by K.N. Stovra
"In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God
and the Word was God."
In the world of Trinitarian apologetics, the salesmen of Trinitarian doctrine spend the major portion of their John 1:1 efforts against their two chief opponents, by measuring the validity of their translation against the Jehovah's Witness New World Translation (NWT), and by measuring their interpretation of John 1:1 against the Modalist interpretation of the passage. Trinitarians consider Jehovah's Witnesses to be modern Arians who were historically the initial rivals of Trinitarianism. Hence, they have a traditional distaste for Arianism. Trinitarian apologists insist the NWT is incorrect because it translates John 1:1 as, "and the word as a god." They are correct. Trinitarians also do not believe God is one person but is one being who subsists as three persons. Modalists believe God is one person and therefore Jesus and the Father are the same person. Therefore, Trinitarian apologists also insist the Modalist interpretation is incorrect because it claims Jesus is God the Father and since John did not use the definite article which would have equivocated "the Word" with "the God." Hence, they insist the second use of the word they translate as "God" means qualitative deity and not quantitative personal identity. This is also correct. Trinitarians then conclude their own translation and interpretation is correct. This is completely incorrect. Their translation is terribly misleading and deceptive and most of them do not even realize it themselves.
Introducing the Trinitarian Error
Why is the Trinitarian translation wrong? It is wrong because they use a totally inappropriate English grammar convention in the phrase, "and the Word was God" and this convention has misled millions of unsuspecting English speaking readers. The capitalized English word "God" behaves like a name and is used to identify a personal. When English speaking readers see the word "God" in the Trinitarian translation, they assume that someone is being identified and a question beginning with the word "Who" is implicitly being asked and answered. English readers do this because that is what the word "God" in everyday English means and a capitalized word that behaves like a name immediately indicates to an English speaking person that someone is being identified. However, leading Trinitarian Greek scholars themselves admit that John did not intend to indicate who the Word was but what the Word was. Indeed, the New English Bible (NEB), whose General Director was the respected Trinitarian scholar C.H. Dodd, translates this passage as "and what God was the Word was." When Trinitarian scholars are pressed as to the intended meaning of John 1:1, they confess that John intends to tell us the Word was divine by nature in the same sense God is divine by nature and John is not identifying the Word as the personal being "God" but is qualifying the Word as divine. Therefore, the capitalized English word "God" here looks and behaves like a capitalized name and is disingenuously misleading since that particular English word suggests to readers John is indicating who the Word was by identity rather than what the Word was by nature. And this is the problem. Trinitarian scholars admit the passage means one thing but use a linguistic English grammar convention that indicates to readers a completely different idea. Before we review the testimony of these Trinitarian scholars it is necessary to understand some basics of the original Greek in which John wrote this gospel so that we can understand what they are talking about.
The Basic Greek of John 1:1
With respect to the original Greek, John 1:1 is not a difficult passage to translate. One thing we must clearly understand is that John did not use the capitalization conventions we use today. In fact, our modern capitalization conventions developed over the centuries and our modern convention was not in use until many centuries after John wrote his gospel. What John actually wrote would have looked something like the following if he had written in English:
Today, we do not write John's Greek words in Greek the same way John wrote those same words. Today, we use punctuation, spacing, and sometimes capitalization conventions. John did not use such conventions. The following shows how we write John's Greek words today.
The key word in question is the Greek word theos. This is the Greek word for "deity" or "god." Unlike English, word order has less importance in Greek and what is meant is determined by the inflections that indicate which noun is the subject and which noun is the predicate. The Greek syntax tells us that the word theos belongs to the predicate of the sentence and not the subject. So a literal English translation ends with "and the word was theos." John cannot be saying, "God was the Word" even though this is the order of the words in Greek. Of course, this is something Trinitarian Greek scholars acknowledge and this is therefore a non-issue here.
The Definite Article
In Greek, God was identified by the words "the god" which is written in Greek as ho theos. The Greek word ho is the Greek definite article which functions like the English word "the." You will notice that John actually wrote in Greek "and the Word was with the God" but he did not write "and the Word was the God." Trinitarians scholars recognize this absence of the definite article is very significant as we shall soon see.
Some Trinitarian apologists, on the other hand, often indicate the definite article is quite insignificant. These men are nothing but hawkers of their own agenda and have little care for the truth. These particular Trinitarian salesmen do not agree with their own scholars simply because it is not convenient for them. However, in doing so, they often find themselves inadvertently drowning in Modalism for the sake of promoting Trinitarianism to those who are unaware that such a thing is pure folly. Wading into Modalism where convenient to their apologetic is not uncommon among Trinitarians. They often find themselves there without even realizing they have wandered into heresy.
The First Instance of theos
Now before we get into the meaning of the second occurrence of the word theos at John 1:1, the first thing we need to clarify is "who" John is talking about at the first occurrence of the word theos in John 1:1 in the phrase, "and the word was with the theos." We find the answer plainly in his first epistle which he opens with an identical theme and similar vocabulary:
"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life and the life was manifested, and we saw it and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was made manifest to us" (1 John 1:1-2).
"In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God and the word was God. This was in the beginning with God. All things were made through this, and without this was not anything made that was made. In this was life, and the life was the light of men" (John 1:1-4).
