“At that time Jesus prayed this prayer: “O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the childlike.” – Mt 11:25 NLT[i]
“At that time Jesus said in response: “I publicly praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and intellectual ones and have revealed them to young children.” (Mt 11:25)
Throughout my past years as a loyal member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses faith, I always believed our Bible translation was pretty much bias free. I’ve come to learn that is not the case. In the course of my research on the subject of the nature of Jesus, I have come to learn that every Bible translation contains biased renderings. Having worked as a translator myself, I can understand that often this bias is not the result of bad intent. Even when translating from one modern language to another, there were times when I had to make a choice, because a phrase in the source tongue allowed for more than one interpretation, but there was no way to carry that ambiguity over to the target language. I often benefited from having the author available to question so as to remove any doubt as to what he actually meant to convey; but the Bible translator can’t ask God what he meant.
Bias isn’t the exclusive province of the translator however. The Bible student also has it. When a biased rendering aligns with reader bias, significant deviation from truth can result.
Am I biased? Are you? It’s probably safe to answer Yes to both questions. Bias is the enemy of truth, so we should want to be on guard against it. However, it is a most stealthy enemy; well camouflaged and able to affect us without our even being aware of its presence. Our awakening to the truth of Scripture and the growing awareness that we too have been biased presents a special challenge. It is as when a pendulum has been held off to one side, then is finally let go. It will not move to its natural rest position, but instead will swing right through and all the way to the other side, reaching a point almost as high as its release height. While air pressure and friction will slow it until eventually it comes to rest at equilibrium, it may swing for a long time; and it only needs the tiniest of assistance—say from a wound clock spring—to continue on swinging endlessly.
Like a pendulum, those of us who have been released from the extreme orthodoxy of JW doctrine may find ourselves swinging toward our natural resting point. That is the place where we question and examine everything we’ve been taught and are taught. The danger is that we swing right past that point over to the other extreme. While this illustration serves to make a point, the fact is we are not pendulums, powered only by external forces. We can determine for ourselves where we will end up, and our goal should always be to achieve balance, to be at intellectual and spiritual equilibrium. Never would we want to trade one bias for another.
Some, angered at learning of the deception that has bound us to some falsehoods all their lives, react by discounting everything we’ve ever been taught. As wrong as it is for Jehovah’s Witnesses to accept everything taught by the Organization as true, the opposite extreme is just as bad: discounting as false any teaching that might align with our former JW belief. If we take this position, we are falling in the trap that snared Rutherford. So driven was he to distance himself from the teachings of the hated churches that conspired to imprison him that he introduced doctrines that went beyond what is written. Our NWT and RNWT bible versions reflect some of that bias. Yet many other translations reflect bias of their own. How can we cut through it all to get to the truth?
Becoming Little Children
As Jehovah’s Witnesses, we consider ourselves to be childlike, and in one way we are, for like children we submit to and believe what our father tells us. Our mistake is in submitting to the wrong father. We have our own wise and intellectual ones. In fact, in the face of a questioning objection to some teaching, we will often interject, “Do you think you know more than the Governing Body?” This is not the childlike attitude Jesus was extolling at Matthew 11:25.
There’s a running joke in the movie The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly that starts out, “There are two kinds of people in this world…” When it comes to understanding God’s Word, it’s no joke, but an axiom. Nor is it simply academic. It is a matter of life and death. We should each ask ourselves, which of the two am I? The proud intellectual, or the humble child? That we tend to the former is a point Jesus himself warned us of.
“So, calling a young child to him, he set it in their midst 3 and said: “Truly I say to YOU, Unless YOU turn around and become as young children, YOU will by no means enter into the kingdom of the heavens.” (Mt 18:2, 3)
Notice his call to “turn around” so as to become like young children. This is not the normal inclination of sinful humans. Jesus’ own apostles were constantly arguing about their place and status.
Little Children Learn of Logos
I cannot think of a setting where the difference between the “wise and clever” and the “childlike” is more manifest than that involving the study into the nature of Jesus, “The Word of God”, Logos. Nor is there a situation where it is more necessary to make that distinction.
