This morning I was on the train reading through the Gospel of John when someone got on and sat next to me at Strathfield; this particular chap dressed in a grey suit and tie said that he was a Jehovah's Witness and that he was curious as to what I was reading.
I assume that he either wanted to make me doubt the validity of what I was reading or rather unlikely he was questioning his own faith, I don't know exactly.
I find it incredibly curious that I had been reading John 10, which from verses 1-21 likens Jesus' followers to his sheep and that he is the shepherd watching over them; and protecting them. Verses 22-42 deal directly with Jesus claim that he was God.
Contained within John 10 is the direct claim that Jesus is God in Verse 30 and it is the only verse which I know in the original Greek:
ΕΓΩ ΚΑΙ Ο ΠΑΤΙΡ ΕΝ ΕΣΜΕΝ
ego kai ho pater hen esmen
I and the Father one we-are(ing)
- John 10:30
The reason why I find this morning to be curious is that Jehovah's Witnesses not only do not believe in the divinity of Jesus but they also make the claim that he was a created being.
If you assume that this standpoint is correct, then logically the next three verses make no sense:
"Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?”
“We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God."
- John 10:31-33
If Jesus is not God, then his opponents are in fact correct and Jesus is a liar. If however Jesus' claim that he is God is true, then their claims are unjustified. It's worth noting that the claims of both Jesus' opponents in John 10 and the Jehovah's Witness are identical but I suppose that they do not see that.
The thing which makes John 10:30 so useful, is that not only are all the nouns in the Greek in the nominative case, but the verb "esmen" is a first-person plural. It means that it is impossible to draw any other conclusion from the Greek text at all.
Related is the claim at the beginning of John's Gospel that Jesus or "The Word" is God. If you look elsewhere at John 1:1 the New World Translation which the Jehovah's Witnesses use, sneakily adds an "a".
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."
- John 1:1 (NIV)
"In [the] beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god."
- John 1:1 (NWT)
The addition of that one word "a" substantially changes the meaning of the sentence. The thing is though, that it's not above the Jehovah's Witnesses to alter the bible where they don't like it. In doing some research for this, I find that they've completely removed or fiddled with 47 verses in the New Testament.*
I suppose that if you really want to attack the divinity of Christ, then the best way to do it would be to attack either the translation or attack the text itself. This does however create a problem in that if Christ is not God and is a created being, then He would have had to have created Himself, which is a logical impossibility.
Also if John 1:1 is to be taken at face value in the NWT then if the Word is only a God and there is only one true God, then Jesus must be some sort of false God, which means to suggest that any faith in the Gospel is based on a lie. This makes me very much wonder what sort of faith Jehovah's Witnesses actually have. If they make out that Jesus is a liar, then what hope do they have in any of the Gospel at all? Why then do they even bother?
I'm hoping that this particular Jehovah's Witness gets around to reading this, because I certainly do not doubt the validity of what I was reading.
*Aside: Maybe we should though. I'm finding that the latest versions of the NIV are also leaving out stuff:
"For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost."
Matthew 18:11 Some manuscripts include here the words of Luke 19:10.
"Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees. Hypocrites! You devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore you shall receive the greater damnation."
Matthew 23:14 Some manuscripts include here words similar to Mark 12:40 and Luke 20:47.
What is Bible Gateway doing? This appears to be an act of barbarism; and if it's the NIV's fault, then what are they doing? The way I figure it, if it was important enough to go into the original Greek text, then it's important enough to go intoa modern translation of that text. Leaving stuff out is as bad as making stuff up.