Colossians 2:2 – Mystery of a Godhead?

Colossians 2:2 has been given to us as proof of the trinity doctrine. Most often Colossians 2:2 is simply given as proof of the trinity doctrine without any explanation as to how it is supposed to be speaking of a trinune God. It is claimed that “Colossians 2:2 refers to the Godhead as ‘the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ.'” This quotes the rendering of the King James Version which we discuss later in this study. Evidently, “Godhead” is supposed to mean the triune God, even though the KJV does not say that there are three persons in one God, or that Jesus is a person of God, nor does Colossians 2:2 in the KJV include the Holy Spirit.

Some simply list Colossians 2:2 as a Bible verse as being related to Trinity”, without any explanation. One claims that it refers to “the mystery of the Holy Trinity”, although in reality, nothing is stated about the Holy Spirit at all, nor that Jesus is person of “God”. One lists Colossians 2:2 under the subheading, “The Godhead Is A Mystery”. Another claims Colossians 2:2 as one of the scriptures that “directly teach or depend upon the concept” of the trinity. Another, assuming the statement to be refutation of the JWs (we are not associated with the Jehovah’s Witnesses”), makes a strange statement that is evidently presented with the belief that it some unexplained manner supports the trinity: “that the ‘mystery’ of God is Jesus Christ”. Some seem to think that simply because it refers to a “mystery of God”, that this has to mean their concept of a triune God, or their concept of God in three modes/manifestations, etc. Of course, trinitarians and oneness believers often present many scriptures and many arguments to try to make the scriptures seem to support their added-on dogma.
See our studies related to many of these scriptures:
Jesus and His God

We would first like to point out that there is nothing in this verse about a triune God; nothing is said about there being more than one person in “God”. Likewise, there is nothing in the verse that says that Jesus is an alleged “person” of “the God”. Indeed, although some translators have made it appear to say that Jesus is “God”, what Paul wrote does not state such.

This is another one of those verses that has variant readings; the textus receptus adds “and Father” after “God”. Please note that the word “of” is supplied by translation, evidently due to the genitive usage, at least regarding “theou” and “christou”; it is not actually a inherent in the Greek. Likewise, the original Greek had no punctuation, such as commas, etc. Where a translator supplies “of”, however, and punctuation can change the entire meaning. Some translations, evidently with a desire to make it appear that Jesus is “God”, have provided translations into English that would appear to sustain that belief.

Here is the verse as it appears in the Westcott & Hort Interlinear:

Colossians 2:2
hina parakleethwsin hai kardiai autwn
IN ORDER THAT MIGHT BE COMFORTED THE HEARTS OF THEM,
2443 3870 3588 2588 0846_92
sunbibasthentes en agapee kai eis pan
HAVING BEEN MADE TO GO TOGETHER IN LOVE AND INTO ALL
4885_6 1722 0026 2532 1519 3956
ploutos tees pleerophorias tees sunesews eis
RICHES OF THE FULLY BEING BORNE OF THE COMPREHENSION, INTO
4149 3588 4136 3588 4907 1519
epignwsin tou musteeriou tou theou christou
ACCURATE KNOWLEDGE OF THE MYSTERY OF THE GOD, OF CHRIST,
1922 3588 3466 3588 2316 5547

The Textus Receptus of the phrase in question (transliterated) reads: “tou musteriou tou theou kai patros kai tou christou” — literally “the mystery the God and Father and the Christ”. If this is rendered into English as “the mystery of the God and Father, and of the Christ” (Young’s Literal Translation), it would make sense without having to add trinitarian or oneness assumptions into what is stated. Nevertheless, many translators, evidently based on their trinitarian bias, have sought to render the phrase so as to make it appear that the word “God” is in some way being applied to both the Father and to Christ.

That their hearts might be comforted , being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; — Colossians 2:2, King James Version.

The King James Version, based on the Textus Receptus, adds a comma after “God” and “of the” before “Father”, which actually produces a rather puzzling result that would seem to make it appear that “God” and “Father” are not the same. The KJV rendering has caused some to think that three persons (are modes of God) are being referred to, evidently imagining and assuming “God” means God’s Holy Spirit, which trinitarians further imagine must be speaking of “God’ as a person of their triune God, etc.

The New King James Version, also based on the Textus Receptus, reads:

That their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ. — Colossians 2:2.

This adds a comma after “God”, and also adds “both of the” before “Father” and it further adds “of” before “Christ”. It should be apparent that by adding both and not supplying a comma after “Father”, this translation was provided to conform to the preconcieved trinitarian philosophy, and with the desire to make it appear that Paul was including “Christ” as “God”..

Jay Green’s Literal Translation from the Textus Receptus reads:

That their hearts may be comforted, being joined together in love, and to all riches of the full assurance of the understanding, to the full knowledge of the mystery of God, even of the Father and of Christ, – (Colossians 2:2)

Green renders the Greek “kai” with “even” and adds “of the” before “Father” and adds “of” before Christ; by this and the punctuation, it should be evident that Green desired to express the preconcieved thought of the trinity, although in reality, such as to be imagined upon the Greek text.

Likewise, with the Westcott & Hort text, some translations have endeavored to make it appear that the word “God” is being applied to “Christ.” Without the added “of”s and commas, the phrase literally states: “the mystery the God the Christ.” What words the translator adds to this can determine the way it is understood. If it is translated: “the mystery of the Anointed of God”, it does not carry any thought that would require adding the trinitarian assumptions or the oneness assumptions. Or it could be translated as: “God’s mystery — Christ” (Homan Christian Standard), which makes “Christ” being God’s mystery, not God. The New American Standard reflects this thought in its translation:

That their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself.

The New International Version also reflects the same thought:

My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ.

In reality, there is nothing in either Textus Receptus or the Westcott & Hort text that warrants making it appear that the Anointed of God is “God”.

         
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