Last Update: September 30, 2006

John 1:1 - Does it Say Jesus is "a god"?


One of the key arguments that the Watchtower Society puts forward to try to argument against the 
Biblical teaching that Jesus is God is to try to alter the translation of John 1:1. The Watchtower 
Society New World Translation (1) (NWT) states the follows for John 1:1:
"In [the] Beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god"
The same passage reads as follows from the NKJV (2) :
John 1:1
1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
The key portion of this passage that we need to focus on is the part which states "..the Word was God.". 
Because of the fact that both Jehovah's Witnesses and Christians acknowledge that the reference to the 
Word is a reference to Jesus, this is a critical passage. If this does indeed say that Jesus is God, then 
this is a major blow to one of the most important doctrines of the Watchtower Society. The rest of this 
article therefore will focus on this part of the passage and what the passage actually says when we look 
at the passage in the original Greek.
The original passage in Greek reads:
kai theos en ho logos. 
The definite article applies to the subject, which is this case is the Word. The Word is the subject, not God. 
Second thing to understand about Greek is that the word order may vary, but is important for the purposes 
of emphasis. In the original Greek, theos is the first person or item mentioned, and though the words may 
be in any order, the word which is put first is placed in that position for emphasis. The "word" comes later 
in the sentence. Thus, in Greek, it would read, "What God was, the Word was". In English, we translate 
this to "The Word was God".
The Jehovah witnesses translate this to read "the Word was a god" based upon a mis-translation of the 
Greek, making the assumption that "ho" translates to "a" in English as definite article while when "theos" 
does not have an definite article, it should be assumed to have an indefinite article (Greek does not have 
an indefinite article). Without trying to get into details of Greek translation, we can demonstrate that this 
is not correct by simply showing that in Greek, the one true God is referred to elsewhere in the New 
Testament by the term "theos" without the definite article. Examples:
Matt 1:23
23 "Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel," 
which is translated, "God with us."
Matt 15:4
4 For God commanded, saying, 'Honor your father and your mother'; and, 'He who curses father or 
mother, let him be put to death.' 
Mark 2:7
7 Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?" 
Luke 20:38
38 "For He is not the God of the dead but of the living, for all live to Him."
There are many more examples throughout the New Testament which could be given. In each example 
given, the Watchtower Society New World Translation translates the word "God" with the exception of 
Luke 20:38 where they translate it as "a God" (note the capital "G").
The problems with this are numerous. First and foremost, this creates two gods and yet scripture is abundantly 
clear throughout that there is only one true God (Deut 6:4,  Zech 14:9 and many others). Secondly, they 
are inconsistent in their translation of passages which lack the definite article. Indeed, to claim that there 
is more than one god mentioned in this passage from John 1:1, then the Greek would have to read as follows: 
kai ho logos en theos. 
Note how logos now becomes the emphatic and God is demoted? This teaching is a heresy which is known 
as Arianism, and when you mis-translate the Greek in this manner, you end up with two gods, instead of the 
one that scripture says exists. Another mistake would have been to word it as:
kai ho logos en ho theos.
Which reads "..and the Word was the God", which in Greek would say that the Word was God the Father, 
rather than simply God. This is another heresy. But John was quite specific in his wording to be clear that 
Jesus is God, but not God the Father. Thus John 1:1 says that the Word (Jesus) is God, and though He is 
God, the one true God, He is not God the Father. John 1:1 is thus presenting the doctrine of the trinity 
(1) New Word Translation (NWT), Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, 1961
(2) Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by Permission. All rights 
(3) Greek New Testament, United Bible Societies, 1975
(4) Basics of Biblical Greek, William D. Mounce, Zondervan Publishing House, 1993.
(5) Reasoning from the Scripture with the Jehovah Witnesses, Ron Rhodes, Harvest House Publishers, 1993
  • Additional Resources


    An excellent starter book for those who want to get deeper into God's word and to get a clearly understanding as to how the original text of the New Testament in Greek reads. We lose a lot of the context of the New Testament when we read it in English simply because Greek is a far more precise language than English and that precision is lost in the translation.


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    This book was written by a man and his wife who were formerly devoted Jehovah's Witnesses. He worked at the Watchtower headquarters. Over time, there were some questions that began to trouble him, and it was these questions which eventually caused him to accept the truth and leave the Watchtower Society. In this book, he put forward the questions which caused him to leave, along with photocopies of the evidence which demonstrates that what he says is true, and completes the picture with answers to those questions. This is an excellent book to provide to a Jehovah's Witnesses who loves truth and is willing to investigate the facts.


    Reasoning from the Scriptures Jehovah's Witnesses

    For those who have had to deal with the knock on the door and were not sure what it is that Jehovah's Witnesses actually believe and how to refute them, this book will be a major help in not only clearly refuting the false teachings but also in witnessing to the truth of gospel found in scripture.

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