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Monday, September 23, 2013

John 5:18 "...making himself equal to God"

Some point to the latter part of John 5:18 as proof that Jesus is God. But here is how John 5:18 appears in its entirety:

"For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal [ison] with God." - NIV.

The Jews were wrongly accusing Jesus of making himself equal to God in the authority to change the Law.

Jesus had just healed a man on the Sabbath. Jewish tradition had added numerous restrictions to the Sabbath law over the years.

Jesus would certainly not break the Law which was still in effect until his sacrificial death.

So, when the Jews accused him of making himself equal to God (by "breaking" the Sabbath traditions of the Jews and claiming that it was not wrong to heal on the Sabbath), they were insisting that their tradition of not healing on the Sabbath was actually God's will. And, therefore, Jesus' claim that it was lawful to do so was "making himself equal to God" (in this case of healing and "changing" the Law - which would be God's right alone).

It seems reasonably certain that the Jews didn't really believe Jesus was actually claiming to be God but attempting to usurp God's authority in this one respect. But, since these were Jesus' enemies who were making this false charge at John 5:18, it really matters very little what they claimed.

What does matter, however, is what Jesus claimed. How did Jesus answer this false charge by his enemies?

"To this charge Jesus replied, `In truth, in very truth I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he does only what he sees the Father doing....'" - John 5:19, NEB.

So Jesus did not claim that he was Almighty God or even equal to Him. He clearly told the Jews that he was not God, but that, even as God's spokesman, he could not act upon his own initiative. Can we really picture the Almighty God of the universe saying that he could do nothing on his own initiative?

We find, then, that the Jews made a charge, and Jesus refuted it. He never claimed to be God. He never claimed to be equal to God.

For more, see:

John 5:18 ("Equal": Ison) (Examining the Trinity)

What is the meaning of John 5:18? (rs p. 209-p. 220; Watchtower Online Library)

Exposing the False Reasoning Behind Trinity Proof Texts (Examining the Trinity)

Friday, September 13, 2013

Does Revelation 14:10, 11 Really Prove the Existence of a Fiery Hell?

Some point to Revelation 14:10, 11 as proof of the existence of a fiery Hell. It reads:

"He will also drink of the wine of the anger of God that is poured out undiluted into the cup of his wrath, and he shall be tormented with fire and sulphur in the sight of the holy angels and in the sight of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever, and day and night they have no rest, those who worship the wild beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name." - NWT

But is Rev. 14:10, 11 really proof of the existence of a fiery Hell?

First, it is clear that the book of Revelation is a book full of symbols and of figurative (not literal) language. So when the rest of the Bible clearly shows how when someone dies, they are not conscious of anything (Ps. 146:4; Ecclesiastes 9:5) and that the condition of the dead is one of inactivity - likened to a deep sleep (Ps. 13:3; John 11:11-14; Acts 7:60; 1 Cor. 7:39; 15:51; 1 Thess. 4:13), it would seem reasonable to conclude that what was written at Rev. 14:10, 11 is indeed phrased in figurative or symbolic terms. (Also see: A Closer Look at Some Myths About Death w02 p. 5-86/1 p; Watchtower Online Library)

(Also, it is important to note that it is the SMOKE that ascends forever...NOT the "torment".)

Below is a small excerpt from the WBTS publication Revelation - It's Grand Climax at Hand. It provides an excellent examination of the use of the words "fire and brimstone" and how some can be "tormented with fire and sulphur":

Some have viewed the mention here (Rev. 14:10b, 11) of fire and sulfur ("fire and brimstone," King James Version) as a proof of the existence of a hellfire. But a brief look at a similar prophecy shows the real import of these words in this context. Back in the days of Isaiah, Jehovah warned the nation of Edom that they would be punished because of their enmity toward Israel. He said: "Her torrents must be changed into pitch, and her dust into sulphur, and her land must become as burning pitch. By night or by day it will not be extinguished; to time indefinite its smoke will keep ascending. From generation to generation she will be parched; forever and ever no one will be passing across her."—Isaiah 34:9, 10.

Was Edom hurled into some mythical hellfire to burn forever? Of course not. Rather, the nation completely disappeared from the world scene as if she had been totally consumed with fire and sulfur. The final result of the punishment was not everlasting torment but "emptiness . . . wasteness . . . nothing." (Isaiah 34:11, 12) The smoke `ascending to time indefinite' vividly illustrates this. When a house burns down, smoke keeps coming from the ashes for some time after the flames have died down, providing onlookers with evidence that there has been a destructive conflagration. Even today God's people remember the lesson to be learned from the destruction of Edom. In this way `the smoke of her burning' is still ascending in a symbolic way.

Those who have the mark of the wild beast will also be destroyed completely, as if by fire. As the prophecy later reveals, their dead bodies will be left unburied for animals and birds to eat. (Revelation 19:17, 18) So, clearly, they are not being literally tortured forever! How are they "tormented with fire and sulphur"? In that the proclamation of truth exposes them and warns them of God's coming judgment. Therefore they vilify God's people and, where possible, slyly persuade the political wild beast to persecute and even kill Jehovah's Witnesses. As a climax, these opposers will be destroyed as with fire and brimstone. Then "the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever" in that God's judgment of them will serve as a touchstone if ever again Jehovah's rightful sovereignty is challenged. That issue will have been settled for all eternity. - Revelation - It's Grand Climax at Hand, Chapter 30 "Babylon the Great Has Fallen!", par. 14-17

Also see:

The Biblical Hell (Jehovah's Witnesses United)

What Really Is Hell? (w02 7/15 pp. 5-7; Watchtower Online Library)

Hell - Links to Information (Search For Bible Truths)

Monday, September 9, 2013

Why is Jesus called "Mighty God" at Isa. 9:6?

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace." (Isa. 9:6) 

Pretty much all Christians accept this son as being the Christ.  Some will tell you that since the meaning of this symbolic name includes the words "Mighty God, Eternal Father," then Jesus is the Mighty God and the Eternal Father.

But there are at least two other ways this personal name has been interpreted by reputable Bible scholars. (1) The titles found within the name (e.g., "Mighty God") are intended in their secondary, subordinate senses. (2) the titles within the name are meant to praise God the Father, not the Messiah.

