The Deity of Christ
and Modern Versions
by Martin A. Shue
The Deity of Jesus Christ has always been a strong belief of true Christianity. Likewise, those “churches,” groups, or organizations who do not recognize the Deity of Jesus Christ are easily seen to not be true Christians but rather false religions. The contention regarding the Deity of Christ is certainly nothing new. Ever since the days of Jesus there has been a great dispute as to whether He was God or not. As you know many times the Pharisees took up stones to stone Him because He made the claim that He was God (John 10: 24-33). The Pharisees of His day rejected His claim, so too have many throughout history even up to our present day.
Gnosticism, a pre-Christian pagan religion, is one such group that denies the Deity of Jesus. After the death of Christ, however, Gnosticism began to infiltrate the church (around 85 to 90 AD). Dr. Thomas Holland writing in his Introduction to the Epistle of 1 John makes the following comments, “Gnostics believed in the duel nature of all things. They claimed that whatever is spiritual is good, and what is physical is evil. Since God is a Spirit, He is good and could not have created the physical universe, which they considered evil. They also believed God created other gods (called "aeons") who created the physical universe.
One such Gnostic, Cerinthus, took the teachings of pagan Gnosticism and mixed them with Christianity. He taught that Jesus was born of Joseph and Mary and became the “Christ” thirty years later at the time of his baptism. Therefore, according to this form of Gnosticism, Jesus Christ had a dual nature. He was both Jesus (physical) and the "Christ" (spiritual). At the crucifixion, so taught Cerinthus, the “Christ” departed leaving only the human Jesus to die. He claimed there was no resurrection of the physical body of Jesus. Cerinthus also proclaimed that “Christ” was the aeon (a lesser god) who made the earth.... Much of Cerinthus’ false doctrine can still be seen in the modern teachings of the Jehovah's Witnesses.
Most, if not all, Christians recognize the Jehovah’s Witnesses as a false religion. They also acknowledge that the New World Translation, the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Bible, is a corrupt work. What they don’t know is that the modern translation they are using is a close parallel to the New World Translation (NWT). Since we know that the Jehovah’s Witnesses deny the Deity of Christ and have altered their Bible to correspond with their belief. I thought it necessary to take a look at some of the most important scriptures dealing with the Deity of Christ to see just how the modern translations compare with the NWT and with the King James Version (KJV). Obviously, we won’t be able to cover every verse due to time and space but we will cover as many as possible. Due to the amount of verses we will be looking at I will attempt to keep my comments to as little as possible.
We will begin examining the belief that Joseph and Mary was His father and mother. Luke 2:33 reads as follows:
New International Version (NIV)- The child's father and mother marveled at what was said about him.
New American Standard Version (NASV)- And his father and his mother were marvelling at the things which were spoken concerning him;
New World Translation (NWT)- And its father and mother continued wondering at the things being spoken about it.
King James Version (KJV)- And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him.
Notice how the NIV, NASV, and NWT all agree in calling Joseph Jesus’ “father”. The KJV rightly states “Joseph” instead of “father” knowing that Joseph was not Jesus’ Father. Let’s look at one more example: Luke 2:43
NIV- After the Feast was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it.
NASV- and when they had fulfilled the days, as they were returning, the boy Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and his parents knew it not;
NWT- and completed the days. But when they were returning, the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem, and his parents did not notice it.
KJV- And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it.
Again, we see that the NIV and NASV agree with the NWT. And again the KJV is careful to call him “Joseph.” Think this is insignificant? Remember the beliefs of the Gnostics and the Jehovah’s Witnesses (JW’s). Any small change is important when it fosters heresy. But believe me it only gets worse from here.
Remember the Gnostic/JW’s belief that the “Christ” did not die on the cross? They believe that the “Christ” (the spiritual) left, leaving only “Jesus” (the physical) to die on the cross. Let’s take a look at a verse that pertains to this exact issue. Luke 23:42
NIV- Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
NASV- And he said, Jesus, remember me when thou comest in thy kingdom.
NWT- And he went on to say: “Jesus, remember me when you get into your kingdom.”
KJV- And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.
Again, notice the NIV, NASV, and NWT are all in agreement in having the malefactor call Him “Jesus” (the physical), His earthly name. This adds to the belief that the “Christ” (the spiritual) had left. However, the KJV rightly records the malefactor as saying “Lord” (the spiritual) thus refuting the belief that “Christ” had left before the crucifixion. Again, this may seem like a small thing to you but it carries a lot of weight doctrinally.
All are familiar with the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego in the fiery furnace. Let’s take a quick look at how our Bibles translate Daniel 3:25:
NIV- He said, "Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods."
NASV-He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the aspect of the fourth is like a son of the gods.
NWT- He was answering and saying: “Look! I am beholding four able-bodied men walking about free in the midst of the fire, and there is no hurt to them, and the appearance of the fourth one is resembling a son of the gods.”
KJV- He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.
I don’t think this one needs a whole lot of commentary. I believe you can see the absurdity of the NIV, NASV, and NWT translation of “a son of the gods.” Again, the KJV upholds the integrity of “the Son of God.”
Another attack on the Sonship of Jesus can be found in Acts 3:13, 4:27, and 4:30. For the article we will only look at Acts 3:13:
NIV- The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus.
NASV- The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Servant Jesus;
NWT- The God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob, the God of our forefathers, has glorified his Servant, Jesus,
KJV- The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus;
Again, the NIV and the NASV stand shoulder to shoulder with the NWT. Now Jesus is no longer a “Son” but rather a “servant.”
For our next example we want to look at Romans 14:10b and 12. Remember we are talking about how the modern versions take away from the Deity of Christ as found in scripture. Romans 14:10b and 12 reads as follows:
NIV- “...For we will all stand before God's judgment seat. 12 So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.”