How would a father who is a world renowned expert in the field of theoretical mathematics explain to his three-year-old what he does? He would likely use simplistic terminology that she could grasp and only explain the most basic of concepts. She, on the other hand, would not realize how much she doesn’t understand, but would likely think she’s got the whole picture. One thing is for sure. She will have no doubt about what her father tells her. She will not look for hidden meaning. She will not read between the lines. She will simply believe.
Paul revealed that Jesus pre-existed all other creation. He revealed him as the image of God and the one through whom all things were made and for whom all things were made. He referred to him by the name Christians knew him by at that point in time. Some years later, John was inspired to reveal the name by which Jesus would be known at his return. A couple of years later, he revealed that this was also his original name. He was, is, and always will be “The Word of God”, Logos.[ii] (Col 1:15, 16; Re 19:13; John 1:1-3)
Paul reveals that Jesus is the “firstborn of creation.” Here is where the difference between the “wise and clever” and the “little children” becomes evident. If Jesus was created, then there was a time that he didn’t exist; a time when God existed all alone. God has no beginning; so for an infinity of time he existed alone. The trouble with this thought is that time itself is a created thing. Since God cannot be subject to anything nor live inside of anything, He cannot live “in time” nor be subject to it.
Clearly, we are dealing with concepts beyond our ability to comprehend. Yet often we feel compelled to make the attempt. There is nothing wrong with that as long as we don’t get full of ourselves and begin to think we are right. When speculation becomes fact, dogma sets in. The Organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses has fallen prey to this malady which is why most of us are here at this site.
If we are to be little children, then we have to agree that Daddy says that Jesus is His firstborn. He’s using a term we can understand, based in a framework common to every culture that has ever existed on earth. If I say, “John is my firstborn”, you know immediately that I have at least two children and that John is the oldest. You would not jump to the conclusion that I’m speaking of firstborn in some other sense, such as the more important child.
If God wanted us to understand that Logos had no beginning, he could have told us so. Just as he told us that He Himself is eternal. We cannot grasp how that is possible, but no matter. Understanding isn’t required. Belief is required. However, he did not do that, but chose to use a metaphor—the birth of a first human child into a family—to tell us about his Son’s origins. That it leaves many questions unanswered is something we’ll have to live with. After all, the purpose of everlasting life is to acquire knowledge about our Father and his Son. (John 17:3)
Moving from Past to Present
Both Paul, at Colossians 1:15, 16a and John at John 1:1-3 go way into the past to establish Jesus’ supreme credentials. However, they do not remain there. Paul, having established Jesus as the one through whom, by whom, and for whom all things were created, continues in the second half of verse 16 to bring things into the present and focus on his main point. All things, including every authority and government is subject to him.
John goes into the past in the same way, but from the viewpoint of Jesus as God’s Word, for it is his Word that John wishes to emphasize. Even all life came through Logos, whether the life of angels or the life of the first humans, but John also brings his message into the present by revealing in the fourth verse that, “In him was life, and the life was the light of mankind.” – John 1:4 NET[iii]
We should be wary of a hyperliteral reading of these words. The context reveals what John wanted to communicate:
“4 In him was life, and the life was the light of mankind. 5 And the light shines on in the darkness, but the darkness has not mastered it. 6 A man came, sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify about the light, so that everyone might believe through him. 8 He himself was not the light, but he came to testify about the light. 9 The true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was created by him, but the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to what was his own, but his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who have received him—those who believe in his name—he has given the right to become God’s children” – John 1:4-12 NET Bible
John does not speak of literal light and darkness, but the light of truth and understanding that wipes away the darkness of falsehood and ignorance. But this isn’t simply the light of knowledge, but the light of life, for this light leads to everlasting life, and more, to becoming children of God.
This light is the knowledge of God, the Word of God. This Word—information, knowledge, understanding—was transmitted to us by Logos himself. He is the embodiment of God’s Word.
God’s Word Is Unique
Both the concept of God’s Word and its embodiment in Logos are unique.
“So my word that goes out of my mouth will be. It will not return to me without results, But it will certainly accomplish whatever is my delight, And it will have sure success in what I send it to do.” (Isa 55:11)
If I say, “Let there be light”, nothing will happen unless my wife takes pity on me and gets up to throw the switch. My intentions, expressed by word of mouth, will die in the air unless I or someone else act on them, and a great many things can stop—and often do stop—my words from amounting to anything. However, when Jehovah says, “Let there be light”, there will be light—period, end of story.