First, (1) there is the possibility that the words (or titles) found in the literal meaning of the name apply directly to the Messiah all right but in a subordinate sense.  In other words, Christ is "a mighty god" in the same sense that God's angels were called "gods" and the judges of Israel were called "gods" by God himself (also by Jesus - John 10:34, 35), and Moses was called "a god" by Jehovah himself.  This is the interpretation of Is. 9:6 by the WT Society at this time.

Yes, men and angels were called gods (elohim - Hebrew; theos - Greek) in a proper, but subordinate, sense by Jehovah and his inspired Bible writers.  Although they were given this elevated title in a proper sense (not false gods), it was obviously with the clear understanding that it in no way implied a comparison with the Most High, Only True God.  (A bank employee calling his boss, the head of the bank, "the president" would certainly not imply an equality of position, power, etc. with "The President" [of the USA].)
The word "god" as understood by those who used that term simply meant a "mighty one" - see Young's Concordance.  In fact the word "Mighty" as found at Is. 9:6 (Gibbor in the original Hebrew) is also applied to the angels at Ps. 103:20 (see a modern concordance such as the New American Standard Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible).  It is interesting that the ancient translation of the Old Testament that Jesus frequently quoted, the Septuagint Version, renders Is. 9:6: "and his [the Messiah's] name is called the Angel [aggeloV, messenger] of Great Counsel."   

The very early (ca. 160 A.D.) Christian Justin Martyr quoted Is. 9:6 also as "The Angel of mighty counsel" - "Dialogue With Trypho," ch. LXXVI.

So, just as "Lord" was applied to anyone in authority: angels, masters over servants, husbands, etc., so, too, could "god" be applied to anyone (good or bad) who was considered a "mighty person."  Of course only one person could be called the "Most High God," or the "Only True God," or the "Almighty God"! 

In the same way, "Eternal Father" could mean that the Messiah is one who has been given eternal life and through him God has brought eternal life to many others.  (We might make the comparison that the Heavenly Father has brought men to life in this world through their earthly fathers.)  This would be intended in a clearly subordinate sense and not to take anything away from the ultimate honor, glory, worship, etc. due the Most High God and Father in heaven - Jehovah.

At any rate, even trinitarians do not confuse the two separate persons of the Father and the Son. They do not say the Son is the Father.  They say the Father and the Son are two separate individual persons who are equally "God"!

Therefore, since we obviously cannot take "Eternal Father" in the literal sense to mean that Jesus is the Father, we cannot take the rest of that same name (esp. `Mighty God') in its literal highest sense and say that Jesus is Mighty God, etc., either.

In addition to the distinct possibility of the use of the secondary subordinate meanings of the titles such as "God/god" as explained by Bible language scholars, we can see by the actual renderings of some trinitarian Bible translators at Is. 9:6 that they believe such subordinate meanings were intended by the inspired Bible writer.

Instead of "Mighty God," Dr. James Moffatt translated this part of Is. 9:6 as "a divine hero;" Byington has "Divine Champion;" The New English Bible has "In Battle Godlike;" The Catholic New American Bible (1970 and 1991 revision) renders it "God-Hero;" and the REB says "Mighty Hero."  Even that most-respected of Biblical Hebrew language experts, Gesenius, translated it "mighty hero" - p. 45, Gesenius' Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon.

Also, The NIV Study Bible, in a f.n. for Ps 45:6, tells us:

"In this psalm, which praises the king and especially extols his `splendor and majesty' (v. 3), it is not unthinkable that he was called `god' as a title of honor [cf.  Isa 9:6]."  (Bracketed information included in original footnote.  Emphasis is mine)
In addition, Rotherham has rendered "Eternal Father" as "father of progress," and the New English Bible translates it: "father of a wide realm."

The above-mentioned Bible translations by trinitarian scholars which apply the words in the name at Is. 9:6 in a subordinate sense directly to Jesus clearly show that they do not believe this scripture implies an equality with Jehovah the Father.

And second (2), another way competent Bible scholars have interpreted the meaning of this name is with the understanding that it (as with many, if not most, of the other Israelites' personal names) does not apply directly to the Messiah (as we have already seen with "Elijah," "Abijah," etc.) but is, instead, a statement praising the Father, Jehovah God.

Personal names in the ancient Hebrew and Greek are often somewhat cryptic to us today. The English Bible translator must fill in the missing minor words (especially in names composed of two or more Hebrew words) such as "my," "is," "of," etc. in whatever way he thinks best in order to make sense for us today in English.

For instance, two of the best Bible concordances (Young's and Strong's) and a popular trinitarian Bible dictionary (Today's Dictionary of the Bible) differ greatly on the exact meaning of many Biblical personal names because of those "minor" words which must be added to bring out the intended meaning.
Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, for example, says the name "Elimelech" (which is literally just "God King") means "God of (the) King."  Young's Analytical Concordance says it means "God is King."  Today's Dictionary of the Bible says it means " God his king" -  p. 206, Bethany House Publ., 1982.
Those missing minor words that the translator must supply at his own discretion can often make a vital difference!  - For example, the footnote for Gen. 17:5 in The NIV Study Bible: The name `Abram' "means `Exalted Father,' probably in reference to God (i.e., `[God is] Exalted Father')."- Brackets in original.

This is why another name the Messiah is to be called by at Jer. 23:6 is rendered, `The LORD [YHWH] IS Our Righteousness' in the following Bibles: RSV; NRSV; NEB; NJB;  JPS (Margolis, ed.); Tanakh; Byington; AT; and  ASV (footnote).  Of course other translations render it more literally by calling the Messiah  "The LORD [YHWH] Our Righteousness" to help support a `Jesus is God' doctrine.  Some of these (such as the NASB) actually render the very same name at Jer. 33:16 as "The LORD [or Jehovah] Is Our Righteousness"! - [bracketed information is mine]. 

(Unfortunately for those who wish to use this name at Jer. 23:16 as evidence of Jesus being Jehovah, at Jer. 33:16 it is also given to a city!)

