Greek, Hebrew or Aramaic word and effort has been made to adhere to this rendering, context allowing. Some maintain that this makes the translation sound wooden, stiff or verbose, whereas others feel that it favors accuracy, facilitates cross-reference work and helps preserve the flavor of the original texts.

God's Name in the Old Testament

The Hebrew divine name of God, the Tetragrammaton ("YHWH"), is found in the Old Testament 6,828 times. Nearly all orthodox bibles either remove the proper name entirely (replacing it with the ambiguous title: "God" or "LORD" in all capitals), or they render the name (as either "Jehovah" or "Yahweh") only a handful of times. The New World Translation of Jehovah's Witnesses (NWT) differs significantly here from almost all other bibles. The NWT consistently renders all 6,828 instances of the Hebrew Tetragrammaton (divine name) as a proper name: "Jehovah." They chose the transliteration "Jehovah" because: "Jehovah is the best known English pronunciation of the divine name.." On top of the 6,828 instances of the Tetragrammaton, the NWT translators introduce 145 more instances where they believe the name should be there, but is not technically extant. They cite the works of C.D. Ginsburg as justification for the additional 145. Such consistent use of the name is done out of what they believe to be a deep respect for the "Author of our salvation."

God's Name in the New Testament

They believe that the divine name was removed from New Testament (NT) manuscripts over the first couple of centuries, post Christ, due to Jewish superstition. With this belief in mind, they introduce 237 instances of the divine name into the New Testament despite total lack of extant manuscript evidence. They point to several, though admittedly speculative, reasons for justification:

  • Passages where the apostles directly quote Old Testament Scriptures that contain the divine name.
  • New Testament scriptures that suggest the name would be there if 1st century manuscripts were discovered, most notably Jesus' words as recorded by the apostle John (John 17:6): "I have made your name manifest to the men you gave me out of the world..", and Luke (Acts 2:21): "And everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will be saved." (NWT)
  • Recovered 1st century Septuagints (Hebrew to Greek translations of the Old Testament) that contain the Tetragrammaton. Confirming that the Name was indeed known by Greek speaking Jews of the time.
  • Four instances in the book of Revelations that contain the abbreviated form of the Tetragrammaton as the exclamation: "Hallelujah!" (Literally: "Praise Jehovah!") (Revelations 19:1, 3, 4, 6)

These reasons, among others, culminate into the consistent use of "Jehovah" throughought the Old Testament and New Testament of the New World Translation of Jehovah's Witnesses. On the other side of that coin, the perpetuation of Jewish superstition to render the proper name as an ambiguous title culminates into the quasi-consistent use of "God" (or "LORD") throughout the Old and New Testaments of other Bible translations. "Quasi-consistent" in that many of these mainstream translations do render the name, in some form, in a handful of Old Testament passages, thus not entirely consistent in either usage. This is summed up by Dr. BeDuhn (Truth in Translation pg. 170): "Both practices violate accuracy in favor of denominationally preferred expressions for God."

The New World Translation in Other Languages

As of 2004, the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures has been released in 48 different languages around the globe. Of those, 35 are complete editions: Afrikaans, Arabic language, Cebuano, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, English Braille, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Iloko, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, Chinese (Simplified), Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Portuguese Braille, Sesotho, Slovakian, Spanish, Swahili, Swedish, Tagalog, Tsonga, Tswana, Xhosa, Yoruba, and Zulu.

The Christian Greek Scriptures of the Holy Scriptures is available in 13 languages including: Albanian, Cibemba, Croatian, Igbo, Lingala, Macedonian, Malagasy, Romanian, Russian, Serbian (Cyrillic script), Serbian (Latin script), Shona and Spanish Braille.