It is very plainly given to us by John in his epistle that the first instance of the word theos in John 1:1 is a reference to the person of the Father. Also note John uses the definite article in John 1:1 when he is using theos in reference to the Father, but does not when he is referring to the Word. Obviously, the second occurrence of the word theos is not a reference to the Father, unless of course one wants to argue from a Sabellian viewpoint. Sabellianism is a heresy rejected by Trinitarians. It is also called Modalism or Modalist Monarchianism. Trinitarianism teaches that God is one being of three persons; Modalism teaches that God is one person who manifests himself in three different forms of being. Thus God the Father and Jesus the Son of God are actually the very same person. The Trinitarian translation, "and the Word was God," actually promotes Sabellian Modalism because the capital 'G' suggests John is identifying Jesus as "the God." However, there is a double definition of the word "God" in Trinitarianism that allows them to escape this dilemma which we will later explore.
So if the first instance of theos with the definite article, here and in verse 2, is a reference to the Father, then is the meaning of the word theos in the second instance in John 1:1 without the definite article? It is here to this question we turn our attention.
The Testimony of Trinitarian Scholars
The following Trinitarian scholars are well known and respected leading scholars in the world of Trinitarianism. We are not here concerned with their Trinitarian theology but with their evaluation of John's intended meaning at John 1:1. These scholars use the standard Trinitarian terminology of describing the nature of Jesus with the word "God" and we can see here why they opt to translate John 1:1 as they do. But here let us carefully notice they say 3 significant things: (1) the absence of the definite article is very significant and missing for a reason, (2) the presence of a definite article would have indicated that only the Word was theos thereby excluding the Father, and most importantly (3) the phrase is intended to convey “what” the word was rather than “who” the word was. Emphasis is mine.
Robertson insists emphatically that John left out the article by necessity or he would have been promoting Sabellian modalism by excluding all but the Word from identity as "God." As such, he is insisting John is not identifying the Word as "the God."
"And the Word was God (kai theos en ho logos). By exact and careful language John denied Sabellianism by not saying ho theos en ho logos. That would mean that all of God was expressed in ho logos and the terms would be interchangeable, each having the article. The subject is made plain by the article (ho logos) and the predicate without it (theos) just as in John 4:24 pneuma ho theos can only mean "God is spirit," not "spirit is God." So in 1 John 4:16 ho theos agape estin can only mean "God is love," not "love is God" as a so-called Christian scientist would confusedly say. For the article with the predicate see Robertson, Grammar, pp. 767f." (A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, vol. 5, pp. 4-5, underlined emphasis mine).
C.K. Barrett insists the absence of the definite article is very significant and John could not possibly have said "and the word was the theos" or he would have been implying only the Word was God. This is obviously true because a definite article is used for exclusivity in identification of a person or thing.
"The word with the article is then the subject, whatever the order may be. So in Jo. 1:1, theos an ho logos, the subject is perfectly clear. Cf. ho logos sarx egeneto (Jo. 1:14). It is true that ho theos an ho logos (convertible terms) would have been Sabellianism. See also ho theos agape estin (1 Jo.4:16). "God" and "love" are not convertible terms any more than "God" and "Logos" or "Logos" and "flesh." Cf. also hoi theristai angeloi eisin (Mt. 13:39), ho logos ho sos alatheia estin (Jo. 17:17), ho nomos hamartia; (Ro. 7:7). The absence of the article here is on purpose and essential to the true idea" (A. T. Robertson, A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research, Nashville: Broadman Press, 1934, p. 767-768, underlined emphasis mine).
"A word should be said concerning the use and non-use of the article in John 1:1, where a narrow path is safely followed by the author. "The Word was God." If both God and Word were articular [if they both had the definite article "the"], they would be coextensive and equally distributed and so interchangeable [Sabellianism]. But the separate personality of the Logos is affirmed by the construction used and Sabellianism is denied. If God were articular and Logos non-articular, the affirmation would be that God was Logos, but not that the Logos was God.(A. T. Robertson, The Minister and His Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1977) pp. 67-68, underlined emphasis mine).
C.H. Dodd insists that John is indicating what the Word was, not who the Word was. Dodd indicates that John is indicating that the Word was the substance of the God of Abraham and is therefore not identifying who Word was ("God") but what the Word was (substance of that God).
"The absence of the article indicates that the Word is God, but is not the only being of whom this is true; if ho theos had been written it would have implied that no divine being existed outside the second person of the Trinity."
(C.K. Barrett, The Gospel According to St. John, S.P.C.K., 1955, p.76).
James Moffat indicates John's intention is to indicate the Word was divine. You will note he says, "Jesus as truly God and man" which is Trinitarian lingo for "Jesus as truly divine and human."
"On this analogy, the meaning of theos en ho logos will be that the ousia [substance (the "what")] of ho logos, that which it truly is, is rightly denominated theos...That this is the ousia of ho theos (the personal God of Abraham, the Father) goes without saying. In fact, the Nicene homoousios to patri is a perfect paraphrase.
(C.H. Dodd: New Testament Translation Problems II, The Bible Translator, 28, 1, Jan. 1977), p. 104.)
Philip Harner believed that if John would have said, "the Word was the God, we would necessarily be Sabellian Modalists today. He indicates John's intent was to the Word had the same divine nature as God the Father.
"'The Word was God...And the Word became flesh,' simply means "the word was divine...And the Word became human.' The Nicene faith, in the Chalcedon definition, was intended to conserve both of these truths against theories that failed to present Jesus as truly God and truly man..."