Therefore, the personal name at Is. 9:6 has been honestly translated as: "And his name is called: Wonderful in counsel is God the Mighty, the everlasting Father, the Ruler of peace" - The Holy Scriptures, JPS Version (Margolis, ed.) to show that it is intended to praise the God of the Messiah who performs great things through the Messiah.

Also, An American Translation (by trinitarians Smith and Goodspeed) says:
"Wonderful counselor is God almighty, Father forever, Prince of peace."
Of course it could also be honestly translated: "Wonderful Counselor and Mighty God is the Eternal Father of the Prince of Peace."
And the Tanakh by the JPS, 1985, translates it:

[a]"The Mighty God is planning grace;
[b] The Eternal Father [is] a peaceable ruler."
This latter translation seems particularly appropriate since it is in the form of a parallelism.  Not only was the previous symbolic personal name introduced by Isaiah at Is. 8:1 a  parallelism ("Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz" means  [a]"quick to the plunder;   [b] swift to the spoil" - NIV footnote) but the very introduction to this Messianic name at Is. 9:6 is itself a parallelism: [a]"For unto us a child is born;  [b] unto us a son is given."  It would, therefore, be appropriate to find that this name, too, was in the form of a parallelism as translated by the Tanakh above.

So it is clear, even to a number of trinitarian scholars, that Is. 9:6 does not imply that Jesus is Jehovah God.

For much more, see:

Isa. 9:6 "Mighty God, Eternal Father" (Examining the Trinity)

Isa. 9:6 - NWT (Defending the New World Translation)

NAME - “Jesus,” “Immanuel,” and Is. 9:6 (Examining the Trinity)

BOWGOD (God and gods) (Examining the Trinity)

Does Isa. 9:6 prove that Jesus is God? (Search For Bible Truths)

One God in Three? (Pastor Russell; Heading: "No Trinity in the “Old Testament”')

How does the Codex Sinaiticus render Is. 9:6? (Jehovah's Witnesses Questions and Answers)

How is translated Isaiah 9:6 in old Aramaic Targums? (Jehovah's Witnesses Questions and Answers)

Or see the Scripture Index.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Hebrews 1:8 - “Thy Throne, O God”

(In addition to the research below, even more information concerning Heb. 1:8 can be found by scrolling down to the Heb. 1:8 listing and clicking on the links at the Search For Bible Truths - Scripture Index.) 

Hebrews 1:8 - “Thy Throne, O God” 

Hebrews 1:8 is one of the more commonly used scriptures for trinitarian “evidence” in spite of (in reality, because of) its obvious ambiguity. This is because on the surface (at least as found in some trinitarian-translated Bibles) it looks clear and straightforward. Also not many people have the means or the inclination to examine it more closely.

Heb. 1:8 in the King James Version (AV or KJV) is rendered:

“But unto the son he saith, thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.”

Since “he saith” and the second “is” (found after “righteousness”) in the above verse are not actually found in the original manuscripts and have been added by the KJV translators, they are found in italics in most printings of the KJV.

But more importantly (as a quick glance into any interlinear Greek-English New Testament will show) the first “is” (found after “God”) in the above verse is also not in the original manuscripts but has been added by some modern translators.

Yes, literally the original NT Greek manuscripts read: “Toward but the son the throne of you the god into the age of the age.”

No one should deny that the title theos (NT Greek word meaning “God,” “god,” “mighty one,” “divine,” etc.) can be applied to Jesus (at least in the writings of John - see the DEF and BOWGOD studies), just as it was applied in the scriptures to angels, judges of Israel, Moses, and (according to some trinitarian authorities) even the kings of Israel.

But theos is never applied to Jesus with the most high sense that is given only to the Almighty, Most High, only true God. So it could, perhaps, have been used at Heb. 1:8 in its positive secondary sense: “Your throne, o mighty one [theos], is ...”. This seems even more probable when we remember that Paul is really quoting from Ps. 45:6.

Psalm 45 is celebrating an Israelite king’s marriage, and the psalmist applies the words of Ps. 45:6, 7 literally to an ancient Israelite king. In fact, the trinitarian New American Standard Bible (NASB), Reference Edition, explains in a footnote for Ps. 45:1, “Probably refers to Solomon as a type of Christ.”

So, according to this trinitarian Bible, the words of Ps. 45:6, although figuratively referring to Jesus, were literally applied to an ancient Israelite king (probably King Solomon, it says).

So if Ps. 45:6 is properly translated, “your throne, O God ...” then that ancient Israelite King (Solomon?) was also literally called “O God” (or “O god”?). In fact, the highly trinitarian New American Bible, St. Joseph Edition, 1970, explains in a footnote for this verse:

“The Hebrew king was called ... ‘God,’ not in the polytheistic sense common among the ancient pagans, but as meaning ‘godlike’ or ‘taking the place of God’.”

The trinitarian Easy-to-read-Version also says in a footnote for this passage:
“God .... here the writer might be using the word ‘God’ as a title for the king.” (Cf. NIV Study Bible f.n. for Pss. 45:6 and 82:1, 6.)

(And the revised 1991 ed. of the NAB actually translates Ps. 45:6, 7 as “Your throne, O god.”) The NAB (1970 ed.) goes on to explain, however, that others have translated this verse as, “Your throne is the throne of God” and refers us to 1 Chron. 29:23 “where Solomon’s throne is referred to as the throne of the LORD [Jehovah].”
Now we’re getting closer to the most likely intention of Heb. 1:8. There is good evidence that the proper translation of Heb. 1:8 (as well as Ps. 45:6) should be “your throne is God forever” or “God is your throne forever.”

For one thing, the definite article (“the”) is used in the NT Greek with “God” in this scripture. Not even John (who does, rarely, use theos for Jesus) uses theos with the definite article for anyone except the Only True God - the Father. - See the DEF study.

Also, if we look at some respected trinitarian authorities, we also see a preference for the “God is thy throne” rendering.

Oxford professor and famous trinitarian Bible translator, Dr. James Moffatt, has been described as “probably the greatest biblical scholar of our day.” His respected Bible translation renders Heb. 1:8 as:

God is thy throne for ever and ever.”

