Jehovah’s Witnesses and John 1:1

Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Grudem) I appreciated these paragraphs from Grudem’s Systematic Theology:

“The translation ‘the Word was God’ [John 1:1] has been challenged by the Jehovah’s Witnesses, who translate it, ‘the Word was a god,’ implying that the Word was simply a heavenly being but not fully divine.  They justify this translation by pointing to the fact that the definite article (Gk. ho, ‘the’) does not occur before the Greek word theos (‘God’).  They say therefore that theos should be translated ‘a god.’”

“However, their interpretation has been followed by no recognized Greek scholar anywhere, for it is commonly known that the sentence follows a regular rule of Greek grammar, and the absence of the definite article merely indicates that ‘God’ is the predicate rather than the subject of the sentence.  (A recent publication by the Jehovah’s Witnesses now acknowledges the relevant grammatical rule but continues to affirm their position on John 1:1 nonetheless.)”

“The inconsistency of the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ position can further be seen in their translation of the rest of the chapter.  For various other grammatical reasons the word theos also lacks the definite article at other places in this chapter [John 1], such as verse 6 (‘there was a man sent from God’), verse 12 (‘power to become children of God’), verse 13 (‘but of God’), and verse 18 (‘No one has ever seen God’).  If the Jehovah’s Witnesses were consistent with their argument about the absence of the definite article, they would have to translate all of these with the phrase ‘a god,’ but they translate ‘God’ in every case.”

Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, p.234-235.

rev shane lems

1 thought on “Jehovah’s Witnesses and John 1:1”

  1. Excellent. There is a man who is a JW who stops by now and then in the summer to talk. I’ll have to share this with him the next chance I get.



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