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 following information, all of which helps disprove specific trinitarian “proofs,” may be in disagreement with 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.SEPTGOD
“God” and “a god” in NT and OT Greek
Probably the only bit of scriptural evidence for Jesus to be equated with God that appears to have any real grammatical validity (with the possible exception of Sharp’s Rule which is disputed even by many trinitarian scholars - see SHARP study) is found at Jn 1:1c - “And god [theos] was the word [ho logos].” But even here many trinitarian scholars themselves caution about the lack of the definite article with “god” (theos): “and theos [not ho theos] was the word [ho logos].”
You see, it is quite clear that most of the inspired New Testament writers used the definite article (ho, “the”) with the nominative case theos (‘the god’) whenever they really intended the meaning of “God.” And they used theos alone (without the article) to mean “a god” - see the DEF study. (The Hebrew of the OT, unlike the Greek, frequently did not identify ‘God’ by the use of the definite article. Apparently context alone was sufficient in the Hebrew.)
Grammatical “rules” designed to make the definite article (“the”) understood at Jn 1:1c (ho theos [“God”]) – see the DEF study - or to make the word theos (at Jn 1:1c) acquire some esoteric “nature/essence” meaning that somehow also makes Jesus appear to be God – see the QUAL or HARNER study - have been concocted by some trinitarian scholars.These grammatical “rules” take the word order of Jn 1:1c (a predicate noun without the definite article which comes before its verb) and declare that this “special” word order (actually quite common in NT Greek) somehow causes “a god” (theos) to be “understood” as “the god” (“God”). The various trinitarian-concocted rules seriously contradict each other. For example those who want to believe the “rules” that “the” (oJ, ho) should be understood to be with “god” (theos) at Jn 1:1c (“Definitarians”) believe that those who promote the “quality/essence/ nature” rules (“Qualitarians”) are terribly, even blasphemously wrong. And those who want to believe the “essence” “rules” for interpreting that Jesus is God at John 1:1c are equally certain that the “Definitarians” are blasphemously, heretically wrong (“Sabellianists”)!
However, both groups are blasphemously, heretically wrong. Jn 1:1c clearly states that “The Word [the pre-existent Christ] was a god.” And a careful, intensive grammatical study of scripture itself proves it. “A god” has taken on an extremely bad connotation in modern times. However, when the scriptures were written, it merely meant “a mighty person” and could be applied to righteous, godly kings, judges and magistrates of Israel, and even God’s angels - please see the BOWGOD or DEF studies.
To say, then, that the Word was “a god” meant that he held a high position of power and authority, but it did not mean that he was equal to God Himself!
Some trinitarians attempt to sidestep the “rules” and their inherent difficulties (and contradictions) by merely making another rule: When you have a sentence with a subject (such as “the Word” in Jn 1:1c) and a predicate noun (such as theos in John 1:1c), these trinitarians will say, the one with the article (“the”) is always the subject and the one without an article is always the predicate noun. In effect they are implying that even if a predicate noun is definite, it will not have the article with it so that it can be identified as a predicate noun! This is simply untrue!
Since most languages (including NT Greek and modern English) usually go from the definite to the indefinite (or specific to general) when using predicate nouns, this “rule” often seems significant. That is, when we use predicate nouns we most often are identifying some specific thing or person (definite) as being one in a certain group or class (indefinite): “the mailman is a veteran;” “the dog in our yard is a poodle;” “my wife [the wife of me] is a lawyer.” We rarely identify or describe something by going from the indefinite to the definite. In other words we rarely say something like “a veteran is the mailman” or “a poodle is the dog in our yard” or “a lawyer is my wife.” So if one has the article and the other does not, it is natural that the one with the article is the subject. But this is not because of "word order" or some rule of grammar. The predicate noun does not have to be without the article.
We also say (and so did those who used NT Greek) “the killer is the butler” (or “the butler is the killer”). In other words it is fairly common to go from one definite to another definite for a specific identification rather than a general identification.So, for a grammar “expert” to imply that a sentence using a predicate noun must use an article with the subject and no article with the predicate noun so that it can be identified as a predicate noun is entirely improper! A sentence will use an article with the predicate noun (count noun) whenever it is needed to identify it as DEFINITE - Jn 1:4, 8, 20, 21, 25; 4:29; 5:35; 6:41, 51; 7:40; 10:9, 11, 14, 24, 25; 14:6; 15:1 (a) & (b), 5 (a) & (b); 20:15, 31; 21:7 (a) & (b), 12. And it will not use a definite article with the predicate noun (count noun) when it is to be identified as indefinite - Jn 4:19; 6:70; 8:44 (a) & (b); 9:8, 17, 24, 25; 10:1, 13, 33; 12:6; 18:37 (a) & (b).
