The maxim of this article is taken from The Watchtower of August 1, 1974, page 472. This article discussed disfellowshipping and we read:
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.
A worldwide organization must have leaders, and these leaders must make many decisions. In order to uphold the unity of the organization the members should follow these decisions. However, this relates only to organizational decisions, and not to decisions that make laws and rules for Christian life and Christian faith.
Supporting this, The Watchtower of October 1, 1972, page 589, says:
It would therefore be wrong in such matters to try to extract from someone else, from a body of elders or from the governing body of the Christian congregation, some rule or regulation that ‘draws the line’ on matters. Where God’s Word does not itself ‘draw the line,’ no human has the right to add to that Word by doing so.
What follows are short comments dealing with sayings and decisions where the members of the Governing Body “draw the line” where God’s Word does not draw the line, and where false appeals to the Holy Scriptures are made. One short snippet is included, and more snippets will be added later.
THE MEMBERS OF THE GOVERNING BODY REJECT THE WORDS OF JESUS Sodom and Gomorrah and the resurrection of the dead
A MISLEADING APPEAL TO THE SCRIPTURES
JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES’ LOSS OF REGISTRATION AS A RELIGIOUS DENOMINATION IN NORWAY
THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE AUTHORITARIAN GOVERNMENT OF JEHOVAHS WITNESSES
THE INACCURATE USE OF THE WORTD “FOREVER” I NWT13
THE MEMBERS OF THE GOVERNING BODY DO NOT ACCEPT EVERYTHING THAT THE BIBLE SAYS ABOUT THE RANSOM SACRIFICE OF JESUS CHRIST Who will survive Jehovah’s day?
CLAIMS REGARDING SOCIALIZING WITH DISFELLOWSHIPPED AND DISASSOCIATED PERSONS THAT ARE NOT TRUE
THE MEMBERS OF THE GOVERNING BODY REJECT THE WORDS OF JESUS
Sodom and Gomorrah and the resurrection from the dead
The most important application of the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ is the resurrection from the dead. When I became a Witness in 1961, the view was that most of the persons who had lived and died since the time of Adam and Eve would get a resurrection during the Thousand Year Reign of Jesus Christ. In this way, all the descendants of Adam, who were bought by the death of Jesus, would get the chance to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice. Only the few who had sinned against the holy spirit would not get a resurrection.
However, in the last part of the 20th century, specifically from the year 1988, tampering both with the resurrection and the ransom sacrifice started. In this short article I will discuss the destiny of the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah. In The Watchtower of 1965, there were five interactive articles on the resurrection with detailed analyses of texts from the whole Bible.
 “Death and Hades to Give Up the Dead”; “The Dead Who Are in Line for Resurrection”; “For Whom There Are Resurrection Hopes”; “Who Will be Resurrected from the Dead?”; “Who Will be Resurrected—Why?” in The Watchtower of 15 January, 1 February, 15 February, 1 March, and 15 March 1965. These articles contain deep analytical and interactive Bible study at its very best.
The words of Jesus in Matthew 10:14, 15; 11:20-24 were discussed:
14 Wherever anyone does not receive you or listen to your words, on going out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet. 15 Truly I say to you, it will be more endurable for the land of Sodʹom and Go·morʹrah on Judgment Day than for that city.
20 Then he began to reproach the cities in which most of his powerful works had taken place, for they did not repent: 21 “Woe to you, Cho·raʹzin! Woe to you, Beth·saʹi·da! because if the powerful works that took place in you had taken place in Tyre and Siʹdon, they would long ago have repented in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I say to you, it will be more endurable for Tyre and Siʹdonz on Judgment Day than for you. 23 And you, Ca·perʹna·um, will you perhaps be exalted to heaven? Down to the Grave you will come; because if the powerful works that took place in you had taken place in Sodʹom, it would have remained until this very day. 24 But I say to you, it will be more endurable for the land of Sodʹom on Judgment Day than for you.”
The author(s) of the articles in The Watchtower of 1965 took the words of Jesus at face value, including the words implying that the people of Sodom and Gomorrah would get a resurrection on Judgment Day. The members of the present Governing Body no longer believe the words of Jesus regarding the resurrection. This is seen in Insight on the Scriptures, volume 1, page 985:
When reproaching certain first-century Jewish cities, Jesus made reference to grossly wicked Sodom and Gomorrah. He directed such an expression of reproach to unrepentant Capernaum, where he personally had performed many of his powerful works. And regarding any city that would reject his disciples, failing to exercise faith in spite of the powerful works that they performed as evidence of divine backing, Jesus said: “It will be more endurable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on Judgment Day than for that city.” (Mt 10:5-15; 11:23, 24) Since Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities about them had been punished with “everlasting fire,” representing eternal annihilation, Jesus was evidently using a hyperbole in order to emphasize how unlikely it was that such faithless Jews would reform even if they were present on Judgment Day.
It is quite shocking that the eight members of the Governing Body, who say that they are appointed by God to give spiritual food at the proper time to God’s servants, claim that the meaning of the words of Jesus is the very opposite of what they say. Jesus said, in reality, that at least ten of the inhabitants of Sodom would have repented if they got the right chance to repent. They did not get this chance, and therefore, they have experienced eternal annihilation.
This is a rejection of the Holy Scriptures, it is a rejection of the ransom sacrifice of Jesus, and it is a rejection of the righteousness of God.
Let us take a closer look at the situation than Matthew describes.
Please note the words Jesus addressed to the people of Capernaum:
Down to the Grave you will come; because if the powerful works that took place in you had taken place in Sodʹom, it would have remained until this very day.
In Genesis chapter 18, Abraham is pleading with Jehovah not to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. Verse 26 says:
Then Jehovah said: “If I find in Sodʹom 50 righteous men in the city, I will pardon the whole place for their sake.”
Abraham continues his pleading and mentions the possibility that there are ten righteous persons in Sodom. We read in verse 23:
Finally he said: “Jehovah, please, do not become hot with anger, but let me speak just once more: Suppose only ten are found there.” He answered: “I will not destroy it for the sake of the ten.”
Sodom was destroyed, and this shows that there were not at least ten righteous persons in Sodom, which was the requirement for not destroying the city. However, Jesus says that if the miracles he did in Capernaum had been done in Sodom, the city would not have been destroyed. This means that in this case, at least ten of the inhabitants of Sodom would have repented and could be judged as righteous persons.
When Jesus sacrificed his life, he bought all the descendants of Adam. This means that every human being who has lived on earth must get the opportunity to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice. All those who did not have this chance before they died, will get a resurrection and get this chance in the Thousand Year Reign of Jesus.
The words of Jesus show that the inhabitants of Sodom had not sinned against the holy spirit, and because of this, were beyond repentance. On the contrary, Jesus shows that a number of the people of Sodom would have repented if they had gotten the chance. But the members of the Governing Body say that the people of Sodom and Gomorrah never will get this chance — they have been eternally annihilated.
I cannot think of a clearer example showing how the members of the Governing Body have put themselves above the Holy Scriptures, and that the spiritual food they give the servants of God to a great extent consists of their viewpoints and interpretations instead of the Word of God.
. See the articles, “The members of the Governing Body do not believe in the full inspiration of the Bible,” “The Governing Body’s new view of the resurrection is contradicted by the Scriptures,” and “The members of the Governing Body have devalued and restricted the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ.” All articles are found in the category “The Governing Body.”
. Jesus said that the people of Capernaum would come down to hades (“the Grave”). Because all the dead in hades will get a resurrection according to Revelation 20:13, Jesus shows that the people of Capernaum will get a resurrection. However, the members of the Governing Body also reject these words of Jesus, claiming these words are symbolic. (Insight on the Scriptures , volume 1, page 1016)
. In the article, “Deliberately spreading teachings contrary to Bible truth” in the category Apostasy” I show that “everlasting fire” does not mean “everlasting annihilation.” I also show that the claim that Jesus used hyperbole has no basis in the context of Matthew chapter 11.
A MISLEADING APPEAL TO THE SCRIPTURES
It is common that the members of the Governing Body and other leading Witnesses appeal to the Scriptures when the Scriptures do not say what the Witness claims that they say. This is, in reality, a smokescreen, by which ordinary Witnesses are deceived to believe that what the leading Witness says has God’s backing.
One example is seen in the JW broadcast of 2022 Update #8. In this broadcast, Antony Morris III said: “The authorities of Norway are threatening to remove our legal registration because of our Scriptural beliefs and practices regarding disfellowshipping.” His words are simply not true and cannot be defended! The decision of the authorities of Norway was not an attack on any doctrine in the Bible. But it was based on the violation of Jehovah’s Witnesses of one Norwegian law and the violation of human rights.
