Julius Mantley on the New World Translation

Dr. Julius R. Mantey was a first-rate scholar who studied Greek for more than 65 years. He was well known for "A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament", which he co-authored with Dr. H. E. Dana. The following is a discussion that took place between Dr. Walter R. Martin and Dr. Julius Mantey as excerpted from the tape, "Martin and Mantey on the New World Translation."

Martin: In John 1:1, the New World Translation says that "the Word was "a god", referring to Jesus Christ. How would you respond to that?

Mantey: The Jehovah's Witnesses have forgotten entirely what the order of the sentence indicates -- that the "Logos" has the same substance, nature, or essence as the Father. To indicate that Jesus was just "a god," the JWs would have to use a completely different construction in the Greek.

Martin: You once had a little difference of opinion with the Watchtower about this and wrote them a letter. What was their response to your letter?

Mantey: Well, as a backdrop, I was disturbed because they had misquoted me in support of their translation. I called their attention to the fact that the whole body of the New Testament was against their view. Throughout the New Testament, Jesus is glorified and magnified -- yet here they were denigrating Him and making Him into a little god of a pagan concept.

Martin: What was their response to what you said?

Mantey: They said I could have my opinion and they would retain theirs. What I wrote didn't phase them a bit.

Martin: I don't know whether you're aware of it, but there is not a single Greek scholar in the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. I did everything I could to find out the names of the translating committee of the New World Translation, and the Watchtower wouldn't tell me a thing. Finally, an ex-JW who knew the committee members personally told me who they were, and the men on that committee could not read New Testament Greek; nor could they read Hebrew; nor did they have any knowledge of systematic theology -- except what they had learned from the Watchtower. Only one of them had been to college, and he had dropped out after a year. He briefly studied the biblical languages while there.

Mantey: He was born in Greece, wasn't he? [NO, Fred Franz was not born in Greece, but another member of the Governing Body was Greek.]

Martin: [Fred Franz] read modern Greek, and I met him when I visited the Watchtower. I asked him to read John 1:1 in the Greek and then said, "How would you translate it?" He said: "Well, 'the word was a god.'" I said: "What is the subject of the sentence?" He just looked at me. So I repeated, "What is the subject of the sentence?" He didn't know. This was the only person in the Watchtower to read Greek and he didn't know the subject of the sentence in John 1:1. And these were the people who wrote back to you and said their opinion was as good as yours.

Mantey: That's right.

Martin: Often we find JW publications quoting scholars. Do they quote these people in context?

Mantey: No. They use this device to fool people into thinking that scholars agree with the JWs. Out of all the Greek professors, grammarians, and commentators they have quoted, only one (a Unitarian) agreed that "the word was a god."

Martin: You have been quoted as saying that the translators of the NWT are "diabolical deceivers."

Mantey: Yes. The translation is deceptive, and I believe it's a terrible thing for a person to be deceived and go into eternity lost, forever lost because somebody deliberately misled him by distorting the Scripture!

Martin: What would you say to a JW who was looking for the truth?

Mantey: I would advise him to get a translation other than the New World Translation, because ninety-nine percent of the scholars of the world who know Greek and who have helped translate the Bible are in disagreement with the JWs. People who are looking for the truth ought to know what the majority of the scholars really believe. They should not allow themselves to be misled by the JWs and end up in hell.

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The New World Translation On Trial

By Robert M. Bowman, Jr.


The New World Translation (NWT) [1] is the official translation of the Bible published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society and used by all Jehovah's Witnesses (JWs). It has often been criticized for its biased renderings of crucial texts traditionally used by Christians to support the deity of Christ. Although study of such isolated mistranslations in the NWT is valuable, it can give the mistaken impression that the NWT is an otherwise acceptable translation with only a handful of verses in dispute. This is not the case, however. ... JWs systematically distort the Bible to make it fit their preconceived beliefs.[2] In the present article, I will argue that the NWT itself reflects this systematic distortion in a vast number of texts relating to practically every area of biblical doctrine.

Space does not permit a discussion of who the translators were, what scholarly training they brought to their work, or what opinions non-JW scholars have expressed about the NWT. Another restriction for the sake of space is that the scope of this article will be confined to the New Testament, or "Christian Greek Scriptures," as JWs call it.

I should also clarify at the outset what it means to charge a translation with doctrinal bias. While all translations reflect their translator's doctrinal convictions to a certain extent, some translations are extremely biased to the point of severely distorting the meaning of the Bible. And so, though it is true that all translations reflect some biases, these are in most cases inconsequential compared to the bias of the NWT.

In this article there will be no extended discussion of individual texts. Instead, brief comments will be made concerning a large number of biblical passages. In most cases the reader can verify what is said by simply consulting the JWs' own Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures (KIT). The KIT prints the 1984 edition of the NWT New Testament on the right side of the page. On the left side is the Westcott-Hort Greek text of 1881 with the Society's own 1969 word-for-word interlinear translation printed underneath the Greek words.[3] The editors of the KIT explain the purpose of the volume: "The word-for-word interlinear translation and the New World Translation are arranged in parallel on the page, so that comparisons can be made between the two readings. Thus, the accuracy of any modern translation can be determined." [4]

There are several types of mistranslations in the NWT. This article will draw attention only to some of the most common and unfortunate.


In Colossians 1:16-20, the word "other" is added four times in the NWT to make it appear that Christ is part of creation. Paul is thus made to say that "all [other] things" were created in and for Christ, as if Christ were one of the created things. It is, of course, legitimate for translators to add the word "other" where this does not change the meaning but simply makes for smoother English (e.g., Luke 11:41-42; 13:2,4). In Colossians 1:16-20, however, adding "other" substantially changes the meaning.