Many scholars from different Christian denominations have believed that the reference to Wisdom Personified in Proverbs 8:22-36 pictures Logos. Wisdom is the practical application of knowledge. Outside of Logos himself, the creation of the universe is the most outstanding practical application of knowledge (information) there is.[iv] It was accomplished by means of and through and for Logos. He is Wisdom. He is God’s Word. Jehovah speaks. Logos does.
The Only-Begotten God
Now John speaks of something truly remarkable!
“So the Word became flesh and resided among us, and we had a view of his glory, a glory such as belongs to an only-begotten son from a father; and he was full of divine favor and truth….No man has seen God at any time; the only-begotten god who is at the Father’s side is the one who has explained Him.” (Joh 1:14, 18 NWT)
Imagine, Logos—God’s own Word—becoming flesh and residing with the sons of men.
It is almost too amazing to contemplate. What a wondrous expression of God’s love!
You may have noticed that I’m quoting from the New World Translation here. The reason is that in these passages it does not give way to the bias that it seems many other translations exhibit. A quick scan of the parallel renderings of John 1:18 found at biblehub.com, will reveal that only the New American Standard Bible and the Aramaic Bible in Plain English render this correctly as “only-begotten god”. Most replace “god” with “Son”. It can be argued that “Son” is implied at vs. 14 based on the interlinear. However, the same interlinear reveals that “god” is explicitly stated in vs. 18. John was revealing an aspect of Jesus’ nature which is lost if we change “god” to “Son”.
Verse 18 ties in with the first verse of the opening chapter of John’s gospel. Logos is not only a god, but the only-begotten god. The devil is called a god, but he is a false god. Angels may be godlike in a sense, but they are not gods. When John prostrated himself before an angel, he was quickly warned not to do that for the angel was only a “fellow slave”.
While correctly translating this portion of the Bible, Witnesses shy away from the truth it reveals. The nature of Jesus’ godhood and how that relates to scriptures such as Hebrews 1:6 are things we have yet to explore.
For now, let’s address what it may mean to be the “only-begotten Son” and the “only-begotten god”. – John 1:14, 18
There are three possibilities that are being advanced. One element is common to all: “only-begotten” is a term denoting uniqueness. It is the nature of the uniqueness which is in question.
Only-Begotten – Scenario 1
The Watchtower has long held the view that Jesus is the only creation Jehovah has made directly. All other things were made through and by Jesus, aka Logos. Failing any explicit Scriptural explanation of the term, we have to accept that this interpretation is, at least, a possibility.
Put succinctly, this scenario supposes that the term “only-begotten” refers to the unique manner in which Jesus was created
Only-Begotten – Scenario 2
Logos was created as a god. As a god, he was then used by Jehovah as the embodiment of his Word. In that role, he was used to create all other things. No other creation was made to be a god. Therefore, he is unique as being the only-begotten God.
So this second scenario refers to the nature of Jesus creation, i.e., as the only god ever created.
Only-Begotten – Scenario 3
Jehovah directly begat Jesus by inseminating Mary. This is the one and only time he did this, and the only human ever born who can claim Jehovah as his direct and sole Father is Jesus. The god that was Logos was begotten of woman by his Father Jehovah. This is a unique.
I do not list these to stir up debate. Quite the opposite. I would like us all to see that until we can prove conclusively which scenario (if any) is correct, we can at least agree on some elements. Jesus is God’s Son. Jesus is the Word of God or Logos. Jesus/Logos relationship with the Father is unique.
The point John is trying to make is that if we want to get to know our heavenly Father, we have to get to know his unique Son, who resided with him in an intimate and caring relationship since the beginning of all things. Additionally, he was telling us that if we want to be reconciled with God which comes with the benefit of life everlasting, we also have to listen to and obey God’s Word…Logos…Jesus.
Those are things we must agree upon, as they are matters of life and death.