The European Declaration of Human Rights, article 9, says:
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance.
This article is the basis, in part, of the Norwegian law of religious denominations. One requirement of Article 9 and the Norwegian law is that any person can without any kind of coercion or pressure join or resign from a religious denomination. Before 1981, Jehovah’s Witnesses obeyed the human rights and this law. But in that year, the Governing Body decided that persons who resigned from Jehovah’s Witnesses should be shunned by family members who were Witnesses, except those in the same household, and by all other Witnesses.
The Watchtower of September 15, 1981, page 23, says:
One who has been a true Christian might renounce the way of the truth, stating that he no longer considers himself to be one of Jehovah’s Witnesses or wants to be known as one. When this rare event occurs, the person is renouncing his standing as a Christian, deliberately disassociating himself from the congregation. The apostle John wrote: “They went out from us, but they were not of our sort; for if they had been of our sort, they would have remained with us.”—1 John 2:19…
Persons who make themselves “not of our sort” by deliberately rejecting the faith and beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses should appropriately be viewed and treated as are those who have been disfellowshiped for wrongdoing.
This new practice that persons who have resigned from Jehovah’s Witnesses lose their family, except those in their household, and all their friends who are Witnesses represent pressure or coercion against resigning from Jehovah’s Witnesses. This is a violation of the European Declaration of Human Rights and of the Norwegian law for religious denominations. That was one of the two reasons why the Witnesses lost the Government grants and of the threat of losing their legal registration.
THE PRACTICE OF SHUNNING PERSONS WHO RESIGN FROM JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES IS A BLATANT VIOLATION OF THE EUROPEAN DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND OF THE NORWEGIAN LAW OF RELIGIOUS DENOMINATIONS
When Anthony Morris III referred to of our Scriptural beliefs and practices regarding disfellowshipping he was misleading his audience!
The Watchtower of July 15, 1985, page 30, tried to justify why those who had resigned should be shunned. The question in bold types was asked, and the answer follows:
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…
Aid to Bible Understanding shows that the word “apostasy” comes from a Greek word that literally means “ ‘a standing away from’ but has the sense of ‘desertion, abandonment or rebellion.’” The Aid book adds: “Among the varied causes of apostasy set forth in apostolic warnings were: lack of faith (Heb. 3:12), lack of endurance in the face of persecution (Heb. 10:32-39), abandonment of right moral standards (2 Pet. 2:15-22), the heeding of the ‘counterfeit words’ of false teachers and ‘misleading inspired utterances’ (1 Tim. 4:1-3) 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. By deliberately repudiating God’s congregation and by renouncing the Christian way, he would have made himself an apostate. (the author’s italics)
First, we note that the quotation has a misleading appeal to the Scriptures. It is admitted that the words “never receive him into your homes or say a greeting to him.” refers to the antichrists who deny the coming of Jesus in the flesh. Then the quotation says about the reference to the antichrists in John 10, 11, that “the Bible elsewhere shows that this had a wider application.” This simply is a lie. There is no passage in the Bible saying that John 10, 11 has a wider application than the reference to the antichrists.
And then comes the pièce de résistance that, in reality, contradicts the claim that the Bible elsewhere shows that 2 John 10, 11 has a wider application:
A person who had willfully and formally disassociated himself from the congregation would have matched that description.
“The description” referred to is the description of the antichrists who deny that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. So, the claim is that those who have disassociated themselves (resigned from Jehovah’s Witnesses) have matched the antichrists. Who is saying this? the Bible? No, this is the decision of the members of the Governing Body!
The maxim of the snippets is, Holding to the Scriptures, neither minimizing what they say nor reading into them something they do not say, Here we see a blatant violation of this maxim. The members of the Governing Body have read into the Scriptures something they do not say. And they tried to cover this up by claiming that “the Bible elsewhere” shows that what they claim is true.
JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES’ LOSS OF REGISTRATION AS A RELIGIOUS DENOMINATION IN NORWAY
I refer to the last development of the case regarding Jehovah’s Witnesses in Norway. The law of religious denominations says that if a denomination loses the state grants because of serious and deliberate violations of its laws, the denomination can also lose its registration as a religious denomination. That is the reason why the letter from the County Governor refers to the reasons for losing the grants as the reasons for losing the registration.
On December 22, 2022, Jehovah’s Witnesses in Norway were informed that the County Governor in Oslo and Viken had canceled their registration as a religious denomination.
I will translate passages from the letter from the County Governor:
THE CONSEQUENCES OF THE LOSS OF REGISTRATION
The loss of registration means that the denomination no longer has the right to apply for grants from the state. Loss of registration also means that the denomination has lost the right to perform marriages.
We remind you that the law of religious denominations basically is a law dealing with grants. The denomination continues to have the right to practice its religion and its activities independent of its loss of public registration…
THE FIRST REASON FOR THE REFUSAL OF GRANTS FROM THE STATE
The first reason was that the denomination in our view prevents its members for the possibility to freely resign. This violates trossamfunnsloven [the law of religious denominations] § 2, the Constitution § 16, and EMK [The European Convention of Human Rights] Article 9…
The consequence of leaving the denomination is that the person no longer can have contact with family and friends in the congregation. The denomination explicitly says that members cannot have any contact with disfellowshipped persons. [Reference to Organized to Do Jehovah’s Will ] As we see from the paragraph, this is also the case for members who have resigned. This practice can imply that the members feel pressured to remain in the denomination.
That the denomination violates the right of the members to freely resign, and by this violates the religious freedom of the members, is viewed as particularly serious. The same is the case with the negative social control of children, which violates the human rights of the children according to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. (The author’s italics)
THE SECOND REASON FOR THE REFUSAL OF GRANTS FROM THE STATE
The second reason for the refusal of grants from the state for 2021, of the decision of 01.27.2022, was that the rights of children were violated because of the negative social control of children in the congregation, because the rules of the disfellowshipping of minors who are baptized, and about social isolation of unbaptized children who are not behaving according to the rules of the denomination. These violate trossamfunnsloven § 6, first comma, the Constitution § 104, third comma, and the Convention of the Rights of Children, Article 19…
We refer to our assessment in the decision of 01.28.2022:
“Our opinion is that the violations of the laws, which violates the rights of religious freedom and the right of children to have protection against violence, are to be viewed as serious. The mentioned practices are documented in books and study articles published by the denomination. The denomination has also made detailed rules regarding the function of a judicial committee and how the committee shall decide questions regarding disfellowshipping. This practice is systematically followed on the part of the denomination, and the members are informed through several channels. On this background, we find that the law violations are intentional.”
Because of my experience during 58 years, I have seen the situations that are described by the County Governor, and I can confirm that the facts that the decision are built on are presented in a correct way.
A short time after the decision of the Governing Body in 1981 that from now on, persons who resigned should be treated as disfellowshipped persons, I contacted the Branch office arguing that this was a wrong decision. Some years later, I again raised the same question with the branch office. But in both cases, the answer was negative.
During my 56 years as an elder, I did not consider the treatment of baptized and unbaptized children as negative social control because I was not familiar with this concept and the UN Convention of the Rights of Children. However, in a few cases, I had a strong negative reaction where children were disfellowshipped. I argued that this should never have happened. When I now have knowledge I fully agree with the conclusions of the County Governor regarding the treatment of children.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are suing the County Governor, but in my view, they have a lost case. It is absolutely clear that Jehovah’s Witnesses violate the religious freedom and the human rights of the members who resign. We should be willing to face the facts.
THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE AUTHORITARIAN GOVERNMENT OF JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES
The background of this snippet is the claim of a group of opponents of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Spain that Jehovah’s Witnesses is an authoritarian religion that is dangerous. This claim was discussed by scholars who are interested in Jehovah’s Witnesses. On the basis of my experience as a Witness from 1961 and my extensive reading of the literature of the Witnesses from 1940 onward, I joined in the discussion. The decisions and actions of the members of the Governing Body from 1971 until today when they have unlimited dictatorial power represent a number of clear examples of the maxim of the snippets: The members of the Governing Body have read into the Scriptures things that they do not say.
The following points can be used as a measure.
1) The power of the leaders in relation to the members.
2) What the leaders demand from the members.
3) The treatment of the members by the leaders.
I will first say something about the 1940s and 1950s, and then I will return to these points.
