Jehovah`s Witness/Nature of God

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Question
Mr Hepburn it has been a while since I have been here and I am quite shocked at the way some of your witness friends are still behaving. To quote Richard it has “been quite the spectacle”  reading the unchristian behaviour of some of your companions.  Anyhow I was reading comments from Richard that talked about the trinity.  His comments made more sense than the other members of this board that have been going back and forth arguing with each other and being childish  lately.  

In Richards comments about the trinity he said  “We believe that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are of the same nature. This nature is different than the nature of all created beings (not all "other" created beings). This is the nature of God.”    

My question to you is what do you as a Jehovah Witness  understand about the nature of God?.  Doses Gods nature set him apart from creation?

Answer
Greetings Henry

I have not liked reading the form for some time because it makes me sad as to what has been happening there. I have kept out of it.

Thank you for that question.  Yes the nature of God is something that must be considered when discussing the trinity and the identify of Jesus and the relationship with his Father.   

From what I understand of the trinity belief system, they will argue that Jesus, The Father, and the holy spirit all share  a very special and  same nature, and that sets them apart from “all created beings”.   The question I have to ask on what scriptural basses do they come to that conclusion?   And is that a valid conclusion to arrive at.  

Different Bible translators have rendered the same Greek words differently. ( see foot note *A) Why? For many reasons.  Sometimes there is good contextual reason for doing so and at other times there is not. The grammatical construction of English is very different from the ancient writings.  Some ancient words can have different meanings depending on context, and, the  one that causes problems, is,  preconceived theological bias of the translators can mean that they chose a word that does not fit the context. .   We, as Bible readers, must decide for ourselves which rendering best fits the context.  Are there any Greek words that, when rendered into English, covey the idea that God has a different nature that sets him apart from all creation.  What texts talk about Gods “nature”?    

First what is meant by the word “nature”.  The online dictionaries have a lot of definitions from one of them (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/nature)  I copied a few definitions that possibly apply to this situation

The fundamental qualities of a person or thing; identity or essential character
The essential characteristics and qualities of a person or thing:
sort; kind; character.

The Bible has a word that in the Greek has a very similar meaning to the English word “nature”  The Greek word is φύσις  = phusis  (see Strongs  Greek word number 5449)  It has the basic meaning of ...“growth (by germination or expansion), i.e. (by implication) natural production (lineal descent); by extension, a genus or sort ; figuratively, native disposition, constitution or usuage: —  ([man-])kind, nature([-al]).”

In the following texts, from the KJV, it is rendered as “nature”
Ro 1:26  
Ro 2:14  
Ro 2:27  
1Co 11:14
Ga 2:15
Ga 4:8  
Eph 2:3  
2Pe 1:4  


In the following text it is rendered as both nature and natural
Ro 11:21
Ro 11:24


In the following text it is rendered as kind, and mankind,
Jas 3:7  

So, now what does the Bible tell us about Gods “nature” - what is his kind or sort.

We have a clear statement of this at John 4:24. The KJV and nearly every English Bible I looked at say the same the thing “ God is a Spirit:”  (some just say “God is spirit”) That is ALL we are ever told about his nature, his kind or sort .  Now ask your self this question.  Who or what in the Bible are also spirits?  If they are spirit’s does it not stand to reason that they are of the same kind or sort , that is  have the same “nature” as God?.

Before I go on it is important to understand what the Original ancient words meant that we render as “God” in our modern language. I will give you some web sites to read.   Basically there is no ancient Hebrew or Greek word that has an exact corresponding meaning to what we  generally understand as “God”.  The basic meaning of the Hebrew words rendered into English as God means “a mighty one”.  That is the same as what the ancient Greek word original meant as well.  Our English word “God” originally comes from a Germanic word that meant “an invoked one”.  Now it is important to keep in mind the original Biblical meaning of the word  we uses for God when examining this topic and the Greek words we will discuss.  Different theological scholars forget that basic meaning when they are giving definitions of some of the words that I will consider here.  They will rely on the  word “god”  and its  modern meaning and not their original meanings.  This modern slant on the word “god” has the effect of distorting what the Bible writers were referring to.

The basic Greek word rendered as God is theos (Strongs Greek Word number 2316).  Of the origins of this word Strongs says “Of uncertain affinity...”     The online Catholic Encyclopaedia says “and though scholars are not agreed on the point, the root-meaning most probably is "the strong or mighty one."   http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06608x.htm

See these web sites  http://assemblyoftrueisrael.com/IsJesusGod/thewordgod.html
http://www.bibleanswerstand.org/God.htm

What many people do no realise, and scholars seem to forget, is the Greek word “theos” (god)  is used in the Bible of important men that God approves of, as well as obedient angels.  

