Godhead or Deity - Is James White Right?
"Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of THE GODHEAD bodily."
James White, a well known King James Bible critic, ignorantly harangues against the use of the word Godhead in the KJB. In his book, The King James Only Controversy, when discussing Colossians 2:9 Mr. White says on page 204: "Yet, the KJV rendering of this verse is probably the least clear of almost all currently available translations. How does one explain what "Godhead" means? Who really uses this term any longer? And what about the fact that the KJV uses "godhead" in other places when it is translating a completely different Greek term?"
Then Mr. White has a chart which shows the NASB rendering of the three passages where the KJB has Godhead in all three. Here are the NASB renderings: Acts 17:29 the Divine Nature (Theios); Romans 1:20 divine nature (theiotes), and Colossians 2:9 Deity (theotes).
As for Mr. White's puzzlement about how one explains what Godhead means, he might try looking at any number of current English dictionaries. As for his question - "Who really uses this term any longer?" maybe our befuddled scholar might find some insight if he read the NIV introduction in the 1984 edition where it says on page xviii "Neither Hebrew, Aramaic nor Greek uses special pronouns for the persons of the Godhead."
Or perhaps our esteemed colleague might consult any of the eleven Bible commentaries or reference works I list below that are readily seen online that all use the word "Godhead" when discussing Colossians 2:9.
Or James might try a simple Google search, type in the word "Godhead", and voilá, he will find the word used all over the place even in many present day religious articles.
Actually the word Godhead is much stronger and more accurate than the word "deity" found in the NASB, NIV and ESV. I have also heard radio preachers today who use the modern versions talking about the Godhead, little realizing that this word no longer appears in the bible versions they are now using.
Merriam Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary 1967, " the nature of God ESPECIALLY AS EXISTING IN THREE PERSONS -- used with the".
The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000. 1. Divinity; godhood. 2. Godhead The Christian God, ESPECIALLY THE TRINITY.
The Random House Unabridged Dictionary 1997 -God•head
1. a. the essential being of God; the Supreme Being.
b. THE HOLY TRINITY OF GOD THE FATHER, CHRIST THE SON, AND THE HOLY GHOST.
The XXXIX Articles of the book of Common Prayer opens thus: “There is but one living and true God, everlasting, without body, parts or passions: of infinite power, wisdom and goodness, the Maker and Preserver of all things visible and invisible. And in the unity of the GODHEAD there be three Persons, of one substance, power and eternity: the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.”
The Westminster Confession of Faith
The Presbyterians in England having the King James Bible of 1611 AD which says "which proceedeth from the Father" (St. John 15:26 AD), wrote, in Westminster, England, in 1647 AD, in their Calvinistic "Westminster Confession of Faith": Chapter II. Of God, and of the Holy Trinity. III. "In the unity of the GODHEAD there be three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. The Father is of none, neither begotten nor proceeding; the Son is eternally begotten of the Father; the Holy Ghost eternally proceeding from the Father and the Son". (page 197.)
The Greek lexicons of both Trench and Thayer's also show Godhead as being one of the primary meanings of this Greek word used in Colossians 2:9. Scholars often disagree with each other; what one affirms another denies. But of the three words used, there are some who affirm that each of the Greek words used has the meaning of "GODHEAD."
Concerning the first example of Acts 17:29 "the Godhead" KJB and many others, τὸ θεῖον εἶναι ὅμοιον. Bauer, Arndt and Gingrich Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament 1957 list this word on page 354 and reference Acts 17:29. They define it as: 1. of THE GODHEAD and everything that belongs to it.
Concerning the Greek word used in Romans 1:20 θειότης, on page 285 of Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon he tells us that this word means divinity or divine nature and is a synonym of θεότητος used in Colossians 2:9 which he defines as "absolute GODHEAD".
Concerning Colossians 2:9 τῆς θεότητος σωματικῶς Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words page 289 references Colossians 2:9 and says: "Paul is declaring that in the Son there dwells all the fulness of absolute GODHEAD; the apostle uses τῆς θεότητος to express this essential and personal GODHEAD of the Son."
Then he references Trench's Synonyms. When we look at Trench Synonyms of the New Testament on pages 24-25 he says that τῆς θεότητος as found in Colossians 2:9 means exactly the same thing Vine told us - the essential and personal GODHEAD of the Son.
