The Greek word strebloō in 2 Peter 3:16 is translated as “to twist,” and its meaning is “to twist, distort something so that a false meaning results.” The Watchtower of August 1, 1974, page 472, says: “Holding to the Scriptures, neither minimizing what they say nor reading into them something they do not say.” These are wise words. As a violation of these words, the members of the Governing Body have made it a systematic endeavor to twist the Scriptures, i.e., to give many passages a false meaning.
The first example of twisting God’s thoughts — the Scriptural view of sexual relations
In 1974, the Governing Body, without basis, applied new and wrong meanings to the Greek word porneia. Oral and anal copulation and other lewd practices inside marriage were porneia, and could lead to the termination of the marriage and to disfellowshipping. In 1978, there was a reversal of this view when the Governing Body admitted that this new view of porneia was wrong and that the Scriptures are silent as to how sexual relations between married persons should occur. In 1983, there was a partial reversal of the reversal. Anal and oral copulation was again a disfellowshipping offense but it was not included in the word porneia. What was really bad was that this partial reversal of the reversal was said to be “the Scriptural indication of God’s thinking.” This was a twisting of God’s thinking because the thinking of the members of the Governing Body was said to be God’s thinking.
The second example of twisting God’s thoughts — the Scriptural view of shunning
There is a discussion of the context of 2 John 10 and 1 Corinthians 5:11. I show that the antichrists mentioned in John’s letters were not disfellowshipped Christians, but they were members of another religion. The Watchtower literature says that the antichrists were the Gnostics.
However, the Watchtower literature says that disfellowshipped persons were like the antichrists, and therefore, the words of not inviting them into the homes or greeting them can be applied to disfellowshipped ones. This is a clear twisting of the Scriptures because a verse can only have the meaning we see from its context and cannot be applied to anyone or anything else. As regards persons who have resigned from Jehovah’s Witnesses, they “would have matched that description [of the antichrists],” according to the Governing Body. Thus, 2 John 9-11 can also be applied to them. The application of 2 John 9-11 is a clear twisting of God’s thoughts.
The Greek word synanamignymi (mixing together; socializing with”) is discussed in detail. It only occurs in 1 Corinthians 5:11 and 2 Thessalonians 3:14. The study notes in NWT13 discussing these two passages and Watchtower articles show that the members of the Governing Body have been using dishonest weights and deceptive scales. Without any basis, in the lexical meaning or context, the Governing Body gives synanamignymi in the two places different meanings, in 1 Corinthians chapter 5, it refers to shunning but in 2 Thessalonians chapter 3 it does not refer to shunning.
Twisting God’s thoughts by using 2 Corinthians chapter 5 and 2 John 11 with the same meaning
As already mentioned, 1 Corinthian 5:11 refers to disfellowshipping but 2 John 11 does not refer to disfellowshipping but to antichrists having a religion different from the Christian religion. I give one example of how 2 John 10 is wrongly applied to disfellowshipped persons and two examples where both 1 Corinthians 5:11 and 2 John 11 are applied to disfellowshipped persons.
TWISTING THE THOUGHTS OF GOD
What does it mean to twist the thoughts of God, and how is it done? The Greek word strebloō, which is translated “to twist” occurs just one time in the Christian Greek Scriptures, in 2 Peter 3:16 (NWT13):
Speaking about these things as he does in all his [Paul’s] letters. However, some things in them are hard to understand, and these things the ignorant and unstable are twisting (strebloō), as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.
The meaning of the word strebloō is “to twist, distort something so that a false meaning results.” No person today is inspired by God, and the only way to know God’s thoughts is to read the Holy Scriptures. When Peter wrote his letter, the Bible was not complete. The Holy Scriptures in those days consisted of the Hebrew Scriptures, three gospels, and some letters written by Paul. Peter shows that persons who were “ignorant and unstable” were twisting these Scriptures. In other words, they gave the words of the Scriptures a false meaning, which would lead to their destruction.
How can faithfulness to the Holy Scriptures be upheld? In an article about disfellowshipping in The Watchtower of August 1. 1974, page 472, we find some wise words:
Holding to the Scriptures, neither minimizing what they say nor reading into them something they do not say, will enable us to keep a balanced view toward disfellowshipped ones.
If Christians follow these words, they will not be twisting the Scriptures. But unfortunately, most persons who claim to be Christians do not follow these words. This is clearly seen in the world today with all the “Christian” denominations that differ as far as faith and doctrines are concerned. And more concerning for the faith of me and my friends: The members of the Governing Body in the 21st century have made it a systematic endeavor of twisting Bible passages, which represent the thoughts of God.
. Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature.
ONE EXAMPLE OF THE TWISTING OF GOD’S THINKING
The Greek word porneia in the Christian Greek Scriptures has the meaning “sexual intercourse,” and this word refers to sexual relations between a married person and another person to whom he or she is not married, to sexual relations between persons who are not married, and to homosexual relations. No other references to porneia are found in the Scriptures.
However, The Watchtower of November 15, 1974, page 703, introduced a new meaning of porneia, namely that it can include oral and anal copulation and other lewd actions between two persons who are married to each other. This was a clear twisting of the Scriptures because false meanings were attached to porneia. This twisting caused an enormous amount of problems. Many Witnesses were wrongly disfellowshipped, and marriages were dissolved on a wrong basis — and men, women, and children were suffering.
