Jon Gary Williams
Articles / Resources

Article 0120 - Errors in the New World Translation

Errors in the Jehovah's Witnesses' New World Translation

Jon Gary Williams

In 1950 the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, headquarters of the Jehovah's Witnesses religion, published its own version of the Bible, labeling it the "New World Translation." Though the Jehovah's Witnesses claim the New World Translation to be accurate and reliable they refuse to divulge the names of those who composed it. A careful reading of this custom-made translation reveals their reason for this refusal - - the book contains many errors and is clearly the work of amateurs. Since many of their teachings are not found in established versions such as the King James and American Standard, it was necessary for the Jehovah's Witnesses to produce a Bible which conforms to their particular beliefs.

The errors found in the New World Translation are obvious. The book contains words which have either been added or changed, and in some instances entire verses have been altered in order to change the meanings. Here are a few of the blatant errors found in the NWT, illustrating how Jehovah's Witnesses have wedged their false doctrines into the pages of the Bible. (Passages cited are taken from the New King James Version. Words in bold are for emphasis.)

John 1:1 (NKJV)
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

This verse clearly states that Jesus, identified as "the word" (verse 14), was "God."

Since Jehovah's Witnesses deny that Jesus was deity, in the NWT they have changed the last part of the verse to read, "and the Word was a god."  Jehovah's Witnesses are obligated to explain exactly what "the Word was a god" actually means, but whether the resulting phrase is supposed to mean that Jesus was a 
lesser god of some kind or some other explanation, it is clearly the case that their sole motive was to remove Christ from Deity.

This is an obvious corruption of the text. To justify such a mistranslation, Jehovah's Witnesses appeal to a supposed rule of the Greek language which does not exist. They claim that since the Greek word used here (theos) is not preceded by the article (o), the word here should be translated something other than "God." Their obvious intent is that the last phrase of this verse should not imply Deity.

Simply put, this claim is baseless. Whether the original Greek has it "o theos" or simply "theos," both are correctly translated "God." To show the inconsistency of the NWT, in this same chapter the word "theos" appears without the article (o) four different times in the Greek
 (verses 6, 12, 13, 18), but in those instances the NWT translates them "God". Two chapters later (John 3:2) both of these words ("o theos" and "theos") are found in the same verse, yet the NWT translates both of them "God." This illustrates the deceitful nature of the NWT.

Matthew 1:22
"So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord."

In this verse and throughout the New Testament the Greek word "kurios" is consistently translated "Lord," for this is the meaning of the word.

However, the NWT replaces the word "Lord" with "Jehovah." (Note: The word "Jehovah" is a name for God found only in the Old Testament.) Jehovah's Witnesses wear this name and assigning to it a special significance. But since the name is not found in the New Testament, they evidently felt it necessary to put it there. With no justification they simply removed the word "Lord" and replaced it with "Jehovah." This shows a complete lack of respect for God's word.

"Jehovah" is an Old Testament, Hebrew word called a tetragrammaton (a word with no vowels) as noted in JHVH and YHVH, indicating that its original pronunciation was unknown. In later Hebrew history, the scribes inserted the vowels E, O and A for the purpose of pronunciation, making it read "JeHoVaH." However, the vowels could have been arranged differently such as in JoHeVaH or JaHeVoH. This means that the emphasis which Jehovah's Witnesses place on one particular spelling of this word is meaningless.

Matthew 27:50
"Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up the spirit."

The word "spirit" is from the Greek pneuma and in this passage refers to the immortal side of man. This verse plainly teaches that Jesus possessed an immortal nature.

Since Jehovah's Witnesses do not believe that man possesses an immortal spirit (including Jesus), they have replaced the word "spirit" with the word "breath" to infer that Jesus merely stopped breathing. The NWT reads, "Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and yielded up his breath." The same fraudulent translation is also found in John 19:30.

Notice, however, in Luke's account of the crucifixion (Luke 23:46) the NWT retains the word "spirit." This was done because the word "breath" would give an absurd reading - "Father, into your hands I entrust my breath." And for this same reason the word "spirit" was retained in several other passages (Acts 7:59; 23:8; I Pet. 3:19). So, while inserting the word "breath" in some passages, they were obligated to retain the word "spirit" in others - - another example of the inconsistency found in the NWT.

Luke 23:43
"Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise."

Clearly, Jesus was telling the thief that on that very day they would be in paradise. However, Jehovah's Witnesses teach that this cannot be, because man has no soul that lives on after death.

In order to avoid the truth of Jesus' words, the NWT inserts the comma after the word "today" instead of before it. That is, "Truly, I tell you today, you will be with me in paradise." However, this completely alters the meaning of the passage and has Jesus speaking awkwardly. The word "today" does not refer to the time when Jesus spoke these words, but to the time when Jesus and the thief would be in paradise.

Notice that there are other verses containing the same sentence structure as Luke 23:43, in which the NWT does not make such a change (see Luke 4:21; 19:9). Indeed, inconsistency is a pattern found throughout this so-called translation.

Colossians 1:16,17
"For by Him were all things created that are in heaven and that are on earth... All things were created through Him and for Him... And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist."

Here, the apostle Paul teaches that Christ created all things. (See also John 1:3.)

