Isn't translating John 1:1 "the word was a god" a polytheistic interpretation?

If Jesus was "a" god, how many gods are there?

Doesn't translating this passage "the word was a god" instead of "the word was God" violate the principal that Yahweh (Jehovah) is the only God?


Riff, the New World Translation used by the Jehovah Witness group translates it this way.

Update 2:

RandomPerson: You need to re-read my question,my friend. I am not defending this translation.

Update 3:

The translation "a god" is a Jehovah Witness rendering in order to argue against the trinity and Christ's deity.

That is NOT my position!

Update 4:

JR: You're saying this passage supports polytheism?

1 God astandeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods.

2 How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the apersons of the wicked? Selah.

3 Defend the poor and fatherless: do ajustice to the afflicted and needy.

4 Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked.

5 They know not, neither will they understand; they awalk on in darkness: all the foundations of the earth are out of course.

6 I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are achildren of the most High.

7 But ye shall adie like men, and fall like one of the princes.

8 Arise, O God, ajudge the earth: for thou shalt inherit all nations

Update 5:

JR: You are a champion ping-pong player,dude. And yet, you haven't answered the question. Forget Greek,Coptic, Aramaic translation arguments. Does not inserting "A" in front of god support a polytheistic viewpoint? Does the Watchtower support such a position?

Update 6:

UPDATE for "JR": Not one thing you just posted answers the question. Does, or does not, inserting "a" the phrase "the word was a god" support polytheism. You sure don't have to qualify something as "a god" if there aren't more than one god, do you? Please try to answer the question,okay?

Update 7:

JR, did I read you correct?? Angels are gods?? If that is your position you are polytheistic.

Angels are gods? hmmmm

Update 8:

JR,Psalm 138:1 does not say angels.

It says little g gods.

Update 9:

JR...that's one of the strangest interpretations of scripture I've ever heard.

20 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Best Answer

    It would be IF the people who believed that translation to be true actually gave the Word any degree of worship. JWs do insist that the Word (Jesus Christ) is not the same God as Jehovah, the Father, but a lesser god - a demi-god - who was created by Jehovah. Of course, this contradicts what Jehovah said to his witnesses (the nation of Israel) in Isaiah 43:10-1: 'Before me no god was formed, NOR WILL THERE BE ONE AFTER ME. I, even I am Jehovah...' Yet according to JW theology, the Only God created a lesser god! Oh no he didn't!

    However, JWs only talk about Jesus being divine. They studiously avoid giving him any worship because they know full well that would be polytheism. They abhor prayer to Christ and will not sing songs of worship addressed to him. They tell themselves and others that by having respect for Christ and obeying him, that constitutes worship in an acceptable sense. Well, I respect and obey my husband, but I DON'T worship him! (Sorry, honey, you are adorable but I'm never going to pray to you!)

    So the JWs have got themselves into a big hole that they cannot get out of. Christians keep throwing them life-lines but they won't grasp hold of them. Pride, I suppose.

  • 1 decade ago

    That translation is incorrect. According to the original Greek, it says, "The Word was the God". There is the word 'ho', in Greek, means 'the'. So, indeed, this combined with statements made in prophecy and by Jesus Himself, we conclude that He is God the Son.

    People who retranslated that (and other) verses, don't know their Greek, as they claim they do. Most of the people who swallow that stuff have never read the Greek scriptures and have never studied the Greek translations - they just blindly accept what their leadership hands down to them.

    There is only one God. He is called One, Jesus said that He and the Father are one. Why is it so hard for anyone to conceive the idea that the Mighty God could not divide Himself in three persons? It seems so difficult a concept that some have felt the need to change scripture in order to fit their unbelief.

  • TeeM
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    the bible list 3 types of Gods.

    1st is the only true God, Jehovah, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (John 17:3; Romans 15:5,6; Eph 1:3,17)

    2nd False Gods: Satan, Baal, money, food, etc.

    3rd: 'Those called God'

    Ex 7:1Then the LORD said to Moses, "See, I make you as God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet.

    Judges 13:21Now the angel of the LORD did not appear to Manoah or his wife again. Then Manoah knew that he was the angel of the LORD.

    22So Manoah said to his wife, "We will surely die, for we have seen God."

    Ps 82:6I said, "You are gods,

    And all of you are sons of the Most High.