After three and a half years, the Governing Body had realized that they had been twisting the Scriptures, and The Watchtower of February 15, 1978, page 31 wrote:
A careful further weighing of this matter, however, convinces us that, in view of the absence of clear Scriptural instruction, these are matters for which the married couple themselves must bear the responsibility before God and that these marital intimacies do not come within the province of the congregational elders to attempt to control nor to take disfellowshipping action with such matters as the sole basis.
The quotation shows that there is no Scriptural reason to give a new meaning to the word porneia, and how the sexual relations between a married couple should occur was something only the couple could decide — this was not an issue for the elders or for the Governing Body.
But five years after the retreat of the wrong views that porneia could be applied inside the marriage, there was a partial retreat of the retreat. The Governing Body had now decided that sexual relations between married couples again were an issue for the elders and for the Governing Body. The Watchtower of March 15, 1983, page 31, says:
How about sexual activity between married couples within the marriage bond? It is not for the elders to pry into the intimate lives of married Christians. However, the Bible certainly enters into their lives. Those who would “keep walking by spirit” should not ignore the Scriptural indications of God’s thinking.
What are the “Scriptural indications of God’s thinking”? The article answers:
As already stated, it is not for elders to “police” the private marital matters of couples in the congregation. However, if it becomes known that a member of the congregation is practicing or openly advocating perverted sex relations within the marriage bond, that one certainly would not be irreprehensible, and so would not be acceptable for special privileges, such as serving as an elder, a ministerial servant or a pioneer. Such practice and advocacy could even lead to expulsion from the congregation.
In 1974, The Watchtower said that oral and anal copulation and other lewd practices were included in the word porneia. Such actions could terminate the marriage and lead to disfellowshipping. In 1978, The Watchtower admitted that the mentioned actions were not included in porneia and they were not disfellowshipping offenses. In 1983, The Watchtower did not include the mentioned actions in the word porneia, but from now on, they were disfellowshipping offenses.
What is really bad in our context in addition to the vacillation back and forth is that the new decision that was made in 1983 is said to be based on “God’s thinking” that can be found in the Scriptures. In view of the correct words in The Watchtower of February 1978 that there is “the absence of Scriptural instruction” in connection with sexual relations between married persons, to claim that the new view of 1983 represents “God’s thinking” is, in reality, a direct twisting of God’s thinking. The truth is that the Governing Body’s new decision of 1983 represents “the Governing Body’s thinking” while they ascribe it to “God’s thinking.” This is a way of cheating the brothers and sisters by ascribing to themselves an authority that they do not have.
|The Watchtower of February 15, 1978, said correctly that there was “the absence of Scriptural instruction” regarding how sexual relations between married persons should occur.
The Watchtower of March 15, 1983, claimed the very opposite, that “the Scriptural indications of Gods thinking” showed that certain sexual actions between married couples were forbidden and could lead to disfellowshipping.
— The members of the Governing Body were twisting God’s thinking and were deceiving the brothers and sisters.
THE GOVERNING BODY’S TWISTING OF THE SCRIPTURES IN CONNECTION WITH THE SHUNNING OF DISFELLOWSHIPPED AND DISASSOCIATED PERSONS
The twisting of God’s thinking that was discussed in the last section was done by ascribing to God, thoughts that originated with the members of the Governing Body. The twisting of Scriptures that will be discussed in this section, is done by using scriptures contrary to their meaning and their context. I will use the example of shunning disfellowshipped and disassociated persons. My first task is to present the real meaning of the passages in the Christian Greek Scriptures that are being twisted, namely 2 John 10 and 1 Corinthians 5:11.
TWISTING THE INFORMATION ABOUT THE ANTICHRISTS
The apostle John speaks about “the antichrists,” and 2 John 7 shows that these persons were not acknowledging “Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh.” Paul speaks in 1 Corinthians chapters 5 and 6 about Christians who had become wicked and who should be disfellowshipped. Were the antichrists disfellowshipped Christians?
The antichrists were members of a religion different from Christianity
There is nothing in the letters of John suggesting that the antichrists mentioned by John were disfellowshipped Christians. But what about the words in 1 John 2:18, 19 (NWT13)?
18 Young children, it is the last hour, and just as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared, from which fact we know that it is the last hour. 19They went out from us (eks hēmōn), but they were not of our sort (eks hēmōn); for if they had been of our sort (eks hēmōn); they would have remained with us (meth hēmōn). But they went out so that it might be shown that not all are of our sort (eks hēmōn). (1 John 2:18,19 NWT13)
Would not the words “they went out from us” show that the antichrists had previously been a part of the Christian congregations? The Greek constructions do not suggest that. The word ekserkhomai (“come out of; go away”) is active, so the persons were not expelled from the congregation, which would acquire a passive construction. Let us then look at the expression eks hēmōn. This is a genitive construction, and it can mean 1) “from us,” 2) “from ours (= from something belonging to us),” and 3) “from our sort.” NWT13 and several other translations render eks hēmōn differently, as “from us” and “from our sort.” What do we find if we render the expression eks hēmōn in a similar way?
19They went out from us (eks hēmōn), but they were not from us (eks hēmōn); for if they had been from us (eks hēmōn); they would have remained with with us (meth hēmōn). But they went out so that it might be shown that not all are of from us (eks hēmōn).
