Jehovah`s Witness/Hebrews 1:8-10
Thanks for that last reply. I can see that you researched the meaning of the Greek words and that seems to be a reasonable explanation that you gave. You mentioned the context of Hebrews and tried to use that to explain your idea of verse 6. No matter how reasonable your first explanation seems how do you explain the context of Hebrews 1:8-10 “8 But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. 9 Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. 10 And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands:”
It is clear in verse 8 God addresses Jesus as God and in the verse 10 we are told that the Lord whom I believe is Jesus laid out “the foundations of the earth and the heavens and that they are the works of thine hands”. The context of these verses counters your argument earlier
Hello again Ivan and thank you for the follow up question.
Sorry for the delay. This has taken me a while to research and put together. I apologist for this not being a simple answer as there is no simple answer to this particular passage.
I will start with verse 8. Most English Bibles render verse 8 in a very similar way to the KJV. I would like to show you how a few others render this verse.
First we need to know that the English word “God” can be written in different ways in Biblical Greek. These different ways have to do with the different grammatical cases in Greek A very brief explanation is
thee Vocative = direct speech to
theo Dative = indirect object
theon accusative = direct object
theos nominative = refers to the subject of the sentence
theou genitive = refers to the one that posses
In Hebrews 1:8 the Greek word for God here, is in the nominative case.
“But about the Son, he says: “God [is]
your throne forever and ever,... “ NWT
“But of the Son he says,"God [is]
your throne forever and ever!..” An American Translation
“but as to the Son "God [is]
your throne forever and ever, and... “ Steven Byington
“and he says of the Son “ God [is]
thy throne fore ever and ever... “ James Moffatt
“while of the Son he said “God [is]
thy throne for ever and ever...” Twentieth Century NT
In the main text of The New Revised Standard Version, it reads the same as the KJV. However it has “God [is]
your throne” in a foot note showing a possible alternative rendering.
As you can see, they vary from the KJV of “ But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, [is]
for ever and ever:”
The KJV and many others tell us that Jesus [is]
being addressed as God, while the other versions tell us that he [is] not
being addressed as God. Which one is correct?
Now to be absolutely fair here, neither way can claim superiority over the other based on the grammar
of that text alone. Why? Based JUST
on the grammar, each rendering has equal weight. So other considerations MUST be taken into account. You see this verse is not easy for any translator to translate. WHY?
In English every sentence must have a verb. However in the Greek of the Bible, this passage has NO
verbs. Simple verbs such as the English “[is]
”, are often ignored in the Greek as unnecessary, but, it is implied because of other elements in a Greek sentence such as noun cases. So when translating from Greek to English translators supply the implied verb. So the problem of Hebrews 1 :8 is, that we are not sure where the Verb "[is]
", belongs in the sentence, and as you can see from the above renderings where the verb “[is]
”, is placed, makes a big difference in the meaning of the verse. When reading a KJV you may notice that in verse 8 the word "[is]
" is actually in italics. The KJV does this to show added words.
This is how it looks when we see it in an interlinear setting
ho thronos sou ho theos eis ton aiona tau aionos
the throne of you the God until the age of the age
The expression “the throne of you” equates to “your throne”. The next two words “the God” grammatically is best rendered as just “God”. The next part “ until the age of the age” is typically rendered as "forever and ever."
In English, a verb goes between the subject and the object of the verb, or, in sentences that use a verb that means "to be," it goes between the subject and the predicate noun or predicate adjective, or some other predicate modifier.
In Hebrews 1:8 it is difficult to determine the subject of the sentence. Subject nouns in Greek are usually easy to identify because they are in the subject (nominative)
form, or case. But when the verb is a be-verb, the other nouns in the sentence can also be in the nominative form.
The phrase ho theos
(“the God”) is in the nominative
form and when this phrase appears, it normally, and usually, makes it as the subject under discussion ("God"), But on three occasions in the KJV where this phrase is used, it is used for direct address to the subject ("O God"). This is vary rare that this happens. All three occasions in the KJV are in the Book of Hebrews. 1:8, 10:7,9
. The NWT uses “O God “ at Hebrews 10:7
as well but not in the other two places. However it does use it at Luke 18:11,13
Here is a chart of where different Bibles use the expression “O GOD”
Matt. 27:46-- GWV
Luke 18:11-- NWT
Luke 18:13-- NWT;; Darby
John 2:17-- ESV
Heb. 1:8-- KJV;; Darby;; ERV;; ESV;; GNB;; GNV;; Murdock;; YLT
Heb 10:7-- KJV;;NWT;; Darby;; ERV;; ESV;; YLT
Heb 10:9-- JKV;; GNB;; YLT
Using the JKV, in the following verses, in the book Hebrews, the phrase ho theos
(“the God”) just appears as “God”
Heb 1:1, 9; 2:13; 3:4; 4:4,10; 6:3,10,13,17; 9:20; 11:5,10,16,19; 12:7,29 13:4,16,20
What this tells us is that it is up to the translators to decide when ho theos
(“the God”) should be rendered as “God” or as a direct address to the subject ("O God").Usually there is a good clue to suggest that God is actually being addressed.
