I don’t really like discussing Greek grammar with Jehovah’s Witnesses because it has been my experience that most don’t know the first thing about the language and will simply parrot what they have been told by the Watchtower or an apologist and then make up the rest as they go along. They will reject outright what I say no matter how much evidence I provide and will rarely honestly engage the evidence provided them. But a new argument has been concocted and brought to me, so I will address it quickly here, and I will also provide some of the responses I received to the counter-argument I made. They are quite revealing.
“Brian, when Thomas says Lord and God he is not addressing Jesus, he is addressing it to Jehovah. This is proven by the fact that the two nouns (theos and kurios) are in the nominative case and not the vocative case. This proves that Jesus was addressing Jehovah his Father and not Jesus. So much for Jesus being God, the Greek has proved you wrong again“
While it is true a vocative noun is used when one is being addressed, a nominative noun is employed when the speaker is expressing a quality or an attribute. Let me give you an example:
Not everyone who says to Me, "Lord, Lord," shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. (Mathew 7:21)
In this case the two occurrences of the noun “Lord “are used as a formal address, and the nouns are both vocative as they should be. Another example would be “Mr. President, it is time to go.” “President” is vocative because it is used as an identifying address.
However, the nouns in the verse in question express qualities of the one spoken to, and the statement itself is a declaration, not a formal address. In other words, Thomas is exclaiming “what” and “who” Jesus is to him, ie “my Lord and my God.” Notice the possessive pronouns as they are significant. If I said, “Mr. President, you are doing a good job,” the noun “president” is vocative. However, if I say, “You are my (possessive pronoun) president,” the noun “president” is now nominative because it is expressing a quality about the one being spoken to.
As an example, in Mathew Chapter 16 Jesus asked Peter, “Who do you say that I am?” Jesus here is asking for a quality, as in “what” am I to you? ( Peter knew this or he would have answered “Jesus.“) Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the son of the living God,” expressing two main attributes of Jesus. Just as in John 20:28 the statement functions as a declaration, confession of faith, and the nouns are not functioning in the role of formal address. (However, please avoid the category error; this does not mean that he was not talking to Jesus.) Therefore, both nouns “Christ” and “Son” in Matthew 16 and “Lord” and “God” in John 20 are in the nominative case, as they should be.
The fact that the nominative case is used in this verse has the exact opposite effect you are desiring as it proves conclusively that Thomas was not applying an empty title to Jesus or using the nouns as a formal address. Instead, the nominative proves that they were used to express exact qualities or attributes of Jesus, who was clearly the one that Thomas was conversing with.. Just as in Mathew 16, this is a confession of faith. What was Jesus to Thomas? Jesus was his “Lord” and his “God.”
As I said in the beginning, I don’t really like to discuss Greek grammar with Jehovah’s Witnesses, and this partial response I received is an excellent example of why:
“You are wrong, it was not an address. and as I proved to you and you just won’t let go of what your church has taught you.”
(notice he ignored that I clearly stated it was not an address, and that his first point was that it was an address, just not an address to Jesus but it was an address to Jehovah. The next comment makes clear he caught his error)
He later wrote to try to convince me the nouns "WERE vocative and that scholars are divided on the issue." (new light I suppose) When I asked for some evidence of this supposed scholarly division, he replied, “Do your own research.”
None are as blind as those who refuse to see.