Anonymous asked in Society & CultureReligion & Spirituality · 9 years ago

Why do Jehovah Witnesses mis-translate the words "I AM"(Ego Eimi) in their New World Translation?

John 8:58(I AM)---Ego Eimi------- declares the deity of Christ. Jesus is equal with God. The Jehovah Witnesses translate "I am" to mean "I HAVE BEEN". This is a mis-translation of the original Greek(Septuagint).

First of all let us look at the definition of the perfect tense is according to Strong:

5778 Tense - Perfect

The perfect tense in Greek corresponds to the perfect tense in

English, and describes an action which is viewed as having been

completed in the past, once and for all, not needing to be


Certain antiquated verb forms in Greek, such as those related

to seeing (eidw) or knowing (oida) will use the perfect tense

in a manner equivalent to the normal past tense. These few

cases are exception to the normal rule and do not alter the

normal connotation of the perfect tense stated above.

The problem with this verse is the Greek word for “am” which is “eimi” whose definition is:

1510 eimi {i-mee'}

the first person singular present indicative; a prolonged form of

a primary and defective verb; TDNT - 2:398,206; v

AV - I am + 1473 74, am 55, it is I + 1473 6, be 2, I was + 1473 1,

have been 1, not tr 7; 146

1) to be, to exist, to happen, to be present

Here we see that “eimi’ is in it’s normal tense is in the present indicative, but, we also see that it is a defective verb meaning that is an antiquated verb form brought over from the classical Greek. Therefore can it possibly be translated in the perfect tense at the Watchtower states? No, why? Lets look at the rules of translating found in The New Analyical Greek Lexicon. When we look up “eimi” word 1510 we will see that the perfect tense is not listed because it dose not exists for this word! Although he does state this: “It (eimi) also forms a frequent circumlocution with the participles of the present and perfect of other verbs.” So we see that “eimi” can be translated in the perfect tense only when it is used in conjunction with other verbs. The problem for the Watchtower here is that “eimi” is not being used in conjunction with another verb in this verse, therefore it must be translated in the present indicative tense.

This same exact phrase letter for letter appears 47 other times in the N.W.T. and all 47 times it is translated “I am” not “I have been” ! Why does the Watchtower have such a hard time translating this verse? Is it not because it conflicts with their own doctrine? An because it conflicts with their doctrine about Jesus Christ they must tamper with this verse! They must change it, in order to perpetrate their lies upon themselves and their own people! They must throw up their smoke screen to conceal the fact that Jesus said he was the I Am making himself equal with Jehovah!

11 Answers

  • Anonymous
    9 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    The reason is to fool seekers from Godly Grace to following a man made cult.

    The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (WTBTS) has inserted numerous changes into a proper translation of the Bible in an effort to validate the non-Christian doctrines of the Jehovah's Witnesses (JWs). Consequently, they claim that their New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (NWT) is superior to all others.

    In the examples below, the New International Version of the Holy Bible (New York International Bible Society, c. 1978) has been used to depict a correct translation in the first quotation. (The translators' choice of words is further verified by highly similar renditions in the King James Version, Revised Standard Version and New American Standard Bible.)

    The second quotation in each example is derived from a post-1989 edition of the NWT (WTBTS of Pennsylvania and International Bible Students Association, c. 1984). References to actual Hebrew and Greek words are derived from Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (Thomas Nelson, c. 1990), the Greek-English New Testament (Christianity Today, c. 1975) and Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words (McDonald, unabridged ed., n.d.)

    Genesis 1:2

    "Spirit of God" changed to "God's active force."

    The revision modifies the original noun with a more impersonal form as the JWs reject the orthodox Christian belief in the personality of the Holy Spirit.

    Exodus 3:14

    "I am" changed to "I shall prove to be."

    The revision clouds the connection between God's self proclaimed title and Jesus' proclamation of being the same in John 8:58, as the JW rejects the deity of Jesus.

    Numbers 1:52

    "Under his own standard" changed to "by his [three-tribe] division."

    The Hebrew word degal translated as "standard" literally means flag or banner. Since the JWs regard saluting a flag as an act of idolatry, the text has been altered according to their doctrinal bias. (Same revision found in Num. 2:2, 3, 10, 18, 25; 10: 14, 18, 22, 25.)