University of Cambridge professor and noted New Testament language scholar, Dr. C. F. D. Moule writes that Heb. 1:8 may be “construed so as to mean Thy throne is God” - p. 32, An Idiom Book of New Testament Greek, Cambridge University Press, 1990 printing.

An American Translation (Smith-Goodspeed), renders it: “God is your throne....”
And The Bible in Living English (Byington) reads: “God is your throne....”

Another world-acclaimed scholar of trinitarian Christendom has translated this verse similarly and made some interesting comments. Trinitarian Dr. William Barclay,

“world-renowned Scottish New Testament interpreter, was noted as a profound scholar and a writer of extraordinary gifts .... He was the minister of Trinity Church, Renfrew, Scotland, and, later, Professor of Divinity and Biblical Criticism at the University of Glasgow.”

Dr. Barclay, in his translation of the New Testament, has also rendered Hebrews 1:8 as : “God is your throne for ever and ever.” But worse yet (for those wishing for evidence of a trinity from the Book of Hebrews), Dr. Barclay comments as follows:

“The letter [of Hebrews] was written to a Church which had had great days and great teachers and leaders.” - p. 6. “Moreover, it was obviously written to a scholarly group [who] ... had long been under instruction and were preparing themselves to become teachers of the Christian faith.” - p. 7.

And just what was this passage that includes Heb. 1:8 (Heb. 1:4-14) intended to prove to this group of long-term dedicated Christian scholars?

“[The author] is concerned to prove [Jesus’] SUPERIORITY OVER THE ANGELS.” - p. 16, The Letter to the Hebrews, Revised Edition, 1976, The Westminster Press.

Yes, this world-acclaimed trinitarian scholar has (perhaps inadvertently) illuminated the truth of the doctrine of God which was understood by first-century Christians! They had absolutely no concept of the 3-in-one God idea which was developed in later centuries (see the HIST study). IF these learned 1st century Christians had really considered Jesus “equally God” (as 4th century Christendom began doing), it certainly would have been nonsensical for the writer of Hebrews to attempt to prove that Jesus was superior to all other angels!

Famed trinitarian (Southern Baptist) New Testament Greek scholar Dr. A. T. Robertson acknowledges that either “Thy throne, O God” or “God is thy throne” may be proper renderings: “Either makes good sense.” - p. 339. He also tells us that the inspired Letter to the Hebrews was written to a church of Jewish Christians whose Jewish neighbors

“... have urged them to give up Christ and Christianity and to come back to Judaism.... These Jews argued that the prophets were superior to Jesus, the law came by the ministry of angels, Moses was greater than Jesus, and Aaron than Jesus. [The writer of Hebrews] turns the argument on the Jews and boldly champions the Glory of Jesus as superior at every point to all that Judaism had, as God’s Son and man’s Saviour, the crown and glory of the Old Testament prophecy, the hope of mankind. It is the first great apologetic for Christianity and has never been surpassed.” - Word Pictures in the New Testament, Vol. v, pp. 331, 339.

Again, it would have been absolutely absurd for the inspired writer of Hebrews to devote this entire, long letter to proving that Jesus is superior to Moses and the angels if the intended readers, as the spirit-born Christians they were, had already accepted Jesus as God Almighty! And even if they had originally believed that Jesus was God, but were now in doubt, the Bible writer certainly wouldn’t waste any time trying to prove Jesus’ superiority to Moses and the angels. He would have dedicated the entire letter to proving absolutely that Jesus is God (if he had really believed such a thing himself)!

Furthermore, if those Jewish neighbors had any inkling that these Christians believed that anyone except Jehovah, the Father alone, was Almighty God, they wouldn’t have spent any time at all on these other relatively minor aspects. The clamor of the Jews against Christians who called Jesus “God” would have been deafening, overwhelming!

But there is no record of any such thing until after the Trinity Doctrine was declared by the Roman Catholic Church in the 4th century A.D.! - See ISRAEL and CREEDS studies.

The American Standard Version (ASV), the Revised Standard Version (RSV), the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), and The New English Bible (NEB) have provided alternate readings to the traditional trinitarian rendering of the KJV at Hebrews 1:8. These alternate readings (found in footnotes) agree with Dr. Moffatt’s, Dr. Barclay’s, Smith-Goodspeed’s, Byington’s, and the New World Translation’s renderings of this scripture (“God is your throne”).

Even Young’s Concise Bible Commentary (written by the famous trinitarian author of Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible) admits: “[Heb. 1:8] may be justly rendered ‘God is thy throne ...’ in either case it is applicable to the mediatorial throne only.”

Quoted From Ps. 45
In addition to these admissions by trinitarian translators concerning Heb. 1:8, we need to look back at the Old Testament Hebrew scripture (Ps. 45:6) that Paul was quoting when he wrote Heb. 1:8.

The RSV renders it as “Your Divine throne” and a footnote provides this alternate
reading: “Or ‘your throne is a throne of God.’”

The NEB says: “Your throne is like God’s throne.”

The Holy Scriptures (JPS version) says: “Thy throne given of God.”

The Bible in Living English (Byington) says: “God is your throne.”

The Good News Bible (GNB), a very trinitarian paraphrase Bible, renders it: “The kingdom that God has given you will last forever and ever.”

The REB has: “God has enthroned you for all eternity.”

And the NJB gives us: “your throne is from God.”

We also see the following statement by respected trinitarian scholars in a footnote for this passage:

“45:6 O God. Possibly the king’s throne is called God’s throne because he is God’s appointed regent. But it is also possible that the king himself is addressed as ‘god.’” - Ps. 45:6 f.n. in the NIV Study Bible.

In addition to the above renderings by many respected translators (most of whom are trinitarian), we have the statement by perhaps the greatest scholar of Biblical Hebrew of all time, H. F. W. Gesenius. In his famous and highly respected Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament Gesenius renders Ps. 45:6, “thy throne shall be a divine throne.”

Obviously, then, the charge sometimes made that the NWT is “not being honest or scholarly” with its rendering of Heb. 1:8 is simply untrue, and it certainly may be honestly translated “God is your throne forever.”

