The majority of versions render Hebrew 1:8 along the lines of the NASB, where it is written..

But of the Son He says,
"Your throne, O God is forever and ever, And the righteous scepter is the scepter of His kingdom."

However, some render it differently:

  • Your throne is like God's throne (NEB)
  • God has enthroned you for all eternity (REB)
  • Your throne,God, is for ever and ever (New Jerusalem Bible)
  • or God is your throne" (NRSV fn )
  • Thy throne is the throne of God (ASV fn)
  • God is your throne (NWT)

At first glance there seems to be a considerable difference between these translations and we are immediately led to ask the question, why have all these translators taken this course?

Are these translations justified in any way at all, either linguistically or scriptually.

We read in the NASB again (to be fair) in John 1 14-18

14And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15John testified about Him and cried out, saying, "This was He of whom I said, 'He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.'" 16For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. 17For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. 18No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.

In view of the above, how can we see "God is your throne (NWT, NRSV fn) as an accurate translation of Hebrews 1:8?

From a layman's perspective, an analysis, from a cursory appraisal, of the English set before me, is that the NWT/NRSV fn translations actually says, that Christ Jesus, is sitting on God. To say, "God is your throne," reads that Jesus is sat on God. A throne is less than the person that sits on it. A throne is a symbol or sign of authority. Without a King to sit on it, or a people to give authority to it , it is nothing. Is it correct to say that God is a throne? Further, is it correct to say that a created being sits on that throne, that a created being sits on God, as we have it with the other translations.

God says the Earth is His footstool and "heaven is His throne" as in Mathew 5:34.

34But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne: 35Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King.

If heaven is God's throne how can, "God is your throne" be an accurate English translation?

I cannot find any scripture that would confirm or justify this translation.

Tell me if I am wrong, but where can I find an instance in scripture, where God takes, a secondary position, to a created being, when discussing Deity and describes Himself as less than a created being, by using the Word "throne" as an allegory for God.

There is one other explanation maybe, that the translation, "God is your throne", can be understood in some other cultures, as if the throne represented the person. When you speak of the throne in effect you speak of it as the king and vice versa, à la John 17:10 (NIV):

All I have is yours, and all you have is mine.

Is it important, for the true sense of this scripture, to have the translations that we have, from a protestant tradition, and are the protestant traditions translations of this scripture, Hebrews 1:8, accurate in terms of its true sense?

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    @cdjc I heard a story 20 years ago to the effect that Mr Russel claimed that he understood koine Greek. Apparently he was taken to court and asked to read the alphabet in Greek which he failed to do. Maybe it was just propaganda !watchman.org/jw/jwcourt.htm Just found this..!it was true after all..! – John Unsworth Nov 26 '13 at 18:41
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    Is this supposed to be a doctrinal question about a specific passage or a doctrinal question about the nature of Jesus based on the whole NT? Right now it has elements of both and we really need to work out exactly what you're after. – Caleb Dec 10 '13 at 16:38
  • Since it later (v 10) says the Son created everything, quoting Psalm 102:25, which refers to God God, it's safe to say Jesus is portrayed as God, as in God. – Sola Gratia Jun 5 '17 at 19:33

I find it interesting to see how many times questions are asked here that impute bias and ill motives to the translators of the NWT. Of course, it is even more interesting to see how often people offering an answer are willing to jump aboard and do the same, since, presumably, those offering answers would be persons more disposed to objective analysis.

To the person who asked this question, let's consider a few points.

The big question here is whether the NWT translation is motivated by some anti-Trinitarian bias or is simply a case of translators doing what translators are supposed to do, which is to conscientiously choose a grammatically and contextually allowable way to render an original-language phrase into the target language. You contend that it is the former while the evidence supports the latter. In fact, the evidence suggests that if there is any bias involved here, it is running the other way to support your favored translation.

First of all, as others have mentioned, Heb. 1:8 is a quote of Psalm 45:6. In determining whether bias is playing a significant role at Heb. 1:8, it would certainly be of value to look to the NWT rendering of Psalm 45:6. Here is how it reads:

God is your throne forever and ever; The scepter of your kingdom is a scepter of uprightness.

So, when the NWT translators translated the quote of Ps. 45:6 at Heb. 1:8, they did so in a way that was consistent with their own rendering of Ps. 45:6 and in a way that has been acknowledged even by other critical commenters here as being perfectly consistent with the somewhat ambiguous original Greek construction of both Heb. 1:8 itself and Ps. 45:6 as found in the LXX.

Now, what can we glean from the fact that Heb. 1:8 is a quote of Ps. 45:6? Well, we can consider the rather significant point that Ps. 45:6 is addressed to a very human king of Israel (though one leading an idealized life), not to God. The king of Israel ruled by divine appointment. The authority of the Davidic kingship itself came from God. God was the source of the king's rightful rulership and throne. In other words, God was, metaphorically speaking, the king's throne. This is how the 45th psalm was understood within the Jewish tradition. That tradition did not take the king to be identified as Almighty God in this passage. And, of course, the translators of this passage in the LXX were working within that same Jewish tradition. They took it in line with the rendering offered by the Jewish Publication Society Bible, which reads, "Thy throne given of G-d is for ever and ever".

Does it seem odd that God would be called someone's throne here in Heb. 1:8 and Ps. 45:6? It shouldn't. Consider Isaiah 28:5.

