John 17:3 is one verse that gives many Christians purpose, hope and faith.

You’ll often see John 17:3 on a sign at public events such as sports games and music concerts.

The odd thing about John 17:3 for Jehovah’s Witnesses is how until 2013, they had translated the text differently to all other bibles. Let’s see why.

In the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, published in 1984, the text in John 17:3 was translated as follows:

This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.

In the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, published in 2013, the text at John 17:3 has been changed by Jehovah’s Witnesses. It is now translated as follows:

This means everlasting life, their coming to know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ.

Notice the difference between these two texts at John 17:3?

There is a huge difference between taking knowledge of someone and coming to know someone.

Obviously, Jehovah’s Witnesses had been led to believe that it was satisfactory to just take in knowledge of God and Jesus Christ through the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society* to attain everlasting life. Well, this was the case prior to them updating the verse at John 17:3 in 2013.

Prior to the release of Jehovah’s Witnesses latest translation, many evangelical religions had been concerned by their “strange translation” of John 17:3 where they said: taking in knowledge of you.


Firstly, the New World Translation was the only bible version that translated John 17:3 with the words “taking in knowledge of you”.

Secondly, it led to the belief that the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society had purposely translated John 17:3 as “taking in knowledge of you” so that its adherents would believe that everlasting life was only attainable by information issued forth from them.

Thirdly, it gave credence to the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society being able to write such statements as:

You must be part of Jehovah’s organization, doing God’s will, in order to receive his blessing of everlasting life.
You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth, 1982, p. 255.

Why have they changed it to match other translations? Simply because it is a more accurate rendition of the original language. They still have the words taking in knowledge of you as a footnote next to coming to know you, lest any Jehovah’s Witness should think for a minute that the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society isn’t necessary to attain everlasting life.

* The Watchtower Bible & Tract Society is the legal organisation behind the Jehovah’s Witnesses and is responsible for the printing and distribution of its religious materials.

2 Responses

  1. John 17:1 -3 (NIV) Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. 2 For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. 3 Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.

    1. Jehovah said that his people will be persecuted. When you take in knowledge of someone do you or do you not get to know them? When I take in knowledge of Jehovah through his word the Bible I am getting to know him. I am attaining a relationship with him. Draw close to Jehovah and he will draw close to you. If there is something wrong with the translation Jehovah will see that it is made right. So no need to waste my time on something that is clearly meant to criticize the people that claim they are doing as Jehovah has instructed.

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