There are only three places in the NT where it is absolutely clear
that nominative form of God (ho theos
) is being used as a vocative form (direct speech) and these are Luke 18
Verses 11 and 13 where a Pharisee is overheard praying in the temple and while addressing God he says “, ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like everyone else—extortioners, unrighteous, adulterers....” Jesus points out the difference in attitude of the tax collector who pleads “ saying, ‘O God, be gracious to me, a sinner.... “
In Hebrews 10:7
we have a quote from Psalms 40:8
and it is very clear that God is being addressed “I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God.” The KJV and several others also include the words “O God” in verse 9, but many Bibles do not because the oldest Greek manuscripts do not have those words there.
In all three cases it is neither right or wrong to say “O God” or just “God”.
Theoretically the expression “O God” at Hebrews 1:8
... is it probable? The majority of Bibles have gone down the improbable line of reasoning.
Since ho theos usually means
” and there are hundreds of examples of that it is possible
that in Hebrews 1 :8 ho theos
rendered as "O God." in the KJV could mean "God," and there are hundreds of examples of this, it is, therefore more probable
that in Hebrews 1:8 ho theos
What factors can we look to in order to come to a conclusion as to what is the best English rendering.
First, on the basis of probability, ho theos
is more likely to mean "God," as it does hundreds of times throughout the New Testament.
There is no other way in Biblical Greek to say "God is your throne" than the way Hebrews 1 :8 reads and as rendered in the NWT. However, there is another way to say “Your throne, 0 God," A writer would use the direct address (vocative case)
rather than the subject (nominative) form ho theos
. The only example I could find is at Matthew 27:46
. where we know Jesus directly speaks (addresses) God “that is to say, My God, my God,” (KJV) An interlinear view of this reads
tout' estin Thee mou Thee mou
that is God me God me
Both words “Thee mou” (God me) are in the vocative case.
Second, in the book of Hebrews no where else is Jesus refereed to as God. What about Hebrew 1? In the immediate context of Hebrews 1:7-9
,Paul is making a contrast between angels and Jesus. This he demonstrates to us by quoting Psalms 104:4
in Hebrews 1:7
“And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire.” (KJV) comapre with
“Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire:” (KJV)
The contrast is now made between the angels and the son in verse 8
“8 But unto the Son he (God) saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: ..”
The contrast is made in that the angels are to serve, while the Son is enthroned. But is God the throne on which the Son rests, or is the Son himself called "God" here?
Verse 8 is a quote by Paul from Psalms 45 :6- 7
. This is also a verse that Hebrew Bible scholars find hard to render. The Psalm, like the Greek of Hebrews 1, also has no verb in it
is addressed to a king of Israel possibly Salomon. The Psalms discusses How God has blessed this one (Vs. 2) He uses a sword (Vs 3) Uses arrows (Vs 5) God as anointed this king (Vs 7) Likes perfumes (Vs 8) aroused by the beauty of woman (Vs. 11)
Verse 6 reads “ Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre.” (KJV)
Some scholars assume it is an address to God, others assume it is saying that the King who was anointed by God sits on Gods throne as is the case as recorded in 1 Chron. 29:23
, “Then Solomon sat on the throne of the LORD as king instead of David his father, and prospered; and all Israel obeyed him.”
In the very next verse (7) of this Psalm, we read how God has rewarded this king, “ thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.” Why had God rewarded this man” because “Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness:” As Gods appointed king he was rewarded for his faithfullness. This well depicts Jesus as the Messiah. The Messiah is the rightful king of Israel so what is said about the king of Israel can be said equally of the Messiah. Jesus stayed faithful to his assignment (“and became obedient unto death,” Phil 2:8
Because of the context of the Psalm other Bibles render this verse in this way
“God is your throne forever and ever... (NWT)
“Your throne is like God’s throne.” …. (New English)
“Thy throne given of God.”.... (Jewish Publication Society of America)
“The kingdom that God has given you..” (GNB)
“Thy throne, given of God,..” (Leeser)
“"Your throne is God’s throne,... “ (Message)
“ Thy throne is God’s for ever..” (Noyes)
At the following web site you can see from the various commentators the dilemma that thy have with this passage as to how and who it is applied.
The question is , Was Jesus actually being addressed as God, or does the context suggest that the text is saying that he sits on Gods throne by the authority of God?
If we consider grammar alone
, Hebrews 1:8 can not be used as a proof text that Jesus is called God, and, it can not be used as a proof text that Jesus is not called God.
Hebrews is a quote from b><Psalms 45:6</b> which is in reference to a King of Israel. This King was sitting and ruling with Gods blessing and favour and is said to be sitting on the Lords Throne (1 Chron. 29:23
The start of verse 8 tells us that it is God who is speaking
There is only 1 way that a Biblical Greek writer could write "God is your throne" and that is the way it is written in Hebrews 1:8
There is a second way that a Greek witer could have said “your throne O God” and that is to use the vocative expression form of God “thee” if he really intended to do so.
ho thronos sou thee eis ton aiona tau aionos
the throne of you God until the age of the age
It is up to you to decide just what Hebrews 1:8 is actually teaching. Personally I see far more weight to the idea that the verse is best rendered in English as ““But about the Son, he says: “God [is]
your throne forever and ever,... “
An other question to ask oneself about this passage is ' did the translators that use the wording "Thy throne, O God," do so because of previous held theological bias?' Personally, I feel that it was done because of their theology and not on best translation practice.
I do hope that I was able to explain why Hebrews 1:8 CAN NOT BE USED
to teach that Jesus is God because in actual fact it is not a clear cut text and can rightly be rendered in a different way.