A Final Word
To return to my opening point, some of what I believe regarding the nature of the Christ agrees with official JW doctrine; some of it does not, but likely lines up with the teachings of other churches in Christendom. That the Catholics, Baptists, or Jehovah’s Witnesses had it before me should not concern me, because it is not that they believe something which will convince me, but rather that I can confirm it in Scripture. If they have it right it is of little consequence, because Scripture had it first. I would not reject what the Scriptures say because some group I disagree with happen to believe the same as I do. That would be giving in to bias and prejudice, and it would block my way to my Father. Jesus is that way. As Jehovah told us: “This is my Son…listen to him.” – Mt 17:5
[i] New Living Translation
[ii] As explained in a previous article, “Logos” is used throughout this series of articles in an attempt to overcome an English language mentality to consider “The Word of God” as a title rather than the name it is. (Re 19:13)
[iii] The NET Bible
[iv] From a comment by Anderestimme: “Here’s an excerpt from the forward to William Dembski’s book “Being as Communion”:
“This book extends his earlier work and asks the most basic and challenging question confronting the 21st century, namely, if matter can no longer serve as the fundamental substance of reality, what can? While matter was the only allowable answer of the past century to the question of what is ultimately real (matter’s origin, on its own terms, remaining a mystery), Dembski demonstrates there would be no matter without information, and certainly no life. He thus shows that information is more fundamental than matter and that intelligible effectual information is in fact the primal substance.”
Information as the “primal substance” of the universe. In the beginning was information
We desperately need a profund and deep article about Jesus as Jehova in the Old Testament. We are waiting.
I plan to write more on the nature of Jesus, but it will be on beroeans.study. However, time is the problem.
i have a problem with jesus being michael the arch angel i see nothing in scripture to support this .in fact hebrews 1 seems to demolish it ..however the text in revelation ” the begining of the creation by God rev 3 :14. it seems to contradict the idea of only begotten .so far i am unable to answer this in a satisfactory way .
My view on this has been clarified. I’ve put it together in a video and article you can see here.
markchristopher, I’ve just been reading over the comments again and thinking about one of the interesting points you raised which has moved me to do more research. I look forward to hearing from you.
Not received a reply from Meleti yet.Maybe you have a better way of contacting him?
In response to your request, I sent an email yesterday at 8:13 AM to your gmail account with Jannai40’s email address in it. Perhaps it is in your spam folder. Why not send me an email directly and I’ll reply, that way we can make sure it doesn’t get put in spam and that I have your active email address.
markchristopher, Just a thought – as we seem to be thinking along similar lines scripturally, if you would like to compare notes so to speak, then please ask Meleti for my email address and we could carry on the discussion.
Meleti. Can you send me Jannai40’s email address, if you don,t mind.Thanks
The Son can not be asking for the glory he once had before the world began, as an only begotten god because he becomes a new creation.Not the same glory, because he did not pre exist as a man in a glorified body.I think there has to another way at looking at John 17:5
Before you can draw that conclusion, Markchristopher, you will have to first prove all of the assumptions upon which it is based. Some of these have been discussed at great length on http://www.discussthetruth.com for those interested in following up, see:
The Pre-Human Existence of Jesus
John chapter 2 and Jesus Physical Resurrection
Jannai40/Meleti.Yes, so after it all went wrong God came up with a plan.I understand and agree.
markchristopher, According to the research I have done, this is my understanding. In John 1:1 “In the beginning” is relating the Genesis creation, God’s plan for mankind and the universe. Because of Adam’s sin, it became necessary for his plan (word) to come to fruition through Jesus Christ – John 1:14 – “the word became flesh”. This does not mean that God knew in advance Adam and Eve would sin, but after they had sinned, it would be through Jesus Christ that God’s divine plans would be realised. So it would appear that John is referring to the Genesis creation… Read more »
Meleti. You said “The Father is already glorious. How can any being, human or angel, glorify him?” John 17:4 “I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do” You said “we have to first understand what defines God or a god. What do you understand the word to mean?” 1 Tim 2:5 “For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus” The best way I can define Gods Word is how God defines a mans word. Matthew 15:11 “What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile… Read more »
Hi MarkChristopher, I’m afraid you missed my point about the glory of the Father, but no matter. As for defining the meaning of the word God, am I to understand that you believe god applies to any being that “brings things into existence”? Hence if a being cannot create things, he cannot be a god? Is that correct? As for your argument about God’s foreknowledge and omni essence making any comparison moot, I don’t see that as a valid argument. Essentially you’re saying that anything is possible because we’re dealing with God here. If he wants to create a being… Read more »
markchristopher, your comments are so interesting. I believe that once we come to know Jesus Christ then everything begins to fit into place scripturally – it takes time, but the search proves to be very rewarding.