There was a clear centralization of power during the time when Rutherford was president. He was the leader, and the Bible students and Witnesses looked up to him. However, A.H. Macmillan in his book Faith on the March describes a less authoritarian time than many others have done. In 1972, I did research in connection with the writing of the history of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Norway, and I spoke with many old-timers. In addition, I had many conversations with a well-educated sister who became a Witness in 1932. And my impression is that what Macmillan writes basically is true. Rutherford had the ultimate power. But there were few demands except for the preaching of the Kingdom message. And there was no bad treatment of the members.
My impression regarding the time from the death of Rutherford until the middle 1950s is that the organization was very little authoritarian. As Macmillan shows, Knorr wanted to create unity by educating every Witness to be able to defend his or her faith by using the Bible. I benefited from this arrangement when I became a Witness in 1961. As president, Knorr had much power. But there were few demands on the part of the Witnesses, and in the 1940s there was almost no disfellowshipping of members: Disfellowshipping started in 1952, but very few Witnesses were disfellowshipped.
THE POWER OF THE LEADERS IN RELATION TO THE MEMBERS
I was circuit servant (overseer) in the Oslo area in 1972 when the elder arrangement was introduced. All circuit servants got a letter saying that we no longer had any power over the congregations. We were now traveling pioneers, and we could give advice to the congregations only when we were asked for it. The bodies of elders had the responsibility of the congregations. They were to a great extent independent of the Governing Body, and they were admonished to take initiatives of their own, making outlines for public talks, arranging lectures outside the Kingdom Hall, and making suggestions for new elders without consulting the circuit overseer, and many other things. This was a period of great Christian freedom with very little, or I would rather say, with no authoritarianism.
However, from 1976 on, more and more power was taken from the bodies of elders and transferred to the Governing Body, and the circuit overseers got back their power. But during the 20th century, the bodies of elders still had much power. From the year 2000 when Ted Jaracz, who was a hardliner, became the leader of the Governing Body, the members of the Governing Body gave themselves more and more power to the point where the eight members today have unlimited power, and for all practical purposes are dictators.
Even very small matters must be decided by the Governing Body or the committees, and the focus on the eight members as the faithful and discreet slave has greatly increased. Most of the Witnesses I know are revering the Governing Body. They look at the members of the Governing Body almost as prophets. As Calvin Rouse, the counsel of Jehovah’s Witnesses said in a court case in 2012:
We are a hierarchical religion structured just like the Catholic Church. And when the order from the Pope comes down in the church defrocking a priest and kicking him out, he no longer has any say in any matter in the local parish priest [sic.] — in the parish. The same is the situation here.
These words are true. But they could not rightly be said in 1972 when the elder arrangement was introduced.
I would also like to mention that in 1974 and 1975 I was the instructor for 30 two-week courses for the elders in Norway. I had close contact with the brothers at the branch office, and we discussed the teaching at the course. This course was an excellent example of Christian freedom with no authoritarianism.
WHAT THE LEADERS DEMAND FROM THE MEMBERS
From 1942 to the middle of the 1950s, the leaders made very few rules that the Witnesses had to keep. The Watchtower of 1942, page 205, said that using tobacco was a filthy habit but it also said: “To be sure, the Society has no power or authority or desire to say that a person who wishes to use tobacco may not do so.” The Watchtower of September 15, 1951, said that whether a Witness should sell Christmas cards and trees was a matter of conscience, and the Society would not give any advice as to what occupation a Witness could have. The Watchtower of February 1, 1954, said that “gambling appeals to selfishness and weakens moral fiber.” But whether a Witness should be gambling or be employed in a gambling enterprise was a matter of conscience. The Christian freedom that the points above shows continued beyond 1972.
To drive home this point, I give a quotation from The Watchtower of October 1, 1972:
Jehovah God expects us to use our faculties of intelligence, our knowledge, understanding and judgment, and to do conscientiously what our faith points us to do. God does not place us under the conscience of some other human in such matters. We must each make our own decision in harmony with conscience—conscience molded by God’s Word. We must also take the consequences of our own decisions, not expect someone else to make the decision and bear that responsibility for us.
It would therefore be wrong in such matters to try to extract from someone else, from a body of elders or from the governing body of the Christian congregation, some rule or regulation that ‘draws the line’ on matters. Where God’s Word does not itself ‘draw the line,’ no human has the right to add to that Word by doing so.
It was not long after this article that the Governing Body started ‘to draw the line’ in connection with issues that have no basis in the Bible. Making rules in organizational matters is necessary for the leaders of a worldwide organization. But making laws for Christian living and Christian faith that are not based on the Bible is an authoritarian trait. Today, there are several hundred such extrabiblical laws made by the Governing Body. And it is expected that all Witnesses must obey these — at the threat of disfellowshipping.
A letter from the Watchtower Society to all district and circuit overseers of September 1, 1980, says:
Keep in mind that to be disfellowshipped, an apostate does not have to be a promoter of apostate views…Therefore, if a baptized Christian abandons the teachings of Jehovah, as presented by the faithful and discreet slave, and persists in believing other doctrine despite scriptural reproof, then he is apostatizing. Extended, kindly efforts should be put forth to readjust his thinking. However, if, after such extended efforts have been put forth to readjust his thinking, he continues to believe the apostate ideas and rejects what has been provided through the ‘slave class’, then appropriate judicial action should be taken [= disfellowshipping].
This means that if a Witness disagrees with one interpretation of the Governing Body and does not change his mind if the elders speak with him — even if he does not speak with others about it — he is an apostate and can be disfellowshipped. I can hardly think of a better example of authoritarian or dictatorial power.
THE TREATMENT OF THE MEMBERS BY THE LEADERS
The disfellowshipping of members started in 1952, with only a few examples before that. In the 1950s, very few Witnesses were disfellowshipped. There were two reasons for that. There were few disfellowshipping offenses, and there were very strict requirements for who could be disfellowshiped.
In the book Questions in Connection with the Service of the Kingdom (1961) which was written for judicial committees, there are only seven disfellowshipping offenses that are mentioned, and these are concrete actions that could be observed by witnesses.
The Watchtower of July 1, 1963, page 411, says:
Therefore, the ones who are hardened in wrongdoing are the ones who are disfellowshiped. It is where serious violations of Jehovah’s righteous requirements have become a practice that this measure is taken. First John 3:4 states: “Everyone who practices sin is also practicing lawlessness.”
The quoted words accord with what the Scriptures say about disfellowshipping. Only in extreme situations should a Witness be disfellowshipped. However, the authoritarian spirit continued to flourish among the members of the Governing Body, and in 2019, when the book for elders was published, there were 48 disfellowshipping offenses, and 37 of these were made up and invented by the Governing Body without any basis in the Bible. In addition, the requirement for disfellowshipping was lowered. The book for elders “Shepherd The Flock Of God”, published in 2019, chapter 16, point 7, says:
Even if this is the individual’s first time before a judicial committee, he must give evidence of genuine repentance if he is to remain in the congregation.
We see that no longer will only those who are “hardened in wrongdoing” and who are “practicers of lawlessness” be disfellowshipped. A person who is guilty of one of the 48 disfellowshipping offenses for the first time and who cannot prove that he has genuine repentance can be disfellowshipped. The regime of disfellowshipping among Jehovah’s Witnesses is extreme and unbiblical, and the power the members of the Governing Body have given themselves and the elders in connection with disfellowshipping reveals an authoritarian organization.
I was a member of Jehovah’s Witnesses for 58 years before I was disfellowshipped because of criticism of the Governing Body. I have never experienced anything bad during these years. I love this organization, and here is my family. During these years, I have witnessed the development from a theocratic to an autocratic organization. All humans are imperfect, and errors are made. But from around the year 2010, I had to gulp down a number of camels.
As an elder, I have learned that if I see something wrong in the congregation, it is my duty to do something with it. And when we got the new book for elders in 2019, I realized that I could not continue to be silent. I had to speak up for all those who unjustly had been and would be disfellowshipped. And I had to speak up against the new doctrines of the Governing Body that contradict the Bible. This decision was not easy to take. But Psalm 15:4 says about the guest in Jehovah’s tent: “He does not go back on his promise, even when it is bad for him.” I had promised always to defend the truth, and I could not go back on this promise.
