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By 3. March 2022February 5th, 2023Writings

In the years 1999 and 2000, the Majorstua congregation in Oslo had five elders and 140 publishers. Of these, 55 were young and unmarried.  We discussed how we could help the young ones when we were so few elders, and we decided to launch two different projects. The instruction from the Society was that Bible studies with groups of Witnesses in addition to meetings should not occur. And in this, we agreed. So, we decided to gather the young ones together a few times during the year for a dialogue. One of our projects was to discuss moral principles with them, to point out possible problems and to give good and balanced advice. The other project was to teach the young ones how to study the Bible.


The territory of the Majorstua congregation is located in central Oslo. And there are many temptations for young men and women in a big city like Oslo. We knew that during the weekends, there were parties in private homes with many young brothers and sisters attending. And we also knew the young brothers and sisters from different congregations in Oslo used to meet at certain restaurants downtown.

We decided to invite all the young ones in our congregation to the Kingdom Hall in order to have a dialogue with them, and 42 of them and two elders were present. We wanted to hear the viewpoints of the young brothers and sisters in connection with what they did in their leisure time, what they viewed as positive pursuits, and what they viewed as problems. We had a very fine discussion for two hours.

After the meeting, we decided to make a questionnaire, with 23 questions, in order to find out what was going on among the young ones. Twenty-five youngsters returned the anonymous questionnaire. They were asked about the use of alcoholic beverages at parties, about music and dancing, about visiting restaurants, about contact with worldly people and with baptized persons who no longer belonged to a congregation. They were also asked about their reactions to negative things they had seen at parties. They were instructed to state their opinion and be frank.

Based on the answers given on the questionnaires, we arranged five meetings over three months. Each meeting was held after the service meeting, and it lasted 45 minutes. Two weeks before each meeting, copies of one or two Watchtower articles discussing the subjects that would be discussed at the next meeting were given to the brothers and sisters. They were asked to study these and then state their opinions and pose their questions at the meeting. If they disagreed with something in one of the articles or about the way we as elders worked, they should express that freely.

The subjects we discussed were:

Private parties with many participants

The use of alcoholic beverages

The relationship between the sexes


Visiting restaurants downtown

Relationship with worldly people

The teaching at the meetings

Theocratic goals

We had five very fine discussions. Brothers and sisters who usually did not talk much expressed their opinions and asked questions. And some expressed their disagreements, which were addressed in a balanced way.

The purpose of the questionnaire and the meetings was to map problems and potential problems and try to see the situations through the eyes of the young ones. In no way did we want to give the brothers and sisters a chilly reception or kill their joy. But we wanted to give them good and balanced advice based on Jehovah’s fine moral principles and in the spirit of Ecclesiastes 3:12, 13.

12 I have concluded that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and to do good during their life, 13  also that everyone should eat and drink and find enjoyment for all his hard work. It is the gift of God.

The elders in the Majorstua are very happy to see that several of the young brothers and sisters who participated in those meetings have achieved spiritual goals, such as becoming pioneers and ministerial servants. And as far as we know, every one of them is still a Witness for Jehovah.


We used two Saturdays out of the year as BIBLE DAYS hosted by three elders. All the young ones were invited, and older ones were welcome too.  About forty young brothers and sisters used to attend, and they were given the program  one week before Saturday.  There were several rooms in the Kingdom Hall, and six groups comprised of seven each were formed, each having one coordinator. Each group was assigned to a different room. The program of the first BIBLE DAY is seen below.


2 Corinthians 4:7


Keywords: “treasure,” “earthen vessels,” “the power beyond what is normal.” The word “we” shows that we are involved. The demonstrative pronoun “this” before “treasure” refers back to something. The words “so that” refer to the reason for something, and this reason seems to relate back to “earthen vessels.”

What is this “treasure”? And what is the relationship between the different key concepts mentioned? This was the framework for our BIBLE DAY.


Studying the Bible can be just as exciting as traveling to a foreign country and seeing new things. Particularly aha moments are rewarding.


The elder had asked different publishers beforehand about what the obstacles were. These were addressed, and good advice was given.

BREAK 10 minutes


When a chain reference is made, one scripture is written on a blank page at the beginning of the Bible with a small number behind. Below the first scripture, the next scripture with the same small number behind is written, and then the third and the fourth scripture in a similar way. “Make Sure of All Things Hold Fast to What Is Fine” (1965) can be used as the source. When a chain is made, three or four of the clearest scriptures are chosen, and each one must be studied carefully to find which words in each scripture that should be stressed in a discussion. In other words: It is important to ascertain what the Bible really says.

One example is John 11:25 (NWT13). What does this verse really says?