Thank you Jannai40.I appreciate that.
markchristopher, John 17:5 “And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.” (NIV) Jesus here was talking about the glory that was stored up with God for him in the beginning. If you read verse 22 (which is relating to all believers, verses 20-21) – so then this glory for us (only if we remain faithful, of course) – we have been given this glory and yet we hadn’t even been born then. So in verse 5 Jesus was not asking to be “restored”, but to receive the reward for… Read more »
Hi Jannai40 I understand what you are saying.There are scriptures that use the term “before the world began”, such as Matt 24:34…..”inheritance of the Kingdom which has been divinely intended for you ever since the creation of the world.” WNT This gives us insight to Gods pre determined plan to save mankind through his Son.So Jesus Christ’s glory was pre determined before the creation of the world. The problem with John 17:5 it says ..with the glory “I had”.as opposed to “divinely intended” or “prepared”.Although their may be bias in the translation of John 17:5 because of the trinity.The greek… Read more »
Sorry, I meant hebrews 1:4 not Romans 10!!
Whether echó (Greek: ἔχω) should be translated “I had” or “I kept” or “I held”, it is clear that the verb is in the first person singular past tense. All three renderings indicate that what Jesus was referring to was glory he one had in the past in God’s presence. When specifically in the past? Many translations add the word “created” because they feel it is implied. We have to remember that in Greek κόσμος or kosmos literally means “something ordered”. We get the word “cosmopolitan” from this Greek word as well as the word Cosmos. So we also recognize… Read more »
You make valid points Meleti..But again, the overall context of John 17 is a fulfilment of passages such as Isaiah 49:3 “He said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, and you will bring me glory.” The glory that Jesus in John 17 is asking for is soon to be accomplished through his life, death and resurrection “Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you”.Its about God the Father glorifying himself in the son, not the son getting back the glory he once had. I know next to nothing about greek but εἶχον (eichon) even translated as “I had”can… Read more »
In John 17:1 Jesus asks to be glorified so that he can in turn glorify the Father. The Father is already glorious. How can any being, human or angel, glorify him? Obviously there are various meanings to the word here. In verse 1 he asks to be glorified, but doesn’t specify the type nor amount of glory he is requesting. In verse 5 he gets specific. He’s only asking for what he had before. For what he gave up when he descended from heaven. (Phil. 2:6, 7) He wants to have the glory he had when we was in the… Read more »
It never ceases to amaze me how although separated by time and circumstance, I continue to read articles and posts from brothers and sisters on this site and our forums that harmonize alarmingly well with my own thoughts. It truly speaks to the power and clarity of God’s word, and of his holy spirit. This is a subject I have given a great deal of thought, study, and prayer to. The conclusion I have come to that the very nature of Jehovah and of Jesus is something that just simply lies beyond our comprehension. Modern science and mathematics teach us… Read more »
A nicely reasoned summation. Thanks for a balanced perspective, Aletheia.