19They went out from our sort (eks hēmōn), but they were not of our sort (eks hēmōn); for if they had been of our sort (eks hēmōn); they would have remained with our sort (meth hēmōn). But they went out so that it might be shown that not all are of our sort (eks hēmōn).
19They went out from what belongs to us (eks hēmōn), but they were not of what belongs to us (eks hēmōn); for if they had been of what belongs to us (eks hēmōn); they would have remained with what belongs to us (meth hēmōn). But they went out so that it might be shown that not all are of what belongs to us (eks hēmōn).
The example with “from us” does not fit, and the same is true with the example of “from our sort.” It does not give good meaning by saying “they were not from us” or “from our sort” because “from” is a preposition indicating direction that does not show that someone belongs to a group. As a matter of fact, both of these renderings would result in a meaning of the text that is nonsensical and contradictory.
For example, the first clause of 1 John 2:19 would read, “They went out from us.” But the next clause would appear to contradict this statement by declaring, “but they were not from us.” The third clause seems to up the ante by disavowing that such ones were ever “with us” to begin with; “for if they had been from us they would have remained with us.” And of course, this would contradict the first that “they went out from us.” The same is true for the rendering “from our sort.” Clearly, 1 John 2:19 cannot be referring to Christians leaving the congregation via disfellowshipping.
On the other hand, the example “what belongs to us” fits well in all instances. This expression may refer to the extant Holy Scriptures, particularly to the gospels with all the accounts of Jesus Christ. If the rendering “what belongs to us” is correct, the mentioned persons went out of or went away from the true religion that is found in the Holy Scriptures, and they did not go out of a congregation. This is also confirmed by the fact that 2:18 says that many antichrists have come and that “antichrist” will also come in the future. Moreover, in 1 John 4:1-3 the antichrists are called “false prophets.” And this suggests that they belong to a religion that is different from Christianity.
The word “antichrist” with reference to the future is singular. But it lacks the article, so it needs not refer to one particular antichrist. In any case, the reference to many antichrists and to one or more coming in the future suggests that the word “antichrist” refers to a religion that is different from the Christian religion. The Governing Body agrees with that. In an online article discussing the subject “What is the coming of Christ” some misconceptions about this coming are discussed, and we read:
Misconception; The words of 2 John 7 show that Jesus will come in the flesh.
Fact: The Bible verse states: “Many deceivers have gone out into the world, those not acknowledging Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh.”
In the apostle John’s day, some denied that Jesus had come to this earth as a man. They were called Gnostics. Second John 7 was written to refute their false claim.
The Watchtower of August 1, 1974, page 465, shows that the words about not receiving him into your homes or greeting him refer to active propagandists:
Note that in 2 John verse 7, the apostle John says that “many deceivers have gone forth into the world, persons not confessing Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist.” Then John gives the warning to be on guard and not to receive such ones into one’s home, for these are active propagandists of false teachings, deceitful advocates of wrong conduct. They should be given no foothold from which to make further infiltration. One should not even greet them, so as to avoid being a sharer in their wicked works
If such a deceiver or antichrist wanted to enter the home of a Christian in order to spread his viewpoints, it would be correct to deny him entrance. The verb “to greet” (khairō) has the meaning “to enjoy a state of happiness and peace,” and the word was used to welcome a guest. A deceiver or an antichrist should not be welcomed! There are two important points here: The letter does not speak about disfellowshipping at all, but it speaks about active propagandists. And the word khairō was only used to greet a guest who would come to one’s home. Therefore, the word cannot be used to show that Christians shall not greet disfellowshipped persons they meet by saying “Hi” or “Hello,” or not invite disfellowshipped persons into their homes.
The GB uses the antichrists as an illustration of disfellowshipped and disassociated persons.
Let us now take a closer look at the discussion of 2 John 7-11 in The Watchtower of August 1, 1974. The basic error of the GB is that the article does not discuss the real meaning of 2 John 9-11 according to the context. But the verses are applied as an illustration of something else, and it is not easy for the reader to understand the difference between a direct application and an illustration. To apply an account as an illustration of something else means that the literal meaning of the text of the Bible is not used as the authority, but what the literal text reminds the author of is used. By this use, the authority is moved from the text of the Bible to the personal view of the author, and we must accept the author as the final authority. Let us look at the details. On page 465 in The Watchtower of August 1, 1974, we read:
Do the apostle’s words here necessarily apply to all persons who are put out of the congregation for wrongdoing?…Are, then, all who have been disfellowshipped like the persons described in John’s second letter? At the time that they had to be disfellowshiped they were apparently following a course like such ones or at least manifesting a similar sentiment.
The important word in the quotation is “like.” The author does not say that John 9-11 refers to disfellowshipped persons, which clearly is not true. But the author asks if all disfellowshipped persons are like those who are mentioned in verses 7-11? The answer is that at the time they were disfellowshipped, they were like the deceivers and antichrists. Therefore, the words in 2 John 8-11 can be applied to disfellowshipped and disassociated persons. However at some time after their disfellowshipping, the situation may have changed, and the disfellowshipped persons are no longer like the antichrists.