NIV - In that day the LORD Almighty will be a glorious crown, a beautiful wreath for the remnant of his people

ESV - In that day the LORD of hosts will be a crown of glory, and a diadem of beauty, to the remnant of his people

NASB - In that day the LORD of hosts will become a beautiful crown And a glorious diadem to the remnant of His people

RSV - In that day the LORD of hosts will be a crown of glory, and a diadem of beauty, to the remnant of his people

ASV - In that day will Jehovah of hosts become a crown of glory, and a diadem of beauty, unto the residue of his people

HNV - In that day will the LORD of Hosts become a crown of glory, and a diadem of beauty, to the residue of his people

If God can be a crown for his chosen people, why not a throne for his appointed King? It makes perfect sense.

Furthermore, Psalm 45:6, like Heb. 1:8, continues with the following:

You loved righteousness, and you hated wickedness. That is why God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of exultation more than your companions.

Given this co-text and context, it simply doesn't make sense to read either passage as identifying the person being addressed as Almighty God, since the one being addressed has a God. This indicates to us that even a reading such as, "Your throne, O God", would have to take the designation of "God" as being representative rather than literal[1] (i.e. making use of the Jewish custom of addressing a person [including servants] by the name or title of the person they are representing or standing in for).

Returning to the Greek of Heb. 1:8 and Ps. 45:6 in the LXX, it is interesting to note that if the author did want to say "Your throne is God", as the NWT renders it, there is no way to say this in Greek other than with the construction that is used there. Conversely, he could have unambiguously said "Your throne, O God" by using the vocative form in the same construction he does two verses later in 1:10 ("O Lord").

In fact, ho theos is only used three other times in the entire NT as a direct address ("O God"), whereas it is used several hundreds of times as the subject (nominative) form of the noun, "God". Admittedly, one of those three times is by this same author, in Hebrews 10:7, where he quotes Psalm 40:8. However, the author of Hebrews uses ho theos dozens of times in its standard form to simply mean "God" (and hundreds of times, actually, if you accept the author of Hebrews to be Paul).

Consider this passage on the subject from the book, Truth in Translation, by Dr. Jason Beduhn (note, Beduhn is not a JW):

Both translations ["Your throne is God" and "Your throne, O God"] are possible, so none of the translations we are comparing can be rejected as inaccurate. We cannot settle the debate with certainty. But which translation is more probable?

First, on the basis of linguistics, ho theos is more likely to mean "God," as it does hundreds of times throughout the New Testament, than "O God," a meaning it has in only three other places in the New Testament. Furthermore, there is no other example in the Bible where the expression "forever" stands alone as a predicate phrase with the verb "to be," as it would if the sentence were read "Your throne is forever." "Forever" always functions as a phrase complementing either an action verb, or a predicate noun or pronoun....

Second, on the basis of literary context, we can say that Jesus, who is the subject being discussed in Hebrews 1:8, is not called "God" anywhere else in the Epistle to the Hebrews. In the immediate context of Hebrews 1:7-9, the author is making a contrast between angels and Jesus. Quotes from the Old Testament are used to make this contrast. Verse 7, quoting Psalm 104:4, shows that God talks about the angels as "servants." The contrast is made in verse 8, which says, "But (God says) about the Son..." and then quotes the words we are trying to figure out from Psalm 45:6-7. In contrast to the angels who serve, the Son is enthroned....

....{snipped discussion of Hebrew literary context supporting the NWT rendering, which I've already addressed}....

So we must conclude that the more probable translation is "God is your throne ...," the translation found in the NW and in the footnotes of the NRSV and TEV. Three giants of modern New Testament Scholarship -- Westcott, Moffatt, and Goodspeed -- came to the same conclusion independently. The fact is, if this verse were quoted in the New Testament in reference to anyone else, the translators would have not hesitated to translate it as "God is your throne ..." It seems likely that it is only because most translations were made by people who already believe that Jesus is God that the less probable way of translating this verse has been preferred. I am not criticizing their belief; I am merely pointing out that such a belief can lead to bias in the choices people make as translators. The issue for the translator is not whether or not Jesus is God, it is whether or not Jesus is called "God" in this biblical passage.

Some variety of "God is your throne" is offered as the better translation in versions by Westcott, Moffatt and Goodspeed (all mentioned by Beduhn), as well as Barclay's, Byingtons's, and many others, and as alternate readings provided in the footnotes of (at least) the ASV, the RSV, the NRSV, the NEB, and the TEV.

If you have any interest in NT translation, you're likely familiar with the name of Dr. A. T. Robertson (a Trinitarian). Here's what he said regarding this passage:

It is not certain whether ho theos is here the vocative [‘your throne, O God’] ... or ho theos is nominative (subject or predicate) with estin (is) understood: ‘God is thy throne’ or ‘Thy throne is God.’ Either makes good sense.

Word Pictures in the New Testament, p. 339

Young's Concise Bible Commentary makes the following comment on this verse:

[Heb. 1:8] may be justly rendered ‘God is thy throne ...’ in either case it is applicable to the mediatorial throne only.