One more thought but in relation to John 1:18, Yes, it seems that it should read “only begotten god”.instead of “son”..I think when reading this scripture we might contemplate Isaiah 9:6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. This is a promise to Israel that a child will be born(Jesus Christ).But it clearly says that he “Will”be named a “mighty god”.The grammar is future tense.So, we are reading the fulfilment of that… Read more »
From Isaiah’s viewpoint it is future because he is referring to it subjectively. The Word’s god like status didn’t have any affect in Isaiah’s time. Only in his future, when the Word became manifest as a human, suffered, died, was resurrected, could he act like a mighty God who could impart life. John, on the other hand is speaking about his past. The word was a God who existed at God’s side (John 1:1-3) The world came into existence through him (vs. 10) He became flesh. (vs. 14) He existed before John the baptist who was born six months before… Read more »
I think that depends on wether John 1:1 should be translated “a god” or “God”.I prefer “Divine” for the sake of argument.Either way.I think the discussion and comments have helped me sort out to a certain degree the problems that both the Trinity and idea that Jesus is Michael have. Jesus, no doubt has a pre-existence. Truthseeker mentioned John 17:5 “And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began”.Don,t think you can have it clearer.But. I think the most important think for me is that we really only came to… Read more »
My opinion of Proverbs 8 is that its not a lesson that reveals to us the identity of Jesus Christ.John 1:1 does that.Its a lesson in how God uses his wisdom and how we should use wisdom and be prudent like God is.Thats why its a proverb, its a piece of advice. The word is no doubt an extension of God, but, might there be some bias when reading proverbs.?Can,t we just appreciate the advice.I have never heard a JW use proverbs as it is meant to be used, only as an inferred argument to support that its talking about… Read more »
Just to add.At proverbs 9:12 it describes Folly as an unruly woman.. also “Let all who are simple come to my house!”To those who have no sense she says,17“Stolen water is sweet;food eaten in secret is delicious!”
Proverbs is using an allegory of a woman that lives in a house to give “Folly” a character.Folly is not a real person.Is,nt this the poetic style used in Proverbs 8?
Fair enough mark seems common sense enough . Thanks kev
Hi truthseeker, I agree with the thrust of your comment very much. “I don’t see how anyone who has read the Gospels a few times cannot think that Proverbs 8:22-31 refers to Jesus, especially the part in 30 about being a “master worker” alongside Jehovah. Wisdom is a concept, a state of mind. A concept cannot say “…the things I was fond of were the sons of man.” I could be persuaded by this argument. But I’ve yet to hear or read a satisfactory explanation as to why Wisdom at Prov. 8:1-12 and 9:1-6 is not Jesus . Or a… Read more »
In John 3:13 and 6:38 Jesus talks of descending from heaven. In 6:46 he has “seen the father.” But my favorite is 17:5 where he says”…Father, glorify me alongside yourself with the glory that I had alongside you before the world was.” So no one can say Jesus did not have a prehumen existence, that he did not exist before the physical creation, or that he did not have glory before this existence alongside his Father. He was not created at his birth by Mary, even with Jehovah’s powers. He was born as the person he always was, but now… Read more »
Truthseeker, you and I are very much of one mind on this.
And me truthseeker . John 17 v 5 seems pretty plain enough to me .and as for jesus being personified wisdom see colossians 2 v 3 and 4 kev c
I think sometimes we still get hung up on Black and White thinking when we are thinking about the relationship between Jesus and Jehovah. And perhaps we have been so conditioned in our minds that we look at things entirely as the Society has taught us to. But if we follow Meleti’s lead and consider what the Scriptures actually say we have no problem. The Hebrew Scripture certainly teach little if anything definite in this area, but that is as we should expect, they are “our Tutor leading to Christ”, not written as a guide to all the details about… Read more »
Daniel!12:2 does speak about a resurrection.
And psalm 16 v 10. Isaiah 53 v12. See 1 corinthians 15 v 3 and 4.