By making a synthesis of the issue of authoritarianism, I will say the following: Between the years 1942 and the middle 1950s, there was very little authoritarianism. From the middle of the 1950s to 1972, there was a little more authoritarianism. It was, for example, expected that no Witness should argue against the conclusions presented in the Watchtower. But those who did that were not disfellowshipped, but they were viewed as immature persons. From 1972 to 1976, there was total Christian freedom in the organization. But from 1976 until the year 2000, there was a gradual increase in authoritarianism. From 2000 to 2010, when Ted Jaracs was the leading member of the Governing Body, there was a great increase in authoritarianism, and this has magnified until the present. Today, the members of the Governing Body have unlimited power. They have power over the doctrines, the assets, and the money. Everything they say and do must be accepted as truth without any question. This means that a graph showing the authoritarianism in the organization will show a straight line with an upward trend from the year 1976 until the present.
THE INACCURATE USE OF THE WORD “FOREVER” IN NWT13
Because I am an experienced translator and I know the languages Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic, I can state that the translators of the Hebrew Scriptures had a good knowledge of Hebrew. And similarly, with the Christian Greek Scriptures, the translators had a good knowledge of Greek. However, it is also clear that the Hebrew translators did not understand the full meaning of the Hebrew verbal system and the Greek translators did not understand the full meaning of the Greek verbal system. (See my book My Beloved — And the Governing Body, third edition, pages 404 -423) Moreover, the theory of idiomatic (free) translation created by the Governing Body has also led to inaccurate renderings of Greek and Hebrew words.
One Hebrew example is the Hebrew word ‘ōlām. The verb ‘ālam means “to be secret; to be hidden” and the corresponding substantive ‘ōlām has the basic meaning “a time period whose length is hidden.”
In the article, “Can we live forever?” in The Watchtower of December 2022, page 22, we read:
“Forever” in the Bible
The most common Hebrew word often translated “forever” is ʽoh·lamʹ. As used in the Bible, it can refer to something that existed for a long time in the past or will exist long into the future, with no stated beginning or ending point. (Josh. 24:2; Ps. 24:7, 9) It can also refer to something that is absolutely never-ending. It is in this sense that Jehovah is forever. (Ps. 102:12,24, 27) The New World Translation renders this Hebrew word with such terms as “forever,” “lasting,” “everlasting,” or “long ago.” The context determines which expression is used.
The first part of the article is correct. The word ‘ōlām refers to a long time in the past or future with no stated beginning or ending point. The second part is wrong. The only way the lexical meaning of a Hebrew or Greek word can be ascertained is by looking at the contexts where the word is used. I have never seen a context indicating that the word ‘ōlām has the meaning “absolutely never-ending.” So, my claim is that ‘ōlām always has the meaning “a long period of time with hidden or undisclosed length.”
The author of the quotation in The Watchtower article refers to Psalm 102:12, 24, 27, and I quote these verses below:
12 But you remain forever (le‘ōlām), O Jehovah, And your fame will endure for all generations.24 I said: “O my God, Do not do away with me in the middle of my life, You whose years span all generations.27 But you are the same, and your years will never end (tāmam).
The marked words in verses 12 and 24 corroborate the meaning “a long time of unknown length.” But the words in verse 27 “and your years will never end” contradicts this meaning. I will show that this rendering has no linguistic basis. The text of verse 27 literally says: “and you he your years will not be completed (tāmam).” There are two important words, namely, tāmam, and lō. The word lō is the negation “not.”
According to the lexicon of Kohlenberger and Mounce tāmam has the meaning in the Qal stem: “to complete, finish, perfect” and in the hifil stem: “to end, stop, complete.” In verse 27 the stem is Qal, and therefore the rendering of NWT13 “and your years will never end” is inaccurate. However, the rendering of NWT84 “and your own years will not be completed” is a correct rendering.
It is the word “never” in NWT13 that is showing that God is eternal. But there is nothing in the context that would justify this rendering. And the word tāmam should be rendered as “complete” and not as “end.” Thus, the translators of NWT13 have read into the text something that is not there, namely, that God is eternal. (See the Excursus below)
This means the words of verse 27 say exactly the same as the words in verses 12 and 24: “and your own years will not be completed” is the same as “You whose years span all generations.” The generations relate to humans and are counted by them, and years also relate to humans and are counted by them. And God exists through all human generations and all human years. This is very far from the meaning “absolutely never-ending.”
|The translators of NWT13 have read into the text of Psalm 102:27 something that is not there, namely that God is eternal. There is no linguistic justification for the words “will never end.”|
I will now refer to Psalm 90:1, 2 in order to show that the meaning “absolutely never-ending” has no linguistic basis in the Hebrew text of the Bible.
1 O Jehovah, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations.2 Before the mountains were born Or you brought forth the earth and the productive land, From everlasting (‘ōlām) to everlasting (‘ōlām), you are God.
This verse again refers to God’s dwelling throughout all generations, and then ‘ōlām is used two times. Because there is a comparison between past and future, we can assume that ‘ōlām must have the same meaning both times it is used.
If we look at the rendering “from everlasting” with past reference with our modern eyes, I will ask: Can you imagine something or someone in the past that is eternal? Something or someone that does not have a beginning? I do not think that any of the readers can imagine something without beginning in the past. Then the natural question is: Do we think that persons in the Hebrew nation in the past could imagine something or someone that did not have any beginning? Absolutely not!
This means that ‘ōlām with past reference could not mean “eternal.” And this shows that ‘ōlām with future reference neither can have the meaning “eternal.” A member of the Hebrew nation could imagine a time period with hidden or undisclosed length or a long period in the future where no endpoint could not be seen. But he could not imagine a time period that was “absolutely never-ending.”
The rendering of NWT84 of Psalm 90:1, 2 is excellent:
1 O Jehovah, you yourself have proved to be a real dwelling for us During generation after generation. 2 Before the mountains themselves were born, Or you proceeded to bring forth as with labor pains the earth and the productive land, Even for time indefinite (‘ōlām) to time indefinite (‘ōlām) you are God.
The rendering of NWT84 of “time indefinite” is excellent because it perfectly conveys the view of the word ‘ōlām that the members of ancient Israel had. Why would the translators of NWT13 abandon this excellent rendering “time indefinite” in NWT84? We do not know. However, The Watchtower of December 2015 shows that the members of the Governing Body had the final say in connection with the renderings of NWT13. None of these members are educated in linguistics or translation, and they do not know the biblical languages Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. This can explain why the quality of NWT13 is so poor compared with the excellent quality of NWT84.
On the basis of the discussion above we understand that the renderings “forever” and “everlasting” read something into the Hebrew text that is not there. The use of these words in the NWT13 may also cause the preachers of the good news of the Kingdom to deceive the persons they are preaching to.
Please consider the following situation: A sincere person asks a preacher of the good news the following question: “Is it true that the earth will be burned to ashes?” The preacher answers: That is not true because Ecclesiastes 1:4 says ‘A generation in going, and a generation is coming, But the earth remains forever (‘ōlām).” By this answer, the sincere person is deceived. It is not the Hebrew text of Ecclesiastes 1:4 that shows that the earth remains forever. But it is the interpretation of the members of the Governing Body of this text!
But what about the expression “everlasting life”? Is not “everlasting life” the same as “absolutely never-ending” life? We should not be too quick to draw our conclusion. According to Mark 10:30 Jesus said:
who will not get 100 times more now in this period of time—houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and fields, with persecutions—and in the coming system of things, everlasting life (zoēn aiōnion).
The Greek text has the words zoēn aiōnion. The word zoē is translated by “life,” and aiōn is translated as everlasting. When Jesus used the words zoēn aiōnion, he may have had Daniel 12:2 in mind:
And many of those asleep in the dust of the earth will wake up, some to everlasting life (le hayyē ‘ōlām) and others to reproach and to everlasting contempt.
In order to understand the words of Jesus we need to understand how the word le hayyē ‘ōlām (le = to; hayyē = life; ‘ōlām = time indefinite) is translated in Greek. The Septuagint translated the mentioned Hebrew words with eis zoēn aiōnion (eis = to; zoēn = life; aiōnion = time indefinite).
I have already shown that the word ‘ōlām does not have the meaning “eternity” or “evelasting” because it is used with past reference, and neither modern people nor the Jews of old could imagine a time period with no beginning. The situation is the same with aiōn. This is seen in the two passages below (John 3:21 (above) and 15;17, 18 (below):
21 Heaven must hold this one within itself until the times of restoration of all things of which God spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets of old (ap’ aiōnas).
17 so that the men who remain may earnestly seek Jehovah, together with people of all the nations, people who are called by my name, says Jehovah, who is doing these things, 18 known from of old (ap’ aiōnas).’
