Bible translation issues plus is Jesus the archangel Michael or is He God Himself?
- The God who created the universe out of nothing would
have had no problem raising Jesus from the dead.
- We need to learn from the Early Church's Greek "fathers"
that sometimes we just need to stand in awe of God rather than trying to figure out
- Jehovah's Witnesses believe that Jesus was the archangel
Michael even though not one Bible verse hints at that while many do point to Jesus as God
- The Jehovah's Witnesses claim that their New World Translation of the Bible
"stays close" to the original Greek. I don't want a translation that stays close, I want one
that is faithful to the meaning of the original Greek and Hebrew manuscripts.
6. Questions posed to me by a Jehovah's Witness
"As usual, Paul entered there and . . . discussed the Scriptures with them." --
Excerpts from email interchange with a Jehovah's Witness
- Jehovah's Witness question: Don't you believe this way simply
because that's the way you were brought up?
- My answer: I am saddened that you think I believe what I believe simply because I
grew up surrounded by others believing this way. I made, and I continue to make, a conscious
decision to accept the Biblical assertion that Jesus is God in human form who came to deliver the
human race. My decision to invite Christ into my life and to make Him Lord has made a radical
difference in my life.
- Jehovah's Witness question: If Jesus was God, how could God have
raised him from the dead? That doesn't make sense.
- My answer: It's not a problem for me to say that God raised Jesus from the dead any
more than it's a problem for me to say that God created the universe out of nothing. It's difficult
for us to get our human minds around that. However, just because I don't understand
something doesn't mean it's not so.
I don't totally understand electricity, but that doesn't keep me from asking the electric company to
hook my house up to their power lines. I don't understand how cell phones work, but that doesn't
make me sit here saying, "They're an illusion; it cannot be."
One of the things the early Greek "fathers" of the church can teach us is that sometimes we just
need to stand in awe of God rather than feeling we have to figure out everything. Those early
church leaders were not governed by the rationalism that later overwhelmed the Western church
during the Enlightenment period and has caused Western Christians to be proposition- or
doctrine-oriented rather than worship-oriented.
- Jehovah's Witness question: Who do you think the archangel
Michael is, according to Daniel 10:13, 21, Daniel 12:1, Jude 9, and 1 Thessalonians 4:16? Did
you know that Jesus is the archangel Michael?
- My answer: The archangel Michael is simply who the Bible says he is. He is the
archangel Michael. Not a single verse of scripture says the archangel Michael is Jesus
"To which of the angels did God ever say, 'Sit at my right hand'?" -- Hebrews 1:13. Jesus
could not, therefore, be the archangel Michael because scripture says say that Jesus will sit at the
right hand of God the Father.
"It was not to angels that he has subjected the world to
come" -- Hebrews 2:5. You asked me where the Bible says that angels will not judge the
world. Here it is in Hebrews 2. Because the Archangel Michael is an angel, he could not be the
Ruler of the world, could he? Since Scripture says Jesus is to be the Judge and ruler, he cannot be
I like the way Ken Taylor puts Hebrews 1:14 in his paraphrased Living Bible: "The
angels are only spirit-messengers sent out to help and care for those who are to receive his
salvation." Angels do accomplish specific tasks for Yahweh, but they will not
"judge" the world.
That should be clear from reading chapters one and two of Hebrews.
Now, as to who Jesus Christ is, the Bible clearly identifies Jesus as God:
- "The Word was God" -- John 1:1. This passage clearly echoes of Genesis 1:1.
It points to the eternal existence of "The Word" (Jesus). Only God is eternally pre-existent.
I like the way the New English Bible translates John 1:1: "What God
was, the Word was."
- "Thomas said to him, 'My Lord and my God." -- John 20:28. Unless we perform
weird mental gymnastics with the syntax of this statement, we have to recognize that Thomas
was saying that Jesus was God. Thomas is not addressing two different persons. When Thomas
spoke to Jesus, he called Him both Lord and God.
- "From them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all" -- Romans
9:5. Doesn't the apostle Paul clearly identify Christ as God in this passage?
- "In Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form" -- Colossians 2:9. If
all the fullness of the Deity is in Christ, then He is Deity, isn't He? Here's how Bible
scholar William Barclay translates Colossians 2:9: "It is in Christ that godhead in all its
completeness dwells in bodily form."
- "But about the Son he says, 'Your throne, O God, will last forever and ever" --
Hebrews 1:8. Isn't the Son being clearly addressed as "God" in this verse? You cannot come to
any other conclusion if you correctly analyze the grammar of this sentence. Earlier in verse 7, the
writer talked about what angels are and then uses the linking word "but." Doesn't that
conjunction "but" signal that the writer is no longer talking about angels (even archangels)?