There is no honest grammatical excuse for the omission of the article in Jn 1:1c (nor in any other comparable, non-prepositional usage found in John’s writings) if it were intended to mean “God.” In fact, even though trinitarian NT grammarians A. T. Robertson and J. H. Moulton are sometimes quoted in an attempt to justify this kind of reasoning, they have also noted the use of the article with the predicate noun when it is meant to identify a “unique or notable” individual. Moulton notes the use of the article in the NT for predicate nouns especially if that predicate noun “is supposed to be a unique or notable instance” (Moulton, p. 183, Vol. 3, 1963). And Robertson specifically agrees with Moulton’s statement and adds that the article also occurs with a predicate noun “when it is theonly one of its kind” (Robertson, p. 768.)
Certainly, then, if theos at Jn 1:1c is intended as definite or in any way unique or notable, the article should be with it! And since the article is not with it at Jn 1:1c, it is not definite nor is it a unique or notable instance. In other words, it may be “a god” as one in a class of “mighty ones” which could include powerful kings, judges, and angels. But it cannot be “God” (or anything synonymous) who is certainly unique or notable (and even “the only one of its kind”)!
Parallel examples in the Gospel of John show that John uses the article with predicate nouns when he intends a definite noun or “a unique or notable instance.” For example, “The Prophet are you” (Jn 1:21) has the predicate noun with the definite article (“the Prophet”) coming before its verb and the subject (“you”) coming after the verb. The only reason John used the article here is because it is a unique and notable instance. In fact ‘the Prophet’ mentioned in this verse is “the only one of its kind”! At other times when he meant “a prophet” (one of many in a certain class), he did not use the article: Jn 4:19 (the closest grammatical parallel to Jn 1:1c in John’s writings) and Jn 9:17.
* * * * *
Unfortunately, none of the parallel constructions with Jn 1:1c in the NT use theos (‘God’/’a god’). This makes no real difference to a proper understanding of the NT Greek usage, of course, since other nouns are used in parallel constructions to John 1:1c. But to prevent any possible argument, it would be nice to find a similar construction which actually uses theos.
To find the predicate noun theos in a construction similar to Jn 1:1c we must go to the Septuagint, the ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament. This has its problems, however, since it is well-known that the many of the second century B.C. translators of the Septuagint had greatly varying degrees of knowledge of the Greek language (and varying desires for accuracy).Yes, some of the Septuagint translators apparently were guilty of rendering the Greek in a virtual word-for-word transfer from the Hebrew text. This, of course, prevents us from discovering any knowledge of the Greek grammar itself of that time in the works of such translators.
The Septuagint, too, uses the definite article ('the' or ho in scriptural Greek) to identify the only true God. For example, in Genesis the “non-prepositional” nominative case theos (as found at Jn 1:1c) is used 177 times and 175 of them use the definite article to denote the Most High God.
The only 2 apparent exceptions I have found are Gen. 21:33 and 31:50. But Gen. 21:33 may have an understood verb (e.g., “[who is] God eternal”). If this is so, then this may well be a “shorthand” or abbreviated form which some Bible writers used. This “shorthand” was used at times (especially when using “customary” phrases), and when it was used it frequently left out verbs and definite articles that are then supposed to be “understood” to be there - see the MARTIN study (“Paul’s Use of the Anarthrous Theos”). But even if it is not in the “shorthand” form, “God eternal” in this scripture is obviously an appositive. Appositives often have irregular article usage and frequently drop the article even when the noun is definite - see DEF (note #6).
Gen. 31:50, the only other apparent exception to the rule that the article with theos identifies the only true God in Genesis, is an instance of the abbreviated “shorthand” discussed above. The verb (“is”) is missing and must be understood: “God [is] witness between me and you.” This is also a well known customary phrase that is often abbreviated in NT and OT. Therefore the article is to be understood. So there are really no unexplained exceptions in all 177 instances in Genesis to the rule that “the god” (ho theos) identifies the Most High God! Obviously the Septuagint translator of Genesis used the article with the non-prepositional, nominative case theos to identify God!
Now, since I wish to examine scriptures in Judges and 3 Kings (1 Kings in most English Bibles) which are comparable to Jn 1:1c, let’s see if the Septuagint translators of those books also used the article (“the,” ho, oJ) with theos to identify the only true God.