    John 1:1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

    Footnote from the NAB:

    2 [1] In the beginning: also the first words of the Old Testament (Genesis 1:1). Was: this verb is used three times with different meanings in this verse: existence, relationship, and predication. The Word (Greek logos): this term combines God's dynamic, creative word (Genesis), personified preexistent Wisdom as the instrument of God's creative activity (Proverbs), and the ultimate intelligibility of reality (Hellenistic philosophy). With God: the Greek preposition here connotes communication with another. Was God: lack of a definite article with "God" in Greek signifies predication rather than identification.

    The Greek denotes a quality (predication) rather than identification.

    The last list of Gods become false Gods only if you worship them.

    1 Cor 8:5For even if there are so-called gods whether in heaven or on earth, as indeed there are many gods and many lords,

    6yet for us there is but one God, the Father,

    If we worship Jesus, we have place a god ahead of Jehovah and have violated the 1st 3 of the 10 Commandments.


  • VMO
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    Theres many other Bibles that translate John 1:1 to "a god" as far back as 200 AD.

    I also suggest you try reading Psalms 82:1-6 where it states angels and judges were called gods.



    Titus 1:4

    To Titus, my true son in our common faith:

    Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.

    Obviously, he was referring to God the Father, and Savior Jesus Christ. Not both the same.


    No "a" in Hebrew?

    Of course theres no "a" in Hebrew. We Greek is translated into English, you can use an "a" when translating a word or sentence.


    a devil (Mat 11:18)

    a judge (Act 7:35)

    a deliverer (Act 7:35)

    a woman (Rev 12:1)


    Again, a "a" can be used if needed...

    If you COULDN'T add an "a", then it could be translated to divine, which is another form of "god" (lowercase.)

    I think you need to read the scriptures again, because its not referring to Jesus Christ as both Savior and God.


    Greg M, it doesn't support the idea of another god.

    If you think this makes him another God, then that would mean theres billions of Gods then, because angels are "gods" too..

    Psalms 138:1

    1 I will praise you, O LORD, with all my heart;

    before the "gods" I will sing your praise.


    Again, adding "a" doesn't support the idea at all.. Love at the scripture above, where it states "before the gods"

    UPDATE: The Bible calls them "gods" not me.. I'm just quoting what the Bible says.

    UPDATE: Little g gods? David was singing a song before the gods, which are the angels.. Stop ignoring whats being said please. Its obvious that angels were called gods, just like Jesus was called a god.

    UPDATE: Strange? Well the bible refers to angels as gods, not me. If you think what I'm saying is strange then you don't agree with the Bible.


    1865 In a beginning was the Word, and the Word was with the God, and a god was the Word.

    Harwood, 1768, "and was himself a divine person"

    Newcome, 1808, "and the word was a god"

    Thompson, 1829, "the Logos was a god

    Goodspeed, 1939, "the Word was divine

    Torrey, 1947, "the Word was god

    New English, 1961, "what God was, the Word was"

    Moffatt, 1972, "the Logos was divine

    Reijnier Rooleeuw, 1694, "and the Word was a god"

    Simple English Bible, "and the Message was Deity"

    Hermann Heinfetter, 1863,

    Abner Kneeland, 1822, "The Word was a God"

    Robert Young, 1885, (Concise Commentary) "

    Leicester Ambrose, 1879, "And the logos was a god"

    Charles A.L. Totten, 1900, "the Word was Deistic [=The Word was Godly]

    J.N. Jannaris, 1901,

    George William Horner, 1911,

    Ernest Findlay Scott, 1932, "

    James L. Tomanec, 1958, [T]he Word was a God"

    Maximilian Zerwich S.J./Mary Grosvenor, 1974, "The Word was divine"

    Siegfried Schulz, 1975, "And a god (or, of a divine kind) was the Word"

    Schneider, 1978, "and godlike sort was the Logos

    Schonfield, 1985, "the Word was divine

    Revised English, 1989, "what God was, the Word was

    Madsen, 1994, "the Word was a divine Being"

    Becker, 1979, "ein Gott war das Logos" [a God/god was the Logos/logos]

    Stage, 1907, "Das Wort war selbst gttlichen Wesens" [The Word/word was itself a divine Being/being].