    Isaiah 43:10

    "Nor will there be one after me" changed to "after me there continued to be none."

    The original future tense of the verb indicates that there will never be another being sharing in God's divinity. The altered tense suggests credibility to the JW doctrine of Jesus' becoming a "mighty god" while still being less than Jehovah in nature. (See the John 1: I discussion below for another expression of this JW distortion.)

    Ecclesiastes 12:7

    "The spirit returns" changed to "the spirit itself returns."

    The passage indicates the return of a human spirit to God after death. Since the JWs believe in an unconscious state after death, "itself' has been inserted to suggest a more impersonal reference to spirit.

    Matthew 2:11

    "Bowed down and worshipped him" changed to "did obeisance to it"

    The JWs evade recognizing Jesus as worthy of worship as a divine being by altering the form of honor that he receives from men and angels. The Greek word proskuneo literally means "worship." The use of "obeisance" is a NWT adaptation. (Same revision found in Matt. 8:2; 9:18, 14:33; 15:25; 28:9, 17; Mark 5:6; 15:19; Luke 24:52; John 9:38; Heb. 1:6.)

    Matthew 5:19

    "Least in the kingdom of heaven" changed to "least in relation to the kingdom of the heaven."

    The passage indicates that a disobedient believer who sins can still find forgiveness and eternal life. The JWs believe heaven is reserved for only 144,000 specially designated servants of God. The revision suggests more separation between these groups through a status hierarchy.

    Matthew 25:46

    "Eternal punishment" changed to "everlasting cutting-off."

    The Greek word kolasis translated "punishment" indicates continuous torment, but the NWT revision suggests "termination," as the JWs promote the doctrine of annihilationism regarding condemned souls.

    Mark 1:4

    "Baptism of repentance" changed to "baptism [in symbol] of repentance. "

    Nothing in the original Greek text justifies the insertion of "in symbol." The revision undermines the significance of John the Baptist's ministry, the Jewish meaning of baptism and the Christian sacrament of baptism in contrast to the more regimented JW baptism requirements.

    Luke 12:8

    "Acknowledges me" changed to "confesses union with me."

    The addition of "union" suggest something more than what the original Greek actually states and adds further credibility to the NWT distortion presented in John 6:56 below.

    Luke 23:43

    'Today you will be with me" changed to "I tell you today, You will be with me."

    Jesus assured the thief on the cross that their spirits would soon enter the spiritual/heavenly realm together. As the JWs reject the belief in the conscious survival of the human spirit after death, their revision suggests that "today" deals with the time of the statement rather than the relocation of their spirits.

    John 1:1

    "Word was God" changed to "Word was a god."

    The JWs reject the orthodox Christian belief in the deity of Jesus. The revision asserts that Jesus was someone other than God Himself.

    John 1:12

    "Believe" changed to "exercise faith."

    The orthodox Christian doctrine of spiritual justification and rebirth before God by belief in Jesus is in conflict with the JW doctrine of salvation by works (i.e., obedience to their organization). The revision attempts to describe salvation as a continuous process rather than a radical encounter and transition (Same revision found in John 3:16, 18; 6:29; Rom. 4:3, 10:4, 9, 10.)

    John 6:56

    "Remains in me" changed to "remains in union with me."

    The mystical union between the individual human spirit and the Spirit of Jesus is obscured by restructuring "in" with a compound form. The substitution implies more separation between a Christian and Jesus. (Same revision found in John 14:20; Rom. 8:1, 2, 10; 12:5; 2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 3:28; Eph. 1:13*; 2:10, 13, 15, 21, 22; 3:6; Col. 1:14*, 16*, 27; 2:6, 10*, 11, 12*; 3:3; 1 Thes. 4:16; 5:18; 1 John 3:24; 4:4; 5:20. Verses with an asterisk (*) indicate where the revision uses "by means of" or "in relationship to" rather than "in union with.")

    John 8:58

    "I am" changed to "I have been."

    Same intent as described in Exodus 3:14 above.

    John 14:17

    "Beholds him or knows him" changed to "beholds it or knows it."

    The revision ignores the context of the pronoun with the Comforter role in the preceding verse to deny the personality of the Holy Spirit.