Jesus said to her: “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who exercises faith in me, even though he dies, will come to life;”

This scripture is sometimes used to argue in favor of an immortal soul. The argument is that a person will keep living even after he dies, so he must have an immortal soul. However, this scripture is actually an excellent argument for the very opposite. We may ask: Who “will come to life” even if he dies? Those who “exercise faith in me.” This means that those who do not “exercise faith in me” will not live again after they die. Therefore, everyone cannot have an immortal soul.

Advantages of chain references: (1) Taking one subject at a time from Make Sure and carefully considering all the scriptures is a fine form of personal study. (2) Separating the wheat from the chaff (finding the four best scriptures) teaches systematic thinking. (3) We can answer questions in the field service by using one chain. (4) Every time we use one chain, we learn to memorize some references.

The subject of “blood” was discussed.

GROUP WORK 20 minutes. Groups of seven were formed with one coordinator. Each group would go to one room. The first assignment was to take the subject “soul” from Make Sure and discuss which four scriptures were the best arguments. Then the group should discuss which words in each scripture were the most important words to stress. Each group would then rejoin the others in the main room, and the coordinator of each group would present the group’s findings. Then an elder would make some comments on their conclusions.

GROUP WORK 20 minutes. The second assignment was to discuss The Watchtower study for the week from the following points of view:  (1) Which point or which two points are the most important ones? Are there one or two scriptures that are particularly important and that should be memorized? The results were given, and an elder would make some comments and stress the importance of memorizing key scripture references:

Write a scripture on a piece of paper. Put the paper in your pocket and look at it several times. Look at it before you go to bed and when you wake up in the morning. Keep the paper until you remember the scripture word for word.

BREAK 10 minutes


A discussion of how to get the most out of our personal study and which sources we can use.

LUNCH 60 minutes

FOCUS ON THE BIBLE 45 minutes.

Before the next assignment, the following points were discussed: When studying the Bible, it is important to take note of even small words, such as articles, demonstrative pronouns, adverbials, and prepositions. These will help us to understand the details of a text. Also, synonyms and similar or parallel thoughts may be of help.

In 2 Corinthians 4:7, the demonstrative “this” occurs before “treasure,” and so “this” must refer to something that is previously mentioned.

Example of the importance of demonstratives: Matthew 24:14 speaks about “this good news of the kingdom.” The demonstrative must refer to something distinctive or special. What was the difference between the good news Jesus declared and the good news Paul, Peter, and James declared? The last ones spoke about a future kingdom. But Jesus said: “The kingdom of God is in your midst” because he as king was present. So, “This good news of the kingdom” mentioned in Matthew 24:14 is the good news of the kingdom that Jesus declared, namely, “God’s kingdom is present; God’s kingdom is in your midst.” This would again be true as part of the sign of Jesus’ presence in Kingdom power since 1914.

Each group went to a different room. The assignment was to study 2 Corinthians 3:1-4:7 and answer the questions: (1) What is “this treasure”? (2) Why is this treasure “in earthen vessels”?

The coordinators of each group would present their results, and an elder would comment on their conclusions.

What did we learn? In 2 Corinthians 4:1, we read about “this service” (diakonia, “the role or position of serving, ministry”). The expression has the same demonstrative as in 4:7.

What is this service? The words “service” and “treasure” are not synonyms. But in some contexts, they can refer to the same.  In 3:1, we learn that the Corinthians became believers because of “the service” (the verb diakoneō) of Paul and his fellow Christians. And 3:6 shows that “we are ministers” (diakonos) “of a new covenant.”

Thus, we come closer to the meaning of “treasure,” because, to be servants of the new covenant is indeed a privilege, a treasure. Paul compares the situation to that of Moses, who came down from the mountain with his face shining, and 3:18 shows that “the service” (the preaching) is that we “reflect like mirrors the glory of Jehovah.” This leads to the transformation of his servants, which certainly is a treasure.

Paul continues in 4:1 to refer to “this service” or “ministry” of preaching by reflecting Jehovah’s glory. What is reflected is “the glorious good news about Christ” (4:3, 4). “God has shone on our hearts to illuminate them by the glorious knowledge of God by the face of Christ” (4:6). As the face of Moses shone, the face of Jesus shines in a similar way, and we (the anointed), like mirrors, reflect this shining, which is the shining of the good news. And so here we arrive at the meaning of “this treasure,” the service of reflecting the glorious good news.

Why is this treasure “in earthen vessels.” We find an answer in 3:5, 6 (NWT13)

5 Not that we of ourselves are adequately qualified to consider that anything comes from us, but our being adequately qualified comes from God, 6 who has indeed adequately qualified us to be ministers of a new covenant, not of a written code, but of spirit; for the written code condemns to death, but the spirit makes alive.

