Message to JW's concerning the New World Translation

Fall, 2009

Before I discuss the translation of the Scriptures that the Watchtower has put out, I must stress that there are several things with in your beliefs that I do agree with (at least partially), despite not belonging to your organization. For example, your views concerning "hell" with annihilationism indeed lines up with our Master's words in Matthew 7:13 and 10:28, and Paul's words in 2 Thessalonians 1:9. I can't argue that we do indeed perish if we don't get everlasting life (John 3:16). Second, you reject some of the pagan celebrations and customs that the heretical Catholic church instituted, despite our Creator's clear warnings in passages such as Leviticus 18:30, Deuteronomy 12:30-31, 18:9, and Jeremiah 10:2-3. I agree that adopting sun worship practices and applying them to the true Mighty One of heaven (or His anointed one) is an abomination (Luke 16:15?). There's more, but let that suffice for now.

I love the Word of our Creator. The Scriptures have been a source of guidance for me, and I know they have helped each one of you, too. In truly understanding our Creator in an honest manner, seeking Him out in Spirit and in Truth, we must have a translation of the Scriptures that accurately relays what was originally written. While no translation is ever perfect, I get deeply concerned when I see versions of them that mistranslate numerous things to support the doctrine or theology of a particular organization. Even if the translators were trying to be sincere, it's possible that they could be sincerely wrong.

I don't wish to pass judgment on the New World Translation and I do recognize that it has helped many grow closer to our Heavenly Father in some way, shape or form. But there are several passages I've noticed in my reading of it that I would like you to study carefully. I will bold the particular word that we will be examining and provide Strong's numbers and dictionary/lexicon links with the original words found in the Hebrew and Greek manuscripts. As we go through these, the key is to grasp what the Scriptures really say, not how the NWT or any other translation may be rendering them.

First I'd like to start with a passage from Genesis,

"2 Now the earth proved to be formless and waste and there was darkness upon the surface of [the] watery deep; and G-d’s active force was moving to and fro over the surface of the waters. " (Genesis 1:2, NWT) (Strong's numbers and dictionary for this passage can be found here)
"G-d's active force" is a paraphrase, not a literal translation of what is written in the Hebrew Scriptures. The original phrase is "Ruach El-him", meaning Spirit of El-him (or "G-d"). Ruach is Strong's number H7307 with the meanings "wind, breath, or spirit". I know JW's reject the Trinity, and I don't blame you since three does not equal one no matter how you work it out. But the original rendering is key to understanding the nature of G-d, who is Spirit as the Apostle John says (John 4:24). If we study the Hebrew Scriptures we can also see that the "Holy Spirit" is simply another title for the G-d’s Spirit (Isaiah 63:7-11, Psalm 51:10-11; see also 2 Corinthians 3:17), not a separate person like the Trinity proposes. While it can be argued that this breath or spirit (Ruach) is the active force of G-d, it's important to understand that our Father in Heaven is a personal Creator who is not only Spirit, but that Spirit (not just an active force from Him) is His manifest presence within time and space that longs for a relationship with each one of us (and to be IN us - 1 Corinthians 6:19-20). As 1 Kings 8:27 states, not even the heavens can contain Him!

Second, there is a passage from Habakkuk chapter 1 I would like to examine,

"Are you not from long ago, O Jehovah? O my God, my Holy One, you do not die. O Jehovah, for a judgment you have set it; and, O Rock, for a reproving you have founded it. " (Habakkuk 1:12 NWT) (Strong’s numbers and dictionary for this passage can be found here)
Please visit this link and see how several other translations render this passage. Based on Hebrew grammar, the correct rendering for the article before H4191 is "we shall not die", just like the 15 other translations at say. Now I understand that this has been used as a proof text to say that Yeshua or Jesus is not G-d because Yeshua died and G-d cannot die. While there is some definite truth in that statement, this passage doesn't need to be translated as such because it says that G-d is immortal in 1 Timothy 1:17.

