θεὸς ἦν ὁ Λόγος – Word was God

Jesus Christ is the only personality in the universe who is simultaneously perfect God and perfect man according to the teachings of the bible. Bible tells us that he was born by the power of the Holy Spirit (Luke1:35). He learned obedience (Hebrews 5:8), worked as a carpenter (Mark 6:3), felt hungry (Mathew 4:2), felt thirsty (John 4:7), He got tired (John 4:6), He felt sleepy (Mathew 4:24), He loved and pity to others (Mark 10:21), He felt sad (Mathew 26:48), Got angry (Mark 3:5), Jesus wept (John 11:25), Jesus was used to glad (Luke 9:11). Jesus was a real human being.

Of course, Jesus had a body and He lived like a common man but the bible tells us that He was superior to the common man. The person of Jesus Christ is human as well as Divine. He had Divine qualities that are not found in ordinary human beings. The wind and the water obeyed His command (Mathew 8:27). No man can walk on water. Christ Also had the power to walk on water (Mathew 14:25). Only God has the power to forgive sins. No human can forgive the sins of another human being. Jesus Christ forgave the sins of others many times (Mathew2:9; Mark5:20). Bible tells us Jesus is omnipresent (Mathew18:20), omniscient (John4:16-19), beginning and end (Revelation:22:13). Many people worshipped Jesus and he accepted that worship (John 9:25-38). Such qualities can only exist in God. Jesus Christ was equipped with these qualities. Both personalities in Jesus Christ are united. Christians do not consider the Lord Jesus Christ as God in human form nor a man with divine qualities, but a perfect God and perfect man.

But teachings of some denominations about the personalities of Jesus Christ contradict the teachings of the bible. Some denominations argue that Jesus is not a perfect human and is perfectly divine. In this article, I try to answer an objection raised by the followers of “Jehovah’s Witnesses” regarding the divinity of Jesus. This objection is made to John 1:1. Let’s see John1:1 in the original biblical language and text and at the same time its King James Version(translation).

Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ Λόγος, καὶ ὁ Λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν, καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ Λόγος. (John 1:1)

In the beginning, was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1).

Followers of “Jehovah’s Witness” object to the last part of this verse”θεὸς ἦν ὁ Λόγος /Word was God”. In the King James Version “God” is written with a Capital “G” because Christians confess that Jesus Christ (Word) is the perfect God. In the last part of John 1:1 “Jehovah’s Witness” in the “New World Translation” spells the word “God” used for Jesus Christ with a lowercase “g”. They claim that Jesus Christ is a divine person but less than Jehovah God. There is no perfect divinity in Christ. They give a very interesting reason for writing “god” with a lowercase “g” which is related to the Greek text of the bible.

            They claim that in the last part of John 1:1 “θεὸς ἦν ὁ Λόγος” /Word was God, there is no article with “θεὸς” that why they deny the perfect divinity of Christ. They further said that in the second part of John 1:1. “ὁ Λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν” there is article “τὸν” with “God/θεόν” Here article “τὸν” indicates the Father God who is perfect God. We will try to find out to what extent this opinion is correct. The absence of the article relates to Greek grammar and syntax. First of all, I want to tell you in the Greek language subject may be recognized in different ways. One way we can recognize the subject from the ending alphabets “ος” For example:

ἄγγελος βλέπει

Angel sees.

In this sentence for “angel” the word “’ἄγγελος” is used and we can recognize from its ending alphabet “ος” that angel is a subject. in the Greek language when we gave a compliment (or for a predicate nominative), then the ending alphabets for that noun will also be “ος”. For example:

δοῦλος εστιν ο  ἀδελφὸς

Brother is a slave.

In this example “brother/ἀδελφὸς” is the Subject while “slave/δοῦλος” is compliment or predicate nominative. Both “ἀδελφὸς” and “δοῦλος” end with the alphabets “ος”. Those people who are not familiar with Greek grammar may recognize both of them as a Subject because “ἀδελφὸς” and “δοῦλος” end with “ος”. It may be possible many people translate this sentence as’ slave is brother’, which is wrong. That’s why there can be complexity in understanding the context because a king could be a judge but the judge could not necessarily be a king. That’s why subject and complement or predicate nominative inevitably should be recognized. Greek syntax helps us solve this problem in three ways.