As human beings, we are weak and frail, and we cannot by ourselves bring glory to God. But the fact that Jehovah can use such earthen vessels as his servants brings glory to him.


The situation when Moses descended from the mountain with his face reflecting the glory of Jehovah represents a dramatic prophetic type. Paul discusses the details of the antitypical fulfillment.  In a way, the theme of this fulfillment could be, “We have this treasure in earthen vessels.”

The talk showed the antitypical details. Moses pictures Jesus, and the faces of both reflect Jehovah’s glory. Some persons hid from God’s glory reflecting from the face of Moses when he ‘came down from the mountain.’ Similarly, Christians today do not hide, but instead, like mirrors, reflect Jehovah’s glory from the face of Jesus. This glory is manifested in the preaching of the good news about Jesus that emanates from them, which is the treasure. And it leads persons to the new covenant in contrast with the old covenant.

TALK 10 minutes  An elder made a synthesis of the main points of the BIBLE DAY with the theme, “We have this treasure in earthen vessels.”


How was this BIBLE DAY received? Those who attended were invited to express their viewpoints and provide feedback. Interestingly, even brothers and sisters who were normally reserved when it comes to making comments readily participated in the discussions in a lively way.

Many of those present expressed their appreciation for the arrangement and said that they had learned a lot and had increased their spiritual insight.

Were there any weaknesses? Two of those present said that while they had learned many important things, they were tired after this long day of teaching and suggested a shorter version of the arrangement for next time. This was a good point, and the elders decided to reduce the number of talks at the next BIBLE DAY.


Through the literature of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, I have learned to do deep Bible study. Deep study is the best way to learn to love the Bible and its author, Jehovah God. Before I give my suggestion of a way to penetrate into the depths of the Bible, I bring one quotation from My Beloved Religion — And The Governing Body, third edition, pages 323-324:

“The Watchtower of 1 March 1956, pages 144–151, made an enormous impression on me because it helped me to see the importance of the nuances and subtleties in the original text of the Bible. The article was entitled, “Keeping Up with the Truth,” and it had four different suggestions for interactive Bible study.

The fourth suggestion would help the student to get a good understanding of one whole book of the Bible at a time, such as Philippians, which was used as an example. First, the student carefully reads a group of verses that constitute a paragraph. Second, he or she wrestles with the details of the verses, finding their leading thought, and expresses this thought with as few words as possible. This is the theme of the verses. Third, the student finds one verse that best captures the principal idea of the theme. Fourth, the student reads a sequence of the verses that follow it and treat them in the same way. Fifth, the student studies all the themes he or she has found and, from them, makes a summary theme for the whole book.

The theme given for Philippians in the article is: “Loving encouragement for faith.” And the themes of the different parts are as follows:

Table 6.1 The leading thoughts of Philippians

Chapter Theme verse Leading thought
1 7 Defending the good news
2 5 Keep the right mental attitude.
3 14 Pursuing for the prize.
4 7 Guard heart and mental powers.

I used this method for the letters and epistles of the Christian Greek Scriptures and some books in the Hebrew Scriptures. And I added one extra element, namely, an in-depth study of particular important verses inside each leading thought. In order to get the right understanding of the verses, I used the Index of the Watchtower literature from 1930-1960 and looked up different comments. And here is a clear example of the interactive nature of this form of study. Experienced Christians connected with the Watchtower Society had written comments on different verses in the Bible. When reading these comments, I considered them “with the greatest eagerness of mind,” as did the people of Beroea (Acts 17:11). And then, I worked diligently with the text of the particular Bible book to uncover its leading thoughts and the meaning of the more difficult verses. While I studied, I took notes. And after several years, I had around 5,000 pages of notes. Now I felt I was a real “Bible student.”

The best way to do deep Bible study and to learn to love The Holy Scriptures is to study one whole book of the Bible at a time, just as The Watchtower of 1956 outlined. Below is an outline of a study of the book of Ecclesiastes, and I think that to use this outline in an effective way will take 40 or 50 hours of study.


The book of Ecclesiastes is unique and perhaps the most distinctive book in the Bible. Scholars often say that this is a book of pessimistic philosophy. The use of this book by brothers and sisters often is restricted to quoting 9:5, 10, which shows that the dead are unconscious.  However, the book contains a number of special and valuable thoughts. We will see this in particular when we look for recurring keywords and compare them with their context. In the outline below, I will pose several questions, some of which you must answer.

  • How can we know that the book was written by Solomon?

Solomon was the only person who was a son of David, king in Jerusalem.[1]

  • The theme of the book.
    • Expressed in 1:2, “Everything is vanity (NWT84).
    • Do we find a parallel in Romans 8:20?
  • The role of the theme.