NASV- ...For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God. 12 So then each one of us shall give account of himself to God.
NWT- ...For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God; 12 So, then, each of us will render an account for himself to God.
KJV- ...for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.12 So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.
Here the change is very subtle but has great implications. As you see in the NIV, NASV, and NWT they each say we will stand before “God’s judgment seat” and then we will give an account to “God”. However, the KJV renders it quite different. The KJV says we will stand before the “judgment seat of Christ” and then we will give an account to “God.” Here is a very clear statement by the KJV that Christ is indeed God. Again the NIV and the NASV agree with the NWT in making the change from “Christ” to “God” in Romans 14:10 thus in these verses they deny the Deity of Christ.
Now we want to look at Philippians 2:6. This is a very familiar verse that should be well-known to most. Pay special attention to the wording of each Bible. (emphasis mine)
NIV- Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
NASV- who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,
NWT- who, although he was existing in God’s form, gave no consideration to a seizure, namely, that he should be equal to God.
KJV- Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
Did Jesus consider Himself equal with God or not? Both cannot be correct! Here the NIV, NASV, and NWT all agree, however, they are in direct opposition to what the KJV says. The NIV, NASV, and NWT clearly contradict the teaching of the Trinity and negates much of the teaching of past church history. It is easy to see how and why the NWT does so but what about the NIV and NASV? Again we see that the NIV and the NASV side with the Jehovah’s Witnesses Bible in detracting from the Deity of Christ.
Next we want to look at what perhaps is the greatest statement in scripture declaring that Jesus was “God.” Nothing could be more clearer about the Deity of Christ than I Timothy 3:16. Let’s see how the various translations handle this verse.
NIV- Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great: He appeared in a body,...
NASV- And by common confession great is the mystery of godliness: He who was revealed in the flesh,
NWT- Indeed, the sacred secret of this godly devotion is admittedly great: ‘He was made manifest in flesh,...’
KJV- And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh,
Here it is easy to see why the Jehovah’s Witnesses translated this verse as they did since they completely reject that Jesus was “God manifest in the flesh”. It is quite shameful that the NIV and the NASV have followed along with this corrupt work in changing “God” to “He.” Of course “He” appeared in a body, Paul appeared in a body, you appeared in a body, and I appeared in a body. The NIV and the NASV have completely changed the essence of this verse by translating it as “He.”
Despite the overwhelming manuscript evidence the NIV and the NASV alter their text to read “He.” Dean Burgon, perhaps the greatest scholar ever, had this to say, “The reading adopted by the revisors, is not found in more than two copies, is not supported by a single version, and is not clearly advocated by a single Father.” I am not going to cover all the evidence for the reading “God,” as found in the KJV, in this essay. I will, however, devote another whole essay to I Timothy 3:16. In it we can look at the reading “God” in much greater detail.
Perhaps one of the most favorite verses of the modern version propionate is I John 5:7. I John 5:7 is one of the clearest verses on the Trinity in the entire Bible. Here we see clearly that Jesus and God are one. I John 5:7 reads as follows:
NIV- For there are three that testify:
NASV- And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is the truth.
NWT- For there are three witness bearers,
KJV- For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. (emphasis mine)
Here you can see that the NIV and the NASV are again in agreement with the NWT. They each omit the wonderful phrase “in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one” which plainly speaks of Jesus’ Deity. Again we can see that the NIV and NASV have sided with the NWT in denying the Deity of Christ. Since there is so much controversy regarding I John 5:7 I will discuss this verse in greater detail in another essay.
The last two verses we want to look at are Revelation 1:8 and 11. What I want you to notice is in verse 8 God, the Almighty, is speaking then in verse 11 Jesus is speaking. The verses read as follows:
NIV- 8 "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty." 11 which said: "Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea."
NASV- "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty." 11 saying, "Write in a book what you see, and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea."
NWT- 8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says Jehovah God, “the One who is and who was and who is coming, the Almighty.” 11 saying: “What you see write in a scroll and send it to the seven congregations, in Ephesus and in Smyrna and in Pergamum and in Thyatira and in Sardis and in Philadelphia and in Laodicea.”
KJV- 8 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty. 11 Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea. (emphasis mine)
Now if you look carefully you see that in each version God refers to Himself in verse 8 by saying, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending.” But what you don’t see in the NIV, NASV, and NWT is that Jesus says the same thing about Himself in verse 11 making Him equal with God. They (NIV, NASV, NWT) have omitted the phrase “I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last:” from verse 11. Here again they deny Jesus the opportunity to show that He is in fact God. I find it very alarming that the NIV and NASV again go along with the NWT in their translation.
I know this was a rather lengthy essay but I felt it was necessary considering the subject we were dealing with. The Deity of Christ is of vital importance to the Christian and we must be sure that the Bible we are using upholds the Deity of Christ in every point. As I said at the beginning this is by no means all the verses where the modern versions take away from the Deity of Christ. I could have easily listed many more but I believe the ones listed at least make you aware of the problem in modern versions. The argument is often made that the modern versions don’t completely deny the Deity of Christ. To this I will agree. There are still some verses in the modern versions that attest to the Deity of Christ. However, as you have seen, it is a whole lot harder to prove the Deity of Christ in the modern versions than it is in the KJV.
The question must also be asked, “what will they alter in the versions that are yet to be translated?” If they have went this far out of the way to water down the Deity of Christ one would have to wonder when they will eventually do away with any reference to the Deity of Christ. As I have shown you the KJV is far superior in presenting and preserving the Deity of Christ. As Christians we must reject any translation that deals treacherously with the Deity of Christ. It is our job to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” If we will do this honestly we will cling to the Bible that without question bolsters the Deity of Christ. And that Bible is the King James Version.
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” —2nd Timothy 3:16