Dictionaries - Easton's Bible Dictionary - Godhead
( Acts 17:29 ; Romans 1:20 ; Colossians 2:9 ), the essential being or the nature of God.
The word "Godhead" occurs in the King James Version only 3 times (Acts 17:29; Romans 1:20; Colossians 2:9), and oddly enough it translates in these 3 passages 3 different, though closely related, Greek words, to theion, theiotes, thetas.
It is theotes which occurs in Colossians 2:9. Here Paul declares that "all the fullness of the Godhead" dwells in Christ "bodily." The phrase "fullness of the Godhead" is an especially emphatic one. It means everything without exception which goes to make up the Godhead, the totality of all that enters into the conception of Godhood. All this, says Paul, dwells in Christ "bodily," that is after such a fashion as to be manifested in connection with a bodily organism. This is the distinction of Christ:
In the Father and in the Spirit the whole plenitude of the Godhead dwells also, but not "bodily"; in them it is not manifested in connection with a bodily life. It is the incarnation which Paul has in mind; and he tells us that in the incarnate Son, the fullness of the Godhead dwells. The term chosen to express the Godhead here is the strongest and the most unambiguously decisive which the language affords."
Let Us Reason Ministries
What does the term Godhead mean?
The word “Godhead” occurs in the King James Version only 3 times - Acts 17:29; Rom 1:20; Col. 2:9, and it translates slightly different each time, though closely related (In Greek- theion, theiotes, theotes). This passage in Col. 2:9 and one other are the most explicit statements of Christ’s deity in the New Testament. Col.2:9 “For in him dwells (lives) the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (bodily form). “God was in Christ” (2 Cor.5:19). All that makes God who He is, is to be found in Jesus.
And this Greek New Testament site - http://www.laparola.net/greco/ Gives the following quotes concerning Colossians 2:9:
Hippolytus Refutation of All Heresies Book X: that this is what has been declared, "in whom dwelleth all the fulness of the GODHEAD bodily."
Irenaeus Against Heresies Book I: and further, "In Him dwelleth all the fulness of the GODHEAD; "
Origen de Principiis Book II: And when it is said "above thy fellows," it is meant that the grace of the Spirit was not given to it as to the prophets, but that the essential fulness of the Word of God Himself was in it, according to the saying of the apostle, "In whom dwelt all the fulness of the GODHEAD bodily."
The word Godhead implies the Three Persons of the Trinity, whereas the simple word Deity does not. There are many deities but only one Godhead. It is more than just coincidence that the KJB has the word Godhead three times in the New Testament.
As for Mr. White's charge that all three Greek words are "completely different", please note that all three have the base word Theos, which by itself means God.
Not only does the KJB translate ALL THREE instances (Acts 17:29; Romans 1:20 and Colossians 2:9) of these related words as GODHEAD, but so also do Wycliffe 1395, Tyndale 1525, Miles Coverdale 1535, the Great Bible (Cranmer) of 1540, Matthew's Bible (John Rogers) of 1549, the Bishop's Bible 1568, the Geneva Bible 1599, the Beza New Testament 1599, the Bill Bible 1671, John Wesley's 1755 translation, Webster's 1833 translation, the Pickering N.T. 1840, the Longman Version 1841, the Hussey N.T. 1845, The Commonly Received Version 1851, The Revised N.T. 1862, The Ainslie N.T. 1869, the Sharpe Bible 1883, Young's "literal" translation 1898, the Clarke N.T. 1913, the Amplified Bible 1987, The Word of Yah 1993, the KJV 21st Century Version 1994, the Third Millennium Version of 1998, the Tomson New Testament 2002, and the Bond Slave Version 2012.
Mr. White complains about the translation of Godhead here in Colossians 2:9, yet the NKJV 1982, which he recommends in his book as a reliable translation, also has Godhead in Colossians 2:9.