Here's what Westcott, himself a Trintarian, writes on the subject:

The LXX [Septuagint] admits of two renderings [at Ps. 45:6, 7]: [ho theos] can be taken as a vocative in both cases (‘thy throne, O God, .... therefore, O God, thy God...’) or it can be taken as the subject (or the predicate) in the first case (‘God is Thy throne,’ or ‘Thy throne is God...’), and in apposition to [ho theos sou] in the second case (‘Therefore God, even Thy God...’) .... It is scarcely possible that [elohim] in the original can be addressed to the King. The presumption therefore is against the belief that [ho theos] is a vocative in the LXX. Thus on the whole it seems best to adopt in the first clause the rendering: ‘God is thy throne’ (or, ‘Thy throne is God’), that is, ‘Thy kingdom is founded upon God, the immovable Rock.’

The Epistle to the Hebrews (1889), pp. 25, 26

In summary, if anyone tells you that the NWT rendering of Heb. 1:8 should be considered suspect, misleading, or clearly the result of bias, that person is either misinformed or is attempting to deceive you in service of their own agenda.

Of course, when you yourself offer a comment on someone else's answer like the following, it certainly raises a red flag regarding the matter of an agenda. You said:

The question for me really is why they deviated from the accepted standard translations. The Answer is that The New World translators, were following a doctrinal position, when translating and this is Just another example of their Denial that the unborn God was born of a woman an walked among us. They have deliberately obscured a very clear text because it categorically declares the Godhood of Jesus of Nazareth! Those who have met Him know who He is, The Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end..Colossians 1:15 says, "first born over all creation" not "first creation" as you say.!

Your claims are highly problematic. First, you are measuring the accuracy of the NWT against "accepted standard translations" rather than against the likely meaning of the original-language text based on considerations of linguistic probability and literary context. Second, to account for your mistaken perception of inaccuracy in the NWT based on an obviously flawed methodology, you impute bias and wrong motives to the NWT translators, claiming that they are trying to deliberately obscure a 'very clear text' when, in reality, their rendering has been favored even by many Trinitarian titans of Biblical scholarship, who have all recognized that this is anything but a 'very clear text', even though the evidence does ultimately suggest the NWT rendering as the correct one.

In fact, as a general point, it should be noted that that 'giant of modern New Testament Scholarship' Edgar Goodspeed (mentioned in the quote from Beduhn above) and many other able scholars have commented on the vast amount of scholarly acumen that was clearly possessed by the NWT translation committee, as evidenced by the translation they produced. Yes, the translation committee for the NWT has remained anonymous (rumors of the members are just that ... rumors), but the same is true of the committees for the NKJB and the NASB, and numerous detailed explanations have been provided for translation choices made by the committees in passages that might be considered controversial.

When it comes to criticism of the NWT, the harshest critics are consistently Trinitarians who are put out by the NWT renderings of passages they typically like to use to prove "the Full Deity of Christ" (such as the verse currently under consideration). It is in THESE passages where the NWT translators are suddenly accused of being either incompetent or dishonest (which it is changes based on the needs of the accuser's agenda) and supposedly straying from the meaning of the original text in favor of "theological translations" to support their preexisting beliefs about Jesus. This fact is what makes Beduhn's book, Truth in Translation, so very interesting. He compares 9 of the most commonly used English translations of the NT, including the NWT, in precisely those Christologically significant passages where the NWT is accused of being biased and/or misleading. His consistent finding is that where the NWT differs from the other versions, it does so in favor of greater accuracy, and that in those passages where the NWT is most often accused of bias in comparison to more mainstream versions it turns out that it is the more mainstream versions that have allowed theological bias to guide their translation decisions to support their preexisting belief that Jesus is Almighty God, in some cases rendering passages in ways that fall completely outside of the possible range of meanings found in the original texts (your quote of Col. 1:15 from the NIV being a good example by its insertion of "over" in place of "of", moving from translation to interpretation in an effort to remove the implications of the partitive genitive).

You see, most do precisely what you have done. Rather than measuring the NWT against the original languages, it is against these largely Trinitarian-biased English renderings that most people compare the NWT for accuracy. When they see the NWT is different they simply assume it must be the NWT that is biased and inaccurate in these places since it departs from the "accepted standard translations". As Beduhn shows in some detail, however, it is typically the other way around. Unfortunately the situation is not much better even when it comes to qualified scholarly critics, since they are typically arguing from their own biases and a vested interest in those same "accepted standard translations" and are simply looking to give their biased attacks on the NWT a facade of scholarship.

[For a more detailed consideration of Heb. 1:8, including several of the references I've included here and many more, see this page: http://examiningthetrinity.blogspot.com/2009/09/heb-18.html ]

Having addressed the matter of Heb. 1:8, I would like to take an opportunity to address a comment you made on your own question. You said:

I heard a story 20 years ago to the effect that Mr Russel claimed that he understood koine Greek. Apparently he was taken to court and asked to read the alphabet in Greek which he failed to do. Maybe it was just propaganda !watchman.org/jw/jwcourt.htm Just found this..!it was true after all..!

I followed the link you provided to see if this source you cited truly confirmed the story you heard 20 years ago as you remember it. Alas, the page is gone, but if it did confirm the story as you told it, then you can be sure that it is a wholly unreliable source. As it happens, while this story you half-recall has some very loose basis in an actual event, literally every detail you described was entirely wrong.

The person who was testifying was not Russell but Frederick Franz, the language was not Greek but Hebrew, the task that was asked of him was not to read the alphabet but was actually a courtroom stunt in which he was asked to translate a verse FROM English back INTO the Biblical Hebrew, and he did not fail in this task but simply chose not to attempt it.