What is not so often recognized is that the NWT does this same thing in several other passages as well (Acts 10:36; Romans 8:32; Phil. 2:9). In Romans 8:32 ("... will he not also with him [Jesus] kindly give us all other things?"), the word "other" is not even placed in brackets, contrary to the work's stated practice.[5] In each case, the intent is apparently to undermine the implication of the text that Jesus Christ is God.

There are several other texts where the NWT adds words without brackets which change the texts' meaning. Some of these have real doctrinal significance. In Romans 8:28 "all things" is changed to "all his works." This implies that God does not work "all things" together for good to those who love God, but only those things which He Himself does, over which He therefore has control. This allows for their belief that God does not have control over all things.

In Philippians 1:23-24 (NWT), several words are added without brackets that, along with some other changes, completely alter the structure and thereby the meaning of the text. The passage reads in the NWT (with the added words italicized), "I am under pressure from these two things; but what I do desire is the releasing and the being with Christ, for this, to be sure, is far better." There are other errors as well, but the additions indicated here clearly change the meaning. JWs translate it this way in order to avoid the text's implication that at death Paul would be with Christ. Such an implication would contradict their belief that death involves the annihilation of the soul.

Some of the additions, in brackets with the NWT, so clearly change the meaning that it is a wonder that more JWs do not question them. In 1 Corinthians 14:12-16, the expression "gift of the" is added in brackets five times, changing "spirit" to "[gift of the] spirit." The result is that Paul's contrast between his own personal "spirit" and his "mind" is removed, which again serves the JW doctrine that the spirit is not a distinct entity which survives death. To assure that this contrast is missed, the word "my" is also added in brackets before "mind" twice in verse 15. Thus the simple contrast between "the spirit" and "the mind" is changed to "the [gift of the] spirit" and "[my] mind."


The NWT also omits key words on occasion, when retaining them in the text would seem to contradict JW doctrine. The most glaring example is Romans 8:1, "Therefore those in union with Christ Jesus have no condemnation," which omits the word "now." This omission is evidently motivated by the fact that JWs do not believe anyone can claim to be free of condemnation now.

Also notable is the NWT rendering of Colossians 1:19, "because [God] saw good for all fullness to dwell in him." Here the little word "the" is omitted before "fullness." This is significant, because in the NWT rendering "all fullness" is ambiguous, whereas "all the fullness" clearly refers to the "fullness" of God's own being (cf. Col. 2:9).

John 14:14 should also be mentioned. In the NWT this reads, "If YOU ask anything in my name, I will do it." The Greek text in the KIT, however, has "me" after "ask." It therefore should be translated, "If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it." It is true that some later Greek manuscripts omitted this word, but most of the earlier ones included it, and most modern editions of the Greek New Testament (including those used by the JWs in producing the NWT) include it. At the very least, the NWT ought to have mentioned this reading in a note.


The NWT is further guilty of mistranslating or paraphrasing words in a way which not only does a disservice to the text, but betrays its prevailing doctrinal bias as well. It does this with words as small as prepositions.

Of course, it is possible to make too much of prepositions. Words like "in," "of," "into," and "with" really do not in and of themselves have doctrinal significance. Only as these words are attached to other words do they take on significance. It is also important to recognize that a preposition can have different meanings in different contexts. Yet -- though this is true -- prepositions do have recognizable functions and meanings and cannot be translated in whatever manner one chooses.

In violation of this, the NWT translates the simple preposition "in" (Greek, en) with unnecessary variations which often obscure or alter the meaning of the passage. This is illustrated in 1 John 5:20, where the NWT reads in part, "And we are in union with the true one, by means of his Son Jesus Christ." Reading this translation, one would never suspect that "in union with and by means of" translate the same simple Greek preposition. There is no sound reason for this variation. "And we are in union with the true one, in union with his Son Jesus Christ," would have brought out John's point that union with Christ is union with God.

Again, in Colossians 2:6-12, the preposition "in" is translated by the NWT using unnecessary variations. The Greek phrase en auto ("in him") is translated "in union with him" (v. 6b), "in him" (vv. 7a,9), and "by means of him" (v. 10). En ho ("in whom") is translated "by relationship with him" (vv. 11a,12a). These variations of "in" serve no useful purpose, undermine the unity of the passage, and obscure the point of the author, which is that the Christian life consists of a supernatural relationship with Christ through faith.

There are many other passages where "in" is paraphrased in the NWT to avoid the otherwise clear meaning of the text. For example, in Matthew 5:19 "in" is translated "in relation to." This is done to avoid the passage's teaching that some who disobey the Law's commandments, and teach others to do so, will nevertheless be accepted "in the kingdom of heaven." (JWs believe the Kingdom will be restricted to 144,000 specially chosen and sanctified believers).

Another kind of mistranslation involves the word "believe." One of the most offensive teachings of evangelical Christianity to the JWs (and to many others as well) is that God reckons the sinner righteous on the basis of simple faith, or believing, in Christ. Of course, where "faith" or "belief" is reduced to mental assent to a doctrine, this is rightly rejected. But biblical justification is based on faith in Christ not faith in a doctrine. Nonetheless, even when this teaching is properly defined, it is offensive to the JWs, as is evidenced by their attempt to obscure this truth in the NWT.

Most notable in this regard is the NWT rendering of the Greek word for "believe" (pisteuo) as "exercise faith" instead of "believe." As others have noted, to "exercise faith" implies more than to believe; it implies doing works on the basis of one's belief. The NWT almost always renders pisteuo as "exercise faith" when it concerns God's free pardon and justification of those who believe in Christ (e.g., John 1:12; 3:16-18 [but note v. 15]; Rom. 4:3; Gal. 3:22).