In order to understand what an author wants to convey in relation to his theme, we must first find the main points of the book and see how they are connected to the theme. Taking one point as an example, if we are able to understand the main thoughts of Solomon’s account, we will also be able to explain 3:21 and show that the spirit is not something personal that proceeds in different directions. We should also be able to show that 9:5, 10 and 11:9 are two sides of the same issue. Conversely, we will not be able to acquire a correct understanding of anything Solomon wrote if we do not first understand the main thoughts of his account.

  • Main points that should be studied

4.1 Material things in the present life.

4.1.1 Material things are vanity 1:14; 2:1-11; 4:4; 5:9, 10.

4.1.2 Material things are good for our life  2:24; 3:12, 13, 22; 5:17-19; 8:15; 9:7,

9; 11:9.

4.1.3 How can the seeming contradiction between 4.1.1 and 4.1.2 be harmonized, as we understand the thoughts of Solomon?


4.2.    Wisdom and understanding

4.2.1 Wisdom and understanding are vanity 1:16-18; 2:12-16.

4.2.2 Wisdom and understanding are valuable commodities 4:13; 7:3-5, 11, 12,

19; 9:16-18.

4.2.3 How can the seeming contradiction between 4.2.1 and 4.2.2 be harmonized?  The following verses may throw some light on this question 3:11, 21; 6:12; 7:23, 24; 8:7, 17; 9:12; 11:5.

4.3 Death

4.3.1 How do the comments about death throw some light on the thoughts of Solomon? 1:4, 11; 2:3, 13-17; 3:1, 2, 20-21; 4:1-3; 5:14, 15; 6:4, 6,12; 7:1,

2, 17; 8:8; 9:2, 3-6, 10, 11; 11:9;12:7.

4.4 A synthesis of 4.1, 4.2, and 4.3. Do we understand how Solomon’s view of

material goods, wisdom and understanding, and death give the theme

“everything is vanity” meaning and dimension? Explain 3:21. What is the relationship in Solomon’s view of wisdom and death? How does this relationship relate to his repeated assessment that “Everything is vanity”? (9:10; 2:12-16)

4:4.1.3 What is the relation between 9:5, 10, and 2:12-16? (See The Watchtower for 1977, pp. 78, 590-591.

  • What can we learn from Ecclesiastes?
  • What kind of hope does the book give? 3:11, 14,17; 8:12; 12:13, 14.
  • What do we learn about death?
  • What do we learn about destiny[2]? 2.14, 15; 3:19; 9:2, 3, 11.
  • How should we view material goods?
  • How should we view God? 12:1, 13.

One important side of the book of Ecclesiastes it that it clearly speaks against predestination, the teaching that everything is decided beforehand by God.

2:14. (NWT84) says: “there is one eventuality (miqrā) that eventuates (qarā) to them all.”

9:3 (NWT84) says: “there is one eventuality (miqrā) to all.

9:11 (NWT84) says: “because time (‘ēt) and unforeseen occurrence (pæga‘) befall

(qarā) them all.”

In order to understand Solomon, we need to understand the three Hebrew words qarā, miqrā, and pæga‘. The root of two of the words is the same, namely, qrh, and the verb qarā has the meaning “encounter, meet, befall.” This meaning helps us to understand the meaning of the substantive miqrā (“incident, chance”). The comments of Koehler and Baumgartner regarding miqrā are: “what happens to someone not through their own will or actions and without any known instigator.”

The word miqrā occurs in 1 Samuel 6:9 (NIV) “it happened by chance (miqrā)” 20:26 (NIV) “something must have happened (miqrā) to David,” and Ruth 2:3 (NWT84) Thus, by chance (qarā miqrā) she lighted on the tract of field belonging to Boaz.” From these passages, it is clear that the meaning of miqrā is “(by) chance.” When the verb qarā is used in addition, the meaning is that it “happened by chance.”

What is the meaning of the Hebrew word pæga‘? According to Koehler and Baumgartner, the meaning is “occurrence, chance,” and this is confirmed by the meaning of the corresponding verb paqā‘, which is “to meet; to fall upon.”

So, there can be no doubt that the three scriptures at the beginning show that the death of someone is not predestined. But death may come because someone is present at the time when something happens by chance. Or as the expression goes; “He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

[1]. A detailed linguistic analysis of the book corroborating the writing in the 10th century BCE by Solomon is found in my book, When Was the Book of Daniel Written? pages 58-65.

[2]. The word “destiny” is used in the sense of “what will happen” and not in the sense of “everything is decided beforehand by God” (predestination).

Rolf Furuli

Author Rolf Furuli

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