The Gospel in the New World Translation of Jehovah’s Witnesses

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THE GOSPEL IN THE NEW WORLD TRANSLATION by Jim Ward

The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (NWT) is the Bible that was translated and published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York Inc., and is the preferred Bible of use for the Jehovah’s Witnesses (JW’s).

One of the things the translators of the NWT had to do to make the NWT fit with the theology of the JW’s was make every attempt to remove the Gospel of grace from its pages and replace it with their works based theology. In many places they did in fact succeed in doing this. John 1:12 and John 3:16 are two examples where the New World Translation takes the takes the beautiful word ‘believe’ and renders it as ‘exercising faith’ even though the Greek word used in bother verses is pisteuo and means: to have faith (in, upon, or with respect to, a person or thing), i.e. credit; by implication, to entrust (especially one’s spiritual well-being to Christ):–believe(-r), commit (to trust), put in trust with.

Yet in spite of their best efforts, I fully believe that God Almighty allowed the true Gospel of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone to be found in the pages of the NWT.

To begin with, both JW’s and Christians believe that all of us have sinned and that due to this sin condition we destined for eternity separated from God. No, I am not going to get into other topics here, I want to just focus on the Gospel.

I will be posting the first passage we look at from the NWT, and the one below it will the same passage from the King James Bible (KJV).

First let’s look at Romans 3:23:

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God – NWT
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God – KJV

We agree on this, and the wage that sin pays as we see by looking next at Romans 6:23a:

For the wages sin pays is death – NWT
For the wages of sin is death – KJV

A key point to keep in mind here is that wages are something earned, not something given to us as a gift. Thus, we have all earned death since we have all sinned.

Then, without getting into the issue of the denial of a literal hellfire by the JW’s, I want to point out that both translations say that those who are not found written in the book of life will be sent into the lake of fire. We see this at Revelation 20:14-15:

And death and Ha´des were hurled into the lake of fire. This means the second death, the lake of fire. Furthermore, whoever was not found written in the book of life was hurled into the lake of fire. – NWT

And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. – KJV

So, we have established so far that the NWT says that we have all sinned and that death is the wage sin pays. The NWT also tells us that those not found written in the book of life will hurled into the lake of fire.

As with all true Gospel presentation this is the bad news. It would continue to be bad news if we had to do anything to earn our salvation. However, the NWT does in fact contain some very good news. Let’s look at the true Gospel in the NWT, and not the false gospel of salvation by works the JW’s believe and have inserted many times into the NWT.
The NWT does say that salvation is a gift. One place it does this is in the second half of Romans 6:23. Let’s look at Romans 6:23b:

but the gift God gives is everlasting life by Christ Jesus our Lord. – NWT
but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. – KJV

A church has never died for us, thus a church can never save us. A religion has never died for us thus a religion cannot save us. An organization has never died for us, thus an organization cannot save us. We have not died for our own sins, thus we cannot save us. We simply must have a Saviour, and Jesus Christ IS that Saviour.
Let’s also look at another passage in Romans that mentions salvation being a gift, but also mentions something else about it. Romans 5:15-16:

But it is not with the gift as it was with the trespass. For if by one man’s trespass many died, the undeserved kindness of God and his free gift with the undeserved kindness by the one man Jesus Christ abounded much more to many. Also, it is not with the free gift as it was with the way things worked through the one [man] that sinned. For the judgment resulted from one trespass in condemnation, but the gift resulted from many trespasses in a declaration of righteousness. – NWT

But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. – KJV

Did you notice the words in bold? Yes, salvation is not just a gift, but a free gift. There is nothing we can do to earn it; otherwise it would be a wage and not a gift. If we have to earn it, then it’s of works, and Paul refutes this false teaching at Romans 11:6:

Now if it is by undeserved kindness, it is no longer due to works; otherwise, the undeserved kindness no longer proves to be undeserved kindness. – NWT

And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work – KJV

Romans 3:24 says:

and it is as a free gift that they are being declared righteous by his undeserved kindness through the release by the ransom [paid] by Christ Jesus. – NWT

Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus – KJV

Friends, I love grace. God’s grace is so wonderful, and I am thankful that it’s by His grace we are saved and that it’s not because we have to earn it.

Our next three passages help bring this point home. First, we have Ephesians 2:4-5:

But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love with which he loved us, made us alive together with the Christ, even when we were dead in trespasses—by undeserved kindness YOU have been saved— – NWT

But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) – KJV

Then a passage that I am sure most Christians have memorized, Ephesians 2:8-9:

By this undeserved kindness, indeed, YOU have been saved through faith; and this not owing to YOU, it is God’s gift. No, it is not owing to works, in order that no man should have ground for boasting. – NWT

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. – KJV

Our third passage makes it abundantly clear that we are not saved, nor will any ever be saved by the works they do. Let’s look at Titus 3:5:

owing to no works in righteousness that we had performed, but according to his mercy he saved us through the bath that brought us to life and through the making of us new by holy spirit. – NWT

Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; – KJV

Earlier, I made reference to John 1:12 and John 3:16 and how the NWT translators used the words ‘exercising faith’ (aka: good works) in place of ‘believe’ or as the KJV says ‘believeth’. So, if salvation is in fact a free gift that we cannot earn, is there any place else we can look at in the NWT to find out how to get saved God’s way? Is there anywhere else we can look to see how to be saved by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone?

Well, we can look at Ephesians 2:8-9 again. We see there we are saved by grace through faith. Romans 6:23b is clear that we get this gift by Jesus Christ our Lord. We can look again at Titus 3:5 and be reminded that we are saved by God’s mercy and not our works of righteousness.

Let’s look at some more verses that show us the Biblical plan of salvation.

First, we have John3:14-15:
And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so the Son of man must be lifted up, that everyone believing in him may have everlasting life. – NWT

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. – KJV

I want to point out, that the Greek word here in verse 15 that the NWT renders as believing, is the word pisteuo that we saw used at John 1:12 and John 3:16. Here we see an instance where the translators got it right.
Next we have another verse that uses the Greek word pisteuo, let’s see how John 20:31 reads:

But these have been written down that YOU may believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God, and that, because of believing, YOU may have life by means of his name. – NWT

But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name. – KJV

Again, we see where the translators of the NWT got the meaning correct, and again we see that we are not saved by our works.

Lastly, let’s go and take a look at the one passage in the entire Bible where someone asks the million dollar question. The one and only place where we see asked, “What must I do to be saved?” Let’s look at Acts 16:30-31:

And he brought them outside and said: “Sirs, what must I do to get saved?” They said: “Believe on the Lord Jesus and you will get saved, you and your household.” – NWT

And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. – KJV

So, here when Paul and Silas were asked what to do to be saved, they had the perfect opportunity to share either a salvation by works message, or a Biblical, God based salvation message. What did they say to do? The said to “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved…” Could anything be any clearer?

It is my prayer that through this article, whether on a blog, a web page, through e-mail, or through you just keeping this handy, that we can see many JW’s set free from the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society and come into a relationship with Jesus Christ by realizing they are lost in their sin, and turning to God and calling on Him to save them from hell as they put their complete and total trust, not in a manmade system of works, but in the person of Jesus Christ and what He did for them by dying on the cross and shedding His blood for the remission of their sins.

May God richly bless you and you go forth bearing precious seed.

His for Souls,
Jim Ward

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