Not only do all 26 translations mentioned above have Godhead in Colossians 2:9, but so also do the Douay-Rheims 1582, Whiston's Primitive N.T. 1745, Thomas Haweis N.T. 1795, the Hewett N.T. 1850, Noyes N.T. 1869, the Alford N.T. 1870, Godbey N.T. 1902, the Anderson N.T. 1865, American Bible Union N.T. 1865, the Davidson N.T. 1876, The Revised English Bible 1877, Darby 1890, the Revised Version 1885, the Dillard N.T. 1885, American Standard Version 1901, Rotherham's Emphasized Bible 1902, Worrell N.T. 1904, The Twentieth Century N.T. 1904, The Modern English N.T. 1909, the Improved Bible 1913, Lamsa's 1933 translation of the Syriac Peshitta, the Douay 1950, The New Berkeley Version in Modern English 1969, the New English Bible 1970, the Interlinear Greek N.T. 1997 (Larry Pierce), The Lawrie Translation 1998, God's First Truth Yes Word 1999, The Recovery Version 1999 (John Ingalls), Green's Modern KJV 2000, The World English Bible 2000, the Evidence Bible 2003, Analytical Literal Translation 2003, Complete Apostle's Bible 2005, The Resurrection Life N.T. 2005, The Positive Infinity New Testament 2005 (Don Warrington), The Faithful New Testament 2009, the English Majority Text Version 2009, The Conservative Bible 2010, the Jubilee Bible 2010, the Holy Scriptures VW Edition 2010 by Paul Becker, New Translation Based on Majority Text 2011 by Wilbur Pickering, The Conservative Bible 2011, the Far Above All Translation 2011, The Work of God's Children Illustrated Bible 2011, The Revised Douay-Rheims Bible 2012, the Hebrew Names Version 2014 and The Modern English Version - “For in Him lives all the fullness of the GODHEAD bodily.”
That is a total of at least 74 English bible translations that disagree with Mr. White's "scholarly" opinions about what the word θεότητος means in Colossians 2:9.
Mr. White also shows his hypocrisy when he says the KJB translates three "completely" different words as Godhead. The NASB, for whom he used to work, has two very different words translated as deity - daimonion in Acts 17:18 and theotes in Colossians 2:9 - and another five very different words translated as Divine. In Acts 17:29 theios is translated as "divine nature", in Romans 1:20 theiotes is "divine nature", in Romans 11:4 kreematismos is translated as "divine response", in 2 Corinthians the Greek word theos is translated as "divinely", and in Hebrews 9:1 latreia is translated as "divine service".
The word Godhead in orthodox Christian theology clearly implies the Trinity. If anyone studies their Bible, you know that Christ was God manifest in the flesh (I Timothy 3:16 in the KJB, but not the NASB, ESV, RSV, NIV).
The Lord also said in John 14:10 and 20 "Believest thou not that I AM IN THE FATHER, AND THE FATHER IN ME?...but THE FATHER THAT DWELLETH IN ME, he doeth the works." And John 14:20 - "At that day ye shall know that I AM IN MY FATHER, and ye in me, and I in you."
The Lord Jesus bears witness to the same truth when He says in John 10:30 and 38 - "I and my Father are one." and "But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that THE FATHER IS IN ME, AND I IN HIM." and again in John 17:21 "That they all may be one; AS THOU, FATHER, ART IN ME, AND I IN THEE, that they also may be on in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me."
The Lord Jesus Christ was conceived of the Holy Ghost (Luke 1:35) and God anointed him with the Holy Ghost and with power (Acts 10:38). In Christ dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.
Bible Commentators and the Godhead of the Lord Jesus as taught in Colossians 2:9
John Calvin - Further, when he says that the fullness of the GODHEAD dwells in Christ, he means simply, that God is wholly found in him, so that he who is not contented with Christ alone, desires something better and more excellent than God. The sum is this, that God has manifested himself to us fully and perfectly in Christ. Interpreters explain in different ways the adverb bodily. For my part, I have no doubt that it is employed -- not in a strict sense -- as meaning substantially. For he places this manifestation of God, which we have in Christ, to all others that have ever been made. For God has often manifested himself to men, but it has been only in part. In Christ, on the other hand, he communicates himself to us wholly. He has also manifested himself to us otherwise, but it is in figures, or by power and grace. In Christ, on the other hand, he has appeared to us essentially. Thus the statement of John holds good: He that hath the Son, hath the Father also. (1 John 2 23.) For those who possess Christ have God truly present, and enjoy Him wholly."
Adam Clarke on Colossians 2:9 - ""The fulness of the GODHEAD dwelt in Christ 'bodily,' as opposed to the Jewish tabernacle, or temple; truly and really, in opposition to types and figures; not only effectively, as God dwells in good men, but substantially or personally, by the strictest union, as the soul dwells in the body; so that God and man are one Christ."