The Kingdom Interlinear Translation

The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures contains three Bible texts. The New testament in the Original Greek, by B. F. Westcott and F. J. A. Hort, 1881, with a word-for word translation from 1969 underneath, as rendered from the Original Greek Language, by the New World Translation Committee, and English text running alongside it taken from the 1984 revision of The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures. An explanation found on page 3, states: "Sincere researchers for eternal, life-giving truth desire an accurate understanding of the faith-inspiring Greek Scriptures, an understanding that is fortified by the knowledge of what the original language says and means. ... Its literal interlinear English translation is specially designed to open up to the student of the Sacred Scriptures what the original koine´ Greek basically or literally says." And in the foreword on page 8: "To do the work of translating is a privilege. In presenting this translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures, our confidence has been in the help of the great Author of The Book. Our primary desire has been to seek not the approval of men but that of God, by rendering the truth of his inspired Word as purely and as consistently as our dedicated abilities make possible. There is no benefit in self-deception. More than that, those who provide a translation for the spiritual instruction of others come under a special responsibility as teachers before the Divine Judge. Hence, we are aware of the need to be careful."

Other texts taken into consideration were the 18th edition of Novum Testamentum Graece by D. Eberhard Nestle, elaborated by B. Erwin Nestle, published in 1948 by the Württemberg bible Society, Stuttgart, Germany; Novi Testamenti Biblia Graeca et Latina by José M. Bover, S.J., dated 1943 and published at Barcelona, Spain; the 1948 printing of the 6th edition of Novum Testamentum Graece et Latine by Agustinus Merk, S.J., Rome, Italy; as well as the Nestle-Aland text of 1979.

There has been some criticism of the Kingdom Interlinear Translation. For instance, Dr. Julius Mantey, a respected Greek scholar has been very critical of The Kingdom Interlinear Translation and has been quoted as saying of it, "I have never read any New Testament so badly translated as The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of The Greek Scriptures...."

Reactions to the Translation

Although the translation is aimed chiefly at the Jehovah's Witness community, millions of persons of a variety of religious backgrounds have acquired and read it. Over the last fifty years, approximately 122,000,000 copies have been printed.

Some Bible scholars are very critical of the New World Translation. They charge that it is a rewriting of the Bible to conform to Jehovah's Witnesses' doctrines and theology.

Dr. Robert Countess, a New Testament scholar, with a Ph.D. in religion majoring in New Testament text, voices his concerns about the New World Translation:

"[the New World Translation] has been sharply unsuccessful in keeping doctrinal considerations from influencing the actual translation.... It must be viewed as a radically biased piece of work. At some points it is actually dishonest. At others it is neither modern nor scholarly. And interwoven throughout its fabric is inconsistent application of its own principles."

Dr. Bruce M. Metzger, professor of New Testament language at Princeton University and a pioneer in the field of textual criticism says the New World Translation is "a frightful mistranslation... erroneous... pernicious... reprehensible."

There has been some academic support however for the New World Translation. Dr. Jason BeDuhn Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Northern Arizona University comes forward to state:

"[The] 'New World Translation' is a high quality, literal translation that avoids traditional glosses in its faithfulness to the Greek. It is, in many ways, superior to the most successful translations in use today."

In his book: Truth in Translation, Accuracy and Bias in English Translations of the New Testament (ISBN 0761825568), where he compares the New World Translation with other mainstream bibles (NAB, NRSV, NIV, KJV, AB, LB, and the TEV), after careful examination of the most "theologically hot" scriptures he concludes (pg. 163):

While it is difficult to quantify this sort of analysis, it can be said that the NW emerges as the most accurate of the translations compared. Holding a close second to the NW in its accuracy, judging by the passages we have looked at, is the NAB. Both of these are translations produced by single denominations of Christianity. Despite their distinctive doctrinal commitments, the translators managed to produce works relatively more accurate and less biased than the translations produced by multi-denominational teams, as well as those produced by single individuals.

Benjamin Kedar, Professor of History and Director of the Institute for Advanced Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, stated of the Old Testament portion of the New World Translation:

"This kind of work reflects an honest endeavor to achieve an understanding of the text that is as accurate as possible. Giving evidence of a broad command of the original language, it renders the original words into a second language understandably without deviating unnecessarily from the specific structure of the Hebrew... Every statement of language allows for a certain latitude in interpreting or translating. So the linguistic solution in any given case may be open to debate. But I have never discovered in the New World Translation any biased intent to read something into the text that it does not contain."