It was noted earlier, that in 1 Corinthians 14:12-16, the phrase "gift of the" is added in brackets five times, changing "spirit" to "[gift of the] spirit." The NWT elsewhere frequently paraphrases the simple word "spirit" -- especially when referring to the immaterial aspect of human nature -- in order to avoid the implication that such a spirit has a reality distinct from the body. For instance, in Hebrews 12:9 "the Father of spirits" becomes "the Father of our spiritual life." In Galatians 6:18 "your spirit" is paraphrased "the spirit YOU show."

Similar rewordings are introduced in passages where the simple translation "spirit" or "Spirit" might imply that God's Spirit is a person, contrary to their doctrine that "holy spirit" is God's "active force." So, Jude's description of certain men as "not having the Spirit" is rendered "not having spirituality" (Jude 19).

Even clearer is 1 John 4:1-6. John has just stated that we know our union with God is secure "owing to the spirit which he gave us" (3:24). The next sentence (4:1) in the NWT reads, "Beloved ones, believe not every inspired expression, but test the inspired expressions to see whether they originate with God..." (4:1a; emphases added). One would never suspect from this rendering that "inspired expression" translates the same Greek word (pneuma) as was translated "spirit" in 3:24 (see also 4:2,3,6). John's whole point is that, although the Spirit's presence in us gives us assurance of God's love, we are not to believe every "spirit" that claims to be from God, but test them by the teachings which their prophets espouse, "because many false prophets have gone out into the world" (4:1b). The NWT obscures this point of God's Word in order to avoid its implication that His "Spirit" is a person, rather than a force (just as the demonic "spirits" are personal entities and not impersonal forces, as JWs recognize).

The same doctrinal bias is seen in 1 Timothy 4:1 where the NWT reads, "However, the inspired utterance says ... ." A straightforward "the spirit says" would too obviously imply the personality of the "spirit."

Finally, the way in which the NWT most systematically distorts the teaching of Scripture is in its handling of the names and titles used for God. Two points must be made here.

First, and most obvious, is the appearance of "Jehovah" over 200 times in the NWT New Testament where the Greek text has kurios ("Lord"). Other writers have exposed the scholarly errors involved; [6] I will not repeat their work here. Instead I wish to point out two ways in which this distorts the teaching of the New Testament.

The New Testament follows the practice of the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament used by most Greek-speaking Jews in the first century) in substituting the word "Lord" (and occasionally "God") for the divine name "Yahweh" (or "Jehovah"). By so doing, the New Testament makes it clear that the use of "Jehovah" is not necessary for Christians, contrary to the JWs' claim.

Moreover, the substitution of "Jehovah" for "Lord" often obscures the meaning of passages relating to Jesus Christ. A good example is Romans 10:9-13, where Christ is called "Lord" (kurios) three times, concluding with verse 13, a quote from the Septuagint where the "Lord" is Jehovah. The NWT, by rendering kurios in verse 13 as "Jehovah", but as "Lord" in verses 9 and 12, has obscured the fact that in this passage Jesus is being identified as Jehovah by the use of the title "Lord."

The second way the NWT has systematically abused the divine names or titles is in its handling of texts in which Jesus is called God. There are nine texts where Jesus is definitely called God (Isa. 9:6; John 1:1,18; 20:28; Rom. 9:5; Tit. 2:13; Heb. 1:8; 2 Pet. 1:1; 1 John 5:20; possibly also Acts 20:28).[7] Of these, four are translated so that Jesus is not called God at all (Rom. 9:5; Tit. 2:13; Heb. 1:8; 2 Pet. 1:1). Two are rendered so that he is "a god" or "god" (John 1:1,18). The remaining three texts (Isa. 9:6; John 20:28; 1 John 5:20) are interpreted so that either Jesus is not called God at all, or he is called God only in some lesser sense. In short, wherever possible, the NWT has translated texts which in their natural reading plainly call Jesus God in such a way that they no longer make that identification.

Only a small sampling of doctrinally-motivated mistranslations in the NWT have been documented here. We have seen words added, words omitted, and words and phrases paraphrased improperly with a view toward transmuting the Bible into JW doctrine. We have seen that these mistranslations conveniently support the distinctive JW understanding of the name "Jehovah" and their denials of Christ's deity, the personhood of the Holy Spirit, the separableness of the human spirit from the body, spiritual life after the death of the body for Christians, God's absolute sovereign control over the world, the unity of God's people, and justification by faith. Were we to extend the study, we would see that every distinctive of the JWs has strategically been insinuated into the text of the NWT in a way that to the non-JW clearly shows doctrinal bias.

One possible criticism of this survey would be that it does not consider the arguments JWs would advance in defense of their controversial renderings in the NWT. In reply, I must point out that to address such arguments would necessarily mean limiting the examples of mistranslation to just a few. But, it is my experience, and doubtless that of many others, that no JW will admit that there might be so much as one doctrinally-slanted verse in the NWT. To defend such a position, however, they must now satisfactorily explain all of the examples given here. In any case, the more in-depth treatment a specific text is given (including evaluation of arguments in its favor), the more evidence piles up that the JW renderings are wrong and biased.


1 The New World Translation of the "Christian Greek Scriptures" was first published in 1950, with the complete Bible appearing in 1961. All citations from the NWT are from the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures: With References (Brooklyn: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1984), hereafter cited as NWT (1984).

2 "Watchtower Authority and the Bible," CHRISTIAN RESEARCH JOURNAL 11 (Fall 1988):19-21.

3 "By Way of Explanation," in The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures, rev. ed. (Brooklyn: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1985), 5.