Just the admission by so many trinitarian translators (above) that Heb. 1:8 may be honestly translated as it is in the NWT makes any insistence by other trinitarians that this scripture is acceptable evidence for a trinity doctrine completely invalid!

Even famed Southern Baptist New Testament Greek scholar Dr. A. T. Robertson admits:

“It is not certain whether ho theos is here the vocative [‘your throne, O God’] ... or ho theos is nominative (subject or predicate) with estin (is) understood: ‘God is thy throne’ or ‘Thy throne is God.’ Either makes good sense.” - p. 339, Vol. 5, Word Pictures in the New Testament, Broadman Press, 1960.

However, there is more evidence, evidence which shows not only that Heb. 1:8 may be honestly translated “God is your throne,” but, indeed, should be so translated!

Notice the context. Heb. 1:8 and 1:9 are being quoted from Ps. 45:6 and 45:7. In Ps. 45:7, speaking to the Israelite king, it says:

“Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness above your fellows.” - RSV.

Just as this makes it clear that the ancient Israelite king was not God but was anointed by God, HIS God, to a position above his fellows, so does Heb. 1:9, as figuratively applied to Jesus, show that he is not God, but was anointed by his God to a position above his fellows! Context, then, shows that the person addressed in Heb. 1:8 is not God, but one who worships God and was anointed by his God!

The renowned trinitarian Bible scholar, B. F. Westcott, wrote:
“The LXX [Septuagint] admits of two renderings [at Ps. 45:6, 7]: [ho theos] can be taken as a vocative in both cases (‘thy throne, O God, .... therefore, O God, thy God...’) or it can be taken as the subject (or the predicate) in the first case (‘God is Thy throne,’ or ‘Thy throne is God...’), and in apposition to [ho theos sou] in the second case (‘Therefore God, even Thy God...’) .... It is scarcely possible that [elohim] in the original can be addressed to the King. The presumption therefore is against the belief that [ho theos] is a vocative in the LXX. Thus on the whole it seems best to adopt in the first clause the rendering: ‘God is thy throne’ (or, ‘Thy throne is God’), that is, ‘Thy kingdom is founded upon God, the immovable Rock.’” - The Epistle to the Hebrews, London, 1889, pp. 25, 26.

Further evidence for the proper translation of Heb. 1:8 is found in the conclusions reached by the trinitarian United Bible Societies’ (UBS) Bible Text Committee. The United Bible Societies (composed of the American Bible Society, The National Bible Society of Scotland, The Netherlands Bible Society, and the Wurttemberg Bible Society) appointed an international and interdenominational committee (but trinitarian, of course) of textual scholars to determine the most accurate text possible of the Greek New Testament.

To do this they examined hundreds of variations in the many thousands of ancient New Testament manuscripts and compared other existing texts by Westcott and Hort, Nestle, Bover, and Vogels.

In 1971 the UBS published A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament which explained why the committee had chosen certain readings as being correct and rejected others. In choosing the text they believed to be closest to the original manuscript of the book of Hebrews, the UBS committee looked at the very oldest and best manuscripts still in existence today. Several methods helped them decide what is probably the original wording. One, of course, is how many of the very oldest and best manuscripts agree.

Another method is to determine which of the variations were most likely to have been changed by later copyists. For instance, when a NT writer is referring to an OT quotation, he often has it worded slightly differently from the exact quote in the Septuagint (Paul is especially noted for this).

So, if one NT manuscript has an OT scripture quoted exactly as it appears in the Septuagint, and another has a slightly different wording, the manuscript that differs slightly is more likely to have the proper, original wording. (Later copyists strongly tended to “correct” the original NT manuscripts by making their OT quotes conform exactly to the wording in the Septuagint version.)

Another consideration is that later Church copyists would often change the wording of a scripture if it seemed to contradict a teaching of the Roman Church.[1] Therefore, if the wording of an ancient manuscript seems to contradict a later teaching of the Roman Church, it is more likely to have the original wording than another ancient manuscript which (at the same verse) seems to agree with that Church teaching.

Using these criteria, the UBS Committee unanimously agreed with all the wording of Heb. 1:8 except for one word. They agreed that the original writing of Heb. 1:8 should read literally (in the NT Greek): “toward but the son the throne of you the god into the age of the age and the staff of the straightness staff of the kingdom [‘of him’ or ‘of you’].”

It was the very last word of Heb. 1:8 that caused a “considerable degree of doubt” among those textual scholars. This very last word was either the NT Greek word sou (translated into English as “of you” or “your”) or autou (translated “of him” or “his”).

Why is it so important? Because these trinitarian scholars agreed that if autou (“his”) were used here by the author of Hebrews 1:8, then the verse “must be” translated “God is thy throne” and not “thy throne, O God”!! If, however, sou (“your”) was the original wording, then it could be translated either way. Obviously, then, a trinitarian would strongly prefer the reading of sou. [See end note 4]

In discussing this problem the UBS Committee noted that all the very oldest and best manuscripts (p46 - circa 200 A.D.; 'Aleph' - 4th century; and B - 4th century) all agree that the original wording was “his (autou) kingdom.”

They also noted that later manuscripts which read “your (sou) kingdom” are now in agreement with the corresponding passage in the Greek OT Septuagint! (Remember that the UBS Committee recognizes, as do most Bible scholars, that the NT manuscript that differs slightly from the Septuagint is more likely to be correct than another one which perfectly agrees because copyists strongly tended to deliberately “correct” Septuagint quotes they found in the NT .)

Furthermore, since autou is not repeated near the word in question in this NT manuscript quote of Ps. 45:6, 7, but sou is repeated, before and after, it would have been easy for a copyist to have inadvertently miscopied sou here. Autou, then, is more likely to have been original than sou for more than one reason.

It is also important to realize that all the oldest manuscripts (which were probably written before the full trinity doctrine was officially declared by the Roman Church in 381 A. D. and certainly written well before it was popularly accepted through the efforts of such men as Augustine in the early 5th century) use the word autou which will not properly allow for the trinitarian-preferred interpretation. Whereas many of the later manuscripts now use the word sou which will allow for the trinitarian-preferred interpretation of Heb. 1:8.