Does it seem to you that someone qualified to translate the Bible from Hebrew into English ought to be able to easily translate the English back into Biblical Hebrew? If so, you would be mistaken. Consider this comment from William Sanford LaSor in his Handbook of Biblical Hebrew, Vol. 1:

All learning is in context. The context, however, is not artificial, composed perchance by one who does not use the language naturally, but rather it is the actual language of those who used it as their mother-tongue. For this reason, I refuse to ask the students to compose sentences in Hebrew. To do so is to impress errors on the student's mind. And, frankly, most of us who teach Biblical Hebrew do not have sufficient fluency in the language to speak or write in it. I differentiate here between Biblical and Modern Hebrew.

And consider this from The Translator's Handbook, by Morry Sofer, pg 34:

A distinction must be made between the languages one translates from and into. Generally speaking, one translates from another language into one's own native language. This is because one is usually intimately familiar with one's own language, while even years of study and experience do not necessarily enable one to be completely at home with an acquired language. The exceptions to this rule are usually those people who have lived in more than one culture, and have spoken more than one language on a regular basis. Those may be able to translate in both directions. There are also rare gifted individuals who have mastered another language to such a degree that they can go both ways. They are indeed extremely rare. Given all of this, one should allow for the fact that while the ability of the accomplished translator to write and speak in the target language (i.e., one's native tongue) may be flawless, that person may not necessarily be able to write excellent prose or give great speeches in the source language (i.e., the language from which one translates). Then again, it is not necessary to be able to write and speak well in the language one translates from, while it is to be expected that a good translator is also a good writer and speaker in his or her native language.

Finally, Rolf Furuli, author of The Role of Theology and Bias in Bible Translation, made the following comment regarding the passage that Franz was asked to translate from English into Hebrew:

I asked two of my colleagues who teach Hebrew at the University of Oslo, to translate the passage. Both had problems with the translation from English to Hebrew, even though they both are experienced teachers, and their results were very different.

Not only do many sources comment on the difficulty of translating from English into Hebrew, and particularly Biblical Hebrew, but we must also remember that Franz was asked out of the blue to translate the passage from English into Biblical Hebrew without any translation aids. On that point, the The Translator's Handbook also says:

No translator, no matter how accomplished or well versed in both the source and target languages, can do without dictionaries and reference literature.

And, by all accounts, Franz was rather accomplished and well versed. He had a knack for languages, took university courses in Greek, Latin and German, and had an interest in further developing his linguistic skills in these and other languages through personal study / self-directed learning, such that, in addition to English, he was able to read in Hebrew, Greek (both Classical and Koine), Latin, Spanish, Portuguese, German, and French, and was able to speak in Spanish, Portuguese, and German. Furthermore, there was a little over 30 years between the time he took the language courses in University and the time the Hebrew scriptures of the NWT were first released (assuming he was a member of the committee), during which time he continued to develop his skills in these languages, including Biblical Hebrew.

And, again, with respect to the task that was asked of him, Franz did not actually say he was unable to translate the verse into Hebrew, nor did he attempt this task and fail. He simply chose not to attempt it in the first place. Contrary to your recollection of the story you heard 20 years ago, the court case was not even remotely over someone's knowledge of a particular language or their ability to translate from or into that language, but over whether Jehovah's Witnesses had the right to ordain ministers. What was being asked of Franz was, quite transparently, an irrelevant courtroom stunt that he chose not to play along with.

Unfortunately, the popular retellings of this event that are floating around the web run a lot closer to the fictional version you remember hearing than they do to the facts. When it comes to attacking the NWT, facts are largely unwelcome because they often lend little or no support to the agenda of the attacker.

[1] In fact, this is one of the two possible senses assigned to the passage by the New American Bible, St. Joseph Edition, 1970. In a footnote for this verse it explains: "The Hebrew king was called ... ‘God,’ not in the polytheistic sense common among the ancient pagans, but as meaning ‘godlike’ or ‘taking the place of God’."

  • Conversely, he could have unambiguously said "Your throne, O God" by using the vocative form in the same construction he does two verses later in 1:10 ("O Lord”). : It's hardly fair to expect θεός and κύριος to behave the same way with regard to the nominative-for-vocative vs vocative. They just don’t. The “true” vocative κύριε is incredibly common in both LXX and NT, while the nominative θεός is almost always used even when a vocative is obviously in view (e.g. ~100x in the LXX Psalms!). – Susan Jul 8 '15 at 8:22
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    @Susan - Hi Susan. The point is merely that there was another option open to the author of Hebrews if he wanted to be sure his statement was understood as "Your throne, O God", rather than "Your throne is God". There was no other option open to him if he meant the latter. Nonetheless, this is, by far, the most minor argument in favor of the NWT rendering. The real ultimate point here is that any claim that the NWT rendering must be the result of bias or is an attempt to obscure a clear reference to Christ as "God" is quite clearly unwarranted. – HeKS Jul 8 '15 at 14:42
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    Hi! Re: No other option: Sure there was; he could have included a copula. Of note, I somewhat disagree with the top answer here that null copula clauses are rare in Koine. However, this would be an odd one. I would be interested if you could identify (other) NT examples of two articular nominatives juxtaposed in a null copula predicate nominative relationship. I’ve done some basic syntax searching and haven’t found any. Usually two articular nominatives like this are appositional (i.e. not a clause) or pre-verbal predicate nominatives (i.e. copula is explicit after the second). – Susan Jul 9 '15 at 3:32

The NWT translation rests on two quirks of Koine Greek.

