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A conservative Protestant (Evangelical) religious studies professor from Canada, Michael Gilmour, who studies Jehovah's Witnesses and usually writes fairly balanced material about them, contributed the article on them in The Oxford Handbook of the Bible in America (2017). One point he makes, however, seems biased and unfair. Someone has written a rebuttal, rather deep and detailed, but worth working through if a person is interested in one passage in 1 Peter. It's been circulating on various forums, so why not here too?


For those who like to dig deeply, happy reading. It's four pages long.

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A conservative Protestant (Evangelical) religious studies professor from Canada, Michael Gilmour, who studies Jehovah's Witnesses and usually writes fairly balanced material about them, contributed th

I only briefly scanned this PDF before commenting on it previously. But it has been brought to my attention again, so I am reading it more carefully, and maybe a bit more critically this time. Fi

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I only briefly scanned this PDF before commenting on it previously. But it has been brought to my attention again, so I am reading it more carefully, and maybe a bit more critically this time.

First of all, I still assume that Michael Gilmour had only made a "sloppy" mistake in comparing the "footnote" rendering in the 1984 NWT and comparing it to the "main rendering" in the revised 2013 NWT. Then he claimed that the 1984 rendering was changed in 2013 to be less susceptible to a Trinitarian understanding. The entire page containing Gilmour's comments was avaliable on Google Books, but the second time I visited that page, it is no longer available in preview mode.

I assumed the reason for the sloppy scholarship was due to a strong prejudicial leaning toward the Trinity doctrine and therefore being a bit too anxious to grasp at straws to prove the NWT wrong. The comments about Gilmour in the PDF indicate that this might have been a mistake or might even have been deceptive on Gilmour's part. That's possible, but it is not such an important point to be deceptive about. He gains very little ground toward his theory that the new NWT is any more non-Trinitarian than the old one. (Which, of course, had actually rendered this verse the same way in both versions, notwithstanding a footnote that disappeared in the 2013 NWT.)

In effect, the NWT didn't "allow for" the translation as an alternative because the footnote disappeared. But when the complete NWT Study Bible is available, there will probably be a comment, again, to the same effect as the 1984 rendering.

Here is the verse in question:

(1 Peter 1:11) 11 They [the prophets] kept on investigating what particular time or what season the spirit within them was indicating concerning Christ as it testified beforehand about the sufferings meant for Christ and about the glory that would follow.

The underlined phrase in Greek is pretty much just a simple "Spirit of Christ" so that most translations just say:

Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. (KJV)

The NWT translates "Spirit of Christ" as "the spirit concerning Christ." The possible reasons are defended in the PDF that comments on the verse. And the reasons are "fair" but not definitive. The author of the PDF agrees with "spirit of Christ" as a better translation, but agrees with the idea that this is not a scripture intended to replace the "spirit of God" with "spirit of Christ" as if Christ was personally inspiring the prophets instead of Jehovah.

I agree with this too. The scripture does not support the Trinity or equal deity with Jehovah. It does refer to the "spirit of God about Christ (or concerning Christ)" The NWT gives the sense, instead of giving a pure literal translation, but a translation always has the prerogative of giving the meaning in the context, not just the literal meaning of the words by themselves.

Of course, the PDF tries to show that the words my themselves MIGHT have already "literally" held the same meaning that includes "about" or "concerning" even within the literal word. That's because the word for Christ is in the genitive case, which usually involves ownership, and can often take an "apostrophe s" in English (i.e., Christ's spirit). But the genitive case is sometimes used, especially in classical Greek, to include a meaning more like "concerning." (i.e., "the Christ-concerning spirit.").

But even most of the examples did not stand on their own because there was often an additional word in the sentence that made the "concerning" or "about" more explicit. In fact, examples included the Greek word for "about." (περί) The exception was Acts 19:40 , but the article itself is not able to make a strong case. here. (There are plenty of περί's in this verse, and one of them could easily be applied to the "notion" of the genitive meaning "concerning."

There are several examples in 1 Peter alone, showing that this was not a common construction for him. It would have made 1 Peter 4:14 mean that God's spirit was a spirit concerning glory, instead of a spirit of glory. Not technically incorrect, but how far do you take this. Is the spirit of God, really just a spirit "concerning" God:

(1 Peter 4:14) 14 If you are being reproached for the name of Christ, you are happy, because the spirit of glory, yes, the spirit of God, is resting upon you.

The non-Trinitarian Unitarians have addressed both verses well at this site:


The most relevant part is here:

The spirit that God places upon people takes on different names as it refers to different functions.  This can be abundantly proven.  Nevertheless, the spirit is the same.  God always gives His spirit, and then it is named as it functions.  When it is associated with wisdom, it is called the “spirit of wisdom” (Ex. 28:3; Deut. 34:9; Eph. 1:17).  When it is associated with grace, it is called the “spirit of grace” (Zech.12:10; Heb. 10:29).  When it is related to glory, it is called the “spirit of glory” (1 Pet. 4:14).  It is called the “spirit of adoption” when it is associated with our everlasting life (Rom. 8:15, which is translated as “spirit of sonship” in some versions).  It is called “the spirit of truth” when it is associated with the truth we learn by revelation (John 14:17; 16:13).  When it came with the same power as it brought to Elijah, it was called “the spirit of Elijah” (2 Kings 2:15).  These are not different spirits.  All the names refer to the one gift of holy spirit that God gives.  Ephesians 4:4 states clearly that there is “one spirit,” and that spirit is God’s gift of holy spirit given to some people in the Old Testament and to all believers today.

When Peter mentions that “the spirit of Christ” was upon prophets as they “predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glory that would follow,” it is easy to see that the spirit is called the “spirit of Christ” because it is associated with Christ and foretold of Christ,

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