(James Moffact, Jesus Christ the Same, Abingdon-Cokesbury, 1945, p.61).
Henry Alford comes right out and states John is not identifying the Word as the personal being "God" but it indicating what the Word was by essence. You will also note that he too uses the word "God" to mean "divine essence of God."
"Perhaps the clause could be translated, 'the Word had the same nature as God." This would be one way of representing John's thought, which is, as I understand it, that ho logos, no less than ho theos, had the nature of theos."
(Philip B. Harner, Qualitative Anarthrous Predicate Nouns: Mark 15:39 and John 1:1," Journal of Biblical Literature, 92, 1, March 1973, p. 87.)
Westcott indicates that John necessarily did not use the definite article, that John is indicating what the Word was by nature, and is not identifying the Word as "God."
"Theos must then be taken as implying God, in substance and essence,--not ho theos, 'the Father,' in person. It does not = theios, nor is it to be rendered a God--but, as in sarx egeneto, sarx expresses that state into which the Divine Word entered by a definite act, so in theos en, theos expresses that essence which was His en arche:--that He was very God. So that this first verse might be connected thus: the Logos was from eternity,--was with God (the Father),--and was Himself God."
(Henry, Alford, Alford's Greek Testament: An Exegetical and Critical Commentary, Vol. I, Part II, Guardian Press, 1975; originally published 1871), p. 681).
Dana and Mantey indicate the absence of the article is necessary so that the other persons of the Trinity are not excluded. In other words, if John had used the definite article he would have been indicating that Jesus was exclusively "God." They also indicate the phrase means "the word was deity" by nature.
"The predicate [theos) stands emphatically first, as in v.24. It is necessarily without the article (theos not ho theos) inasmuch as it describes the nature of the Word and does not identify His Person... No idea of inferiority of nature is suggested by the form of expression, which simply affirms the true deity of the Word."
(B.F. Westcott, The Gospel According to St. John, Eerdmans, 1958 reprint, p. 3.)
Kenneth Wuest insists the absence of the definite article means John is indicating what the Word was by essence not who the Word was by identity. He insists John was indicating the word was deity in essence not God by identity.
The article sometimes distinguishes the subject from the predicate in a copulative sentence. In Xenophon's Anabasis, 1:4:6, emporion d' en to korion, and the place was a market, we have a parallel case to what we have in John 1:1, kai theos en ho logos, and the word was deity. The article points out the subject in these examples. Neither was the place the only market, nor was the word all of God, as it would mean if the article were also used with theos. As it stands, the other persons of the Trinity may be implied in theos.
(H. E. Dana, Julius Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament, New York: The MacMillan Company, 1950, pp. 148-149).
F.F. Bruce also indicates that if John had used a definite article he would have been indicating that the Word was exclusively "God" by identity. Rather, Bruce says, John is referring to the nature of the Word, not the identity of the Word.
"The Word was God. Here the word "God" is without the article in the original. When it is used in this way, it refers to the divine essence. Emphasis is upon the quality or character. Thus, John teaches us here that our Lord is essentially Deity. He possesses the same essence as God the Father, is one with Him in nature and attributes."
(Kenneth Wuest, Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, vol. 3, "Golden Nuggets," p. 52).
"In the beginning the Word was existing. And the Word was in fellowship with God the Father. And the Word was as to His essence absolute deity"
(Kenneth Wuest, Word Studies, vol. 4, p. 209).
Nicoll insists that if the article was present then John would have excluded anyone but the Word from identity as God. As such, he says John is indicating the Word was divine by nature.
"The structure of the third clause in verse 1, theos en ho logos, demands the translation "The Word was God." Since logos has the article preceding it, it is marked out as the subject. The fact that theos is the first word after the conjunction kai (and) shows that the main emphasis of the clause lies on it. Had theos as well as logos been preceded by the article the meaning would have been that the Word was completely identical with God, which is impossible if the Word was also "with God". What is meant is that the Word shared the nature and being of God, or (to use a piece of modern jargon) was an extension of the personality of God. The NEB paraphrase "what God was, the Word was", brings out the meaning of the clause as successfully as a paraphrase can...So, when heaven and earth were created, there was the Word of God, already existing in the closest association with God and partaking of the essence of God. No matter how far back we may try to push our imagination, we can never reach a point at which we could say of the Divine Word, as Arius did, "There was once when he was not"
(F. F. Bruce, The Gospel of John, Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1983), p. 31).
"The Word is distinguishable from God and yet Theos en ho logos, the Word was God, of Divine nature; not "a God," which to a Jewish ear would have been abominable; nor yet identical with all that can be called God, for then the article would have been inserted..."
And finally, well known commentator William Barclay writes explains it all in one paragraph. John did not identify the Word here but was indicating what the Word was.
(W. Robertson Nicoll, ed., The Expositor's Greek Testament, 5 vols, (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1983), 1:684).
Finally John says that "The Word was God". There is no doubt that this is a difficult saying for us to understand, and it is difficult because Greek, in which John wrote, had a different way of saying things from the way in which English speaks. When the Greek uses a noun it almost always uses the definite article with it. The Greek for God is 'theos', and the definite article is 'ho'. When Greek speaks about God it does not simply say 'theos'; it says 'ho theos'. Now, when Greek does not use the definite article with a noun that noun becomes much more like an adjective; it describes the character, the quality of the person. John did not say that the Word was 'ho theos'; that would have been to say that the Word was identical with God; he says that the Word was 'theos'- without the definite article- which means that the Word was, as we might say, of the very same charactor and quality and essence and being as God. When John said 'The Word was God' he was not saying that Jesus is identical with God, he was saying that Jesus is so perfectly the same as God in mind, in heart, in being that in Jesus we perfectly see what God is like." (Barclay, W. The Gospel of John, vol.1, The Dailey Study Bible Series, Saint Andrew Press, p. 39)
"the Word was Divine" (Goodspeed, E.J. An American Translation N.T. 1923).
