Jehovah`s Witness/deity of christ
I just came back and read another reply by your fellow Jehovah Witness Rando and what he says seems real strange to anything I have ever heard one of you people saying. The question asked to him was
“Do Jehovah's Witnesses believe in the Deity of Christ? Is he a part of the Godhead or not?” He says Yes, Jehovah's Witnesses do believe in the 'Deity of Christ'. He says “This leads us to the word "Deity" which also conveys the meaning of "Godhead" in how God decides to rule.” he goes on to say that John 1:1 tells us about the divine nature of Jesus. He also tries to say that Moses was a member of the Godhead. Is this some supposed new light that you people have.
Thank you for writing and for that question
I can see why what has been said can be very confusing for you. I have to say that I found his reply very confusing. I had to read it several times to try to make sense of just what he was trying to say. No this is not some new light. I have to assume that Rando just has not done his homework properly.
Based just on that simple exchange, then yes we understand that Jesus is “a god”. There is a problem here though, the modern use of “deity” or “god” does not correspond with the original Biblical use of the words for “god”. That is a mistake that most people make, thinking that the English word deity applies to the Biblical words for “god”.
If I was asked that question I would first of all point out that there are two ways of understanding the word “deity” and we need to have it clear in our minds just what is being understood by the word “deity”
The two possibilities for that word are :-
1) in modern terms it simply means a god with a broad meaning
2) in modern terms it means a god that receives religious worship.
I will make the broad assumption here, that the vast majority of people would say that, in their minds, a deity is a god, and, a god is something that is worshipped.
In the Bible, there is a difference between “a god” and a “God” that is worshipped. I will explain that difference in a little while.
What needs to be clarified though, is that in any of our publications since about 1960 Jesus is not recognised as a deity, in fact just the opposite is referred to. Especially in light of part of the question asked which was “Is he a part of the Godhead or not?” Our publications will deny that Jesus is a deity. Here are few examples
“ They clearly did not
view Jesus as God or as a deity
....... they rendered obeisance to him, not as
to God or a deity
, but as “God’s Son “ (Insight of the Scriptures Volume 2 it-2 p. 524 bold mine)
“Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jehovah is the almighty God and that Jesus is his Son, <b<not part of a triune deity
</b>” (w94 2/15 p. 7)
“In the fourth century C.E. clerics of the Roman Catholic Church formulated the Trinity doctrine, which claims that Jesus was equal to his Father and part of a triune deity. However, many careful Bible students have held that the Scriptures actually do not support this widely taught doctrine” (w79 5/15 p. 31)
“The very expressions of those involved often reveal that, while they clearly recognized Jesus as God’s representative, they rendered obeisance to him, not as
to God or a deity
” (w70 11/15 p. 703)
It would seem then, that the line of reasoning taken by our publications, is the narrower view, that is, that the word deity is used to describe someone or something that is worshipped.
So to the first part of question, I would have to answer, no we do believe in “the Deity of Christ” if
we use the word deity to refer to one that revives religious worship.
Yes Jesus could rightly be called “a god”, without being one that is worshipped. There are two things here. First. In John 1:1 the word “theos” is NOT
in the feminine senses and never has been. Now I appreciate that Rando has tried to do some homework and has gone to http://biblehub.com/greek/2316.htm
to try to substantiate his understanding of a feminine sense for “theos” in John 1:1. All that the web page at “biblehub” is telling tells us, is that the Greek word “theo” can also have a feminine form. It is NOT
telling us that the actual word “theos” can be feminine in some cases. That is a mistake Rando has made that has lead him to a wrong conclusion.
A problem that I picked up on is, that he just does not seem to understand the Greek use of gender. It would appear, from his wording, as if he thinks that the use of Greek gender actually seems to apply to the natural gender of “man” or “woman and their attributes. For his sake and for readers here is some information on Greek gender from http://www.foundalis.com/lan/grkgram.htm
“All nouns have a specific gender, but contrary to English, even things (including concrete objects and abstract ideas) can be masculine, feminine, or neuter, and there is no way to predict the gender from the semantics of the noun a point that causes a lot of frustration to learners of Greek. For example, the wall is masculine, the door feminine, and the floor neuter. Native speakers of English typically make a strong association between the concepts masculine ↔ man and between feminine ↔ woman . Native speakers of Greek learn to associate the gender as something inherent to each specific noun, adjective, article, etc., and do not make such a strong association. So, we say that English has “natural gender”, whereas Greek has “formal gender”. “
We also need to understand how Greek lexicons work. They do not give us all the nuances of a word
. The basic Greek word for god is “theo”. However, Greek Lexicons do not show us just “theo” (Θεῷ) . The general rule of lexicons is to give us the word in its nominative form, which, in this case, is “theos” (Θεὸς ). Lets stay in the book of John and look at a few examples of “theo”. In verse 1 we have two examples Θεόν = theon (accusative case) and Θεὸς = theos (nominative case) click on this link http://biblehub.com/interlinear/john/1-1.htm
Now go to http://biblehub.com/interlinear/john/1-6.htm
and you will see the word Θεοῦ = theou - this is in the genitive case
The next one to look at is at http://biblehub.com/interlinear/john/3-21.htm
and you will see the basic word Θεῷ = theō is in the dative case
The fifth grammatical case is the vocative and this Θεέ = thee. The only two times that occurs in the Bible is at http://biblehub.com/interlinear/matthew/27-46.htm
When at those links, click on the number 2316. that will take you to the web site that Rando quoted from http://biblehub.com/greek/2316.htm
and it reads the same for each of the five cases. This particular web resource is quite good. On the right hand side you will see the various forms of “theō”. If you take the time to look up each one you will see that they are all masculine
. No Feminine forms are listed. To find a feminine form of “theō” you need to go to Acts 19:27. http://biblehub.com/interlinear/acts/19-27.htm
There you will find “θεᾶς” = theas and if you look at http://biblehub.com/greek/2299.htm
you will see that “θεᾶ” = thea is the famine form of “theos”.