Some Issues Involving the New World Translation

By far the majority of criticisms of NWT renderings focus on the Christian Greek Scriptures (New Testament). The following are among the renderings most frequently cited by critics.

John 1:1. "The Word was a god".

This rendering differs from that of the King James Version, the New International Version, the Revised Standard Version and many others, which all translate the phrase kai theos en ho logos as "and the Word was God."

Some translations that essentially agree with the New World Translation are Moffat's ("The Logos was divine"; A New Translation of the Bible (James Moffatt, 1935; as printed in 1954), Goodspeed's The Complete Bible — An American Translation ("The Word was divine;" J. M. Powis Smith and Edgar J. Goodspeed, 1939, as printed 1951), and H. J. Schonfield's The Authentic New Testament ("The word was divine;" 1955 and 1958).

In the past, critics of the New World Translation argued vocally in favour of the rendering "The Word was God," invoking E. C. Colwell's rule of 1933, which states that definite predicate nouns take the article when they follow the verb but not when they precede it.

Although some continue to advance this argument, many now recognize that Colwell's rule merely allows anarthous nouns (i.e., nouns without articles preceding them) before the verb to be definite, but does not require that they be. Furthermore, a number of NT verses appear to violate Colwell's rule and many now accept the view advanced by Philip Harner that anarthous predicate nouns before the verb are qualitative, and thus may be rendered "divine," "deity," or "Deity". "The logos has the nature of the theos. (Journal of Biblical Litterature, vol. 92, Philadelphia, 1973, p. 85) The Jesuit John L. McKenzie: "Jn 1:1 should rigourously be translated . . . 'the word was a divine being.'" (The Dictionary of the Bible, Touchstone, 1995 reprint)

Thus the controversy appears to be shifting from one of translation ("God" vs. "a god") to one of interpretation – what exactly does 'divine' or 'deity' imply? The translators of the New World Translation have made it clear that the nature of the Word in this verse was that of someone divine, or of divine nature. According to the translators of New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, the testimony of the Bible is that Jesus is not Almighty God. Therefore John needed to write this text the way he did, and it should be translated "a god" or "a divine being; a divine one; a godlike one" (NWT Reference Bible Appendix 6a).

John 1:18 is frequently cited by the Witnesses as further support of the intent of John's original writing. (New World Translation: "No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten-god (theos) who is in the bosom position with the Father is the one that has explained him." King James Version: "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him".) In particular, the statement that "no man has seen God at any time" is often considered to contradict the common interpretation of John 1:1 that Jesus is God (since the rest of the book makes it clear that many people saw Jesus). Again, this is matter of frequent debate between the Witnesses and members of religions that believe in the Trinity.

John 8:58 "Before Abraham came into existence, I have been."

Many other translations have the phrase "Before Abraham was, I am," some even capitalizing the final phrase ("I Am" or "I AM") in order to emphasize a theologically perceived correlation between John 8:58 and Exodus 3:14. McCoy states that, "on grammatical grounds alone, the rendering [of the New World Translation] cannot be justified..." And it is not only on grammatical grounds either. As in the case with many other Bible verses this verse has to be carefully compared to the rest of the holy scriptures to make sure it is understood properly. When an expression can be translated in many different ways, it has been the understanding of the translators of New World Translation that you must use the expression that best harmonizes with the rest of the Bible. Also, the translators of the NASB allow for the same rendering of the New World Translation in the footnotes in the 1960 and 1973 editions. Goodspeed's An American Translation has "I existed before Abraham was born!" and a similar thought is conveyed by Kenneth Taylor's Living Bible.