Isn’t it significant that the very earliest manuscript to use the trinitarian-preferred sou is Manuscript A from the 5th century which is shortly after the trinity doctrine was fully and officially declared at the Council of Constantinople in 381 A. D. and during the highly successful efforts of Augustine and others to defend and popularize this newly established “truth” of the Roman Church? (Remember the correlation between new church doctrines and changes in later manuscripts.) - See the HIST study paper.

So even though there is overwhelming evidence that “his” (autou) was in the original manuscript of Hebrews 1:8 (even the trinitarian scholars who developed the Westcott and Hort text and the Nestle text use autou at Heb. 1:8), the UBS Committee finally agreed to choose “your” (sou) and label that choice as “having considerable degree of doubt,” anyway!

Why did they bend their own rules of evidence? Because (1) they said there were so many later manuscripts that used sou, and (2) they admitted that they didn’t like what that verse actually said if autou had really been used in the original!

Oh, they did soften the arbitrariness of their choice slightly by labeling it as “having considerable degree of doubt,” but if any honest impartial scholar will examine their own comments on the evidence, he must agree that the UBS Committee’s choice is purely an emotional one and the evidence rules otherwise (as other trinitarian texts noted above admit).

Sou not only has “considerable degree of doubt,” it is nearly impossible. The UBS Committee’s own comments on the evidence make autou virtually certain as the original word, and, therefore, in the committee’s own word’s, Hebrews 1:8 “must be” translated “God is thy throne” and not “thy throne, O God.” - (study pp. 662-663 in A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, United Bible Societies, 1971.)

It might be worthwhile to see that that same UBS textual committee said (p. 522) when discussing Romans 9:5:

“In fact, on the basis of the general tenor of his theology it was tantamount to impossible that Paul would have expressed Christ’s greatness by calling him God blessed for ever.” And, “Nowhere else in his genuine epistles does Paul ever designate [‘the Christ’] as theos [‘God’ or ‘god’].”

So, for those of us who believe that Paul wrote the Bible book of Hebrews, the UBS committee provides yet another reason why Heb. 1:8 must be translated “God is your throne” not “your throne, O God.” (But don’t forget that some scholars don’t consider Paul to be the author of Hebrews even though they may still consider Hebrews to be inspired scripture.)

Some trinitarians have objected that “it does not make sense [or even, ‘it’s ridiculous’] to call God a ‘throne.’”[2] However, to any serious Bible student, it is entirely reasonable and appropriate. Calling God “the throne of Jesus” is an excellent figurative way to show that God approves and upholds Christ’s kingly reign (as in Westcott’s comment previously quoted).

Is God ever called “unlikely” things in a figurative sense that are as equally “ridiculous” as calling him “a throne”? Every Bible student of any experience knows that He is, repeatedly!

Many times he is called someone’s “Rock” (e.g., Ps. 78:35).
He is called a “fortress” (e.g., Ps. 91:2).
He is called a “lamp” in 2 Samuel 22:29.
He is called a “crown” (“in that day will Jehovah of hosts become a crown of glory, unto the residue of his people” - Is. 28:5, ASV).
Jehovah is called “our dwelling place” - Ps. 90:1, KJV.
And “Jehovah is my ... song” - Ps. 118:14.

Also notice Ps. 60:7, 8 “Ephraim is my helmet, Judah my scepter, Moab is my washbasin”, NIV. And in Is. 22:23 we find Eliakim, whom Jehovah said he would call and commit authority to (Is. 22:20, 21), called a “throne” (“and he will become a throne of honor to his father’s house,” RSV).

Not only is it made very clear by many trinitarian translators [3] and text writers [4] themselves that Heb. 1:8 may be honestly translated “God is your throne,” but all real evidence shows that it should be so translated!

So we find once more that Jesus cannot possibly be God. Just as we saw in the case of the Israelite king in Ps. 45:6, 7, if God is his throne (the one supporting him - giving him power and authority), then he cannot be that God!

1. An example of this is the omission of the words “nor the son” in the majority of manuscripts at Matt. 24:36. However, the two oldest and best manuscripts, Aleph and B (as well as Manuscript A of the 5th century), do have “nor the son” after the word “heaven” (as it is in Mark 13:32). Bible scholars have come to the conclusion that the words were first omitted by a copyist sometime shortly after the development of the trinity doctrine by the Roman Church in the 4th century (see the HIST study) because it seemed to contradict the trinity doctrine: Jesus as equal to the Father. - See A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, p. 62, United Bible Societies, 1971. Also see The Codex Sinaiticus and the Codex Alexandrinus, published by the trustees of the British Museum (quoted in the Feb. 1, 1984 WT, p. 7) or see the Manuscripts at .  and  and

2. Bowman, in his Why You Should Believe in the Trinity, after explaining that Heb. 1:1-6 describes the Son as in essence God, says:

It should come as no surprise, then, that in verse 8 God the Father says “of the Son, ‘Your throne, O God, is forever and ever...’” (translating literally).

To circumvent this plain statement, the NWT renders verse 8 as “God is your throne forever and ever....” On merely grammatical considerations, this translation is possible, and some biblical scholars have favored this rendering. According to such a reading, the point of the statement is then that God is the source of Jesus’ authority.

However, this seems to be an unusual, if not completely odd, way of making that point. In Scripture a “throne” is not the source of one’s authority, but the position or place from which one rules. Thus, heaven is called “the throne of God” (Matt. 5:34). Surely God does not derive his authority from heaven, or from anyone or anything! But, even assuming that “God is your throne” would be understood as having that meaning, in context this makes no sense. The writer of Hebrews is quoting Psalm 45:6 and applying it to the Son to show that the Son is far greater than any of the angels. However, if all this verse means is that the Son’s authority derives from God, this in no way makes him unique or greater than the angels, since this could be said of any of God’s obedient angels. - pp. 106-107, Baker Book House, 1991 ed.

