Slight Differance, Big Change Ephesians 4:1-16 and the NWT

by drew sagan 16 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • drew sagan
    drew sagan

    The discussion of this text is taken in reference to a discussion I had with a JW Elder I know. Most of the time the discussion focused on things not even worth discussing, two things did come up I thought I would examine with more detail because something seemed wrong. One of these things I discussed here
    Basically I challenged him to produce a scripture that says membership to an organization is essential for salvation. He produced Ephesians 4:1-16
    He focused on how the scripture states that Christ gave us these 'gifts [in] men', next he went on to read this part of the verse (NWT READING):

    11 And he gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelizers, some as shepherds and teachers, 12 with a view to the readjustment of the holy ones, for ministerial work, for the building up of the body of the Christ, 13 until we all attain to the oneness in the faith and in the accurate knowledge of the Son of God, to a full-grown man, to the measure of stature that belongs to the fullness of the Christ

    He focused on how these 'gifts in men' where used to readjust the 'holy ones' and how they are essential in coming to an accurate understanding of Gods purpose. I feel there are a number of problems with such an interpretation, and maybe you can help me find even more.
    1. The first thing I noticed in examining verse 8 is that the NWT translates is differently than other translations. Most other translations of this verse read "Gifts to Men", not the "Gifts in Men" the NWT states. Some translations even go so far as to render the verse "Gifts to his people", basing such a translation against other scriptures that deal with Christian gifts (1 Corinthians 7:7, 1 Peter 4:10). So what should the proper translation read? Should it read '[in]' or 'to'. Personally I think the Kingdom Interlinear settles the matter, under the Greek text has the literal translation as 'to'. Getting in deeper to this text we find that Paul is actually making reference to Psalm 68:18. The NWT reads:

    18 You have ascended on high;
    You have carried away captives;
    You have taken gifts in the form of men,
    Yes, even the stubborn ones, to reside [among them], O Jah God.

    While this can seem to confuse matters, doing a simple search on the term used for men in this verse (Strongs 0120) will show that a general use of the word 'men' in this verse does not match up with their 'gifts in men' interpretation as found in many of their publications. In fact this word can be found in Genesis 6:1 which reads:

    And it came to pass, when men (0120) began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them,

    So a general use of the term can be more than appropriate, this scripture does not demand us to think that it is foretelling a 'Christian Elder' arrangement.
    2. Moving along in the verse we reach verses 11-12, which when read in the NWT give us a deep impression of 'theocratic order'. The NWT states:

    11 And he gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelizers, some as shepherds and teachers, 12 with a view to the readjustment of the holy ones, for ministerial work, for the building up of the body of the Christ,

    Notice that this arrangement is for the readjustment, not of the 'great crowd', but instead for the 'holy ones'. This builds its own problems in interpretation. If we are to follow Watchtower logic we encounter a 'pyramid' like structure, putting some Christians as more important than others. It puts a few organizational men at the top (the gifts in men), with their anointed followers that they must correct and teach. By their own interpretation the 'great crowd' simply isn't mentioned, instead one simply led to feel 'if it's good enough for the anointed to be readjusted, it's good enough for me'. They also don't connect the fact that all of their 'gifts in men' are not anointed, another blunder in thinking this refers to an authority class Christians must submit to. Notice how the NIV version renders verse 12

    12to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up

    While the Watchtower may be justified in using the term 'readjustment', doing so seeks to build up their own doctrine of 'spiritual food' and instruction from the 'faithful slave'.
    More info on katartiĆ°zw (readjustment) can be found here.
    If there is anything I have wrong about this let me know. As I said it was used as 'proof' in order to fit the JW doctrine of organization, and so I wanted to put it to the test. This is what I found. I find it amazing that by the way they make subtle changes in the NWT they are able to bring out an understanding that just doesn't seem to be there. One that only Jehovah's Witnesses can really see.

  • lovelylil


    You have it absolutely correct! The WT has changed (although some slightly) over 200 scriptures in the NT to back up their unique teachings. They have to change them to support their heirarchy and like you said put one group above the other. If not - there would be no use for the governing body if not to govern the other Christians. As we know this is not the way it is supposed to be.

    I have many different bible translations myself and NONE of them translate that verse the pecular way the NWT does. I am glad to see how well trained your reasoning ability is and it will only become stronger the more you break away from the borg.

    It is almost useless though to argue these points with those who have a vested interest in translating the bible the NWT way. If they see that "mother" is lying and manipulating them - they will loose all trust and leave the org. It happened to me. Once I started comparing the NWT with the societies own publication the "Greek interlinear translation" of the bible, I could see for myself that they tampered with scriptures. You may want to pull out that publication and check it against that scripture too. Lilly

  • Mary
    11 And he gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelizers, some as shepherds and teachers, 12 with a view to the readjustment of the holy ones, for ministerial work, for the building up of the body of the Christ,

    So does this verse mean that an R&F evangelizer can readjust the holy ones views? If that's the case, then that means that someone who has the "earthly hope" has every scriptural right to point out blunders to the "annointed".

  • TD

    For what it's worth...