What we see in The Watchtower of August 1, 1974, is a clear example of the twisting of the Scriptures, the twisting of God’s thoughts. The only way the text of the Bible can be applied correctly is in accordance with the lexical meaning, grammar, and syntax of the words in their context. The verses of 2 John 7-11 have only one application, namely, in connection with persons who are antichrists and who denied Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. Applying these verses to disfellowshipped persons is a way of corrupting the Scriptures, a way of twisting God’s thoughts. We see a similar twisting in connection with disassociated persons. The Watchtower of July 15, 1985, pages 30, 31, has a question about 2 John 10:
Did 2 John 10, which says not to receive into one’s home or to greet certain ones, refer only to those who had promoted false doctrine?
In context this counsel concerned the “many deceivers” who had gone forth, “persons not confessing Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh.” (2 John 7) The apostle John offered directions on how Christians back there should treat one who denied that Jesus had existed or that he was the Christ and Ransomer. John directed: “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, never receive him into your homes or say a greeting to him. For he that says a greeting to him is a sharer in his wicked works.” (2 John 10, 11) But the Bible elsewhere shows that this had a wider application…
John says: “Everyone that pushes ahead and does not remain in the teaching of the Christ does not have God. He that does remain in this teaching is the one that has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, never receive him into your homes or say a greeting to him.” (2 John 9, 10) Those words certainly would have applied to a person who became an apostate by joining a false religion or by spreading false doctrine. (2 Timothy 2:17-19) But what about those who John said “went out from us”? While Christians in the first century would know that they should not associate with an expelled wrongdoer or with an active apostate, did they act similarly toward someone who was not expelled but who willfully renounced the Christian way?…
Such ones willfully abandoning the Christian congregation thereby become part of the ‘antichrist.’ (1 John 2:18, 19)
A person who had willfully and formally disassociated himself from the congregation would have matched that description [of the antichrist]. By deliberately repudiating God’s congregation and by renouncing the Christian way, he would have made himself an apostate. A loyal Christian would not have wanted to fellowship with an apostate. Even if they had been friends, when someone repudiated the congregation, apostatizing, he rejected the basis for closeness to the brothers. John made it clear that he himself would not have in his home someone who ‘did not have God’ and who was “not of our sort.”
The answer to the question represents a way of cheating the readers. The claim in the first paragraph is that the Bible shows elsewhere that 2 John 10, 11 has another application than what is shown in the context of John’s letter. This is, of course, pure nonsense. A text can only have the application that it has in its context, and no other text can give it a wider application. There is no reference to where in the Bible there is a wider application.
But the words “the Bible elsewhere shows” represent a pretext for the introduction of the thoughts of the members of the Governing Body as God’s thoughts. This is clearly seen in the first two sentences (in red and blue) of the last paragraph. Is it the Bible that says that he who disassociates himself from the congregation “matches the description of the antichrist”? No, this claim is based on the view of the members of the Governing Body. This is, in reality, a twisting of the words of 2 John 9-11.
The good side of the quotation is that it rightly shows that those whom Christians should not receive into their homes or be greeting are not disfellowshipped Christians but the antichrists. But this is overshadowed and nullified by the claim of the Governing Body that the words can be applied to disfellowshipped and disassociated persons as well. In other contexts, 2 John 9- 11 is wrongly applied, as I will show below.
THE WORDS “STOP KEEPING COMPANY WITH” ARE BEING TWISTED
I start this section by quoting Proverbs 16:11 and 20:23:
11 Honest scales are from Jehovah.
23 Dishonest weights are detestable to Jehovah, And deceptive scales are not good.
One of the many instances where the members of the Governing Body use two kinds of wights and two kinds of scales is in their application of the word synanamignymi. When the same word is interpreted in two different ways without any linguistic or contextual basis, in order to support a procedure they have invented that contradicts the Bible, they use dishonest weights and deceptive scales. I will show this below.
The word synanamignymi (“mix together”) occurs only three times in the Christian Greek Scriptures, in 1 Corinthians 5:9, 11 (text above) and 2 Thessalonians 3:14 (text below):
9 In my letter I wrote you to stop keeping company with (synanamignymi) sexually immoral people…
11 But now I am writing you to stop keeping company with (synanamignymi) anyone called a brother who is sexually immoral or a greedy person or an idolater or a reviler or a drunkard or an extortioner, not even eating with such a man.
14 But if anyone is not obedient to our word through this letter, keep this one marked and stop associating (synanamignymi) with him, so that he may become ashamed. 15 And yet do not consider him an enemy, but continue admonishing him as a brother.
Courses in ancient Greek differentiate between Classical Greek and New Testament Greek. There is a close similarity between the two, but there are differences as well, particularly in the meaning and references of words. Therefore, we cannot just consult a Greek-English Lexicon when we are looking for the meaning of a Greek word and choose one of the meanings that the lexicon presents. Such lexicons both present meanings from Classical and New Testament Greek without distinguishing between them. The only way to find the meaning of a Greek word in the Christian Greek Scriptures is to look at the contexts in which the word occurs. Therefore, in connection with the word synanamignymi we have only three places to look.