In English our basic word for “god” is just that. It only changes if we want a plural gods
or feminine goddess
. The feminine of “theo” is “thea”
The Greek word “theos” is always, –-- without exception –-- masculine.
With the way the word “divine” is usually understood, John 1:1 is not telling us about the ”the Divine Nature of the Word”
. However the Bible does speak of Jesus having a “divine nature
”, but that is not what John 1:1 is teaching us. It is telling us about a quality
of Jesus. The word “theos” on its own here, takes on a meaning more closely aligned with an adjective telling us what Jesus is, not who he is.
The definition of an adjective is a... “member of a class of words that modify nouns and pronouns, primarily by describing a particular quality of the word they are modifying, as wise in a wise grandmother, or perfect in a perfect score, or handsome in He is extremely handsome.” …
The best way to describe the part of speech where “theos” is in John 1:1 is as a predicate. Now a predicate is ...“ the part of a sentence or clause that expresses what is said of the subject and that usually consists of a verb with or without objects, complements, or adverbial modifiers “ (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/predicate
) The word “theos” is associated with the verb “ἦν “ = was.
Second. Having the title of “a god” did not make him “a deity”. In English the word god is general associated with a deity. However, in the ancient languages of the Bible the words that are translated as “god” were not limited to deity
, and, even though used of deities, did not mean deity
(as we understand the word today). The Greek word for god is “theo” (with various endings). Scholars are uncertain as to its origin. As the NT Bible writers were Hebrews, and spoke Hebrew/Aramaic, as well as Greek, what we need to do is tie in the Greek word for God with the Hebrew word for God. The basic Hebrew word usually translated as “god” is “el”. A common word that most people recognise is el-ohim. It is true that in the vast vast majority of cases, these words are rendered as God or god. However these words simply mean “a might one” or a “powerful one”. The idea of a “mighty one” or “a powerful one” well describes an attribute or quality about God, he is indeed mighty and powerful.
In the Hebrew (OT) portion of the Bible both the words “el” and “elohim” are used of The Almighty God, and, of men, and, of angels. The word “el” is even used as an adjective to describe mountains and trees and even storms . Here are some texts that show the different ways the Hebrew words are used. The numbers <410> and <430> refer to Strongs Hebrew Lexicon. The texts bellow are cut and pasted from one of my computer Bible Software packages that show links to Strongs Lexicon. You can check each text at http://biblehub.com/
The KJV renders word number <410> as God 213 times , and god 16 times. The word numbered <430> in the KJV appears as God 2346 times, and god 244 times. Now notice some other ways these words are used. I have grouped words together in the English meanings given in the KJV
It is in the power <410>
of my hand to do you hurt: but the God of your father spake unto me yesternight, saying, Take thou heed that thou speak not to Jacob either good or bad.
Yet now our flesh is as the flesh of our brethren, our children as their children: and, lo, we bring into bondage our sons and our daughters to be servants, and some of our daughters are brought unto bondage already: neither is it in our power <410>
to redeem them; for other men have our lands and vineyards.
Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power <410>
of thine hand to do it.
Woe to them that devise iniquity, and work evil upon their beds! when the morning is light, they practise it, because it is in the power <410>
of their hand.
The mighty <410> God <430>
, even the LORD, hath spoken, and called the earth from the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof.
God standeth in the congregation of the mighty <410>
; he judgeth among the gods.
For who in the heaven can be compared unto the LORD? who among the sons of the mighty <410> can be likened unto the LORD?
Thy righteousness is like the great <410>
mountains; thy judgments are a great deep: O LORD, thou preservest man and beast.
Thy sons and thy daughters shall be given unto another people, and thine eyes shall look, and fail with longing for them all the day long: and there shall be no might <410>
in thine hand.
The strong <410>
among the mighty shall speak to him out of the midst of hell with them that help him: they are gone down, they lie uncircumcised, slain by the sword.