4 Ibid.

5 NWT (1984), 7.

6 See Robert H. Countess, The Jehovah's Witnesses' New Testament: A Critical Analysis of the New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing Co., 1982), 19-40, and especially Doug Mason, JEHOVAH in the Jehovah's Witnesses' New World Translation (n.p.: Doug Mason, 1987; available from Bethel Ministries, CP-258, Manhattan Beach, CA 92667).

7 On John 1:1 and 20:28, see my Jehovah's Witnesses, Jesus Christ, and the Gospel of John (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1989). On Romans 9:5, see Bruce M. Metzger, "The Punctuation of Rom. 9:5," in Christ and Spirit in the New Testament: In Honour of Charles Francis Digby Moule, ed. Barnabas Lindars and Stephen S. Smalley (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1973), 95-112.

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By Walter R. Martin


(1)  The first major perversion that Jehovah's Witnesses attempt to foist upon the minds of the average reader is that it has remained for them as God's true Witnesses to restore the divine name "Jehovah" to the text of the New Testament. But let us observe this pretext as they stated it in their own words.

The evidence is, therefore, that the original text of the Christian Greek Scriptures has been tampered with, the same as the text of the The Septuagint -- a Greek translation of the Old Testament (LXX) has been. And, at least from the third century A.D. onward, the divine name in tetragrammaton [the Hebrew consonants YHWH, usually rendered "Jehovah"] form has been eliminated from the text by copyists. ... In place of it they substituted the words "kyrios" (usually translated "the Lord") and "theos", meaning "God" (page 18).

The "evidence" that the Witnesses refer to is a recently discovered papyrus roll of the LXX which contains the second half of the book of Deuteronomy and which does have the tetragrammaton throughout. Further than this, the Witnesses refer to Aquila (A.D.128) and Origen who both utilized the tetragrammaton in their respective Version and Hexapla. Jerome, in the fourth century, also mentioned the tetragrammaton as appearing in certain Greek volumes even in his day. On the basis of this small collection of fragmentary "evidence" Jehovah's Witnesses conclude their argument thusly:

It proves that the original LXX did contain the divine name wherever it occurred in the Hebrew original. Considering it a sacrilege to use some substitute such as kyrios or theos, the scribes inserted the tetragrammaton at its proper place in the Greek version text (page 12).

The whole case the Witnesses try to prove is that the original LXX and the New Testament autographs all used the tetragrammaton (page 18) but owing to "tampering" all these were changed; hence their responsibility to restore the divine name. Such is the argument, and a seemingly plausible one to those not familiar with the history of manuscripts and the Witnesses' subtle use of terms.

To explode this latest Watch Tower pretension of scholarship completely is indeed an elementary task. It can be shown from literally thousands of copies of the Greek New Testament that not once does the tetragrammaton appear, not even in Matthew, possibly written in Hebrew or Aramaic originally, and therefore more prone than all the rest to have traces of the divine name in it yet it does not! Beyond this, the roll of papyrus (LXX) which contains the latter part of Deuteronomy and the divine name only proves that one copy did have the divine name (YHWH), whereas all other existing copies use "kyrios" and "theos", which the Witnesses claim are "substitutes." The testimonies of Aquila, Origen and Jerome, in turn, only show that sometimes the divine name was used, but the general truth, upheld by all scholars, is that the Septuagint, with minor exceptions, always uses kyrios and theos in place of the tetragrammaton, and the New Testament never uses it at all.

Relative to the nineteen "sources" the Watch Tower uses (pages 30-33) for restoring the tetragrammaton to the New Testament, it should be noted that they are all translations from Greek (which uses kyrios and theos, not the tetragrammaton) back into Hebrew, the earliest of which is A.D. 1385 and therefore they are of no value as evidence.

These cold logical facts unmask once and for all the shallow scholarship of Jehovah's Witnesses, whose arrogant pretension that they have a sound basis for restoring the divine name (Jehovah) to the Scriptures, while inferring that orthodoxy suppressed it centuries ago, is revealed to be a hollow scholastic fraud.

No reasonable scholar, of course, objects to the use of the term Jehovah in the Bible. But since only the Hebrew consonants YHWH appear without vowels, pronunciation is at best uncertain, and dogmatically to settle on Jehovah is straining at the bounds of good linguistics. When the Witnesses arrogantly claim then to have "restored" the divine name (Jehovah), it is almost pathetic. All students of Hebrew know that any vowel can be inserted between the consonants (YHWH or JHVH) so that theoretically the divine name could be any combination from JoHeVaH to JiHiViH without doing violence to the grammar of the language in the slightest degree. So much then for this, another empty claim of the Watch Tower's pseudo-scholars.

(2)  Colossians 1:16 -- "because by means of him all other things were created in the heavens and on the earth, the things visible and the things invisible, whether they are thrones or lordships or governments or authorities. All other things have been created through him and for him." (N.W.T.)

In this particular rendering, Jehovah's Witnesses attempt one of the most clever perversions of the New Testament texts that the author has ever seen. Knowing full well that the word OTHER does not occur in this text, or for that matter in any of the three texts (verses 16,17, 19), the Witnesses deliberately insert it into the translation in a vain attempt to make Christ a creature and one of the "things" He is spoken of as having created.

Attempting to justify this unheard of travesty upon the Greek language and simple honesty, the New World Translation committee insert a footnote, marked (a) after each use of the word "other", which refers the reader to Luke 13:2,4, "and elsewhere," for apparent support of their ungrammatical rendering. Upon turning to Luke 13:2,4, however, the elementary Greek student can see that the Witnesses plainly do not have any grammatical leg to stand on as is shown by their immature reasoning. The verses utilized by the WatchTower to cover up their scholastic dishonesty are as follows:

So in reply, he said to them: "Do you imagine that these Galileans were proved worse sinners than all OTHER Galileans because they have suffered these things?" (verse 2, N.W.T.).