I will now compare the situations in 1 Corinthians 5:9, 11 and 2 Thessalonians 3:15. In 1 Corinthians chapters 5 and 6, Paul speaks about disfellowshipping wicked persons. This means that those Christians should stop mixing together with (synanamignymi) the disfellowshipped persons. Below I will compare the study notes of the two passages in the online NWT13, as well as three articles in The Watchtower. The study note of 2 Thessalonians 3:14 says:
and stop associating with him: A person who was “walking disorderly” in the congregation was not guilty of practicing a grave sin for which he could be disfellowshipped. (2Th 3:11 ) Still, he was persisting in a course that could reflect badly on the congregation and that could influence other Christians. Paul thus counsels Christians to “stop associating” with him, that is, to avoid socializing with him. (Compare 2Ti 2:20, 21.) This action might help the disorderly one to realize that he needed to conform to Bible principles. Fellow Christians would not completely avoid the person, for Paul advises them to “continue admonishing him as a brother.”— See study note on 2Th 3:15.
The situation that is painted in the note of 2 Thessalonians 3:15 is clearly misleading because the reference is claimed to be concerning those who are “walking disorderly.” True, these words are found in 2 Thessalonians 3:11. But Paul cannot refer in 3:14 to those who are walking disorderly because verse 14 does not refer to a particular concrete situation, i.e., Paul does not refer to something that has already happened.
But his words are conditional, something that is seen by his use of the Greek word ei (“if”) at the beginning of 3:14. So what Paul actually says is that “If anyone [is] not obedient to our word through this letter,” then the Christians should “stop associating with him.” This must, of course, include anything that Paul mentions in his letter, and not only those walking disorderly by not working and meddling with what does not concern them (3:11). In chapter 2, Paul exhorts the Thessalonians not to accept the words of those who say that the day of the Lord is here (2:2). He also says that they must “maintain your hold on the traditions that you were taught (2:16), i.e., they should not introduce new teachings.
The fact that Paul in 3:4 uses the words “our instructions” in the plural indicates that Paul wanted obedience to everything that he had written in the letter. As we will see, the study note says that those who should be marked were “not guilty of practicing a grave sin.” This is not correct! For example, Paul says in 2 Timothy 2:18 that Hymenaeus and Philetus “have deviated from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already occurred.” The context shows that these were disfellowshipped.
If some members of the Thessalonian congregations were not obedient to Paul’s words regarding the day of the Lord, saying that this day “is here” (“is present”) that would be just as grave a sin as the one of Hymenaeus and Philetus. And similarly, if someone did not “maintain your hold on the traditions that you were taught” (2:16), but rejected something or introduced something else, that would be a grave sin as well. So the attempt of the Governing Body through the study note of 2 Thessalonians 3.15 to show that the possible sins of the Thessalonians were not grave has failed. The motive of this attempt is, of course, to try to show that synanamignymi has a different and less severe meaning in 2 Thessalonians 3:15 compared with 1 Corinthians 5:11. But this is a futile attempt because Paul in 2 Thessalonians is not referring to a concrete situation but to a hypothetical situation whose contents is unknown.
I will now return to the evidence showing that the members of the Governing Body use dishonest weights and deceptive scales. We can see this by comparing the study note of 1 Corinthians 5:11 (below) and of 2 Thessalonians 3:15, which is quoted above, as well as three quotations from The Watchtower. The study note of 1 Corinthians 5:11 says:
stop keeping company with: Or “stop associating with.” The Greek word sy·na·na·miʹgny·mai, rendered “keeping company with,” means “to mix together.” (The same Greek verb occurs at 2Th 3:14.) Thus, “keeping company” with others would imply having close fellowship or companionship with them and sharing their views and sentiments. Christians in Corinth had to “stop keeping company with,” that is, refuse to mingle with, any unrepentant sinner. They were to “remove the wicked person from among [themselves].”—1Co 5:13
The Watchtower of July 1, 1963, page 413:
Therefore the members of the congregation will not associate with the disfellowshiped one, either in the Kingdom Hall or elsewhere. They will not converse with such one or show him recognition in any way. If the disfellowshiped person attempts to talk to others in the congregation, they should walk away from him. In this way, he will feel the full import of his sin.
The Watchtower of September 15, 1985, page 22:
Yes, the Bible commands Christians not to keep company or fellowship with a person who has been expelled from the congregation. Thus “disfellowshiping” is what Jehovah’s Witnesses appropriately call the expelling and subsequent shunning of such an unrepentant wrongdoer.
Study note to 2 Thessalonians 3:15 said in part:
Fellow Christians would not completely avoid the person, for Paul advises them to “continue admonishing him as a brother.” —See study note on 2 Th 3:15.
The Watchtower of April 15, 1985, page 31:
Paul said, “Stop associating with” the marked one “that he may become ashamed.” Brothers would not completely shun him, for Paul advised them to “continue admonishing him as a brother.” Yet by their limiting social fellowship with him, they might lead him to become ashamed and perhaps awaken him to the need to conform to Bible principles.
A synthesis of the different applications of synanamignymi
I will now show the two different wights and the two different scales that are used by the members of the Governing Body.
The comments on the Greek word synanamignymi in 1 Corinthians 5:11 are:
· Thus, “keeping company” with others would imply not having close fellowship or companionship with them and sharing their views and sentiments.
· They will not converse with such one or show him recognition in any way. If the disfellowshiped person attempts to talk to others in the congregation, they should walk away from him.