The words that NWT13 translates as “from of old” are ap’ aiōnas (ap’ = from; aiōnas = time indefinite) God did not speak through the prophets from eternity, And the people called with God’s name were not known from eternity. Thus, the use of the preposition “from” apo (ap’) followed by aiōnas refers to a time in the remote past with an unkbown beginning and not to eternity.
Let us now look at the word aiōn (aiōnas) preceded by the preposition “to” (eis) with future reference. This is seen in John 6:58 (above) and John 8:52 (below):
58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. It is not as when your forefathers ate and yet died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever (eis ton aiōna).”
52 The Jews said to him: “Now we do know that you have a demon. Abraham died, also the prophets, but you say, ‘If anyone observes my word, he will never taste death at all (eis ton aiōna).’
In both passages are the Greek words eis ton aiōna (eis = to; ton = definite article; aiōna = time indefinite) The texts say that the mentioned persons will live eis ton aiōna and will not die eis ton aiōna. All translations of which I am aware, including NWT84 and NWT13, translate eis ton aiōna with “forever.” However, this expression does not refer to a time that never is ending. One example supporting this is John 13:8:
8 Peter said to him: “You will certainly never (eis ton aiōna) wash my feet.”
The word “never” is translated from eis ton aiōna. Peter did not refer to a time that never would end. But he referred to a long time whose ending was not seen.
Dictionary of New Testament Theology, volume 3, page 826, corroborates the examples above:
The Gk language has a wealth of various terms with which to express the experience of time. The most extensive one is aion which is primarily a designation for a long period of time.
The lexicon mentioned above shows that the understanding of aiōn must be seen in the light of the Hebrew word ‘ōlām because the idea of “absolutely never-ending” is absent from the Hebrew Scriptures, it must also be absent from the Christian Greek Scriptures. Everlasting life simply is to live, and to live, and to continue to live without any end in view. And there is no idea of “absolutely never-ending” in the Hebrew words le hayyē ‘ōlām or the Greek words eis zoēn aiōnion, both meaning “life time to indefinite.”
The conclusion is that when the NWT13 translates ‘ōlām with “forever” and “everlasting,” this is an inaccurate rendering. But what about the Greek word aiōn? This is a more difficult question because of the long tradition of the words “everlasting life.” Linguistically speaking, the situation is clear. There is no linguistic basis for rendering aiōn as”everlasting” or “forever.” But religiously speaking, it is difficult to drop the words “everlasting life.”
Two of the definitions of “eternal” in Dictionary.com (https://www.dictionary.com/browse/everlasting) are:
lasting forever; eternal: everlasting future life.lasting or continuing for an indefinitely long time.
14 to observe the commandment in a spotless and irreprehensible way until the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which the happy and only Potentate will show in its own appointed times. He is the King of those who rule as kings and Lord of those who rule as lords, 16 the one alone having immortality (athanasia), who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal might. Amen.
53 For this which is corruptible must put on incorruption, and this which is mortal must put on immortality (athanasia). 54 But when this which is corruptible puts on incorruption and this which is mortal puts on immortality (athanasia), then the saying that is written will take place: “Death is swallowed up forever.”
In the first example, Jesus Christ is said to have immortality, and in the second example, God’s servants who will get a heavenly resurrection to reign with Jesus Christ are said the receive immortality. This is confirmed in Revelation 20:6:
6 Happy and holy is anyone having part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no authority, but they will be priests of God and of the Christ, and they will rule as kings with him for the 1,000 years.
The Greek word translated as “authority” is exousia (“authority; power”). And it shows that the mentioned persons cannot experience the second death, which is total annihilation. So, the contrast is that those who get the heavenly resurrection cannot die. But those who get everlasting life are still mortal and because of this can die. But they will not die because God has written their names in the book of life. (Revelation 20:15)
AN ANALYSIS OF PSALM 102
A reader of the article discussing the rendering of the word “forever” in NW13 had problems in understanding the difference between the NWT13 rendering (above) and my rendering (below):
And your years will never end.
And your years will not be complete.
He asked about what the real difference between the two renderings is, and because of this, I will analyze Psalm 102. In order to understand the contrasts in this Psalm, we need to understand that the Jews viewed the lifespan of a person as a full or complete number of days. Genesis 35:29 says:
A footnote says that the free translation “a long and satisfying life” literally is “old and full of days.” (seba‘ = full; yāmim = days). That does not mean that each individual has a predestined number of days to live. Psalm 90:10 says:
These words show that when a Jew had lived a long life, 70 or 80 years or more, he was “full of days.” On this background, let us study Psalm 102.
The contrast of this Psalm is between David who feels that he willnot have a life “full of days” and Jehovah who dwells through all generations. In verse 5 he says that “my days” are vanishing like smoke, in verse 11 he says that “‘my days’ are like a fading shadow,” and in verse 23 he says that “my days” seems to have been cut short. This means that he could die “in the middle of my life,” as verse 24 says, and not have a life “full of days.”
The contrast between David and Jehovah is first seen in verses 11 and 12. The days of David are like a fading shadow. “But you remain to time indefinite (le‘ōlām).” As I have shown above, the word ‘ōlām refers to a long time of hidden length and not to eternity. Verse 13 contains a parallelism, which means that the same idea is expressed in different words. The verse literally says:
The verb yāshab (”sit; dwell”) is used in the first clause, and it is implied in the second clause. The words “you Jehovah” parallels “your remembrance,” and “to time indefinite” parallels “to generation and generation.” The words “to generation and generation” (ledōr wādōr) are indefinite as far as time is concerned, and the same is true with “time indefinite”(‘ōlām). David’s point, therefore, is that Jehovah will dwell for a long time in contrast with David’s short lifespan.
The temporal reference and the mode of verse 23 is not clear. The verse has two perfects, and that is the reason why English past tense is used. However, Hebrew perfect can also have future reference, and a past reference does not seem to fit the context. Verse 20 shows that God looks down to the earth to hear the groans of prisoners and to release those condemned to death. And in verse 24, David asks God not to let him die in the middle of his life. Because of this prayer, David could not in verse 23 say that God had already let him die in the middle of his life, which is the meaning of “he cut short my days.” Below is the rendering of NWT13 of verses 23 and 24 (above), and my rendering of the same verses (below).
In order to fit the text of verse 23 into the context, I take the first part as a question, but it could also be modal. David looked forward of being “old and full of days.” The prayer of David is that because God’s years stretch throughout all generations, he must not take David’s life in the middle of his days. There is no hint in David’s words of an “absolutely never-ending” life on the part of Jehovah.
David continues to show the contrast with him who expects to die when he is full of days and Jehovah whose years stretch throughout all generations of humans. Verse 25 starts with the phrase lepānim (“formerly; anciently”). This is a phrase referring to a time in the past whose beginning or end is unknown. Because of this, it is a synonym of “time indefinite” (‘ōlām). David tells that at an undefined time in the past God created the earth and the heavens.
David no points out that the earth and the heavens will wear out like a garment, and therefore are perishable. Our sun, for example, is burning, and this means that it is “wearing out,” and sometime in the future, it will burn out. However, the sun can continue to burn and lite up the earth for a very long time if material from the universe is added, just as we add coal to a burning fire to let it continue to burn. Psalm 148:6 shows that God will keep the fire burning:
The phrase “keeps them established” is translated from hifil imperfect of the verb ‘āmad, (“to stand”). The hifil stem is causative, and this shows that Jehovah will cause the heavens and the earth to stand. The adverbial consists of the words le‘ãd le‘ōlām
The Hebrew word ‘ād can function as a preposition and a conjunction and as a noun. Kohlenberger and Mounce give the following meanings; “a unit of time, referring to the past: old, ancient; without limit: forever, eternal, forever and ever; continual, always.” The problem with this definition and similar definitions is how we can know when ‘ãd refers to eternity and when it refers to “old, ancient, without limit, and continual.” Interestingly, the context can imply the meanings “old, ancient,” and “continual,” but there is no context from which the meaning “eternal” can be construed. I use Job 20:4 (above) and Proverbs 12:19 (below) as examples:
Job could not always have known what Zophar referred to, and because no lips will be eternal, truthful lips cannot endure forever. These examples show that the meaning of a word must be construed from the context. And in both examples the nature of the subjects shows that ‘ād cannot have the meaning “forever.” But there is no context that can be used to show that the word also can have the meaning “forever.”
If we use God as a subject for the word ‘ād what do we find? We cannot argue that we know that God is eternal, and therefore ‘ād used with God as the subject has the meaning “eternal.” It is the other way around; on the basis of the meaning of the word, we can show what God is.