"Or those eighteen upon whom the tower of Siloam fell, thereby killing them, do you imagine that they were proved greater debtors than all OTHER men inhabiting Jerusalem?" (verse 4, N.W.T.).

In the translation of these verses, the Watch Tower translators also inserted the word "other," not present in the Greek text, on the ground that it is implied in the context, owing to the comparison made by Jesus. It is admissible, of course, that Jesus was drawing a contrast between certain Galileans and their fellow countrymen; but it is NOT admissible to insert terms in order to prove a doctrinal point, and in Colossians 1:15-17 no such comparison or contrast is being made anyway; unless, as is the case with Jehovah's Witnesses, one assumes that Christ Himself was a "creature" or a "thing", which would necessitate inserting the word "other" in order to conform Scripture to a preconceived theology.

It is incorrect grammar, no reputable translation dares tamper with doctrinal texts in this way, and not one single competent Greek authority can be cited for this deliberate attempt to reduce the Son of God from Creator to creature.

The entire context of Colossians 1:15-22 is filled with superlatives in its description of the Lord Jesus as the "image of the invisible God, the first-begetter [or 'original bringer forth' -- Erasmus] of every creature." The Apostle Paul lauds the Son of God as creator of all things (verse 16) and describes Him as existing "before all things" and "holding together all things" (verse 17). This is in perfect harmony with the entire picture Scripture points of the eternal Word of God (John 1:1) who was made flesh (John 1:14) and of whom it was written: "All things were make by him, and without him was nothing made that was made" (John 1:3).

The writer of the book of Hebrews also pointed out that God's Son "upholds all things by the word of his power" (Hebrews 1:3) and that He is Deity in all its fullness, even as Paul wrote to the Colossians: "For ... in him should all the fullness [of God] dwell" (Colossians 1:19 A.S.V.).

The Scriptures, therefore, bear unmistakable testimony to the creative activity of God's Son, distinguishing Him from among the "things" created, as THE Creator and Sustainer of "all things."

Jehovah's Witnesses have no conceivable ground, then, for this dishonest rendering of Colossians 1:16,17 and 19 by the insertion of the word "other" since they are supported by no grammatical authorities, nor do they dare dispute their perversions with competent scholars lest they further parade their obvious ignorance of Greek exegesis.

EDITOR'S NOTE: As Martin notes below, the WatchTower Cult eventually succumbed to scrutiny and corrected this one gross mis-translation.

(3)  Matthew 27:50 -- "Again Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and ceased to breathe." (N.W.T.) [Note: Later versions of the NWT have changed the above.]

Luke 23:46 -- "And Jesus called with a loud voice and said: Father, into your hands I entrust my spirit" (N.W.T.).

For many years the Watch Tower has been fighting a vain battle to redefine Biblical terms to suit their own peculiar theological interpretations. They have had some measure of success in this attempt in that they have taught the rank and file a new meaning for tried and true Biblical terms, and it is this trait of their deceptive system that we analyze now in connection with the above quoted verses.

The interested student of Scripture will note from Matthew 27:50 and Luke 23:46 that they are parallel passages describing the same event, namely the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. In Matthew's account, the Witnesses had no difficulty substituting the word "breath" for the Greek spirit (pneuma), for in their vocabulary this word has many meanings, none of them having any bearing upon the general usage of the term, Biblically, i.e., that of an immaterial cognizant nature, inherent in man by definition and descriptive of angels through creation. Jehovah's Witnesses reject this immaterial nature in man and call it "breath," "life," "mental disposition" or "something wind like." In fact, they will call it anything but what God's Word says it is, an invisible nature, eternal by creation, a spirit, made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). Sometimes and in various contexts, spirit (pneuma) can mean some of the things the Witnesses hold, but context determines translation, along with grammar, and their translations quite often do not remain true to either.

Having forced the word "breath" into Matthew's account of the crucifixion, to make it appear that Jesus only stopped breathing and did not yield up His invisible nature upon dying, the Witnesses plod on to Luke"s account, only to be caught in their own trap.

Luke, learned scholar and master of Greek that he was, forces the Witnesses to render his account of Christ's words using the correct term "spirit" (pneuma), instead of "breath" as in Matthew 27:50. Thus in one fell swoop the entire watch Tower fabric of manufactured terminology collapses, because Jesus would hardly have said: "Father into thy hands I commit my breath" -- yet if the Witnesses are consistent, which they seldom are, why did they not render the identical Greek term (pneuma) as "breath" both times, for it is a parallel account of the same scene.

The solution to this question is quite elementary as all can clearly see. The Witnesses could not render it "breath" in Luke and get away with it, so they used it where they could and hoped nobody would notice it, or the different rendering in Matthew. The very fact that Christ dismissed His spirit proves the survival of the human spirit beyond the grave, or as Solomon so wisely put it:

"Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit [pneuma -- LXX] shall return unto God who gave it" (Ecclesiastes 12:7).

(4)  Philippians 1:21-23 - "For in my case to live is Christ, and to die, gain. Now if it be to live on in the flesh, this is a fruitage of my work ... and yet which thing to choose I do not know. I am under pressure from these two things; but what I do desire is the releasing and the being with Christ, for this, to be sure, is far better" (N.W.T.).