Ὁ θρόνος σου ὁ θεὸς εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα τοῦ αἰῶνος, ...(SBLGNT)

the throne of you the God into the age of the age, ...(my nearly word-for-word translation)

First, the nominative case and the vocative case often share the same forms. So the original passage has two occurrences of the word form "ὁ" ("the") followed by a noun. The first pair ("the throne") is considered nominative by all translations.

The second pair ("the God") is considered vocative in most translations. Under this reading, "the throne" is the subject of the sentence and "the God" is the one to whom the sentence is addressed, and may be rendered "O God" (even though it doesn't have a preceding "ὦ" like some occurrences do).

Apparently, the NWT translators chose to attempt to render them both as nominative, reading "the God" as the subject and "the throne" as the predicate, which leads us to our second quirk: sometimes the verb "to be" is omitted but implied. This is rare but not without precedence (see e.g. http://inthesaltshaker.com/drills/eimi.htm). A couple of examples from the NT:

James 3:6 καὶ ἡ γλῶσσα πῦρ (and the tongue [is] a fire)

Philippians 3:19 ὧν τὸ τέλος ἀπώλεια, ὧν ὁ θεὸς ἡ κοιλία (of whom the end [is] destruction, of whom the God [is] the stomach)

However, it is far more common to have two nouns like this be connected by "and", "or", "as", etc. or have an explicit verb.

Therefore, there is perhaps a linguistic opportunity for the NWT reading if the passage were isolated. But it is a quote of Psalm 45:6:

ὁ θρόνος σου ὁ θεὸς εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα τοῦ αἰῶνος, ...(LXX)

Your throne, O God, is forever and ever (NASB)

...which tracks word for word in Greek. But the LXX is a translation of the Hebrew (and we are in a book addressed to Hebrews). Therefore, it might make sense to find Hebrew versions of the passage (BHS 45:7) to get at the original intent:

כִּסְאֲךָ אֱלֹהִים עוֹלָם וָעֶד

Thy throne given of God is for ever and ever (JPS)

Your divine throne is everlasting (NJPS)

Your throne, O judge, [will exist] forever and ever (CJB (Messianic))

Although there is some ambiguity there (and I'll let someone with more Hebrew knowledge than I comment), it doesn't appear to favor the NWT translation.

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    Without taking sides in this debate I would maintain that the Hebrew of Ps 45,6 is ambiguous in exactly the same way as the Greek: אֱלֹהִים can be either vocative ("Thy throne, oh God"), or nominative ("God is thy throne"). – fdb Aug 25 '14 at 13:38
  • It should also be pointed out that the NRSV includes an alternative reading "God is your throne" for Hebrew 1:8. NEB has a similar footnote. While this translation is initially a little strange we should consider the idea of throne-sharing and "in the bosom of the father language" in John 1:18. – Dan S. May 17 '16 at 19:17

Hebrews 1:8-9 was from the Greek Version (The Sepuagint) of Psalm 45:6-7 where the person being originally addressed as is a human king ruling over God's people.

Hebrews 1:3 reveals that Jesus is the exact copy of God's being (ὑπόστασις).Thus, he is of same being with God.

ὃς ὢν ἀπαύγασμα τῆς δόξης καὶ χαρακτὴρ τῆς ὑποστάσεως αὐτοῦ (Hebrews 1:3 Westcott and Hort 1881)

He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature. Hebrews 1:3 (ESV)

On the other hand, we read in the same chapter that the angels are God's creatures "made from fire" (v. 7) while Jesus is God's son "begotten from him" (v. 5). Therefore, Christ and the angels do not possess the same nature.

Jesus , being in very nature God, is called God by God himself.

πρὸς δὲ τὸν υἱόν Ὁ θρόνος σου ὁ θεὸς εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα τοῦ αἰῶνος, καὶ ἡ ῥάβδος τῆς εὐθύτητος ῥάβδος τῆς βασιλείας αὐτοῦ Hebrews 1:8.Westcott and Hort 1881)

But to the Son he says, "Your throne, O God, endures forever and ever. You rule with a scepter of justice. (Hebrews 1:8 NLT)

Hebrews 1:8 is calling Jesus ὁ θεὸς (God) in the strictest sense of the word based on his ontological oneness with the Father.

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    What is an "exact imprint"? If I make an imprint of person's face it will be a negative of the original, lack color or anything other than the surface. It is a bogus term and bogus definition of χαρακτὴρ. I realize BDAG supplied the gloss but it's still bogus. – user10231 May 17 '16 at 11:16
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    @WoundedEgo is right, χαρακτηρ doesnt carry any connotation of "exactness" – Dan S. May 17 '16 at 19:33
  • χαρακτηρ does carry the connotation of 'exactness' since coin imprints in ancient Rome is 'detailed.' – Radz Brown May 20 '16 at 2:59

But of the Son he says, 'Your throne, O God is forever and ever.” πρὸς δὲ τὸν υἱόν, Ὁ θρόνος σου ὁ θεὸς εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα τοῦ αἰῶνος,

This quote by the Hebrew writer is taken from Psalms 45:6-7.

“Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom. You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.”

There are two major questions that confront us in the structure of verse 8. First, is the complete absence of the vocative case indicator in the opening address, πρὸς δὲ τὸν υἱόν, Ὁ θρόνος σου ὁ θεὸς.