Meleti asked ” Is there any way to determine which of the ancient texts is most likely to be a correct copy of John’s words? ” and Inneedofgrace answered well, but I say again what I said above, which I believe is something if we are honest we need to acknowledge : ” So we have no way of knowing what was originally written.” As I also said above, this need not affect our faith, faith in Jesus came before anything was written about him. But the honesty comes in when we admit that our faith is simply that, faith,… Read more »
I agree with that. Most people believed without having read one word. It is Rom 10:17 Consequently faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the preached word of Christ. The bible helps a lot to understand more and test that was is heard, is somehow true. As we have access to many translations, one can compare, read the context and as such test his faith in what has been heard. Therefore faith is show in actions, no by what one knows, the knowledge about the bible. Most people that approached Jesus had not read anything… Read more »
I agree with that harrison and thats where humility comes in as well .as we learn the most important things about god and the holy spirit permeates our thinking .resulting in wonderful qualities such as kindness and patience .with others .instead of intolerance and arrogance . I believe its these things that show we may be on the right track .where the latter show we are absolutely not . I love jesus i think similar to you . But the only spanner in the works is the hebrew scriptures say that god is one . Although these statements may be… Read more »
I still feel that we are missing Jesus unique position as opposed to all other creation. Not only is he the ONLY begotten from god, he was also made a God John 3;16 also 1John 4;9 .(I use the term MADE carefully here) He was the firstborn of all creation, “born” but not created. All creation was made for him and through him. But Jesus alone came DIRECTLY from God. Jesus being A God should have an entirely different relationship with the Almighty God. Who else was ever made a God? Is it possible at some point Jehovah formed an… Read more »
The question i have about this concept of hebrew thinking v greek thinking on pre existence . The hebrews may have thought different . Concrete thinking as opposed to abstract thinking .of the greeks . But it must be remembered that the new testament as far as i know was written in greek . Greek thinking and culture would have been well known to the jews for about 300 years especially those using the greek septuagint in the diaspora .paul qouted from this in the NT .The jewish writers in the NT expressed themselves in greek . And they speak… Read more »
Could you elaborate on: “Paul reveals that Jesus is the “firstborn of creation.” Here is where the difference between the “wise and clever” and the “little children” becomes evident. (1) If Jesus was created, then there was a time that he didn’t exist; a time when God existed all alone. God has no beginning; so for an infinity of time he existed alone. (2) The trouble with this thought is that time itself is a created thing. Since God cannot be subject to anything nor live inside of anything, He cannot live “in time” nor be subject to it.” I… Read more »
I believe the following paragraph from the article answers your question.
“Clearly, we are dealing with concepts beyond our ability to comprehend. Yet often we feel compelled to make the attempt. There is nothing wrong with that as long as we don’t get full of ourselves and begin to think we are right. When speculation becomes fact, dogma sets in. The Organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses has fallen prey to this malady which is why most of us are here at this site.”
I fully read your article, I was just a little puzzled as to what you were expressing in that part. Am I understanding you correctly then in that you are saying that both expressions are possible, and we should not be so dogmatic as to think we are right?
You are missing the point, I fear. I was trying to show that logic fails us when trying to express things pertaining to infinity, timelessness, and the eternity of God.
Thank you for clarifying. That’s what I got from it, I probably didn’t articulate it well enough. I fully agree that we can’t always measure the Devine to our human standards! Well put.
I had a few points noted down in your article which I wanted to talk about. You said the following: “A quick scan of the parallel renderings of John 1:18 found at biblehub.com, will reveal that only the New American Standard Bible and the Aramaic Bible in Plain English render this correctly as “only-begotten god”. ” I feel this is an unfair statement. You have to take into account what the textual variants are which they use to base their translation on. The Textus Receptus renders John 1:18(a) as: θεὸν οὐδεὶς ἑώρακεν πώποτε ὁ μονογενὴς υἱός translations which draw from… Read more »
Thank you for this clarification, InNeedOfGrace. I was basing my statement on the interlinear rendering provided by the same site, biblehub.com, that provided the parallel translations. Is there any way to determine which of the ancient texts is most likely to be a correct copy of John’s words?
It’s not easy to draw a definitive conclusion, but here is what it boils down to: – The oldest known Greek manuscripts, P66 and P75, read only begotten God. These manuscripts come from Alexandria. (second century) Some accuse the texts from Alexandria to be heavily inspired by Gnosticism, who teach that Jesus was a begotten God, created by the Unbegotten God. Those quoting from these manuscripts include: Tatian (second century), Valentinus (second century), Clement of Alexandria (215 AD), and Arius (336 AD) – On the other hand, there are quotes from other early church fathers such as Irenaeus (early 2nd… Read more »
Hi Meleti Thank you for taking your time to line out your believes about the Logos. I definitely agree that it takes humility as a child to address both sides of the coin rather then just sticking to what you have come to believe. It’s amazing how deep that point is. I never taught it applied to me until a few years back. I have always been one to study things deeply and to ask questions, but I always felt “all other christendom” and my bible students were the ones who had bias, but not me. It takes a lot… Read more »
imjustasking, when you come to understand that there was no pre-existence of Jesus Christ, how much more alive our future becomes, and everything fits into place from Genesis to Revelation, especially with regard to the Abrahamic Covenant in relation to the New Covenant. You begin to understand so much more about Jesus Christ and the role that we will have as rulers with him on the earth, and the opportunity of working with him and helping to put things right again. We won’t appear or look unusual – we will be like Jesus and have glorified human bodies. Even now,… Read more »
It should be noted that Jannai40 and imjustasking have a view of Jesus pre-existence which differs from our own. We encourage readers with different views to share them using the Scriptures to support their arguments and that has already been done extensively. For those who would like to investigate both sides of this discussion, I refer you to this link.