I want  to look at three texts that have been used by some to support the separate “nature”  of God.  I will be comparing them between the King James Version (JKV) the New International Version (NIV) the   New Living Version (NLV) and the New World Translation (NWT).  Theses will show the differences that will be seen in a variety of different Bibles translations.

Note the numbers in < > as these are references to Strongs Greek Lexicon numbers.  Definitions from Strongs will be presented as well.  The words to be looked at are what King James Only people use quite often and some others will be familiar with them. The words are “Godhead ”, and the one that your question is about the words “divine nature ”  (some of the texts I have quoted have been shortened to the important points)

(1)  ACTS 17:29  Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead <2304>( see foot note *A) is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.

“Therefore, since we are the children of God, we should not think that the Divine Being is like gold or silver...”  (NWT)

Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone (NIV)

And since this is true, we shouldn’t think of God as an idol designed by craftsmen ...( NLT)

<2304> θεῖος theios thi’-os  from 2316; ( theos = which is rendered as god).  Here, theios is an adjective,  describing a “quality”,  and means godlike.  That is,  like “a mighty one”.

The English words “God' and “Godhead” are NOUNS replacing the Greek adjective. The rendering in the KJV “Godhead”  distorts the meaning of the text and comes no where near that very literal meaning of “godlike” where as the  other 3 Bibles do portray a sense of that. The NWT and NIV both use an adjective (divine) and thus, come closest to the actual meaning.


(2) ROMANS 1:20   “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead  <2305> ( see foot note *A) ; so that they are without excuse:” (KJV)

“his eternal power and divine nature .” (NLT, NIV)

“even his eternal power and Godship ” (NWT)

is this word telling as about a quality that an individual has


The Greek word used here is <2305> θειότης theiotes thi-ot’-ace.  This noun is in the feminine gender.  This is also the only time it appears in the Bible, as such it is more difficult to get an exact English Equivalent to the meaning so context sets the stage. The question to ask here, is. Does the context support the idea of a “Godhead” (used by Trinitarians to suggest the existence of 3 divine personalities as a separate nature to all creation) is this word telling as about a quality of one singular personality?  Both Thayer’s and Liddell and Scott's Greek Lexicon simply say “divine nature” and Strongs simply says “divinity”   Strongs tells us it is derived from <2304> (which is derived from <2316>) The main thing to keep in mind here again is that it is derived from a word that means “a mighty one”. Just how to render “theiotes” into English in a coherent manner then is really a matter of how it fits the context.

Now we know that the word  theiotes (θεότης) is derived from theios (θεῖος)meaning divine.   However, θεότης, like most nouns ending in -της = tes, is an abstract noun.  Scholar Dan Wallace makes the following comment about abstract nouns:
“Abstract nouns by their very nature focus on a quality.  However, when such a noun is articular, that quality is "tightened up," as it were, defined more closely, distinguished from other notions.” (Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, page 226. )
The  function of nouns ending in -tes, then,  is to show a quality, just as words ending in -ship, -ness, or -hood in English show quality, not identity.  (see http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/-ship    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/-ness?s=t    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/-hood?s=t  )

Both theotes and theiotes are abstract nouns and, as such, focus on qualities.  Theotes focuses on the quality of that which is theos, and theiotes focuses on the quality of that which is theios.  Since theios, divine, basically means pertaining to God or to “a god”, then it is unsurprising that lexicons give similar definitions for theotes and theiotes, Liddell and Scott's Lexicon, for instance, giving virtually identical definitions for both words.  
The Greek word theiotes is used in Romans 1:20.  The New World Translation renders this word as 'godship'.  Although most lexicons prefer the rendering 'divinity' for theiotes, it should be noted that the word 'godship' is defined by Merriam Webster Unabridged Online Dictionary as "the rank, character or personality of a god", thus making it very close in meaning to the terms divinity and deity, as defined in the lexicons referred to above.
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(3) COLOSSIANS  2:9   For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead  <2320> ( see foot note *A) bodily.

“For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity  lives in bodily” (NIV)

“For in Christ lives all the fullness of God  in a human body.”  (NLT)

“because it is in him that all the fullness of the divine quality dwells bodily form”  (NWT)

Many scholars object the NWT rendering here of divine quality .  So lets look at the original Greek word.

Again this a difficult word to get an exact meaning for as it is only used once in the Bible, so context and the root word meaning is what should help us understand what it may mean.  Various Greek Lexicons will hgive slighty different meanongs to the word.  The word here is <2320> θεότης theotes theh-ot’-ace  Strongs gives it the meaning of “ divinity “
UBS Lexicon - deity, godhead
Liddell and Scott - divinity, divine nature,
BDAG  - divine character/nature, deity, divinity,  the state of being god
Just as a side note here I was interested in what the English word “divinity” might mean Please note the words in bold
http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/divinity    The state or quality of being divine  A divine being; a god or goddes
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/divinity the quality of being divine; divine nature.
2.
deity; godhood.
3.
a divine being ; God.
4.
the Divinity, (sometimes lowercase) the Deity.
5.
a being having divine attributes , ranking below God but above humans:
minor divinities.
6.
the study or science of divine things; theology.
7.
godlike character ; supreme excellence.