In common with other cults that teach soul-sleep after the death of the body, Jehovah's Witnesses translate texts contradicting this view to suit their own ends, a prime example of which is their rendering of Philippians 1:21-23. To anyone possessing even a cursory knowledge of Greek grammar the translation "but what I do desire is the releasing..." (verse 23) signifies either a woeful ignorance of the rudiments of the language or a deliberate, calculated perversion of terminology for a purpose or purposes most questionable.

It is no coincidence that this text is a great "proof" passage for the expectation of every true Christian who after death goes to be with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). Jehovah's Witnesses realize that if this text goes unchanged or unchallenged it destroys utterly their Russellite teaching that the soul becomes extinct at the death of the body. this being the case, and since they could not challenge the text without exploding the myth of their acceptance of the Bible as the final authority, the Watch Tower committee chose to alter the passage in question, give it a new interpretation, and remove this threat to their theology.

The rendering, "but what I do desire is the releasing ..., " particularly the last word, is a gross imposition upon the principles of Greek exegesis because the untutored Russellites have rendered the first aorist active infinitive of the verb analuoo (analusai) as a substantive ("the releasing"), which in this context is unscholarly and atrocious Greek. In order to translate it "the releasing," the form would have to be the participle construction (analusas), which when used with the word "wish" or "desire" denotes "a great longing" or "purpose" and must be rendered "to depart" or "to unloose". (See Thayer, Liddell and Scott, Strong, Young and A.T. Robertson.)

Quite frankly, it may appear that I have gone to a great deal of trouble just to refute the wrong usage of a Greek form, but in truth this simple switching of terms is used by the Witnesses in an attempt to teach that Paul meant something entirely different than what he wrote to the Philippians. To see just how the Watch Tower manages this, I quote from their own Appendix to the New World Translation which appears on pages 780, 781:

"The verb a-na-ly'sai is used as a verbal noun here. It occurs only once more in the Christian Greek Scriptures, and that is at Luke 12:36, where it refers to Christ's return. The related noun (a-na'-ly-sis) occurs but once, at 2 Timothy 4:6, where the apostle says: "The due time for my releasing is imminent." ... But here at Philippians 1:23 we have not rendered the verb as "returning" or "departing," but as "releasing". The reason is, that the word may convey two thoughts, the apostle's own releasing to be with Christ at His return and also the Lord's releasing Himself from the heavenly restraints and returning as He promised.

"In no way is the apostle here saying that immediately at his death he would be changed into spirit and would be with Christ forever. ... It is to this return of Christ and the apostle's releasing to be always with the Lord that Paul refers at Philippians 1:23. he says there that two things are immediately possible for him, namely, (1) to live on in the flesh and (2) to die. Because of the circumstances to be considered, he expressed himself as being under pressure from these two things, not knowing which thing to choose as proper. Then he suggests a third thing, and this thing he really desires. There is no question about his desire for this thing as preferable, namely, the releasing, for it means his being with Christ.

"The expression to a-na-ly'sai, or the releasing cannot therefore be applied to the apostle's death as a human creature and his departing thus from this life. It must refer to the events at the time of Christ's return and second coming and the rising of all those dead in Christ to be with him forevermore."

Here, after much grammatical intrigue, we have the key as to why the Witnesses went to so much trouble to render "depart" as "releasing." By slipping in this grammatical error, the Watch Tower hoped to "prove" that Paul wasn't really discussing his impending death and subsequent reunion with Christ at all (a fact every major Biblical scholar and translator in history has held), but a third thing, namely, "the events at the time of Christ's return and second presence." With breathtaking dogmatism, the Witnesses claim that "the releasing cannot therefore be applied to the Apostle's death. It must refer to the events at the time of Christ's return ... ."

Words fail the trained mind when confronted with this classic example of unparalleled deceit, which finds no support in any Greek text or exegetical grammatical authority. Contrary to the WatchTower's statement that "the word may convey two thoughts, the Apostle's 'releasing' to be with Christ at his return, and also the Lord's 'releasing' himself from the heavenly restraints and returning as he promised" (page 781), the Greek text offers no such thought. As a matter of plain exegetical fact, Christ's return is not even the subject of discussion -- rather it is the Apostle's death and his concern for the Philippians that is here portrayed.

That Paul never expected to "sleep" in his grave until the resurrection as Jehovah's Witnesses maintain is evident by the twenty-first verse of the chapter literally -- "For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." There would be no gain in dying if men slept till the resurrection, for "God is not the God of the dead but of the living" (Mark 12:27). Clearly then, Paul was speaking of but two things: his possible death and subsequent presence with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8), and also the possibility of his continuing on in the body, the latter being "more needful" for the Philippian Christians. His choice in his own words was between these two (verse 23), and Jehovah's Witnesses have gone to great trouble for nothing; the Greek text still records faithfully what the inspired Apostle said -- not what the Watch Tower maintains he said, all their deliberate trickery to the contrary.

Concluding our comments upon these verses in Philippians, we feel constrained to point out a final example of Watch Tower dishonesty relative to Greek translation.

On page 781 of the New World Translation, it will be recalled that the Committee wrote: "The expression to a-na-ly'-sai or the releasing cannot therefore apply to the apostle's death as a human creature and his departing thus from this life."

If the interested reader will turn to page 628 of the same Watch Tower Translation, he will observe that in 2 Timothy 4:6 the Witnesses once more use the term "releasing" (analuseos), where all translators are agreed that it refers to Paul's impending death.

The Revised Standard Version, often appealed to by Jehovah's Witnesses, puts it this way: "For I am already on the point of being sacrificed, the time of my departure has come." (See also -- An American Translation [Goodspeed], Authorized Version, J.N. Darby's Version, James Moffatt's Version, J.B. Rotherham's Version, Douay Version [Roman Catholic], etc.).