Third, this is a crucial passage concerning prophecy: Zechariah 12:10,

"“And I will pour out upon the house of David and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem the spirit of favor and entreaties, and they will certainly look to the One whom they pierced through, and they will certainly wail over Him as in the wailing over an only [son]; and there will be a bitter lamentation over him as when there is bitter lamentation over the firstborn [son]. " (Zechariah 12:10 NWT) (Strong's numbers and dictionary for this passage can be found here)
I want you to visit the following link and see how other versions translate this passage, emphasizing the bold text. Keep in mind that it is our Heavenly Father is the speaker. If you notice, all 15 other translations say "they will look upon Me whom they have pierced, and mourn for Him..." The issue at hand is who is being referred to between the words H5027 (looking upon) and H1856 (piercing). If we go to the Hebrew we see "et". Et acts as a direct object pointer where it's purpose is to point to the part of the sentence that receives the action from another. In the case of Zechariah 12:10 it leaves no doubt whatsoever that it is our Heavenly Father receiving the action of being pierced, and yet they mourn for "him" as an only begotten son. Now obviously, this is a key messianic prophecy concerning the execution of our Messiah, and when the Hebrew grammar is translated correctly, it implies a duality of nature which is used as a proof text for the divinity of Yeshua/Jesus. However, our Father in Heaven does not bleed and die on a stake or the universe would stop running, yet at the same time we can't deny what the text says. Now if the translators of the NWT wanted to get away from supporting the Trinity (or a dual nature) with this text, it would be easy enough to exclaim that our Creator felt wounded when they executed His Son. Wouldn't every parent feel pierced in their hearts if their child was brutally executed? The other angle you could approach it is by rejecting Yeshua (Jesus) and piercing Him, they reject our Heavenly Father and pierce Him, similar to what Yeshua said in Luke 10:16. So even by your own theology there's nothing wrong with the text. It all comes down to a matter of integrity when translating.

Now let's move to the Apostolic Writings, or New Testament. In places such as Matthew 14:33 the NWT reads,

"33 Then those in the boat did obeisance to him, saying: “You are really God’s Son.” " (Matthew 14:33 NWT) (Strong's numbers and dictionary for this passage can be found here)
The Greek word here is proskunetes (G4353) which means to worship, not to do obeisance. The change for this is because to worship Yeshua/Jesus would imply to some that he is G-d since our Creator alone should be worshiped. I'm not going to side either way here, but this is just one example where worship of Yeshua is changed to obeisance when the original word does in fact mean to worship. Please click on the link to see for yourself. A translation absolutely must reflect the original manuscript, not any one organizations established theology. The Word of G-d will not change, which means that we're the ones who should if we find something conflicting.

Second passage I want to examine from the Apostolic Writings is the infamous first verse in John,

1 In [the] beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god. (John 1:1 NWT) (to see Strong's numbers for this passage, click here)
I know this has often been talked about and debated many times. I could talk about how if there is a definite article (ho) in the first mention of Theos (God) it automatically carries over to the second mention of that same thing (Theos) within a single sentence in Greek grammar. Or how later there is an instance of Theos without the definite article that is rendered as God with a capital G, making the translation style inconsistent. But I think more important than this is the fact that a passage rendered like this implies that there is more then one god. This is simply not true if we are talking about a divine being. There is only one G-d, one Creator, one Almighty, and you guys are very clear in your theology who that is. But if you want to disprove the divinity of Yeshua/Jesus in John 1, all you have to do is go back to the original Greek like the Unitarians, and understand that Logos (Word) can refer to divine plan, which is what the Scriptures/ our Heavenly Fathers Word is. This plan was put into action (or became flesh) in the person of Yeshua/Jesus. And we know G-d by His Word (the Scriptures) which is why, at least in a metaphorical sense, G-d really is the Word! We don't have to believe in a special "Word-person" that came to earth as a human if this passage is rendered like 99% of Scripture translations. Again, theology is not an issue here, it is about textual integrity! (Note: in verse 3 the word "him" [autos - G846] can be rendered "it", like seen in the Geneva Bible and Tyndales New Testament translation).

Third passage I want to discuss is John 3:16. This was the passage I read that inspired me to write this article because my heart goes out those who rely on the NWT as their primary or only translation of the Scriptures. The NWT reads,

16 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, in order that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life. (John 3:16 NWT) (Strong's numbers and dictionary for this passage can be seen here)
The word "exercising" is non-existant in the original Greek or Aramaic manuscripts. There is only the word pisteuo (G4100) which as we can see, means faith/trust. The issue with inserting "exercising" is we are now going against Paul's clear statement in Ephesians 2:8-9,

"For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of G-d; 9not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. " (Ephesians 2:8, NASB, emphasis added)
We are saved through our faith, and that faith alone. While it is true that works without faith is dead, those works (or the exercising of our faith) is simply evidence of our faith. The works themselves (the exercising of faith) do not earn us this GIFT from G-d though, lest anyone boast as Paul just said. But we must have a clear translation of Scripture with no added words in order to grasp this concept. If we don't have that, then we don't know what our Creator is really saying, and we're then trusting in the organization or translators that are feeding us the supposed word of G-d. Let G-d be true and every man a liar (Romans 3:4).