"the Logos was Divine" (Moffatt, J. The Bible 1950).
"And what God was, the Word was" (New English Bible 1961).
"the Word was Divine" (Schonfield, H.L. Authentic N.T. 1956).
"The Word was with God and shared his nature" (Translator's N.T. 1973).
"and the nature of the Word was the same as the nature of God" (Barclay, W. N.T. 1968).
We have here an abundant testimony from leading Trinitarian scholars. Notice how these scholars unanimously agree that John is not indicating who the Word was but what the Word was. Also notice that they insist John could not have said, "and the Word was the God." And this is the problem. The English word "God" is the equivalent of the Greek term ho theos ("the god") which is precisely what these scholars insist John did not say, did not intend to say, and could not say without promoting heresy. So why do they persist in translating John 1:1 incorrectly?
The Deceptiveness of Trinitarian Terminology
One of the reasons Trinitarians seem to feel free to translate John 1:1 as they do involves their own private system of theological terms. The statement "Jesus is God" is used to mean two entirely different things in Trinitarian theology. It may mean "Jesus is divine by nature" or it may mean "Jesus is God by identity." One statement explains what Jesus is by nature. The other statement using the exact same words is intended to indicate who Jesus is by identity. For example, the statement often made by Trinitarians, "Jesus is both God and man" does not mean "Jesus is the Creator God and human nature." It means "Jesus is divine by nature and human by nature." The Trinitarian scholars we have cited use the word "God" in both ways in the quotations above.
With John 1:1 in view, the Trinitarian apologetic routine usually follows a typical pattern. Trinitarians first use the statement, "Jesus is God" to promote the idea that Jesus is God by identity. The quick and dirty apologetic simply attempts to prove Jesus is God by identity by pointing to John 1:1. However, the usual routine is to prove Jesus has a divine nature and so the statement "Jesus is God" will be intended to mean he is divine, or deity, by nature. Now suppose that a Trinitarian apologist is successful in convincing someone that Jesus is deity by nature by quoting John 1:1. He can then conclude, "Jesus is God" but now he implicitly suggests that he has proved that Jesus is God by identity. Since he proved that Jesus is God by nature, that is, divine by nature, by saying "Jesus is God," he then proceeds to the next step and implicitly suggests he has proven Jesus is God by identity by implementing the very same statement, "Jesus is God." This is the decisive place where others are deceived by the Trinitarian apologetic concerning John 1:1. Many Trinitarians, perhaps most, have learned this by watching other Trinitarians do it and so they tend to do this without even realizing what they are doing. They just know that it seems to work for them and indeed this is why they have come to believe what they believe themselves. However, it is extremely deceptive and misleading. They have not proven that Jesus is the personal being God by identity and have committed the fallacy of equivocation. Indeed, the Bible explicitly teaches that we too are sharers of the divine nature, and not only so, the Bible explicitly teaches that we believers have the fullness of deity and will have this nature in an even more intimate manner when we are raised from the dead. This does not, and will not, make us the personal being "God" by identity and it does not qualify Jesus to be identified as "God" either.
Another problem with the Trinitarian apologetic routine is the present tense in the statement, "Jesus is God. However this passage says, "the Word was God." John then goes on to say, "the Word became flesh." John is telling us what the Word was and then what the Word later became. But the Trinitarian disingenuously suggests John is telling us what the Word was at any point in the past from his own perspective and chronological point of reference. This is why he suggests "Jesus is God." Hence, the Trinitarian is also being suggestively deceptive by claiming that John 1:1 is saying John was teaching Jesus is God. And furthermore, there is the issue of whether the divine Word was actually a personal being or became a personal being when the Word became flesh. The Trinitarian apologist completely bypasses these issues because it is not congenial to his mission and he typically leaves his readers and hearers completely unaware since his only goal is to persuade others that "Jesus is God" by identity. How he goes about doing this is considered to be rather irrelvant as long as he achieves his goal. In other words, the end justifies the means.
However, we are most concerned here with those Trinitarians who promote the idea that "Jesus is God" meaning "Jesus is divine by nature" and then suggestively conclude they have proved "Jesus is God" by identity and dupe unsuspecting people.
|Translation||Perceived Meaning||John's Intention|
|and the Word was God||the Word was the God by identity||the Word was deity by nature|
The Correct Translation
The correct translation of John 1:1 is, "and the Word was god." This is not to be confused with the NWT translation which reads, "and the Word was a god." If John wanted to identify the Word as the personal being "God," then it would be appropriate to translate the passage as, "and the Word was God" because that is what such a translation would indicate. However, as we have seen, this is not John's intention. The translation, "and the Word was god" means "the Word was divine" or "the Word was deity." The Hebrew word for "human" is "adam." So we can write, "Eve was adam." But we cannot write, "Eve was Adam" since that indicates Eve is the person Adam and such a statement would be extremely misleading. The word "god" is to be used and understood in John 1:1 in the same way as "adam" in the phrase, "Eve was adam." Adam and adam mean two different things. Eve was human by nature, humanity, "adam." The Word was divine by nature, the nature of deity, divinity, "god." A translation which reads, "and the Word was deity" is also appropriate.