Burton Coffman's Commentary - "For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the GODHEAD bodily. This is an unequivocal declaration of the deity of the Son of God...GODHEAD - Ellis noted that "The Greek word for Godhead or deity is the abstract noun for God and includes not only the divine attributes, but also the divine nature." Barry declared that "almost every word of this verse is emphatic." Thus the meaning is intense, thus: All the fullness of the GODHEAD ... not a mere emanation from the Supreme Being ... Dwells and remains forever ... not descending on him for a time and then leaving again ... Bodily ... that is, as incarnate in his humanity"
Barnes' Notes on the New Testament - "For in him dwelleth. That is, this was the great and central doctrine that was to be maintained about Christ, that all the fulness of the GODHEAD dwelt in him. Of the Godhead. Of the Divinity, the Divine nature . The word is one that properly denotes the Divine nature and perfections."
J.N. Darby - "And first all the fullness of the GODHEAD dwells in Him bodily. Instead of the misty speculations of men and fantastic aeons, we have the fullness of God bodily, in a real human body, and thus efficaciously for us, in the Person of Jesus Christ."
John Gill - "For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the GODHEAD bodily. This is to be understood... of Christ, and particularly of his human nature, as consisting of a true body and a reasonable soul, in which the GODHEAD dwells in a most eminent manner...The GODHEAD dwells in Christ as in a tabernacle, in allusion to the tabernacle of Moses, which looked mean without side, but glorious within; where God granted his presence, and accepted the sacrifices of his people."
David Guzik's Commentary on the Bible - "In Him dwells all the fullness of the GODHEAD: This is a dramatic, airtight declaration of the full Deity of Jesus. Since all the fullness of the GODHEAD dwells in Jesus, He cannot be a halfway God or a "junior god." All the fullness of the GODHEAD bodily... Paul needed to make it clear that all the fullness of the GODHEAD was in Jesus bodily, not in some strange, mystical sense."
Jamieson, Fausset and Brown - "of the GODHEAD--The Greek (theotes) means the ESSENCE and NATURE of the GODHEAD, not merely the divine perfections and attributes of Divinity. He, as man, was not merely God-like, but in the fullest sense, God."
Matthew Henry - "For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the GODHEAD bodily. Under the law, the presence of God dwelt between the cherubim, in a cloud which covered the mercy-seat; but now it dwells in the person of our Redeemer, who partakes of our nature, and is bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh, and has more clearly declared the Father to us. It dwells in him bodily; not as the body is opposed to the spirit, but as the body is opposed to the shadow. The fulness of the GODHEAD dwells in the Christ really, and not figuratively; for he is both God and man."
Robertson's Word Pictures - "The fulness of the GOD-HEAD was in Christ before the Incarnation (John 1:1,18; Philippians 2:6), during the Incarnation (John 1:14,18; 1 John 1:1-3). It was the Son of God who came in the likeness of men (Philippians 2:7). Paul here disposes of the Docetic theory that Jesus had no human body as well as the Cerinthian separation between the man Jesus and the aeon Christ. He asserts plainly the deity and the humanity of Jesus Christ in corporeal form."
John Wesley - "For in him dwelleth - Inhabiteth, continually abideth, all the fulness of the GODHEAD. Believers are "filled with all the fulness of God," Ephesians 3:19. But in Christ dwelleth all the fulness of the GODHEAD; the most full GODHEAD; not only divine powers, but divine nature, Colossians 1:19. Bodily - Personally, really, substantially. The very substance of God, if one might so speak, dwells in Christ in the most full sense."
People like James White have no inspired Bible or sure words of God. He will tell you that he believes "The Bible is the infallible words of God", but if you ask him to show you a copy of this infallible Bible he claims to believe in, he will never tell you. I know; I have tried.
Men like James White set up their own minds as being the final authority and correct every bible version out there. Mr. White often corrects his own NASB and thinks it too has errors. An example of James White's "I'm the final authority" thinking is a recent video he came out with where he states that he personally does not believe that Luke 23:34 "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do" is inspired Scripture and he would not preach on it, even though it is found in the NASB, NIV, ESV.
The video was up for some time but when people like me began to comment on it, he took it down. BUT, a Muslim saw the video and posted it, and James White can't take that one down. The Muslims just love James White when it comes to the Bible version issue. They are using his own videos the try to convince Christians that we have NO inerrant Bible.
You can see this video of James White denying that Luke 23:34 is inspired Scripture in my article here
Men like Mr. White don't believe any translation can be the inspired words of God, and since the "originals" no longer exist, they have no inspired Bible now and resent the fact that many of us believe we do.
