Comparing the Use of the Word "God" and the Definite Article in John Chapter
In the first chapter of John, the word
God (theos in Greek) is used 12 times. In almost half of
these instances (five times) it does not have the definite article. One would be hard
pressed to find a translation that suggests that these other instances without the
definite article should be translated as a god. That is, the lack of a
definite article does not mean that the noun is indefinite. Clearly the meaning of
these instances is the Only True "God", even though no definite article is
used. But if one wanted to be consistent with how some have proposed to translate
John 1:1 as a god, that same rule would have to be followed here.
Take for example the word God in John
1:6. The definite article is lacking here, just as it is in verse one in the phrase
the Word was God. If the lack of a definite article means there should
be an indefinite article, then this passage should be translated something as follows.
There was a man sent from a god. The meaning here is obscured if not
altogether changed since it is clear that the writer means to convey the fact that this
man was sent from the True Living God, not from a false god.
As another example, see John 1:18. Being consistent with the other
instance of the absence of the definite article, the verse would be translated as,
No one has ever seen a god; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the
Father, He has declared Him. Again the meaning is distorted by this
translation since John is saying that no one has ever seen the Only True Living God. (cf.
Exodus 33:20 and Deuteronomy 4:12).
In fact, if the over-generalization of lack of
definite article makes an indefinite meaning is applied to other words in the first
few verses of John 1, the following phrases would be found:
1:1,2 a beginning rather than the beginning
1:4 a life rather than life
1:6 from a god as noted above
1:6 a John rather than John
Thus if an implied indefinite article (a)
is assumed to be present in every place where no definite article (the)
appears in Greek, it can often change the intended meaning of a passage.
These are clear instances that exemplify the fact that Greek cannot be
translated according to some imposed English equivalent. The use of the definite
article in the two languages has separate meanings and uses altogether.