Revisions in the New World Translation
The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (WTBTS) has inserted numerous changes into a proper translation of the Bible in an effort to validate the non-Christian doctrines of the Jehovah's Witnesses (JWs). Consequently, they claim that their New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (NWT) is superior to all others.
In the examples below, the New International Version of the Holy Bible (New York International Bible Society, c. 1978) has been used to depict a correct translation in the first quotation. (The translators' choice of words is further verified by highly similar renditions in the King James Version, Revised Standard Version and New American Standard Bible.)
The second quotation in each example is derived from a post-1989
edition of the NWT (WTBTS of Pennsylvania and International Bible Students
Association, c. 1984). References to actual Hebrew and Greek words are
derived from Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (Thomas Nelson,
c. 1990), the Greek-English New Testament (Christianity Today, c. 1975)
and Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words (McDonald,
unabridged ed., n.d.)
"Spirit of God" changed to "God's active force."
The revision modifies the original noun with a more impersonal form as
the JWs reject the orthodox Christian belief in the personality of the
"I am" changed to "I shall prove to be."
The revision clouds the connection between God's self proclaimed title
and Jesus' proclamation of being the same in John 8:58, as the JW rejects
the deity of Jesus.
"Under his own standard" changed to "by his [three-tribe] division."
The Hebrew word degal translated as "standard" literally
means flag or banner. Since the JWs regard saluting a flag as an act of
idolatry, the text has been altered according to their doctrinal bias.
(Same revision found in Num. 2:2, 3, 10, 18, 25; 10: 14, 18, 22, 25.)
"Nor will there be one after me" changed to "after me there continued to be none."
The original future tense of the verb indicates that there will never
be another being sharing in God's divinity. The altered tense suggests
credibility to the JW doctrine of Jesus' becoming a "mighty god"
while still being less than Jehovah in nature. (See the John 1: I
discussion below for another expression of this JW distortion.)
"The spirit returns" changed to "the spirit itself returns."
The passage indicates the return of a human spirit to God after death.
Since the JWs believe in an unconscious state after death, "itself'
has been inserted to suggest a more impersonal reference to spirit.
"Bowed down and worshipped him" changed to "did obeisance to it"
The JWs evade recognizing Jesus as worthy of worship as a divine being
by altering the form of honor that he receives from men and angels. The
Greek word proskuneo literally means "worship." The use of
"obeisance" is a NWT adaptation. (Same revision found in Matt.
8:2; 9:18, 14:33; 15:25; 28:9, 17; Mark 5:6; 15:19; Luke 24:52; John 9:38;
"Least in the kingdom of heaven" changed to "least in relation to the kingdom of the heaven."
The passage indicates that a disobedient believer who sins can still
find forgiveness and eternal life. The JWs believe heaven is reserved for
only 144,000 specially designated servants of God. The revision suggests
more separation between these groups through a status hierarchy.
"Eternal punishment" changed to "everlasting cutting-off."
The Greek word kolasis translated "punishment" indicates
continuous torment, but the NWT revision suggests "termination,"
as the JWs promote the doctrine of annihilationism regarding condemned
"Baptism of repentance" changed to "baptism [in symbol] of repentance. "
Nothing in the original Greek text justifies the insertion of "in
symbol." The revision undermines the significance of John the
Baptist's ministry, the Jewish meaning of baptism and the Christian
sacrament of baptism in contrast to the more regimented JW baptism
"Acknowledges me" changed to "confesses union with me."
The addition of "union" suggest something more than what the
original Greek actually states and adds further credibility to the NWT
distortion presented in John 6:56 below.
'Today you will be with me" changed to "I tell you today, You will be with me."
Jesus assured the thief on the cross that their spirits would soon
enter the spiritual/heavenly realm together. As the JWs reject the belief
in the conscious survival of the human spirit after death, their revision
suggests that "today" deals with the time of the statement
rather than the relocation of their spirits.
"Word was God" changed to "Word was a god."
The JWs reject the orthodox Christian belief in the deity of Jesus. The
revision asserts that Jesus was someone other than God Himself.
"Believe" changed to "exercise faith."
The orthodox Christian doctrine of spiritual justification and rebirth
before God by belief in Jesus is in conflict with the JW doctrine of
salvation by works (i.e., obedience to their organization). The revision
attempts to describe salvation as a continuous process rather than a
radical encounter and transition (Same revision found in John 3:16, 18;
6:29; Rom. 4:3, 10:4, 9, 10.)
"Remains in me" changed to "remains in union with me."
The mystical union between the individual human spirit and the Spirit
of Jesus is obscured by restructuring "in" with a compound form.
The substitution implies more separation between a Christian and Jesus.