Second, is the question of the subject.

θεὸς is the nominative spelling rather than the vocative θεέ. Yet, it still functions as a vocative. Such use is common in the New Testament. This is what Wallace refers to as a "nominative for a vocative." In his Greek grammar “Beyond the Basics - an exegetical syntax of the New Testament,” on page 59, Wallace comments on the use of the nominative for the vocative using Hebrews 1:8 as his example.

“A substantive in the nominative is used in the place of the vocative case. It is used (as is the vocative) in direct address to designate the addressee. There are three syntactical possibilities for θεός here: as a subject (“God is your throne”), predicate nominative (“your throne is God”), and nominative for vocative (as in the translation above). The Subject and Predicate Nominative translations can be lumped together and set off against the nominative for vocative approach. It is our view that the nominative. for vocative view is to be preferred for the following reasons:  It is an overstatement to argue that if a writer wanted to address God he could have used the vocative θεέ, because nowhere in the NT is this done except in Matthew 27:46. The articular nominative for vocative is the almost universal choice.  This is especially the case in quoting from the LXX (as in Hebrews 1:8; cf. Hebrews 10:7), for the LXX is equally reticent to use the vocative form, most likely since Hebrew lacked such a form.  The accentuation in the Hebrew of Psalms 45:7 suggests that there should be a pause between “throne” and “God” (indicating that tradition took “God” as direct address).  This view takes seriously the μέν … δέ construction in verses 7–8, while the Subject - Predicate Nominative view does not adequately handle these conjunctions. Specifically, if we read v 8 as “your throne is God” the δέ loses its adversative force, for such a statement could also be made of the angels, viz., that God reigns over them.” End Quote.

The nominative for the vocative is indeed a powerful argument. In all other instances where God is addressed in the New Testament (other than Matthew 27:46), God is addressed in the nominative case yet, the force of the address is vocative. In Mark 15:34, Mark rehearses this same account of the crucifixion but uses the nominative case rather than the vocative in Jesus' address to the Father as Matthew did - Ὁ θεός μου ὁ θεός μου, εἰς τί ἐγκατέλιπές με. This example gives force to the use of the nominative functioning as a vocative. Hebrews 1:8 is simply another example of this type of grammatical structure.

In verse 9, this same grammatical structure is found yet again in the phrase - διὰ τοῦτο ἔχρισεν σε ὁ θεὸς, ὁ θεός σου ἔλαιον – “Because of this God, your God has anointed you with oil...” Here again is a case of the nominative functioning as the vocative. The only absolute vocative spelling of address appears in verse 10 where the Father addressing the Son as Lord saying, καί, Σὺ κατ’ ἀρχάς, κύριε – “And you in beginning Lord...”?

The force of the nominative functioning as a vocative then offers very strong support to the translation, "Thy throne O God...." This in turn establishes the throne as the subject and God as the possessor of the throne. The Son is the God who occupies the throne


Who is “The Son” in Hebrews chapter 1: 8 ? Is He God in the strictest sense of the word, or a created being?

Hebrews 1:8 NWT

8 "But about the Son, he says: “God is your throne+ forever and ever, and the scepter of your Kingdom is the scepter of uprightness.*

The majority of other versions are along the lines of the NASB where it is written..

Hebrews 1:8 (NASB)

8 "But of the Son He says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, And the righteous scepter is the scepter of [a]His kingdom."

ΠΡΟΣ ΕΒΡΑΙΟΥΣ 1:8-9 1881 (WHNU) Inserts in () are mine

8 προς δε τον υιον ο θρονος (throne) σου ο θεος (God) εις τον αιωνα [του αιωνος] και η ραβδος της ευθυτητος ραβδος της βασιλειας αυτου

The comments on grammar below are from the book "Truth in Translation" by Professor Jason David Beduhn of religious studies at Northern Arizona University.

In Hebrews 1:8 we have two nouns in the nominative form: " throne" and "God." The verb "is" might go between those two nouns, as it does in dozen of case of saying "x is y" in the New Testament. If that is so, then the sentence reads: " Your throne is God, forever and ever." This is the way the sentence is read by the translators of the NW. The NRSV and TEV translators also recognize this as a possible translation of this verse, and so include it in a footnote in their respective translations.

But here is another possible way to translate Hebrews 1:8. The phrase "ho theos" is sometimes used to say "O God" in Greek. In other words even though the form in which this phrase appears normally and usually marks it as the subject under discussion ("God") , it can also be used for direct address to the subject(O God").


1 Chronicles 29:23 says that Solomon sat on Jehovah's throne, could that be taken to mean that Solomon is God equal to Jehovah?

The passage has been translated by some very learned divines, “God is thy throne,” which would convey the idea of God being the support and stability of Christ’s throne, in the same figurative manner in which God is called the shield, the buckler, the hiding place, and the portion of his people. Most certainly the one translation is as warrantable as the other, but it signifies little in the argument which we adopt. Supposing, therefore, the common translation to be correct, what does this passage prove? Nothing more than it proved with respect to Solomon; for to him the words were originally addressed, of which anyone who reads the passage throughout will be convinced. It is a quotation from Psal. xlv. and can apply to no other than Solomon; so that, if it prove the Deity of Jesus, it also proves that of Solomon. To those who recollect that the title ‘God’ is, in the Old Testament, a common designation of persons of power, eminence, and dignity, and that Christ claimed the application of the title to himself, only in this sense, it will appear not in the least surprising, that Jesus should be here denominated. And that the name is given him only in its common inferior sense in this place, is as evident as that it is given in its supreme sense to him who anointed Jesus. For as the God who anointed him is supreme, Jesus who was anointed cannot be so also, there being confessedly but one Supreme.