Here are all the uses of the non-prepositional nominative case theos found in:Judges
1: 7 ho theos (subject) 9:23 ho theos (subj.)
3:28 kurios [Jehovah] ho theos (subj.) 9:56 ho theos (subj.)
4:23 ho theos (subj.) 9:57 ho theos (subj.)
13:9 ho theos (subj.)
6:31theos (an. p.n. precedes verb) 15:19 ho theos (subj.)
6:40 ho theos (subj.) 16:23 ho theos (subj.)
7:14 ho theos (subj.) 18:10 ho theos (subj.)
9: 7 ho theos (subj.)
3 Kings (1 Kings in English Bibles)
1:47 ho theos (subj.) 18:21 ho theos (p.n.)
2:23 ho theos (subj.) 18:24(a) ho theos (subj.)
5: 5 ho theos (subj.) 18:24(b) theos (an. p.n./no verb)
5: 7 ho theos (subj.)18:27 theos (an. p.n. precedes verb)
8:23 theos (anarthrous subj.) 18:37 ho theos (p.n.)
8:27 ho theos (subj.) 18:39(a) ho theos (p.n./no verb)
8:60(a) ho theos (subj.) 18:39(b) ho theos (p.n./no verb)
8:60(b) theos (an. p.n./no verb) 19:2 ho theos (subj.)
11:10 ho theos (subj.) 21:10 ho theos (subj.)
The only uses of theos without the article are Judges 6:31; 3 Kings 8:23, 60(b); 18:24(b), and 18:27. All the others (27 out of 32) use the article and are used to denote the only true God!
The only use of theos without the article in Judges is used to denote “a god” (Judges 6:31) as translated by trinitarian scholars and translators themselves! - see The Septuagint Version , Zondervan, 1970. (And every one of the 16 trinitarian Bibles I have examined, including KJV, ASV, NIV, RSV, NRSV, NASB, etc. agrees with this rendering.) So the Septuagint translator of Judges clearly used the definite article with theos to denote the Most High God (and “a god” was indicated, according to all trinitarian renderings, by the OMISSION of the article)!3 Kings 8:23 can (and probably does) intend “god” - see 1 Kings 8:23 in NJB, Mo, Beck, LB, GNB, NEB, and Tanakh (JPS). 3 Kings 8:60 (b) and 18:24 (b) both refer to the only true God, all right, but both are without a verb and are probably, therefore, in the “shorthand” mentioned above which often causes the article to be understood. (They both have the article in the original Hebrew.) And 3 Kings 18:27 very plainly denotes “a god” as most (if not all) Bible translations make clear (and it is also without the article in the original Hebrew).
So, again, the Septuagint writers of Judges and 3 Kings always used the article with the non-prepositional nominative case theos (sometimes, rarely, with an understood article: “shorthand” or appositives) when referring to “God” and did not use the article with theos when referring to “a god”! This is exactly the case with the writer of John 1:1 in his Gospel, Letters, and Revelation.
So for those who say there are no parallels to John 1:1c (in spite of John 4:19) to be found in the scriptures: Judges 6:31 (by a Septuagint writer who always uses the article for “God” and not for “a god”) says literally “if theos (‘god’) he is...” This is an instance of the predicate noun theos without an article coming before its verb just as in Jn 1:1c! And it is universally understood to mean “a god” by trinitarian scholars and translators themselves!!! And, obviously, should be in Jn 1:1c also - “the Word was a god”!
And, for those trinitarians who say Jesus cannot be called (or understood to be called) ho theos because using the definite article (ho) with theos that way would make him the entire Godhead, notice that Jehovah, the Father alone is called ho theos as a predicate noun in 3 Kings 18:21 - “If is Lord [Jehovah] ho theos, follow him.” This is translated, “If Jehovah is God [ho theos], follow him.”
Also notice 3 Kings 18:39 - “truly [Jehovah] ho theos; he ho theos.” This means “Truly Jehovah IS God; he IS God!” - see ASV, KJIIV, LB, JB, NJB. (Of course we see the same thing in the NT. E.g., Jn 6:27 - “The Father, God himself, has set his seal” - JB, where the Father alone is called God, ho theos in the actual NT Greek.) Not only is Jehovah being called ho theos as a predicate noun here, but, notice, there are no verbs. If there were truly any validity to the trinitarian assertion that the meaning for the predicate noun which precedes its verb is greatly different from the one which follows its verb, the writer of 3 Kings would never have left the verb out in this verse! Since there really is no such differentiation in the Bible Greek, it was not necessary to use the verbs. Whether before or after the understood verb, we see the predicate noun ho theos applied to the Father alone here. This can be done simply because the Father (Jehovah) alone IS the entire “Godhead”! He, alone, is the God (ho theos)! Jesus (or kings or judges or angels, etc.) are not ho theos even though they may be called theos (“a god”) in their own right (see the BOWGOD study).