To take things in the order Bowman states them,

(A) his “literal” translation of Heb. 1:8 is certainly not literal. As we saw at the beginning of this paper, the actual NT Greek literally says “the throne of you the god into the age of the age.” The understood verb “is” may be inserted anywhere in the sentence, but it is not literally in the original manuscript, and to insist that it must be inserted and interpreted as Bowman has done is simply (literally) untrue! In fact it seems much more probable, whether one inserts it before or after “the god,” to mean: ‘the throne of you IS the God into the age of the age.’ (Although it is less likely, it is possible that ho theos could be considered a vocative [‘O God’] - but see trinitarian Dr. Westcott’s quote above). But, at any rate, Bowman is not being truthful when he says he is “translating literally” as ‘your throne, O God, is forever and ever...’!

(B) Bowman declares, “In Scripture a ‘throne’ is not the source of one’s authority, but the position or place from which one rules."

Isn’t it terribly strange that famed trinitarian New Testament scholars such as Dr. Westcott, Dr. Moffatt, Dr. Goodspeed (Smith-Goodspeed’s AT), and Dr. William Barclay (The Daily Study Bible Series) all prefer the interpretation “Thy throne is God”? (And highly respected trinitarian Bibles ASV, RSV, and NEB also give this rendering as a proper alternate.) Would these respected trinitarian authorities really render this scripture that way if “throne” could only be interpreted in a literal way?

The trinitarian New Bible Dictionary tells us that in Scripture “the throne symbolizes dignity and authority” - p. 1196 (2nd ed.), Tyndale House, 1984. (Compare Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance.)

And the equally trinitarian (and highly respected - by trinitarians) The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia tells us about “throne”: “Usually the symbol of kingly power and dignity .... It symbolizes: (1) The exalted position of earthly kings, ... their majesty and power .... (2) The majesty and power of Jehovah as the true king of Israel; .... (3) The rule of the promised theocratic king (the Messiah), its everlasting glory and righteousness. He, too, is Jehovah’s representative [so Jehovah is the Messiah’s ‘throne’ (“power,” “authority,” and “glory”)]....” - p. 2976, Vol. IV, Eerdmans, 1984 printing.

Please examine the implied meanings of “throne” in the following scriptures: Gen. 41:40; 2 Sam. 7:13, 14, 16; 2 Sam. 14:9; 1 Ki. 1:37, 47; Ps. 94:20 (“rulers,” RSV, Mo; “tribunals,” JB, NAB) ; Col. 1:16 (compare the very trinitarian TEV and GNB: “spiritual powers” and the Phillips translation: “power”). These clearly do not exclusively mean just “a place” as Bowman insists. In fact, the very trinitarian Good News Bible (GNB) actually renders the Hebrew “throne” at Gen. 41:40 as ”authority.” Also note that even IF Heb. 1:8 were translated “Your throne, O God, is forever,” it would certainly mean more than “the seat you sit upon is everlasting”! It still speaks of the kingly power and authority which will last forever! Bowman is clearly wrong in saying that ‘throne’ must mean the “position or place from which one rules” and denying many other figurative uses.

(C)The writer of Hebrews is quoting Ps 45:6 and applying it to the Son to show that the Son is far greater than any of the angels [see quotes by Barclay and Robertson: HEB 2-3]. However, if all this verse means is that the Son’s authority derives from God, this in no way makes him unique or greater than the angels...” says Bowman.

However, the complete quote from Ps. 45:6, 7 which begins at Heb. 1:8 includes Heb. 1:9. This verse not only specifies that God is the God of the king (Jesus), but also concludes with “God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.” Jesus was “anointed” (brought into a position he didn’t originally have) by God and, at that point, came to be above his fellows. This is why Heb. 1:8, 9 was quoted by the writer of Hebrews: to show that Jesus is now (after God appointed [Heb. 1:2, 4] and anointed him) higher than the angels (who had been his “fellows”).

Corroborating this is respected trinitarian Bible scholar, Dr. E. F. Scott, Emeritus Professor at the Union Theological Seminary, who wrote: “The author of Hebrews ... thinks of [Jesus] as an angel, whom God had exalted above all others, investing him with his own majesty and calling him by the name of Son.” - p. 726, An Encyclopedia of Religion, 1945 ed.

And, again, the trinitarian The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible tells us that at this time the Jewish expectation was that the Christ was “a pre-existent, heavenly ANGELIC being who, at the end of time, will appear at the side of God as judge of the world [see Acts 7:55-56].” - p. 364, Vol. 3, Abingdon Press, 1962.

Similarly, that most famous of Jewish scholars and teachers of the first century A. D., Philo (see the LOGOS study), wrote about Hagar erroneously describing her seeing the Angel of God as seeing God:

“For just as those who are unable to see the sun itself see the gleam of the parhelion [a ‘mock sun’ - an optical illusion, not the true sun - RDB] and [erroneously] take it for the sun, ... so some regard the image of God, His angel the Word, as His very self.” - p. 423, Philo, vol. V, “On Flight and Finding,” Harvard University Press, Loeb Classical Library, 1988 printing.

“Angel of the Lord [angel of Jehovah] - occurs many times in the Old Testament, where in almost every instance it means a supernatural personage to be distinguished from Jehovah .... Some feel the pre-incarnate Christ is meant.” - p. 39, Today’s Dictionary of the Bible (trinitarian), Bethany House Publ., 1982.

“Angel of the Lord. ... Christ’s visible form before the incarnation.” - p. 40, Smith’s Bible Dictionary (trinitarian), Hendrickson Publ.

ANGEL OF THE LORD, ... is represented in Scripture as a heavenly being sent by God to deal with men as his personal agent and spokesman [‘word’] .... In the NT [which trinitarians agree explains and amplifies the OT] there is no possibility of the angel of the Lord being confused with God. .... mostly when appearing to men he is recognized as a divine being, even though in human form, and is [sometimes] addressed as God” - p. 38, New Bible Dictionary, Tyndale House (trinitarian), 1984 printing.

“The Angel of the LORD.... Traditional [from 2nd century A. D. (at least)] Christian interpretation has held that this ‘angel’ was a preincarnate manifestation of Christ as God’s Messenger-Servant. It may be ..., the angel could speak on behalf of (and so be identified with) the One [Jehovah] who sent him” - footnote for Gen. 16:7 in the trinitarian The NIV Study Bible by Zondervan Publishing, 1985.