That the term ‘God’ is applied to Christ in an inferior sense, is as evident as that it is said to be “his God” who anointed him. He who had a God could not have had applied to him the appellation ‘God’ in the same sense in which it is applied to the Father. Who could impart anything to Jehovah? Yet Jesus was anointed. To whom could Jehovah render obedience? Yet Jesus is here said to have been anointed; because of his having loved righteousness and hated iniquity. Who could have been the superior of the Supreme? Yet Jesus is here spoken of as having a God. To whom can the Infinite Sovereign of the world be equaled? Yet Jesus is here said to have ‘fellows,’ above whom he was anointed. And are not these considerations more than sufficient to prove the subordination of Jesus to the Father.

Hebrews 1:8:9 quotes from Psalm 45:6, 7, concerning which the Bible scholar B. F. Westcott states: “The LXX. admits of two renderings: [ho the·osʹ] can be taken as a vocative in both cases (Thy throne, O God, . . . therefore, O God, Thy God . . . ) or it can be taken as the subject (or the predicate) in the first case (God is Thy throne, or Thy throne is God . . . ), and in apposition to [ho the·osʹ sou] in the second case (Therefore God, even Thy God . . . ). . . . It is scarcely possible that [’Elo·himʹ] in the original can be addressed to the king. The presumption therefore is against the belief that [ho the·osʹ] is a vocative in the LXX. Thus on the whole it seems best to adopt in the first clause the rendering: God is Thy throne (or, Thy throne is God), that is ‘Thy kingdom is founded upon God, the immovable Rock.’”—The Epistle to the Hebrews (London, 1889), pp. 25, 26

  • This is but one of several OT citations put together to demonstrate the current standing of Christ. So in a narrow sense your comparison to Solomon is valid, but within the passage it is in invalid comparison. Before making this statement, the position of the Son is made clear: "And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him." (1:6) Biblically speaking only God is to be worshiped. No where do we find instruction for Solomon to be worshiped. – Revelation Lad Jun 20 '20 at 19:38
  • @RevelatioLad. Does the word worship in Hebrews 1:6 mean obeisance or sacred service given only to God? – user35499 Jun 20 '20 at 21:06
  • Given the context and how the writer chose to end the passage, it seems to mean sacred service given to God: "Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?" (1:14) – Revelation Lad Jun 20 '20 at 21:25
  • @RevelaionLad. It is not sacred service. Worship in Hebrews 1:6 προσκυνησάτωσαν (proskynēsatōsan) Verb - Aorist Imperative Active - 3rd Person Plural Strong's Greek 4352: From pros and a probable derivative of kuon; to fawn or crouch to, i.e. prostrate oneself in homage. – user35499 Jun 20 '20 at 22:28

The Son is not called “God” at all in Hebrews 1:8. The question about being created is out of scope for Hebrews 1.

The Greek grammar of Anaphora removes any ambiguity. The article for θεος can be either nominative or vocative. However the antecedent of the anaphoric articles on “God” at Hebrews 1:9 is “God” at 1:8. Since God at 1:9 is the God who anointed the Son, “God” at 1:8 must be the Father.

  • @user33125 The entire Hebrews 1:7-13 is a contraposition of angels and the Son, so it is to the Son that ὁ θεός apply for it is said "with reference" or "towards" the Son. And further, when Paul speaks immediately about the κύριος who created the heavens and earth, it also applies to the Son absolutely definitely and without any taint of ambiguity, for again the entire context is contraposition of the Son (not the Father) and angels, and immediately after speaking about κύριος, Paul differentiates Him from angels, thus κύριος the Creator cannot but be the Son. – Levan Gigineishvili Feb 13 at 10:16

The passage Paul quotes is Psalms 45:6-7, and here the word refers clearly to God whom humans worship, and thus the same who is unambiguously God there, refers here, in Hebrews 1:8, unambiguously to the Son (with Paul's interpretative twist that God refers to, addresses His only begotten Son as "God"), who thus also is worshipable.

Through this same Son, as Paul asserts slightly above in the same chapter of the same letter, God has created the world (Hebrews 1:1-2), which necessarily means that the Son through Whom God created the world cannot be a part of this created world.

Now, since there is nothing in between the binary opposition "God vs creation" and the Son is not a part of the creation, then necessary conclusion is that the Son shares the same Godhead with God-the Father, for, again, one is either God or creature (archangels, angels, humans, ants, snails, bacteria etc.), and therefore also for the Son, who is exempted from the created world, is left nothing but to be God.

Furthermore, the entire Hebrews 1:7-13 is a counterposition of angels and the Son, so it is to the Son that ὁ θεός apply for it is said "with reference" or "towards" πρός the Son. And further, when Paul speaks immediately below that about the κύριος who created the heavens and earth, it also applies to the Son absolutely definitely and without any taint of ambiguity, for again the entire context is counterposition of the Son (not the Father!) and angels, and immediately after speaking about κύριος, Paul differentiates Him from angels, thus κύριος the Creator cannot but be the Son (Hebrews 1:10-13). And the same semantics of counterposition continues immediately below, when Paul differentiates the word which came from angels from the word of the Lord, κύριος (Hebrews 2:2-3) who can but be the κύριος of the preceding clause, that is to say, the Creator God. And immediately, this Creator God, this κύριος is differentiated from God-the Father, referred here as θεός (Hebrews 2:3-4). Thus divinity and creation-of-universe feature is attested to both Son and the Father.