Especially note the Greek constructions of 3 Kings 18:27 ('god he is') and Judges 6:31 ('if god he is'). 3 Kings 18:27 has a predicate noun (theos) which is without the article and which precedes its verb (as in John 1:1c). And it clearly means “he is a god”! The trinitarian-devised grammatical “rules” to make “a god” mean “God” (“the god”) are absolutely wrong as far as the writer of 3 Kings is concerned! The writer of Judges also confirms that judgment. At Judges 6:31 he has written “if theos he is.” This is translated “if he is a god” by trinitarian translators and scholars!
Again, this is a predicate noun without the article which precedes its verb (as in John 1:1c). The trinitarian-concocted grammatical “rules” to make “a god” mean “God” (“the god”) are clearly wrong as far as the writer of Judges is concerned (and as verified by most trinitarian translators themselves)!
One possible problem with the grammar and syntax of the Septuagint is the claim that some of its writers were sometimes so literal in translating the Hebrew into Greek that they would merely change the Hebrew words into Greek and retain the original Hebrew word order, article usage, etc. of the original Hebrew. And, of course, any grammatical rules applied to NT Greek would probably not also apply to OT Hebrew. Therefore, if the translator didn’t render it into grammatical Bible Greek but merely used the word order of the original Hebrew, an anarthrous OT Hebrew predicate noun before its verb would not be significant.
Yes, a literal translation into Greek which retained that Hebrew word order would not have the same significance as something that had been originally written in the Greek, following Greek grammar and syntax rules! However, this does not seem to be the case with the use of the article with “God” in Judges and 3 Kings.
There were a number of translators who wrote the Septuagint (tradition claims that at least 70 expert Jewish scholars were involved). It is not surprising, therefore, to find (as in the NT itself) that there are a number of different styles found in the various books of the Septuagint. Some books are much more literally translated than others.
So when I noticed the significance of the Greek grammar of Judges 6:31 and 3 Kings 18:21-37, I had to determine if the word order and article usage of these scriptures had been affected by a too literal translation of the original Hebrew by the Septuagint writers of Judges and 3 Kings.
First I examined the use of the article with the non-prepositional nominative case theos (as also found in Jn 1:1c) in these two Bible books. I found that the Septuagint translators (of Judges and 3 Kings) had not been influenced by the use (or non-use) of the article with “God” in the original Hebrew.
In more than half of the verses listed above for Judges and 3 Kings the use (or non-use) of the article with “God”/“god” was different in the Greek Septuagint from the use (or non-use) of the article in the original Hebrew!
Then, looking at word order, I found that Judges 6:31 in the Hebrew was “if god he” with no verb. So the Septuagint writer was free to put the verb wherever he wanted or leave it out entirely. And he chose to put that verb after the predicate noun (“If theos he is”) to mean “a god” according to trinitarian scholars! They obviously do not believe it means “if he is God” (per Colwell, Walter Martin, et al.) or “if he is completely filled with the QUALITIES [or ‘ESSENCE’] of God” (per Harner, Wallace, et al.) or any other trinitarian interpretation frequently misapplied to the parallel Jn 1:1c!
And also at 3 Kings 18:27 we can see that the Hebrew was “for god he” with no verb. So this Septuagint writer was also free to put the verb wherever he wanted. And he, too, chose to put that verb after the predicate noun (“for theos he is”) to mean “a god”! It does not mean “for he is God” or “for he possesses all the qualities of God” (nor does it verify any other trinitarian-concocted “rule” for the parallel Jn 1:1c)! Here, then we have two clear examples of the anarthrous theos coming before its verb and plainly meaning (according to trinitarian scholars) “a god”! The rules invented by some modern trinitarians to “explain” that Jn 1:1c means “the Word was God” are completely false!
We know that Jehovah is the only personal name of the Father (Is. 63:16; Is. 64:8; Deut. 32:6; Ps. 89:26, 27 [cf. Heb. 1:5 and Ps. 2:7] in ASV, KJIIV, Young’s, and other Bibles which properly use “Jehovah”).Jehovah is never called “the Son;” “the Messiah;” “the Firstborn;” “the Only Begotten;” etc. because he is an entirely different person (the Father).