It is not uncommon for a trusted servant to actually represent his master in dealings with others. “What a servant says or does is [sometimes] ascribed to the master” - Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible, “Hints and Helps to Bible Interpretation,” Eerdmans Publishing, 1978 printing.

The angel of Jehovah “is a heavenly being given a particular task by Yahweh [Jehovah], behind whom the angel’s personality entirely disappears .... because Yahweh’s holiness could have destroyed Israel, only his angel was to go with the people.” - [see 1 John 4:12; John 6:46.] - The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology (trinitarian), Vol. 1, p. 101, Zondervan Publ., 1986.

[Even the person speaking to Moses from the burning bush was an angel! Even though he spoke Jehovah's words and seemed to Moses to be Jehovah, we know that it was an angel speaking and acting for Jehovah: Acts 7:30.]

Please compare the following scriptures: Gen. 16:10, 11 and 13; Gen. 31:11 and Gen. 31:13; Gen. 32:24-30 and Hosea 12:4; Judges 6:16 and 6:20-23.

It should be obvious that the Angel of Jehovah is NOT Jehovah himself! Even many trinitarian scholars admit the obvious here. However, some are unwilling to let any opportunity go by, no matter how poor, (since there is no real evidence for it to begin with) to insist that Jesus is Jehovah. So, although admitting that Jesus was (or probably was) the Angel of Jehovah in the OT (at least part of the time) they also insist that he was also Jehovah!

Consider, however, if “Angel of Jehovah” really meant that the one who had that title was Jehovah (even though the term literally means “messenger OF Jehovah”), no inspired prophet of God or inspired Bible writer would ever use that term for anyone else. And yet Luke used it for the angel Gabriel, and Haggai actually used it for himself!

Yes, Luke tells us at Lk 1:11, 19 “Then there appeared to him the angel of the Lord [the very same wording as found in the Septuagint at Gen. 16:7] .... The angel replied, ‘I am Gabriel who stands in God’s presence, and I have been sent to you’” - The Jerusalem Bible, also see NJB and NAB (‘91).

And the prophet and inspired Bible writer Haggai writes at Haggai 1:13 “Then Haggai, the messenger of Jehovah, spoke Jehovah’s message to the people.” The words are identical to both the Greek and Hebrew of Genesis 16:7: “the messenger [or angel] of Jehovah”! And, of course, the NT shows that other angels [in addition to the “pre-incarnate” Jesus] may use the same title “angel of the Lord.” Even though the angel may, at times, actually identify himself as God (or Jehovah), it obviously does not mean he is Jehovah himself! He is perfectly representing Jehovah as his messenger and is speaking Jehovah’s very words at times.

(Let’s not overlook the fact that King David was described as being “like the Angel of God.” - 2 Sam. 19:28, NJB (c.f., 2 Sam. 19:27 in NASB, NEB, NKJV, AT, RSV). If this angel were really God Himself, such a statement would not have been made - or tolerated by David when he heard it. Instead, King David is often compared to the Messiah in Scripture!)

When Jehovah (God alone) created his workman, his firstborn, as his first and only direct creation (the highest of angels or servants of God: Jesus, the Word), he became the Father. This is why Jesus may be called the “Firstborn” and the “onlybegotten” (only direct creation by Jehovah himself). When Jesus (the Word), at the command and direction of Jehovah God (the Father), became the instrument by which the material universe was made, the other angels (his fellows) were present. When he spoke to men in behalf of Jehovah (often using Jehovah’s very words which his Father spoke through him), he was called “the Angel of Jehovah.” When he had finished his sacrifice on earth, he became much superior to his fellow angels by appointment and anointment from Jehovah (but even at this time he certainly did not become equal to God).

- - - - - - - - - -

3. A. Translations of Heb. 1:8 by trinitarians:

“God is your throne” - AT (Dr. Goodspeed)

“God is thy throne” - Mo (Dr. Moffatt)

“God is your throne” - Byington

“God is your throne” - Dr. Barclay

“God is thy throne” - Dr. Westcott

“God is thy throne” - A.T. Robertson (Alternate translation)

“God is thy throne” - Dr. Young (Alt.)

“God is thy throne” - RSV (Alt.)

“God is your throne” - NRSV (Alt.)

“God is thy throne” - NEB (Alt.)

“Thy throne is God” - ASV (Alt.)

B. Translations of Ps. 45:6 (quoted at Heb. 1:8) by trinitarians:

“Your Divine throne” - RSV

“Your throne is like God’s throne” - NEB

“God is your throne” - Byington

“The kingdom that God has given you” - GNB

“God has enthroned you” - REB

“Your throne is from God” - NJB

“Your throne is a throne of God” - NRSV (Alt.)

“Thy throne is the throne of God” - ASV (Alt.)

- - - - - - - - - - -

4. New Testament texts produced by trinitarians in which Autou (“His”) was chosen as part of the original text ("... the scepter of his [autou] kingdom":

Westcott and Hort Nestle’s

It has been admitted by respected trinitarian scholars (UBS text writers) that if autou ("his") were in the original writing of Heb. 1:8, the proper rendering earlier in the same verse must be “God is your throne”! – p. 663, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, United Bible Societies, 1971.

Even the highly respected NASB renders this as "... the scepter of his kingdom." The Jerusalem Bible; New Jerusalem Bible; The New English Bible; Revised English Bible; AT (Smith and Goodspeed); Rotherham; Byington; C.B. Williams; etc. also render it using "his."


Note: Although Watchtower Society (WTS) research and scholarship is usually at least the equal of (and often superior to) that of other sources, I have tried to rely most heavily on other sources in Christendom itself (preferably trinitarian) or my own independent research to provide evidence disproving the trinitarian ‘proof’ being examined in this paper. The reason is, of course, that this paper is meant to provide evidence needed by non-Witnesses, and many of them will not accept anything written by the WTS. They truly believe it is false, even dishonest. Therefore some of the preceding information, all of which helps disprove specific trinitarian “proofs,” may not completely mirror current WTS teachings in some specifics (especially when I have presented a number of alternates). Jehovah’s Witnesses should research the most recent WTS literature on the subject or scripture in question before using this information with others. – RDB.