Have Jehovah’s Witnesses Changed the Bible to Fit Their Beliefs?

What JW.ORG Says

“No, we haven’t. On the contrary, when we have discovered that our beliefs were not completely in line with the Bible, we have changed our beliefs.

Long before we started producing the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures in 1950, we examined the Bible. We used whatever translation was available and formed our beliefs accordingly.”

The Truth

It’s certainly true that Jehovah’s Witnesses have not always used the New World Translation, and their JW Library app has several translations available for download to compare and contrast scriptures. However, to say that nothing in the New World Translation has been changed to fit Jehovah’s Witnesses beliefs is untrue.   

The Governing Body

“Governing Body” is a legalistic English term that originates in modern western culture. However, the 2013 revision/Study Edition of the New World Translation casually inserts the phrase throughout its chapter introductions and study notes:

  • Acts 15: Letter from the governing body (22-29) –Chapter Summary
  •  “So just as some elders served in fleshly Israel on a national level, these elders together with the apostles formed a governing body for all the Christian congregations in the first century C.E. This indicates that the original group serving as a governing body, the 12 apostles, had now been enlarged. –NWT Study Edition; Study Note, Acts 6:5
  • “As shown in the study note on Acts 15:2, some elders in the nation of Israel served in positions of responsibility on a national level. Likewise, these elders in Jerusalem together with the apostles formed a governing body for all the Christian congregations in the first century. C.E. After handling the issue of circumcision, these apostles and elders made their decision known to the congregations, and it was accepted as authoritative.” –NWT Study Edition; Study Note, Acts 16:4
  • “…However, just seven years before Paul wrote his letter to the Romans, the governing body in Jerusalem concluded that non-Jews who accepted the good news did not need to get circumcised and submit to the regulations of the Jewish law.” –NWT Study Edition; Study Note, Romans 2:25
  • “…That would be in direct violation of the governing body’s decree found at Ac 15:29” –NWT Study Edition; Study Note, 1 Corinthians 8:1

Because these notes are located in the Bible itself, and the study notes are often referred to as containing the “correct” answers during Witnesses’ “Christian Life and Ministry Meeting,” this subconsciously makes it seem as if the existence of a first-century governing body is an established fact. In reality, Jehovah’s Witnesses are the only organization that believe this, and the New World Translation is the only Bible that contains such language. 

Trinity

Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe in the trinity; this is not unique to Jehovah’s Witnesses as a religion, as not all Christian denominations are Trinitarian. They are unique in specifically choosing wording that refutes the Trinity in their Bible translation.

For example, every other respected translation of the Bible renders 1 Colossians 1:16, which is referring to Jesus, this way:

  • for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him.

The 2013 Revision of the New World Translation renders the text this way:

  • “…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 himand for him.
    • Italics added for emphasis

The word “other” does not appear in the original Greek, which one can confirm by using a concordance (or the Kingdom Interlinear on JW LIBRARY).

The signify this, previous versions of the New World Translation added brackets around the word “other”:

  • because by means of him all [other] things were created in the heavens and upon the earth, the things visible and the things invisible, no matter whether they are thrones or lordships or governments or authorities. All [other] things have been created through him and for him.”

However, as can be seen above, the 2013 Revision removes the brackets completely, giving the reader the impression that this was the intention of the original writers. Why add the word “other”? Because Witnesses do not believe that “all things were created by means of” Jesus. They believe that Jesus was created as God’s firstborn son. Since this verse would contradict with their doctrine, they have simply changed the verse.

The main way Witnesses refute the possibility of the Trinity, however, is by adding “the Divine Name” into the New Testament.

“Jehovah” in the New Testament

In the JW.ORG FAQ article, Is the New World Translation Accurate? the following is stated:

  • “Many translations of the Bible sacrifice faithfulness to God’s message in favor of following human traditions, for instance by replacing God’s personal name, Jehovah, with titles such as Lord or God.”

However, the translators of the New World Translation have sacrificed faithfulness to the Bible by adding the name “Jehovah” to the New Testament 237 times.

One only has to compare New Testament verses containing the divine name in the New World Translation to the original Greek in the Kingdom Interlinear to see that these 237 additions are unfounded. No existing manuscripts of the New Testament contain the divine name, a fact which Watchtower acknowledges in the Appendix to the 2013 Revision:

  • The Greek manuscripts we possess today are not the originals. Of the thousands of copies in existence today, most were made at least two centuries after the originals were composed. (2) By that time, those copying the manuscripts either replaced the Tetragrammaton with Kyʹri·os, the Greek word for “Lord,” or they copied from manuscripts where this had already been done.

    The New World Bible Translation Committee determined that there is compelling evidence that the Tetragrammaton did appear in the original Greek manuscripts

Deceptively, Watchtower states that “those copying the manuscripts replaced the Tetragrammaton with Ky’rios,” even as they acknowledge that there are no existing manuscripts that support this assertion.

As Watchtower itself outlines, we do not have the original Greek manuscripts. This means that when they say “there is compelling evidence that the Tetragrammaton did appear in the original Greek manuscripts,” they are basing their entire translation around assumptions about non-existent manuscripts.

1 thought on “Have Jehovah’s Witnesses Changed the Bible to Fit Their Beliefs?”

  1. John 1;1 can be correctly translated as NWT. There are good arguments for both “God” and “a god”
    The rest of the comments are entirely correct.
    I would add the ridiculous use of torture stake instead of cross. The NAILS were driven through his hands. In JW artwork there is only one nail through both hands.
    The sign was placed ABOVE HIS HEAD not above his hands.
    I love your site. You have done an amazing job!

    Like

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