· Thus “disfellowshiping” is what Jehovah’s Witnesses appropriately call the expelling and subsequent shunning of such an unrepentant wrongdoer.
The comments on the Greek word synanamignymi in 2 Thessalonians 3:15 are:
Paul thus counsels Christians to “stop associating” with him, that is, to avoid socializing with him. But Fellow Christians would not completely avoid the person, for Paul advises them to “continue admonishing him as a brother.
Brothers would not completely shun him.
Why is the application of synanamignymi different in 1 Corinthians chapter 5 and in 2 Thessalonians chapter 3? The reason is that the members of the Governing Body, without any biblical reason, have decided that disfellowshipped persons must be shunned. And here we see the dishonest weights and deceptive scales that the Governing Body has used — the same Greek word is, without any lexical or contextual reason, applied in diametrically opposite ways in 1 Corinthians chapter 5 and 2 Thessalonians chapter 3. In one place it refers to shunning but in the other place, it does not refer to shunning. It is no longer God’s thoughts in the Bible that are used as the authority but the thoughts of the Governing Body are presented as God’s thoughts.
I have stressed that the only way to know the real meaning of a Greek word is to look at the context where the word occurs. The word synanamignymi occurs only two times in the Christian Greek Scriptures. The basic meaning of the word is “mixing together,” and in 1 Corinthians 5:11, we learn one side of not socializing with the person is not having a meal with him or her. In 2 Thessalonians 3:15 we learn that Christians can “continue admonishing him as a brother,” and this means that the members of the congregation can speak with him and greet him, while they still must not continue socializing or fraternizing with him. These are the meanings that we can construe on the basis of the contexts where the word occurs. When we compare the study notes from NWT13 and the quotations from The Watchtower we clearly see how the members of the Governing Body use two kinds of weights and two kinds of scales (dishonest weights and deceptive scales).
There is absolutely nothing connected with the Greek word synanamignymi showing that one has to shun a person, i.e., treating him or her as if he or she does not exist. Greek-English lexicons that give both meanings from Classical Greek and New Testament Greek agree with this, as I show below:
United Bible Society Lexicon: “Associate with, have dealings with.”
Mounce Greek Dictionary: “To associate with.”
Moulton and Milligan: “‘Mix up together,’ thence metaph. in mid. ‘associate with’.”
Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich: “Mix up together…pass: mingle, or associate with.”
When the positive meaning of synanamignymi is “socializing with,” the negative meaning cannot be “shun” but it must be “not socializing with.”
There is no lexical or contextual reason why a disfellowshipped person cannot be treated in the same way as a person who is not obedient to Paul’s word, as this is mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 3:14, 15. This means that the members of the congregation can greet and speak with a disfellowshipped person while they are admonishing him to repent. One reference to this is 2 Corinthians 2:5-7:
5 Now if anyone has caused sadness, he has saddened, not me, but all of you to an extent—not to be too harsh in what I say. 6 This rebuke given by the majority is sufficient for such a man; 7 now you should instead kindly forgive and comfort him, so that he may not be overwhelmed by excessive sadness.
The study note for the word “rebuke” in verse 6 in the online NWT13 says:
rebuke: Or “punishment.” In his first inspired letter to the Corinthians, Paul directed that a man who had unrepentantly practiced sexual immorality be removed from the congregation. (1Co 5:1, 7, 11-13) That discipline had good effects. The congregation was protected from a corrupting influence, and the sinner sincerely repented. The man performed works befitting repentance, so Paul now indicates that “the rebuke given by the majority [was] sufficient” and that the man be welcomed back by the congregation. This is consistent with the ways of Jehovah, who disciplines his people “to the proper degree.”—Jer 30:11.
The explanation of the study note is correct. But it fails to show what the word “rebuke” refers to and who those are who made the rebuke. Below I will look at some of the details. We need to consider the words “rebuke” and “the majority,” in order to understand the situation. According to the present procedure invented by the Governing Body, “the rebuke” would be that no member of the congregation in Corinth spoke with the man or greeted him. If he attended a meeting and spoke to someone, they would turn their back to him and not answer him.
However, the words “the majority” speak against this. The Greek adjective polus (“much; many”) is masculine plural, genitive, comparative. The English parsing of the adjective is positive: much; comparative: “more”; superlative “most.” It is not easy to translate the comparative form of polus into English. The rendering “the majority” is inaccurate because this would be the literal rendering of the superlative form (“most”). The rendering “many” would be a literal rendering of the positive form. The rendering “the more” would be a literal rendering of the comparative form but would not be good modern English. I, therefore, suggest the rendering, “The rebuke given by a great number is sufficient for such a man.”
The important point in verses 5 and 6 is the contrast between “all” and “a great number” (“the more”). All of the congregation members were saddened by the actions of the man, but only a great number of them rebuked him. If the rebuke was shunning, it was required that all members of the congregation would participate in this action. But only a great number (“the more”) participated in the rebuke. This corroborates the view that the members of the congregation could greet the man and speak with him while rebuking him, in the same way as the Thessalonians could greet and speak with a man who was marked and admonish him. Let us look at the Greek words.