The hills were covered with the shadow of it, and the boughs thereof were like the goodly <0410>
cedars. (Several Bibles say “cedars of God” Other Bibles uses the words “mighty”; “great”; or “giant” )
Hear us, my lord: thou art a mighty <430>
prince among us: in the choice of our sepulchres bury thy dead; none of us shall withhold from thee his sepulchre, but that thou mayest bury thy dead.
Intreat the LORD (for it is enough) that there be no more mighty <430>
thunderings and hail; and I will let you go, and ye shall stay no longer.
And Rachel said, With great <430>
wrestlings have I wrestled with my sister, and I have prevailed: and she called his name Naphtali.
And there was trembling in the host, in the field, and among all the people: the garrison, and the spoilers, they also trembled, and the earth quaked: so it was a very great <430>
Then his master shall bring him unto the judges <430>
; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an aul; and he shall serve him for ever.
If the thief be not found, then the master of the house shall be brought unto the judges <430>
, to see whether he have put his hand unto his neighbour’s goods.
For all manner of trespass, whether it be for ox, for ass, for sheep, for raiment, or for any manner of lost thing, which another challengeth to be his, the cause of both parties shall come before the judges <430>
; and whom the judges <430>
shall condemn, he shall pay double unto his neighbour.
So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceeding <430>
great city of three days’ journey.
For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels <430>
, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.
When we understand what the meaning of the original words used, that we have rendered as “god” in English mean, it helps us better understand that the word “theos” in John 1:1 is not telling us about the ”the Divine Nature of the Word”
. It is telling a quality about Jesus. The word “theos” here is a predicate noun, telling us what Jesus is, not who he is.
Referring to Jesus as “a god” is only telling us that Jesus is powerful or a might one, just as human judges are called “gods”, they have a position of power and authority. Here is an example of Jesus own words where he calls humans gods. He is not classing them as deities.
In John 10:35 Jesus there quotes from Psalm 82, in which human judges, whom God condemned for not executing justice, were called “gods.”
John 10:35 “If he called them gods <2316>, unto whom the word of God came, and he scripture cannot be broken” (JKV)
If you go to http://biblehub.com/interlinear/john/10-35.htm
you will see that the word for “gods” there is θεοὺς in the accusative case and plural
Now here is where Jesus quoted those words from. Lets look at Ps 82:1, 6 and note the Hebrew words used here “1 God <0430> standeth in the congregation of the mighty <0410>; he judgeth among the gods <0430> … 6 I have said, Ye are gods <0430>; and all of you are children of the most High” (JKV)
What about the words that mean divine?
Really, what about them? Having a “divine nature” is on a parallel with saying that we all have “human nature”. What is the nature of God? It is that of a “spirit” (John 4:24 “God is a Spirit...”)
Rando also had a very strange definition for godhead. Even though he does say “The Godhead is not a trinity, but how God would choose to rule in giving authority” What he has said could lead a person to think that we believe Jesus is a part of the trinity “godhead” that the questioner asked him about. He said ... “the word "Deity" which also conveys the meaning of "Godhead" in how God decides to rule.”
.... Even though he does say... “The Godhead is not a trinity,...” in the context of the original question he can give the impression that, if Jesus is a “deity”, then he is a part of the “godhead”. He seems to have come by that idea, from what he said about Moses being appointed as “a god” to Pharaoh. Being appointed as “a god” to Pharaoh simply meant that he was to be mightier or have more power and authotity over Pharaoh. Moses was not a part of a “godhead”.
The word “godhead is used just three times in the JKV from three different Greek words. Here are the three texts along with the Greek words that the KJV renders a “godhead”
Ac 17:29 θειος̀̀ theios godlike (neuter as noun, divinity): — divine,
Ro 1:20 θειότης theiotes divine nature
Col 2:9 θεοτης̀̀ theotes divine
These three words do not tell us who, but a quality about the one being spoken of. Remember the way the Hebrew speaking writers understood the basic word “theo” as meaning a mighty or powerful one. Take the time to insert that thought into those words above and see what you get. It is quite different to the meanings that we now see in the meaning of the word divine.
Some Bible use “godhead” in all three places, some only at Col 2:9, and some do not use it at all.
Ac 17:29 that his nature is
Ro 1:20 his divine nature,
Col 2:9 of divine nature lives
Ac 17:29 the divine nature is
Ro 1:20 and divine nature,
Col 2:9 of God’s nature dwells bodily,
Ac 17:29 His nature
Ro 1:20 and divine nature
Col 2:9 of God’s nature dwells
So is Jesus a deity? The answer is yes if
by “deity” one simply means a “powerful one” or a “mighty one ”. If
one thinks that deity refers to one who is worshipped, or is part of the “godhead”, then the answer is NO.
Is Jesus a part of the “godhead”? The answer is no.
I hope the details above have made it clear for you.