    John 17:5

    "Glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you" changed to "glorify me alongside yourself with the glory that I had alongside you."

    The original text reflects the shared deity of God the Father and Jesus before the creation of the world, but the revision suggests different natures as implied by different states of glory.

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  • 9 years ago

    You say that the exact phrase 'ego eimi' - I am - is translated exactly the same in all 47 times it appears in the NWT. However, this is a misleading argument that fools only those who are not familiar with biblical Greek and the principles of translation. This is because the present tense form of the verb 'eimi' is NOT always translated into the present tense in English but sometimes in the perfect tense - this applies not only to the NWT but to *all* of the most popular English translations!

    Here are to examples of a Greek phrase that has a form of 'eimi' in the present tense but is rendered in the perfect tense in English translations:

    John 14:9 -

    τοσοῦτον χρόνον μεθ' ὑμῶν εἰμι

    such time with you I am

    John 15:27 -

    ἀπ' ἀρχῆς μετ' ἐμοῦ ἐστε

    from beginning with me you are

    In both cases, popular translations such as the NIV and NASB follow the translating principles that the NWT did in John 8:58 -

    John 14:9 -

    I have been among you such a long time. (NIV)

    John 15:27 -

    You have been with me from the beginning. (NIV)

    Note the use of 'have been' in both verses for a Greek present tense original, just like the NWT in John 8:58.

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  • 9 years ago

    Gr., (prin A·bra·am' ge·ne'sthai e·go' ei·mi')

    Fourth/Fifth Century

    “before Abraham was, I have been”

    Syriac—Edition: A Translation of the Four Gospels from the Syriac of the Sinaitic Palimpsest, by Agnes Smith Lewis, London,1894.

    Fifth Century

    “before ever Abraham came to be, I was”

    Curetonian Syriac—Edition: The Curetonian Version of the Four Gospels, by F.Crawford Burkitt, Vol. 1, Cambridge, England, 1904.

    Fifth Century

    “before Abraham existed, I was”

    Syriac Peshitta—Edition: The Syriac New Testament Translated into English from the Peshitto Version, by James Murdock, seventh ed., Boston and London, 1896.

    Fifth Century

    “before Abraham came to be, I was”

    Georgian—Edition: “The Old Georgian Version of the Gospel of John,” by Robert P. Blake and Maurice Brière, published in Patrologia Orientalis, Vol. XXVI, fascicle 4, Paris, 1950.

    Sixth Century

    “before Abraham was born, I was”

    Ethiopic—Edition: Novum Testamentum . . . Æthiopice (The New Testament . . . in Ethiopic), by Thomas Pell Platt, revised by F. Praetorius, Leipzig, 1899.

    The action expressed in Joh 8:58 started “before Abraham came into existence” and is still in progress. In such situation (ei·mi'), which is the first-person singular present indicative, is properly translated by the perfect indicative. Examples of the same syntax are found in Lu 2:48; 13:7; 15:29; Joh 5:6; 14:9; 15:27; Ac 15:21; 2Co 12:19; 1Jo 3:8.

    Concerning this construction, A Grammar of the Idiom of the New Testament, by G. B. Winer, seventh edition, Andover, 1897, p. 267, says: “Sometimes the Present includes also a past tense (Mdv. 108), viz. when the verb expresses a state which commenced at an earlier period but still continues,—a state in its duration; as, Jno. xv. 27 [ap’ ar·khes' met’ e·mou' e·ste'], viii. 58 [prin A·bra·am' ge·ne'sthai e·go' ei·mi].”

    Likewise, A Grammar of New Testament Greek, by J. H. Moulton, Vol. III, by Nigel Turner, Edinburgh, 1963, p. 62, says: “The Present which indicates the continuance of an action during the past and up to the moment of speaking is virtually the same as Perfective, the only difference being that the action is conceived as still in progress . . . It is frequent in the N[ew] T[estament]: Lk 2:48 13:7 . . . 15:29 . . . Jn 5:6 8:58 . . . ”

    Attempting to identify Jesus with Jehovah, some say that (e·go' ei·mi') is the equivalent of the Hebrew expression ’ani' hu’, “I am he,” which is used by God. However, it is to be noted that this Hebrew expression is also used by man.—See 1Ch 21:17 ftn.

