"But with reference to the Son: 'God is your throne forever and ever, and [the] scepter of your kingdom is the scepter of uprightness'" The New World Translation.
In this particularly interesting verse, God is addressing the Son. The Greek construction of Hebrews 1:8 allows the text to be translated in two legitimate ways:
"God is your throne forever and ever . . .
"Thy Throne O God, is forever and ever . . . "
Because of the Watchtower presupposition that Jesus is not God, they choose the first version; otherwise, the Father would be calling Jesus God and that goes against Jehovah's Witness theology. Yet, most Bibles do not translate it the way the New World Translation does. They choose the other way. Why? Two reasons.
First, Heb. 1:8 is a quote from Psalm 45:6, which says,
"Thy Throne, O God, is forever and ever; a scepter of uprightness is the scepter of Thy Kingdom" (All Bible quotes are from the NASB).
In fact, the ASV, KJV, NIV, and NKJV all translated it as "Your throne, O God . . . " The RSV translates it as "Your divine throne endures for ever and ever," "but this is a highly unlikely translation because it requires understanding the Hebrew noun for "throne" in construct state, something extremely unusual when a noun has a pronomial suffix, as this one does . . . The KJV, NIV, and NASB all take the verse in its plain, straightforward sense, as do the ancient translations . . . "1
When we look at the Hebrew, we see that there is no grammatical requirement for this translation though it is considered to be the best translation by most translators. In and of itself, this is not conclusive because the context of this verse in Psalm 45 is dealing with a king which would make one wonder why he would be addressed as God; but, it is not uncommon for NT writers to take a verse in the OT that seemingly deals with one subject and apply it to another. They knew something we didn't. In fact, in Ezekiel 28:12-17 is a section that deals with the fall of the devil. Verse 13 describes how he was in the garden of Eden. Verse 14 says he was the anointed cherub, (v. 15), etc., but the context of this section begins with an address to the king of Tyre (v. 12). Yet, right after Ezekiel is told to write to the King of Tyre, he then goes on to describe what the great majority of theologians agree with--a description of the devil's fall. So, we need to look at the context into which the writer of Hebrews put Psalm 45:6. He addressed it to Jesus. Therefore, Psalm 45 is a Messianic Psalm and must in interpreted in light of the NT not the other way around.
Nevertheless, the context of this verse follows:
"For to which of the angels did He ever say, "Thou are My son, Today I have begotten Thee"? And again, "I will be a Father to Him, and He shall be a Son to Me"? 6And when he again brings the first-born into the world, He says, "And let all the angels of God worship Him." 7And of the angels He says "Who makes His angels winds, and His ministers a flame of fire." 8But of the Son He says, "Thy Throne, O God, is forever and ever, and the righteous scepter is the scepter of His kingdom, 9Thou hast loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; therefore God, Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy companions. 10And, "Thou, Lord, in the beginning didst lay the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the works of Thy hands; 11They will perish, but though remainest . . . " (Heb. 1:5-11).
To say "God is your throne" doesn't make sense. What does it mean to say, "But to which of the angels did he say, God is your throne." What would that mean? Is God Jesus' throne? God alone is on His throne, and He isn't a throne for anyone else.
Also worth noting here is verse 10: "Thou, Lord, in the beginning didst lay the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the works of Thy hands . . . " This is a quote from Psalm 102:24-25 which says, "I say, 'O my God, do not take me away in the midst of my days, Thy years are throughout all generations. 25Of old Thou didst found the earth; And the heavens are the work of Thy hands.'" Clearly, God is the one being addressed in Psalm 102. It is God who laid the foundations of the earth. Yet, in Heb. 1:10, Jesus is called 'Lord' and is said to be the one who laid the foundation of the earth. This becomes even more interesting when we note that in Isaiah 44:24 it says, "Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, and the one who formed you from the womb, "I, the Lord, am the maker of all things, Stretching out the heavens by Myself, And spreading out the earth all alone." If God was laying the foundations of the earth alone, that would mean that either Jesus has to be God, second person of the trinity, who laid the foundation the same as YHWH did or we have a contradiction in the Bible. Clearly this section of Hebrews is proclaiming that Jesus is God. Therefore, contextually, it is best to translate Heb. 1:8 as, "Thy Throne, O God. . ." and the Father call Jesus God.
The Watchtower organization denies that Jesus is God. Therefore, it cannot permit any verses in the Bible to even hint that Jesus is God. That is why they choose a translation that does not best fit the context or overall theology of the Bible.
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- 1. Grudem, Wayne, Systematic Theology, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994, p. 227.