    "And gave gifts to men" or "And gave gifts to people" are the only two ways I would read, kai edwken domata toiV anqrwpoiV

    Nothing comes to mind that would justify the NWT rendering

  • drew sagan
    drew sagan
    Nothing comes to mind that would justify the NWT rendering

    If you equal the entire Christian expierance to submission to an organization you would! ;)

  • TD
    If you equal the entire Christian expierance to submission to an organization you would!


    What I meant was, usually I can understand the reasons why JW's do and say the things they do even when I don't agree with them. In this case I've drawn a complete blank. I can't even put on my "JW hat" and invent a reason.

    The KJV renders the Psalm verse "thou hast received gifts for men." Ditto for YLT. This is reflected in an NIV footnote where "gifts for men" is suggested as an alternate to their preferred translation of "gifts from men." The ASV, NASB and RSV all take Ba'aDaM in the sense of "among men."

    The NWT renders it, [Psalm 68:18] "Gifts in the form of men" Even if this idiosyncratic rendering is correct, (Which I doubt) I don't see any reason to force it upon the Greek text. Paul appears to only be interpretively quoting the Psalm and tois anthropois is therefore still just a simple dative. --To men (Or people)

  • drew sagan
    drew sagan
    Paul appears to only be interpretively quoting the Psalm and tois anthropois is therefore still just a simple dative

    I think that the real confusion comes from the JWs understanding of what a 'gift' or 'calling' is. The Watchtower is very stern in what it demands from its followers, especially field service. No doubt many in the congregations would be overjoyed to know that some in the congregation where to be evangelizers, others as preachers, the list goes on.
    The point is this. What if your gift is not something related to the organizations interests? That just can't be so. The Watchtower will simply not accept this. Instead they demand that people make their gift to be what the society want's it to be. That is how you get a thursday night meeting filled with totally boring material and a bunch of people who would rather be home watching TV.
    Since the WTS has to suppress the idea that Christians have differant gifts, they must downplay the scriptures that speak of them. Either they apply only to the anointed, or Elders, or have some other application. Anything but the individual.
    I actually think this is one of the sadder things going on in the Witness community. People who have wonderful talents and gifts that they can give to their congregations, but because of a cold and stiff WTS these ones instead are made to feel that they are not 'spiritual' enough. What better way to beat your fellow slave by telling them they are not doing the right things to please God? (Matthew 24:49)

  • lovelylil

    great point Drew.

  • jwfacts

    This elders concept does not show AN organization. It says Christ himself would provide these things. You mentioned the WTS pyramid which virtually phases Christ out of the picture. When THE Organization wants to appoint a person they pray to Jehovah to direct the appointment via the Holy Spirit, so you have:


    Holy Spirit


    Elders doing appointement

    Appointed person.

    Yet the Scripture shows it as


    Appointed person.

    It is good to focus on the difference between having an orderly arrangement (which is a biblical concept) and having an intermediary organization (which word and concept never appears in the bible).

  • moggy lover
    moggy lover

    I have been through the WT CD 04 looking up this quote at Eph 4:8 unfortunately none of the citations listed give an explanation for why Franz insisted on "translating" the dative construction with the expression "in" Most of the quotes listed on the CD adress seperate issues like "we need to be submissive to God's organisation because He has given us this marvelous "elder" arrangement".

    In all these citations the common theme is that these "gifts [in] men" are the elders assigned to the some 70 000 WT congregations worldwide. the "Holy ones" in this pastich becomes the R&F which is odd since at the very start of this letter, adressed to the 'Holy ones" [1:1], a reminder is given that they have been assigned a position in the "heavenly administration" [ 1:10]

    Eph 4:8 is the only place that to the best of my knowledge the expression "holy ones" is made to mean the R&F. The Dec 1st Wt pg 16 specifically states that the "holy ones" = R&F

    Why then this "translation" - "Gifts [in] men"? One can only speculate, but my own feeling is that Franz saw an opportunity here to stress the "theocratic" arrangement, and that elders, in effect appointed by the WTS, can by inference be seen to be provided by Christ Himself courtesy of the Holy Spirit. In other words, among all the men in a given congregation, some are set apart as gifts. So the conclusion is that most of the men do NOT, repeat NOT, get any gifts.

    Such a churlish idea is alien to the entire Pauline corpus. In fact the dative construction used here at Eph 4:8 reiforces an idea directly at varience with WT theology. The thing that is distributed is not the men, [among the many some are selected] but the gifts, [among all the men various gifts are given] In this respect, the word "Anthropois" used here, generically can refer to "people" So to [all] the people who are in the Christian assembly, gifts have been given. Some the ability to evangelize is given [hence not all evangelize] to some the gift of the pastorate is given, [hence not all are pastors] and to some the gift of teaching is given, [hence not all are teachers]

    To the WT way of thinking this would mean that only some would go from door-to-door, pleading the lack of the gift of evangelism. [In fact given any excuse, all will opt out of the "joyful" work of going d-t-d !!] Hence, I believe, the almost sinister alteration. Strangely enough, by stressing the "elder arrangement" here, when the text clearly does not, referring to all believers, the WTS is acknowliging the existence of a clergy-laity division which they claim to have such an antipathy aganst.


Share this