Various interpretations of John 14:6, one of
the most commonly cited verses in the Bible
Christians viewpoints on non-Christian religions:
Most Christians hold one of the following three beliefs about other religions
and faith groups:
John 14:6 is often quoted by conservative Protestants as one proof that a
person can only attain Heaven after death if they have believed in Yeshua of
Nazareth (a.k.a. Jesus Christ) while on Earth. This is been
referred to as exclusivity or particularism.
There is a movement among many fundamentalist and other evangelical
Christians to accept the inclusive view. This
viewpoint was also adopted by the Roman Catholic Churchduring the
1960s. They believe
that the only fully true religion is their own particular branch of Christianity,
but that it is possible for some non-Christians to be saved and attain
Heaven even though they have never heard of
Yeshua or have never heard of Christianity.
Finally, there is the position found frequently among Christian liberals
and progressives: that all faiths are true and
valid when interpreted within their own culture.
We realize that the interpretation of John 14:6 is a hot-button item among
many Christians. The exclusivist and inclusivist interpretations are also the
source of much animosity by non-Christians against Christians. However,
explaining all three interpretations is important because the typical Christian
only hears of one of the three viewpoints in their church.
English translations of John 14:6:
Since Yeshua of Nazareth (a.k.a. Jesus Christ) and his followers were all
Jewish, he would have spoken to them in Aramaic. In spite of the double
translation -- from his reported words in Aramaic into written Greek, and from
Greek into English -- most common versions of the Bible
this verse almost identically. The main difference among translations is whether the words "I am
the way...but by me" are a a direct verbatim quote or a paraphrase of
Yeshua's actual statement.
American Standard Version: "Jesus saith unto him,
I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one cometh unto the Father,
but by me."
King James Version: "Jesus saith unto him, I am
the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."
New American Bible: "Jesus said to him, "I am the way and the
truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
New International Version: "Jesus answered, 'I am
the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except
New Living Translation: "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father
except through me."
Revised Standard Version: "Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, and
the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me'."
Young's Literal Translation: "Jesus
saith to him, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life, no one doth come
unto the Father, if not through me'." 1
Anon: "Interpreting a biblical text out of context is a
Marcus Borg: "Jesus did not speak of himself with the exalted
titles of John's gospels, nor did he speak the great `one way' verse of John
"Though all salvation is through Jesus, we need not conclude that He
cannot save those who have not explicitly accepted Him in this life."
"We do know that no [one] can be saved except through Christ; we do
not know that only those who know Him can be saved through Him.
Matthew J. Slick: "Yes, Christianity is the one true religion. That may
sound awfully dogmatic and narrow-minded, but the simple truth is that
Christianity is the only true religion. Jesus said that He alone was the way
to the Father (John 14:6), that He alone revealed the Father (Matt. 11:27;
Luke 10:22). Christians do not go around saying Christianity is the only way
because they are arrogant, narrow-minded, stupid, and judgmental. They do so
because they believe what Jesus said." 2
Bishop J.S. Spong "Q&A on The Parliament of the World's Religions,"
weekly mailing, 2007-SEP-05: "True religion is not about possessing the
truth. No religion does that. It is rather an invitation into a journey that
leads one toward the mystery of God. Idolatry is religion pretending that it
has all the answers."
Wallace D. Wattles, in "Jesus: The Man And His Work:" "In John 14:6 If
Jesus Christ says I am the way, the truth... he simply means that without
having faith in the teachings of Jesus Christ... reaching the kingdom of God
was not possible." 3