Jehovah’s Witnesses And John 3:16

Apr 7, 2013 by

Jehovah's Witnesses John 3:16It is the single most well known and pivotal scripture in the entire Bible. Most people, even non Christians, can quote the passage from memory. In this single verse the entire purpose of the Old and New Testament is described in just a few words. The simplicity of this verse and the path of salvation it outlines is amazing and profound!

Given that this is the single most popular and well known scripture in the world, it is quite instructive to see what has been done to it by the Watchtower leadership in their New World Translation.

Let’s take a look, shall we?

John 3:16 New World Translation

“For God loved the world so much that he gave his only‐begotten Son, in order that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.”

Immediately an interesting difference emerges from this translation that plays right in to the heavily biased New World Translation’s overall mission.

The obvious departure from any other translation in existence is the “exercising faith” insertion. Every other translation that I’m able to find anywhere translates this strictly as “believing” or “having faith”. The insertion of the word “exercising” is a blatant attempt on the part of the Watchtower leadership to completely change the meaning of this scripture to fit their own preconceived notion of a works based path to salvation. The Greek word for “believe” simply doesn’t mean that.

It would be akin to taking something written like the following:

“The wife really loved her husband.”

and purposely altering it to read the following:

“The wife really worked at loving her husband.”

Did that change the meaning entirely? Yes it did. The wife went from truly loving her husband to having to work at loving her husband who, quite obviously, wasn’t very loveable without her constant effort to do so.

Do you get that nuance?

Let’s take a look, and I promise I won’t bore you, at the actual Greek word for “believe” here translated by the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society as “exercising faith”.

The Greek word is pisteuōn which is always translated as “believe” or “having faith” by other translators. The same Greek word is shown in the following scripture. I’m including the New World Translation of that word so that you can see the obvious mistranslation of this key phrase in John 3:16 which they quote often to justify their works based theology.

John 3:15 (New World Translation):

that everyone believing in him may have everlasting life. (The same exact word i.e. πιστεύων or pisteuōn!)

This was the immediately preceding verse to John 3:16 and it was actually translated correctly. Yet the same exact word is translated with a completely different meaning in the famous passage at John 3:16 in the very next line!

There are 244 occurrences of this word in the Bible according to Strong’s Concordance. Not once is it translated as “exercising faith” by any other translators.

Let’s examine other parts of the New World Translation where this same Greek word occurs. For example the New World Translation in 1 John 5 translates this same word, mistranslated in John 3:16, in close to the same way as other mainstream translations.

1 John 5:1 New World Translation:

Everyone believing that Jesus is the Christ has been born from God, and everyone who loves the one that caused to be born loves him who has been born from that one.

1 John 5:5 New World Translation:

Who is the one that conquers the world but he who has faith that Jesus is the Son of God?

1 John 5:10 New World Translation:

The [person] putting his faith in the Son of God has the witness given in his own case. The [person] not having faith in God has made him a liar, because he has not put his faith in the witness given, which God as witness has given concerning his Son.

All of these scriptures are from the New World Translation and they all render the Greek word, pisteuōn, correctly and far differently than they do in  John 3:16.


Why would the Watchtower change the meaning of the word in John chapter 3, in multiple cases rendering it as “exercising faith” and in other areas of the New World Translation render it as “believing” or “having faith”?

The reason is this: John 3:16 is such a popular scripture in the minds of most Christians that the Watchtower translators, aka Fred Franz, felt compelled to change it. To leave it as all other translators have rendered it would be to admit that the most fundamental Christian truth, that simply believing in Christ is the only thing required of the Christian for salvation.

Can you see where the Watchtower’s own adherents would start questioning their works based path to salvation if John 3:16 wasn’t severely altered in meaning to include works as part of their salvation?

When cornered about a “works based theology” Jehovah’s Witnesses will immediately claim that they don’t earn their salvation. They will say that Christ’s ransom sacrifice paid the way for their salvation. Yet when you really examine their teachings, you’ll find an entirely different mindset. This is the internal belief that if a Jehovah’s Witness doesn’t knock on enough doors, attend enough meetings, and work hard enough for Jehovah, that they will die at His own hands at Armageddon!

I recall hearing this from the platform on many occasions: “Now there is a reason that exercising faith is in John 3:16. There is work involved and not just faith or belief!” I heard it more times than I can count.

I welcome any Jehovah’s Witness or non-JW with any knowledge of Greek to weigh in on this. I’ve done the research using concordances and interlinear translations. It is painfully obvious to anyone who has even a basic knowledge of Greek that the Watchtower’s mistranslation of John 3:16 is, in fact, a deliberate attempt to take the word “believe” and completely change the meaning to make it appear that works (“exercise”) are necessary for salvation.

This isn’t the only place where the Watchtower translators make a major departure from all other translations. Every single time any scripture translation disagrees with Watchtower dogma, it is deliberately changed in the New World Translation. If it can’t be changed without incurring suspicion, then other words are added in brackets to make it appear that additional meaning was intended by the Bible writer.

