Bible Question:

Is the KJV is most accurate translation of John 1:3 because it reads made by him, since the NKJV, ESV, NASB reads through Him?

Bible Answer:

The question we are concerned with is: what is the meaning of John 1:3? Specifically, we are interested in the correct translation of the phrase “by Him” in the KJV Bible. Should the phrase be “through Him” as in the NASB?

All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. John 1:3 (KJV)

All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. John 1:3 (NASB)

Meaning of John 1:3

There are primarily two major reasons verses are different between Bible versions. The first is that sometimes differences can exist between Bible versions because they use different Koine Greek apparatuses which are compiled manuscripts from ancient manuscripts using the process called Textual Criticism. But the Greek apparatuses behind the KJV, NKJV, NASB and ESV versions are identical in John 1:3. For more information about the Koine Greek apparatuses used for translating the KJV, NKJV, NASB and ESV, read the article Is The King James Bible The Best Bible?  The second major reason that verses are different between Bible versions is that the translators were less accurate or used different wording of the definition of the Greek and/or Aramaic words.

All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. John 1:3 (KJV)

All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. John 1:1-3 (NKJV)

All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. John 1:3 (ESV)

All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. John 1:3 (NASB)

Therefore, the differences between the KJV, NKJV, NASB and ESV versions are due to a less accurate definition of the Greek or they used different wording of the definition of the Greek. Now we are ready to determine the correct translation of John 1:3 by examining the meaning of the Greek words in John 1:3.

“Made by Him” or “Through Him”

The Greek Text for John 1:3 in all four Bible versions is as follows,

πάντα διʼ αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο

The transliterated form is panta di’ autou egeneto. The first Greek word is panta. It means “all.” The next Greek word is di’. It is an abbreviation of dia since this Greek word appears before a word with a vowel. The Greek word autou means “him, her or it.” The root meaning of the Greek word egeneto is “to become.”

The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology states that the Greek word dia means “‘through” when followed by a noun in the genitive case.[1] Therefore, since autou is in the genitive case, dia means “through.” The Greek lexicon adds that dia refers to the instrument “through” which the “action passes before its accomplished.”[2]

The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, a Greek Lexicon, states that dia means “passing through and out from,”[3] The Greek-Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature defines dia as “through, throughout” when the genitive is used.[4]

Meaning of John 1:3

Since the Greek word autou means “Him” and autou in John 1:3 is in the genitive case, the correct definition of dia is “‘through.” That is, the Greek autou in this verse is in the genitive case. This means all things were created through Christ. Therefore, the KJV is not the correct translation of the Greek text. That is why the NKJV, an updated version of the KJV, has retranslated the verse as “through.” That is the correct translation.

Unfortunately, in English the word “through” could imply that Jesus did not create but somehow everything that was created occurred through Him. This phrase panta di’ autou egeneto should be understood to mean that God the Father (Genesis 1:1; Isaiah 44:24; Mark 10:6), God the Holy Spirit (Genesis 1:2) and God the Son created together. Jesus was not the only member of the Trinity who created all things.[5]

John 1:3 is a powerful statement that says the creation was made through Him and the rest of the verse says that nothing was created without Him.

. . . and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. John 1:3 (NASB)

The rest of Scripture teaches that Jesus created everything. Romans 11:36; Colossians 1:16 and Hebrews 2:10 teach us that Christ created all things.

For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen. Romans 11:36 (NASB)

For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things have been created through Him and for Him. Colossians 1:16 (NASB)

For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings. Hebrews 2:10 (NASB)

Therefore, the testimony of John 1:3 and all of Scripture is that Jesus created all things and without Him nothing came into existence. The Trinity created everything together.

Conclusion:

When we study the Bible, our purpose should always be to accurately translate every word in every verse in order to accurately understand the meaning of Scripture. Then we need to discover what the rest of Scripture teaches because all of Scripture together gives us a complete understanding. What have we learned? We learned that everything was created through Jesus (John 1:3) and by Jesus (Colossians 1:16). Praise the Lord!

 

References:

1. Verlyn D. Verbrugge. New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology. Zondervan. 2000. pp. 132-133.
2. Ibid.
3. W. Bauder, “Σπουδή,” ed. Lothar Coenen, Erich Beyreuther, and Hans Bietenhard, New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1986), 1181.
4. Danker and Bauer. Greek-Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. University Chicago Press. 1979. p. 223.
5. Gerald L. Borchert. John 1-11. The New American Commentary. B&H Publishing Company. 1996. vol. 25A. p. 107.

Suggested Links:

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