|The Third and Correct Option|
||And the word was the Deity
||And the Word was God
||And the word was a deity
||And the word was a god
||The Third Option
||And the word was deity
||And the word was god|
One reason Trinitarians would like to refrain from translating the passage as, "and the Word was god" is that it has an appearance too similar to the Jehovah's Witness translation even though it conveys an entirely different idea. They are afraid readers may be mislead in a certain direction. However, such knee jerk reactions are not a justification to distort the truth and mislead readers into the equally wrong opposite direction. Trinitarians also shy away from "and the Word was divine" because they know some groups would suggest that Jesus was divine like the angels are divine but not exactly divine like God is divine and thus attempt to claim Jesus is "like" God in a some similar sense. Again, this does not justify a deceptive translation which is nothing more than a "let us do evil that good may result" attitude. However, they have no reason whatsoever to refrain from translating the passage as, "and the Word was deity" which is what they themselves say it means. One then wonders why they say it means "the Word was deity" and they do not translate it as such. Such a translation would not mislead readers and any English speaking reader would immediately assume John is indicating what the Word was, not who the Word was, as occurs with their misleading translation. A final reason they like to translate the passage as "and the Word was God" is that it promotes their own belief system and for them this is all that really matters.
Illustrating the Error: Qualitative and Quantiative Terms
We have a perfect example from the Bible which illustrates this error. The word adam is the Hebrew word for "human," whether male or female. In fact, the Bible teaches that God named both of them "adam." Adam was actually called "the adam" in the Bible just as God was called "the god." Thus, Adam was adam, Eve was adam, and Seth was adam. Adam was human, Eve was human and Seth was human. The word adam is here used in a qualitative sense. It is also correct to write, "Adam was Adam." This is a quantitative use of the same word. It sounds the same as the qualitative sense but the capital letter changed the intent of the word from qualitative to quantitative. Since Adam is quantitatively the person Adam, we can say Adam is Adam. However, it is completely incorrect to say, "Eve was Adam," or "Seth was Adam." This would be a totally inappropriate use of English capitalization conventions and would mislead the reader into thinking that Eve and/or Seth are being identified as the person Adam. So while we can write, "Eve was adam," we cannot write "Eve was Adam." Hence, to be honest and true to readers we must ensure that we do not capitalize the word "adam" when we are using the word in a qualitative sense. The word "adam" is not a name but the word "Adam" is a name. Although they sound the same they signal different ideas. The very same thing is true with the word "God." Although it sounds like a qualitative word when spoken, it behaves like a name and signals a quantiative entity when written. The word "God" is as misleading as the word "Adam" when the word "god" is intended as is the word "adam."
|Inappropriate use of Capitalization|
|It is sandy colored
||It is sandy
||It is Sandy
||It is the person "Sandy"
|Eve was adam by nature
||Eve was adam
||Eve was Adam
||Eve was the person "Adam"
|The Word was god/deity by nature
||The Word was god
||The Word was God
||The Word was the identity known as "God"
Note carefully how a capital letter changed everything. A capitalized word in English has much power and suggestive meaning and the misuse of capitalization can lead to quietly constructed yet tremendous blunders.
||Adam & his son||God & his son||Sense||Implied Question|
|True||Adam was Adam||God is God||Quantitative||Who|
|True||Adam was adam||God is god||Qualitative||What|
|True||Seth was adam||The Word was god||Qualitative||What|
|True||Seth was adam||The Word was adam||Qualitative||What|
|False||Seth was Adam||The Word was Adam||Quantitative||Who|
|False||Seth was Adam||The Word was God||Quantitative||Who|
The Power of Suggestion
Quantitative names identifying persons sound exactly like qualitative words describing attributes. The statement, "It is Sandy" sounds just like "It is sandy." However, these two statements mean two completely different things and if we misuse these terms we commit the deceptive fallacy of equivocation. In the same way, "Jesus is god" meaning "Jesus is deity by nature," sounds just like "Jesus is God," meaning "Jesus is that personal being God by identity." Therefore, if we were speaking out loud to someone they would not even know the difference between those two statements. So a person could demonstrate the Word was god from John 1:1 and then proceed to claim they have proven the Word was God and since you cannot see the capital letter that is spoken and not written, a person listening to such words could be easily duped. And even worse, the written statement "Jesus is God," meaning "Jesus is divine," also looks just like "Jesus is God," meaning "Jesus is God by identity." They are identical statements which mean two different things. The two statements both sound and look exactly the same but convey concepts which describe two completely different ideas. This is how Trinitarians afford the John 1:1 deception. They claim that John is telling us the Word was deity by nature by saying, and writing, "the Word was God" when they are referring to his nature. However, this has exactly the same ring to human ears, and to the human mind which hears these words when read, as the statement "the Word was God" when used to indicate who the Word was by identity. So Trinitarians suggestively imply they have proved Jesus is "God" by identity with John 1:1 and because the two statements look, sound, and have the exact same ring for both meanings of "Jesus is God", this illusion is quite persuasive and subtlely effective. Hence, innocent folks are easily duped by this fallacy.