(Same revision found in John 14:20; Rom. 8:1, 2, 10; 12:5; 2 Cor. 5:17;
Gal. 3:28; Eph. 1:13*; 2:10, 13, 15, 21, 22; 3:6; Col. 1:14*, 16*, 27;
2:6, 10*, 11, 12*; 3:3; 1 Thes. 4:16; 5:18; 1 John 3:24; 4:4; 5:20. Verses
with an asterisk (*) indicate where the revision uses "by means
of" or "in relationship to" rather than "in union
"I am" changed to "I have been."
Same intent as described in Exodus 3:14 above.
"Beholds him or knows him" changed to "beholds it or knows it."
The revision ignores the context of the pronoun with the Comforter role
in the preceding verse to deny the personality of the Holy Spirit.
"Glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you" changed to "glorify me alongside yourself with the glory that I had alongside you."
The original text reflects the shared deity of God the Father and Jesus
before the creation of the world, but the revision suggests different
natures as implied by different states of glory.
"Are in me" changed to "are in union with me."
The original statement by Jesus indicates his shared deity with the
Father. The revision undermines this by suggesting a greater separation
"Pour out my Spirit" changed to "pour out some of my spirit."
The revision evades recognition of the Holy Spirit and His activity at
Pentecost by suggesting an impersonal force activated to a more limited
degree by God.
"Breaking of bread" changed to "taking of meals."
The passage demonstrates the frequency of the communion sacrament among
the earliest Christians. The revision is an attempt to disguise this
practice as the JWs teach that communion is reserved for only the 144,000
special saints. (Same revision found in Acts 20:7.)
"Be saved" changed to "get saved." The revision
avoids recognizing that an individual commitment to Jesus provides
immediate and complete salvation, as the JWs believe in an alternative
salvation as prescribed by their organization. (Same revision found in
"Lord of all" changed to "Lord of all [others]."
The revision suggests that even though Jesus is highly honored, he is
still one among many of God's created beings. (Similar revisions found in
Rom. 8:32; Phil. 2:9; Col. 1: 16-17.)
"By the Spirit" changed to "by spirit."
Although the definite article 'the" does not literally appear in
the Greek, it is implied by the form that (pneuma) appears in. The
revision, however, translates pneuma in a more abstract form to evade the
reality of the Holy Spirit. (Same revision found in Rom. 15:19; Eph. 2:22;
3:5; Titus 3:5; James 2:26; 2 Peter 1:21.)
"Have the firstfruits of the Spirit" changed to "have the firstfruits, namely the spirit."
This represents another form of disguising the separate personality of
the Holy Spirit as in Rom. 2:29 above. The original text refers to the
derivatives of the Spirit, but the revision identifies the spirit as a
"The redemption of our bodies" changed to "the release from our bodies by ransom."
This revision avoids the suggestion that there is continuity of either
body or soul after death. Their teaching that the soul ceases to exist at
the death of the body precludes the ownership of, or relationship to, a
body that must be redeemed.
"All things" changed to "all his works." The
revision undermines the sovereignty of God by suggesting that He controls
only the things He is directly involved in doing.
"Those God foreknew" changed to "those whom he gave his first recognition."
The revision obscures the nature of God's knowledge and power as a
first recognition may or may not be foreknowledge.
"Christ, who is God over all, forever praised!" changed to "Christ, [sprang] according to the flesh: God who is over all, [be] blessed forever."
The direction proclamation that Christ is God is obscured by the
"Lord" changed to "Jehovah."
This revision obscures the fact that the Lord referred to in verse 13 is the same Lord called Jesus in verse 9. Since the JWs reject the deity of Jesus, the revision is made accordingly.
The Greek word, kurios, translated "Lord" has been revised to
"Jehovah" over 200 times in the NWT. The JWs insist that this is
the only valid title for God, even though Greek-speaking Jews used
"Lord" and "God" in place of "Yahweh" (the
source of "Jehovah") throughout their Septuagint translation of
the Old Testament. Furthermore, the Bible contains dozens of names for God
other than Lord, Yahweh, or Jehovah.
"Authorities that exist have been established by God" changed to "authorities stand placed in their relative positions by God."
Since the JW regard saluting a flag, military service and similar forms
of submission to government as idolatry, they have added words to the text
to weaken the proclaimed authority of government.
1 Corinthians 6:19
"Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit" changed to "the body of YOU people is [the] temple of the holy spirit."
To avoid recognition of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the
individual believer, the revision modifies "body" to a more
collective form in harmony with the opposing JW doctrine.
1 Corinthians 10:4
"The Rock was Christ" changed to "that rock-mass meant the Christ."
The passage depicts the preincarnate Jesus exhibiting his divine nature
by being present many centuries earlier. This revision tries to conceal
his eternal nature with a more figurative interpretation of "the
1 Corinthians 12:11
"As he determines" changed to "as it wills."
