Kingdom Interlinear Translation and the Deception of
Now in three parts for easier
On the MacGregor "Ministries"
website (hereafter referred to as "MacGregor"), there is an
article entitled "How Reliable is the Kingdom Interlinear
The page does not state who its author is or what his or her
qualifications are to assess the reliability of a Bible
translation. However, we can get an idea of how well
(or, how badly) the author understands the issues by
analyzing what he or she has written.
Firstly, the site perpetuates the old myth of the
'spontaneously produced Bible translation', a
about as probable as the spontaneous generation of life.
It states that the "New World Translation was done without
any Greek or Hebrew scholars", an extraordinary assertion,
considering that the translators of the New World
Translation were anonymous. In reality, MacGregor
couldn't possibly know the scholarly abilities or
qualifications of anyone involved in the production of the
New World Translation. Is it really so
difficult to believe that an organization made up of
millions of people from all different parts of the world
should have in its ranks persons capable of translating the
Bible? Surely a group the size of Jehovah's Witnesses has
the resources to train the relatively small number of people
needed to handle matters of original-language scholarship
and Bible translation? For a further discussion of
this point, see the article 'Hommel and
the New World Translation'.
Concealing the Truth
MacGregor Ministries' website contains extracts from the
preface to the Kingdom Interlinear Translation, in
which it attempts to give the impression that the
translators have made commitments that they are not keeping.
Specifically, the site seeks to convince its readers that
the Watch Tower Society has promised to use the same English
word in the translation every time any given Greek word is
used in the original - something which no English
translation has ever done and which is basically impossible.
Note how deceitful editing gives a false impression of what
the KIT actually says:
What the Kingdom Interlinear says according to
The complete text of what the Kingdom Interlinear
"We offer no paraphrase of the Scriptures"...
as possible word for word, the exact statement of the
We offer no paraphrase of the Scriptures. Our
endeavor throughout has been to give as literal a
translation as possible where
the modern English idiom allows for it or where the
thought content is not hidden due to any awkwardness in
the literal rendition.
this way, we can best meet the desire of those who are
scrupulous for getting as nearly as possible word for
word, the exact statement of the original.
To each major word we have assigned one meaning and have
held to that meaning...".
To each major word we have assigned one meaning and have
held to that meaning as far as
the context permitted.
Has the MacGregor site been honest in its quotation of the
Kingdom Interlinear preface? Note
Interlinear preface qualifies the translation principle
of a literal, word-for-word rendering with the caveat that
this is done
where modern English idiom allows for it, where the thought
content is not hidden due to any awkwardness in the literal
rendition, and as far as the context permitted.
All three of these qualifying expressions are omitted from
MacGregor's edited version of the preface. Later in
the article, it attacks the NWT, asking:
happened to their promise to assign one meaning to one word
and stick with it? Apparently this only works when it is not
exposing their false teachings!
they are attacking a straw man. The New World
Translation Committee never promised to use only one
English word for each different Greek word, but only stated
that it had attempted to do so where the context permitted
and the meaning of the original was not hidden. As
will be shown throughout this essay, these principles have
been followed faithfully by the New World Translation.
Examining Individual Cases
Let us now examine some of the assertions made by MacGregor
about the Kingdom Interlinear Translation, to determine
whether they stand up to scrutiny. Please note that
all direct quotations from the MacGregor Ministries' website
on this page are in blue for easy identification.
Like many critics of the NWT, MacGregor takes issue with its
rendering of John 8:58:
Jesus said to them: "Most truly I say
to YOU, Before Abraham came into existence, I have been."
Let us look at the matter of the tense labelling first.
The footnote in the 1969
purple-cover edition of the KIT states that the "I have
been" is "properly rendered in the perfect tense."
However, in the l985
Navy-Blue-cover edition, the
footnote states that "I have been" is "properly translated
by the perfect indicative" (tense).
So far, so good. But then, advertising their ignorance
of fairly elementary grammatical terminology, they go on to
scholars KNOW the correct tense? Here the Watchtower has
presented two different tenses for the same words. Which is
wrong? Which is right? Actually they made three stabs at
choosing a tense. In the 1950 NWT of the Christian Greek
Scriptures the Watchtower "translators" claimed John 8:58
was in the "perfect indefinite tense". All three tries are
WRONG, according to Greek Scholars. The correct tense is the
present tense, and the correct translation is "I am", not "I
Two different tenses? Is the perfect tense a different
tense from the perfect indicative? Both are the same
tense - the perfect. The word 'indicative' is a
grammatical term that relates to mood, not to tense.