The next passage I want to look at is John 8:58. NWT states,

"Jesus said to them: “Most truly I say to YOU, Before Abraham came into existence, I have been.”" (John 8:58 NWT) (Strong's numbers and dictionary can be seen for this passage here)
The controversy of this passage is based around the idea that stating "I AM" as most translations propose is that this would put Yeshua/Jesus on the same level as our Creator who says "I AM" in Exodus 3:14. But the Greek word found in John 8:58 is actually the exact same Greek word used in Exodus 3:14 in the Septuagint (the Greek version of the OT): ego eimi (G1473 and G1510). Therefore the Greek speaking Jews and gentiles would have understood this passage to mean the exact same thing as Exodus 3:14. That is, Yeshua/Jesus was proclaiming "I AM". Only when you go to the Aramaic can you render this passage differently, but I will talk about the Aramaic manuscripts later. Since the NWT is based off the Greek, we need to ask ourselves, is the translation staying true to the text, or true to a theology that has been agreed upon? Truth need not be hidden or distorted.

Another passage we need to look at is Acts 20:28,

28 Pay attention to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the holy spirit has appointed YOU overseers, to shepherd the congregation of G-d, which he purchased with the blood of his own [Son]. (Acts 20:28 NWT) (Strong's numbers and accurate translation found here)
This is an interesting passage. As you can see by the brackets, the New World Translation admits that it added in the word "Son". The rest of the passage's wording was re-arranged so that this context makes sense, but the actual passage says "the church of G-d which He purchased with His own blood." (Acts 20:28b NASB). This passage is changed because it implies that G-d Himself bled and died. Now do I believe that our Heavenly Father bled and died on a stake? No, G-d is Spirit and cannot bleed because He is not mortal. But if Yeshua/Jesus truly is His son, then wouldn't Yeshua/Jesus be of "His blood"? If we think metaphorically here, the passage can be worked out from the Greek to support the theology that Yeshua/Jesus is not G-d. But again, if we go to the Aramaic, the passage is rendered differently since it says "assembly of Messiah" instead of G-d. As mentioned, I will talk more about the Aramaic manuscripts at the end. All that we should realize here is that the text is being changed.

The last passage I want to look at is Colossians 1:16-17. The NWT states,

"because by means of him all [other] things were created in the heavens and upon the earth, the things visible and the things invisible, no matter whether they are thrones or lordships or governments or authorities. All [other] things have been created through him and for him. Also, he is before all [other] things and by means of him all [other] things were made to exist, " (Colossians 1:16,17 NWT)
The issue here is the inserted word "other" which is admitted by the brackets. I understand that the reason for this is because in your theology you believe that Yeshua/Jesus was a created being who could not of created Himself of course, so all "other" things were created by Him. Going back to the original Greek, you can translate this to say something completely different though. I won't go through the whole process, but if you're interested you can read about it here. You don't even need to speak Greek, all you need is a Strong's dictionary/lexicon. I should note though that with the Aramaic, you cannot do the same thing as in the Greek, but that's a whole different story. The point is that we absolutely cannot just insert words into the text to change the meaning to something we deem more acceptable. The word of G-d stands forever (Isaiah 40:8) and we are strictly forbidden to add or subtract from that word (Deuteronomy 4:2, Deuteronomy 12:32, Proverbs 30:5-6, Revelation 22:18-19). Instead of changing the text to fit our theology, we must mold our theology to what the Word actually says!

The last issue I want to address is the insertion of "Jehovah" into the New Testament. You have likely heard the argument before that no where in the Greek manuscripts does the name "Jehovah" exist. The counter to this argument has been, shouldn't people be worrying about the fact that it's usually removed from the Old Testament instead? While I won’t argue with you about that, and mention that I do own several versions of the Scriptures that put His name back in, but the point I want to make is that we don't HAVE to guess where the name should go in the New Testament. The Aramaic manuscripts of the New Testament DO in fact include the name in it's Aramaic equivalent!! This was completely lost in the Greek, but it's a very important discovery that is sadly ignored by most Bible scholars. Please read the following article to learn more! Or visit / to get your own copy of an accurate Aramaic translation which has the name in the correct place and discusses the theological implications of it.

I really hope you will consider the things I've pointed out here. I love every single one of you, and that's why I've gone through the trouble of writing this article. It actually pains me to see the Word of G-d rendered incorrectly with various inserted words, and by the blood of our Savior I cannot keep silent, even if it breaks friendships. Please note that I'm not just picking on the NWT. No translation is perfect, and I will point out things that are incorrectly rendered in any translation, including some of my favorites (like the NASB, AENT, or ISR Scriptures). I have also tried not to argue against your theology because I'm not concerned with theology or beliefs here. I am only concerned with the truthful rendering of our Heavenly Father’s word because He himself commands it,

Every word of G-d is tested; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. Do not add to His words or He will reprove you, and you will be proved a liar. (Proverbs 30:5-6 NASB, emphasis added)
I am willing to sit down and discuss anything written here with you anytime I'm available. These are important issues that absolutely cannot be ignored. Nothing should hold us back from finding the truth about our Creator and His anointed one (Messiah/Christ). May He bless you in the study of His Word and your search for truth.