Jehovah's Witnesses themselves render the text: "For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the due time of my releasing is imminent" (2 Timothy 4:6, N.W.T.).

Now since it is admitted by the Witnesses under the pressure of every translator's rendering of his text, that it refers to Paul's death, and further, since the noun form of the Greek word (analuseos) is here used and translated "releasing," why is it that they claim on page 781 that this expression "the releasing (analusai -- Philippians 1:23) "... cannot therefore apply to the apostle's death as a human creature and his departing thus from this life"? The question becomes more embarrassing when it is realized that Jehovah's Witnesses themselves admit that these two forms (analusai and analuseos) are "related" (page 781). Hence they have no excuse for maintaining in one place (Philippians 1:23) that "the releasing" cannot refer to the apostle's death, and in another place (2 Timothy 4:6) using a form of the same word, and allowing that it does refer to his death.

This one illustration alone should serve to warn all honest people of the blatant deception employed in the Watch Tower's "translations", a name not worthy of application in many, many places.

(5) Matthew 24:3 -- "While he was sitting upon the mount of Olives, the disciples approached him privately, saying: 'Tell us, When will these things be, and what will be the sign of your presence and of the consummation of the system of things?" (N.W.T.).

Since the days of "Pastor" Russell and Judge Rutherford, one of the favourite dogmas of the Watch Tower has been that of the parousia, the second coming or "presence" of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jehovah's Witnesses, loyal Russellites that they are, have tenaciously clung to the "Pastor's" theology in this respect and maintain that in the year 1914 when the "times of the gentiles" ended (according to Russell) the "second presence" of Christ began. (See Make Sure of All Things, page 319 -- Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society.)

From the year 1914 onward, the Witnesses maintain, Christ has turned his attention toward earth's affairs and is dividing the peoples and educating the true Christians in preparation for their survival during the great storm of Armageddon, when all unfaithful mankind will be destroyed from the face of the earth (op. cit., page 319).

For Jehovah's Witnesses, then, Christ is not coming; He is here! (A.D. 1914) -- only invisibly --  and He is directing His activities through His theocratic organization in Brooklyn, New York. In view of this claim, it might be well to hearken unto the voice of Matthew who wrote:

Then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall deceive the very elect. Behold I have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be (Matthew 24:23-27).

Jehovah's Witnesses in their New World Translation on page 780 list the twenty-four occurrences of the Greek word parousia, which they translate each time as "presence." They give the following defense found on page 779:

The tendency of many translators is to render it here "coming" or "arrival." But throughout the twenty-four occurrences, the Greek word parousia ... we have rendered it "presence." from the comparison of the parousia of the Son of man with the days of Noah at Matthew 24:37-39, it is very evident that the meaning of the word is as we have rendered it. And from the contrast that is made between the presence and the absence of the apostle both at 2 Corinthians 10:10-11 and at Philippians 2:12, the meaning of parousia is so plain that it is beyond dispute by other translators.

Following this gigantic claim, namely, that their translation of the word parousia is "beyond dispute by other translators," the theocratic authorities proceed to list the verses in question.

Now the main issue is not the translation of parousia by "presence" because in some contexts it is certainly allowable (see 1 Corinthians 16:16, 2 Corinthians 7:6,7; 10:10 and Philippians 1:26; 2:12). But there are other contexts where it cannot be allowed in the way Jehovah's Witnesses use it, because it not only violates the contextual meaning of the word, but the entire meaning of the passages as always held by the Christian Church.

Jehovah's Witnesses claim scholarship for this blanket translation of parousia, yet not one great scholar in the history of Greek exegesis and translation has ever held this view. Since 1877, when "Pastor" Russell produced this concept, it has been denounced by every competent scholar upon examination.

The reason this Russellite rendering is so dangerous is that it attempts to prove that parousia in regard to Christ's second advent really means that His return or "presence" was to be invisible and unknown to all but "the faithful" (Russellites, of course). (See Make Sure of All Things, pages 319, 320-323).

The New World Translators, therefore, on the basis of those texts where it is acceptable to render parousia "presence," conclude that it must be acceptable in all texts. But while it appears to be acceptable grammatically, no one but Jehovah's Witnesses or their sympathizers accepts the New World blanket use of "presence," be the translators Christian or not. It simply is not good grammar, and it will not stand up under comparative exegesis as will be shown. To conclude that "presence" necessarily implies invisibility is also another flaw in the Watch Tower's argument, for in numerous places where they render parousia "presence" the persons spoken of were hardly invisible. (See 1 Corinthians 16:17; 2 Corinthians 7:6 and 10:10, also Philippians 1:26 and 2:12.)

If the Watch Tower were to admit for one moment that parousia can be translated "coming" or "arrival", in the passages which speak of Christ's return the way all scholarly translators render it, then "Pastor" Russell's "invisible presence" of Christ would explode in their faces. Hence their determination to deny what all recognized Greek authorities have established.

Dr. Joseph F. Thayer, a Unitarian scholar, author of one of the best lexicons of the Greek New Testament (who, incidentally, denied the visible second coming of Christ), says on page 490 of that work, when speaking of parousia: "...a return (Philippians 1:26) ... In the Advent, i.e., the future visible return from heaven of Jesus, the Messiah, to raise the dead, hold the last judgement, and set up formally and gloriously the Kingdom of God." (For further references, see Liddell and Scott, Strong and any other reputable authority.)

Dr. Thayer, it might be mentioned, was honest enough to say what the New Testament Greek taught, even though he didn't believe it. One could wish that Jehovah's Witnesses were at least that honest, but they are not!

In concluding this discussion of the misuse of parousia we shall discuss the verses Jehovah's Witnesses use to "prove" that Christ's return was to be an invisible "presence" instead of a visible glorious, verifiable event.