What counts is how the members of Israel of old viewed time. I have argued that the idea of “absolutely never-ending” was nonexistent in Israel. Thus, the word ‘ād must have the meaning of a long indefinite time just as ‘ōlām. Therefore, I will translate the time reference in Psalm 148:6 as “for a long idefinite time” instead of “forever and ever.”
I will now return to verse 27 in Psalm 102:
David argues that heaven and earth will wear down and perish. But in contrast God will stand. Let us look at the parallelisms in verses 26 and 27:
26 They will perish, but you will remain; Just like a garment they will all wear out. Just like clothing you will replace them, and they will pass away.27 But you are the same, and your years will never end.
The text in brown and blue indicate the parallel thoughts. Regarding the heaven and earth, they will perish, wear out, be replaced, and pass away. The contrast is Jehovah God. The parallels are “you will remain,” “you are the same,” and “your years will never end.” I will analyze each clause:
The first clause needs no comment because it is a simple clause. The second clause needs some comments. The pronoun hū (“he”) can be used as copula (the verb “to be”), so the meaning of the clause is “you are.” This is a parallel to the first clause with the words “you will be standing.” The important side of the third clause is the verb tāmam. According to Kohlenberger and Mounce the meaning of tāmam in the qal stem is “to complete, finish, perfect,” and one example is Genesis 47:18:
The subject is “that year” as in verse 27, and the verb is tāmam. I would translate the first clause in the verse above as “When the year was complete, and this is a good parallel to “And your years will not be complete” in verse 27. When we realize that the Jews hoped “to be old and full of days,” we can better understand verse 27. The point of David evidently is that God will not “be old and full of years.” In other words, God will not reach a complete (full) number of years and then die, as humans do when they reach their complete (full) number of days. But as verse 23 says, “your years [stretch], during all generations.”
So, what is the difference between the two renderings?:
The difference is that the translators of NWT13 has used the words “will never end,” and this is the same as saying that “your years are eternal” or that “you are eternal.” This is to read something into the Hebrew text that is not there. There is nothing in the Hebrew text indicating that the years of God are eternal or that God himself is eternal.
My translation is literal, and it shows that God will not reach a point where he has no more years to live like humans who become old and full of days. This means that he lives through all human generations and he continues to live with no end in view. Thus, the words in Psalm 102:27 say exactly the same as the words in verse 12: “And you Jehovah will dwell to time indefinite (‘ōlām)
THE MEMBERS OF THE GOVERNING BODY DO NOT ACCEPT EVERYTHING THAT THE BIBLE SAYS ABOUT THE RANSOM SACRIFICE OF JESUS CHRIST
The Watchtower of June 2023 has the article “Keep ready for Jehovah’s day.” The article discusses different sides of this issue. Paragraphs 6 and 7 on page 10 say:
WHO WILL NOT SURVIVE JEHOVAH’S DAY?
In what sense are most people asleep? (1 Thessalonians 5:6, 7)
6 “Those who sleep.” (Read 1 Thessalonians 5:6, 7.) Paul compared those who will not survive Jehovah’s day to people who are asleep. They are unaware of their surroundings or the passing of time. Hence, they cannot discern important developments or respond to them. Most people today are asleep in a spiritual sense. (Rom. 11:8) They are indifferent to evidence that we are living in “the last days” and that the great tribulation will come soon. Major world events may rouse some from spiritual slumber and move them to show a little interest in our Kingdom message. Yet, many go back to sleep rather than stay awake. Even some who believe in a day of judgment think that it is far off. (2 Pet. 3:3, 4) However, we recognize that the inspired counsel to stay awake becomes more urgent with each passing day.
How are those who are facing God’s wrath like drunk people?
7 “Those who get drunk.” The apostle likened those who face God’s wrath to drunkards. People under the influence of alcohol are slow to respond to what is happening around them, and they make poor decisions.Similarly, the wicked do not respond to God’s warnings. They choose a course that leads to their destruction. But Christians are told to keep their senses, to be sober. (1 Thess. 5:6) One Bible scholar describes this soberness as “a calm, steady state of mind which weighs and estimates things aright and thus enables us to make the right decision.” Why must we keep calm and steady? So that we do not get caught up in today’s political or social issues. The pressure to take sides in these matters will increase as Jehovah’s day draws closer. Still, we need not be anxious about how we will respond. God’s spirit can help us to have a calm and steady state of mind and to make wise decisions.—Luke 12:11, 12. (my emphasis in colors)
The comments above regarding who will not survive the great tribulation is, in reality, a rejection of the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ as it is described in the Holy Scriptures. My article, “The members of the Governing Body have devalued and restricted the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ” in the category, “The Governing Body” has a detailed analysis of this rejection.
My article shows that by his death Jesus bought all the descendants of Adam that have lived on this earth. God’s righteousness requires that each one of these must get an individual chance to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice. The quotation above denies that this is God’s requirement.
Let us look at the context of 1 Thessalonians 5:6, 7 by quoting verses 2 and 3 (my translation):
2 You know precisely that the day of the Lord like a thief in the night will be coming. 3 When they are saying (legō, present participle plural masculine subjunctive) peace and security, then sudden destruction will come upon them (autois, personal pronoun masculine plural dative), just as the birth-pain the womb has, and they will by no means escape (ekfeugō, aorist plural, active subjunctive).
The important point here is that “they” at the beginning of verse 3 has no antecedent. This means that the context does not identify who “they” who are speaking are. However, it is clear that those who are speaking must be a group of humans or nations — every person on earth will of course not say “peace and security.” This means that the mentioned “sudden destruction” can only refer to a group of people or nations. Thus, when The Watchtower article applies verses 6 and 7 to persons who will not survive the great tribulation, this contradicts the context.
The reason why so many people are sleeping is discussed in my article about the ransom sacrifice. It is not because they are wicked, as The Watchtower article claims. But it is because most of them have not heard the truth from the Bible and have not got the chance to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice. I quote from this article below:
The destiny of those who are ignorant when Jesus comes as judge in the great tribulation
The chronology of the Bible and the sign of the presence of Jesus suggest that the great tribulation will occur in the near future. But no one knows the day and the hour. Let us then look at those who have knowledge and those who are ignorant at the present moment when there are about eight billion persons living on the earth.
As was the case in the first century CE, the purpose of the preaching of the good news of the Kingdom was to teach sincere persons the truth about God and help them to become servants of God. The purpose was not to identify wicked persons who would be eternally destroyed. Even the 1.4 billion hours used by Jehovah’s Witnesses in 2021 is just a drop in the big ocean as far as teaching all humans the truth about God is concerned. So, the situation today before the great tribulation comes is about the same as in the first century CE. Most people are ignorant regarding the truth about God and will continue to be ignorant when the great tribulation comes. This means that they have not had the chance to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice. Let us take a closer look at this situation.
As I already have shown, today, there are about 2 billion children below 14 years of age, and this is about 25% of the world population. Most of these children do not have the possibility or capacity to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice. The same is true with most of the 800 million persons, who have a mental health disorder.A great part of these will not be able to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice. This means that most of the individuals of these two groups, which constitute 35% of all living persons will be ignorant in connection with the truth about God when the great tribulation starts.
When we look at the report of Jehovah’s Witnesses, we see that there are relatively few preachers in India with 1.39 billion inhabitants, and China with 1.4 billion inhabitants. In Asia, there are 4.6 billion inhabitants, most of whom have not heard the good news of the Kingdom. If we assume that there are 1 billion children in Asia and 400 million with mental health disorders, and subtract this from 4,6 billion, we get the number 3.2 billion persons for Asia. If we to this number add 1 million children and 400 million with mental health disorders outside Asia, we get the number 4.6 billion. This is the number of those who have not heard and will not hear the good news of the Kingdom or do not have the capacity to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice. This is more than 50% of all who live today. If we add the number of persons in other parts of the world who have not heard the preaching of the Kingdom, we realize that more than 70% of the population of the world has not at present had the opportunity to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice.
How will the situation develop toward the great tribulation? The world population increases by 140 million persons each year, and Jehovah’s Witnesses increase with about 300,000 persons. This means that the ratio between the Witnesses and the world population increases each year. Therefore, the number of those whom today have not had the chance to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice will increase each year until the great tribulation arrives because the ratio between the preachers of the Kingdom and the world population will all the time increase.