Meleti, thank you for your comment. In your comment you refer to “our” and “we” – to whom are you referring to please? Thank you.
When I said, “our own”, I was referring to myself, Apollos, and Alex as well as a few others who supported the establishment of this site from early on. While we don’t all agree on all aspects of the nature of Jesus, we all agree that he had a pre-human existence. As for the various readers and other commenters, it is not my place to speak for them.
As I stated earlier, my fealty to Christ is not contingent to when his existence began. But to those who press for a beginning prior to the physical universe I only ask this simple question. How would a 1st Century Jew understand the concept of pre-existence? Does it tally with ours 2000 years later, which has a Hellenistic concept? This is THE CRUX of the matter. Until we know how a Jew would have thought, the language of Paul and John is always going to be coloured by our cultural bias. Menrov, I must applaud you, because in your first… Read more »
Thanks meleti for your hard work on that article i must say that i like your approach . firstborn seems a pretty plain enough statement to me and im sure people can be excused for taking it on face value .even if it does mean the one in prime position .i think the context allows for both interpretations . The illustration of the child was all about the importance of being a humble person .we all must admit that not one of us has all the answers . This very fact should remind us of the need for humility .as… Read more »
Addendum: I lack to see the value of John or Paul to explain that Jesus had or did not have a beginning. The audience to whom Paul and John were writing or speaking were mostly Jews. And their leaders and many of their followers did not believe this Jesus was the Christ or Messias. My view is that the objective of John and Paul was to show that Jesus lived with the Father, that He was there when things were created, that He has the most prominent position (like the position of the firstborn in a Jewish family. A person… Read more »
Thanks Meleti. nice overview. 2 points I feel I have to make. 1 is regarding John 1:14,18 and the use of only-begotten. I am not necessarily saying that this use is incorrect but I just like to share a comment on the use of this verse, as provided in NET: I share so anyone can make up his own mind: tn Or “of the unique one.” Although this word is often translated “only begotten,” such a translation is misleading, since in English it appears to express a metaphysical relationship. The word in Greek was used of an only child (a… Read more »
Interesting thoughts Meleti ! and I like your approach, which is basically “Let us not go beyond what is written” i.e fall in to the trap of eisegesis. On the matter of honest translation of the texts it occurs to me that perhaps a N.T Scholar who is not a believer would make a good translator ! no “axe to grind.” As to the divinity of Christ I find myself at peace over the issue, the Scriptures do not explain the “mechanics” of it, nor do they teach the Trinity in the way the JW religion opposes it, but then… Read more »
Meleti, there is a beautiful scripture which you have quoted several times in the past, and I think that for the sake of many listening here, this would be a good time for you to remember that scripture.
“He has told you, O earthling man, what is good. And what is Jehovah asking back from you but to exercise justice and to love kindness and to be modest in walking with your God?” Micah 6:8
This was a nice essay and I agree with the general sentiments. Thank you. I particularly enjoyed your illustration of the pendulum and how it swung for Mr Rutherford to the detriment of truth. Very good. However, as you know I do not agree with your concrete assertion (although you may be correct) that Jesus had an existence before he became human. You are entitled to your view and at the end of the day it does not affect my relationship with him or my obligation to pay homage to him, regardless where in the stream of time his existence… Read more »
I’m glad you enjoyed the article. I’d be happy to supply the supporting arguments, but I’m not sure which Scriptures you’re referring to that were not supported.
Why do you think I present Proverbs as evidence? I reread my piece and couldn’t find where I made that claim. I believe that Proverbs 8 is an allegory to fill in the blanks regarding Jesus’ role in the creation of all things, but an allegory is not proof and I made no statement that it was.
As for Col 1:15, 16, I explained in the article why I have reached that conclusion.