The following references and their headings were taken from the book, Make Sure of All Things, published by the Watch Tower as an official guide to their doctrine.

(1) Angels Testified at Jesus' Ascension as a Spirit that Christ Would Return in Like Manner, Quiet, Unobserved by the Public (page 320).

And after he had said these things while they (only the disciples) were looking on, he was lifted up and a cloud caught him up from their vision...."Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus who was received up from you into heaven will come thus in the same manner as you have beheld him going into heaven" (Acts 1:9, 11, N.W.T.).

It is quite unnecessary to refute in detail this open perversion of a clear Biblical teaching because as John 20:27 clearly shows, Christ was not a spirit, and did not ascent as one. The very text they quote shows that the disciples were "looking on" and saw him "lifted up and a cloud caught him from their vision" (verse 9). They could hardly have been looking at a spirit, which by definition is incorporeal, (even angels have to take a human form in order to be seen [Genesis 19:1,2]) not with human eyes as least, and Christ had told them once before, "Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a Spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have" (Luke 24:39).

So it remains for Christ Himself to denounce the Russellite error that He "ascended as a spirit." Moreover, since He left the earth visibly from the Mount of Olives it is certain that He will return visibly even as the Scriptures teach (see Matthew 26:63,64; Daniel 7:13,14; Revelation 1:7,8; Matthew 24:7,8,30).

(2) Christ's Return Invisible, as He Testified that Man Would Not See Him Again in Human Form (page 321).

A little longer and the world will behold me no more (John 14:19, N.W.T.).

For I say to you, You shall by no means see me from henceforth until you say, "Blessed is he that comes in Jehovah's name!" (Matthew 23:39, N.W.T.).

These two passages in their respective contexts give no support to the Russellite doctrine of an invisible "presence" of Christ for two very excellent reasons:

(a) John 14:19 refers to Christ's anticipated death and resurrection -- the "little longer" He made reference to could only have referred to His resurrection and subsequent ascension (Acts 1:9,11), before which time and during the period following His resurrection He appeared only to believers, not the world (or unbelievers), hence the clear meaning of His words. Jesus never said that NO one would ever "see Him Again in Human Form" as the Watch Tower likes to make out. Rather in the same chapter He promised to "come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there you may be also" (verse 3). The Bible also is quite clear in telling us that one day by His grace alone "we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is" (1 John 3:2). So the WatchTower once more is forced to silence by the voice of the Holy Spirit.

(b) This second text, Matthew 23:39, really proves nothing at all for the Watch Tower's faltering arguments except that Jerusalem will never see Christ again until it blesses Him in repentance as the anointed of God. Actually the text hurts the Russellite position, for it teaches that Christ will be VISIBLE at His coming, else they could not see Him to bless Him in the name of the Lord.

Christ also qualified the statement with the word "until," a definite reference to His visible second advent (Matthew 24:30).

(3) Early Christians Expected Christ's Return to Be Invisible. Paul Argued there Was Insufficient Evidence in Their Day (page 321).

However, brothers, respecting the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we request of you not to be quickly shaken from your reason nor to be excited either through an inspired expression or through a verbal message or though a letter as though from us, to the effect that the day of Jehovah is here. Let no one seduce you in any manner, because it will not come unless the falling away comes first and the man of lawlessness gets revealed, the son of destruction (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3).

This final example from 2 Thessalonians most vividly portrays the Witnesses at their crafty best, as they desperately attempt to make Paul teach what in all his writings he most emphatically denied, namely that Christ would come invisibly for His saints.

In his epistle to Titus, Paul stressed the importance of "looking for that blessed hope, the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ" (2:13), something he would not have been looking for if it was to be a secret, invisible parousia or "presence."

Paul, contrary to Jehovah's Witnesses, never believed in an invisible return, nor did any bona fide member of the Christian Church up until the fantasies of Charles Taze Russell and his parousia nightmare, as a careful look at Paul's first epistle to the Thessalonians plainly reveals. Said the inspired Apostle:

For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the COMING of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven [visible] with a shout [audible], with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first (4:15,16).

Here we see that in perfect accord with Matthew 26 and Revelation 1, Christ is pictured as coming visibly, and in this context no reputable Greek scholar alive will allow the use of "presence"; it must be "coming." (See also 2 Thessalonians 2:8.)

For further information relative to this subject, consult any standard concordance and Greek lexicon available, and trace Paul's use of the word "Coming," etc. This will convince any fair-minded person that Paul never entertained the Watch Tower's fantastic view of Christ's return.These things being clearly understood, the interested reader should give careful attention to those verses in the New Testament which do not use the word parousia but are instead forms of the verb elthon and related to the word erchomai, (See Thayer, page 250ff) and which refer to the Lord's coming as a visible manifestation. These various texts cannot be twisted to fit the Russellite pattern of "presence," since erchomai means "to come," "to appear," "to arrive," etc., in the most definite sense of the term. (For reference, check Matthew 24:30 in conjunction with Matthew 26:64 -- erchomenon; also John 14:3 -- echomai; and Revelation 1:7 -- erchetai.)

Once it is perceived that Jehovah's Witnesses are only interested in what they can make the Scriptures say, and not in what the Holy Spirit has already perfectly revealed, then the careful student will reject entirely Jehovah's Witnesses and their Watch Tower translations. These are as "blind leaders of the blind"(Matthew 15:14) who have "turned the grace of God into lasciviousness, and denied our only Master and Lord Jesus Christ" (Jude 4). Further, that they "wrest the scriptures to their own destruction" (2 Peter 3:16), the foregoing evidence has thoroughly revealed for all to judge.