Adam and adam / God and god
Let us return to our "adam" example. We could say Seth was a son "of" Adam because he was derived out of Adam. We could also say Seth was adam. But we cannot say Seth was Adam because that was another individual. In the same way, the Son of God, the Word of God, was not "The God" but of "The God." Seth was adam "of" Adam, humanity of the humanity, just as the Son/Word was god of God, divinity of the Divinity, deity of The Deity. So if we use the language of John 1:1 we could say:
"In the beginning was Seth and Seth was with Adam and
Seth was adam."
"In the beginning was Seth and Seth was with the adam and Seth was adam."
"In the beginning was Seth and Seth was with the man and Seth was man."
Notice how the words "Adam" and "adam" mean two different things. One refers to "who" and the other to "what." Interestingly, the person we know as "Adam" in English was simply called "the adam," or "the man" in the Hebrew of Genesis just as the person we know in English as God was called "the god" by John and the New Testament writers. The first occurrence of "the man" or "the adam" in our example above refers to the person, capital 'A' "Adam." In the very same way, the first occurrence at John 1:1 of "the deity" or "the divinity" or "the god" refers to the person, capital 'G' "God." But the second occurrence of "man" or "adam" does not refer to the person capital 'A' "Adam" but to Seth's nature which is "adam", that is, human. In the same way, the second occurrence at John 1:1 of "deity" or "divinity" or "god" does not refer to the person "God" but to the Word's nature, that is, deity, divinity, god. You will notice what a capital letter does in English. It suggests we are answering the question "who" and also replaces the need for a definite article.
But John 1:1 does not have the definite article here and so is not answering the question "who?" In English, instead of saying "the adam" to refer to the first man, we simply say "Adam" with a capital 'A' and instead of saying "the god" we can simply say "God" with a capital 'G.' But since in both the Adam and God examples, the second occurrence of "adam" and "god" are not referring to that person "Adam" and that person "God," it should not be capitalized because it does not refer in either case to a person but to a nature and it would be very misleading to do so. It would be simply deceptive to write, "In the beginning was Seth and Seth was with Adam and
Seth was Adam." Yet this is the very thing Trinitarians do at John 1:1.
In the same way, another analogy of what John is saying here is the identities and natures of Adam and Eve when they both walked together in Eden. Now Eve was "of" Adam and she was flesh of his flesh and bore his nature. She was a human like he was human. She was "adam", that is, she was human. Thus we can say:
"In the beginning was Eve and Eve was with Adam and
Eve was adam."
Essentially what we are saying is, "and Eve was what Adam was." This is identical to the way the NEB phrases John 1:1. However, if we wrote the above statement in the same manner as Trinitarian apologists mistranslate John 1:1, we end up with an error that is similar to the following:
"In the beginning was Seth and Seth was with Adam and Seth was Adam."
"In the beginning was Eve and Eve was with Adam and
Eve was Adam."
This is the root of the John 1:1 Trinitarian deception. Notice how a capital letter changed everything. It is wrong since Eve is most certainly not Adam with a capital "A." That word is reserved for the first man "Adam." Eve is not the person Adam but Eve was indeed adam by nature. The male Adam and the female adam are two separate identities. Yes she is "of Adam" and in this way she is what Adam is, adam, that is, adamness. Nor is Eve a false "adam."1 Indeed she is true adam, true humanity, but she is most definitely not true Adam. In other words, the two are not one identity but they are one nature. Yet Eve would most definitely be a false "Adam." Eve was what Adam was - adam. In the same way, The Word in John 1:1 is certainly not "God" by identity but the Word was "god" by nature, that is to say, "deity" by nature, what he was. The name "God" with a capital "G" is reserved for God the Father and progenitor of all in the same sense that "Adam" with a capital "A" is reserved for the first man Adam, the father and progenitor of the humanity known in Hebrew as "adam." The Word and God are two separate identities yet they are one by nature of godness, divinity, deity, "god." The second instance of the word "God" or "god" in John 1:1 is not a reference to "who" the Word is, but a reference to "what" the Word was. Translating the passage to suggest "the Word was "who" deceptively implies by suggestion the wrong question. The right question is, "The Word was what?" And the answer is, "The Word was god." The following statements are all intended to convey the exact same idea.
"In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was god."
"In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with The Divinity and the Word was divine."
"In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with The Deity and the Word was deity."
If we translate the passage as "the Word was God," we dishonestly mislead people because in our language a capital "G" implicitly indicates we are referring to an identity, a person, and answering the question "who?" because a capital letter is intended to take the place of the purpose of the definite article by directing our attention to a specific person. The English word "God" is the equivalent of the Greek term "the god" and is a reference to identity. In John 1:1, the first occurrence of the Greek word theos ("god") does indeed refer to an identity, God the Father, because it has the definite article ho theos and therefore should be written as capital 'G' "God" but the second occurrence of the Greek word theos ("god") does not have the definite article and is not a reference to "who" the Word is but to "what" the Word is and must be written as small 'g' god where the word "god" here refers to the divine nature of God, that is, the nature of deity.
The Trinitarian deception here is a double-edged sword. First they translate the Greek word theos into English with a capital "G" and interpret the passage to mean "Jesus is deity." But when English readers see a capital 'G,' they immediately perceive that an identity is being discussed because a capital 'G' implies the question "who?" is implicitly being asked and answered. Having this in place, the Trinitarian apologist then has the opportunity to take it one step further and tells us that John is telling us "who" the Word was, "Jesus is God." In other words, people are deceived into believing that John was saying "the Word was [that being we identify as] God." It is a deception. John is not telling us "who" the Word was but "what" the Word was. He is saying "the Word was god" or "the Word was deity." He is telling us
that the Word was deity because the Word was with "The Deity" in the beginning and the Word was what God was, that is, divinity, deity, godness, god. The Greek word theos in the second instance is used in a qualitative sense.