- "They will call him Immanuel -- which means 'God with us'" -- Matthew 1:23. The
title says "God with us." It doesn't say Jesus is "Archangel Michael with us," or "Someone who is
like God with us," or "Someone who is almost God with us." It cannot be stated any more clearly
than "God with us."
- "They will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive" -- Titus 2:10. Over and
over, the Bible calls Jesus "Savior." Those passages include Titus 1:4, 2 Peter 3:18 and 1 John
4:14. In Titus 1, Paul calls Jesus our Savior. In Titus 2, Paul refers to God our Savior. We
don't have two Saviors. We have one. That Savior is Jesus Christ, God Himself in human
- Jehovah's Witness question: Why are you so critical of the New
World Translation of the Bible? Isn't it superior to other translations because it uses the real name
of God whereas the others do not? Don't you agree that it stays close to the original Greek?
- My answer: As to your comment that the New World Translation is the
only Bible that has God's real name in it: That is not true. Who gave you that false
information? If you are talking about the name "Jehovah," did you not know that the classic
King James Version from 1611 uses Jehovah in passages in Genesis, Exodus, Judges,
Psalms, and Isaiah? An updated version of that classed English Bible called The 21st Century
King James Version uses Jehovah in those same passages. The American Standard
Version uses Jehovah 5822 times. Young's Literal Translation uses Jehovah 5787
times. Darby's Translation uses Jehovah 5791 times. The Third Millennium Bible and the
Webster Bible both use Jehovah.
A very contemporary English translation or paraphrase called The
Message uses Yahweh
in several places. The Holman Christian Standard Bible uses
Yahweh 611 times. The Hebrew Names Version of the World English Bible uses
Yahweh 5,795 times. The Bible in Basic English uses Yahweh.
Now, as to why I'm critical of the New World Translation One reason is because its
rendering of John 1:1 -- "and the Word was a god" -- is used to support the position that
Jesus was not God Himself come in human flesh.
How did "a god" get in John 1? None of the English translations I've looked at --
including King James, New King James, Revised Standard, New English Bible, Living Bible,
New International Version, and The Amplified Bible -- have an "a" in front of God at
the end of John 1:1. The Greek grammatical construction and word order all cause them to say:
"and the Word was God."
I speak a few other languages and so looked in my Italian
Bible. It says: "La parola era Dio" (the Word was God). A more
contemporary Italian translation follows an almost word-for-word progression with the Greek:
"Dio era il Verbo" (God was the Word).
I looked in a French Bible. It says: "La Parole etait Dieu" (the
Word was God). I looked in the Spanish. It says: "El Verbo era
Dios" (the Word was God). The Haitian Creole Bible says: "La Parol te
Bon-Dieu"(the Word was God). In each of those other language translations, the translotrs
were done by scholars woreking from the original Greek and Hebrew wording.
John 1 has a thought that builds toward a climax. John intends to show that Jesus is God
incarnate. Proving the deity of Christ seems to be a principal reason John wrote this gospel as
well as his letters. Thus, rather than telling a birth story as do Matthew and Luke, John starts with
the external pre-existence of Jesus. In his first chapter, John uses words and phrases that clearly
are intended to remind us of Genesis 1. John seems eager to make sure his readers see the
connection between Jesus and God. So, he builds his wording toward that grand finale: "And the
Word was God."
Now, to return to the idea that the New World Translation is superior to other English
translations because it uses the "real" name of God whereas others do not. I assume you are
referring to the word Jehovah. Jehovah, of course, may not be the right rendering of the
original Hebrew word. Indeed, don't the Jehovah's Witness leaders agree that Yahweh is the most
likely rendered of the original Hebrew word? Therefore, hasn't the argument about using the
proper name of God backfired on the Jehovah's Witnesses? Their Bible translation doesn't use
God's exact name. It actually contains a mispronunciation.
It also puzzles me that the word Jehovah appears more than 200 times in the New
World translation of the New Testament. Even if the correct Hebrew
Yahweh had been used, it would, however, still be incorrect. That is because that Hebrew
word does notappear in any New Testament Greek manuscript. What is written in the Greek New
Testament is kurios or Lord. So, if those who worked on The New World version
of the Bible had done their job correctly, they would have used the word "Lord" when
kurios appears. Or, at least shouldn't they have been consistent and used Jehovah
whenever kurios appears in the Greek wording as a title for Jesus? Otherwise, it seems
like they were simply making sure the wording "fits" a pre-determined belief ?
You are right. The New World Translation is "close" to the original Greek. It's just not
faithful to it. I want a faithful translation. I don't want one that's just "close." Wasn't it
professional baseball player and manager Frank Robinson who said, "Close only counts in
horseshoes and hand grenades"? 🙂
-- Howard Culbertson,
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