They want to be the Final Authority and have you come to them to find out what God REALLY said. It is a big ego trip, easy to get into, and very hard to get out of.
I feel sorry for all the Christians who have been robbed of the true Holy Bible by unbelieving modern scholars like James White.
All of grace, believing The Book - the Authorized King James Holy Bible.
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Notes from the Internet
From Ken Matto - http://www.scionofzion.com/colossians_2_9.html
(KJV) For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.
(1611 KJV) For in him dwelleth all the fulnesse of the Godhead bodily.
(1587 Geneva Bible) For in him dwelleth all the fulnesse of the Godhead bodily.
(1526 Tyndale) For in him dwelleth all the fulnes of the godheed bodyly
(1382 Wycliffe) For in hym dwellith bodilich al the fulnesse of the Godhed.
(AMP) For in Him the whole fullness of Deity (the Godhead) continues to dwell in bodily form [giving complete expression of the divine nature].
(CEB) All the fullness of deity lives in Christ’s body.
(CEV) God lives fully in Christ.
(ERV) I say this because all of God lives in Christ fully, even in his life on earth.
(ESV) For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily,
(GNB) For the full content of divine nature lives in Christ, in his humanity,
(HCSB) For the entire fullness of God’s nature dwells bodily in Christ,
(JB Phillips) Yet it is in him that God gives a full and complete expression of himself (within the physical limits that he set himself in Christ).
(LB) For in Christ there is all of God in a human body;
(THE MESSAGE) Everything of God gets expressed in him, so you can see and hear him clearly.
(NASV) For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form,
(NCV) All of God lives fully in Christ (even when Christ was on earth),
(NET) For in him all the fullness of deity lives in bodily form,
(NIRV) God’s whole nature is living in Christ in human form
(NIV) For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form,
(NLT) For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body.
(NRSV) For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily,
(RSV) For in him the whole fulness of deity dwells bodily,
(VOICE) You see, all that is God, all His fullness, resides in His body.
(2011 NAB-Roman Catholic) For in him dwells the whole fullness of the deity bodily,
(NWT-Jehovah’s Witnesses) because it is in him that all the fullness of the divine quality dwells bodily
Textus Receptus - Traditional Text
οτι εν αυτω κατοικει παν το πληρωμα της θεοτητος σωματικως
Hort-Westcott - Critical Text
οτι εν αυτω κατοικει παν το πληρωμα της θεοτητος σωματικως
The Gnostics had totally disbelieved that Christ was of the Godhead. They had believed that Christ came into being at His birth. Some Gnostics believed Christ was only pure Spirit and had a specter type body, not a physical one, this heresy was known as Docetism. The Gnostics basically believed that if a true being came from God, there was no way they could be overcome by the world and be killed as Christ was. They also believed that the resurrection of Christ was when His spirit left His body. In this verse Paul is stating that all the fullness of the Godhead, that is, all the attributes of the Godhead are in Christ. When He was on this earth, He emptied himself of His glory but not His position as second person of the Godhead as evidenced by His miracles. He never ceased to be God while on the earth and He continues to be God throughout all eternity.
The word “Godhead” when replaced by the word “deity” can denote a generic term. The word “deity” is not found in the King James Bible because the Holy Spirit wanted to point the believer to the fact that Jesus is in the Godhead and is not some detached deity.
(Rom 1:20 KJV) For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
(Acts 17:29 KJV) Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device.
The word “Godhead” in Colossians 2:9 is in harmony with the other 2 uses of the word in Romans 1:20 and Acts 17:29.
Here is a paragraph from a New Age website speaking of solar deities:
A solar deity is a deity who represents the sun, or an aspect of it. People have worshipped the sun and solar deities for all of recorded history; sun worship is also known as heliolatry. Hence, many beliefs and legends have been formed around this worship, most notably the various myths containing the "missing sun" motif from around the world. Although many sources contend that solar deities are generally male, and the brother, father, husband and/or enemy of the lunar deity (usually female), this is not cross-culturally upheld, as sun goddesses are found on every continent.
Taken from: http://www.new-age-guide.com/new_age/solar_deity.htm
As you can see, it is important that we keep the term “Godhead” instead of relinquishing it to “deity.” It is one thing which sets Christianity apart from worldly satanic religions and the King James Bible from New Age Bible Versions.
The King James Bible is correct, as always.
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