The expression being translated is this transliterated Greek expression: prin Abraam genesthai ego eimi. Eimi is the first-person singular present indicative. Because the event spoken of in John 8:58 began "before Abraham was born" the expression can quite properly be translated by the perfect indicative. (Compare Grammatik des neutestamentlichen Sprachidioms, 7th ed., Lepizig 1867, page 251.) Regarding the fact that the first edition of NWT used the expression perfect indefinite, it is to be noted that this expression does not exist in Greek, but was used in English. "I was born". (The perfect definite would be "I have been born".) Some used it to denote a simple past, present, or future, to distinguish it from progressive or complete tenses. (A New English Grammar, Logical and Historical, by H. Sweet, 1891, p. 105; Crowell's Dictionary of English Grammar and Handbook of American Usage, by Maurice H. Weseen, 1939, pp. 177, 178, 328.)

The difference from perfective is that the action is still in progress.

The Greek equivalent of ego eimi, namely, ani hu was also used by David in 1 Chronicles 21:17, which reads: "And David said unto God, Is it not I that commanded the people to be numbered? even I it is (ani hu; literally, "I am he") that have sinned and done evil indeed; but as for these sheep, what have they done?" (KJV) This indicates that the expression is not pointing to God.

It is not a matter of identity but a matter of time of existence. This is evident from the preceding verses. First, Jesus said: "It is my Father that honoreth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God." (Verse 53, KJV) Also, "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad." (Verse 56; this, despite the fact that he died, according to verse verse 52, KJV) Hence, the Jews ask him: "Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?" (Verse 57, KJV) Jesus' answer made it clear to the Jews that he existed long before Abraham. At this, they tried to stone him.

Is this an attempt to conceal an allusion to Exodus 3:14?

Critics hold that the New World Translation is attempting to conceal an allusion to Exodus 3:14, where, according to the King James Version, God calls himself "I AM". The publishers of the New World Translation understand the phrase to be referring to an action beginning in the past and continuing into the present, requiring the use of the English perfect tense ("I have been"). They point out that virtually all versions, including the King James Version, use the perfect tense in rendering the Greek phrase ego eimi at John 14:9, and that in any case, Exodus 3:14 in the Greek Septuagint version does not use the expression.

Does God refer to himself as "I Am" in Exodus 3:14?

"And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you." (KJV)

"At this God said to Moses: 'I SHALL PROVE TO BE WHAT I SHALL PROVE TO BE.' And he added: 'This is what you are to say to the sons of Israel, "I SHALL PROVE TO BE has sent me to YOU."'" (NWT)

The Hebrew expression Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh is God’s own self-designation and not a reference to his self-existence.

Isaac Leeser's translation (The Twenty-Four Books of the Holy Scriptures of 1853; as printed in 1914), which places the English text alongside the Hebrew text, reads, "I WILL BE THAT I WILL BE."

Joseph B. Rotherham's The Emphasized Bible (1897), "I Will Become whatsoever I please." Ehyeh (imperfect state, first person sing., which he rendered 'become' and could be translated 'prove to be') comes from the Hebrew verb hayah. In a footnote to this verse, Rotherham explains that "Hayah does not mean 'to be' essentially or ontologically, but phenomenally. ... What he will be is left unexpressed."

In Greek, this would be ego eimi ho on, "I am The Being," or, "I am The Existing One". See, this is the problem the translators have met. Would it be correct to exclude ho on? No. What God actually said to Moses was that he was the Eternal One, the Being who is the perfect cause of everything. Here, he is answering a question from Moses in verse 13: "Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them?" (KJV) What is God's name? Rather than simply spelling it out, he gave Moses the important meaning of the name. This was indeed fitting. Moses already knew the name of God. His own mother's name was Jochebed, which means Jehovah Is Glory. (Exodus 6:20)

Later, when the ten commandments were written, God had his name written in stone with the following letters in ancient Hebrew: "HWHY", which, read from right to left would be: "YHWH". The name Jehovah (a transliteration of YHWH) comes from Hebrew verb related to hayah, namely hawah, "become," and actually means "He Causes to Become." (Exodus 5:2; 6:6-8; 20:2)
Titus 2:13 "of the great God and of the Savior of us, Christ Jesus".
Greek, "tou megalou Theou´ kai soteros hemon Khristou Iesou."