In defiance of this, Jehovah's Witnesses teach that Christ is not Deity, but was, Himself, a created being. Yet, if Christ created "all things" this means He is Deity and was not created. To remove this problem, four times the NWT inserts the word "other" in these verses; that is, "all other things were created... all other things have been created... he is before all other things... by him all other things were made."

Adding the word "other" to these verses is yet another example of dishonesty on the part of those who edited the NWT translation.

Genesis 1:2
"And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters."

The word "Spirit" is derived from the Hebrew word "ruach" and identifies the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Godhead.

Jehovah's Witnesses, however, teach that the Spirit is not a personage, but merely a force of some kind. So, in this passage the NWT replaces "Spirit" with the words "active force." The reading is, "God's active force was moving to and fro over the surface of the waters." This is clearly an attempt to reduce the Holy Spirit to nothing more than an influence.

In contrast to this, many passages reveal the Holy Spirit possessing qualities of personality. The Spirit is called "He" (John 16:13). The Spirit speaks ( I Timothy 4:1); teaches (John 14:26); reproves (John 16:8-11); invites (Revelation 22:17) and forbids (Acts 16:6,7). These are all attributes of a being, not merely of a force or influence.

Hebrews 1:8
"But to the Son he says, Your throne, O God, is forever and ever."

This verse leaves no doubt that God the Father referred to his Son as "God."

Since those who compiled the NWT deny that Jesus is Deity, to offset the force of this verse they simply reworded it. It reads, "But with reference to the Son: God is your throne forever."

This is an absurd and reckless treatment of this passage. It is not saying that God is the Son's throne, but rather that the Son, being God, has a throne!

John 7:58
"Most assuredly I say unto you, before Abraham was, I AM."

Here, Jesus plainly says He is Deity, identifying Himself as with the great "I AM," a term God applied to Himself at the burning bush (Exodus 3:14).

Since Jehovah's Witnesses deny the Deity of Christ, in an effort to neutralize the impact of this verse, the NWT makes a dramatic change. It reads, "Before Abraham came into existence, I have been." They simply dropped the "I Am" and substituted "I have been." However, Jesus was not saying that He existed sometime prior to Abraham, but that prior to Abraham, He had always existed. As with the Father, there never was a time Jesus did not exist.

Acts 20:7
"Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread..."

This is referring to a worship assembly and the partaking of the Lord's supper, which is made obvious from the fact that the apostle Paul preached to those present.

However, the NWT changes the wording of this passage. It reads, "On the first day of the week we were gathered together to have a meal." So, "break bread" has been replaced with "have a meal," changing the meaning to that of a common meal.

However, the words "break bread" in the Greek are from klasai arton and elsewhere consistently refer to the Lord's supper. (See Matthew 26:26; Mark 14:22; Luke 22:19; I Corinthians 10:16; 11:24). On the other hand, when a common meal is referred to, the context will always make this clear. (See Acts 2:46; 20:11; 27:35)

Hebrews 12:28
"Therefore since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken..."

Here, the kingdom is spoken of as already existing, "receiving" being present tense. The kingdom, which is Christ's church, was already present in the first Century (Colossians 1:13; Revelation 1:9).

In contrast to this, Jehovah's Witnesses teach that the kingdom has not yet come. So, the NWT gives a distorted reading to this verse. "Wherefore, seeing that we are to receive a kingdom that cannot be shaken..." This leaves the impression that the kingdom is yet future, contradicting what the Bible clearly teaches.

Matthew 25:36
"And these shall go away into everlasting punishment..."

This passage plainly teaches there will be an eternal "punishment." Other passages also teach this (Matthew 25:41; II Thessalonians 1:9).

But Jehovah's Witnesses believe that hell is only the grave and that when an unsaved person dies this is his everlasting punishment. So, what do they do with this clear passage? The NWT simply switches words. The verse then reads, "And these will depart into everlasting cutting off..." Hence, "punishment" is replaced with "cutting off." But there is no justification for this, which again shows the NWT to be the work of amateurs.

This false rendering is found again in II Peter 2:9. "Jehovah knows how to ...reserve people for the day of judgment to be cut off." However, notice that those who are "cut off" are "reserved" until the "day of judgment." If the lost are "cut off" at death and if hell is the grave, how could they be "reserved" to the day of judgment?

II Peter 3:10
"...the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up..."

The termination of the earth and all it contains is confirmed throughout this chapter: "reserved unto fire" (v.7), "the elements will melt with fervent heat" (v.10) and "the heavens being on fire" (v.12).

Jehovah's Witnesses teach that only 144,000 people (called the "elect") will enter heaven and that all others who are saved (the "non-elect") will live on earth forever. Hence, the earth will not be destroyed but only "renewed" for habitation.

Not believing that the earth will be destroyed, it was necessary for a change to be made in II Peter 3:10. Hence, the NWT reads, "and the earth and the works in it will be discovered." So the words "burned up" are removed and replaced with the word "discovered," which makes no sense at all. The Greek word here is katakaio and never means "discovered." To again show the inconsistency of the NWT, notice that elsewhere it has this same word properly translated "burned up" (Matthew 3:12).

The core of the Jehovah's Witnesses religion is their New World Translation. Therefore, one of the best ways to convince them they are following a false religion is to point out its multiple mistranslations. This is especially true since many of their false beliefs are based on these corrupted passages.