Now going back to the Greek Lexicon definitions, think about this, none of the above-mentioned words - Godhead, deity, divinity - necessarily mean that Christ is Almighty God.  It is true however,  that they could all be interpreted to mean that.  But, then again, they can all be used to mean having the nature of a god rather than Almighty God.  Secondly, all of these terms refer first and foremost to  the character, quality, state, nature and then, by extension, to identity.

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Remember the original word for God means “a strong one” so the state of being “God” refers to the state of being “a strong one” or the quality of being strong.

So, does the NWT rendering of divine quality go against the Greek meaning?

Now we have looked at 3 texts that are used to try to show that God (the unity of three) has a separate and complete nature to all of creation.  We have seen that a careful consideration of the original Greek words show that the word “Godhead” is niot represented by any Greek word.  Now there is one more question to consider, and that is, is the “divine nature” limited to just The Father, the Son and the holy spirit?


The apostle Peter answer that for us at 2 Peter 1:1-4 .  Here Peter is addressing faithful Christians of the 1st century. He writes

“1   Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ:
2  Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,
3  According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:
4  Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these YE MIGHT BE PARTAKERS OF THE DIVINE NATURE, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”  (JKV  - All Capitals mine).

Notice that Peter is telling those faithful ones that they might be partakers of the divine nature .  The word divine above is <2304> and nature is <5449>.  Both words have been under discussion above.  So here we are told that there are other’s  beside the so called unity of three  (trinity) that are to have this same divine nature.  What nature is it talking about?

1 they are (will be) spirits
2 they share the nature of a being “gods” - that is “mighty ones”.  That does not put them on the same level though as to  the ALMIGHTY ONE Jehovah, to whom Jesus and those that are to be joint heirs with him (Romans 8:17, Ephesians 3:6)  are subject.

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foot note
This foot note is an example of how translator will render a Greek Word differently, and has a direct bearing on this subject

(*A)  Here is an example of the KJV rendering one Greek word in different ways.

Ac 17:29  Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead <2304> ( *B)  is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.

2Pe 1:3  According as his divine <2304> power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

2Pe 1:4  Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine <2304> nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

(*B)  The JKV uses the word “Godhead on 2 other occasions from  different Greek Words, both definitions given above. The words are Strongs numbers <2035>  see Romans 1:20  and <2320>   see Colossians  2:9  above   

To a Trinitarian, when they read the word “Godhead”,  they associate that as referring ONLY to the unity of three (trinity) of Father Son and holy spirit. The word “godhead is thus very deceptive in its use.

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Brenton Hepburn

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I AM one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and I am always learning. I am NOT an expert in the full sense of the word but I can answer questions on the reliability of the NWT - the so called mind control problems-so called prophecies - how being a JW affects the individual and relatives and general practices and history of Jehovah’s Witnesses. >>WARNING<< Please be aware that there are people here who ARE NOT practicing JWs. By all means ask these ones questions. Depending on the question you will get an honest answer, but, generally the answer you get, will mislead you as to what we believe, often because, they do not give ALL the relevant details. These ones will, have an agenda against JWs., and will at times give answers that are not correct in regard to JW teachings and practices. If you are after a answer from one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, please read some of the answers that the various experts have published before choosing someone. If you want to ask one of the NON JWs a question, that is fine, BUT if you want a balancing view after asking one of the NON JWs, ask a JW the same question. PLEASE ALSO NOTE: There(have been)and are, some "experts" here who are NOT always the most courteous and polite, at times are actually quite rude, that applies to both JW's and non JW's and their answers may offend, especially when they get personal and attack the character of the person and not the message. Unfortunately some here that have done that. So it IS IMPORTANT to chose an "expert" that YOU feel will best suit YOU by reading some of their past answers . . . . .

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I have been a publisher since 1964. When I first went on the internet I found a lot of negative information dealing with Jehovah’s Witnesses covering prophecy, mind control and what many said was a very bad translation of the Bible known as the NWT. It shook my faith. After may hours researching these topics I could see why some felt that way, but, I was also able to explain why there were these misleading views. I can now set matters straight for anyone that has negative information about Jehovah’s Witness to show them that such information is at best misleading and at worst dangerous lies.

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I have been a student of the Bible for many years, am trying to teach myself Biblical Greek. Was a public tax accountant for many years untill SEP 2009 when I gave it up due to health problems.

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