What will happen to the 70%+ of the persons who are ignorant when the great tribulation starts? We do not know. But what we know is that Jesus bought all Adam’s descendants with his death. This means that these 70%+ either must survive the great tribulation or they must get a resurrection so they can accept or reject the ransom sacrifice. They must be “judged individually according to their deeds.” (Revelation 20:13) Claiming that all persons who are not true Christians will be eternally annihilated in the great tribulation is in reality a rejection of the value of the ransom sacrifice.
The quotation shows why 70%+ of the world population is sleeping from a spiritual point of view. They have not heard the good news of the Kingdom. In view of the fact that Jesus said that the inhabitants of Chorazin, Capernaum, and Bethsaida, who heard the preaching of Jesus and saw his miracles, but did not believe in him, will be resurrected on Judgment Day, we must conclude that even persons who have heard the good news today without believing in it is not necessarily cursed by God.
The Watchtower article of June 2023 says, “the wicked do not respond to God’s warnings,” and they “face God’s wrath.” At least 5 billion people today have not responded to God’s warnings because they have not heard these warnings, and calling these persons wicked has no basis in the Bible. Many of these are sincere people who follow the religion of their parents, be it Muslims, Buddhists, or Shintoists. We cannot say that these people “face God’s wrath” because they have not had the chance to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice .
What will the destiny be of those billions who have not had the chance and are “sleeping” when the great tribulation comes? We do not know. However, Zechariah 14:13 says:
“In that day confusion from Jehovah will be widespread among them; and each one will grab hold of the hand of his companion, and his hand will come against the hand of his companion.
There is the possibility that a great number of the billions who are alive at the time of the great tribulation will turn against each other and be killed. The bottom line is that Jesus bought all humans when he died, and everyone must have an individual chance to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice. This means that all persons who are alive when the great tribulation comes and have not had this chance will get this chance either by surviving the great tribulation or by getting a resurrection.
. The Governing Body has used the illustration about the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25:31-46 as evidence that all who are not Jehovah’s Witnesses will be eternally annihilated in the great tribulation. My article, “‘For many are called but few are chosen’ — What the members of the Governing Body do not understand” in the category “The Governing Body analyzes the illustration in detail and shows that this conclusion is wrong.
CLAIMS REGARDING SOCIALIZING WITH DISFELLOWSHIPPED AND DISASSOCIATED PERSONS THAT ARE NOT TRUE
One reason why Jehovah’s Witnesses lost the Norwegian state grants for the year 2022 was that a member cannot resign from his congregation without being punished. The punishment means that the person is treated in the same way as one who has been disfellowshipped. No Witness, including family and friends, will say a greeting or speak with him. And they will treat the person as if he does not exist. Only family members in the same household will speak with him. But they cannot have any spiritual relationship with the disassociated person.
Jehovah’s Witnesses deny that Witnesses cannot have contact with a disfellowshipped or disassociated person. And they say that the claim that no Witness can have contact with a disfellowshipped or disassociated person is a misrepresentation of the literature of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
The District Court of Oslo convened on March 29 and 30, 2023, in order to decide whether Jehovah’s Witnesses should lose their registration as a religious denomination in Norway. The newspaper Vårt Land on April 1, 2023, has the following presentation of what Anders Ryssdal, the counsel of Jehovah’s Witnesses, said in court.
The counsel also said that Jehovah’s Witnesses do not agree with the interpretation of the texts of Jehovah’s Witnesses by the state and claimed that the members are not forbidden to meet disfellowshipped persons. But Jehovah’s Witnesses say, according to the counsel, it is not “natural” to socialize with adults that do not have the same faith as themselves.
The letter from Jehovah’s Witnesses to the County Governor in Oslo and Viken of February 17, 2022, said in part:
On the other hand, one who voluntarily chooses to reject his spiritual position as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses by formally disassociating himself will be respected for this, and everyone in the congregation has the opportunity to use their personal religious conscience to choose if they will delimitate or completely avoid any contact with this person.
The quotation shows that it is not a requirement from the Governing Body to avoid any contact with a disassociated person. But the conscience of each Witness must decide how much contact he or she will have with the disassociated person. This is simply a lie, as I will show below.
No contact with disfellowshipped or disassociated person
Below are quotations from the literature of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and when you read the quotations you will see that the claim that non-Witnesses interpret the literature of Jehovah’s Witness wrong is special pleading indeed. We should also keep in mind that the requirements mentioned in the quotations are not mere admonitions, but they are laws. If the laws are not followed, the person is first admonished to keep the law, and then he is punished, often by being disfellowshipped.
The Kingdom Ministry of August 2002, page 4, says
This means that loyal Christians do not have spiritual fellowship with anyone who has been expelled from the congregation. But more is involved. God’s Word states that we should ‘not even eat with such a man.’ (1 Cor. 5:11) Hence, we also avoid social fellowship with an expelled person. This would rule out joining him in a picnic, party, ball game, or trip to the mall or theater or sitting down to a meal with him either in the home or at a restaurant. (author’s italics)
What about speaking with a disfellowshipped person? While the Bible does not cover every possible situation, 2 John 10 helps us to get Jehovah’s view of matters: “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, never receive him into your homes or say a greeting to him.” Commenting on this, The Watchtower of September 15, 1981, page 25, says: “A simple ‘Hello’ to someone can be the first step that develops into a conversation and maybe even a friendship. Would we want to take that first step with a disfellowshiped person?”…
Relatives Not in the Household: “The situation is different if the disfellowshipped or disassociated one is a relative living outside the immediate family circle and home,” states The Watchtower of April 15, 1988, page 28. “It might be possible to have almost no contact at all with the relative. Even if there were some family matters requiring contact, this certainly would be kept to a minimum,” in harmony with the divine injunction to “quit mixing in company with anyone” who is guilty of sinning unrepentantly. (1 Cor. 5:11) Loyal Christians should strive to avoid needless association with such a relative, even keeping business dealings to an absolute minimum.—See also The Watchtower of September 15, 1981, pages 29-30.
The book Keep Yourselves in God’s Love (2008, 2014) pages 207, 208, says:
How should we treat a disfellowshipped person? The Bible says: “Stop keeping company with 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.” (1 Corinthians 5:11) Regarding everyone who “does not remain in the teaching of the Christ,” we read: “Do not receive him into your homes or say a greeting to him. For the one who says a greeting to him is a sharer in his wicked works.” (2 John 9-11) We do not have spiritual or social fellowship with disfellowshipped ones. The Watchtower of September 15, 1981, page 25, stated: “A simple ‘Hello’ to someone can be the first step that develops into a conversation and maybe even a friendship. Would we want to take that first step with a disfellowshiped person?”
Is strict avoidance really necessary? Yes, for several reasons. First, it is a matter of loyalty to God and his Word. We obey Jehovah not only when it is convenient but also when doing so presents real challenges. Love for God moves us to obey all his commandments, recognizing that he is just and loving and that his laws promote the greatest good. (Isaiah 48:17; 1 John 5:3) Second, withdrawing from an unrepentant wrongdoer protects us and the rest of the congregation from spiritual and moral contamination and upholds the congregation’s good name. (1 Corinthians 5:6, 7) Third, our firm stand for Bible principles may even benefit the disfellowshipped one. By supporting the decision of the judicial committee, we may touch the heart of a wrongdoer who thus far has failed to respond to the efforts of the elders to assist him. Losing precious fellowship with loved ones may help him to come “to his senses,” see the seriousness of his wrong, and take steps to return to Jehovah.—Luke 15:17. (Italics in the original)
The book “Shepherd the Flock of God,” 2019, point 12.17 (2), says:
If a member of the congregation is known to have unnecessary association with disfellowshipped or disassociated relatives who are not in the household, elders should use the Scriptures to counsel and reason with him. Review with him information from the Remain in God’s Love book, page 242. If it is clear that a Christian is violating the spirit of the disfellowshipping decree in this regard and does not respond to counsel, he would not qualify for congregation privileges, which require one to be exemplary. He would not be dealt with judicially unless there is persistent spiritual association or he persists in openly criticizing the disfellowshipping decision. (My italics)
The quotation from the Kingdom Ministry lists several situations where there should be no contact between a Witness and a disfellowshipped or disassociated person. Even saying “hello” to a disfellowshipped person is forbidden. The contact between a Witness and a family member who is not a member of the household of the Witness should almost never occur. Only family matters that require contact is possible, and even business dealings should be kept to an absolute minimum.
The book, Keep Yourselves in God’s love follows the same hard line when it says, “Is strict avoidance really necessary? Yes, for several reasons.” The book for elders published in 2019 shows that those who do not follow the laws of the Governing Body regarding disfellowshipped and disassociated persons, even in connection with relatives will be punished.
