1 Jn 5:20 - "his Son, Jesus Christ. This [outos] is the true [alethinos] God, and eternal life." - KJV.
"We are in union with him who is true, through his son, Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life." – AT.
"his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and life everlasting." - NWT.
Bowman complains about the interpretation of 1 John 5:20 by JW's! Obviously the translation itself is little different from most trinitarian translations.
Some trinitarians, like Bowman, actually insist that the word "this" (outos) here refers to Jesus. In other words, "[Jesus Christ] is the true God and eternal life." For example, Bowman in his Jehovah's Witnesses, Jesus Christ, and the Gospel of John states that Jesus is called
"`the true God and eternal life' ... indisputably identifying Christ as the Almighty God of the Old Testament." - p. 41, Baker Book House, 1991 printing.
I understand why trinitarians are so desperate in their search for scriptural "evidence" that they have to make it up, but this is incredibly poor!
It is obvious that grammatically the word "this" (outos) could be referring to either the Father or Jesus in this particular scripture (see the footnote for 1 John 5:20 in the very trinitarian NIV Study Bible and the comments on 1 Jn 5:20 by the extremely trinitarian scholar A. T. Robertson in his Word Pictures, Vol. VI, p. 245.). But the fact that the true God (or "the true One") has just been identified as the Father of Jesus (1 Jn 5:20, TEV and GNB) makes it highly probable that "this is the true God" refers to the Father, not Jesus.
The highly trinitarian NT scholar Murray J. Harris sums up his 13-page analysis of this scripture as follows:
"Although it is certainly possible that outos refers back to Jesus Christ, several converging lines of evidence point to `the true one,' God the Father, as the probable antecedent. This position, outos = God [Father], is held by many commentators, authors of general studies, and significantly, by those grammarians who express an opinion on the matter." - p. 253, Jesus as God, Baker Book House, 1992.
Notice how this trinitarian scholar actually admits that the probability is that the Father (not Jesus) is being called the true God here. He even tells us (and cites examples in his footnotes) that New Testament grammarians and commentators (most of them trinitarian, of course) agree!
So this single "proof" that the "true God" is a title for anyone other than the Father alone is not proof at all. The grammar alone merely makes it a possibility. The immediate context makes it highly improbable since (as in all other uses of the term) the true God (or the true one) was just identified as the Father ("We are in the one who is true as we are in his Son, Jesus Christ. He is the true God and this is eternal life." - NJB; and "We know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we know the true God. We live in union with the true God - in union with his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and this is eternal life." - TEV.).
So the immediate context makes it probable that the true God is the Father in this scripture also. If we include the context of all the uses of the `true God' in the NT, it is certain that He is the Father (whose personal name is Jehovah - Jer. 10:10, ASV; Ps. 83:18, KJV; Ex. 3:15, NEB). A quick glance at 1 Thess. 1:9 and 10, for example makes it very clear that "the true God" is the Father.
To clinch John's intended meaning at 1 John 5:20, let's look at his only other use of the term "the true God": John 17:1, 3, where, again (as in 1 Jn 5:20), he mentions Father, Son, and eternal life.
At John 17:1, 3 Jesus prays to the Father: "Father, .... this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent." - New International Version (NIV). Here the Father alone is not only very clearly identified as the only true [alethinos] God, but Jesus Christ is again pointedly and specifically excluded from that identification ("and Jesus Christ whom you [the only true God] have sent")!
Notice how this respected trinitarian Bible has rendered John 17:1, 3 - "Father,....This is eternal life: to know thee who alone art truly God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent." - New English Bible (NEB).
Once again we find that even many trinitarian scholars agree with the JW interpretation. So just how is it that the NWT has "abused the divine name or titles" by translating 1 John 5:20 essentially as trinitarian Bibles do and by interpreting it as many, if not most, trinitarian scholars also do? Bowman is knowingly accusing the JWs falsely!
1 John 5:20 (INDNWT)
"The Only True God" (Examining the Trinity)
1 John 5:20 "We are in him that is true, even in his Son, Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life." - KJV (Examining the Trinity)
If the Father is the "only true God" (John 17:3), does that mean that Jesus is a false god? (SFBT)