Trinitarians Caught in their own Scheming
Now let us recall what leading Trinitarian scholars have said about the definite article at John 1:1. If John has said, "the word was the God," he would have necessarily been saying the Word was all of God and excluded the Father and in effect would have been necessarily indicating the Word was God the Father and been promoting Sabellian Modalism. Here they are speaking on honest terms and trying to get at the real intended meaning of John's words. However, they now have a very serious problem on their hands. Now what will they do with John 5:43-44 and John 17:3 and John 20:28? At John 5:44, Jesus refers to his Father as the God and not only the God but the only God. At John 17:3, Jesus indicates the Father is the God and not only the God, but the only true God, and not only the only God but the only true God. According to the comments made by these Trinitarian scholars concerning the definite article at John 1:1, Jesus has just excluded himself from being "the true God" and he didn't even need to use the words "true" or "only"! And it gets even worse for the Trinitarian. At John 20:28, the Trinitarian claims that Thomas is calling Jesus "the God." Hence, here the Father would be excluded according to the confessions of these Trinitarian scholars. Now if this extreme inconsistency does not convince a person of the disingenuity of the Trinitarian claims, nothing will. The truth is that the definite article is significant at John 1:1 and all the other passages we have just cited. Jesus does exlude himself from being God by identity and Thomas does not refer to Jesus as "the God" but is affirming what Jesus had taught all along, "If you have seen me you have seen the Father."
It is here at this realization that the Trinitarian apologist entertains evil thoughts in his heart and begins to contrive and scheme. In order to avoid the implications of John 5:44, John 17:3 and John 20:28, he needs to now consider recanting on his interpretation that the absence of the definite article at John 1:1 has any significance. If he doesn't he must accept that John contradicts himself, or, he must accept that Jesus is not God by identity, or that the Father is not God by identity. He is caught in a calamity of his own craftiness. And so now, he must completely abandon any notion that John is saying "the Word was divine by nature" and insist John is saying "the Word was God by identity." And in doing so, his own apologetic agenda becomes more important to him than God's intended message through the inspired words of the Apostle John. He is a man who is unable to humble himself to truth.
O, what a tangled web we weave when we first practice to deceive.
The Testimony of Origen
Origen was a very brilliant church father and theologian who wrote in the first half of the third century. He was also the head of the theological academy at Alexandria, the most renowned Christian school in Christendom in that time. He wrote a commentary on the Gospel of John. In this commentary, he actually addresses this critical question very carefully.
"We next notice John's use of the article ["the"] in these sentences. He does not write without care in this respect, nor is he unfamiliar with the niceties of the Greek tongue. In some cases he uses the article ["the"], and in some he omits it. He adds the article ["the"] to logos, but to the name of theos he adds it sometimes only. He uses the article ["the"], when the name of theos refers to the uncreated cause of all things, and omits it when the logos is named theos. Does the same difference which we observe between theos with the article ["the], and theos without it, prevail also between logos with it and without it? We must enquire into this. As God who is over all is theos with the article ["the"] not without it, so also "the" logos is the source of that logos (reason} which dwells in every reasonable creature; the logos which is in each creature is not, like the former called par excellence "the" logos. Now there are many who are sincerely concerned about religion, and who fall here into great perplexity. They are afraid that they may be proclaiming two theos (gods), and their fear drives them into doctrines which are false and wicked. Either they deny that the Son has a distinct nature of His own besides that of the Father, and make Him whom they call the Son to be theos all but the name, or they deny the divinity of the Son, giving Him a separate existence of His own, and making His sphere of essence fall outside that of the Father, so that they are separable from each other. To such persons we have to say that God on the one hand is autotheos (God of Himself); and so the Saviour says in His prayer to the Father, "That they may know You the only true God;" but that all beyond the autotheos (God) is made theos by participation in His divinity, and is not to be called simply "the" theos but rather [just] theos. And thus the first-born of all creation, who is the first to be with God, and to attract to Himself divinity, is a being of more exalted rank than the other theos (gods) beside Him, of whom "the" theos (God) is "the" theos (God), as it is written, "The God of gods, the Lord, hath spoken and called the earth." It was by the offices of the first-born that they became (gods), for He drew from God in generous measure that they should be made theos gods, and He communicated it to them according to His own bounty. The true God, then, is ho theos ("the god"), and those who are formed after Him are (gods), images, as it were, of Him the prototype. But the archetypal image, again, of all these images is the ho logos ("the word") of ho theos ("the god") , who was in the beginning, and who by being with "the" theos ("God") is at all times theos ("god"), not possessing that of Himself, but by His being with the Father, and not continuing to be theos, if we should think of this, except by remaining always in uninterrupted contemplation of the depths of the Father. (Origen's Commentary on the Gospel of John, Book II, 2.)
