Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Yahweh, the Creator of all things

In Isaiah 44:24 we read: “24Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, and the one who formed you from the womb, "I, the LORD, am the maker of all things, Stretching out the heavens by Myself And spreading out the earth all alone,””

The LORD (“LORD” is translated from the Hebrew word “Yahweh”) is our Redeemer. He is the one who formed us from the womb. Yahweh describes Himself as the “maker of all things.” Yahweh is the Creator, and He has created “all alone.”

Creatorship is a divine quality that can be said of Yahweh alone.

Let’s take a quick look at a passage where the Apostle Paul describes God the Son as Creator of all things … Colossians 1:13-19, 13For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, 14in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. 15He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. 19For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him,” (NASB).

Verses 13-14 – Christ saved His people from their sins.

Verse 15 – Christ is the image of the invisible God; He is the firstborn over creation, that is to say that Christ has the preeminence over all creation (consider the rest of this passage).

Verse 16 – Christ created all things: things in the heavens, on the earth, visible and invisible, all authorities—all things have been created through/by Him and for Him.

Verse 17 – Christ is before all things; He holds all of creation together.

Verse 18 – Christ is the head of the church; He is the first fruits of the resurrection from the dead; He will have the first place in everything.

Verse 19 – Christ has all the fullness of deity dwelling in Him.

Notice the contrast of the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ New World Translation beginning in verse 16, “16 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. 17 Also, he is before all [other] things and by means of him all [other] things were made to exist” (bold emphasis mine).

The NWT inserts the bracketed “other” four times in this text. The reason for this is completely the result of JWitness theology: Jesus Christ (the Archangel Michael) is the first created being by Jehovah.

In an attempt to defend this poor translation of Colossians 1, JWitnesses point out that many modern English translations also supply the word “other,” even though the Greek doesn’t supply it. Luke 13:2 reads: “2And Jesus said to them, "Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate?” When translating any passage from Greek to English, it is okay to supply certain words to communicate the idea of the text, but there must be a valid reason for doing so. In Luke 13, Jesus asks whether “these” Galileans were greater sinners than all Galileans (obviously talking about Galileans other than “these”) because of their terrible fate. The “other” is implied in Luke 13:2. But in Colossians 1, there is no basis whatsoever for inserting the word “other.” There is no grammatical or syntactical reason for inserting “other” into this text. So rather than Jesus creating all things, the NWT would mislead us to believe that he himself was created and then created all other things. This is a MASSIVE theological change.

Jesus is either Yahweh, Creator all things, or he is part of Yahweh’s creation. There is no middle ground. How vast is the divide between Creator and the created?! It is infinite! For Paul to speak of Christ the way he does in Colossians 1, with the most exalted language, is completely idolatrous if Christ is a mere creature.

Of course Paul was not committing the sin of idolatry, but describing the Son as He truly is: Yahweh, Creator all things. You see, Paul was a Trinitarian. This is why Paul had no problem describing the Son as Yahweh, or in this case, describing Christ as the Creator of all things.

Anywho, just something I've been studying lately =)



At 8:36 PM, Blogger Brent Klontz said...

Case, I love how you explain so clearly the foundational truths of the Bible. I'm encouraged by what you have been studying about Christ. . . I'm also interested to know if you have studied the diference of the NWT and John 1:1-14 as well. . . I would love to have you post on that if you ever do a study on the differences. God bless my friend, Brent

At 12:56 AM, Blogger TJ said...

Hi Casey, you said, "When translating any passage from Greek to English, it is okay to supply certain words to communicate the idea of the text, but there must be a valid reason for doing so."

It seems accepted that "all other" is a valid translation of the Greek word PAN/PANTA, which is the word that appears in Colossians 1:16,17. See, for example, Matthew 26:35 (compare in CEV, NIV, NLT), Luke 11:42 (compare in NIV), and like you pointed out, Luke 13:2 (compare in NIV, NASB, NLT, ESV, NKJV).

What made all of these translations use "all other?" Like you said, they "had a valid reason for doing so," the context demanded it. Now let's consider the context of Colossians 1.

Dr. Jason BeDuhn (not one of Jehovah's Witnesses) notes in his book, Truth in Translation, regarding Colossians 1:16,17: "the N[ew] W[orld Translation] is attacked for adding the innocuous 'other' in a way that clearly indicates its character as an addition of the translators. Why is that so? The reason is that many readers apparently want the passage to mean what the NIV and TEV try to make it mean. That is, they don't want to accept the obvious and clear sense of 'first-born of creation' as identifying Jesus as 'of creation.' 'Other' is obnoxious to them because it draws attention to the fact the Jesus is 'of creation' and so when Jesus acts with respect to 'all things' he is actually acting with respect to 'all other things.' But the N[ew] W[orld Translation] is correct."

So though you interpret Jesus' being "firstborn of all creation" as meaning that he "has the preeminence over all creation," there is more to it. Whenever the Greek word for "firstborn" is used in the Bible, be it in the New Testament writings or in the Septuagint, the person or thing being called "firstborn" is usually the very first one born of the group and so usually receives an elevated status and unique privileges. Sometimes the person or thing is not the actual first one to be born, but for some reason becomes elevated over the group and so receives the title.

But in either case, every single instance in which "firstborn" is used, the one being described as such is always a part of the group he/she/it is 'firstborn of.' Therefore Jesus must be a part "of all creation" and the context demands the addition of "other" into verses 16 and 17, as Dr. BeDuhn pointed out above, when speaking of all creation aside from himself.

So the NWT's adding "other" into Colossians 1 is not "completely the result of JWitness theology," but rather following the natural understanding of the context. It is solid translating, just as the other translations noted above followed the context and decided on using "all other."

I'm sure you and others here will have further disagreements on this, but likely they will not be from a translational standpoint, but rather a theological one, which is what you were criticizing the NWT translators of bringing to translational matters.


At 2:36 PM, Blogger Rusty said...

TJ - my response has been posted as a new entry ... it was a bit too lengthy


Post a Comment

<< Home