When grammarians talk of the "perfect indicative", they mean
The two terms are not mutually exclusive; one is simply more
specific than the other. So, both versions of the
Kingdom Interlinear Translation are saying the same
thing, namely, that
(ego eimi) should be translated into English by "I
Incidentally, the footnotes referred to in both editions of
the Kingdom Interlinear Translation are talking about
the English tense used, not the Greek,
which, as the NWT translators were well aware, is the
MacGregor further criticizes the 1950 edition of the New
World Translation, stating that the Watchtower
'translators' [inverted commas in original] claimed John
8:58 was in the 'perfect indefinite tense'." But
MacGregor's statement is in error. The 1950 edition of
the NWT clearly does not state that the Greek of John 8:58 is
in the perfect indefinite tense. What it
actually says is that the phrase has been "rendered in the
perfect indefinite tense". Likewise, the 1969
edition of the Kingdom Interlinear Translation says that
ego eimi is "properly rendered in the perfect
tense." The verb "rendered", of
course, means "translated". Thus, the 1985
edition of the Kingdom Interlinear Translation says
that the action expressed by this verb is "properly
translated by the perfect indicative." Once again,
MacGregor is attributing to the translators a position that
they never held and refuting that position - another 'strawman'
The translators of the NWT
were fully aware that
is a present-tense verb in Greek and at no time asserted the
This may be seen from the appendix to the 1985 Edition of
the Kingdom Interlinear Translation, which clearly
differentiates between the tense used in the original Greek
and the tense used in the translation:
is the first-person singular present indicative, is
properly translated by the perfect indicative.
(page 1145; emphasis added)
Why do they "translate" the words "ego eimi" as "I have
been" in this verse (John 8:58, when, if you turn back two
pages to John 8:18, 23, 24 and 28 you will see examples
where "ego eimi" is translated correctly by them, as "I
The correct translation of
in John 8:58 is the subject of
another essay on this site. Suffice it to say here
that Greek often uses the present tense to describe an
action that began in the past and continues into the
present. English does not do this, and hence the use of the
present perfect is appropriate in English.
Of course, the examples of 'ego eimi' in John 8:18, 23, 24,
28 are found in a different grammatical context. None
of them are accompanied by an expression of past time, such
as that found at John 8:58, namely "before Abraham came into
existence" or "before Abraham was" (KJV)Is MacGregor being
disingenuous or just naive? You decide.
Interestingly, although the MacGregor website has a scanned
copy of the footnote from the 1985 edition of the Kingdom
Interlinear, it does not present the footnote for the 1969
Here is the scan of
John 8:58 from the 1969 edition of the Kingdom
Interlinear, the exact scan that appeared on the
MacGregor Ministries Website:
And here is the footnote from
the very same page of the 1969 Kingdom Interlinear,
which MacGregor must have decided to cut out of the scanned page:
The 1969 edition points out in its footnote to John 8:58:
"It is not the same as
(ho ohn', meaning 'The Being' or 'The I Am') at Exodus 3:14,
This is significant because of what MacGregor goes on to
Numerous translations and Bible
scholars correctly cross-reference this verse with Exodus
3:14 which reveals the divine name for God as "I AM". The
Watchtower Society could not have its followers believing
the revealing words of Jesus over their false doctrine.
Jesus really is the "I AM".
Perhaps it is now apparent why MacGregor has excised the
footnote from its scan of the 1969 edition of the Kingdom Interlinear. They could not
include it without
publishing the Watch Tower Society's clear and powerful refutation of their own argument that John 8:58
is a reference to Exodus 3:14. For a discussion of
whether John 8:58 is an allusion to Exodus 3:14, please see
the page "Assessing the NWT Rendering
of John 8:58" as well as
this thought-provoking analysis found on another
Finally, reflecting the views of many other NWT critics,
Why have they changed the plain statement by Jesus Christ
that He is the "I Am"?
Of course, there is no "plain statement" by Jesus that he is
the "I am". Think about it. McGregor uses
reported speech: "the plain statement by Jesus that he is
the 'I Am". How would you turn that into direct
speech? "Jesus said that he is the 'I Am'' in
reported speech, would become "I am the 'I Am'" in
direct speech. But Jesus did not say: "I am the 'I
Am'." The expression 'I am' occurs only once in the
Greek of John 8:58, not twice.
Jason Beduhn and Rob
Bowman have conducted an online debate about the correct
translation of John 8:58. Read about it
John 17:3 - taking in knowledge
John 17:3 in the New World Translation
This means everlasting life, their
taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the
one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ
The NWT says
"taking in knowledge of you" BUT the Greek text in the KIT
says something quite different..."they may be knowing
you." We need to know God through Jesus Christ in order to
have everlasting life. All the knowledge in the world will
not save us.
should be noted that the New World Translation committee has
not tried to hide the
that the Greek text basically says 'knowing you'.
Indeed, the footnote of the New World Translation of the
Holy Scriptures - With References reads: "Or, their knowing
you." So there is nothing underhand about it.
Note the comments by well-known and respected scholars:
W. E. Vine: “GINOSKO (γινωσκω)
to be taking in knowledge,
to come to
know, recognize, understand, or to understand completely.”
J. H. Moulton: “The present simplex,
γινωσκειν, is durative, ‘to be
taking in knowledge.’”
T. Robertson: Should know (ginoskosin). Present active
subjunctive with hina (subject clause), “should
keep on knowing.”
We see, then, that McGregor Ministries'
criticism of the NWT reading is entirely unjustified.
20:28 - Is Jesus Given the Title 'ho theos'?