1. If both nouns have articles and there is the verb ‘to be link between them, the first noun with an article will be subject and second noun with an article will be a complement or predicate nominative. For example:

ὁ κύριος ἐστιν ὁ υἱὸς.

Lord is the son.

In this example both nouns have the article “o”, therefore the first noun is a subject and the second noun is complemented or predicate nominative.

2. If the article is dropped out from the first noun, then the first noun without the article will be a complement or predicate nominative, and the second noun with the article “o” will be the subject. For example:

κύριος ἐστιν ὁ υἱὸς.

Son is lord.

“κύριος\lord” have a lack of article that’s why it is a compliment and “υἱὸς\son” have an article that’s why it is a subject.

3. If both nouns lack of article, the first noun will be the subject and the second noun will be a complement or predicate nominative. For example:

ἀνήρ ἐστιν κεφαλη.

The husband is the head.

Both nouns have no article, the first will be a subject, and the second will be a compliment. Now let’s see Mark 2:28.

κύριός ἐστιν ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου.

Son of man is Lord…

Those people who are not familiar with Greek grammar may also translate this sentence as “Lord is the Son of man” which is wrong. Because it is possible, they are not able to distinguish between subject and complement.

Now let’s observe the last part of John1:1

θεὸς ἦν ὁ Λόγος

In this sentence “θεὸς” is the complement and “Λόγος” is the subject. That’s why “θεὸς” has lack article. The absence of the article does not prove that Jesus Christ is not the perfect God. The absence of an article is the rule of Greek grammar. Colwell’s Rule (published in 1933) states that

anarthrous predicate nominative that precedes the copula (the verb “to be”) are usually definite in meaning. The implications of this rule are especially notable in John 1:1: θεὸς ἦν ὁ Λόγος “Word was God. θεὸς, the predicate nominative, is anarthrous and precedes the copula ἦν. The result is that θεὸς is almost certainly definite in meaning: “the Word was God” — not merely a god. (Black,2009:231-232)

According to Robert Morey, the article was not placed in front of θεὸς for two very good reasons.

First, in terms of Greek grammar and syntax, Colwell’s rule 20 states that when the noun is taken out of its normal word order and placed before its verb,97% of the time it does not have an article. This is what we find in John1:1c. The second reason θεὸς does not have the article is that it would lead the reader to the mistaken idea that the Word was Father. (Morey,1996:324).

Murray J. Harris wrote

Having just distinguished the Logos (the Son) from ὁ θεὸς in verse 1b, would be likely immediate afterward dissolve that personal distinction? For him to have used ὁ θεὸς in the predicate of verse 1c would have implied either that subject and predicate were identical or coextensive or that this predicate referred to none other than the ὁ θεὸς of the preceding clause. As it is, in verse 1c John maintains the distinction between the Logos and the Father that he has drawn in verse 1b, while at the same time affirming the participation of the Logos in the divine essence (ὁ θεὸς). (Harris,1992:64)

παρὰ θεου (Joh 1:6); τέκνα θεου (Joh 1:12); ἐκ θεοῦ  (Joh 1:13); Θεὸν οὐδεὶς (Joh 1:18); in these references no article is used for Jehovah God. So, what does it mean that Jehovah is not a perfect God? No way. In these Four verses mentioned above, why the article is not used? Followers of Jehovah’s Witnesses can answer this. They try to mislead the Christians with baseless claims so they deny their faith.

End Notes

i. David Alan Black, Learn to Read New Testament Greek, USA: B&H Publishing Group,2009. p247,248

ii. Robert Morey, The Trinity, World Bible Publishers, Inc: U.S.A,1996.p364

iii. Murray J. Harris, Jesus as God, Baker Book House Grand Rapids: Michigan,1992.p22

Bibliography

  1. Black David Alan, Learn to Read New Testament Greek, USA: B&H Publishing Group,2009.
  2. Duff Jeremy, Elements of New Testament Greek Cambridge University Press: New York, 2006.
  3. Harris Murray J., Jesus as God, Baker Book House Grand Rapids: Michigan,1992.
  4. Morey Robert, The Trinity, World Bible Publishers, Inc: U.S.A,1996.
  5. Wilhelmsson Lars, Jesus Christ God-Man, Zondervan, Grand Rapid: Michigan,2010.

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