    Bhmer, 1910, "Es war fest mit Gott verbunden, ja selbst gttlichen Wesens" [It was strongly linked to God, yes itself divine Being/being]

    Thimme, 1919, "Gott von Art war das Wort" [God of Kind/kind was the Word/word]

    Baumgarten et al, 1920, "Gott (von Art) war der Logos" [God (of Kind/kind) was the Logos/logos]

    Holzmann, 1926, "ein Gott war der Gedanke" [a God/god was the Thought/thought]

    Rittenlmeyer, 1938, "selbst ein Gott war das Wort" [itself a God/god was the Word/word]

    Lyder Brun (Norw. professor of NT theology), 1945, "Ordet var av guddomsart" [the Word was of divine kind]

    Pfaefflin, 1949, "war von gttlicher Wucht [was of divine Kind/kind]

    Albrecht, 1957, "gttlichen Wesen hatte das Wort" [godlike Being/being had the Word/word]

    Smit, 1960, "verdensordet var et guddommelig vesen" [the word of the world was a divine being]

    Menge, 1961, "Gott (= gttlichen Wesens) war das Wort"[God(=godlike Being/being) was the Word/word)

    Haenchen, 1980, "Gott (von Art) war der Logos" [God (of Kind/kind) was the Logos/logos]

    Die Bibel in heutigem Deutsch, 1982, "r war bei Gott und in allem Gott gleich"[He was with God and in all like God]

    Haenchen (tr. By R. Funk), 1984, "divine (of the category divinity)was the Logos"

    Schultz, 1987, "ein Gott (oder: Gott von Art) war das Wort" [a God/god (or: God/god of Kind/kind) was the Word/word].

    William Temple, Archbishop of York, 1933, "And the Word was divine."

    John Crellius, Latin form of German, 1631, "The Word of Speech was a God"

    Greek Orthodox /Arabic translation, 1983, "the word was with Allah[God] and the word was a god"

    Ervin Edward Stringfellow (Prof. of NT Language and Literature/Drake University, 1943, "And the Word was Divine"

    Robert Harvey, D.D., 1931 "and the Logos was divine (a divine being

    To see how Jesus was described at John 1:1 in the most ancient Coptic texts, C/H-

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  • 1 decade ago

    It’s true that in the April 1, 1983 Watchtower, page 31, under “Questions from the Readers,” the Society claims that they found out from the 1980 Edition of the New Testament by Johannes Greber that he was involved with spiritism, and therefore they would not quote from his Bible in the future.

    However, the facts are that the Watchtower Society knew, at least from 1956, that Johannes Greber was involved with demon spirits. They published an article to that effect in the Watchtower of February 15, 1956. With this knowledge, they deliberately used his “translation” of the Bible as a basis for their New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures in 1961. These dates do not lie.

  • 1 decade ago

    One God--Father, Son (Jesus Christ--the Son of God and man, born of a woman), and Holy Spirit of God (the comforter who dwells within us). The Word is believed to be Christ through which the world and universe were created and spoken into existence. "In the beginning (the very beginning), the Word was with God and the Word was God..."

    Source(s): It does not make them the same. Jesus said, "I AND the Father are one" (John 10:30). Not a numerical one, but a united one. Are they one person? How could that be possible when Jesus said, "I AND the Father." No, they are not one person, but they are one in aim, in desire, in will, in unity, etc.
  • Dulos
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    If you look in any lexicon, that text does not contain the 'article' "A". It literally reads in Greek: In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God and God was the Word. Only the JW KJV has that translation and it's founder had no training whatsoever in Greek linguistics. In their Bible however, it still has Isaiah 6:9 which says that says a 'child will be born.... his name will be Everlasting Father'..... no other child born in scripture would be called Everlasting Father, but Christ, one with God....

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    There are 3 in 1--The Father/Son/Holy Ghost are all God.

    1 egg is 3:white yoke/shell

    I often ask the JW's--what kind of "god" is Jesus?true or false?Because there is only 1 true God

  • ?
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago

    This is the new world tran. used only by j/ws it has no place in christianity. We only embrace the [holy bible]. Jr,any thing that you worship instead of God is your god be it money,drugs,job, sex, a cup of coffee, or whatever, but there is only one true God. So stop playing your impotant word game, you will be accountable one day & I for one wouldn't want to be in your shoes when it happens or even close to you. God is not to be mocked.

    Source(s): Jr. you quoted psalm 138:1 why didn't you quote 138:2 ? satan did the same thing when he quoted psalm 91:11 to Jesus, be careful of what spirit you are. Att. Mr. Teem
  • 1 decade ago

    its not the word was "a" God

    John 1:1 And the was God, and the word was with God. (thats only part of it I think but there isnt any "a")

    either A. you were given an incorrect translation

    B. Your read wrong

    C. You're trying to make fun of us Christians.

    I dearly hope its not C.

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