Should John 1:1 read "a god"?

I am not Jehovah's Witness, but if I can bring to your attention 2 scriptures other than Col 1:15.

First is john 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

second John 1:1-3

  1. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
  2. The same was in the beginning with God.
  3. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

I will do this backwards. Second to First. If you find the word with God and the word was God

Who was with god in the beginning. The word was God Should actually be the word was a God

For how could God make the mistake of saying he was with himself in the beginning.

And then later you actually find out that the word became flesh.

Now to the first (HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON). There are many references through out the old testament that there are many sons of God, "JOB 1" and Genesis 6. However there is only one that shows the only one created through God was in fact Jesus.

Hi Stephen,

Thank you for writing. I'd like to examine your claim that Jesus was created. You cite John 1:1, but say that it is translated in error. According to your letter, you claim "The word was God should actually be the word was a God"(emphasis added). For how could God make the mistake of saying he was with himself in the beginning?"

Many people, most notable the Jehovah's Witnesses, have tried to claim that John 1:1 has been misrepresented and the indefinite article "a" should be inserted into this verse. This is primarily because the verse, as it is currently rendered in English, makes Jesus God almighty.

Now, there are many scholarly works that can be cited to show why the Greek phrase Theos en ho logos is correctly translated "The Word was God", but it requires those discussing the issue have a mastery of koinie Greek to speak intelligently at this level. Therefore, whenever I discuss this verse and how it should properly read, I usually deal with what we do know and what is beyond debate.

Examining the Options of John 1:1

First, the argument strikes me as giving only two choices - either Jesus is the one true God (YHWH) or He is "a god". There are no other options open when dealing with John 1:1. Since both Christianity and Judaism affirm monotheism (the belief that there is only one true God), then translating John 1:1 "a god" leaves the reader with a problem. What kind of god is Jesus?

If Jesus is God Almighty, then He cannot be created because God is eternal. Psalm 90:2 tells us "From everlasting to everlasting, you are God." If Jesus is some other kind of god (or if something else is meant by using the term "god" for Jesus), then he would be a created being.

From this point, I think the best way to clarify John 1:1 is by looking at it in context. The most compelling verse I have found for Jesus being God Almighty is actually John 1:3. There we read "All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being."(NAS)

John 1:3 becomes crucial to our debate because it makes a very specific claim. If anything had any type of beginning at all, it was begun by Jesus. You cannot even infer the word "other" in the text because the last part of the verse says "apart from Him nothing has come into being that has come into being." In other words, John states there are two groups of things: all those things that have a beginning and all those things that are eternal, and Jesus is not one of those that have a beginning.

Perhaps an easy way to think of it is as a piece of paper with a line drawn down the middle. On one side there are eternal things with no beginning and on the other there are created things. The created things section is completely empty until Jesus starts working and putting things there. That means that Jesus is already there - but He cannot be on the created side because we said it was empty. So He must be on the non-created side. If this is so, then Jesus is eternal. If Jesus is eternal, this makes Him God Almighty. As I said before, there is no other option available. If Jesus is God Almighty, then John 1:1 is properly rendered "The Word was God" instead of "a god" for that translation would set up a duality of gods.

You claim that God wouldn't "make the mistake of saying he was with himself in the beginning" denies the idea of the persons of the Trinity being distinct. (For more on this see The Trinity and Oneness Theology. In many passages we see the Father speaking of the Son or even to the Son and the Son speaking to the Father so I don't see how this would be a problem.

The Use of "Son" in Reference to Jesus

Your second point claims that because John 3:16 used the word "son," it is equivalent to the many other places in the Bible where the phrase. I'm assuming that you therefore infer Jesus is a created being because He shares the title "son" with other created beings. However, you are missing an important point in that John qualifies this statement. Jesus wasn't just one of the "sons of god" like the angels. He was the "only begotten son of God". There are many who are referred to as sons of God. We are even called sons of God (Gal. 3:26). However, we are not begotten as sons of God. Neither are the angels. They are created and perhaps given the title "sons" but not begotten as sons. Only Jesus fits this role, and therefore this title is not synonymous with other usages of "sons of God".

Hebrews 1:5-6 proves that Jesus could not have been an angel, as the author writes "And when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says, 'and let all the angels of God worship him.'" The author then states that the Father declares the son to be God. "But of the Son He says, 'Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever' (vs. 8)" thereby affirming both Jesus' deity and His everlastingness.

I hope this has helped clarify the issue of why John 1:1 should not be translated "a god" and how John 1:3 gives an inescapable proof of Jesus' everlastingness and therefore His deity. Please let me know what you think about this and I pray God will bring you into all truth as you honestly seek Him.

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