We never see the Father with Jehovah (nor the Father with God) simply because the Father is Jehovah (and the Father is God). However we frequently see the Son, the Messiah, with Jehovah (and with God), because the Son is not Jehovah (nor God) but a different person (Ps. 110:1 [compare Acts 2:33-36 and Eph. 1:17, 20]; Micah 5:4; Ps. 2:1, 2 [compare Acts 4:25-27]; Ps. 2:7 [compare Acts 13:33; Heb. 5:5]; Is. 53:10 [Christian scholars recognize that all of Is. 53 refers to the Messiah]).
Therefore, knowing that Jehovah is the Father only, we must (if we are to know God at all) carefully examine a number of significant scriptures:
2 Kings 19:15, 19- “O Jehovah, the God of Israel,... thou art the God, even thou alone .... that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou Jehovah art God alone.” - ASV. “God” is ho theos (“the god”) here in 4 Kings 19:15, 19 of the Septuagint.
Ps. 86:1, 10- “...O Jehovah,...You alone are God.” - KJIIV. “God” is ho theos in the Septuagint (Ps. 85:10).
Is. 37:16, 20- “O Jehovah, ... thou art the God, even thou alone” - ASV. The Septuagint reads: “O Lord [Jehovah] of Hosts, ...thou alone art the God [ho theos] of every kingdom of the world .... thou art God [ho theos] alone.”
Is. 45:18, 21- “For thus says Jehovah .... I am God, and none else (is).” - KJIIV. “I am the god [ho theos]” in the Septuagint - Is. 45:21, 22.
Jer. 10:10- “But Jehovah is the true God; he is the living God” - ASV.
John 17:1, 3- “Father, ... this is everlasting life, that they may know you, the ONLY true God” - KJIIV.
1 Thess. 1:9, 10- “serve the living and true God; and to wait for his Son from heaven” - KJV.
We find, then, that Jehovah alone, who is the Father alone, is God ALONE!
Jehovah is called (and calls himself) the God. This is written as “I am ho theos.” Even many trinitarian Bible scholars (the ‘Qualitarians’ at least) admit this statement in Bible Greek would mean this person alone is the entire “Godhead”! (That is why they insist that Jn 1:1c cannot mean ‘the Word is the god’! The definite article with theos, they say, would mean that the Word is the entire “Godhead” by himself! - But see the DEF study paper, f.n. #12.)
So when we find Jehovah, the Father only, consistently and repeatedly described as ‘he is the god (ho theos), and we find grammatical constructions parallel to Jn 1:1c (‘god is the word’) with the anarthrous (‘without the article’) predicate noun (theos) coming before its verb and clearly meaning ‘a god, then we can understand the identification of the only true God (Jehovah) and the one he sent forth, Jesus Christ. “Father, .... This is eternal life that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you sent forth.” - John 17:1, 3.
Yes, the entire “Godhead” is the Father (Jehovah) alone! It does not include the Son (1 Cor. 11:3; John 17:1, 3; 1 Cor. 8:6) in some mysterious “trinity”!
1.This may have been a result of poor knowledge of the Greek itself and/or because of excessive devotion to the exact literal wording of the Hebrew original by the Hebrew translator.
2.“Qualitarians” (those trinitarians who insist that John 1:1c must be understood to show a “qualitative” equality with God) say this. They also say the “Definitarians” (those trinitarians who insist that “the” must be understood at John 1:1c) are practicing heresy! - see the QUAL study.
3.And even in the NT we find the definite article used with the non-prepositional nominative case ‘God’ (theos) to describe the Father! - E.g., John 3:16, 17; 6:27; Acts 2:32; 3:26; 5:30, 31; 13:30, 33; Ro. 1:9; 1 Cor. 1:9; 11:3 - the entire “Godhead”.
4.The examples from the Septuagint do not have the subject of the sentence as a separate word because it is unmistakably included in the verb itself in the NT Greek language. For example, ego eimi means ‘I am,’ but it is completely unnecessary to use ego (‘I’) since the verb eimi, by itself, includes the meaning of ‘I’ (and only ‘I’) - like 'soy' in Spanish! Therefore, the lists of NT examples of parallel grammatical usages to John 1:1c given by all the trinitarian writers and scholars I have examined have included similar ‘understood-subject-in-verb’ examples (e.g. John 10:36 listed by E. C. Colwell; D. B. Wallace; R. H. Countess; etc.). I have not always included them among my examples in my other study papers simply because they could be confused with examples which seem to use participles as subjects, and they are not quite as parallel to Jn 1:1c as some other examples - see the DEF and PRIMER studies. The examples here in the Septuagint, however, do not have this confusing exception to the rule.