Nothing can be clearer.

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    Well clearly not, seeing how many people disagree. Just asserting that something is unambiguous really doesn't cut it, so can you provide an argument for each step of what you just said? – curiousdannii May 12 '20 at 15:31
  • There is a clear argument that in the same chapter it is stated that God created world through His Son (Hebrews 1:1-2); now, given that nothing is between the binary opposition "God - world", and since the Son is absolutely unambiguously exempt from being enlisted in the category world (given the fact that the entirety of the world is created through the Son), then the only outcome remains that the Son is on the God-side of the binary opposition and thus also God, in no lesser sense than the Father. Thus, it is just impossible for the Father to call "God" the Son in any relative sense. – Levan Gigineishvili May 12 '20 at 16:55
  • @Downvoter Dear anonymous downvoter! If you think that I have erred in such an important theological point, please, indicate me the error and I will be thankful. But if you downvoted my post for any other reason than truth, logic and philology, then, this limerick to you: "When counter-arguments are naughty//Best way is down-voting,//And better stay anonymous//For discussion looms ominous://It may show the down-voter's conviction//Is not a theology, but a fiction". – Levan Gigineishvili Feb 13 at 9:43
  • @curiousdannii Have added a bit more references, although I think your initial comment was not just, for my initial post was also based on the Scriptural evidence, but I think you were led astray by my usage of the word "unambiguously" few times for creation of a rhetorical emphasis. – Levan Gigineishvili Feb 15 at 8:58

Yes, that translation does carry some weight to it and although I disagree with much of what the JW's put forth, the interpretation of that verse does have credence. The phrase "Thy throne IS God" was not said as a literal westernized meaning such as an object that someone sits on. Rather it's an idiom describing WHERE the power comes from. The Son's power comes FROM Yahuweh (aka God). This is exactly the way that the Hebrews of the Tanakh/Old Testament times understood it. When they read Psalm 45 they were not reading it as "God" coming in the flesh, but rather the coming Messiah who would reign as king on earth whose power and authority came FROM Yahuweh (aka God). In fact, immediately after verse 6 in Psalm 45, verse 7 states, just like Hebrews 1, that the Messiah HAS a god. So if Messiah were God Himself, that would make two Gods by God HAVING a God and the Scriptures are clear that there is only one God.

So in conclusion, yes, the NWT was not entirely off base here to translate Hebrews 1 as "Thy throne IS God". The idiom or metaphor here is relating to the source of power as the symbol of the power is the "throne". We know that the Son was the first creation (Colossians 1:15, Hebrews 1:6, Revelation 3:14), that Yahuweh (aka God) is the God and Father of the Messiah (Revelation 1:6, etc), and that there is only one god. The idea of the trinity in Christendom wasn't really introduced until nearly the fourth century. Do some further study into that John 1:18 that you posted. The phrase "who is Himself God" or "who is the same as God" is actually an insertion that is not there in the original manuscripts.

  • The question for me really is why they deviated from the accepted standard translations. The Answer is that The New World translators, were following a doctrinal position, when translating and this is Just another example of their Denial that the unborn God was born of a woman an walked among us. They have deliberately obscured a very clear text because it categorically declares the Godhood of Jesus of Nazareth! Those who have met Him know who He is, The Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end..Colossians 1:15 says, "first born over all creation" not "first creation" as you say.! – John Unsworth Nov 11 '13 at 21:47
  • That actually makes it rather loaded semantically. The new world translators may have very well been following a doctrinal position, but so does every translator/translation team. Your usage of 'accepted standard translations' just means "what's popularly understood". Bias is available all over the place. The KJV used the phrase "...in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one." in 1 John 5:7 in order to perpetuate the myth of the trinity and others followed suit although modern translations have done away with it. Hebrews 1:8 is the same either way. No trinity. – The Duke Of Marshall שלום Nov 12 '13 at 1:41
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    The word "trinity" might not have come about until later, but the concept was certainly around from the first century. It didn't come to the fore as an issue until later. – Lance Roberts Nov 18 '13 at 19:54
  • I don't disagree that the theory of the trinity might have been around in the first century. In fact, the ancient Egyptians had a trinity as well. The relevant fact, though, is that it wasn't mingled in with the true believers. Jesus wasn't a trinitarian. Neither was Peter, Paul, Matthew, John, Barnabas, James, etc. Neither were the first century believers. So the idea may have been there in the first century and before hand, but the theory of trinity wasn't forced upon christians until much later on. At the very least starting with the council of constantinople. – The Duke Of Marshall שלום Nov 24 '13 at 0:49
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    To say that every translator team is biased doctrinaly is to deny that a serious christian is only interested in making clear the truth and I think most of them have done a decent job. There is a big difference between protestant traditions and a cult that would deny the Godhood of God. Clarity is the purpose of a good translator. The protestant tradition has accomplished that in every area necessary for the furtherance of the Gospel and the good news. As regards the Trinity, They the Godhead are something every child of God feels and knows. Once they are known it seems pointless to question! – John Unsworth Dec 10 '13 at 19:17

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