Bibel 2000 (Swedish translation, The Swedish Bible Society, Uppsala, Sweden, 2000): "Our great god and saviour Christ Jesus". "Great god" is here translated without capital letters. The footnote gives another possible translation: "the great God and our saviour Christ Jesus" indicating two persons.

J. B. Phillips' translation (The New Testament in Modern English, 1958, as printed in 1972 and 1976) reads "of the great God and of Christ Jesus our Saviour".

The New American Bible (Catholic Biblical Association of America, New York/London, 1970) reads "of the great God and of our Savior Christ Jesus".

Those in favour of a Trinitarian rendering base their understanding on two things, a 'rule' called Granville Sharp's rule (see below) and a Trinitarian inclination.

These are the reasons used by the translators of NWT: When two distinct persons are connected by kai, if the first person is preceded by the definite article it is not necessary to repeat the definite article before the second person.

"Take an example from the New Testament. In Matt. xxi. 12 we read that Jesus 'cast out all those that were selling and buying in the temple,' [tous polountas kai agorazontas]. No one can reasonably suppose that the same persons are here described as both selling and buying. In Mark the two classes are made distinct by the insertion of [kai] before [agorazontas]; here it is safely left to the intelligence of the reader to distinguish them. In the case before us [Tit 2:13], the omission of the article before [soteros] seems to me to present no difficulty, — not because [soteros] is made sufficiently definite by the addition of [hemon] (Winer), for, since God as well as Christ is often called "our Saviour," [he doxa tou megalou Theou kai soteros hemon], standing alone, would most naturally be understood of one subject, namely, God, the Father; but the addition of [Iesou Khristou to soteros hemon] changes the case entirely, restricting the [soteros hemon] to a person or being who, according to Paul’s habitual use of language, is distinguished from the person or being whom he designates as [ho Theos], so that there was no need of the repetition of the article to prevent ambiguity. So in 2 Thess. i. 12, the expression [kata ten kharin tou Theou hemon kai kyriou] would naturally be understood of one subject, and the article would be required before [kyriou] if two were intended; but the simple addition of [Iesou Khristou to kyriou] makes the reference to the two distinct subjects clear without the insertion of the article." (The Authorship of the Fourth Gospel and Other Critical Essays, by Ezra Abbot, Boston, 1888, p. 452)

Some have brought forth the idea that this is a subtle protest against Emperor worship, claiming that that the Emperor was, in one person, the god and savior of the Roman Empire, but it seems clear that Paul is talking about two distinct persons.

How about Granville Sharp's rule? In Dr. Alfred Marshall's translation The Literal Greek-English Testament (Zonderwan, 1979 and 1986), the following form is given: "glory of the great God and Saviour of us Christ Jesus". A single article and a joining conjunction. The 'rule', set forth by Sharp, asserts that since the article is not repeated, it should refer to both God and Savior, thereby making Jesus both "Great God" and "Savior." Is this demanded? No. It may be translated in that way, but not necessarily. It does not seem necessary to believe that Greek, back when the letter to Titus was written, conformed to the 'rule' by Sharp. (Grammatical Insights Into the New Testament, Continuum International Publishing Group - T & T C, 1965.)

It does not seem possible, in fact, "will never be possible", to bring this expression down to an exceptionless rule using either profane litterature or the Christian Creek Scriptures. (A Grammar of the New Testament Greek, by Alexander Buttmann and Joseph Henry Thayer, Andover, W.F. Draper, 1873.)

The argument is too slender to have much bearing, "especially when we take into consideration not only the general neglect of the article in these epistles but the omission of it before" 'Savior' in 1 Timothy 1:1 and 4:10. (Doctor N. J. D. White in 'The Expositor's Greek Testament' by William Robert Nicoll, Eerdmans Pub. Co, USA, 1952)

This view is in order, since 1 Timothy 2:5 states: "There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, a man, Christ Jesus." (NWT) "There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." (KJV) This verse clearly distinguishes between God and Jesus. (Doctor Alford in 'The Expositor's Greek Testament'.)