The NWT finds many ways to disguise the personality of the Holy Spirit.
In this case the third person pronoun exercising individual conscience and
will is replaced with an impersonal pronoun.
1 Corinthians 14:14-16
"Spirit" changed to "[gift of the] spirit."
Like several other Biblical passages, this one indicates the
distinctive presence of the human spirit as distinguished from the mind
and body. The JWs evade these distinctions and try to disguise them with
1 Corinthians 15:2
"By this gospel you are saved" changed to "through which YOU are also being saved."
Similar to the Acts 16:30 revision above, this one again obscures the
completeness of salvation by grace. The JW's salvation exists as an
extended process ("being saved") with the outcome being
uncertain until final judgment before Jehovah.
"Your spirit" changed to "the spirit YOU [show]."
Similar to the I Cor. 14 revision above, this one attempts to obscure
the reality of the individual human spirit by presenting it more as an
attitude of action than an entity.
"To depart and be with Christ" changed to "the releasing and the being with Christ."
Paul's eagerness indicates that the believer's spirit goes immediately
into Christ's presence at death. The revision suggests that death and
being with Christ are two separate steps in an extended process, as the
JWs believe in soul sleep (i.e., the unconscious state of the human spirit
awaiting the resurrection).
"His fullness" changed to "fullness."
The definite Greek article (to), translated "his," indicates
that Jesus shares the Father's divine nature as also shown in Col. 2:9.
The revisions evade the truth by concealing the similarity of the two
"The fullness of deity" changed to "the fullness of the divine quality."
The Greek theotes, translated "deity," literally means divine
essence or divinity. As the JWs reject the divine nature of Jesus, a
revision is inserted to suggest that Jesus is limited to only divine-like
I Timothy 4:1
"The Spirit" changed to "the inspired utterance."
This revision attempts to obscure the reality and activity of the Holy
Spirit by representing it as a message instead of an entity. (Similar
revisions found in 1 John 4:1, 3, 6 with "expression" being
utilized in place of "utterance.")
"Our great God and Savior Jesus Christ" changed to "the great God and of [the] Savior of us, Christ Jesus."
Similar to the Rom. 9:5 revision shown above, a distinct proclamation
of Jesus as God is obscured by the altered text. (Similar rewording also
found in 2 Peter 1:1.)
"Your throne, 0 God" changed to "God is your throne."
The revision avoids addressing the Son, Jesus, as God to validate the
JWs' rejection of his divine nature.
"The eternal Spirit" changed to "an everlasting spirit."
Similar to the Rom. 2:29 revision above, the switching of the article
before the adjective represents the work of the Holy Spirit in a more
indirect/ impersonal manner.
"Father of our spirits" changed to "Father of our spiritual life."
Similar to the I Cor. 14 revision shown above, this one tries to
obscure the distinctive reality of human spirits by replacing them with a
more abstract noun.
"The spirits of righteous men" changed to "the spiritual lives of righteous ones."
This revision represents the same noun-switching as described in Heb.
"We are receiving a kingdom" changed to "we are to receive a kingdom."
An orthodox Christian understanding of the Kingdom recognizes it as
primarily established through Jesus' victorious death, then further
through post-resurrection displays of his power, and perpetually through
the addition of new believers into God's family. The JWs teach that Jesus'
Kingdom did not begin until his invisible return in 1914. The form of the
Greek word for "receiving" (paralambano) implies a current
condition, but the revision suggests a future event according to the JW
1 Peter 1:11
"Spirit of Christ in them was pointing" changed to "the spirit in them was indicating concerning Christ."
Another example of the supernatural presence of Jesus in the life of a
Christian is obscured again by this revision as the JW doctrinal view
presents him as more limited.
I Peter 3:18-19
"By the Spirit, through whom" changed to "in the spirit. In this [state]."
Similar to several examples presented above, in this passage the
presence and personality of the Holy Spirit is obscured with a more
abstract representation of the Holy Spirit to accommodate the JW doctrine.
"Have the Spirit" changed to "having spirituality."
Similar to Gal. 6:18 above, this revision attempts to obscure the
separate presence of the Holy Spirit.
"Ruler of God's creation" changed to "beginning of the creation by God."
The altered prepositions distract from the sovereignty of Jesus
indicated in the passage and suggests that the real power of creation was
accomplished through the Father, as the JWs believe that Jesus is a
Approximately one-fourth of the verse citations above were derived from The New World Translation on Trial by Robert Bowman in the Christian Research Journal, 11: 3 (Winter/Spring, 1989), p.20. The rest of this inventory was compiled from the author's own comparisons of doctrinally critical verses with the references cited in the introduction. There are many more examples of Biblical distortions by the JWs than those presented here. This assortment is limited to the more detectable and doctrinally significant examples.