John 1:1—Is Jesus God or just a god?

Problem: Orthodox Christians believe Jesus is God and often appeal to this passage to prove it. However, Jehovah’s Witnesses translate this verse “and the Word (Christ) was a god” because there is no definite article (“the”) in the Greek of this verse.

Solution: In Greek, when the definite article is used, it often stresses the individual, and, when it is not present, it refers to the nature of the one denoted. Thus, the verse can be rendered, “and the Word was of the nature of God.” The full deity of Christ is supported not only by general usage of the same construction, but by other references in John to Jesus being God (cf. 8:58; 10:30; 20:28) and the rest of the NT (cf. Col. 1:15–16; 2:9; Titus 2:13).

Furthermore, some NT texts use the definite article and speak of Christ as “the God.” So it does not matter whether John did or did not use the definite article here—the Bible clearly teaches that Jesus is God, not just a god (cf. Heb. 1:8).

That Jesus is Jehovah (Yahweh) is clear from the fact that the NT attributes to Jesus characteristics which in the OT apply only to God (cf. John 19:37 and Zech. 12:10).

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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.