The Greek noun that is translated as “rebuke” is epitimia, and it occurs only in 2 Corinthians 2:6. This means that we cannot construe the meaning of the word on the basis of the context. NWT13 has the rendering “rebuke” and the alternative rendering “punishment,” and this is the rendering of most English Bible translations. However, there are several reasons why the rendering “punishment” is not fitting. What was the punishment that the man received? According to 1 Corinthians 5:5, the man “was handed over to Satan,” i.e., he was disfellowshipped. This was something that all the members of the congregation who were saddened by his action stood behind. But not all the congregation members but only a great number of them were behind the epitimia that led the sinner to repentance. This indicates that epitimia was not the disfellowshipping of the man and that “rebuke” is a better rendering than “punishment.”.
The verb epitimaō corresponds to the noun epitimia, and according to Bauer, Arndt, and Gingrich the meaning of the verb is “rebuke, reprove, censure also speak seriously, warn, in order to prevent an action or bring one to an end…punish.” We cannot just take one meaning from a Greek-English Lexicon and insist that this is the meaning in a certain passage. But I will point out that the epitima of a great number was what led the man to repentance, and this fits the last part of the definition above: to rebuke or reprove in order to bring an action to an end.
The Greek verb that is used in 2 Thessalonians 3:15 with the purpose of causing the man to repent is noutheteō, and the same lexicon defines this verb as “admonish, warn, instruct.” The verbs epitimaō and noutheteō both have different meanings and similar meanings. But both verbs can be used to try to cause a sinner to repent. So there are good reasons to believe that the use of the noun epitimia in 2 Corinthians 2:6 shows that the members of a Christian congregation could greet and speak with disfellowshipped members while they were rebuking them and admonishing them to repent, exactly in the same way that the Thessalonians according to 2 Thessalonians 3:15 could greet and speak with persons who were marked in order to cause them to repent.
. A detailed discussion is found in the article “A discussion of 2 John 7-11” in the category “Shunning not based on the Bible.”
THE GENERAL TWISTING OF SCRIPTURES
A known way of deceiving readers is by quoting passages from the Bible having words that fit the argument that the author uses, but that have a meaning different from the author’s argument. In this section, I will show this in connection with the demand of the Governing Body that disfellowshipped and disassociated persons must be shunned. The Watchtower of March 15, 1986, page 18, says:
Some who have a critical attitude claim that Jehovah’s organization is too strict about cutting off social contacts with disfellowshipped persons. (2 John 10, 11) But why do such critics feel that way? Do they have a close family tie or mistaken loyalty to a friend that they are putting ahead of loyalty to Jehovah and his standards and requirements? Consider, too, that continuing to accord social fellowship to an expelled person, even one as close as a relative, may lead the erring one to conclude that his course is not so serious, and this to his further harm. However, withholding such association may create in him a craving for what he has lost and a desire to regain it. Jehovah’s way is always best, and it is for our own protection.—Proverbs 3:5.
Because 2 John 10, 11 follows the words “disfellowshipped persons” the reader will understand that the verses refer to disfellowshipped persons. But that is not true because the verses only refer to the antichrists who denied “Jesus Christ as coming on the flesh.” The verses are twisted and the readers are misled.
The Watchtower of April 15, 1988, page 27, says:
Christians do not hold themselves aloof from people. We have normal contacts with neighbors, workmates, schoolmates, and others, and witness to them even if some are ‘fornicators, greedy persons, extortioners, or idolaters.’ Paul wrote that we cannot avoid them completely, ‘otherwise we would have to get out of the world.’ He directed that it was to be different, though, with “a brother” who lived like that: “Quit mixing in company with anyone called a brother that [has returned to such ways], not even eating with such a man.”—1 Corinthians 5:9-11; Mark 2:13-17…
In the apostle John’s writings, we find similar counsel that emphasizes how thoroughly Christians are to avoid such ones: “Everyone that pushes ahead and does not remain in the teaching of the Christ does not have God . . . If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, never receive him into your homes or say a greeting to him. For he that says a greeting [Greek, khaiʹro] to him is a sharer in his wicked works.” —2 John 9-11. (the author’s italics)
Footnote: John here used khaiʹro, which was a greeting like “good day” or “hello.” (Acts 15:23; Matthew 28:9) He did not use a·spaʹzo·mai (as in 2Jo verse 13), which means “to enfold in the arms, thus to greet, to welcome” and may have implied a very warm greeting, even with an embrace. (Luke 10:4; 11:43; Acts 20:1, 37;1 Thessalonians 5:26) So the direction at 2 John 11 could well mean not to say even “hello” to such ones.—See The Watchtower of July 15, 1985, page 31.
Again, there is a twisting of 2 John 10, 11. The reference to 1 Corinthians 5:9-11 correctly refers to disfellowshipped persons, but the real meaning of “Quit mixing company with” is not given. But then the author argues that John made “similar counsel,” and the reference is to 2 John 9-11. The author is twisting the scriptures because he indicates that 2 John 9-11 refers to disfellowshipped persons and that “Quit mixing company with” has the meaning “never receive him into your homes or say a greeting to him.” The reader is misled to believe that shunning disfellowshipped persons is directly based on the Bible.
the website jw.org offers an interactive Bible course to persons who are interested in the Bible. In this course, the words of John are again twisted. Enjoy Life Forever!—An Interactive Bible Course. Lessons 57, 58, pages 238-239, says:
If a person who has committed a serious sin refuses to follow Jehovah’s standards, he can no longer be part of the congregation. He is disfellowshipped, and we do not associate with him or even speak with him. Read 1 Corinthians 5:6, 11, and 2 John 9-11, and then discuss this question:
Just as leaven ferments bread dough, how would associating with an unrepentant sinner affect the congregation?