Compare Luke 9:26.
Colossians 1:16, 17. "By means of him all [other] things were created in the heavens and upon the earth".
Newer language editions simply read: "By means of him all other things were created in the heavens and upon the earth."

This rendering has attracted controversy because it is said to imply that Jesus himself was a created being. Critics accuse the New World Translation of 'adding words'. Defenders of the rendering express the view that the word 'other' is implicit in the original, since the Greek word pas frequently does mean 'all other', with many versions translating it that way, for instance, at Luke 13:2.

Let us look for a moment at the word pas. In Colossians 1:16, the form is present as ta pantas, an inflected form of pas. Luke 11:41, 42 reads: "Nevertheless, give as gifts of mercy the things that are inside, and, look! all [other] (ta pantas) things are clean about YOU (or, "to you"). But woe to YOU Pharisees, because YOU give the tenth of the mint and the rue and of every [other] (ta pantas) vegetable, but YOU pass by the justice and the love of God! These things YOU were under obligation to do, but those other things not to omit." (NWT) "But rather give alms of such things as ye have; and, behold, all things (ta pantas) are clean unto you. But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner (ta pantas) of herbs, and pass over judgement and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone." (KJV) "Everything ... everything" (New International Version); "all things ... every kind." (American Standard Bible). Of course, what is meant is all things, except the things mentioned first in the sentence, and, when it comes to verse 42, all vegetables or herbs except the mint and the rue.

By way of explanation, the Pharisees did many things for outward show. They put great emphasis on conformity to details of the Law and compliance with rules of their own making. Jesus urged people to be clean not only on the outside but also on the inside. They completely lost sight of the important matters, namely, justice, mercy, faithfulness, and love of God. But Jesus exposed their wrong reasoning and showed them to be violators of God’s law on account of their adherence to man-made traditions.

Back to Colossians 1:16. Compare with John 3:31: "He that comes from above is over all others." (NWT) Now, this could be translated "He that comes from above is over all things", as in KJV, but to really understand the text, one must clearly see that he is above all things except himself, thereby making it possible, if not necessary, to translate it "above all others" ("[far] above all [others]," Amplified Bible; "greater than anyone else," New Living Translation; "above all others," Contemporary English Version;) or "all other things". The same principle is applied to Colossians 1:16. Verse 15 states that Christ is the "firstborn of all creation" (the only one, by the way, as not the Father nor the Holy Spirit is ever mention as being the firstborn of anything; compare Revelation 3:14) and then, in verse 16, follows that "all other things", except for himself and God, were created by means of him. So, the first creation, created by Jehovah God, was Jesus Christ. Jehovah God then used him to create all other things. (John 1:3, 10) Christ was "the image of the invisible God" (2 Corinthians 4:4, NWT), just as men are also. (Genesis 1:26)

From this follows that the translation of Colossians 1:16, 17 as found in New World Translation is in harmony with the rest of the Bible and with a modern understanding of biblical Greek grammar.

Some instances where the New World Translation departs significantly from the majority of other Bible translations are discussed in the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures - With References. Other defences of specific verses have been published in other publications published by Jehovah's Witnesses.

Further Reading


  • Countess, Robert H.: Jehovah's Witnesses' New Testament: A Critical Analysis, [ISBN 0875522106]


  • BeDuhn, Jason: Truth in Translation - Accuracy and Bias in English Translations of the New Testament, [ISBN 0761825568]


  • Stafford, Greg: Jehovah's Witnesses Defended. [ISBN 0965981479]
  • Furuli, Rolf: The Role of Theology and Bias in Bible Translation: With a special look at the New World Translation of Jehovah's Witnesses, 1999. [ISBN 0965981495]
  • Byatt, Anthony and Flemings, Hal (editors): ‘Your Word is Truth’, Essays in Celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (1950, 1953), 2004. [ISBN 0950621269]

External links

de:Neue-Welt-Übersetzung ia:Traduction del Nove Mundo del Sancte Scripturas it:Traduzione del Nuovo Mondo delle Sacre Scritture ja:新世界訳 pt:Tradução do Novo Mundo das Escrituras Sagradas


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