These aren’t rare occurrences. These major departures from the actual meaning of the Greek and are found all over the New World Translation.

The reason the Watchtower leaders felt it necessary to come out with their own translation is quite obvious. They desperately needed a translation that would agree with their belief system. Up until then it was nearly impossible to convert a Christian that really knew their Bible.

The first thing Jehovah’s Witnesses are trained to do is to take you out of your own Bible and introduce you to theirs! They will say that the New World Translation is “easier to understand in the modern English”. They also make the New World Translation easy to afford. Back when we had the “green Bible” it was only a dollar to the householder while other versions of the Bible cost many times that.

Was it in the Watchtower leaders best interest to make their version of the Bible easy to own? You bet!

What Jehovah’s Witnesses won’t tell you is that their Bible has intentionally altered every single key scripture that disagrees with their beliefs and teachings in order to make it easier for them to convert you.

If you want to get a real education regarding the scriptures that the Watchtower has altered, simply get a copy of their Greek Interlinear (the purple Bible) and read the actual Greek translation in the left margins and compare it to the New World Translation in the right margin! You’ll see glaring differences in the actual translation and I’ve included a photo of their rendering of John 3:16 shown below for instructional purposes.

The first is the entire page:


The next photo is of the actual translation shown at the bottom left of the Greek Interlinear page 428:

john 3:16

I’m going to make a challenge to any Jehovah’s Witness who owns a Greek Interlinear. Look up any scripture that varies from standard translations and read the actual Greek translation in your own Interlinear. You’ll be positively shocked at what you find.

I’m going to give you a short list of scriptures that are radical departures from all other translations. Read them in the NWT Greek Interlinear and then tell me what you think:

John 8:58

Colossians 1:16-20

John 1:1

When you read the actual Greek translation for yourself out of your own Greek Interlinear published by the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society, you’ll know, without any doubt, that you’ve been hoodwinked by the not so “faithful and discreet slave”.

Doug Shields

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How To “Translate” The Bible (Without Any Qualifications)

Mar 7, 2013 by

fredfranzHave you ever wondered how the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society came up with their “translation” of the Bible?

It is really quite simple actually.

First, you fill a room with every possible translation of the Bible.

Then you go through it verse by verse in teams. Then you take out any verse that doesn’t agree with your point of view and then scramble to find any translation written by anyone (including one Johannes Greber a spiritualist who used his medium wife as a channel to produce his translation) that supports your doctrinal view. In this particular case, John 1:1 was the verse changed by the Watchtower to make Christ “a god” (little “g”) instead of God (big “G”). You then replace the “offending scripture” with a more innocuous one or one that even agrees with your point of view.

If you can’t find a specific translation or version of the Bible that would actually support your  views you simply put additional words in brackets to “help” any of your followers to accept your view without questioning it. Colossians 1:15-20 is a case in point. Check it out in the New World Translation and compare it to other translations and you’ll see some very odd brackets working their way into the scriptures that are specifically designed to skew the original intended meaning.

If you still can’t influence the meaning then you either “translate” the scripture they way you want it to read (John 8:58) and propose a non-existent tense in Greek as the reason you did it (nobody in the grade school educated rank and file will question it!) or you cast doubt as to the scripture’s actual validity by implying that it was inserted into the Bible by a “trinitarian conspiracy”!

Then, when you’re all finished, you put it together for mass production, paint it green, and refuse to sign it or even release the identities of the translators to anyone. That way nobody can be called on the carpet for lack of any credentials that would entitle them to translate Greek or Hebrew. If the inevitable question is raised as to “why” you refused to sign your work then you simply say: “We wanted to give all the “credit” to Jehovah.” and try not to laugh as you say it.

Amazing isn’t it? The fact is that the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society requires that everyone signs their time card don’t they? Yet signing your work that you produce to distribute to millions comes with no credits or signatures at all. Would that make it hard to hold anyone accountable for any lies found to be in that work? Would it make it easy to slide something past the “faithful” as a scholarly work when in fact the person writing it might never have graduated high school? Makes one wonder doesn’t it?

How pompous it would be to refuse to sign your work when many of the Bible writers signed theirs! Does that mean that Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Peter, James, Solomon, Jude, and the apostle Paul were all being presumptuous by signing their work? That is certainly implied by the actions of these so called “translators”.

Voila! The New World Translation was created by supposed “holy spirit” and more than a little help from one Fred Franz and his “crack” translation team.

Doug Shields is an activist against religious oppression, control and abuse. He has a lot of experience dealing with these issues because he was an active Jehovah’s Witness himself for over twenty-three years. Doug has been privileged to help elders, ministerial servants, full time pioneers and even a circuit overseer to find the strength and determination to face the painful truth about the Watchtower Bible And Tract Society.

If you would like to have Doug speak at your church, meetup or other event you can contact him here.

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