    Further attempting to identify Jesus with Jehovah, some try to use Ex 3:14 (LXX) which reads: (E·go' ei·mi ho on), which means “I am The Being,” or, “I am The Existing One.” This attempt cannot be sustained because the expression in Ex 3:14 is different from the expression in Joh 8:58. (See Ex 3:14 ftn.) Throughout the Christian Greek Scriptures it is not possible to make an identification of Jesus with Jehovah as being the same person.—See 1Pe 2:3 ftn; App 6A, 6E.

    Source(s): New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures Reference Bible, Appendix 6F
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  • TeeM
    Lv 7
    9 years ago

    Ego Eimi

    According to Stong's, the KJV translates this phrase as "I am"; "I was" and "have I been".

    The problem translating this verse as "I am" is not in the Greek, but in the English.

    In English you can not mix tenses. Tell your English teacher "Before you came, I am" and see what you are told.

    Thus to insist that the NWT is wrong is to ignore English grammar and the context.

    The question being asked at John 8:58 is "How old are you" and not what is your name.

    the next time someone asks you your age, tell them you name and see how they look at you.

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  • X
    Lv 7
    9 years ago

    Jehovah's Witnesses DON'T mistranslate it. There you go.

    And NOTHING in the Bible "declares the divinity" of Jesus. If anything, the Bible declares that Jesus is the first and the beginning of God's creative works. Revelation 3:14 and Colossians 1:15 make that crystal clear.

    Jesus is NOT God. A person cannot create his or her own self.

    From "Reasoning on the Scriptures" in reference to John 8:58:

    "RS reads: “Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am [Greek, e‧go′ ei‧mi′].’” (NE, KJ, TEV, JB, NAB all read “I am,” some even using capital letters to convey the idea of a title. Thus they endeavor to connect the expression with Exodus 3:14, where, according to their rendering, God refers to himself by the title “I Am.”) However, in NW the latter part of John 8:58 reads: “Before Abraham came into existence, I have been.” (The same idea is conveyed by the wording in AT, Mo, CBW, and SE.)

    Which rendering agrees with the context? The question of the Jews (verse 57) to which Jesus was replying had to do with age, not identity. Jesus’ reply logically dealt with his age, the length of his existence. Interestingly, no effort is ever made to apply e‧go′ ei‧mi′ as a title to the holy spirit.

    Says A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research, by A. T. Robertson: “The verb [ei‧mi′] . . . Sometimes it does express existence as a predicate like any other verb, as in [e‧go′ ei‧mi′] (Jo. 8:58).”—Nashville, Tenn.; 1934, p. 394."

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  • 9 years ago

    New world translation is not a canonized bible... it is ONLY a spurious translation by ignorant men.

    Jw is only .0001% of the entire christians population... they are irrelevant as the voice of majority is the Voice of God. Don't get misled and get the canonized bible, the duoay rheims version.

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  • 9 years ago

    There is absolutely no reason to ever think that even if those words did mean "I am," that it is a title. Because it isn't.

    They were two simple words that Jesus was using just like many others- if I say "I am" today, does that make me God? No.

    Besides "Jehovah" isn't translated "I am that I am" as so many people say. It means "He causes to become." There is no word for "I am" in Hebrew.

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  • Jesus was the fist of all creations.

    Co 1:15 niv

    The Supremacy of Christ

    15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.

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  • EVEI
    Lv 6
    9 years ago

    There are a lot of crazy answers, but I would suggest you go see a pastor of that particular church and ask him yourself. That way you will be free of doubt. Blessings

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  • 9 years ago

    You asked this same question before and got THOROUGH answers from fellow Witnesses which you TOTALLY ignored. So I suspect that yours is more of a RANT than a sincere question. But for your personal review maybe you should take the time to read CAREFULLY the answers that several Witnesses gave in answer to you previous question, it might help you:;_ylt=AjNQe...

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  • 9 years ago

    dont decieve yourself my brother, Jesus is not God and he has never claimed to be equal with God in any way even his statement in John 10:30 has a context read John 20:17 and 14:27 for details .

    Source(s): a muslim student of the bible
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