Persons who want to study the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses are misled because 2 John 9-11 are applied to disfellowshipped persons. I am very sorry to see that in addition to 2 john 9-11 the members of the Governing Body apply a great number of other biblical passages against their real meaning seen from their context. This means that twisting the thoughts of God is a systematic endeavor that has been developed by the Governing Body.
The two most important passages that are twisted are Matthew 24:45-47 and Acts chapter 15. In my book My Beloved Religion — And The Governing Body, third edition, chapter 2, I show that the words about that faithful and discreet slave refer to the great tribulation and to any faithful and discreet Christian who then is waiting for the revelation of Jesus Christ —it does not refer to a small group of Christians during the presence of Jesus. In chapter 3, I show that there was no governing body in the first century CE and that there should not be any governing body today.
The twisting of God’s thoughts continues. The first study article in The Watchtower Study Edition of February 2022 has the title: “Do you trust in Jehovah’s Way of doing things?” On pages 4 and 5 we find the following comments:
7 We no doubt wholeheartedly agree that Jehovah always does what is right. The challenge for us, however, might be to trust in his human representatives. We might wonder whether those with a measure of authority in Jehovah’s organization really act according to Jehovah’s direction or their own…The plain truth is that we cannot say that we trust in Jehovah if we do not trust in his earthly representatives—those whom Jehovah trusts.
8 Today Jehovah leads the earthly part of his organization by means of “the faithful and discreet slave.” (Matt. 24: 45) Like the first-century governing body, this slave oversees God’s people worldwide and gives direction to congregation elders. (Read Acts 16:4, 5.) The elders, in turn, implement the direction in the congregations. We show that we trust in Jehovah’s way of doing things by heeding the direction we receive from the organization and the elders.
11 We can strengthen our trust in the direction we receive from the elders by remembering that they pray for holy spirit when considering matters that affect the congregation. They also carefully consider relevant Bible principles and consult guidelines provided by Jehovah’s organization.
The focus of this article is not on God’s Word where we find his thoughts but on humans, primarily on the eight members of the Governing Body who claim to be the faithful and discreet slave. What do the last part of § 7 marked in red mean? It means that if we are not trusting in the interpretations of the members of the Governing Body, we are not trusting in Jehovah. For example, The members of the Governing Body reject the words of Jesus that the inhabitants of Sodom, Gomorrah, Capernaum, Chorazin, and Betsaida will get a resurrection on Judgment Day. If we believe the words of Jesus in Matthew 11:2o-24 and reject the words of the Governing Body, the article says that we are not trusting in Jehovah.
. The following articles show how the GB rejects Jesus’ words about the resurrection: “Promoting sects,” “Participating in interfaith activities, and “Deliberately spreading teachings contrary to the truth.” All are in the Category “Apostasy”; “The members of the Governing Body do not believe in the full inspiration of the Bible”! in the category: The Governing body.”
I would have rephrased the last clauses of paragraph 7 in the following way: “The plain truth is that we cannot say that we trust in Jehovah if we do not trust the Holy Scriptures — those that have been inspired by God.”
The message of the article is that everything that the members of the Governing Body do and write is the truth. What they do is Jehovah’s way of doing things. This is a way of saying that the Governing Body functions as a prophet because a prophet follows the direction of Jehovah and speaks his word. This is a way of twisting God’s thoughts because the Bible, where God’s thoughts are found, does not focus on human beings but only on Jehovah God and his Son Jesus Christ.
It is true that the truth of the Bible only can be learned with the help of Christians who preach the word, as we read in Romans 10:13-17. But the focus is not on the preachers but on the king Jesus Christ. However, in the 21st century, there has been an extreme focus on “the faithful and discreet slave,” as the mentioned article shows. We see the same focus in the words of chairman Mark Sanderson in the Watchtower Broadcast of February 2022.
|The Study Edition of The Watchtower of February 2022 claims: If you are not trusting the interpretations of the eight men of the Governing Body, you are not trusting in Jehovah. If we believe the words of Jesus that the inhabitants of Sodom, Gomorrah, Capernaum, Chorazin, and Betsaida will get a resurrection on judgment day, something the Governing Body partly rejects, we are not trusting in Jehovah.|
In addition to the fact that the members of the Governing Body do not believe in the full inspiration of the Bible, and do not believe that the subtleties and nuances in the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts of the Bible have important meanings for us today, they are also twisting a great number of biblical passages.
In this study, we have seen that when the members of the GB has made rules for the sexual relationships of married persons, they have said that these rules are “the Scriptural indications of God’s thinking” when the rules are the indications of the thinking of the members of the GB. This is a clear twisting of God’s thinking.
Of particular importance is their twisting of 2 John 10 where we read that we must not receive the persons mentioned into our homes or say a greeting to them. These words are used as evidence that Christians must shun disfellowshipped and disassociated persons. However, the GB knows that the reference is to the antichrists and not to disfellowshipped or disassociated persons. When they use these words as evidence, they are twisting God’s word, and they are misleading the readers.