The Macgregor website refers to John 20:28, which reads in
the New World Translation much the same as it does in
the King James Version and other translations: "My Lord and
Since this is not a translation issue, despite the fact that
it appears on the page, "How Reliable is the Kingdom
Interlinear Bible Translation?", we shall confine ourselves
to a brief comment on MacGregor's assertion:
argument is that the Greek term "Ho Theos" (The God) always
refers to Jehovah God, whereas "Theos" without the definite
article "Ho" could be just Jesus. Yet, In John 20:28, we
have the disciple Thomas exclaiming to the risen Christ.
Is this true?
Do Jehovah's Witnesses claim that "the Greek term 'Ho Theos'
(The God) always refers to Jehovah God"? Note the
subtle difference between the above statement of MacGregor
and the quotation they proceed to make from The
Watchtower magazine of July 1, l986
page 31 claims in a footnote that.
title ho theos (the God, or God), which now designates the
Father as a personal reality, is not applied in the N(ew)
T(estament) to Jesus Himself; Jesus is the Son of God (of ho
Now, for good
measure, let's look at the full quotation, as it was
printed in The Watchtower, July 1, 1986:
title ho theos [the God, or God], which now
designates the Father as a personal
reality, is not applied in the New Testament to Jesus
Himself; Jesus is the Son of God (of ho theos).
. . . Jn 1:1 should rigorously be translated ‘the word was
with the God [=the Father], and the word was a divine
of the Bible (1965), by John L.
Leaving aside for a moment the possibility that Thomas's
words were not directed at Jesus but at God,
there are still certain important observations to make:
MacGregor omits to mention that this is not merely the
opinion of The Watchtower but that of the Jesuit
scholar John L. McKenzie who made the above statement.
This type of selective quotation certainly casts
considerable doubt on MacGregor's objectivity and
McKenzie did not state that "the Greek
term 'Ho Theos' always refers to Jehovah God", as
MacGregor asserts. He actually refers to the
title ho theos.
is a subtle but important difference. Ho theos
is not a title at John 20:28.
Corinthians 4:4 refers to
ο θεος του
theos tou aionos toutou), clearly the reference is not to
God. The expression ho theos (God or the god)
is qualified by a genitive phrase tou aionos toutou,
'of this world/age/system'. Hence it is not a title
but rather explains the position occupied by the Devil in
relation to this world, namely, that he is its god.
Similarly, John 20:28 has
followed by a genitive, in this case
of me, or my). Therefore it is not a title, but
rather shows the position occupied by the one addressed in
relation to Thomas, i.e. he was God (or a god) to Thomas.
presence of the definite article (ho) before theos in John
20:28 need not be taken as proof that Jesus is God (ho
theos). Scholars generally recognize that Koine
Greek can use an articular noun
in the nominative case instead of a vocative.
This is done particularly under the influence of the Hebrew
language, which employs a similar form of address.
Daniel Wallace, who is a conservative Greek scholar,
classified John 20:28 as nominative-for-vocative, "most
likely due to Semitic influence".
Hence the fact that the expression ho theos is used by
Thomas in John 20:28 does not prove that Jesus is Almighty
Colossians 1:26 - "mystery"
objects to the New World Translation's use of the
expression 'sacred secret' in Colossians 1:26 and elsewhere,
"Jehovah's Witnesses do not like to hear the term
"mystery" in connection with God, as they claim God is no
mystery to them!"
"Why do they not want Jehovah's Witnesses to know that
there is mystery about God?"
there is a mystery here, it is where MacGregor Ministries
got this idea from. This is a particularly odd
criticism of the NWT, and not one that is encountered
frequently. Perhaps that is because it is so obviously
false. One of the organization's most famous books,
published in 1917, was entitled "The Finished Mystery".
Another book, published in 1969, bore the title: "Then is
Finished the Mystery of God."
Let's look at how a number of versions render the Greek word
Bible in Basic English
German Elberfelder Bible
das Geheimnis (the secret)
German Luther Bible
das Geheimnis (the secret)
Good News Translation
Goodspeed New Testament
International Standard Version
truth which has been kept secret
Young's New Testament
the secret that hath been hid
Now let's look at how some lexicons define
The Pauline lit. has m. in 21 places. A
or mystery, too
profound for human ingenuity
(of something formerly unknown but now revealed)
the content of that which has not been known before but
which has been
revealed to an in-group or restricted constituency -
'secret, mystery.' ...
There is a serious problem involved in translating
by a word which is equivalent to the English expression
'mystery,' for this term in English refers to a secret which
people have tried to uncover but which they have failed to
In many instances
is translated by a phrase meaning 'that which was not known
before,' with the implication of its being revealed at least
to some persons.
In view of the fact that the word 'secret' is used by many
other translations and appears alongside 'mystery' in
reputable Bible lexicons, it is difficult to see what
MacGregor's point is. Apparently they are simply
hoping that their readers will not check any other
translations or any Greek lexicons. Their argument
from ignorance is a very weak argument indeed!
Part 1 -
Part 2 -
"Yet these men are abusive
in matters of which they know nothing" -
Jude 10, Weymouth.