While Trinitarian apologists will quote Origen when they find his sayings useful for their own agendas, they tend to avoid this particular quotation for obvious reasons. Origen is very insistent the absence of the definite article in the second instance of the word theos at John 1:1 is indeed extremely significant. And who would comprehend the Greek language of John's gospel better than an expert in the language of the day? Notice that Origen distinguishes between "the god" or "God" as the creator of all things, and his Word which he does not consider to be the creator, and which he does not consider to be "God" but "god" in the sense that the Word is deity by essence but not "God" by identity. This is precisely what was taught by the early Christian writers, Tatian, Athenagoras, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, and Tertullian although Trinitarians will attempt to tell us otherwise. Also take careful note of Origen's interpretation of John 17:3, "that they may now you the only true God" as a reference to the Father alone, and excludes Jesus from that title. Now let us be careful about what Origen is not saying. He is not saying that Jesus is "a God" or "a god" in addition to the Father. He is saying, along with all his contemporaries, that the divinity, deity, ("what") of the Word is derived from the person "God," but only the Father should be identified as "God" ("who"). Nor is he saying that the Word is "the God" that created the universe; in fact he is insisting the opposite is true (the Word is not the Creator but "of" the Creator). Origen is saying that the Word is deity ("god") because he is "of God" and derives his deity from "The Deity," the Creator of all things who is the Father. Origen understands that the Word has a God but the Father does not have a God and derives his deity from no one but himself. God Most High, the Father, is "autodeity", or "autogod" which is a fancy way of saying he is independently deity in and of himself. But Origen says that the deity of the Word is not derived from himself but is dependent on the Father's deity and this is why the definite article is absent in the second occurrence of theos at John 1:1. The Word of God is not "The Deity" by identity, but deity in essence because the Word is "of The Deity", that is, "of God" but is not "The God." Put another way, he is saying that the Word is divinity of the Divinity or god of God or deity of the Deity but is not himself "The Deity," the entity we know as the Creator, God Most High. Origen emphasizes his point by quoting John 17:3 where Jesus indicates his Father is the only true "Deity", that is, "The Deity" and "The God" by identity as opposed to simply being "deity" in essence. Essentially, what Origen is getting at is that the definite article is used to indicate identity and is always and only used to refer to the Creator who he understands to be the Father who created alone through (by means of) his Word, and the absence of the article indicates "what" the Word is to distinguish "who" the Word is from God - the Word is deity of The Deity but is not The Deity. The Word is "what" of "the Who."
Men of Integrity
Occasionally, a true man of integrity comes along and tells the truth. I don't personally know much about this fellow but I would like to quote him. His name is James Denny and he is a theologian and Christian author. He is a Trinitarian and he also knew the truth of the matter in his heart. He was writing a letter to one of the scholars we quoted above, W. Robertson Nicoll.
As for your remark that you missed an unequivocal statement that Jesus is God, I feel inclined to say that such a statement seems unattractive to me just because it is impossible to make it unequivocal. It is not the true way to say a true thing . . . The NT says that theos een o logos [the word was God], but it does not say o logos een o theos [the word was the God], and it is this last which is really suggested to the English mind by "Jesus is God." . . . Probably the aversion I have to such an expression as Jesus is God is linguistic as much as theological. We are so thoroughly monotheistic now that the word God, to put it pedantically, has ceased to be an appellative and has become a proper noun: it identifies the being to whom it is applied so that it can stand as the subject of a sentence. In Greek, in the first century, it was quite different. You could say then “Jesus is theos.” But the English equivalent of that is not “Jesus is God” (with a capital G), but, I say it as a believer in his true deity, Jesus is god (with a small g) — not a god, but a being in whom is the nature of the One God ... Jesus is God is the same thing as Jesus = God. Jesus is a man as well as God, in some ways therefore both less and more than God; and consequently a form of proposition which in our idiom suggests inevitably the precise equivalence of Jesus and God does some injustice to the truth." (Letters of Principal James Denny to W. Robertson Nicoll, 1893 – 1917, Hodder and Stoughton, 1920, 121-125, emphasis mine).
The Deciding Factor
The deciding factor is admitted by Trinitarian scholars. John did not say and could not have said, "the word was the god." If he had said the Word was "the God," he would have been saying The Word was the person the Word was also with and that would be the Father. However, the term "the god" is exactly the same thing as saying, "the word was God." Why? The English word "God" is the equivalent of the Greek term "the god." Therefore, if John did not say, and could not say, "the word was the god" then he did not say, and could not say, "the word was God" because both expressions are intended to convey the very same concept!
What Trinitarians really do in practice at John 1:1 is read it as saying, "and the Word was with God the Father and the Word was God the Son." This practice is called "eisegesis" and is the opposite of "exegesis." It is a very basic interpretive principle,that eisegesis is a big NO-NO. This is because we could make the Bible say pretty much anything if we read extraneous preconceived notions into it. What we are after is the intended meaning not what we would like any given passage to say. This method of exegesis is the proper way to interpret and study the Bible. Trinitarians demand this of others but not for themselves.
In Greek, one refers to a person even by use of a name by using a definite article. For example, Jesus is identified as "the jesus." But we do not even need to have that realization to comprehend the Trinitarian error. The capitalized English word "God" behaves like a name and is used as if it were a name and when it is used in John 1:1 translations, it invites readers to assume John is identifying who the Word was. It is therefore completely wrong, misleading and deceptive and is only there to afford apologists the opportunity to dupe unsuspecting people with the "Jesus is God" routine using two different meanings of that statement as we have demonstrated above. It is high time this disingenuous translation is exterminated among true believers, Trinitarian and non-Trinitarian alike.