The rule is that contact between a Witness and a relative who is not of the same household should not occur. But if the elders know that such contact occurs, they will admonish the Witness to stop associating with the disfellowshipped or disassociated person. If the association continues, the Witness will not get any privileges in the congregation and will be looked down on. But he will not be disfellowshipped, as will be the case with a Witness who continues to socialize with a disfellowshipped or disassociated person to whom he is not related. However, if a Witness continues to wisit a disfellowshipped or disassociated relative and speaks about the Bible with him, or he criticizes the disfellowshipping, he will be disfellowshipped.
The interpretation of the literature of the Witness by a leading Witness
My special field of expertise is linguistics and semantics, and I see absolutely no problems with the understanding of the above quotations. I also think that any person with a normal education will not have any problems with the interpretation of the quotations.
In 2016, the Royal Commission of Australia made a thorough inquiry into child abuses of children among Jehovah’s Witnesses. Several prominent Witnesses in Australia had to answer questions from the Commission both in writing and in court. Rodney Terrence O’Brien was the coordinator of the branch committee in Australia, and therefore he was a senior Witness. He received many questions regarding the treatment of disfellowshipped and disassociated Witnesses, and his answers show that the understanding of the Ministry of Children and Family and the County Governor of Oslo and Viken of the writings of Jehovah’s Witnesses is correct.
The Counsel Assisting of the Royal Commission was Angus Stewart, and he asked most of the questions in court. I quote from the court transcript.
The point Stewart is stressing in this exchange is that a woman who has been sexually abused, and because of this, want to leave the congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses, will lose her family and friends. We find the following exchange on pages 15848 to 15852:
Stewart: Can I take you to tab 120. That’s Shepherd the Flock of God at page 115. Do you see in paragraph 5 – this chapter 10 is headed ‘Matters Related to Disfellowshipped and Disassociated Ones”, and you will see in paragraph 5 It says:
“Disfellowshipped and disassociated ones are generally expected to make their own arrangements for transportation to and from congregation meetings. However, in some instances a disfellow- shipped ordisassociated individual who is making a determined eﬀort to regain a right standing with Je- hovah may be ina situation that prevents him from obtaining transportation. It may be that he has no car and that family members or others are not able to help him. Perhaps he cannot aﬀord public transpor- tation, or it is not available in his area. It may be that the distance involved, personal safety, or severe weather make itinadvisable to walk. In cases of such desperate need, the elders can determine whether some assistance may be provided. (w81 9/15 p. 18 par. 14) Such assistance would be viewed as similar to public transportation inthat there should be no fra- ternizing or conversing with the disfellowshipped or disassociated person.”
That’s the principle, isn’t it? – no conversing or fraternizing with the disassociated person?
O’Brien: That’s correct, yes.
Stewart: Then in the next paragraph:
“If members of the congregation are known to have undue association with disfellowshipped or disassociated relatives who are not in the household, elders should counsel and reason with those members of the congregation from the Scriptures.”
So the position is that if a disassociated person is in the same household as a Jehovah’s Witness on everyday matters in the household, there can be that association. But if they are not in the same household, the same rules apply as if they were not in the same family?
O’Brien: Yes, so with disfellowshipping and disassociation, if they live in the same household, then it’s understood that it’s referring, then, to spiritual association. Obviously, if it is a husband or wife or a child or mother or father, of necessity, there has to be conversation. But it’s the spiritual association that would now be restricted.
Stewart: But if they are not in the same household, then social association is also restricted?
O’Brien: Yes, kept to a minimum at least.
Stewart: You see there is then a reference there? Review with them information from the “God’ Love” book, pages 207, 208…I would like to take you to that. Part of this document is already in the tender bundle, but not this part. So are we to understand these pages here, 207 and 208, are the guidance that is being referred to at what we were looking at a moment before – is that right?
O’Brien: That is correct, yes.
Stewart: You will see halfway down page 207, starting on the right-handed side, it says:
“The Watchtower of September 15, 1981, page 25, stated: “A simple ‘Hello’ –“
O’Brien: Sorry, I have just missed where you are. Paragraph 2.
Stewart: Yes, halfway down the page:
“The Watchtower of September 15, 1981, page 25, stated: “A simple ‘Hello’ to someone can be the first step that develops into a conversation and maybe even a friendship. Would we want to take the first step with a disfellowshipped person?”
Now, are we to understand that as applying also to a disassociated person, aren’t we?
Stewart: Then the question is asked: Is strict avoidance really necessary? And the answer is:
“Yes, for several reasons. First it is a matter of loyalty to God and his Word. We obey Jehovah not only when it is convenient but also when doing so present real challenges. Love for God moves us to obey all his commandments..,”
and so on. At the foot of the next page, 208, starting the second line from the bottom, you will see it says:
“Loyal Christian family members do not look for excuses to have dealings with a disfellowshipped relative. –“
That applies also to a disassociated relative, not so: not living at home.
“Rather, loyalty to Jehovah and his organization moved them to uphold the Scriptural arrangement of disfellowshipping. Their loyal course has the best interests of the wrongdoer at heart and may help him to benefit from the discipline received.”
Indeed, there are other publications that set out these forms of principle, aren’t there?
O’Brien: That is true, yes, that’s an understanding I have.
Stewart: Now, the consequence of the scenario that I’ve put to you is that this survivor of abuse, who wishes to leave the organization, is put to a choice, isn’t she: she either stays in the organization or she leaves and, thereby, potentially loses her whole family, or much of it, depending on how many remain in the Witnesses, and her social network?
O’Brien: No, I think there’s that other option that you have missed here, by just ceasing her activity in the congregation –
Stewart: Well. I am presupposing, Mr O’Brien, that her feeling is sufficiently intense that she wishes to disassociate from the congregation.
O’Brien: Yes. So then she would appreciate the implication of that.
Stewart: Yes. And her friends and family would face the implication, too, that they would have to disassociate from her.
Stewart: It is an impossible choice, isn’t it? I mean, no-one is it not right, Mr O’Brien — should be put to the choice of remaining in an organization which she feels is protective of her abuser, and losing her family and her social network.
O’Brien: Well, I can only be guided by what the scriptures say on that.
Stewart: Well, do you accept that it is psychologically devastating and cruel?
O’Brien: The whole purpose of disfellowshipping or disassociation is to help the person see the benefits of associating, so a disassociated person, a disfellowshipped person, is free to come back. A disassociated person particularly, they don’t have to go through a lengthy procedure to come back, whereas a disfellowshipped person has to prove their repentance suitably
Stewart: It makes the organization a captive organization, doesn’t it?
O’Brien: I don’t follow what you mean by that.
Stewart: Well, it makes it incredibly hard for someone to leave because of the huge pain, suffering, cruelty she must face if she does leave.
O’Brien: I don’t believe so.
Stewart: Do you appreciate, Mr O’Brien that this point of shunning, as it is called, is the one that probably makes people the most angry around the world amongst the ex Jehovah’s Witnesses?
O’Brien: But if it is disassociation – again it’s a choice they make. They don’t have to disassociate themselves to stop associating, They don’t lose their spiritual or familiar association by being inactive.
This exchange between the Counsel Assisting of the Royal Commission and Mr. O’Brien, the leader of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Australia, drives home the fact that all the writings that are published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society function in the same way as the laws of a country, such as Norway. O’Brien confirmed that the instructions found in the Elders’ Handbook, the “God Love” book, and articles in The Watchtower are instructions that all Witnesses must follow. Even things that seem to be insignificant, such as not saying “hello” to a disfellowshipped or disassociated person are expressed as instructions and must be followed.
I have been a member of Jehovah’s Witnesses for 59 years, and I confirm that in Norway the Witnesses practice the laws made by the Governing Body in the same way as the Witnesses do in Australia, and is described by Mr. O’Brien.
For example, no one can rightly say that the two quotations from the Elders’ Handbook at the start of the exchange, represent advice that each Witness can choose to follow or not follow. O’Brien showed that everything that is expressed in the literature of Jehovah’s Witnesses functions as laws for the Witnesses.
And the answers made by O’Brien show without any doubt that the claim of Jehovah’s Witnesses in their letter of February 17, 2022 that it is not a requirement that a Witness must shun a disfellowshipped or disassociated person, but that each one’s conscience must decide how much contact a Witness can have with such persons are not true. It also shows that contrary to what the counsel of the Witnesses said in court, the Ministry of Children and Family, and the County Governor of Oslo and Viken have interpreted the literature of the Witnesses in a correct way.